YA Reads Debut Author Bash – Dawn Brazil

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~ About the Author ~

dawn brazil

I’m a writer of Young Adult science fiction and fantasy. I love the teenage voice and find it most enjoyable to write for this audience. However, the stories I write can appeal to a broader audience, not simply teens. My debut YA Urban Fantasy novel, Finding Me released on April 2, 2014.

 ~ Books by Dawn ~

 

~ Interview with Dawn Brazil ~

Q. I have noticed that many readers are aspiring authors.  Do you have any tips or advice for them?

A. Yes, two things. Keep reading. The more you read, the better writer you become. And finally, write, the more you write the better writer you become.

Q. When did you start writing?

A. I’ve always loved to write but I never thought I could do it seriously. As a kid, I thought, who really gets to have that much fun as a viable career. I had these whimsical, fantasy stories floating around in my head since forever. Eventually, I stopped writing and reading, did all the things we’re told to do as adults, like finish college, get married, have kids, find the most awesomely boring job on the planet… But I decided I was no longer going to work through my hour lunch breaks “for the man.” I decided I was going to read. I hadn’t read a good book in years. I really missed it. So, I started reading. Then one day, I said, “Hey, I think I could do this.” So, I wrote one scene for a story that had been in my head for some time. I showed it to my daughter and she loved it. That was in 2010. I haven’t stopped writing since.

Q. What made you decide to publish your first book?

A. I couldn’t keep the story to myself any longer and I couldn’t edit one more word. I don’t think there’s been a book edited as much as this one. With all the rewrites, I could wallpaper my house. Seriously! I just really loved the characters and believed in the story. I had to share them with the world.

Q. What motivates you to write?

A. My love for creating drives me. I have to be passionate about the characters too or I won’t finish the story. But nothing compares to the high I get when I write an awesome scene. Or when my characters do something unexpectedly amazing.

Q. Do you ever feel frustrated with your work?

A. Oh yes. I work a full time job, am married and have three kids. You better believe I get frustrated. I get mad at myself sometimes. I might be the lone person in the writing world who wants to admit this but I doubt if I’m the only one who feels like this – sometimes, I resent my passion. Why? Because it’s not easy to juggle everything. I like to think I’m Wonder Woman. But honestly, I’m more like Normal Woman. And she doesn’t have a bit of super power. I struggle with knowing I’m not the best mom I can be because I’m sucked into my writing world. But I’m not the best writer I can be because I’m immersed in my wife and mommy world. So yes, I get frustrated but the alternative is to give one of them up and that just isn’t an option. Ever!!!

Q. What makes you keep writing when you get frustrated?

A. That’s simple: Love, my passion. I absolutely love what I do. There is no going back for me. I’m in this for the long haul. As long as I have a story to tell, it will be told. I won’t mention any names, but I don’t get how an author publishes one or two books and never publishes anything else. I have so many story ideas and characters kicking around in my head that I feel like I have multiple personality disorder.

Q. How do you get over writer’s block?

A. I keep writing. I don’t move from my computer. Sometimes, I just sit and stare at the screen. Like, BAM the words are going to spontaneously appear. That hasn’t happened yet, though. I also go back to my outline – I’m half a pantser. The outline helps me work out where I’m getting stuck.

Q. How do you handle negative reviews of your books?

A. Well, I start with the yellow pages for the city and state that person lives in… Just kidding. No one likes bad reviews. But I think a bad review can help the author, too. If worded correctly. I have a few bad reviews for my novel and while I gritted my teeth so hard some of the enamel came off, I sifted through them for two things: anything I could use to better myself as a writer and anything this person felt I did right. Anything for the love of God…anything. So, I patted myself on the back for that. And smacked myself upside the head for the other things I felt I could have done better. But I’m a good student…I learn quickly. The one pet peeve I do have is when someone hates the book and writes a review that has inaccurate information. For instance, a reviewer said one of the reasons she didn’t like my book was because the characters fell in “insta love” (love at first sight). I was like, What the #$%&!! Did you even read the book? No they don’t. Okay, I’m off my soap-box on that…

Q. There are a lot of distractions around, especially with social media, how do you block it all out and write?

A. I succumb to them. Honestly, I’m not the best person to answer this because I’ll be on a roll writing my rear end off and then Theo James will pop into my head and I’m off googling his pictures. Or I think, I’ll just check Facebook really quick. Don’t get suckered people – Facebook is evil. It was created as an antagonist to all creative endeavors. It will zap the life out of whatever project you are working on. It is the end of all things…Okay, I’m over that tangent (I might have had too much coffee this morning). I’m working on this issue, continuously.

Q. What do you enjoy, outside of writing?

A. Spending time with my family. Sleeping. Cooking. Movies…in that order.

Q. What’s something about you that most people don’t know?

A. I’m weird and shy (but you probably guessed the first part by reading this). I’m in love with Superman and would divorce my hubby if I thought I could have him (ummm, that’s if he were real also). And I cannot write without having a York Peppermint Patty.

Q. Have you ever had to rewrite portions of a book because the characters decided to be someone else than you intended?

A. Grrr…can you tell by the way I’m baring my teeth that I loathe having to do this. But yes, I have had to do this. Sometimes characters get so rebellious and think everything is about them. Sometimes they get this diva complex and think they know what is best for them (yeah, I’m looking at you, Sam). All jokes aside, I have learned to listen to my characters also because I hate to read a book series and find a character does something so utterly different from what I’ve become used to that I cringe and think, This character wouldn’t do that. Authors stop interfering with your character. I understand that there should be a definite character arch. My character Chloe changes considerably in book one of my Finding Me series but I also stay true to who she is. She’ll change…just not all at once. It’s an organic change and not one forced by my heavy author hand.

Q. Where do you come up with the names for your stories?

A.TV, Movies. Sometimes, if I’m pissed off enough at a person, I’ll just write a scene, create a character for that person, and then kill them off… slowly.

Q. Did you ever think you’d be a published author?

A. No, I didn’t. I thought, what sane person is going to read a fantasy/science fiction/paranormal book by little ol’ me. Nobody. So I languished in self-doubt for a while. Then one day, I kicked myself in the rear (yeah, it wasn’t that easy getting my leg up there either) and did it. And I don’t regret it at all.

Q. What are you working on currently?

-Title: Enlighten Me

-Date of Release: September 24 (hopefully, this was my Mom’s B-day)

-Where did you get the idea for it?: This is the second book in the Finding Me series

-When is the cover reveal?: September 1

 

Q. Do you ever write characters you hate?

A. Yes and no. I write characters that are bad sometimes. I write about superheroes and a superhero needs a super villain. In book one of, Finding Me, my villain is not clear but he starts to come to light and he’s not very likable. But he’s not even as bad as the villain in the next book, the true villain in the whole series. He’s an awful person and if I ever met him, I’d kick him in the !#@%&… But I LOVED to write him. He tested my writing muscles. I didn’t know I could be that evil. And funny at times. So, yeah, there’s a love hate thing going on.

Q. Who is your favorite character that you’ve written?

A. Sam, from my yet unpublished book, V.O.L.T. She’s complex, as complex a character as I’ve ever written. And she actually made me cry. Yes, I’m a sap. I can’t wait for the world to read about her.

Q. What was your first published book? How do you feel about it now?

A. My first published book was Finding Me. *sigh* It’s still so surreal. Chloe and Chris’ story is out there for the world. It has only been a few months and it’s not an overnight success. But I’m very proud of the work I did in it. After reading some of the reviews, I think I need to stick with my gut on a few things that I felt was off while writing it and I now know to do that. But overall I’m so freakin’ stoked about it that my belly goes all flip floppy when I see the cover still.

Q. Where did you get the idea for your books?

A. Okay, I know this is corny and a bit cliché…I get a lot of ideas from my dreams. And movies.

Q. Were there any scenes in it that were difficult for you to write?

A. At first, the romance scenes were so difficult; I thought I’d pull my hair out. I didn’t read a lot of romance, so I didn’t really have a foundation when it came to writing it. So, I started reading it more. I started reading books that had romance as a subplot with the fantasy and science fiction elements I loved. This is definitely a plug to read. Read, read, and read some more. I think I’ve gotten quite good at writing the romance scenes now and I actually don’t mind reading romance, especially if it’s laced with a little of the supernatural.

Q. Do you have a favorite genre to write?

A. Yes, fantasy. I love creating new worlds. I love to answer the question, what if.  Books have always been about escape for me and nothing gets you out of the mundane and into the surreal like a great fantasy. I think I’d like to write a Dystopian also. Again, answering the, what if, question.

Q. Is there a type of genre you refuse to write?

A. Romance. Hold up, before you throw something at me. There is a considerable amount of romance in my books but there is always the supernatural, fantasy, sci-fi element at the forefront of the plot. But I could not write an entire book with only romance to push the plot along. I could do something like, If I Stay by Gayle Foreman. This was definitely romance but it had a touch of the supernatural. The sequel, Where She Went, was pure romance. I loved reading them both but couldn’t write them both.

Q. Do you prefer your books in print or e-book format?

A. If you’d asked me this two years ago, I would have said print faster than you could blink. But because I read so much and e-books are considerably lower in price than print, I’d have to say e-books. But I adore print books still and buy them also…just not as much as I buy e-books. When you have an addiction, you look for the easiest and least costly way of obtaining the source of your addiction.

Q. What are you currently reading?

A. I’m reading Fire Country by David Estes. It is a dystopian of fantastical proportion. I’m loving it. My only regret is that I didn’t find this series (The Moon Dweller series) sooner.

Q. What is your favorite book? 

A. This is the question…the one that I should have known would be asked and is so incredibly difficult. I have many favorites…. But if I had to narrow them down, I would have to do so by new favorites and old favorites. Here they are in no certain order: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and Delirium by Lauren Oliver. My older book favorites are: Rose Madder by Stephen King, The Long Walk by Stephen King, and The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (yeah, I know this title is out of place with everything else but it is so emotionally inspiring it can’t be left off this list).

Q. Who is your favorite author? 

A. Stephen King…that was easy and needs no explanation.

Q. Do you have any excerpts from any of your books (published and WIPs) that you’d like to share with us?

A. Why certainly. Here’s a snippet from a few:

From Finding Me

I forced my eyes upward. My mind cascaded over all the things I could say. I knew I shouldn’t allow him to bully me. My thoughts scattered, the right words slipped away. “I…no…you are not–”

My head jerked back suddenly, casting a dozen sparkling stars across my eyes, and a bolt of electricity shot up my spine. The zap was so intense, I stumbled, face-first to the floor. The fall should have thrown me to the smooth, dry surface of the wood floor of the school hallway.

It didn’t.

My hands met moisture. My eyes bulged as I took in what lay beneath them: grass.

I lifted my head to scan the area, stunned to silence. A sea of green enveloped me. The urge to scream overpowered everything, but I fought it. I clasped my hands to my mouth to muffle the sound that escaped anyway.

The football field stretched before me.

How can I be here? This isn’t possible. I scrambled to my feet, spun around, and gazed at the school I’d been in moments ago. I shut my eyes tight. “Please let me be back in the school, about to have the biggest fight with Zack,” I said aloud.

My heart thrummed at my chest, but my eyes remained shut, afraid of what I might find once I dared a peek. But standing with them closed wasn’t an option. A crow cawed overhead to urge me on. My eyes sprang open. Confusion twisted away at my insides. Why was I still on the field? I swallowed back the lump in my throat and ran a shaky hand through my thick hair that continually blew into my face, obstructing my vision.

Straining against the glare of the midday sun, I tripped, my feet two cinderblocks in my boots. For late August, the Manhattan wind that kicked up seemed to scream winter and not fall. I tucked the unruly strands of hair, tossed about by the rebel wind, behind my ear and took another reluctant step forward. That was when I saw it. The crimson red thrust against the emerald green of the field. The colors blended, reminding me of Freddy Krueger’s sweater in A Nightmare on Elm Street. There was a lot of blood in that movie. And I was pretty certain blood was the red part I saw on the field.

I gasped. My breath caught in my throat and the stench of copper invaded my nostrils. I fought against the urge to vomit, yet couldn’t contain the desire to move closer.

I’d never seen a dead body before.

After a few steps, my feet refused their forward motion. Fear raced slick and hot up my spine. The familiar face taunted me. It should; I knew it well. It belonged to Zack.

I fell to the ground near his body. Confused, emotions swirled. My heart raced and my stomach flipped. I leaned forward to grasp the rigid turf as a wave of nausea rocked my body. But I refused to look away.

I searched his open eyes, as dark and bleak as night, unable to comprehend what I saw. His gaze was blank. Two holes that lead to nothing but emptiness. I extended my hand to close them. Tears fell over my outstretched arm as I inched my hand toward him. Fear pierced my resolve. I tried to choke back the fear. It lingered.

 

From Finding Her – a Finding Me Novella

Her lips were so soft. I could suck on them all night.

But there were other parts of her body I wanted to explore. I lifted my head and placed it in the crook of her neck. Then I ran my tongue slowly down the side. She moaned and arched her back off the mattress. I smiled into the fold of her skin knowing I was responsible for her pleasure.

I traced my kisses back up her neck and held my lips dangerously close to her mouth. Our eyes locked. A small gasp escaped from her lips. She blew my mind. And she’s mine.

She reached behind me and tangled her delicate hands into my hair. With a light tug, she pressed our lips back together. And we fell back into each other completely – lips and tongues colliding.

She pushed me back, panting. “Chris. I miss you. I really need you to find me. I’m lost. I’m alone. Please.” Heavy tears flowed from her brown eyes.  She threw her hands to her face.

My stomach flipped. “Amanda. I’m here. What are you talking about? I’m right here.” I tried to pry her hands away. But she shook her head and pressed her hand tighter to her face. Finally, she spread her fingers apart so I could see only a sliver of her face. Then she slowly peeled her fingers back.

“See that’s the problem. I’m not Amanda.”

I sat up so fast I nearly knocked the large print of New York that covered the wall behind my bed on top of my head. My heart beat like a trapped guerrilla in my chest. I inhaled three deep breaths to calm myself.

It didn’t work. My dreams were cruel. And that dream had been exceptionally evil.

 

From Enlighten Me – (Finding Me series, book 2, WIP)

Once in the hall, I spotted Casey pushing her way into the girl’s restroom down the hall. She had her head tucked low and her shoulders hunched. Clearly, she was trying to hide. This is insane. I skirted around the swelling crowd near the restroom and pushed my way through the heavy wooden door.

A group of girls, underclassmen, stood at the mirrors. They teased their hair and applied too much make-up to faces that closely resembled clowns already. I ignored them. Casey was not in their group. I diverted my attention to the stalls. Of the six stalls in the restroom, three were occupied. I glanced at the shoes to see if I could distinguish if any were Casey’s. There was a pair of red and white All-Star Converse, a pair of black Jimmy Choo leopard boots, and a pair of Fendi Espadrille flats. Yeah, she’d be the boots.

I leaned against one of the porcelain sinks and waited for Casey to make an appearance. The girls next to me began to pack up their surplus of make-up and hair products but Casey still hadn’t emerged from hiding. I could go in, grab her by her spiky blonde hair, and drag her out. I fidgeted with the strap of my messenger bag. Patience wasn’t my strongest suit. And Casey was testing it now.

Anger bubbled beneath the surface of my skin. A tingle spread through my bones and sank into the crevices of my consciousness. With futile effort, I tried to push the anger away…to force it into submission. It didn’t work.

An explosion erupted inside of me. Tearing at the fabric of my mind and quieting everything around me. My head hurt like someone had lit a match and danced around a bonfire inside it. Then the door to the stall Casey was in flew off the hinges and landed on the tiled floor at my feet. Casey flew through the air. Her arms and legs flailed like she was swimming in midair. “Put me down you insane bitch,” she yelled.

I opened my mouth to laugh at her assertion that I had anything to do with what was happening to her. But one glance at my outstretched hands, which had turned a horrifying shade of slime green, let me know that something wasn’t right.

With me.

Again.

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