Thursday, April 12, 2007

Brandilyn Says...

Song Stuck on the Brain: "Good Morning, Good Morning, It's great to stay up late, Good Morning, Good Morning to you!" from Singing in the Rain.

Today is the second day of the CFBA blogtour of Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins.

I'm now halfway through the book and I'm finding that it's creepier than any of her other books I've read. I didn't think it was possible, but it is. She may have just topped herself.

I emailed Brandilyn a few questions and she was kind enough to respond.

A. The Kanner Lake characters are so well drawn, how did you create such a realistic and colorful cast?

B.C. Developing characters is a part of fiction that I’ve always focused upon, even though I’m writing suspense, which tends to be thought of as “plot-driven” rather than “character-driven.” Yes, plot does drive my suspense, but if the readers don’t care about my characters, the best plot in the world won’t matter.

My focus on characterization goes back to my college days, when I majored in acting before switching to journalism. I studied acting techniques, especially Stanislavski’s Method Acting. Through those studies I eventually wrote my book on characterization,
Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors.

A. Your tag line is "Don't forget to Breathe." Obviously, you have the suspense format down to a 'T'. What inspires you to write in this genre?

B.C. In stressful situations, people change—or stubbornly choose to cling to their old ways. The latter in itself is a kind of change, in that it “cements in” behaviors that should be changed. Suspense presents the ultimate stresses—danger that threatens everything dear to the protagonist, including his/her life itself. It’s the ultimate set-up to see how the protagonist is going to react. Suspense therefore presents lots of action as well as inner angst and emotion.

Unfortunately, an evil world is just the kind of world we really do live in. But in writing Christian suspense, I can tell an intense, reality-based story while weaving in the unalterable, foundational truth of this world: God’s Power Trumps All. Now, my readers may believe or not believe that. My protagonists may or may not believe. But that message will in some way be telegraphed to the reader through the action and emotions in the story. In finishing the book, the reader is left with his own choice—whether or not he/she will embrace that truth.

A. Do you have a favorite character in your Kanner Lake series, and if so who is it and why?

B.C. No, not really. Wilbur’s fun, because he’s such a curmudgeon. He’s gotten more play on the Scenes and Beans blog than in the books. But he’s not been a main character. Each of the four books in the series focuses on a different female protagonist. They rage in age from early twenties to around 50. Meanwhile as the gang meets at Bailey Truitt’s coffee shop, Java Joint, the readers gets to see them all together, and their interaction. In Coral Moon, you’ll see how the Scenes and Beans blog has come along since Bailey started it in Violet Dawn. There’s a scene between Wilbur and Carla, the realtor. Oh, my, how these two love to argue. Wilbur’s trying to dictate a post so Carla can type it. Well, if you know Wilbur, this won’t go real smoothly.

A. As a writer in the CBA market, you choose to make your suspense novels about something deeper than just murder and mayhem. What do you hope readers will take away from your novels?

B.C. See Answer #2. For more of my thoughts on this, read the “Why Christian Suspense” page at my web site.

A. As an aspiring writer, I admire authors like yourself a great deal for the quality of their work. Did you have authors that inspired you when you were an aspiring author?

B.C. I read a lot as I learned to write fiction. My learning in this craft was split about 50/50 between reading and writing. I’d read novels with pen in hand, marking what worked for me and what didn’t. I learned great POV from Richard North Patterson, an NYT bestselling suspense novelist who lives in San Francisco. Ric ended up endorsing my first published book—a true crime titled A Question of Innocence. For characterization, I read every one of Anne Rivers Siddons’ books. Now, for sheer word genius and just to see what he’s up to next, I never miss a Dean Koontz novel.

Thanks so much, Brandilyn, for letting me interrupt your busy schedule. Congratulations on another fantastic book!

If you haven't gotten your hands on a copy of Coral Moon yet, then what are you waiting for? Go get it.


Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Scimitar's Edge by Marvin Olasky. Click on the picture on the right to email me your entry. This contest is open to US and Canadian residents only and ends Sunday, April 15, 2007 at midnight.

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