"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Spotlight on Great Summer Reads
Brandi is a 'transplanted Southerner' who still shows respect with a 'Yes, ma'am' or 'Yes, sir' to her elders and authority figures, and expects the same from her son. She's happily married to her real-life hero and lives in a picturesque log home with him, her perfectly precocious son, and a spoiled-rotten schnauzer. Writing is her world, both at her day job and overnight marathons at the computer.
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Brandi B.: My love of writing started with a love of reading, for which I thank my parents. They really encouraged me to read as a child, and when I penned my first “original work” they were, of course, my biggest fans. I started writing poetry at an early age; my grandparents still have a framed poem of mine, which I wrote at age 12, on their wall. Later, I became a journalist and am now a technical editor, so I've been a writer in one capacity or another for as long as I can remember. My first romance, however, began in 2003.
PNR: Most writers are avid readers. Who are your favorite authors? What is your all-time favorite romance?
Brandi B.: I’m definitely on the bandwagon of avid readers. I read so many, it's tough to narrow the field to a few favorites, but sticking with just romance authors, I'd have to say I enjoy reading Suzanne Brockmann, Julia Quinn, Leanne Karella, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, and J.D. Robb. As for my all-time favorite romance - the one that never seems to lose interest for me is Arms of a Stranger by Danice Allen, which I hear is out of print unfortunately, but I still have my copy.
PNR: Being a newly published author, who or what has been the biggest influence on your work? Who or what has been your biggest support?
Brandi B.: My family is, without a doubt, my staunchest supporter. My big sister was the “first” to buy my book when it came out. My parents have always been there, encouraging me to set goals and go for it. And of course, my husband has been there for me, taking up the slack around the house while I devote time to my writing career, even though he prefers magazines to romance novels. LOL
I think the biggest influence on my work though has been the example set for me by my parents and grandparents. My parents have been happily married for 40 years; my grandparents for an astounding 75 years (Yes, they're still going strong, living together on their own on a ranch in Texas). But they've shown me how beautiful happy-ever-after endings can be, which is why I love romance novels. I enjoy seeing how two hearts find each other and overcome all odds to be together.
PNR: Your completed manuscript, A LOVE TO REMEMBER, placed 3rd in the 2004 “Romance through the Ages” contest. How rewarding is it to have your work recognized by your peers?
Brandi B.: Writing can be such a solitary endeavor, and the odds of losing focus, second-guessing yourself, and having doubts can creep up easily. So yes, it was very rewarding, especially since A LOVE TO REMEMBER was the first romance I'd ever written, and that writing contest was the first one I'd ever entered. It meant a lot to me because the feedback came from those in the romance writing world, so the positive input was just what I needed to know I could do this.
PNR: Your unpublished story, A LOVE TO REMEMBER, is a historical/time travel, and LYCAN INSTINCT, a shifter/romantic suspense. What do you like most about writing in the paranormal romance genre? How do you feel the sensual/erotic genre has affected the paranormal romance genre?
Brandi B.: The paranormal brings an element of 'what if' to a story that opens up so many possibilities to let my imagination run free. Regardless of whether I’m writing a time travel that sends a modern-day woman back to Revolutionary Texas or a contemporary with a sexy, shape-shifting hero, it's the 'what if' that makes me smile and triggers my creativity.
I’m sure the erotic genre has spiced things up in paranormal romance, and I readily admit to enjoying sensual stories. As a writer, however, one thing I promised myself was that I would never put in a love scene for the sole purpose of having a sex scene. But neither will I exclude the love scene if the characters and plot warrant it. True love relationships are more than just affairs of the heart; they get physical, so I won't blush or shy away from sensual scenes. Done properly, I think sexual tension and the physical expressions of true love are wonderful page-turning elements.
PNR: Could you tell us about the publication of your first book, LYCAN INSTINCT? Where did the idea for the story come from? How do you develop your story ideas?
Brandi B.: LYCAN INSTINCT began with a photo that a critique partner of mine shared with me. That picture of a very handsome man in a crouched position is now on Rafe’s page on my www.lycanpacks.com Web site. When I saw that picture, the idea of a scene came to mind, and I raced to the computer to get it all on paper so-to-speak. I had originally been working on a sequel to my time travel story, and hadn't really thought of doing a shape-shifter romance. But once Rafael Stone came to mind, followed quickly by his heroine, Mackenzie Lyons, I had no choice but to set everything else aside and work on developing their story.
Most of that development came in the form of brainstorming with online friends of mine, all writers in their own right. We often catch each other online and delve into impromptu brainstorming sessions. But I'm also the type who creates character worksheets and construct plot outlines. I have to because of the intricacies of writing suspense and a trilogy.
PNR: I found LYCAN INSTINCT to have a good balance of character focus and plot action. Do you find it difficult to juggle the two elements? Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven?
Brandi B.: Thank you. I don't find balancing those elements difficult so much as it is a challenge. Fortunately, writing stories the length of LYCAN INSTINCT enables me to better develop characters while still using external action to drive the plot. As for whether my stories are character or plot driven... Hmm, that's a tougher question, because as soon as I say a story is plot driven, one of my characters will say or do something completely unexpected in a scene that throws my original plans out the window. *grin*
PNR: The law enforcement details in your story ring true for the reader, create a tense atmosphere and reveal a depth of the subject; did this require a great deal of research?
Brandi B.: Thank you. I strive to stay as close to reality as possible while weaving in the fictional elements. My hope is that the reader comes away from the story wondering... Could this be real?
Fortunately, my background includes almost a decade as a television reporter, much of it on the crime beat working closely with law enforcement on drug raids, serial murders, and white-collar crimes. So, I do have invaluable experience from which to draw inspiration. However, I also had the added benefit of having a critique partner whose husband is a law enforcement officer. He provided great input on short notice quite a few times.
And I'm not the shy type; when I need information about something, I investigate it by going to the source, so I contacted a very nice gentleman with Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police who willingly answered my questions concerning Chicago police procedures and hierarchy.
PNR: I really enjoyed your heroine, Mackenzie Lyons; she is intelligent, competent and yet still has a vulnerable side. Could you tell us a little about her development? And of course the sexy Stone brothers; who has been your favorite character to write?
Brandi B.: I'm so glad you like her. She was very fun to write, and I'm happy to say she reappears in the trilogy later.
I initially had the idea of a cop who was uncertain about whether she could do the job well, but is driven to succeed because of events in her past that she views as failures. When it’s your responsibility to catch a killer and make certain you put the right person in jail for the crime, you have to trust your “instincts”, and she struggles with that. So, Mackenzie is the character that helped me identify the underlying theme for the first story, which is indicated in the title, LYCAN INSTINCT.
Of course, Rafe, who I consider the character that inspired the trilogy, was my favorite to write. He’s such a multi-faceted hero. Trying to come up with a 'werewolf' character that completely breaks from the more stereotypical mythological traits and, yet, remains sexy and mysterious was a thrilling challenge.
Of all the secondary characters, though, I'm most looking forward to writing more on Lucian, the black sheep...er, wolf...in the family.
PNR: Could you tell readers what your plans are for the LYCAN PACKS series? Will we be seeing stories for Rafael's brothers, Gabriel and Lucian?
Brandi B.: LYCAN PACKS is a planned trilogy; although, I've already had several critique partners wanting me to expand it into a series so that Mackenzie's partner gets his story, and they want to hear more on other “agents” of the Lykos Institutes secret operations.
But for now, my focus is on finishing the Stone brother's stories. I've actually plotted a great deal of the trilogy, so yes, absolutely, Gabe and Luc will be back. I've already started writing Gabe’s story. That's my priority right now.
PNR: Cobblestone Press is a new ePublisher and LYCAN INSTINCT is the debut title for their Shifters line, which has to be exciting. How did you find out about them? What influenced you to publish with Cobblestone Press?
Brandi B.: Since I began writing romance three years ago, I've met a large number of talented writers online and through RWA or other writing/critique groups. Some are aspiring novelists; others are published authors. One of them is Sable Grey, a co-owner of Cobblestone Press and an experienced author of ePublishing. I first learned about Cobblestone Press from her. Through her, I met the other owner, Deanna Lee, online.
Both women impressed me with their professionalism and integrity. I liked that they're both authors in their own right, so they can relate to me on that level, as well as understand my concerns and aspirations in regard to my writing career. My dream, like so many others out there, is to have a book in print. Deanna started out as an ePublished author, and through that landed an agent and eventually a multi-book print contract with Kensington. She remains a strong advocate for the electronic publishing industry.
That, combined with the answers they gave me to some very tough questions about key points to publishing - promotional plans, royalties, contract legalities, etc.—convinced me to give them a try.
It wasn’t until after I submitted, got 'the call' - which in my case was really an instant message - and my contracted manuscript was undergoing editing that Sable contacted me with the news about it being selected to debut their Shifters line. I was very excited and remain grateful to both of them for their support, and for giving me the chance to share my story with lovers of paranormal romance.
PNR: Can you tell us about the projects you are currently working on? What can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Brandi B.: While my main focus right now is to make Gabe’s story the best it can be, I do have a much smaller novella-length romantic suspense that I’m polishing up. If it passes muster, readers may see it come out later this year at Cobblestone Press.
And I'm still hanging on to the time travel, A LOVE TO REMEMBER. So we’ll see what happens with that one.
PNR: Thank you, Brandi, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Brandi B.: The best way to find out all you want to know about the Lycan Packs and me is to enter their world by visiting www.lycanpacks.com. It’s an interactive Web site, with hidden portals into Rafe's Lykos Institute and Mackenzie's police investigations, all of the elements and characters found in LYCAN INSTINCT.
Readers can sign up for the Lycan Packs newsletter for free, discuss Lycans, the trilogy, or whatever’s on your mind in the online forum. And, of course, they can contact me through the Web site. I'd love to hear from readers.
For my non-Lycan stories, www.brandibroughton.com is the place to go.
Buy it now! Cobblestone Press
June 9, 2006
e-Book Read the Reviews!
INSTINCT - When a murderer leaves a trail of nude,
high-profile bodies across Chicago, Detective Mackenzie Lyons
must decide whether to trust her instincts about a mysterious
philanthropist with secrets he’ll do anything to protect.
Featured in this issue:Sizzling Summer Reads Berkley Heat Cobblestone Press