I have been fortunate enough to meet some great authors recently and have thoroughly enjoyed their books as well. Cindy Brandner is the author of the Exit Unicorns Series, I recently reviewed the first book and am thoroughly enjoying the second now. Below is my interview with her, enjoy and happy reading!
1. First off, what a wonderful novel! I am now into book two of three and am captivated. Did you have an ‘a-ha’ moment and the idea pop in your head or how did you come up with the idea?
These characters have been with me for so long, that the story has really evolved from its beginnings. So it wasn’t so much an a-ha moment as an evolution of the characters coming to a place where their story was ready to be told. That was when I really saw the structure of the first novel.
No, I didn’t. But as I kept writing and writing, I realized there was still so much story to be told and there was no way I was going to be able to fit it all in one novel.
No, they aren’t. They are so real for me in and of themselves, that I don’t connect them with anyone but themselves. There are certainly many real people in the books though. I keep my characters interaction with them to a minimum though, as most of them are still alive and I don’t want to be sued.
I had written the first book before ever going to Ireland. I went before it was published, however, because I wanted to be sure I had things right. When I arrived and started to travel around I was amazed to find that it was just as I had pictured it. I did make some adjustments to the manuscript when I arrived home, but they were minor. Since then I have gone back three times and I love Belfast. I had great friends there, and the craic is second to none.
5. Tell me about your writing process. Are you a diligent outliner?
Ha- I don’t outline at all. I use the historical timeline as my framework and the rest is a very organic process for me. I really just allow the characters to tell their story and that dictates the direction the story takes, as well as the direction of the secondary story lines. Which leads to me getting some real surprises along the way. That is part of what I love about the writing process though- that I never know just where the story will take me when I begin to write each book.
6. There are some great twists and turns in the novel, did you plan them first and build around them?
No, the twists present as I write. Often I am sitting here at my computer saying, ‘really, that’s where we’re headed with this?’
7. The scene ‘that changed everything’ (because I don’t want to give it away!) was hard for me to read, but I understand why you wrote it the way you did, how did you do it?
I know which chapter you mean, and I have to say I wrote it on autopilot in a sense, because I had to distance myself a certain amount from what was happening in the chapter to pay attention to the technicalities of the scene. But after I finished writing it I had a hard time getting any writing done for about six weeks. I realized later that it was because it had really sapped me emotionally. I recently did some editing for the second edition of Exit Unicorns, and I dreaded going over the chapter.
8. I am a lover of historical fiction, obviously you are as well. Who is your favourite author of the genre? Did they inspire you?
My favourite author of historical fiction is Dorothy Dunnett, hands down, in particular her Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo series. I also have a very soft spot for Leon Uris, particularly his book Trinity as it was the book that made me realize I wanted to be a writer myself.
9. If you could have lunch with Pamela, Casey or Jamie which would you choose and why?
Hmm- probably Jamie, even though I think he would intimidate me more than the other two.
10. If a movie company came up to you tomorrow and handed you a deal to make this for the big screen who would you cast as the three main characters?
The only actors I’ve seen that come close to my vision of the characters are as follows: Casey- Colin Farrell, mostly because of his colouring, because Casey is the size of Liam Neeson. Pamela- Jennifer Connelly when she was younger, she has that vulnerable beauty. Jamie- well, I have never seen anyone that looks like His Lordship really, but Simon Baker (a wee bit younger than he is now) would do in a pinch.
11. The most important question of all: Are you a Jamie or a Casey girl? I finally chose and went with Jamie, but I’m curious who you choose and I’m sure my readers are too.
In all honesty, neither. I love them both equally. They are like family to me, so I don’t think I see them in quite the same way that my readers do.
12. What’s up next for you?
I’m working on two projects- the 4th book in the Exit Unicorns series and also a shorter novel about a woman who survives the Irish Potato Famine for rather unique reasons. It’s a combination of historical and mythical aspects and I’m excited to finally be working on it. Originally it was a short story that won a couple of prizes, but the voice of the protagonist- Bridget- is so strong, I always knew she had a bigger tale to tell me.