Irene Brand’s interview

» Posted on Apr 25, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Irene Brand’s interview

1. What made you start writing?
When I was 10 or 11 years old, I read a book (probably a Zane Grey western) that impressed me very much. As I thought about it, I decided that I wanted to do for others what that author had done for me. We lived on a farm, and the next day, I took a spiral notebook and a pencil, went up on the hillside, sat under a hickory nut tree and started my first book. I don’t remember what happened to that first scribbling but, from that day to this, the desire to write has never left me. All through my teen years, I wrote programs for the church, poems for special events, and occasionally news items for the local newspaper.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I was about 18 when I started my first novel. It had an Appalachian setting, and a weeks or so ago, I was looking through a box of “old” things and found that manuscript. You should have seen it! No margins at all and single spaced. But I read the first page and, really, the plot wasn’t too bad, so who knows, I may rewrite it when I get the time and turn it into a best seller. (That’s supposed to be a joke)

3. How do you handle rejections?
Poorly! I’ve heard people say that rejections don’t bother them, but if I’ve worked on a book, magazine article, devotional message, or whatever, I’ve been passionate about the subject. To have it turned down is almost like being rejected in a romance. Probably not as drastic as the trauma of rejected love, which lasts longer than disappointment over a book rejection, but the pain is there. After a day or two of licking my wounds and wondering why I ever thought I could write, I “notch my gun” and write, determined that I won’t be defeated.

4. Why do you write?
An inner compulsion motivates me. I consider my writing ability a spiritual gift (or talent), and I’m driven by the Holy Spirit to write. I’m always thinking of subjects.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
The Lord only knows! I do have other interests which I can’t pursue and continue writing on the schedule I keep now. I’m already actively involved in the ministry of our local church, but I could do more visiting in hospitals, nursing homes and with the elderly who live at home. I like to crochet. My husband and I already do a lot of walking, but I would probably exercise more if I wasn’t writing. Also, in our area, there is a big interest in historical sites—my husband is involved in this, and I would probably join him.

6. What are you working on right now?
The current WIP is my 20th Love Inspired book, which I’ve entitled A MAN TO LEAN ON, but that title hasn’t been approved by the editors yet. It’s a LI romance and deals with a widow whose fifteen-year-old daughter is becoming too independent to suit her mother, which causes friction at home. The hero is a bachelor with a secret past. The heroine believes her first duty is to her daughter, and she can’t seem to break away from some unfortunate hang-ups with her relationship to her husband. The book’s deadline is July 1. I don’t have the publishing date yet. I’m also researching ideas for other books now.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Not intentionally, but I think most of my books are a composite of everything I’ve seen or heard or experienced. In one particular instance my personality probably shines through my characters. I don’t like wimpy heroines. Mine always appear to be strong willed, and that could be a “chip off the old block.”

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
I have two books being published this month. One is a Barbour HP historical. The title is BROKEN BOW, which is the county seat of Custer County in Nebraska, where my husband was born and where some of his relatives still live. We visit Broken Bow annually. The time period is 1890. It’s a ranch story with some mystery, as well as the love interest. I think the cover is one of the prettiest I’ve had.

The other book is THE SOUND OF SECRETS, book #4 in the LI “Secrets of Stoneley continuity series. This is the first time I’ve been invited to participate in a series of suspense books, and I enjoyed writing the book.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep a stiff upper lip when the going gets rough. All writers, even very successful ones, go through a period of wondering if their writing is any good, and or if they’ll ever receive another contract. Even when a manuscript is rejected, it can be sold elsewhere. One time I sold a book to a publisher who had turned it down two years earlier. I’ve also sold manuscripts to another publisher when one publisher rejected them. Always strive to make your writing better. I learn something on every book I write.

10. How important is faith in your books?
Faith is the most part of my life, and it sustains me through the difficult publishing times. And when I do have some successes, my faith makes me remember who I am and what I would be without the presence of the Holy Spirit guiding my every thought and everything I do.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
A man who loves a girl several years younger than he is; when either the hero or heroine have a shady past, when both hero and heroine are in their 40’s; western themes, riverboat historical stories. I like Colonial history and Civil War books, but they aren’t popular now.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
I really don’t have a favorite book, but when I’m asked that question, my first historical, WHERE MORNING DAWNS, published with Zondervan in 1986 comes to mind. It was a favorite because it was my first historical, and I’d wanted to have a historical book published for years. The book’s setting was in the 1580’s and concerned Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony in the New World. I read it occasionally and still find it to be a story that interests me.

13. How do you juggle writing for different houses?
Barbour editors always give a long period of time for a book’s deadline, and my agent and editor at Steeple Hill usually ask me the length of time I want for writing a book. Sometimes, there’s a quick turn around between acceptance and deadline, but not often. I always allow time between books for emergencies, so I’ve never had any trouble. Also, my middle name is “organized,” and I work well under pressure.

14. What is your writing schedule like?
I retired from teaching school in 1989, so I have more control over my time than when I worked away from home. I’m a morning person, so I go to my office early, usually about 7:30. I have my morning devotions first; then check e-mail before I start writing. I try to keep the morning clear for writing, and if nothing is scheduled for the afternoon, I write then also. Sometimes I work an hour or so after supper. I follow this schedule at least four days a week. Tuesday is my “town” day for shopping, etc. I work on Saturday mornings, but usually keep the afternoon free for visiting the elderly and ill in the church family.

15. For Love Inspired you write for both the regular line and the suspense line. Which one do you like to do the most and why?
I prefer to write equally in the two lines; however, the majority of my LI books have been published in the regular line. I know that many experts say writers will be more successful if they develop a “name” in one genre and stick to it, but I like to write suspense, historical, and romance equally well.