Wounded, but Healing

Chapter 6: Escaping the Host of Torment was but one trial for Matthias. Recovery, in the face of invasion, is the next.

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Interview with Maree Brittenford

Earlier this month, I started a bookclub for indie books, and we are reading @mareebrittenford ‘s Echoes of Azure (Amazon Link). I interviewed her as part of our monthly activities.

And I want to start off on a high note, so, what is your favorite thing about your novel (or series)?
I don’t know, that’s hard. The pretty covers?

Did you design the covers, or did you go through a designer?
I just picked it out via a designer.

What do you love about your novel?
I like the setting a lot. I think California gets typecast in media a lot as just being the beach and Hollywood, so I enjoy showing it in other ways. Although I did cheat a little to make it a bit sparser. I wanted to make it like the small towns of my childhood which were a little more remote, but still keep it in Cali. It’s meant to be in those tiny towns near Sequoia.

What was the most challenging part to write?
The ending, by far. I wrote it 3 times I think. And lol, I remember sending it to my critique partner at the time and he sent it back and all it said was ‘she stayed in the car???’ You will notice with the current ending she does not stay in the car. And there is no car, but yeah, I had to figure out how to end write the climax without taking away Amy’s agency.

Are you satisfied with the ending you landed on? or does it still bug you?
I’m very happy with it.

Tell me about your writing process. Are you pretty consistent, or do you have high word count days and low word count days?
I’m fairly episodic. I will write 20-30k in a few weeks and then have a pause while I figure out what happens next. I think as I get more experienced I’m getting faster at the figuring out part, but from experience (NaNoWriMo I hate you) forcing myself forward when I don’t feel quite happy with the direction the plot is taking is toxic for me.

Do you outline extensively, or construct a loose idea?
No outlines at all. Ok, I did have an outline for Echoes, but everything in it turned out to be boring, so only the concept remains. Usually I just start with a ‘what if,’ or a scenario and go from there.

Do you consider yourself a “pantser?”
I prefer ‘discoverer’. Or ‘explorer.’

Explain?
I almost always have pants on when writing. I just don’t really like the divisiveness of the pantster/plotter binary

I am interested to hear you elaborate on ‘discoverer’.
I think I got the term from Joanna Penn. She talks about discovering the plot, and that’s how I feel. A lot of my pauses in writing are because a character did something that’s OOC, or an event happened that isn’t logical for the world, and my subconscious pokes me until I figure that out and correct it. It’s as if I’m on an adventure.

Is that the main source of your “writer blocks”?
Yeah, but I don’t really consider them blocks. Or rather I guess I feel like a block is always my subconscious trying to tell me something is wrong in either my story or my life.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently doing the final pass on Overtones of Midnight, which is the 3rd book in the Guardian trilogy. I also have one and a half books written in a new series called The Extra Fakes, a sort of urban fantasy superheroes concept and I have someone bugging me about a deep space world that I’ve been playing with.

Do you tend to stay focused on one project at a time?
Clearly not! I do and I don’t. I will hyperfocus on a project for a time and then jump to something else and hyperfocus on that. More of my whole ‘when I’m writing, I’m writing a lot.’ A sort of ADHD writer style.

What authors do you look up to?
I greatly admire Kristine Kathryn Rusch, she’s the whole deal. Not only was she one of my earliest sci-fi and fantasy influences (The Fey particularly) she gives back a lot to the writing community via her blog. And I recommend her writing book The Pursuit of Perfection to everyone. I have long admired Terry Pratchett (who doesn’t?) for his fabulous world building and incredible satire.

Do you compare your book to other famous media? Like “X meets Y”, or “a lighter take on _”.
I have been told you should have that sort of high concept pitch, but I can’t figure out how. Suggestions, please! And don’t say Stranger Things.
Hmm, I am only a third of the way in, and still getting a feel for the plot, so I will have to get back to you on that once I finish. It does a feel of Final Destination, which you refer to in the plot.

Is there anything you want readers to know about the book?
I don’t know. Let me ask you if anything has surprised you, or been not what you assumed/expected, genre, concept or plot-wise?
I am still early in the book, getting a feel for the characters. I love how much I relate to Amy, and yet how frustrating she is. I feel so much of her struggle as a shy bookworm, surrounded by people who are often derisive towards intelligence, to avoid attention. I’d probably make similar choices to her, and yet I still find myself getting frustrated when she pushes people away or closes herself off. I love how authentic she is. Incredibly consistent, which is a big kudos to you for writing her. But her choices are so frustrating at times.
You know that’s probably the most common feedback I’ve gotten. So maybe what I should say is that in the end, it’s really a girl’s bildungsroman. With cool adventures and a little romance.