Devlin Scott, a recent reader and new fan of Tesania, asked me if he could interview me about my writing and my book.
Following is that interview.
I’d like to welcome Grant E. Brazell, a writer of fantasy who spends most of his life wide awake in dreamland. Great tag line BTW. Mr. Brazell has just released his first novel: “Tesania”. http://www.grantebrazell.com
I had the honor of reading an advance copy of his novel and I liked it. It was well thought out and actually riveting. I couldn’t put it down. I don’t find that often with the latest literature. It’s great to meet you Grant and thanks for giving us this rare opportunity to discuss your work.
I’m going to conduct this interview via e-mail. I’ll send you each question one at a time and after each response we will move onto the next. This will give you a chance to collect your thoughts and not be distracted by what may be coming up. Regardless of what you may have heard I’m not entirely evil.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
Question One: Let’s begin with the novel. Tell us a bit about the story without giving anything away of course?
How long do you have? The novel is the story of our young heroine, Tesania. At the tender age of sixteen she knows little outside her sheltered village life. A life of love, fun and harmony; where chasing butterflies through the forest with her little friend Liale or helping her father in his smithy fills her days. When her family and friends are suddenly torn away from her by an attack on her village by magically altered beasts, she sets forth on a mission of revenge.
Naive to the world, she quickly becomes the target of thieves and beggars. A meeting with a King’s Ranger named Deavon not only offers her a friend and ally but also awakens feelings she has never felt before.
With her father’s sword in hand and intent on revenge, she sets off on a voyage of self-discovery as she travels the breadth of the Kingdom of Eldanal. The King, when it is found that her sword contains magic, tasks her and a band of mismatched companions to cross the Britath Mountains and destroy the Evil mage and his beasts.
Question Two: How was the idea for the story and the characters born?
The desire to write a fantasy story has been with me since I first read J.R.R Tolkien’s, The Hobbit, when I was at school. I often said to my wife that I wanted to write a book over the next 20 years. Life always got in the way of that until a few years ago when I sat down and wrote the opening sentence of Tesania.
At that stage I didn’t have a story for her but as I wrote the first chapter it became apparent what Tesania had to do and where the story needed to go. I prefer to have the story and characters fluid to meet the situations required rather than have them locked into a rigid personality or story arc that demands they go in a direction that may not suit the scene. From there I did a point form story outline. It was 18 chapters at the time. The book ended up 53 chapters, so as I mentioned previously, the story and characters decided where they should go as I wrote.
I prefer to discover my characters as they reveal themselves, so I didn’t have any pre-writing done on them.
Question Three: Did you have any favorites, characters I mean? Who found a special place in your heart?
Tesania, of course, would have to be my favorite character to write. She offers such a depth of emotion, from gentle and vulnerable through to determined and gritty. It was truly enjoyable discovering her personality and the Kingdom of Eldanal through her eyes.
Kailyn was a revelation. Originally she was to play a bit part as a maid at Lady Ayana’s house, but her bubbling personality and determination to go on the mission with Tesania was something I, like Deavon, couldn’t deny. I was truly glad she went along. She is a great friend to Tesania and a fun addition to the group.
Giddy could be a nightmare at times. Keeping her under control was a tough assignment. But underneath the wise cracks is a caring, intelligent warrior.
Kragh was also another favorite character. His stoic determination to fight The evil mage’s tyranny, even in the face of death, should be a lesson to us all.
Question Four: I found myself getting very involved with certain characters; namely Tes, Kailyn and Giddy. You really brought them to life in the pages. Did you have any real life inspiration for the characters; any character models living or otherwise?
Well, let me see. I can’t say that I did for Tesania. I knew she was a young, determined girl, but her personality developed as the story grew.
Whilst Deavon isn’t based on anyone in particular I did want him to play the role of guide and mentor as well as fill a love interest. For that reason he had to be fairly young, but older and wiser as well. I guess if I had to say an image that I had of Deavon as the story developed I would have to say Viggo Mortensen; although the character certainly wasn’t based on him or his mannerisms.
Giddy, I believe, is an extension of myself. I see a lot of myself in her. I didn’t purposefully set out to base any of the characters on anyone in particular. Their personalities revealed themselves as the story moved on.
Question Five: Were there any chapters or scenes that you are most proud of or touched by?
I think, to truly get your story across, there has to be some degree of emotional involvement from the writer. Tesania burying her parents was a particularly emotional thing for me. (I added that scene after I had finished the book, so I was very attached to Tes and her feelings.) Also the scene where they enter Rilmir and the little girl approaches Tes with the worn out doll. That touched me and I admit to shedding some tears. Also the scene where Tes tells Kragh and Raug they will die when she smashes the orb. I really could feel Tes’ emotions as I wrote.
I do like Kailyn’s little ogre escapade. She is such a ninny.
Question Six: Tell us about what research you did for your tale? The nautical scenes seemed very lifelike.
Well, there was quite a bit actually. I studied sword fighting for many days and read lists of sword fighting terminologies, etc.., to get the fight scenes to sound plausible. I also studied Ladies’ period dresses for days on end to get Tes’ ball gown right. I studied things such as castles and stateroom, carriages, sword shapes and weights, etc… (Could Tes wield one? Hence she struggled to even raise the beast’s sword off the ground in Aryd.)
I have built wooden model ships over the years so I did have some knowledge of sailing terminology but I still studied many texts to get the captain’s commands, etc.., correct. The terminology on a period sailing ship is mind boggling to say the least.
Question Seven: Did you find any problem areas while writing this particular novel? Any obstacles to overcome that might help others?
Getting the opening chapter right was a problem. It went through many re-writes. But I think you need to persist until it feels right.
I did put the novel down at about half way for a period of time as I doubted my ability at one stage. But a friend’s love of the book and her nagging for more put me back to it, from where I never looked back.
Question Eight: Did you have a certain favorite action word you used repeatedly while writing Tesania? 😉 I paid attention while reading.
*laughs* It’s funny when you read back a page of writing and find the same word 3-4 times in a few hundred words. It’s something you have to be aware of. I think we all have fallback words that tend to just come naturally in a scene.’ Cannoned’ being one.
Question Nine: Are there plans for a sequel and would you like to tease us a bit with a plot preview? I noticed you left a rather clever cliffhanger at the end.
TESANIA – Tiadath Mage; Four years on from her battle against the beasts, Tesania must once again set forth in pursuit of an evil mage
Now let’s look inside the author and his process of creation.
Question Ten: All writers have that singular moment when they decide they will write for a living. No matter what will happen, no matter what the outcome, success or failure, they will write. Tell us about your moment of clarity; what brought you to it; and what you think or hope the outcome will be? I know it’s more than one question but I’m allowed to do that.
My desire to write a book started in my last year of school when I wrote a short story, (in class on the day it was due instead of at home in the weeks I had to write it) and it grabbed and impressed the teacher’s attention enough for her to show it to the other teachers. I guess, really, that’s when I knew I could write. But writing a novel is a daunting thing to do. Over the years I dreamed up many scenarios and storylines. When I sat down and wrote the opening line, ‘Tesania drew short, sharp breaths as she lay beneath the roots of the giant trees outside her village,’ the desire was well and truly implanted.
I didn’t write Tesania with dreams of making millions of dollars. (I’ll take it though.) I wrote it as a challenge to myself and because it was something I wanted to do. At this stage I would just like it to be read by people who enjoy a great story with interesting characters
I do enjoy writing and hope that others will enjoy my books as they become available in the future.
Question Eleven: What and who were your influences as a writer?
I have many influences. I am a lover of fantasy so I tend to lean that way with my reading habits. The first ‘real’ book I read was Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’. I love that book and have read it many times. Authors such as David Eddings, Margaret Weis, Tracey Hickman, all contributed to my style; although I don’t try to emulate anybody when I write. What you see in Tesania is what comes naturally to me. I have read many authors as well whose styles I didn’t like. They also had an influence on me as I then knew the way I didn’t want to write.
Question Twelve: What did you learn (what touched your heart the most) during the journey of writing your first novel?
I think the burgeoning story taught me a lot of things. One thing I learned was to trust my voice. Originally I tried to write as others said to or as I thought you should. What I discovered is that this makes for a poor story. A forced voice isn’t a good voice. From the time I laid that aside and let my imagination and voice run free, my writing improved tenfold.
Question Thirteen: Every writer has a process that gets them into ‘work mode’, ready to write. What is your process?
Opening MS Word. *Laughs* Seriously though. Writing is a personal thing and can be affected by your environment and mood. Some days you will get 15,000 quality words down, other days you will struggle to write 500 lousy words. I find that knowing what you want to write when you sit down is the best way. I mean, know that Tes has to fight the beasts in the hills when I write today and have it basically formulated in your mind. You don’t need the whole scene, just a point form guide in your head. If you know that, the words will tend to flow and come easily.
Question Fourteen: What do you think your weaknesses and strengths are as a writer? You know what I mean, those areas you most wish to capitalize on and/or evolve now that you have embarked on your new career?
I’m still learning my craft.
I tend to use a lot of adjectives and adverbs as I write. Usually I edit them out later, but I am teaching myself to use them sparingly.
I think my strength is that I can tell a story. The best technical writing means naught if the story is boring or doesn’t make sense.
Question Fifteen: I know I was told not to pull any of my little tricks on you but…nature of the beast. (A trick question) If book burning were a good thing (thank God it’s not), what author’s works would hit the top of your list? You can give us initials if you wish.
I would never burn a book. But authors that write flowery prose and fill three pages of a book with the description of a chair in the corner of the room irk me something fierce. I’m not saying that description isn’t required in a book, it absolutely is. But I do think that over description kills a story as it slows the pace of the book and can lose the interest of the reader.
Question Sixteen: What advice would you like to pass onto other beginning authors? Use as many sentences as you wish.
Find a story that is true to you and you can really enjoy writing. If you don’t like it you will never finish it and others will see that it isn’t loved.
Write a character you can like. Who wants to write about someone you can’t stand.
Believe in yourself. At times you may hit a wall with your writing. Dust yourself off and dive in again.
Get people other than your mom, sister, best-friend, to read your work. Then you will get a true indication of where you are at. Don’t get me wrong, praise is great, but really you want to know where your writing is truly at.
Take criticisms as a tool rather than an attack. Study what the critiquer has said and decide for yourself if they ring true or not.
Don’t take every criticism to heart and DO NOT change you story every time someone says something bad about it. Take what works for you and discard the rest. Be true to the story and yourself.
Thank you Grant. It was a pleasure and I wish you the greatest of success. I have certainly become a fan of your work. Please check out Grant’s web site and his Publishing Company: ‘Lyshan Press’