Interview with novelist Kate Brandes

Novelist Kate Brandes joins me today to talk about
her newest women’s fiction, The Promise
of Pierson Orchard

During her
virtual book tour, Kate will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble
(winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for
a chance to win, use the form below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops
and enter there, too!
environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also
a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental
bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House
Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts
Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the
Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small
town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When
she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wildflowers.

Welcome, Kate. Please share a little bit
about your current release.
story is Erin Brockovich meets Promised Land, about a Pennsylvania family
threatened by betrayal, financial desperation, old flames, fracking, and
ultimately finding forgiveness.
In the
novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of
Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing
natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his
brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a
shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind
their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try
to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him.
To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his
mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack
and Wade–years ago.
When LeeAnn’s parents have
good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must
fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land,
and the way of life they love.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve spent most of my
career, not as a writer, but as an environmental scientist. I didn’t start
writing creatively until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve always loved stories
about complicated families and relationships. When
I learned about fracking through my environmental science career, one of my
first thoughts was that it would make a great metaphor in a novel about a
fractured family.

Excerpt from The Promise of Pierson Orchard:
brand new black pickup was parked between LeeAnn’s red Chevy and Jack’s old
beater. A man stood beside it, with his hand raised in greeting, but he said
nothing more. Coming from the bright light of the barn into the dusk prevented
Jack from making out the man’s face. Jack stared in his direction. Some tug of
memory caused him to hesitate. There was something familiar about the slight
curl in his shoulders.
emerged from the edge of the orchard and the man turned at the sound of her
boots on the gravel drive. “LeeAnn?” the man said.
stopped. “Wade Pierson?” She hesitated a moment more and then walked slowly toward
him. “Is it really you?”
right in front of him, was his brother. Wade. Back after twenty years. He was
still alive, at least. Wade’s arms encircled LeeAnn.
clenched his fists and went back into the barn. He offloaded the fruit from the
wagon, bruising most of it. He washed apples with shaky hands and then crushed
them for the cider press. LeeAnn and Wade came through the doorway.
look who’s here.” Jack glanced up and then couldn’t take his eyes from his
brother’s face for a long moment. He wasn’t a sixteen year-old kid anymore.
He’d grown taller than Jack and filled out. Damn if he didn’t look even more
like their dad now, with that same dark red hair and fair skin. That curl of
the shoulder used to give Wade the look of someone unsure of whether he
belonged. But now Wade stood there smiling, like he would be welcome. Like he
could just show up after all this time with as much warning as he gave on the
night he left.”
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m at work on my second novel, partly inspired by
Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang.
It will be another book club fiction novel with an eco-bent, but it’s a
completely different story from my first novel.
When did you first
consider yourself a writer?
That’s an
interesting question. Since I’ve spent my career as a scientist, it took me a
long time to think of myself as a writer and not to refer to my writing life as
a “hobby.” Honestly, it’s taken me more than a decade and a publishing contract
to truly feel like I could call myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?

I don’t write full time. I still work part-time as an environmental scientist.
I write when I can, which is usually in the early morning hours before the rest
of the world is awake.

What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?

I like to
draft long hand with a notebook and pen. For whatever reason, the story comes
out deeper and more fully formed if I begin with paper and pen.

As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?

A geologist. Then I grew up and became a geologist. I’ve also always loved
fiction and words, so it seems inevitable now that I would figure out a way to
become a writer too.
Anything else you’d
like to share with the readers?
Bookclub Giveaway: In celebration of my upcoming book
launch, I’m offering 8 signed paperback copies, 8 small prizes, a $25 Amazon
gift card and a list of book-related discussion questions to one lucky book
club member to share with your club. All you have to do to enter is tell one
person about the book and sign up here.
Contest runs through my book launch date, April
22, 2017.
The winner will be announced the following day! Good luck!
Thank you for being a
guest on my blog today, Kate!
Thank you
so much for having me!

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