DM: Brandilyn, you have a strong focus on prayer in this series of books. It’s obviously an important area to you. Do you have people praying for you and your writing on a regular basis?
BC: Yes. My own family (husband, mom and sisters) pray for my work. And certain readers pray for me too. Also, I meet with two women every week for prayer. They are my mentors and the ones who hold me accountable. We pray for each other, and they’ve prayed me through every book. These wonderful women have prayed with me since my dark prepublication days. When I start whining about some problem now, they’ll remind me of the times I couldn’t find an agent or sell a novel to save my life. That straightens me up in a hurry.
DM: Personally, God’s been showing me lately that I need to focus more on Him so that I can focus more on writing. Do you find this to be true for you as well?
BC: Well, I can manage to focus on Him daily through devotions, etc., and still waste time when I should be writing. God’s recently shown me how I needed to change my daily schedule to make sure the writing gets done first. Not rocket science, but it’s a major change in mindset from what I’ve been doing for years. (Jogging my five miles early in the morning, then doing devotions as soon as I hit the office.) This is working for me—helping me discipline myself to write instead of procrastinating each day.
DM: Web of Lies explores the issue of listening to lies that aren’t true about ourselves. Have you dealt with this personally? If so, how did you deal with it?
BC: Oh, we all deal with this. I don’t think Satan lets anyone off the hook. Our job as Christians is to stay walking closely with God. Satan’s job is to knock us off that path. One of his methods is by trying to fill our heads with lies—I’m not good enough, everybody’s against me, I’m not really forgiven, and on and on. For the story behind why I chose this particular theme for Web of Lies, please see my blog posts about writing the book, starting Friday, May 27, ’05 and ending Monday, May 30. It’s a story that also shows the answer to these lies. Those answers lie in praying and walking in God’s truth.
DM: You’ve shared your road to publication (in fiction) on your blog
BC: Oh, sheesh. All of it. Well, maybe getting the first contract for a novel. Yes, I suppose it’s that. But there were so many other things. What did I take to tell that journey story anyway—something like 4-5 months? Let’s just say a lot happened.
DM: What’s your most favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
BC: Most favorite: being a writer. Least favorite: writing.
Close your jaw, Dineen.
DM: ROTFL!!! Okay… You’ve written in both first and third POV in your books, and you used both in Web of Lies. Do you have a preference?
BC: No, not really. The POV is dictated by the story. I’d intended to write the Hidden Faces series in third person, but it didn’t feel right. Ten thousand or so words into its debut book (Brink of Death), I switched to first. When my agent was shopping around my first novel (Cast a Road Before Me), one editor wanted it—if I’d change it from first to third person. Well, I wanted to be published in fiction, but not badly enough to ruin my story. I told my agent nothin’ doin’.
DM: How do you come up with your storylines? What influences that process?
BC: I have a real strong influence. It’s called a deadline.
So I stomp around and mutter and moan, whining about how hard it is for me to think through plots. (Doesn’t help that mine are so convoluted and needed a million details worked through.) And I pray a lot. And God answers—in bits and pieces as He sees fit. And somehow I get a story.
DM: Do you build your characters before you begin writing, as you write, or both?
BC: Both. Character drives plot drives character drives plot . . . You can enter anywhere on that circle and just keep going ’round.
DM: I’ve been listening to your awesome track “Kicking It Up a Notch” from the 2005 ACFW Conference
BC: Okay. Um, remind me what I said. (ACFW still needs to send me that CD.) Well, it has to do with actions and thoughts and dialogue. And the often unexpected layers of emotion. No emotion is ever just one thing. It’s mixed with other emotions, one often leading to the next. Some emotions are primary, but some are secondary. (Okay, now I’m on a roll, and you’ll not shut me up.) For example, anger is a secondary emotion. It always springs from something else. Fear, relief, a sense of injustice, surprise, indignance, guilt, blame, self-denial—all of these and plenty more can lead to anger. If you want to portray anger to its fullest, don’t focus on the anger itself, for that will tend to lead to mere stereotypical thoughts/actions. Focus first on the emotion that gives rise to that anger. Explore it fully, completely, and the reader will be pulled into the anger along with the character.
I could go on, but I suggest readers do like you did and buy the CDs. The whole class is mucho cheap, and ACFW, a worthy organization, gets the proceeds.
DM: What would you say is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your writing career?
BC: I have to rely on God every minute. This is why it’s a good thing that writing is so hard for me. (As much as I hate that.) Because I know when I finish a book that God helped me through it. I never would have made it without Him. With that kind of constant reminder, I just can’t get a big head over my work, because I’m continually overwhelmed by His mercy and grace. I’m nothing without His help.
DM: Any words of wisdom you’d like to pass on?
BC: Seek God first. Put your writing firmly into His capable hands—and leave it there. Walk His path, and see what He will do—in your writing and all aspects of your life. And when Satan whispers a lie in your ear (“I’ll never finish this book! I’m a lousy writer!)—tell him exactly where he can go. (He’s acquainted with the place.)
And if God wants you to write fiction—study the craft hard. Know it’ll take years to learn it well. And even then you’ve only just begun.
DM: Brandilyn, thank you so much for doing this interview. It’s such a pleasure to have you here.
BC: It was a real pleasure to stop by. Thank you so very much, Dineen.
Be sure to check out Brandilyn’s website