Friday, November 16, 2012
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 page. There (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!
Posted by Nancy Mehl at 4:43 AM