Brandon Epps is the co-author of Refractors Volume I: Evoke.
It's such an honour to interview him on my blog!
Elira: Hello Brandon and welcome to my blog. It's great to have you here!
The first question I have for you is one we all ask ourselves when we have the chance to meet or get in touch with an author, that is, is there a particular book or author that made you want to become a writer? And when did you make the decision to start writing?
Brandon: I knew I wanted to write since I was a kid but I didn't get serious about it until about two years ago. Several writers have influenced me but no particular writer made me want to write.
Elira: Can you give us some background facts on your book Evoke from the Refractors series? Where did the idea come from? And which came first, the plot or the characters?
Brandon: Refractors was an idea my brother and I conceived over 10 years ago. We wanted to create something that blended our favorite genres: fantasy and sci-fi. The characters definitely led the process. We had a rough concept of the plot but it evolved significantly as we went along.
Elira: Can you share with us a scene or plot point that did not make it into the final piece, and why?
Brandon: There is a scene where our heroes go shopping together. It is quite funny and adds to the humor that is prevalent in the book but it didn't serve much of a purpose to the plot. After feedback from beta readers and our editor, we decided to cut it.
Elira: What were the ups and downs of writing Evoke?
Brandon: The best and worse parts of the process were the beta reads. I was so nervous to share Evoke with others but I was elated when the beta readers came back with positive feedback.
Elira: Tell us a bit about the process of co-writing Evoke. How many drafts? How long did it take to complete? Any conflicts with ideas?
Brandon: So we spent a lot of time discussing elements of the story and forming a plan for the book. We are both very laid back and have similar personalities so we rarely ran into instances where we disagreed. The toughest part of the co-author process was actually getting Evoke done. We started the book in 2008 and had no idea what we were doing so a lot of time was devoted to learning the craft. In all, we ended up revising the book seven times.
Elira: Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Which one is your favourite and why?
Brandon: My favorite character is one of the protagonists Sa'Sha who is based on my wife. She is strong, intelligent, caring, and focused but also appreciates the simple moments in life. I don't identify too closely with any character actually but a few characters have certain traits in common with me. Elira: You are a veteran and have seen different parts of the world. Is that an advantage to your writing? How does it improve the world building in your stories?
Brandon: I think my experience and travels in the military have had a profound effect on my journey as a writer. It has exposed me to different cultures and people as well as revealed to me that despite our differences, we are all pretty similar. It has made world building a much more interesting experience as I have taken small pieces from every place I've visited.
Elira: What other writers are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Brandon: There is a pretty big community of writers on Instagram that I engage with and the list of amazing people who have helped me is too long to write out. I think the biggest help the community has provided is support and motivation to keep moving forward in my journey. Writing is mostly a solitary endeavor so it is nice to know that there are others who understand the struggle. Elira: You are an advocate for I.A.C., Indie Author Central. Tell us what this community is all about.
Brandon: IAC is a group of authors and industry professionals who have banded together to eliminate the barrier between traditional and self-publishing. Often there is a stigma associated with self-published work that makes them viewed as lower quality or less than their traditionally published counterparts. This is simply not the case and our aim is to help readers and other writers understand this.
Elira: What does one have to do to join I.A.C.?
Brandon: It's a pretty simple process. Just follow @letztalkbooks on IG and contact our fearless leader Lion Key.
Elira: Many young people are not encouraged to pursue a writing career, although they'd love to. What advice would you give them?
Brandon: So I'm both a great and terrible example for young people. I wanted to be a writer since childhood but opted to join the military out of high school. This allowed me to support myself but did delay my writing dream. I was unable to focus on writing as I was mostly concerned with my work. However, because I set the foundation for a great career in the military, I now have a job that allows me to place much more energy into writing.
Elira: Let's get to know you better... ready? Tea or coffee?
Brandon: That's like asking food or water, haha. I'm the stereotypical caffeinated writer and I thoroughly enjoy both. Elira: Movie or book?
Brandon: Books are a richer experience in my opinion but I do love movies too. Elira: Morning person or night owl?
Brandon: Night owl. My brain comes to life at night for some strange reason. Elira: Favourite line from any movie.
Brandon: "No. I am your father." - Darth Vader. It's one of the most legendary twists in film and also the most misquoted. Elira: Name one funny trait you have.
Brandon: I'm a terrible dancer but I still think it's pretty fun.
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