Friday, February 26, 2016

Interview with Brenda Drake

I am super excited to have the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Drake for this week's Author Spotlight. Brenda is the author of Thief of Lies and Touching Fate.

As is the tradition, I asked Brenda to provide her author bio and here it is:
Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. She hosts workshops and contests for writers such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on her blog, and holds Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad.
When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment). She’s represented by Peter Knapp at New Leaf Literary. Look for her novels Touching Fate and Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers Book 1) out now from Entangled Teen.
Would you like to give readers a blurb on your latest book, Thief of Lies?
Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.
Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.
What genre are your books?
I currently write young adult fantasy novels.
What draws you to this genre?
Everything is new to kids and there is a world of possibilities in front of them. Life hasn’t jaded them yet. They’re not afraid to take chances. It’s fun walking in their shoes.
Have you ever considered writing stories for other genres?
I do write middle grade fantasy, too. But I haven’t even considered writing anything other than children’s books. I enjoy writing books for the young at heart.
When did you first discover your passion for writing?
Like most writers, I enjoyed reading and writing stories at a young age. I would get lost in stories. It was a great escape for me. Life can be messy when you’re young and growing up a little awkward. I didn’t fit in until my junior year of high school. My dad was in the military, so I was constantly the new girl at school during my elementary years and some of my middle school years. Having book friends and creating characters took me away from the not so fun times. I wrote my first story in third grade in a spiral notebook. It was about a girl who took her pet monster to school. I wish I still had that notebook.
Yes, I too moved around a lot. Reading and writing truly is a great escape!
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing stories ever since I could write. I was a single mom at twenty and had to work, so writing wasn’t important then. When I remarried and stayed home with the kids, I picked it up again. I’ve been writing with an aim for publishing my work for ten years now.
What inspires your stories?
The craziest things can inspire my writing. For Thief of Lies I was inspired by a coffee table book with photographs of the most beautiful libraries in the world. I just watch, listen, and imagine with objects I find and people I meet. The question “What if?” is always playing in my head. What if that bird outside my window could talk? What would she say? And what if she had a mechanical wing? What happened to her? I just listen for the questions to hit my thoughts, and then I start writing.
Wow! It's clear that you have an excellent imagination!
Do you have a special routine or ritual when you sit down to write?
Coffee. Social Media. Coffee. Emails. Coffee. Then I sit down to write.
What is the best part about being a writer?
The uniform is pajamas, and you can drink coffee all day and make your characters do everything you would never do. But really, the best part of being a writer is when someone reads your book and tells you they loved it.
What is the worst part about being a writer?
You can wear pajamas all day and drink coffee all day. You start to feel a little dumpy. But seriously, the worst part of being a writer is when someone reads your book and despises you for writing it and wasting their time.
Oh boy! Yes, some reviews can be rather harsh.
Do you ever feel self-conscious when writing love or sex scenes? Why or Why not?
Oh gosh, yes! I’m so self-conscious about it. I was brought up to be a good girl. Ha! What were my parents thinking? My junior and senior years I was a bit wild. But because of how I was raised, I still freak out writing steamy scenes because people will know that I was thinking about the sexy.
Haha! That's my biggest worry too - that people I know will read it and judge me.
If you write in the realm of fantasy, do you ever worry about how believable your scenes will be to your readers?
All the time. I really rely on my critique partners, beta readers, and my editor to catch things like that and tell me if I’ve gone too far. It all could work in my mind, but I don’t always get it through in the writing. Having others read it helps to make sure it’s not confusing. I’m sure there will be some readers who won’t connect with what I’ve created. But I always try to do the best I can to make the scenes believable.
Do you write for yourself or to what you believe your readers want?
I’d say a little of both. But mostly for the readers.
What do you do to get book reviews?
My publisher takes care of that for me. They put it on Netgalley and we tweet about it. They also send a call out to their email subscribers, I believe. I make sure to share that the ARC is available to my friends and followers on my social media accounts.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
We had tons of requests for advanced copies, so it went well.
How do you deal with negative reviews?
I’m still learning how to deal with them. It can be heart crushing to see them. The more time goes by since the release, the easier it’s getting. And I drink wine. A lot.
Hey, if the wine eases review anxiety, I'll have to acquire a taste for it too! Haha!
Do you have a marketing strategy when announcing your books?
I’m still learning this part. There’s so much to learn. My publisher and my hired publicist come up with plans. We’ve done blog tours, events, and ads to get the word out.
Was there any technique in particular that had the best or most immediate impact on your sales? If so, would you care to share it?
Having a pre-order campaign was really helpful and got books sold before the release day. I think engaging with others and being out there, being yourself and not constantly hitting people with your book works well.
Do you find promoting your books challenging or enjoyable?
It’s challenging and, at times, it’s enjoyable. I really love getting to know bloggers and readers. I’d rather be writing than promoting a book, though. I feel a little out of place promoting it.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in the future?
I think spending too much on swag and not putting money where it works the best. But I now know what to do for the next book. I guess it’s a trial and error kind of thing.
Ah yes, the swag. It's hard not to get excited about it though :)
What do you think of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing?
I think there’s no one path for everyone. There’s always room for great books and it’s up to the author to decide the best path for them. I’m all about writers helping writers no matter how they’re published.
Would you say there is a stigma to being self-published?
I think so, and I feel it’s unfair. Some of my favorite writers started out as self-published authors.
Do you have a favorite author?
It’s always changing. I have so many favorites. But right now, it’s my critique partner, K.T. Hanna. I love her Domino Series. It happens to be self-published. Her writing is beautiful. She’s even received a great write up by Kirkus Reviews, which is hard to get. 
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on Cursing Fate, the second book in the Fated Series, while waiting for edits to come back for Guardian of Secrets, the second book in the Library Jumpers series.
Do you identify with any of the characters in your book(s)? Why?
I think I identify with them all a little. You can’t help but write a little piece of yourself in your characters. Though, I like to push them to do stuff I would never dream of doing.
I have to admit that I live vicariously through my characters too :)
Would you like to give readers a bit of a teaser for your latest work?
I’d love to. How about a scene from Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers Series Book 2) between Arik and Gia:

“Details,” he said, that grin morphing into a crooked smile, his dark eyes watching me intently.

“Well, if you’re going to insult someone,” I whispered. “You should get it right.” I took a few uncertain steps forward. I wanted to throw myself at him, but I kept calm. “Females are peahens and aren’t colorful at all. They’re more like me.”

“Then I shall be quite happy with my peahen.” He met my steps and looked down at me.
What a great scene! It certainly drew me in!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Keep writing. I have had many heartaches and many missteps. I’ve been rejected (a lot). I’ve had to change my course (a few times). But giving up was never an option for me. Perseverance is the key to realizing your dreams.
Excellent advice!
Is there anything you would like to add?
Just a HUGE thank you for interviewing me today!
The pleasure was certainly mine! Thank you for giving readers a glimpse into your life and allowing us to get to know you. Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?

Amazon Author Page:


  1. Awesome interview! Really loved all the advice you gave to the readers and writers. Can't wait to read your new book Brenda!

  2. Great stuff. My takeaway: Giving up is never an option. Perseverance is the key to realizing your dream. Thanks Brenda. And A.C.