Authors Asking Authors – ML Brennan
This week’s author wrote a book that completely blew me away. SO unique and SO engrossing, the characters endearing and the story gripping. If I had a “Holy Cow this was one hell of a book!” category on Goodreads, this author’s book would be on that list. I am talking about the book Generation V and that would make this week’s question answerer ML Brennan.
Do you have an old writing routine that you used to consider essential (ex: “I can only write if ——-“), that you now don’t need at all? – ML Brennan
I used to think I could only write if I was really in the mood for it. This was actually why it took me two years to write my first book – I only wrote when I felt inspired to. With my second book, I tried a new technique – I wrote regularly, whether I was in the mood or not. Amazingly, the book was finished *much* faster!
Do you have critique partners, beta readers, or even people you run early ideas by? What is your system for that? – Carolyn Crane
Generally I talk out my idea several times while it’s taking shape – generally I’ll corner either of my two first readers, since they’ve seen the entire series take shape, and just start describing things to them. My brother is also a big sci-fi/fantasy reader, so I’ll sometimes talk things out with him over the phone. He’s really useful for this, because he comes from a really strong science background, so he’ll immediately start challenging my concept with questions. It can be really stimulating for these early ideas, because then I have to think, “Hey, what about that thing?” and sometimes that will send me in a completely new direction.
In reading reviews, have you ever stumbled on any useful insight about your work (punctuation quirks, plot holes, beloved/hated characters, story direction, errors your publisher missed) that changed the way you wrote future books? – Jenn Bennett
Yes. My first book, Generation V, is basically barren of any gay characters, and a few reviewers noted this. I’d been aware of it when I was constructing, but since I had plans for a few significant gay characters later in the series, I hadn’t been very worried about it. The comments by several reviewers really helped remind me that while I might have the whole big picture in front of me, and know that a certain level of representation was coming, the readers certainly had no telepathic access to know the same thing! It was a really helpful reminder about the importance of representation, and so I made some small adjustments to the overall arc of the series to make sure that one of those characters showed up a bit earlier than I’d planned.
If there was one thing about being an author or about the publishing industry that you’d want readers to know/understand, what would it be? – Kate SeRine
Oh, gosh, just one thing? I guess mostly how little money a lot of authors make right out of the gate. I understand when readers really want the books faster (believe me, I’ve been there as well – in fact, I’m still there when I love a series and it doesn’t publish as fast as I’d want!), but the truth is that even post-publication, and even though the advance money from the series really did help out, I still have to hold a day job, and that makes the writing go a lot slower than it would if I had nothing to do but sit at my desk and type.
So I think most people will ask about process or inspiration, but I’m a shopping girl at heart. What was the first ‘present’ you bought yourself to celebrate a contract, a big cheque, or a great advance? – Sierra Dean
I’m so boring! I paid off an extra bit of my mortgage and bought Chinese food to celebrate!
If you could go back and rewrite/change any aspect of your main character, would you? – Amanda Bonilla
From a perspective of sheer laziness – I think I probably would’ve cut my main character’s vegetarianism. I thought it would be an interesting plot/character point, but I’ve never been a vegetarian myself, so practically every time my character either buys or makes a meal, I have to stop writing and spend an hour researching vegetarian dishes! I’ve actually heard from several readers who appreciated seeing a main character who was a vegetarian (albeit one who was also a vampire, which made things amusingly complicated), which is really nice, but at the same time there are some moments when I’m combing through recipe lists that I wonder if it was all really worth it.
What book do you wish that you had written? – Jennifer Estep
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s so dreamy, lyrical, and lovely. I’m in awe of her construction and her control as a writer, and every time I read that book I am just eaten up with envy.
Have you ever wished you could visit the world your characters live in and, if so, what do you envision yourself doing in that world? Bartender listening to character woes? Valued friend? Frenemy? – Adrian Phoenix
I’m a pretty timid person, and the world that my characters live in is a bit of a dangerous place, but I think the funny thing is that my main character ended up being a person who I think most of us would actually like hanging out with. He’s a perpetually broke film and sci-fi geek who keeps his vampire side pretty heavily hidden, so, yeah, I would get a kick out of slacking back on a couch and watching Dune with him, eating chips and having absolutely no clue of the darker side of his world.
Bonus Question! What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever been recognized as an author or talked with someone about your books?
When I was still in college, my program invited Dennis Lehane to speak at our annual writing awards ceremony. This was the same year that the Sean Penn movie based on his novel Mystic River came out, so it was extremely exciting. He had a lot of extremely helpful and generous advice for us, but one of the amusing anecdotes he told was of going out drinking with Sean Penn. Lehane got up to go get another drink, and when he came back to the booth he found his side suddenly packed by three strange yet attractive women, all doing their absolute best to entice Sean Penn.
The moral of that story, as Lehane told it, was that the thing about being a writer is that as big and successful as you could possibly get, you will always have a sense of anonymity and personal privacy that movie stars will lack. I thought it was a pretty good story, and a useful lesson.
All of which is a long way of saying that, thanks to a pen-name and a lack of an author’s photo, the only places I’ve been recognized so far are at conventions where I’m wearing a badge that has my name on it. And I actually think that that’s a rather nice thing.
Giveaway time! ML is offering up one signed copy of Generation V to a lucky winner! Leave a comment below by Monday October 14th 11:59pm EST to enter. Giveaway open Canada / US. Good luck to all of you who enter and a big THANKS to ML for the great prize!