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Interview with Brenna Lyons
Feb 3, 2008

 

Hello Brenna and welcome to Manic Readers. Grab a cappuccino and let the readers get to know more about Brenna Lyons.

Grinning... Well, I'll sip my hot chocolate, because the first thing about me you're going to learn is that I don't drink coffee or tea...and rarely soda. This energy is a natural phenomenon, apparently. I adore the smell of them, but I can't stand the taste of either. There's a long, complicated reason for each, but I'll save that for another time. Might use it in a book, someday.

I’ve seen your website, been there quite a few times actually.

Why thank you! It's nice to know that the site brings people back. I spend time on it, whenever I have a moment to spare.

You have so many series and books I don’t even know where to begin. So, I’ll start with the obvious! Do you have a favorite book or series?

That depends on my mood. I'm always closer to the one or ones I'm writing that second. When I'm in a down mood, I'd likely say my favorite is Night Warriors series. When I'm in an up mood, I'd likely say my favorite is dan Aidan Fairies series. When I'm charged up and running full-out, Renegades series tops the list.

Do you write all the time, day and night, or do you have a schedule you adhere to?

I write, whenever the opportunity arises. Certain things in my life are on schedule, like the day job (special needs young adults and kids). I know that's going to block out 9-3:30 on any day there's school, unless one of my own kids is sick. Beyond that, my life is havoc in motion. I live out of my day planner, some weeks...some months, actually. This is one of them. Grinning...

If my husband is working, I will get up sometime between 4:45 and 6:15 or so. If he's not working that day, I will get up sometime between 6:30 and 8:00. I may go to bed at night anywhere between 9 pm and 2 or 3 am. And yes...I do occasionally stay up working until 2 am and get back up at 6:30 for work.

I usually do e-mail, first thing in the morning. After that, I do formatting for Mundania and herd the kids toward getting ready for school, if it's a school day. If I have time, I'll do some editing or writing, before work. If not, that gets shunted until after school, after another round of e-mail and in-between homework with the kids, house work, cooking dinner and errands. Now you know why I often stay up until 2 am. The only sane time I have is before 6:15, when my oldest gets up, and after 8:30, when the kids are headed to bed.

And, I can't just stop writing on hectic weeks. It's no secret that I'm prolific, but some people don't know that I suffer (just a touch...it's usually a joy) from hypergraphia. I once thought I could do without writing for a three-day camping trip with the family. Two days in, I was scribbling a scene on the backs of flyers with an orange pen (the only writing implement I had in the van). No, I'm not kidding.

What’s the hardest part about writing? Promoting the books, sagging middles, or is it typing ‘The End’ that you find hardest?

When the characters aren't talking. That typically means either I've done something out of character for them or there's a problem I've encountered that I'm not ready to tackle or flesh out yet. I don't really get writer's block, since I just switch scenes, characters or even books, until it works itself out, and I can get writing again.

I can deal with the characters fighting with me. I can deal with them throwing me Crazy Ivans, while I'm writing. I can deal with them going in directions I wish they wouldn't. It frustrates me, but not as much as when they stop talking to me, because something is wrong, and I haven't found it yet.

How long does it normally take you to finish a book?

That's not an easy question to answer. I average 50,000 words of new work every month. My most productive months were almost 90,000 words per month (and I don't want to repeat those months, thanks). I have written a 165,000-word book in two months and a 35K novella in less than three fevered weeks. I've also had a few WIP for a couple of years. The problem with giving any quantitative answer to the question of time to write a book is that I have in excess of 70 WIP, at the moment, and it's not unusual for me to work on six of them in a single week...or more. Some of them have taken back burner to others, obviously.

Every once in a while, I stop and take stock of how close they are to finished, then force myself to focus on 4 or so that are close to finished. When I worked with Stef Kelsey at eXtasy (before she joined Mojocastle Press), she used to describe my desk-clearing fervor as "the barrage." She jokingly said she spent the month I'd send her four novels, back to back, sitting under her desk, rocking back and forth, muttering "No more Brenna books. No. No more Brenna books."

Do you have any bad writing habits?

Not many, these days. Most of my "tells" were corrected early.

My first editor (Suzanne James) was strict, and Liz Burton was even stricter. Suzanne did the best thing one can do to break bad writing habits. She went through the first eighth of a (really LONG) book, finding all my tells and pointing them out to me. Then she made me go find the rest, before we continued with the edit. That will make you hyper-sensitive to the things you have to find later. Liz hammered the rest.

My worst writing habit, at the moment, is leaving holes in description. At times, the scene or character or interaction is clear in my mind, but it's not clear on paper. I firmly believe that, if an editor tells me something isn't clear, it isn't. I go back and add the details that make it clear.

While writing, how does the story develop for you? Title and characters first, or do you use some other method?

I always have a character or two, taking form as I write him/her/them. I may have some faint idea of where they're taking me, but for the most part, I let them flesh out and tell me the story.

I'm a complete pantser/organic writer. I don't plot/plan. My writing process is character-driven. I don't create characters to fit a plot. Plot grows from the characters acting "in character." I don't work on one project at a time. I don't write linear. I don't know what's coming on the next page, let alone the last page, unless I already wrote the last page, but that's not set in stone, because I might decide to write an epilogue, tying that book to the next.

The three most disconcerting things for me, since everything flows from the character, are:

1. Characters that aren't what I thought they were. That bugs me. After a rather annoying insight into Colin Hunter (Night Warriors series), when I wrote his story, I decided to write a bit of every main character in the Kegin series, to avoid changes in what I thought of them, upon writing the first book in the series. The only saving grace is that the prior opinion of them came from another character, so the fact that that character was wrong is acceptable. Once I get inside a given head, I know precisely what they really are, and they don't change much.

2. Storyline twists that change my view of the world. I know we're supposed to have twists. I can completely accept that. But, my characters have thrown some doozies at me. I've had a few twists thrown at me...twists that the readers won't see until Restrained and Alien Encounters that will change their entire world view of Kegin. When they first unraveled to me, I argued it. "No. You can't go there." Of course the characters insist it is what it is. I'm just along for the ride.

3. Forgetting I wrote something. No, I am not joking. When I was writing Rites of Mating, I decided I needed an epilogue to connect Rites to the next book in the series, Matchmaker's Misery. I decided to flip back in the binder and see precisely how I'd left the scene with Joseph and Berel...only, flipping to the separator showed me a scene featuring Cored and Corin. I honestly didn't remember writing that, though it was the scene I'd been envisioning writing moments before. I flipped back several pages to find the beginning of the scene. It was good! Better than what I'd been considering, by far. But, I still don't remember writing it. It was in my handwriting and one of my pens...and no one else can reproduce those two things. The writing in question probably happened at 2 am, some morning, when I was dead tired and could barely see the words on the page. I probably thought I'd dreamed writing it.

Is there a hero that tugs at your heart more than others? Why?

Most days, I'd say Jörg from Night Warriors series. He is the ultimate hero-villain. Even when he's a hero, he's a rough, intemperate man, though he'd do almost anything for the women he loves, reincarnations of his wife. He gave up his humanity and his wife, to save her life. He lost everything, even the son he didn't know she was carrying. He is damned to be tied to her, but being near her causes her death, over and over. He can't protect her. He can't keep her, but he can't release her...until he dies. Unfortunately, in 1575 years, he hadn't met his match. He's lost her a sum total of seven times, and he would have welcomed death every single day of his life. He does things in her protection or to avenge her that haunt even his own nightmares. And, when he's crossed... Let's just say one man who crossed him and murdered an incarnation of Jörg's wife was beaten to within an inch of death and burned alive in his own church. Did I mention the man he killed was a bishop...a corrupt one, but a man of the cloth, nonetheless? I adore Jörg, and he gives me chills.

How do you keep your ideas fresh and imaginative?

Since everything flows from the characters, I just let them be themselves. No two people are the same, and the situations affect their decisions, even if they are similar. I'm also a people-watcher, which means a single phrase or look will spark an idea for me.

Besides writing, what is your favorite thing to do every day?

Take a long, hot shower. I don't shower as long as my younger sister does, but when I have the time for it, I enjoy a soak under the steaming shower.

Do you have an all time favorite of all the stories you’ve written, published or unpublished?

A favorite? If pressed, I'd be torn between Fairy Dreams and TYGERS.

What genres do you write?

What don't I write? Grinning... Most of my work is dark, milieu-heavy stories, but I write the occasional romp or humor piece. Almost all of my work is Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal (any and all), straight genre through romance, sensual/erotic romance and erotica crosses. But, I've written the odd historical or contemporary romance/erotic romance title.

In addition, I write poetry (my first writing love), articles, essays... There's a reason I've finaled for six EPPIEs in five different categories. I really do range that much.

Who has been the greatest support for you throughout your writing career?

My husband. Hands down. Tying for a close second would be my two best friends, Lisa and Greg. One is my fan club president and an early crit partner. The other is my writing partner and one of my biggest fans. Greg kicks me in the pants, more than any human has a right to...and I adore that he does. He keeps me moving, when I get tired, and I find my second wind.

But my husband... He keeps me in everything I need to keep writing. He keeps my computer working and updates my equipment. He supports me going to my writer's group, my long hours, and my moods. The day my first book released, Prophecy: Revelations, he mounted a brass plate on the front door, announcing that I am an author.

Do you have a website other than http://www.brennalyons.com/ that you would like to share with your readers? 

My MySpace can be found at http://www.myspace.com/brennalyons

Do you have an upcoming release you’re excited about? Tell us about it.

Actually, this is a very exciting time for me. Jeff Strand has told me how jarring it is when you realize that your portfolio is shifting from almost everything in e-book to almost everything in print and some things not releasing in e-book, at all. I never believed him, until now.

In 2007, I had three releases in both print and e-book, four releases in e-book only and three releases in print only. I don't have my full schedule for 2008, yet. I never do in January, but in the first four months of this year, I expect to see one release that is print and e-book and three releases that are print only (at least, at this time). The confirmed releases for later this year that I don't have dates for, at this time, include one e-book only release and two that are print only. That is a real change for me.

Amusingly, I am trying to talk the two publishers I work with that do only print into doing e-book versions of the books, as well. So far, no luck, but who knows what the future may bring?

Tell you about them? Sure.

In February, Phaze is releasing The Last of Fion's Daughters in print. It's already available in e-book, but the print release is coming out. Fion's is part of the Kegin series, and it's already an award-winner: an EPPIE finalist, a PEARL finalist and #9 Fantasy novel in the P&E, the year it first released.

In late February/early March, Under The Moon/Final Sword Productions should be releasing Once Upon A Time...Yesterday in an illustrated print edition. It's an urban fantasy sensual/erotic romance anthology, based on the old Grimm's Tales, co-written with Gregory L. Norris. It includes three stories of mine and five of his, and it's a great book!

About the same time, Mundania Press, LLC. will be re-releasing an expanded version of Written In The Stars, one of my former CAPA finalists. Written is from the Star Mages series. It will be releasing in both e-book and print.

In March, I'm anticipating the re-release of TYGERS from UTM/FSP. This is the first book in my Renegades series, and it will be released in an illustrated print book.

And that only gets me up to April!

Last question, I promise! LOL You’re invited on a cruise that takes you away from all your troubles. What six items (can be people and pets) would you absolutely have to have with you?

How long of a cruise? If it's a week long, I could use that long a break from our kids and get the grandparents to watch the kids (though they live pretty far away). I swear it's ten times as hard to find a sitter in Massachusetts than it was in Virginia.

If we're talking longer, the kids would have to take up three spots, my husband, pens and paper. Wait...that leaves me without internet access. I can scrounge pens and paper on the ship. They have napkins, right? Grinning... Make that my laptop, external hard drive, and my family.

A short cruise... My husband, pen and paper (but they wouldn't see much use that week), a slinky nightgown, my prescription sunglasses and sun block. I can live without internet for a week, as long as I can jot down some scenes, after my swim.

Thank you so much for sharing time with us today, Brenna. Please check out Brenna’s website to read more about her releases. While there, be sure to check out the page titled ‘writer’s life’.  

LOL! I know why you said that page. And, thanks for having me here today.

Interviewed by: Manic Readers.  

 




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