Hello, welcome back to our author interviews!
We’re starting off Monday with a fun interview with Laurie Brandon. She has a three part series on Kindle Vella (how I came across her) as well as other works. She also gets to start off our routine of three interviews a week instead of just two.
So here we go, and check out her work, it is definitely worth the read!
How did you know you had this series in you?
I needed a way to heal after dealing with on-the-job harassment which led me to resign from my teaching position in December 2019–just prior to when COVID appeared in the United States. The work began as a memoir, and then because it was too personal, I knew I needed a way to share what had happened to me but in a way that drew readers into a story. My character of Ashton literally came to me during a dream; I woke up with much of her backstory fully formed in my imagination.
I’m sorry you felt compelled to leave teaching. We are losing so many good educators. Thank you for sharing this story, this realism.
Why did you choose to use a series format?
As I wrote for therapy, the word count and pages grew in large numbers. I began to wonder how I would ever pare down what I had written to the size of a novel. In investigating self-publishing, I came across serial fiction and as Kindle Vella was launching within that same month (July), I decided to publish the story episodically as many of my chapters already had natural cliffhangers built-in.
Prior to writing any fiction, I had only written brief personal essays–memoirs–as examples for my English students. I always had the goal in mind to write a novel, but little time to devote to it until resigning from my teaching position.
I love when it all just comes together. It sounds like Kindle Vella has been perfect for this!
The Writing Process
What is your greatest challenge in writing?
Brevity is my greatest challenge followed closely by not becoming emotional as my characters’ experiences and overcoming challenges in the situations I’ve created for them. It is not uncommon for my husband to come home and find me in tears while drafting or during the editing process as my emotions come to the surface.
I am also dyslexic; editing is difficult when I do not always see my own mistakes.
Plenty of authors without the challenge of dyslexia struggle with this. We read what we expect to see, what we meant to write.
What surprised you in the writing process?
I am both a plotter and a pantser; I have long-term plans for the storyline’s outcome, but often introduce characters and subplots within that long-term plan on a whim and see where it takes me.
Is there something in particular that you found helpful to writing?
The ability to find nearly anything on the Internet is particularly helpful for character development and whether a storyline is plausible, if not entirely possible. I write contemporary, coming-of-age fiction and want my characters, and what they are facing, to be realistic.
I know we tend to write what we know, but what did you need to research for this book?
My main character, Ashton, was inspired by the CBS/Paramount Network drama SEAL Team–her father is a retired Navy SEAL, and I did extensive research into problems faced by those who serve in the armed forces, in special operations in particular, and how difficult it is to keep marriages and families together due to the stresses of that service. My first serial, “An Operator’s Daughter” deals with relationships between daughter and father, the family she is sent to live with–someone who served with her father, and then her own growing relationship with a SEAL just starting out on a Team.
The coolest moment was discovering that SEAL Teams actually train in the area where I live, the Puget Sound region of Western Washington. I found an entire presentation that showed what they might be doing in regional State Parks, and it allowed me to incorporate that training into “A Summer’s Tempest: An Operator’s Daughter part II”.
That’s awesome! I love learning things pertinent to my own life while researching for my stories.
What else can you describe in your writing process?
I am a night owl, and as I have a full-time job as a military education counselor, my writing happens once I am at home for the evening or on weekends. I will draft out key scenes, then write other episodes that build up to those scenes or lead away from them, leaving chronological order behind at times.
This is where I struggle with Vella. My stories are not complete as I start to publish episodes and sometimes I want towrite out of order. In fact, in my third serial, the story called me to write it out of order so chapter five is now chapter four. lol
Let’s Talk About the Reader
How do you know your piece is ready to be shared/complete?
I did not publish the second season of the serial until I knew where the break would be between seasons two and three. As I still find the lives of my characters to be compelling, at least to myself, I do not plan for an ending at this point in the writing and serial publication process.
Who is your expected audience?
Honestly, when I first published “An Operator’s Daughter”, I was hoping for any audience–but as I really wished to share what it is like to teach in and attend a suburban public high school, I was hoping to attract other educators, students, and parents of high school students. I was also hoping my former colleagues and students would be interested enough in my project–many knew I aspired to write–they would give it a read. Honestly, I am disappointed that few have even accessed the first three free episodes because if they did, they would most likely recognize some of themselves in the characters and their own experiences in the situations of the storyline. Perhaps it is best they haven’t read it, because not all of it is flattering to those I’ve based my characters on.
I really empathize with this. I’m not sure whether to share my current WIP with those whom it is loosely based upon.
Who has been your strongest supporter?
My strongest supporters are my husband, my mother, and a reader who lives in Florida who wishes I put out more than 20 episodes each week.
If you could have any author (alive, dead, or fictional) read your book, who would you like to read it?
Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, or the late Tom Clancy would be my choice of literary critic. J.K. Rowling comes to mind as well, because of the Coming of Age elements present in my serials.
I love the spread you chose here. Fantastic writers, every one of them.
What author, or book, or series most influenced you?
Fictional drama first intrigued me when I was 12 and reading, and re-reading, Gone With the Wind. Favorites to teach for me were To Kill a Mockingbird, which I often paired with John Grisham’s A Time to Kill along with The Great Gatsby. And while creating a fantasy world is not yet in my wheelhouse, I love reading and listening to the Harry Potter series.
Harry Potter is a series I should put in my listening queue. I’ve read and watched it several times. It has amazing world building.
Something else you can share with us that makes you who you are?
My bucket list includes visiting every American and Canadian national park. My family has a summer home near Yellowstone National Park, and the little gateway town of Ashton, Idaho, is the inspiration for my main character’s name and where she was born.
My husband and I have been married to one another for over thirty years–and we’ve always had a furry family of tuxedo cats, now joined by an English Cream Golden Retriever.
What else is important to share about your book?
Ashton’s mindset never allows her to give up on what she wants out of her life. She doesn’t let limitations of age keep her from going for exactly what she wants, but she is very human having to overcome severe anxiety along the way. That never-give-up mindset is so important for those who serve in the special operations area of our military–actually resilience is a strong character trait of those who serve in any capacity and that includes their family members who serve with them.
We need more!
When can we expect more from you?
“An Operator’s Daughter part III” working title “Ashton Grace” released during March 2022. The cover artist is my niece who is graduating from medical school this May.
On Kindle Vella:
Contributing author to Anthologies by Vellains Florilegium :
Where can we find you?
My Blog is called Enough to be Dangerous
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