Twenty Questions for Twenty Authors: C. Brenneke

I have always been fascinated with the story of how a person got to be where they are.  Over the weeks working with other writers in the Inkshares Nerdist contest I realized I had a unique opportunity to pick their brains about reading, about writing, and about their novels.

To that end, I’m starting an interview series where I take the time to sit down and pick the brain of other authors who are out there writing amazing stories of their own.

I’m calling the series “Twenty Questions for Twenty Authors”

First up, I’d liked to introduce C. Brennecke, author of Seven Shards: The Colors of Wine currently funding on Inkshares.

C. Brennecke is a fantasy writer, artist, and lifelong daydreamer. She works as a publications editor and organizes chaos for fun. Her first taste of world-building came when she discovered tabletop roleplaying while studying art at Temple University, and she’s been creating worlds ever since. She spends many late nights on the computer in her suburban Philadelphia home, which she shares with her husband and a sheltie that thinks he’s a cat. Follow her on twitter: @bonebonetweets

Here’s a little about Seven Shards: The Color of Wine:

Tensions run high across the Kingdom’s seven counties, as allegiances are tested and old wounds become inflamed. The recent time of peace nears its end when the Shadow King flexes his power and the oppressed lash out. His actions stir up new leaders and visionaries from the generation now coming of age. With so many changes in the air, any of the Kingdom’s residents could bring about the tipping point; from the disillusioned artist as she grows in fame, to the cocksure fool pursuing love for the first time.

Far from the sights of the King’s throne, hidden away in a cave, a High Priestess sits and studies the threads of fate as they weave the lives of her fellow citizens towards an inevitable war. Fueled to urgency by a dire prophecy, she stretches her influence far and wide, carefully building her allies up while breaking her enemies down. As she manifests her will through schemes and lies, those closest to her begin to doubt the sanctity of her vision as its costs pile up. Could her well-intentioned interference cause more harm than good?

Stay tuned after the interview for an excerpt from the book.  Here’s a little taste to whet your appetite:

 “But this generation could not afford to lose anyone else, not even a weakling like him.”

I have so many questions about the story after reading just that one sentence!  Just wait until you read the rest of what she’s shared with you.  Anyway, onto the interview proper.

On Reading

1. What are you currently reading?

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

2. Ereader or Traditional?

Traditional

3. What is your favorite book?

I think you forgot the “s” in “books!” My current top three are The Night Circus, The Mists of Avalon, and Red Azalea.

4. Why do you think reading is important?

Reading develops your imagination and your understanding of the world. The ways in which you can learn and become a better person through reading are innumerable.

5. What is the one book (other than your own) that you would recommend to others?

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

On Writing

1. What made you want to become a writer?

I’m not sure that’s my goal; at least it wasn’t until very recently. I simply want to capture my stories and share them with others.

2. Why do you write?

I write because if I didn’t, the stories would fade away just like a dream.

3. What was the first thing you wrote?

I could interpret and answer this question in many ways, but I think I’ll go with the most embarrassing. The first book I wrote (not to completion, mind you) was a tale of a widowed woman rekindling the flames of her long lost love, who happened to be a vampire.

4. Which writers inspire you?

Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, Erin Morgenstern, Anchee Min

5. Are you a planner or a seat of the pants writer?

Both. I’m constantly going back and forth between both modalities.

6. What are you currently writing?

A fantasy by the name of Seven Shards: The Colors of Wine

7. Why this particular genre?

Fantasy is a genre I’m fond of and familiar with as a reader, and it allows me to be creative and inventive without having to reinvent every single thing.

8. From where do you glean ideas for your writing?

This is difficult to answer because I’m a very intuitive, inspiration-based writer. Some of it comes from people or situations I’ve observed, some of it comes from backstories I’ve written for RPGs, some of it comes from prompts or feedback I’ve received, and most of it comes from an unknown source.

9. What advice would you give a fledgling writer just starting on the path to building their own novel?

Jump in and start writing. Save every note, every idea. Don’t expect it to be cohesive right away. Do expect that it will take many, many long hours.

10. A new writer is suffering with writer’s block. What advice would you give them to break through?

Taking a walk usually helps. So does switching from keyboard to pencil, or vice versa. If you don’t have the idea you want, write anyway. Just write something.

On your Book

1. Tell the readers about what makes your book unique.

My story tackles a lot of contemporary issues and intrinsically human experiences without belaboring any one point. It is diverse without being about diversity. Some of the characters fall into familiar stereotypes, while others defy them. But every character is layered and achieves growth throughout their journey.

2. What do you love about your protagonist? What do you hate about them?

I have a few protagonists, but the one that bookends the story is the High Priestess. I love her physical quirks and her almost self-sacrificial devotion to a higher purpose. In pursuit of that purpose she can be very manipulative and deceitful, which can be a hard thing to forgive. But ultimately, her judgment is right. I think she will be a very divisive character.

3. Who would you want to play your protagonist in the movie adaptation of your book?

Cate Blanchet would be my first choice. Michelle Williams could pull it off as well.

4. Are you planning on continuing the story with a sequel and/or series?

I wasn’t originally, but lately I’ve been changing my mind about that. So, what I mean to say is yes.

5. Is there anything else you want readers to know?

Seven Shards: The Colors of Wine is a fantasy that will resonate with the common reader, not just fantasy fans. Everyone will find a relatable character or storyline within its web. It will also challenge many people to question or stretch their sense of morality.

Thanks so much C. Brennecke for being my inaugural interviewee!

As promised, here is an excerpt from her novel.  If you love what you read here, why not preorder the book and help it get published? 

The High Priestess turned to the timid Lygar with a scrutinous eye.

“You’re not a natural fit for Archon, are you?” The priestess surveyed his face.

His lips gaped open for a beat, then pursed as he raised his brow. “No, I’m afraid not.”

“But I suppose you’re the right leader for this generation. The last thing your people need is another war.”

Alphonse nodded slowly, not offended, or even surprised, but more than a little unsettled by the frank analysis. Though she had said few words, the truth of her statements weighed heavy in his mind. The title of Archon had fallen to him solely because he happened to be the eldest able-bodied male survivor of the last two wars. And just as some whispered, his survival was attributed not to bravery, but to mere cowardice and luck. In any other time, he would have been challenged, and presumably killed, for the title. But this generation could not afford to lose anyone else, not even a weakling like him. Aside from himself, all that was left of the Lygars was a handful of old women and a few dozen young adults and children. They were no more than fifty by his last count.

Alphonse sat rigid, silently growing more anxious. The ever-real possibility that he was not even leader enough to assure his people’s immediate survival gnawed on his mind. He was a coward and he knew it. And how could a coward protect his people? He could not fight, his resolve was tenuous, and the charisma to inspire others was not a gift that he possessed. Even trivial matters, such as lover’s quarrels, made him feel uneasy. The first few years of his reign had past by easily due to the fact that the majority of his people were mere children. But now that those children were entering adulthood, the demands of leadership were quickly becoming more difficult to fulfill.

“Count yourself lucky that King Vincent has no interest in rehashing his predecessor’s goals,” the High Priestess spoke again, “If he wanted to, the Shadow King could take control of your land within a single phase of the moon.”

Her breathy voice became low as she continued. “But now is no time to rest on your laurels. The King may yet change his mind, or perhaps more likely, his title may yet pass to another.”

Azimah squinted, seemingly distracted by something in the stars. The sky held her gaze as she continued. “You must do everything you can to conjure up defensible numbers again. There are still a handful of slaves throughout the countryside that could be freed and rallied. And there are deserters who might be swayed to return. You must also strengthen your alliances and business holdings. It is paramount that you appear formidable to your foes, my dear Alphonse, as you quietly build back your numbers. Breeding takes time…and…zhuh-hywwwwwh…and your time is not guaranteed.”

The color drained from the Priestess’ face and her eyes began to glaze over. As if on cue, her guardian appeared with a cushion and guided her safely down to the floor. She lay there for a moment, still as a marble statue. Her breath grew louder and louder until she, quite abruptly, sat up.

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