Interview with Brandilyn Collins. Her newest book, Web of Lies, may be purchased at amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/0310251060
Vicki: Did you choose your genre, Christian suspense-thriller, or did it choose you? How did you begin writing suspense novels?
Brandilyn: I chose it, and it chose me. Eyes of Elisha, a suspense, was the first novel I wrote (although not the first published). However, I did write women's fiction as well as suspense, and would have continued in that vein were it not for a marketing meeting in Jan. of 2005 in which the Zondervan folks persuaded me to focus on suspense. For that meeting, my editor, the marketing director, and an outside consultant they'd hired to overview my career flew out west to our home in California to meet with me and my husband. The meeting ended up taking almost eight hours. Here's a bit about that meeting (taken from my own blog):
. . . We talked about who I am as an author. What my novels offer. We looked at the hard numbers of sales. We talked about other authors, and how I am different from them. What my niche is in the market. We talked about trying to market me over the two very different genres of suspense and women's fiction (technically called the contemporary genre). My killing side and my softer side, so to speak. The kind of suspense I'd ended up writing made the chasm between these two personas even greater, because I write intense suspense—the more scary stuff. Not too much of that kind of writing in the Christian world.It didn't take long for it to dawn on me just what a split personality I'd created.Now we faced an even bigger hurdle. I was gaining readers with my Hidden Faces series, but those readers would have to be put aside while I returned to women's fiction. By the time I returned to these blood-thirsty readers, a couple of years would have passed. Would they still be there?Looking back, I can't believe how easily I caved. Chalk it up to the prayers. Chalk it up to really wanting to follow where God lead. 'Cause I didn't wanna go there. About two hours into the meeting, I was talking the talk I'd vowed never to utter—that the smart thing to do was brand myself completely to one genre.And at the moment, my foremost genre was the one of murder and mayhem.Suddenly, just like that—I became a suspense writer. Only . . .-----------------
(Taken from Part 64 of my NES--the Never-Ending Saga of my journey toward publication in fiction, and beyond. June 3, 2005 post.)
Vicki: How do you research your work?
Brandilyn: I use the Internet for a start, then go to professionals in the field. For forensics basics and story ideas, I watch true shows on TV such as Forensic Files, Cold Case Files, etc. I DON'T watch TV crime dramas such as CSI, etc., because their forensics basics are is not completely reliable.
Vicki: You have a great inteactive blog which makes you accessible to your readers. It must take alot of time to keep it current. Why do you place such importance on interacting with your readers? (I'm sure they love it!)
Brandilyn: In the marketing meeting referenced in question 1, my editor insisted that I start a blog. I groaned. "Are you kidding? Like I don't have enough to do!" And it is hard to come up with interesting posts every Monday through Friday. However, I know my NES story, plus all the inside looks at the publishing world and all the teaching of fiction techniques have helped people. Plus it's given me an immediate community of folks to draw from. When I needed auditioners last week for the unusual marketing plan for my next novel, Violet Dawn, and it's series, I was able to go to this built-in community. Besides, I love the BGs (my bloggees--blog readers). They're way cool folks. It's taken time to build this community, and yes, it involves much work on my part, but I am so grateful for them. I give to them; they give back to me.
Vicki: What is your favorite of the books you've written?
Brandilyn: I really can't name just one. Of the women's fiction, my favorite is Color the Sidewalk for Me. Of my suspenses, it's Eyes of Elisha, Dead of Night and Web of Lies. I think. Ask me tomorrow, you might get a different answer. All in all, I hope my favorite book is not yet written.
Vicki: Do your own books give YOU nightmares?
Brandilyn: Nope. And they should. I am definitely warped, like my mother says.
Vicki: What is the next book in the pipeline?
Brandilyn: Violet Dawn, first in the Kanner Lake series, launches in August. You can follow the link to read the back cover copy. And the beginning to Violet Dawn is also in the back of Web of Lies.
The BGs have been hearing about this book for a long time. I've been honest on my blog about the difficulties in writing it. Have given them inside looks at its editing process through Zondervan, from macro edit to copyedit to proofing. Now many of them are entering into the marketing plan for the series, which involves some writing on their part, and plenty of perks in return (including a four-month-early read of the book). The post for Monday, April 17 lays out this whole scheme. Although this auditioning process is now full, there will be opportunities after this year for others to write for the new Scenes and Beans blog, which will feature characters from the Kanner Lake series. We'll see how this all goes. 'Twill be a very public marketing experiment.
The gist of Violet Dawn? DON'T get in the hot tub . . .
Seatbelt Suspense (TM)
Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . (TM)