So for this post I thought I’d do another author interview seeing as the one with Sheenah Freitas was well received. This one is with another Twitter friend of mine, a fellow writer on the road to publication, Brandon Moore.
Now for the interview.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Well, my name is Brandon Moore, and I’m 27 years old, and an Anthropology major at DePaul University in Chicago, IL.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing ever since I was five years old. There were a couple of computers in my Kindergarten classroom, and our teacher would let us use them before school. My best friend at the time and I would get on them and write stories (fan faction, really, even though we didn’t know what it was called at that time) that were based on our favorite cartoons. The stories were no more than a few choppy sentences, but that was when I started writing, and I haven’t stopped since then.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Ever since I wrote my first novel in the eighth grade, my main goal has been to someday see something I’ve written sitting on a shelf in a book store. That was my only goal for a while, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked at the way certain authors have inspired me. If my books ever wind up on shelves in stores, and I can influence even one person to write, I’ll be very happy. And, I’ve heard that it can be difficult, but I’d love to someday be able to make a living off of my writing.
Which writers inspire you?
The first writer who truly inspired me was R.L. Stine, the author of the Goosebumps series, among others. The way he made his books scary yet funny, while still delivering jaw-dropping twists and turns, made me a huge fan of his, and I often tried emulating his style early on. K.A. Applegate, who is best known for the Animorphs series, is another author who has inspired me. The series I’m writing at the moment is greatly influenced by her. Her books were the first series I read that followed the same group of characters in each book, and each book in the main series was narrated by one of the six main characters, while certain special edition books outside the main series had a different character narrating each chapter. I really liked the way it worked for her, and it’s something I’ve done as well. She also often tackled morality and ethics in her books (and often had her characters have debates on what’s right and what’s wrong), and that’s something I’ve incorporated into my own series. But the author who has influenced me the most is J.K. Rowling, who, of course, is best known as the mind behind the Harry Potter series. I truly believe she has set the standard for both fantasy and Young Adult novels. The world she created is so expansive and detailed, and her characters feel like real, fleshed-out human beings. The way she dropped subtle clues and casually mentioned seemingly trivial things in early books, only for them to become major plot points later in the series, blew my mind when I first connected the dots, and it still does to this day. I would love to be able to someday create a plot as complicated as Potter’s and be able to keep everything straight.
What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
I’m currently working on a series called The Indigo Chronicles. I’ve been working on it since 2000, but it has gone through many titles and iterations since then, as well as more rewrites than I can count! It’s about a group of teenagers who suddenly begin encountering the supernatural on a regular basis. Over the course of the series, they will attempt to figure out why this continues to happen to them, and what the endgame of it all is. I’m very excited to be writing it!
What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?
My books are Young Adult/Fantasy. One of the main draws to fantasy to me is that anything is possible—magic, hidden worlds, the supernatural, you name it. I really like that elements of history and mythology can be woven into the plots of fantasy stories. Another of my favorite things about fantasy is that, even though the characters are dealing with things that are pretty out there and foreign to the reader, they still have to be relatable. The reader still needs to be able to identify with them, understand them, and root for them.
When did you decide to become a writer? Why do you write?
I decided to become a writer around the time I turned eighteen. I was really sick at the time and was unable to go off to college because of it. Since I knew I would be spending a lot of time at home, I decided to really start cracking down on the series I had started writing several years earlier. I hadn’t written much during my last two years of high school, and just decided to go for it. As far as why I write…I write because I genuinely love it, and I can’t imagine myself not doing it.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I guess I would say I’m a part-time writer. I could probably be a full-time (or at least, close to full-time) writer, but I get easily distracted and tend to procrastinate.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere. I’ve had ideas for books pop into my head while I was in the middle of a grocery store, while watching television, or even in the middle of a class. It’s very random for me. There have been times where hearing a single word spoken aloud will spark an idea, and others where an idea will come after researching something online. I’ve found that ideas tend to come to me when I’m not searching for them, or trying to force them to manifest. Sometimes I won’t get an idea for months at a time, and then there have been other times when a bunch of ideas will flood my mind in a single day, one after another, and I can barely get them all down on paper before I forget them.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’ve tried both, but I am most definitely a plotter. I wrote some of the early drafts of my books by the seat of my pants, and they wound up being somewhat of a mess. There have even been times where, as a pantser, I would get fifty or sixty pages into a book, have no idea where to go next, and eventually abandon the project. Now, whenever I have an idea for a book, I write out a very detailed outline of it—every chapter, every plot point, moments where I want to add foreshadowing, sometimes even lines of dialogue—before I start writing anything. I’m very meticulous about it. I’m much happier with the books I’ve written as a plotter as opposed to the ones I wrote as a pantser. It helps me keep all of my thoughts and ideas organized, and recognize holes or other problems with the plot before I even start writing the book.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
The hardest thing about writing for me has always been creating characters that feel real. My first few drafts featured characters that were dull and as three-dimensional as cardboard cutouts. I feel that I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but I still struggle with it at times. I’ve always been able to write a plot with all kinds of twists and turns and revelations, but your characters are the real backbone of the story. It’s hard to keep a reader interested for long if the characters aren’t distinct and interesting.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest thing about my latest book was actually figuring out the motivations of some of my minor and intermediate characters. A lot of these things will probably never be revealed to the readers, but they’re things I need to know in order to complete the story and have it make sense to me.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
The easiest thing about writing for me is writing dialogue. I’ve read lots of articles that talk about how many writers find it difficult, but I’ve always enjoyed having my characters have funny, quirky discussions that still advance the plot. I have no idea why it comes so easily to me. But then again, there are things that I struggle with that are other writers’ bread and butter.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
I try to read as often as I can. Lately, I’ve actually struggled a bit with balancing my reading time with my writing time. My favorite author is J.K. Rowling, and I’ve been doing a very slow, complete re-read of the Harry Potter series for the past few years now. I’m only a few chapters into Order of the Phoenix at the moment.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
I haven’t spent any time on that yet. I really want the first book in my series to be polished before I start querying or marketing.
What’s your views on social media for promoting your books?
I think using social media to promote books can be a great thing, but I think it can also be a double-edged sword. I love learning about new authors and their books, but lots of authors, particularly on Twitter, tend to bombard their followers with constant tweets about their books and why they’re so great. And I’ve seen way too many authors use social media to describe their books as “the next Harry Potter” or “The next Hunger Games.” Or they’ll say something like, “If you liked Percy Jackson, then you’ll enjoy my new book…” I think doing that is a bit of a turn-off. I think authors should just tell their readers a bit about what their book is about, and leave it at that. If, after checking the book out, a reader decides that it has similarities to a more popular book, then that’s okay. But I don’t think it’s for the author to say. When authors do that, it actually makes me less likely to check out their book.
Which social network works best for you?
Right now, Twitter. I’ve had a personal account for years now, but rarely mentioned my books, or the fact that I’m a writer, on it. But I did create an author account a couple of months ago, and it was very nice to “meet” a community of authors, as well as other people who liked the idea of my series. Everyone was so kind, welcoming, and encouraging.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
I’ve never come across a book trailer I didn’t like. I’ve seen quite a few that piqued my interest and made me want to read the author’s book. As long as the trailer teases your story without comparing it to established works by other authors, I’m fine with it.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Not necessarily because of its success, and the success of its sequels, but because of the richness and complexity of the plot. When I first read it, I’d never experienced anything like it, and I would love to create something that made readers feel that way.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write. And read. Read as many different genres and authors as you can, and write often. Learn from those authors, but instead of trying to be them, develop your own style and your own voice. Write about what interests you, and don’t follow publishing trends just because they’re what’s popular at the moment. Write the story you want to tell.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
For now, anyone who wants to learn more about me and my work can follow my main Twitter account, @indigo_15, as well as my new author account, @BrandonMAuthor. I’m happy to answer questions and chat in either of those places!
Thanks Brandon. Appreciate you being on the blog. This was great.
Until next time guys.