I am so excited to welcome Brandon Witt to RGR today. He graciously agreed to an interview with me to talk about his new book ‘The Imperfection of Swans’. So please, lets give a big RGR welcome to Brandon Witt! (To read my review of The Imperfection of Swans click here.)
You recently left your day job to focus on writing full-time. How hard was that decision to make?
It was something I’d been debating on for a long time. I was a special education teacher and hoped to ‘retire’ when I was forty. However, at the beginning of the 2014-2015 year, I was in yet another district special education meeting where they were informing us of more and more decisions they had made, all of which were based on money, and made it harder on teachers and students alike. Typically, I am a verbal fighter when it came to things such of this. Halfway through that meeting, there was a literal switch that flipped (Like Kevin in the meeting in the first or second chapter of the book). I quit fighting, and in that moment decided to sell my home and do whatever I needed to do to take a year or two and just write. I told my principal the next day (who was and is wonderful), and I finished up the year. However, not having an income and knowing that people have to like your writing or you’ve wasted you entire life’s savings is the scariest thing I have ever done. Sleeping can tend to be an issue. I’m scared every moment. However, I’ve never loved anything more, this has easily been the best eight months of my life!
The Imperfections Of Swans is based on your real life best friend and his own personal struggle. Was it difficult to write about this being so close to the subject?
Dear lord, Yes!!! I hadn’t anticipated it being so. However, even though the book is fiction, there is a ton of fact and experiences from my friend’s life. It was hard to think of my character as MY character instead of my friend. It took me nearly halfway through the book before I could put aside my friend from my mind and just give in to character as a stand-alone. Which, honestly, I think was the perfect time for it to happen. Having so much of my actual friend in the character adds some depth, at least, I hope.
The cover is a picture of your best friend which you actually took. Was that picture always going to be the cover or was something else planned?
No, it wasn’t supposed to be a cover. I also have a photography business and I asked my BFF to do a modeling session with me so that I could use his pictures in advertising my photography business. I mean, look at him, he’s gorgeous. The instant I snapped this picture, I fell in love with and for years its been screaming at me to write it’s story. And, now, here it is!
The subject matter in this book is a very real and very tough problem that many women and men struggle with. What do you want people to take away with them after they read this book?
Two things and I think they are of equal importance.
- There isn’t a quick fix, if there is a fix at all. It is process, a way of life. It seems that since there is no quick fix, it is often seen as a weakness in the person, a lack of character or strength. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
- How important it is to talk to others about our struggles (eating disorder, anxiety, alcoholism, fear, whatever). Talking about our darkness steals some of the power and lets us know we truly don’t have to face it alone.
What kind of research did you do to write this book?
Lots of interviewing my BFF, Kevin. Which was fun, actually, despite our years of friendship, I got to know him on a much deeper level and understand things I’d dismissed before. Of course, there was also a lot of Googling of anxiety and eating disorders as well, so that I could use a broader brush than simply Kevin’s experiences with those battles. I also spent two days observing in a very high profile wedding dress shop. Talk about eye-opening! Though there isn’t much in this book about Kevin working with brides and such, those two days affected every single page of this novel.
Why a wedding dress shop?
For someone who hasn’t read any of your books yet, where would you tell them to start?
Honesty, this one, The Imperfection of Swans. Though it’s got some heavy themes, I think it a lot lighter than my others. However, my most popular is Then the Stars Fall, and it stars my two corgis, both of which have since passed, so that will always be a favorite of mine. If, perchance, you enjoy urban fantasy, I’d point you in the direction of my Men of Myth series (however, my warning is this, there are three books, but they are just one long story, complete with cliffhangers in the first two novels).
Can you tell us a little about what you are working on now.
I’d love to!
On March 21, Under a Sky of Ash comes out. It is hard to explain without giving away too much of the story. However, it’s some of the writing I am THE most proud of! I am sooooo excited for this coming book.
In June, Son of Money is released. I think there is a lot of slut shaming that goes on in our culture and in our books. This novel was my exploration of that.
Currently, I just starting writing a five book series, Rocky Mountain Boy, based in Estes Park, following five best friends who find love (not with each other). The first one of that series should arrive in October, I believe.
Do you have any rituals when you write, like music you listen to?
So many! I am a creature of habit. Every day, I shower, cook breakfast, put on a pot of tea, mediate, read the writing from the previous session and then write for three hours (music on very quietly, sometimes none). I then workout, walk my dog, Alastair, then put on another pot of tea, meditate, read the writing from the previous session, and then write for three more hours. (My goal is ten pages, 5,000 words a day.) Then take a break, do dinner and then work on promotional stuff, blogs, and such in the evening. That’s every day, except Fridays. Fridays are nephew days!
So we have a mutual friend and when I told her I was interviewing you she said I should ask you about your flamingo being stolen at GRL, care to elaborate?
LOL! Oh, goodness. So, I wore this tall, wobbly flamingo hat (Pink, and two feet tall) to a Hawaiian themed dinner at GRL (I thought it was a costume type dinner. It wasn’t.). Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb, but the hat was a hit! It ended up having a much more wild week than me. It got ‘stolen’ and went to see drag shows, got it’s picture taken with random people for Facebook, and was, in general, ready and willing for about everyone. He had a great week!