Friday, November 16, 2012

BRANDILYN COLLINS











Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.
When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.

INTERVIEW WITH BRANDILYN COLLINS:

S.S: How long have you been writing?

Since second grade. At the tender age of seven I won the classroom prize for best story. Its first sentence: “Once there was a stallion named Betsy.”

Well, hey, at least it’s eye-catching.

As far as writing fiction, I began my journey of learning the craft well enough to attract a major publisher at the beginning of 1990. Sold my first novel at the end of that decade. It was a loooong ten years.

S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?

Yes, I’m a full-time novelist. Before writing fiction I had my own business writing marketing materials for businesses and organizations. Things like brochures, annual reports, magazine articles, etc. I thought all my nonfiction writing would make learning how to write fiction easier. In a word … Not.

S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?

What—there’s a moment like that?

S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author?

My husband. Best man in the world.

S.S: Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?

I used to write women’s fiction. And will soon return to that in the form of self-published ebooks. I’ll write these between writing my suspense novels contracted with B&H.

Why suspense? You can’t get any more dramatic than the genre. I get to kill people off and put my protagonists through all the misery I can throw at her. Here’s a nightmare for you—finding yourself as a protagonist in one of my books.

S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?

Carefully and thoughtfully, I’d say.

I never sit down to write a Christian novel. I sit down to write the best suspense I can. My job is first to entertain. But somewhere along the way I begin to see the spiritual aspect of my protagonist’s journey. This journey arises naturally from the plot and my protagonist’s unique life experiences.

Christian-based suspense, I think, is more powerful than secular suspense as a result of the faith element. We humans are tri-fold: physical, emotional, spiritual. Secular suspense deals only with the first two. Yet the third commonly comes into play when a person faces death. At times like that even those who’ve never believed in God begin to ask Him for help and wonder what’s next. Ergo the old adage, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

It’s wonderful to have the freedom to explore this aspect of my characters. Still, my Seatbelt Suspense® must be fast-paced and tautly written. So the faith element must be intrinsically woven into the plot.

S.S: Tell us about your current release.

Back cover copy for Double Blind:

Desperate people make desperate choices.
Twenty-nine-year-old Lisa Newberry can barely make it through the day. Suddenly widowed and a survivor of a near-fatal attack, she is wracked with grief and despair. Then she hears of a medical trial for a tiny brain chip that emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. At rope’s end, Lisa offers herself as a candidate.

When she receives her letter of acceptance for the trial, Lisa is at first hopeful. But—brain surgery. Can she really go through with that? What if she receives only the placebo?

What if something far worse goes wrong?

Written in the relentless style for which Brandilyn Collins is known, Double Blind is a psychological thriller with mind-bending twists. Lisa faces choices that drive her to the brink, and one wrong move could cost the lives of many.

S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I’ve been fascinated with brain technology and what will be possible in the future. I used current experimental technology for treating depression and took it into the future—what it might look like in a few decades.

I originally was going to write about an “instant-knowledge” chip—one that implants any new learning into your brain that you’d like. For example, want to learn French? Impant the tiny chip for that, and you’ll instantly speak it.

I started that book, but God had other plans. He led me to change the story to a chip that treats depression. And from that grew the faith journey upon which Lisa embarks as she fights all the challenges I throw at her. I can look back and see God’s strong leading as I wrote.

S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?

Well, first I hope they remember it as a great, page-turning suspense. As for take-away value, I hope the story impresses upon readers the truth that God is always there for us, no matter whether we “feel” Him or not. Because many people in depression don’t. They think God has abandoned them.

S.S. Your trademarked brand is Seatbelt Suspense®. What does that brand stand for?

My Seatbelt Suspense® carries a four-point brand promise: fast-paced, character-driven suspense with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. Every “what-if?” story idea I think of has to fit all four points strongly, or I won’t write the story. Most ideas don’t measure up. The story would require too slow a start or whatever.

My loyal readers expect me to live up to this brand with each new book. I’ll tell you—it gets harder every time. Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t use XYZ twist, because it’s too close to one I used in another book. Or something. But I can’t back down on the quality and aspects my readers expect. So I mutter to myself, kick a lot of cabinets (well, metaphorically, anyway), and think every book I write is the worst I’ve ever written and will undoubtedly kill my career forever.

Somehow I manage to stumble on ….

S.S: What are you working on now?

I’ve completed the next book, to release next year—Dark Justice. It’s about three women—grandmother, mother, and daughter—caught in a terrorist plot to hit the nation’s electrical grid. Somehow they’re going to have to stop it. If they live that long.

Now on to the next book—my first self-published e-book (novella length) about a loud, loving, endearing family in Mississippi. After that, my next (full-length) suspense. Repeat cycle.

S.S: A tough question: Where do you want to be career-wise in five years? Ten years?

Still writing fiction. Selling more copies per book. :]

S.S: What is the silliest thing you have ever done?

You mean you want me to name just one thing?

S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?

Learned how to write fiction. Man, if I’d only known …

S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?

My website.
We have fun on my Facebook pageThere (and on Twitter) I do Today’s Word (imagine how you’ll impress your family and friends with your new vocabulary!), post crazy pictures and ask for creative captions. That kind of thing. I do not kill off anyone who “likes” my page. And I answer reader questions and comments.

Thanks for hosting me, Suspense Sisters!

 BRANDILYN IS GIVING AWAY TWO COPIES OF HER NEW BOOK, DOUBLE BLIND! FOR A CHANCE TO WIN, LEAVE A COMMENT ALONG WITH YOUR CONTACT INFO!

75 comments:

  1. Hey Brandilyn thanks for stopping by. Loved the interview and the witty answers. :) Now, off to tweet and FB to tell everyone to stop by. Thanks!

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  2. Great interview, Suspense Sisters! Fascinating story, Brandilyn. :) Keep up the good work!

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  3. Enjoyed the interview. I've enjoyed reading Brandilyn's books and am looking forward to reading her new one. Chris
    fotofanatic@hotmail.com

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  4. Double Blind sounds like a fantastic book! Would love to win and read it! Thanks! makeighleekyleigh at yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks, Megan. It is a decent book, if I do say so myself. :]

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  5. Great interview. It sounds like a great book! Thanks for a chance to win.
    superstarsarah94@gmail.com

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  6. oh my gosh, what a GREAT interview!!
    Brandilyn, LOVED how you answered so truthfully and with such humor!! You had me smiling throughout :)

    Love that you want us entertained with each book, but also to realize God is always with us no matter how we feel. That message never gets old and speaks to Christians and non Christians alike.

    I would love to win a copy of this and it was so great getting to know you in this interview! Thank you suspense sisters and Brandilyn for this giveaway, blessings to each of you :)
    Kara Grant
    wman4jcATaolDOTcom

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    1. Thanks, Kara. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

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  7. I would love to win a copy of this awesome story!!

    amccalli(at)gmail(dot)(com)

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  8. Thanks for the interview. I love to hear about what shapes your point of view as a writer. I'd love to receive the book you are giving away. Thanks. sarahpianist@gmail.com

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  9. Love suspence and would love to win this one! Thanks! linda[dot]maendel[at]gmail[dot]com

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  10. Great ideas for the four requirements for you to write a book. I'm working on a suspense novel myself and would love to win a copy of Brandilyn's book to see how it's done! My email is heatherdaygilbert(at)gmail(dot)com.

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  11. Can't wait to read the book! sjnd1996@aol.com

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  12. Thanks, Suspense Sisters, for this interview with a fascinating lady.
    Brandilyn, looking forward to Double Blind. Nice to read about the four requisites of your Seatbelt Suspense. My own take has been that if there's not a body within the first few pages, it's not one of Brandilyn's books.
    Blessings, all.

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  13. Can't wait for the new ones. I've gotten my all time favorites for my kindle in addition to print. I think Exposure & Dark Pursuit are my very favorites. (boy am I going to be embarrassed if those are really Terri Blackstock books and I'm remembering wrong!!!)

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    1. LOL. Nope, those are mine, Kathy. Terri can't have 'em!

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  14. Oh! I'd love to win! Brandilyn Collins is one of my FAVORITE authors! Thanks for the chance! :)

    frequentreader19 (at) gmail (dot) com

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  15. Fantastic interview. I could hear Brandilyn answering all those questions. Anxiously awaiting the next book. I've never been disappointed with a Brandilyn Collins novel. My dil, however, has learned that reading one on a night her husband is at work and she's alone in the apartment is NOT the best idea. :D

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    1. Yes, Pammer, and didn't you have a near escapade of your own while reading one of my books?

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  16. Thank you S.S. for the interview and thank you Brandilyn for the stories. I love suspense, take your breath away moments and surprise endings but I will not read novels that are filled with trashy scenes and foul language. So thank you for joining the too small world of Christian Thriller authors. I love reading your books and I cannot wait to read this one! artist4christ(@)cyberhaus(.)us

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    1. Sara, thanks for your kind words about my novels.

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  17. I love your books! I love suspense books and you are the best I have read! I am always waiting for your next book! rtimjud@gmail.com

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  19. Can't wait to read Double Blind, and Dark Justice sounds fabulous; I can't wait for that one as well! I love a good terrorist plot line. Thanks for how hard you work to provide all of us with new and exciting stories each time :) I LOVE your books!

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  20. Hi, Brandilyn. I like the device of a woman longing to escape depression and willing to undergo brain surgery for a quick fix. Depression, even if its just temporary as opposed to clinical, is so hard to deal with. I can ALMOST understand her decision.

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    1. Dana, when you read the book, you'll fully understand. :]

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  21. Great interview! I look forward to reading this book. And the next one. Oh, and the one after that . . .

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    1. forgot to put the contact: keeroga@yahoo.com

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    2. Cindy, thanks. Guess I need to keep writing ...

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  22. Cool idea...can't wait to read the book. I'll go put it on my wish list JUST in case I don't win the free one. :-) Very interesting interview!

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  23. Loved the interview and looking forward to reading this new book! If I win please email at freednow2003@yahoo.com or I'll get it soon!!

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  24. Wow! I love the way your brain works. Would love to win this book. pat at ptbradley.com

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    1. Thanks, Pat. Although some say my brain's pretty warped.

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  25. Wow, you write so well, in fact your books and your words changed my life forever! i see god Differently than before and I live Differently than I used to. Thanks for your compelling ways to reach out to others, GraceAnne Hoss age 12 graceannehoss@sbcglobal.net

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    1. GraceAnne, thanks for telling me this. You have definitely made my day. Blessings to you.

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  26. I am impressed that you started so young and am so thankful you've kept with it! It's nice to read suspenseful books that I know will be clean of bad words and sex! LOVE them!

    VPeace@wgu.edu Thanks, Vicki

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  27. Thanks for this interview, Suspense Sisters! And thank you for sharing Brandilyn. I love your writing. Ever since Eyes of Elisha I've been a totally-sold-out fan! I don't know if you're prepared to post to South Africa, but I'm trying anyway. (My mother's response to that used to be, "Very trying!")
    shirley@shirleycorder.com

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    1. Shirley, great to hear from you. And great to keep you as a fan, going all the way back to Eyes of Elisha.

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  28. Great job with the interview Suspense Sisters! I love Brandilyn, I was first introduced to her through mutual parties when she was putting together her Lyme Over the Edge site and book, I am glad that I found her! She did a fantastic job on the book. This interview added insight into how she writes her books, I love it! I cannot wait to read more!

    Lydia - email lymeaware@hotmail.com

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    1. Lydia, great to see you hear. Thanks for your words!

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  29. Wow! I have never read one of your books but after reading this I am certainly going to. Thanks for the introduction.

    debbie.west@centurylink.net

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  30. I really enjoy getting my hands on a Brandilyn Collins book. I'd love to receive a review copy. ;) And I would absolutely love to win this giveaway copy. :)

    Vera
    godleyv [at] yahoo[dot]com
    http://ChatWithVera.blogspot.com

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    1. Vera, thanks. So glad you're enjoying my books.

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  31. This was an interesting interview. WOW! 7 years old? Must have done well. And, I like that Title. I would love to win Brandilyn's book. Please put my name in the hat! Maxie ( mac262@me.com )

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  32. What a wonderful blog post, Brandilyn. I love what you said about your writing process---how you write first to entertain and then the faith element becomes an integral part of the story as you write.

    I read one of your older books last month while we were on vacation and really, really enjoyed it. The title has slipped my mind (and I left it for the cruise ship library, as I noticed they didn't have any Christian fiction) but the story certainly did live up to your brand promise of seatbelt suspense, with some really surprising twists. It was the one about a young orphaned teen brought into the home of a wealthy couple, where all was not what it seemed on the surface.

    I look forward to catching up on all of your backlist and then watching for all of your new books as they come out!

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    1. Roxanne, that book was DECEIT. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  33. This post was a great to read and be introduce to Brandilyn. I love suspense so it is great to meet an author that I haven't read before. I would love to win your book. I will definitely get one of your older novels to read. Thanks again for allowing God to use you. Debora deb37beny@comcast.net

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  34. I haven't found a Brandilyn book I didn't like! They keep me on the edge of my seat. I can remember reading one (can't remember which one) when I was alone in my bedroom. I never heard my husband come into the room. When he spoke, I screamed so loud! I think I scared us both! Don't forget to breathe is a great way to describe all her books! It is easy to do when reading her books. :)

    Andrea
    kaskaggs at fourway . net

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    1. Andrea, LOL and thanks. Go easy on your husband.

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  35. I love both her books that I've read. I would love to win another one.

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    1. Laura, glad you enjoyed the two you've read.

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  36. I can't even imagine knowing how to start a suspense novel...I write only non-fiction and struggle with it daily. Would be a dream come true if I could switch the gears of my brain to write a fiction...especially suspense as the market seems so ripe for it. Would love to be a winner. Great interview!! Alice
    alice.klies@gmail.com

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    1. Alice--well, it does take a bit of a warped brain. :]

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  37. Donna Haynes RobertsonNovember 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM

    My favorite suspense writer! And such a real, honest person. Keep on making us hold our breath, Brandilyn!
    donnarobertson@satx.rr.com

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  38. This sounds great! I'd love to win. shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

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