Welcome! Starting this month Marcher Lord will be resuming its blog with an interview, special feature, or post every Friday. So to kick off our first post, we are interviewing Nadine Brandes, the latest author to join Marcher Lord Press.
Nadine Brandes is the author of the yet-to-be released A Time to Die, a dystopian novel. Now onto our interview!
Q: Everyone seems to have a “how I got published” story. What is yours?
Mine is actually quite a long and detailed story but in a nutshell, I had several successful one-on-one meetings with Jeff Gerke at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference. I always left with excellent writing tips for my work in progress so, when I started a new book, I went to him for some advice on my hook. It wasn’t finished, I wasn’t pitching it, I just wanted a professional eye. Well, he requested what I had at the time, despite my assurance I wasn’t trying to pitch my novel. After it made it through the acquisitions team I sent him the completed manuscript (two years later) and then he offered me a contract for A Time to Die. Overall, though, ever since I first discovered Marcher Lord Press I felt as if God handed it to me as a promise. I never feared if I’d get published, I just had to find patience to wait until MLP said yes. So when I got offered the contract, it was the fulfillment of a long-awaited promise.
Q: Tell us a little about your books.
A Time to Die is the first book in my dystopian series. Dystopian basically means a world with a totalitarian government. Think Hunger Games, Divergent, and 1984. In my dystopian world, everyone has a Clock that tells them how long they have left to live. The Clocks aren’t controlled, they just tap into the information of one’s time of death. The story starts when my teenage protagonist, Parvin Blackwater, has one year left to live, but she and her twin brother secretly share a Clock. They don’t know which one of them it belongs to so they’re unsure who will die when it zeroes out. Parvin realizes she’s wasted her life and seeks to find purpose and fulfillment in her remaining hours.
Q: Who are your books aimed at? If applicable: What are some of the challenges of writing for your audience?
I originally started writing them for YA readers, but then my publisher told me he’d classify it as adult. With any luck, I’ll bridge both age groups. 🙂
Q: What was your favorite book as a teen?
I was (and am) a major Harry Potter fan. I sat on the porch for hours and hours, just waiting for the mailman to deliver book 5 on release day. I attribute much of my imagination and love for fantasy to the fact I grew up with these books.
Q: What are your hopes for your future as an author?
I would love to be a full-time author for the rest of my life. This is also my husband’s hope for me, so I feel like it may be possible. I love writing, imagining, and especially like the idea of being a stay-at-home mom when the kids come, not to mention to ease of being able to move to a new city/state/country without losing my job. While I imagine most of my writing will stay in the speculative realm I have a few normal fiction pieces up my sleeve.
Q: If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Jesus in the flesh, J. K. Rowling (I know you guessed it), and a very brilliant and inspirational theology professor from my undergraduate university, Dr. Erik Thoennes (everyone should read his book, Godly Jealousy, by the way.) Preferably, I’d like to have three separate dinners. Not necessarily one dinner with all three people at once.
Q: What inspired you to write?
As a young teenager, I grew frustrated with the lack of Christian adventure and fantasy on the shelves. I didn’t want to read romance so I always ended up drifting into the secular books – which weren’t bad, they just weren’t what I wanted. So I thought, “I’ll just write the book I’m always looking for!” And that’s how I started writing, though the book I initially wrote is quite awful, amateur, and hidden away in a dark hole. 😉
A Time to Die was specifically inspired by the death of a young man I’d never met, but I knew his family fairly well. I’ll be telling that story on my blog in the near future.
Q: What were some of the challenges for you writing your book?
My main challenge was juggling writing and college. I have a Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, which has always been a dueling partner with my love for writing. My entire life, I’ve felt that God called me to write, but He also called me to wait. He pushed and pulled me into speech therapy, which ended up changing my life in many ways that a life of writing would not have done. Finally, when I graduated, He said, “Okay…now write.” And that’s what I’ve done ever since. The challenge has been trusting Him with my time, following His calling into both speech therapy and writing, and then risking my reputation by choosing to write.
It wasn’t easy telling everyone I went through six years of expensive schooling I’m “technically” not using. I had to overcome the embarrassment of writing with a perfectly good degree under my seat. It’s like God asked me, “Will you drop all to follow me? Even your reputation?”
Now, though, when I tell people I’m contracted, they don’t seem to judge my writing pursuits quite as much. 😉
Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book?
That our time is short, but even with short time God can take us to great heights…if we let him. I want to encourage readers to pursue an active life, to reach for something greater than complacency. (And for those who are already reaching, to keep doing it!)
Q: In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?
I couldn’t write without it. Everything has been committed to Christ’s will and it doesn’t feel right writing without His guidance. Also, almost all of my inspiration comes from Scripture. Ask my husband and he’ll tell you I probably hear 10% of every sermon I sit through and end up spending the other 90% jotting story ideas in my journal.
Q: What can you tell us about any future releases you have planned?
A Time to Die is scheduled for 2014, though we don’t have a set release date yet. So far, it’s looking like a three-book series. After that, I have a modern fantasy series I’ve been wanting to write for years!
Q: Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write? Like cocoa, raspberry tea, chocolate?
Chai. I have tried more chais than I can count—both authentic chais, cheap chais, Americanized latte chais. I love them all. Once, in college, a young man on a unicycle and a thermos strapped on his backpack came up to my group of friends and me. Apparently the thermos had hot chai he’d brought back from India (imagine that.) He let me try some. I know it sounds sketchy, but I did it anyway and it was amazing. Probably my favorite chai experience.
Q: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
These change daily, but right now it’s Psalm 37:5 – Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act.
Thank you, Nadine, for allowing us to interview you at Marcher Lord Press! If you have any questions for Nadine, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
Here is where you can find Nadine Brandes online: