Sandra Brannan interview with David Alan Binder

posted May 12, 2016, 5:55 AM by David Alan Binder   [ updated May 16, 2016, 6:16 AM ]

Sandra Brannan interview with David Alan Binder

 I love the insights that this author shares with us.  This is a great interview.

 Dear Writers and Dear Readers, there is a must see video at the end of this interview by the author.  It is so moving and compelling.  Everyone on this earth has strengths they possess and with our combined strength and our compassion and our empathy; we can make this existence better for everyone.

 Special feature: At the very end there is Sandra’s interview questions for me [she would only answer my questions of her if I answered her questions of me].  I know right, she has her nerve!  LOL!

Author of the Liv Bergen Mystery Series

2010 In The Belly Of Jonah (ABA Indie Notable)

2011Lot's Return To Sodom (Top 50 Women's Mysteries e-book)

2012 Widow's Might (ABA Indie NextList, Denver Post Bestseller)

2013 Noah's Rainy Day (Foreword Reviews BOTYA Finalist, Suspense Magazine Best Suspense List, USA Book News Best Book Award Finalist)

2014 Solomon's Whisper (USA Book News Mystery/Suspense Finalist and Book Cover Finalist)

2016 Jacob's Descent Released March 2016

 

Connect with her:

Website                 http://sandrabrannan.com/

Blog                     http://sandrabrannan.com/blog/

GoodReads           http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4077950.Sandra_Brannan

Amazon                http://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Brannan/e/B004FREQSG

 

1.     Where are you currently living?

Black Hills of South Dakota

 

2.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

The most important thing I’ve learned so far with my writing is that I can always get better, learn more, do my best to make each page un-put-down-able, page ripping suspenseful.  I just can’t quite [stop] learning or I better hang up my keyboard for good.

 

3.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

David, let’s face it. I’m a quirky person, so where do I start?  From what others tell me on how I’m not like other writers, I guess it’s that I don’t write every day.  Writing is a luxury for me that has to come after my obligations to work, family, chores, etc.  I know, I know.  Serious writers write every day and it’s a business.  All of that is true.  But I don’t ever want to feel like it’s an obligation or a task that needs to be done.  Instead, I want it to continue to feel like a decadent treat. 

Another quirky part of my writing is that I’ve taken to treadmill writing, which is a treadmill station where I can walk and write at the same time.  Kinda like chewing gum and walking, really makes me feel coordinated.  Mostly, the treadmill turns off after 6 hours to remind me I should probably stop writing, too.  If you let me, I’ll write until I pass out at the laptop when I get into my stories.

 

4.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I’m still old fashioned and love the feel of a book, the smell of the pages, and the adventure of poking around independent bookstores in every town I visit.  I love books!  I’m sure e-books are great for some, but I like the experience of tucking myself under the tree in the woods or next to a fireplace and reading.  I can’t imagine that would be the same with an e-reader, but maybe someday.

 

5.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?      

We all had trouble getting our books published.  What I’ve learned is that patience, persistence, and a dedicated effort to learn the craft of writing and the industry are keys to landing a publishing deal.  There are so many good organizations and conferences out there to help writers get published. 

 

I strong recommend three things you need to get published:

Ø  A great story that’s well written in a unique voice,

Ø An agent who loves your work as much as you do, and

Ø Persistence.

 

6.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

Here’s a secret...shhhh… come closer.  Cloooooser.  Okay, here’s the skinny.  I am the lucky volunteer who gets to research, contact, and cajole the 60+ agents, editors, and producers who attend PitchFest every July at ThrillerFest in NYC.  Yup, they let a miner [she really worked in a mine] like me from the Dakota Territory be PitchFest Director at one of the fastest growing events designed for successful authors to give back to aspiring writers and help them learn the industry. 

 

7.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

The secret to anything you do is to be willing to work hard, to love what you’re doing, and to be grateful for the chance to be doing it.  I know, I know, David.  You asked me to be specific.

So let’s find specifics:

1)    Work hard by getting your seat in the chair and writing, writing, writing, then edit, edit, edit, followed by listen, learn, and apply what you’re hearing from experts critiquing your work.   What?  You don’t know any experts?  Then you’re not reading all the magazines that are out there, like Writer’s Digest, Suspense Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, etc. and you’re not attending conferences.  So many agents, editors, and publishers are attending conferences all around you.  Spend time seeking them out and asking them questions beyond “Will you publish my book?”  They want to help if you’re willing to work hard. 

2)    Love what you’re doing.  I don’t know who first said it, but it’s true that if you can stop writing, you should.   I can’t stop.  It’s addicting.  I write novels even though I have no intention of ever having them published.  Others I write knowing I want to get them published.  I write because I can’t stop.  A think it’s an addiction.  Storytellingitis.  What? It’s a word.

3)    Be grateful that you can write.  Not everyone knows how to read and write.  Not everyone has the luxury to spend reading and writing.  My youngest son is adopted from an orphanage in Vietnam.  I’m glad he grew up in the USA having enough food in his belly that eating was a daily priority or worry.  Think about it.  And be grateful every day, no matter what you do.  G

8.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

The most surprising thing I learned about my creative process is that people enjoy reading my books, get addicted to my stories.  Weird.  I never dreamed that would be possible.  I wrote 10 novels before I was ever published and continue to write novels that will never see the light of day just because I love the process but know I’m not good enough.  So it’s surprising to me all the fan mail, tweets, posts, and cards I get asking me for more.

 

9.     Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

I love reading books with satisfying yet unexpected twists.  I’m a huge fan of Harlan Coben, Linwood Barclay, and Lee Child, who are kings at twists.  My best suggestion is to read authors who you think have wonderful twists in their storytelling because it’s not the same for every reader.  If you enjoy the twists of those authors, it’s likely you will write similar twists in your stories.

10.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

I’d have to say that what makes my storytelling a bit different than others is that I really am a miner and have been my entire life.  Still am.  So when I write characters who know explosives, guns, survival skills in the woods, I don’t really have to research much.  I just write what I know.  This is life in the Dakotas. 

 

11.                        What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

With what I know today that I wish I knew back in 2010, especially talking with all the editors, agents, and producers I’ve gotten to know as the director of PitchFest, is to be patient and not publish until you have that blockbuster hit.  If you write and write and write, you are bound to improve your skills and you will know when you land on that blockbuster that every publisher will bid on.  If you sell that first book as a blockbuster, then all your other books will sell and you will have a surplus to offer them.  Unfortunately, we’re impatient as writers and work forever on that first book, rather than moving on to write another and yet another, thinking we’re wasting our time.  You’re not, if you love what you’re doing.  Use the rejections of your query letters to fuel you onto a better novel, a new novel.  Move on until you write that blockbuster, which inevitably will include that ground you refused to cover in that “oh, no you didn’t” voice that’s in the back of your head. You know who you are and what I’m talking about.  Write it.  Go there.  Say that.  Do that. You will have that blockbuster.

 

12.                        What would you like carved onto your tombstone?  Or what saying or mantra do you live by?

(David, I just buried a second son on April 25th and I just can’t answer this.  He hanged himself.  But here’s my post if you know others who are hurting…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBrIUK-n2SM

Spread the word that there ARE options.  And forgive me for taking so long to get back with you.  I’ve been too overwhelmed to focus.)

 

Dear Writers and Dear Readers, from now on my last question is now amended to ensure that the interview is centered on the passion that drives the authors and what motivates them and challenges them.

 

Sandra has asked me the following questions and I am answering them here and will feature them in a separate interview. 

 

And David, you promised [I promised I would answer her questions].  Here’re my questions of YOU…

 

Ø  What is the most surprising, both pleasant and unpleasant, discovery you’ve made about an author during your interviews?

ANSWER:  The most surprising discovery is how much alike authors are and yet so vastly different.

 

Ø Who is the most exciting person you’ve ever interviewed?

a.     The most exciting interview was my very first.  To think that an author would answer my questions and give the time of day to an unknown like me was quite exhilarating for me.

b.     Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire series books and Netflix, was another great interview since; 1. I love westerns, 2. He was so gracious, and 3. He (and his lovely wife) consented to interview with me.

c.      David A. Adler, author of 250 books, I cannot imagine the sheer magnitude of writing that many books, let alone to consenting to interview with an unknown.

d.     Robert McGee, a sage and author, Richard Walter, professor at UCLA for script writing, Dandi Mackall author of 450 books and one book that was made into a Hallmark movie), Don Knotts’ brother-in-law,  an 11 year old author, I know I’ve left so many out and they are all fantastic.

e.      The unpleasant one was with an author that tried to slip in the F word and something even worse into the interview just to see if I was paying attention.

f.       Of course Sandra Brannon, who has made me answer these questions and touched and reached out to me.  This truly validates the work I perform.

 

Ø Was there a time you interviewed someone and you discovered something about him or her that made you stop reading their books?  Not giving up names, but what was it that made you lose interest in their work?

ANSWER:  There may have been one where I thought, I’ll never read any book by them.  They were pretty snooty and seemed like the talked down to me.

One author, was so gracious and made me feel like they were talking just to me and were so compelling that I thought, I want to read every book they have written because the interview was so well done.

 

Ø What advice have you received the most feedback about, either good or bad?

ANSWER:  Generally, my questions have become more focused on getting the most information out of the authors and shortened to not waste their time.  The most consistent advice from authors is read, read, read and be persistent.

 

Ø Name three “ah ha!” moments you had as a writer in these interviews.

ANSWER: 

1. That I too can make a difference. 

2. I learn something from each one of the interviews.  Each one of them is my personal mentor, I feel.  I cannot describe how special that makes me feel.  What I really love when I get advice, tips and suggestions that I can use.

3. The greatest thing about these interviews is how much I have grown.  I am not afraid to ask someone for an interview, no matter how elevated above me I think they may be.  They are human and I am privileged to have wonderful discussions and share in their wisdom.   I would love to interview Stephen King and James Patterson or any of the greats.

 

You can do it!  I’d love to know!!

 

Sandra Brannan

 

Thanks Sandra for asking.

 

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