Pen Friends, we are very excited to introduce Young Adult Author and Writing-Contest Guru, Brenda Drake! If you don’t know her yet, quick, get reading below!!
*PS: There’s a giveaway. Check below for details.
SP: Welcome Brenda!
Thank you for having me!
SP: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?
I grew up the youngest of three children and an Air Force brat, so I was always the new kid at school until my dad retired in Albuquerque when I was in middle school. I host contests such as Pitch Wars and Pitch Madness on my blog, and hold Twitter pitch parties on the hashtag, #PitMad. Unfortunately, I’m addicted to coffee and Goldfish crackers, but not together. Well, unless I’m eating the graham cracker or s’more’s ones.
Like most writers, I loved telling stories as soon as I could talk. I graduated to writing small stories about ducks or furry animals until I got older and the stories morphed into something with a plot. My love for fantasy comes from the tales my Irish grandmother used to tell me. When I went out into the real world and had to work for a living, my writing stopped. When I remarried and stayed home with the kids, I took up writing again. I took classes and before I knew it, I had a horrible manuscript. I wrote a few more before completing the first draft of Library Jumpers (Thief of Lies).
SP: After your first book, Touching Fate, you began the Library Jumper Series, starting with Thief of Lies. Love the idea of library jumping. Can you tell us where your idea came from and how it changed through the drafts?
I actually wrote Thief of Lies before Touching Fate. Both books are the first in a three-book series. The idea for the Library Jumpers series came to me while at a bookstore. On one of the tables at the front of the store, sat a coffee table book with photographs of some of the world’s most beautiful libraries. I got lost flipping through the pages of the book. Each library was so mystical. I imagined jumping through the pages to visit them. Then I envisioned a great battle within one with knights and creatures in the mix. There were swords swinging and battle globes soaring through the air. I immediately bought the book and started plotting the story that afternoon.
Before I queried the story, it went through six or seven drafts. I couldn’t get the opening right. It wasn’t until I cut three chapters did I find the best starting point. I removed several scenes and cut down on the information dumps. There weren’t many changes to the plot and characters from the first draft.
SP: Can you describe Gia, your main character in three words?
Stubborn, loyal, awkward.
SP: Book 2, Guardians of Secrets is out soon, and you are already writing book 3! How is that you can pump out books so fast? Are you finding writing a series is harder or easier?
I’m not sure how I do it. I have two series going—the Library Jumpers series and the Fated series. I feel like I’m writing and editing all the time. I also wrote Thunderstruck, which will release next year. I believe the more I write, the easier it is to get the book done. I love writing series. I think it’s easier because you know the characters well. I’m writing Assassin of Truths (Library Jumpers #3) and I’m so sad to think about leaving the characters when I finish. After I completed the Fated series, I binge-watched shows on Netflix to get over the sadness I felt at saying goodbye to the Layne sisters.
SP: The journey to finding your agent: a long road or open door?
I would say it was a long road because I had a detour. Pete Knapp isn’t my first agent. I had to leave my first one because of issues. But things happen for a reason, and everything worked itself out. We learn from our mistakes and I’m so thrilled to have Pete in my corner.
SP: Many writers have benefitted from the contests you host: Pitchwars, Pitmad, Pitmadness. (I’m one of the lucky Pitchwars mentees..soooo I happen to be extremely thankful for you!) What’s your favorite part about running these contests?
Congratulations! My favorite part about running the contests is the community it builds with writers. I do love hearing about successes, too. This business can have many low moments. It’s fun to celebrate someone else’s accomplishments.
SP: If you could choose one library in the world to land in tomorrow, which one would it be? (optional)
Hands down, The Boston Athenaeum. It’s like going home for me. My extended family is nearby and my heart will always belong to Massachusetts, no matter where I live.
SP: Ok, so you’re an addict: Can you tell us your coffee of choice?
I’m a Starbucks junky, and my drug of choice is Skinny Caramel Lattes.
SP: Ah, just like Gia! Where else can we learn about you, your books, and the contests you host?
You can find all the details about all the things on my website www.brenda-drake.com.
SP: Thanks, Brenda!
Now, if you want to win a copy of Brenda’s THEIF OF LIES, be the first to email – firstname.lastname@example.org – with the answer to this question: Which of Brenda’s books was written first, Thief of Lies or Touching Fate?
Nova, signing off.