Brandon Anderson: The humorous writer
Meeting the Rising Writer No. 25
Outlines, research and clarity. Without these, Brandon Anderson would not be able to begin a project. In his writing, you might see his middle name “Michael,” as well.
Brandon’s published book, The Threads of Fate and Destiny, has been available since November 2014, though he plans on seeking more strategic paths to marketing his work.
Brandon has agreed to a virtual interview today to share more about his writing journey, including obstacles he has faced on the way and hopes for his future in writing.
What do you do to prepare yourself to write?
In order for me to set about writing, I have to have a clear, focused mind. After work, when chores are underway, I simultaneously work on my writing while the television is on or while I’m playing games. As my inspiration can come from anywhere, I have to vigilantly watch and listen for when it comes.
What does your writing process look like?
It consists of multitasking, heavy reading for inspiration, outlining and maintaining character biographies. I can’t begin a piece without having a clear idea of who my characters are and what they want. Outlining is important to me because it helps me keep on task.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing, I work for McDonald’s, play video games and try to fill moments with humor that is sometimes sarcastic. I don’t remember exactly when I first started writing, but my family saved work from when I was first learning how to write letters. One story I wrote was about a lonely monkey student at school that I befriended and brought home to play with.
What is it about humor that you think is important in writing?
Humor is important in writing because it’s a tough business. If the piece is serious and the writer is struggling with crafting, humor is what keeps morale up. Whether it’s giving a character a sarcastic nature or making light of a situation they’re in, I aim to maintain hopefulness by tempering seriousness with humor.
What is your current project?
My current project’s working title is Roaming Heart. It began as my senior seminar project in college that I revisited. As it was a school project in a three-month-long course, it was subject to the dictations of my professor. She suggested doing loads of reading and journaling before I ever thought about what I wanted to write in terribly great detail. I also had to consult with other professors and read anything they suggested. As Roaming Heart deals with types of government and how it influences people, history and anthropology were my mainstays. Psychology would’ve been another if I had more time to fulfill that component.
How did the project progress?
A month later—finally—came the outlining, in which she told me I had too much going on in my project. Although I don’t have goals as far as word or page count, usually, I do have goals as far as sections. A project, after all, is a meal for the mind; questions or an unregulated pace means that the reader might finish without being quite full or might end up with digestion issues. Rather than three big problems—like a thesis statement names three items it will discuss—my professor said I had to stick with one and draw it out as much as possible. She decided that having the newly-ascended King’s mother turned into a lioness was the most compelling to contend with.
Can you tell us about your main character?
Roaming Heart has at least five main characters. The one who draws the most focus is Caleb, Sophronia’s new king. He is 22, and while he is not naïve, he is certainly unassuming. He is still searching for his purpose, which seems to follow his mother’s: advocating for and solidifying equality throughout his magical kingdom. The others are Sofia, Caleb’s mother; Genevieve and Cyprian Lavigne, his respective love interest and best friend; and their father, Philippe, who is the antagonist.
Who or what are some of your favorite support groups?
I don’t really have any support groups aside from An Author’s Tale and contacts from Spalding University. One group, though, I’ve stumbled upon is run by a former professor of mine, Kim Crum. It is called Shape and Flow, an organization which gives group and individual writing instruction. Another former professor, Lynell Edwards, always gave me very good ideas as to how else I could direct my writing.
What is one of the most important or impactful things you’ve learned from your professors?
One of my most insightful lessons was with my creative nonfiction professor. It was her African American Lit and Creative Nonfiction courses that taught me to stop treating myself like an afterthought and that certain characters have very strong voices.
What has been your biggest mistake in writing and how did you overcome it?
My biggest mistake in writing is that I tend to make un-funny moments humorous. I also don’t think I write particularly good villains. I try to overcome this by trying to watch films and read books that deal with serious moments and horrific events. That way I can try putting myself in the same frame of mind as the one who wrote or directed the piece.
Were you always good at writing?
I was practically born with a fountain pen in my hand in Louisville, Kentucky. As I always sought to achieve clarity and a mastery of mechanics and structure in my writing, I have usually demonstrated skills a little beyond my years. This could be because J.K. Rowling (and her pseudonym Robert Galbraith) inspire me most with Harry Potter and the Cormoran Strike novels. Between the horrific events Strike witnesses as a private investigator and the consistent calls for equality at and around the wizarding world, I was inspired to expand myself and learn more from her. Of course, Angie Sage (Septimus Heap), Cassandra Clare (Shadowhunters) and the Kast mother-daughter team (House of Night) pitched in with their contributions as well!
What published works do you have?
I have self-published one book in the past called The Threads of Fate and Destiny, for which Jack Pewitt designed the cover. Published in November 2014, it is my first and only published work. It can be purchased on any major book carrier’s website as well as the publisher’s. I am hoping to work up enough money to allot to future publishing ventures. As prices are set by the publisher, future works should be cheaper.
What is The Threads of Fate and Destiny about?
A journey is never better tempered than by knowledge, seasoned with creativity and steeped in heart. When Harry, Roger and Stephanie cheat their way into winning a sweepstakes being conducted by the Ashwood Cruise Liners, they figure nothing could go wrong. How incorrect they are proven. As Atherton High School students take flight into Ashwood, Louisiana on a well-planned field trip, the trio’s turns out to be derailed by none other than myth. The SS Myst is badly damaged when it crashes into a quirky, antiquated Isle immersed in Greek culture. A prophecy, a Curse, and the power of the gods manifest in a romantic tale of treachery and deceit. Will Harry, Roger and Stephanie fulfill the prophecy, repair their ship and return home? Does divine intervention really benefit the outcome of overcoming a being consumed by evil, Curse or otherwise?
What marketing strategies have benefited you and what strategies haven’t?
Sales have been struggling. Used to, it was my coursework and day job getting in the way of focusing on improvement. Now, it’s my day job and not being aware of where to even begin.
What advice would you give writers?
If I were to give advice to another writer in their approach to the craft, it would be twofold. The first part is to remain vigilant; inspiration can come from anywhere, and it’s important to be receptive to however it presents itself. The second part is that a little faith and courage go as long a way as common sense can; use them to be bold.
BONUS QUESTION: If you could be a character in any of the books that have inspired you, what character would you be and why?
I’d want to be Magnus Bane or Tessa Gray from the Shadowhunter books. They’re eccentric warlocks who essentially have performed miracles for Shadowhunter society. I’d be able to use their powers to help make the world a better place. One of Bane’s friends worked in a medical center, and since he regularly rented himself out for general needs and the governing body called the Clave, I’d certainly never run out of work.
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