Thursday, February 5, 2015

Faculty Interview: Brandy Vallance

Compiled by Jason Henry

Are you excited? We certainly are! Why shouldn't we be? The 2015 Pikes Peak Writers Conference is just around the corner! It has been an absolute pleasure recruiting the incredible faculty that we have lined up for you this year and the workshops they will be teaching are proving to be just as amazing.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference is known as one of the best and friendliest conferences for many reasons. One of those reasons is that we provide as many opportunities as possible to not only learn from our faculty, but to get to know them. Keeping in the spirit of that very statement, we interviewed all of our faculty members to get inside their heads just a little. Really, we don't see the point in waiting until April. Do you?

Over the weeks to come, we will be posting those interviews along with the responses right here on the PPW Blog. Be sure to check in on Facebook and Twitter as well! We hope you enjoy reading these brief Q&As as much as we have!


Brandy Vallance (Author, Colorado)

1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good read?
For me, it's going to primarily be about the emotion. When a writer does the job well, the words disappear and we live the story vicariously. Usually, this happens because the writer has been vulnerable. This takes a large amount of bravery. Here's an article I wrote for Writer's Digest which explains more in detail: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/the-power-of-vulnerability

2. What do you see as the pleasures and difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world? 
If you are a writer, you love story. For you, there is nothing like it. When you write, the world fades away. Writing makes you come alive. In that regard I think we have the best job in the world. We get to play in the sand all day and make worlds and characters. We have the ability to make people laugh, cry, think--we can change lives when we do our job well. But I suppose there's the rub. Doing the job well takes an insane amount of work and time. Years are often required to perfect the craft. And I say that loosely because I don't think anyone really perfects writing. If you think you've arrived as a writer, you have lost. We need to be constantly learning. The journey to publication is a gift. You grow during that journey and all that change is needed. The friends you meet along the way will often be your friends for life. Treasure that.

As far as the difficulties of being a writer/artist in today's world, I have heard that today's world is the easiest time to be the writer and it is also the hardest. With social media, there has never been an easier time to connect with readers. That is a really awesome and special thing. It is so amazing when my readers send me pictures of my book in different locations. That has been a definite highlight. As far as the downside, I don't think it does much good to focus on that. We already deal with so much self doubt. In the end, no matter what happens to publishing, people will long for good stories, and that is what we provide. We just need to be true to ourselves and work very hard.

3. What is the best career/writing advice someone has given you? 
What is your deepest truth? What is the deepest truth for your characters? Also, if you throw enough stuff against the wall, something's bound to stick. Keep writing. Perseverance is key.

4. Would you pass that same advice on or alter it? 
I still use this advice today.

5. What do you love most about your career? 
I love the magic of writing. I love when you write something in chapter three and you don't know why, but then in chapter twenty it all makes sense. The subconscious is a really powerful thing. I've had to learn to trust myself--that deep down I know where the story is going or what it needs.

As writers, we get to be the reader's memory at times. We bring up things they haven't thought about in years. They come to our books to feel and that is no small thing. What an amazing job we have! Sometimes I think writers and artists feel more deeply for this reason. Also, most writers pay attention to life, including the seemingly unimportant details. That is a really good thing. Life is hard and people are very busy. Let's make them feel awe. Let's make them remember. Let's give them an escape from the drudgery. Wow! When passion and a career collide, it is a really amazing thing!

6. What is something you wish everyone knew (or didn't know) about you? 
Being the introvert that I am (mostly introvert, I can be an extrovert when I want to be) that question instantly stumps me. Professionally speaking, I would tell people that it took me fourteen long years to get published. There were many times when I wanted to give up. That's just normal. I once heard that you know you are meant to do something by how much you want to quit. I hope that is encouraging to some. Don't ever give up on your dreams of seeing your book in print. Honestly, I wasn't ready when I thought I was. I had eleven drafts of The Covered Deep before it was published. It takes time to develop a thick skin, and that is very important in this business.

Also, don't think that just because someone has "made it" that they don't deal with the same discouragement that you do. Every day you have to decide to write. When I received my first publishing contract my agent told me, "Now the real work begins." She was right. It doesn't get easier just because you're published. A contract is not some magical thing that makes all your struggles go away.

7. Which fictional character do you relate to the most, and why? 
That's such a hard question to answer! Like all of you, I have fallen into thousands of books and related to so many different characters. And how those characters have affected me depends upon what season of my life I have been in. I relate most to characters who tell the truth about what it means to be human. I love real emotion. Give me all the feels. :-)

What character would your friends/family pick for you? 
No idea!

Quick Qs:

Pen or Keyboard? Keyboard

Plotter or Pantser? Both

Book or E-Book? Book

Spicy or Mild? Mild

Sunrise or Sunset? Sunset

Mister Rogers or Sesame Street? Sesame Street

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook for conversations with friends, Twitter for finding and sharing information

Brandy Vallance fell in love with the Victorian time period at a young age, loving the customs, manners, and especially the intricate rules of love. Since time travel is theoretically impossible, she lives in the nineteenth century vicariously through her novels. Unaccountable amounts of black tea have fueled this ambition. Brandy’s love of tea can only be paralleled by her love of BBC period drama, deep conversations, and a good book. Brandy is the 2013 Operation First Novel winner and the 2012 winner of the ACFW Genesis Contest for historical romance. Her critically acclaimed novel, The Covered Deep, has been featured by Writers Digest and USA Today.