Today’s guest author is young adult novelist Peter A. Brandt. This is just one of several tour stops for his new book Maple Express.
Peter has several gifts to giveaway to a lucky commentor at the end of his tour. Details are at the end of the interview. Comment here and at his other stops to increase your chances of winning!
It only takes a few minutes of thought before Peter Brandt can devise a scenario that would make a fantastic story, and minutes after that before it begins to fill itself in.
“I have been able to think up stories all my life but it’s only been in the last seven years that I realized I was abusing my creative side by not writing them down.”
Peter retired from the Air Force and began a new career as a Technical Writer. His writing abilities have allowed him to work in Canada, the United States, and even in the Middle East. However, it’s Peter’s love for stories that has brought him into a new realm of writing. His humorous memoir about his life as a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces and the tragic memoir about his father’s life in a Prisoner-of-War camp at the age of 14 allowed him to refine his writing before he began to venture in writing Young Adult fiction.
“I have a very unique way of creating my stories. It begins with a craving, like a smoker who just recently quit cigarettes but still feels an overwhelming craving for a smoke. When that comes, I can’t shake it until I sit down and begin to let my mind wander. Many times I start my quest for a new story by wondering – What If. Soon after I begin to write and can usually get the first draft completed within a few weeks.
Maple Express began as a “what if” question that involved a common held belief of the medical community and I’d share it with you but it would give away the storyline.”
Peter has taken formal lessons in acting,
“I’ve enjoyed some success as an actor in television and film before my day job as a Lead Technical Writer required me to move out of the country I always write my stories as I see them on the movie screen, which is why writing screenplays are also something I do with ease. I have written a couple of screenplays and shot them as short films with a producer / director friend of mine.
I can honestly say I have landed in the perfect job for me. I love to write…doesn’t really matter what I write, creatively or technically, writing is a pleasurable experience. It has allowed me to travel and for that I am grateful.”
Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Peter. Please tell us about your current release.
Maple Express is the story of Sara Maple, a teenage girl born into a wealthy family. Sara has never had to be accountable for her actions before and it is about catch up to her. Sara decides to skip class and before she knows what is happening she wakes up on a train surrounded by four people who have no idea where the train is heading and do not appear to be interested in finding out. Sara has to convince the others to join her on a quest to get to the front of the train and get off this ride.
What inspired you to write this book?
It began when I listened to a medical professional talk about a widely held belief in the medical community and my first thought was…”what if they are wrong. What if it was not like that at all?” That “what if” is the basis to this story, so I can’t really tell you without giving the story away.
The first half of Maple Express came quickly and I knew how it would end. Unfortunately, I couldn’t decide how to progress from beginning to end so I shelved the story for well over a year. My old neighbors in Canada kept bugging me to finish the book because they wanted to know how the story ended. Finally, I began to focus on it and one day it dawned on me how the second half of the book should be written.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I grew up reading the Hardy Boys and to a lesser extent, the Nancy Drew books. With that as a backdrop, I decided to write a Hardy Boy styled book as well. It is titled Holly Alexander and the Mystery of the Courthouse Square. It is ready for release but I am holding off publishing it until the fall of 2012.
As well, I have recently completed writing half of another young adult novel about a young man by the name of Taylor who lives in Los Angeles (I was in LA last September to visit family and travelled through Death Valley…making the whole trip the setting for this new book). Taylor is last seen walking to school in LA but he never arrives. Two months later, he is found by police wandering along the Pacific Coast Highway. He has no recollection of who he is and how he got there. Unfortunately, he begins to have intense dreams about a young girl and realizes he won’t find any peace until he figures out who she is and what she wants.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer at around the age of seven or eight. I wrote my first book at that age, and it was about a monkey named “Cheetah” who follows his young owner to school and creates havoc in the classroom.
A friend of my dad’s, who was a psychiatrist by the way, read it and really, really, wanted it and being young and foolish – I gave it to him. (This could have been my first book sale if I had of been on the ball LOL!)
I cannot say for sure why he was so fascinated with it. Perhaps he thought I’d be heading into therapy with him soon enough and he could leverage what I wrote ha-ha!
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your workday like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a full time Lead Technical Writer and so I write professionally every day. It is a different type of writing, but for me the act of my fingers flying across a keyboard feels so good. I realize that I love writing, no matter what type of writing it is.
When I am writing novels, I try to dedicate an hour or so every evening to write and usually one day on the weekend where I will write for ten to twelve hours.
I write fast so I can usually get the first draft done in a month or two. Last year I took a week off work and wrote the entire week. I can usually get about half of the manuscript written in that time.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I do really well writing in a large room with 30 people sitting around me, my headphones on, and listening to music screaming in my head. My favorite album is titled “Grace” and it is the debut album by a musician from Nova Scotia Canada by the name of Cory Tetford. I can listen to that album over and over while I write and never get tired of it.
I learned to write like this from entering five writers’ marathons. Writers Marathons are a fundraising event where a number of writers are placed in a room starting at 8:00 PM on a Friday night and by 8:00 PM Monday night, they must have written a complete novel. I absolutely love writing this way. There are no distractions…no phones, emails, screaming kids, grocery shopping to do – nothing. Surrounded by and interacting with writers doing the same thing creates energy in the room that keeps me focused. I actually won an award for the most pages written – 160 pages. My wife comes and vacations and takes care of me as I write…providing me with meals so I don’t waste time going out, shoulder rubs when my writing strains my muscles, and spending our money at local shops when I can’t leave my desk.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For a while, I wanted to become a writer and then I totally lost focus. I found myself feeling inadequate as a person so I stopped writing. It has only been in the last seven years that I finally began writing creatively again.
I joined the Army, swung over into the Air Force, but before I left the military, I bought a computer and taught myself how to type. With my technical experience I landed a job as a Technical Writer and since then I have written thousands of technical documents, five novels, two memoirs – my dad’s and my own, a couple of screenplays (short film) and have had the pleasure of becoming an actor in film and television.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
The first book I wrote (not the monkey story of my youth) was published through a romance publisher in Florida. After that, I continued to write but couldn’t find an agent or publisher, so I started publishing myself through Amazon. I actually felt ashamed for a while and tried to hide the fact that I wasn’t a “legitimate author” anymore. I have read that literary agencies get on average between five to six thousand queries every year and are only able to take five to ten new writers. I realized that it would be an insult to say the other 5,990 books queried weren’t good enough. It’s just a numbers game and it is possible that you just didn’t write the kind of book the agents are looking for at that time.
I am no longer ashamed about what I do and I fully embrace that I am an independent author. I write interesting fast-paced books that are geared to Young Adult audiences. My books are sold as eBooks and a couple as paperbacks and I consider myself a pioneer – an entrepreneur who is selling Peter A. Brandt and his young adult stories.
Like any business, my final product is top rate or no one would buy it. I have hired the best editor who ensures my finished product shines, I hired a fantastic book cover artist, and I ensure my website is always current.
I tried to do it by myself for too long and I came to realize I needed to hire people who are excellent at what they do so I can concentrate on what I am excellent at doing.
If we authors looked at our work as an entrepreneur selling a product, like bread or jewelry, then it becomes important that we sell the best product we can, just like the baker and the jeweler does.
With all this experience as an independent author I am writing an eBook titled “From Author to Entrepreneur” that explains how to go about taking great storytelling authors and helping them understand how to become a successful independent author. This book is being written in conjunction with my video blog at Simple Simon Publishing.
As a final thought, I want to thank you, Lisa, for having me here. This has been fun and perhaps I’ll stop by again when I release “Holly Alexander” in a few months’ time.
I’d love to have you back, Peter. It’s always fun to find out what’s new with an author who has been here before.
Peter has some original prizes he’s giving away at the end of his tour. Two winners will win a pint jug of Butternut Mountain Farm Vermont Pure Maple Syrup, Grade A Dark Amber, in honor of the main character of The Maple Express, Sara Maple, from the small town of Mapleton, Vermont. One grand prize winner will win an awesome Bachmann Trains Pegasus Ready-to-Run HO Scale Train Set.
So, Readers, I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more they comment, the better their chances of winning.