Friday, March 2, 2012

An Interview with Author Bree Donovan

I'm very happy to have Bree Donovan here today! She was very kind to offer a copy of her YA novel, Steve Prefontaine--Rocketman for my 5,000th hit giveaway. Now, she's released a new fantasy novel entitled Blackthorns of the Forgotten with IFWG Publishing.

Welcome to Unwritten, Bree! Kick off your shoes and tell us about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do when you're not pecking away at the keyboard?

Hiya, Mysti and Friends! May I say that it is a real pleasure to be here. Unwritten is one of the most busy and exciting places on the web. There’s always something interesting going on.

Mysti: Why, thank you! Just wait for the Scottish boar wrestling. You ain't seen nothin' yet!

I’m from Southern New Jersey (we do speak with a little twang) which is a suburb outside of Philadelphia. One of the things I love to do is ride my bike (when the weather permits) across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into the city to visit the thrift stores and coffee houses. And of course, people watch! You can get some of your best (and weirdest!) story ideas sitting by a large bay window overlooking South St. 

Let's get right into talking about Blackthorns. The blurb is quite intriguing:

Ireland: leading toward, and crossing over the new Millennium. 
Gillean Faraday is a successful international musician. His self-made stardom has afforded him every comfort of the material world. But also the self-destructiveness of an artist who has all but sacrificed his soul for fame. His marriage and family are disintegrating. It is during this period of chaos that Gillean develops a relationship with a supernatural being called Sully, who has chosen to act as Gillean’s guardian - Gillean’s angel. Gillean and Sully are polar opposites who just happen to have the extraordinary connection of soul mates.
The powerful connection between Gillean and Sully becomes complicated when other beings from the hidden world interfere. Good and Evil collide in the tangible form of these characters' strengths, weaknesses and complexities.
Blackthorns Of The Forgotten is a powerful story of love in its purest form, set in an Ireland that delicately superimposes modernity with the traditions of the paranormal past.
I see some powerful ethereal forces at work! Where did this idea come from? Have you always been interested in the paranormal?

This is a great question, because I don’t have a clear answer for it! If I had to guess, I’d say that the idea for Blackthorns came from my desire to combine some of the memorable people and events in my life and the impressions they left on me. The characters are a mash up- if you will of those people and events. I majored in Psychology and Religion in College, so I’ve always been interested in the mystical. The myths that form the major world religions are rich in the paranormal. These myths have more in common, rather than the vast differences that many people may believe.

Buy it HERE!
Lots of aspiring writers are interested in the process from planning to publication. Can you give us a little walk-through of how you planned, wrote, and published this story and how long the journey took?

Hey, I still consider myself an aspiring writer! 

Mysti: So do I. I'm green, but I'm mean. That's my motto.

I’m not a planner when I write. I’d like to be that organized. I attended writers’ conferences, classes, read books on the art and techniques of writing over the last ten years, and my conclusion is that everyone has their own style of creating. In the case of Blackthorns, I simply went with a kernel of an idea that I thought, Hum, this may turn into something good. I didn’t know exactly where I was going with it, but I had a feeling that I’d know when I got there. In fact, I changed the ending 3 times! All in all it took me about 5 years from beginning to publication. I did take a break to write the Pre book during that time. 

What authors/books have been your favorites over the years?

Gosh! There are so many, aren’t there? I can remember my first favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books. I still read them from time to time. I’m very drawn to “Old World” writers like the Russian Classics; Tolstoy, Chekov, Pushkin, Dostoyevsky.  I love, Love LOVE  Isaac Bashevis Singer ,and Elie Wiesel. Kurt Vonnegut would have to make the list too. In the last few years I’ve gobbled up Alice Hoffman and Jodi Picoult books like candy. I read a book by John Knowles last summer that made a huge impression on me called, A Separate Peace. My recommendation to everyone!

I don't know that I've ever asked this of an author (and yes, I have a room reserved at the loony bin), but my characters start talking in my head at random times. If I don't have my hands in dishwater, I'll transcribe what they're saying.  Does that ever happen to you? Do you characters become so real that you hear their voices and/or feel what they feel?

My room will be to your right in the LB! I’m so glad that you asked this question. I love the experience of my own characters taking on lives of their own. This was very true in the case of Blackthorns. One main character, Gillean was a bit difficult for me to nail down. I’d find that just when I’d write something about him, I got the strangest sensation that he was telling me (quite insistently!) something otherwise. I listened. He was the reason that I kept changing the ending. He grew to be like a favorite companion to me.  I was a little more than sad when I finished the book. It felt like I was saying goodbye in a way.

There were also characters in the story who simply stepped from out of the shadows. I had no idea where they came from. Of course the years of Psychology study tell me they came from my subconscious. But, I say phooey on that! I think if every writer lets go just a little of controlling the entire process they will have similar experiences. Maybe we’re all nutty?

Let's have a random question, shall we? Does your name make any interesting anagrams? (Hint:

So funny that you asked this today. I was listening to the Weekly Puzzler on NPR this morning, and the challenge for the caller was anagrams. I was thinking how much I stink at them!

O.K. for my first name, (such a challenge, I know) I got, Beer-pretty Irish, right!?

I admit that I did use the website you provided for my first and last name. I think my favorite was, Bad Ever Noon. Sounds kinda like a Twilight installation!

Mysti: My favorite Mysti Parker anagram was Sparky Merit. We could make our own movie!

Finally, Ms. Donovan, would you share with us an excerpt from Blackthorns of the Forgotten?

I am most pleased to, Ms. Parker. 

       Adara walked a few steps her stockinged feet padding along the floorboards. Warmth encircled her like the embrace of a beloved. She drew her arms around herself as a radiant light washed over her-streaming in from the stained glass window-its etching depicting a gathering of angels. She was caught in a dazzling prismatic web. Colors bathed her body, as if being cleansed in a rainbow. This was true tranquility.

       And yet the longing still clutched at her. She did not know why, or for whom, all she could feel was overpowering saddens and grief-the certainty that the colors would soon fade and she would be left alone in a monochrome castle. Adara fell to her knees.

       Don’t go! Please!” she choked out, her voice rough from disuse.

       A gentle breeze lifted the sheer curtains of a second window. Sunlight tumbled in like a gleeful child. Through the shafts of light images took fluid form. A man who had read her dreams by looking into her eyes.

       Her breathing quickened as the memories cascaded over one another in her mind.
       She watched as a single shape disclosed itself in the sunlight. The intensity stung her eyes but she could not-would not-look away. Just when she believed the brightness would blind her, it was gone; and in its place, in front of the window, a figure appeared. Her eyes still softly focused behind a veil of tears, she could make out no identity-only penetrating green eyes.
       This was the poetry, the longing. Here was her missing voice. As soon as the realization came to her, the image was gone.


One lucky commenter will get an e-pub version of Blackthorns! Just leave your name and e-mail addy like this:


I'll draw a winner exactly one week from today, so show your love and leave a comment!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. OOPS! That's why that preview is there.

    Mysti, or should I say, Sparky! This was a blast! Thanks again for having me. 'Tis an honor.

    Anytime you're ready to make that movie, have your people call my people. ;-)


  3. Wonderful interview, Mysti, and great answers, Bree!

  4. So glad you made it over Bree! Hope you stay for the Scottish boar wrestling :)

    1. Me thinks I'm participating in that match! :-)

      Thanks Gerry-Happy Birthday!

      Nice to meet you, Jenny!

  5. Very nice interview, Bree.

    I like your choice of favorite authors.:) You mentioned that you think letting go of some of the "control" is a good thing in the writing process. I think that's great advice. It is so easy to strangle the muse in the name of perfection. We all want to write to our best ability, sometimes at the cost of the story. Are we all a little nutty? I think so. But we authors live in our own world,right? If we go off the deep end we can always write in a net and chocolate latte. (extra large)



  6. Laurel-I LOVE THIS! Right down to the chocolate latte! Thank you. :-)

  7. Interesting conversation. Loved Bree's book and thought I was the only one who carried on conversations with my characters! Is there still room at LB? Loved reading this. Cool skanks Mysti.


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