Saturday, February 1, 2014

Interview with author Briana Lawrence

Today, let's get to know author Briana Lawrence a bit better.

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure thing! Let’s see… I’ve been writing since I was nine, at least, that’s the age I have a clear memory of writing something. So this whole writing thing has been a childhood dream come true. There’s been some bumps here and there – such is life – but here I am, writing books. I’ve also written reviews, articles, all sorts of fun things. I also enjoy painting, woodburning, and other crafty things. Then there’s all of the geekery, like my love for anime, video games, cosplay, and things like that. The best part is having a partner who is a part of all of this, too. Though I swear my geekiness increased when I met her. It’s her fault, honest!

Q ~ If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?

I’m not sure. All of the animals I really love are cute, like puppies, kitties, red pandas... and I don’t think I’d be any of those? But I do love them! I actually have three cats with my partner right now. I guess it would be a bit nice being a cat, sleeping most of the day and chasing random things like laser pens and things that ring.

Q ~ What’s one habit that you have that you’d like to break?

Sometimes I procrastinate on doing things. I think I’m getting better at it, but sometimes I wait until the last minute to get things done.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?

I like a variety of genres, it depends on what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes, I want some action. Sometimes, I want something that’ll make me think. It’s funny, because usually I’m like, “I don’t like romance,” but it always finds a way in my stories! Whether it’s the central focus or not, I like creating unique characters and couples. So, sometimes, I do like romance. And sometimes I want something hot, something erotic. That’s the great thing about fiction, it can really give you anything you’re in the mood for.

As for what I like to write, it’s the same here too. It depends on my mood and what my muses whisper in my ear. Though something that always seems to be in my books is some sort of geeky character, whether it's video games, movies, comics, anime, I just always end up with a geek in my book. I don’t even do it on purpose, I’ll just be writing a scene and suddenly a character is playing “Kingdom Hearts” or something.

Q ~ How did you begin writing professionally?

Back in college I wrote some things for the Women’s Studies department since it was my second major. I also wrote for my college paper my last semester of college. So that was the beginning, but it really got more interesting when I started writing for different anime websites. I got to write reviews, articles, opinion pieces, all sorts of things. It’s just been building up from there.

Q ~ Who are your biggest supporters in your writing?

My parents. My partner. My friends. I actually have a lot of good people in my life who are really supportive of what I do. They get excited whenever I release something new, and their excitement is really infectious. I mean, I’m excited too, of course, but hearing that, “YAY,” from them just makes it better.

Q ~ Do you have any ‘writing rituals’ that you always follow?

I always write an outline for the book I’m working on, just to get my ideas out there. I’ll write notes for scene ideas and characters and things like that, and try to put it all in order. Of course, as I get deeper involved with the story, things change along the way. However, I at least have the outline to look at so I know what the general idea is of my book.

Oh. And hot chocolate. Or coffee. Something like this is always necessary when writing.

Q ~ When you write, do you try to reach a specific word count or simply write until you are done?

I just write until I get done, unless if it’s for an anthology or a contest with a specific word count. But if it’s just me writing, I write until the story is complete.

Q ~ What inspired you to write Double Hue?

The question, “If you could go back and change the past,” is interesting to me, especially when it comes to dealing with a loved one. Gable has the ability to go back and change the past, but while he’s going back, he’s going through so much crap that there’s a point where it’s like, “Well… maybe he should stop.” I don’t want to spoil too much, haha, but just that concept is interesting to me. It’s really interesting because Gable doesn’t really know how going back works. It just happens and he doesn’t really have control over it.

Another part of the inspiration, randomly, came from the gay marriage debate. I actually had this story sitting in Google docs, unfinished, as I focused on what would be my first book, “Treat Me Kindly.” But with election season in 2012, gay marriage came up again. While it’s not directly addressed in the book, the issues in the LGBT community are a big part of it. Gable worried about coming out to his parents. His boyfriend, Avery, came out to his own parents and they disowned him, so Gable now very worried. On top of that, there’s a serial killer who kills gay men, but who is also attracted to gay men. I remember there’s a part where Gable thinks that, wow, if circumstances were different he’d probably feel sorry for this guy. Because, sometimes, there’s this moment of thinking that if you’re attracted to the same sex, there’s something wrong with you. I had that thought occur when I first started liking my partner back in college. I thought, “Crap! This isn’t right!” It’s a legitimate concern, and it gets a bit complicated in the book because those thoughts are coming from a killer.

It also mirrors me and my partner, sort of. In little ways here and there. Avery is a video game geek, like me. Gable doesn’t get it at all. My partner does get it, but she doesn’t play as much as me, and sometimes I’ll play a game that just makes her stare blankly at the screen – like Gable does. In a bigger scope, Gable and Avery are working on coming out to their parents because it’s their past year of college. The same happened with me and my partner – except my mother knew before that. But that last year of college for me? I knew I had to tell my dad, and we would have to tell my partner’s parents, and we were both pretty concerned about it. In the end it worked out, but it took some time.

Q ~ In Double Hue you tackle more than a few topics that some may consider difficult or distasteful yet still make them approachable and bring them to the forefront of conversation. Was this easy for you and do you feel that it is something that should be a more approachable topic for the general public?

It was both easy and difficult. It was easy because it’s a topic that’s important to me and something I can relate to. Like I said, when I started having feelings for my partner I immediately thought, “No no no no no.” I thought I was doing something wrong by liking someone of the same sex. And I think that happens quite often. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling a moment of panic, you know? In fact, I denied my feelings, I stopped talking to her and avoided her because I thought it was wrong.

The difficult part was having those feelings in a serial killer.

It was also really, really difficult writing in that POV. On the one hand, it was interesting getting inside his head. On the other hand? Having to use gay slurs and things like that was really hard. I felt each of those “fag” and “pansy” and “homo” and… it hurt to write, but at the same time I found the character interesting because, like Gable realized, if circumstances were different he’d feel bad for him.

It wasn’t the whole killing the boyfriend thing that was hard – though I love Avery so it wasn’t fun to kill him over and over and over again – but it was taking hold of the killer.

Q ~ Double Hue isn’t your only published work. Do any of your novels stand out as something that is extra special to you?

“Treat Me Kindly” is my very first published work, so it means a lot to me. It actually started out as a fanfic that I never finished. I went back and read it, and ended up completely flipping it around. It changed a lot! But it sort of paved the way for me and got me into the published book world. I learned a lot through this book. I learned how much hard work it is to get your work out there. You go in thinking that all you have to do is write the book and the publisher will do the rest. The publisher will help, but you still have so much work to do. The work never ends! So with this book I learned that, and learned about how to market myself, and other useful skills when it comes to writing.

“Seeking the Storyteller" means a lot to me as well. It's sort of my first attempt at a series, and it's great because I wrote it with my partner. It's our first joint book together. It's really special to us because, before we moved in together, we would roleplay online so we could stay in touch with one another (she went to school in Minnesota and I went to school in Iowa). We ended up creating this really interesting world with all sorts of characters, and this book was born from those late night roleplay sessions. It's kind of hard to believe it's here!

Q ~ Do you have a favourite character in your novels? Is this individual based on someone in your life?

I have a special place for all of the characters in my work. They all mean something to me. Whether it's Aaron's no nonsense attitude in "Press START to Play" or Avery's fun attitude in "Double Hue," they all are important. This even includes the villains, even if they scare me sometimes. I look at the villain in "Double Hue" and think, "Wow... did I come up with this?"

"Seeking the Storyteller" has a bunch of characters I love, but that's a more interesting case. Since it was me and my partner roleplaying, there are certain characters I would play out and certain ones she would handle. It's really interesting looking at the book now because I have a moment of, "Jeez, once upon a time, you were in an AIM chat box."

Q~ Do you have any other novels planned or in progress at the moment? Can you give us a sneak peek or hint?

We're working on the second book for "Seeking the Storyteller." The first draft is done, but we have to read it over and add things, take things out, and all that good stuff. Also, I have another short story that's going to be part of a Dreamspinner anthology, and they also accepted a holiday story I wrote.

I have some ideas bouncing around in my head, including an erotic romance series of books, a series of geeky love stories, my poor Google docs is going to get full! I still have to work things out in my head and stuff. Ha, to think I once said I don't care for romance.

Q~ If you could give some advice to those who want to write professionally, what would it be?

I would say to prepare for rejection, but let's be honest, you're never prepared. So I'll say this: hearing a "no" does not devalue your work. It's o.k. to feel bad, and I recommend you give yourself a day. Give yourself a day to be sad, or mad, or whatever. Don't respond to that email though. Instead, go out and do something to take your mind off of things. Go out and do something fun. Do something you enjoy, because you know what? You deserve it. This writing thing is hard work!

Connect with Briana online

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