I would like to thank Brandon Witt for taking the time to talk to me today about his Dreamspinner Press series Men of Myth, including Submering Inferno, Rising Frenzy, and Clashing Tempest. I am currently reading Submerging Inferno, so watch this blog for reviews of each title soon. There is a little treat at the end, so don’t go away.
Your latest release is Clashing Tempest, which is Book 3 in your Men of Myth series. Tell us about it and the series.
From where did the inspiration for MoM come?
I’m going to answer these two together, if that’s all right. And, it’s funny seeing it spelled out MoM like that. It was years before I realized that Men of Myth’s acronym was mom. It was when I commissioned an artist friends of mine, Joel Swanson, to come up with the badge for the series and everything we were coming up with said mom. And while I love my mom, that would be an awkward choice to have on the cover of these books.
The inspiration for this series was triggered by my love of Kelley Armstrong’s books, Women of the Otherworld. I basically stole her concept (not her story lines) and revamped it with gay men, although my writing is quite a bit darker than hers. The whole point of the series and what I loved about Armstrong’s writing is that you get to delve into different species’ cultures and background. For instance, in my first three books, the main characters are Brett and Finn, a demon and a warlock, and the novels are told from their perspective. However, within these three books, there are a vast assortment of other characters of differing species, mainly introduced in books two and three. In the rest of the series, the stories will be told from some of their perspectives, and the main characters from the older books will show up in later installments. By the time the series is over you’ve got this huge family of characters to whom you’re attached and know so much about. I finished reading Women of the Otherworld years ago and still find myself thinking about those women. I also wanted to write a fantasy series with gay men (mythical or not) truly being gay men. Positive and negative. Maybe they fall in love too fast, maybe they have addiction issues, are selfish, love their family with every fiber of their being, are truly three-dimensional humans—not a romanticizeded notion of what a gay man should be.
You have often said, you don’t write romance. How would you classify your stories?
I like to think of myself simply as a storyteller. Boy, that sounds pompous, doesn’t it. (Cringe) Before getting published I really didn’t think much about how I qualified my writing. Thus far, everything I’ve written has romance in it, and probably always will, to some degree or another since I plan on always having a gay character that’s central to the plot line (although, you are still gay when not in a romantic relationship, so….). However, after getting feedback from readers—people tend to really love my writing or really hate it—I’d discovered my definition of romance is much different than the vast majority of readers. To me a romance doesn’t have to have a happy ending. In real life, I have had four relationships. One of them abusive and horrible. One currently, which is wonderful, the best I’ve ever had. And two in the middle with men that I loved (at different times, obviously)—they left me and absolutely shattered my heart. One was a man I thought I’d marry. Just because those relationships didn’t ‘work out’ does not negate their importance, existence, or that they were, in fact, romances. I feel the same about my books. My characters are not guaranteed that everything will work out, and I know that drives some readers crazy. I actually have had more than one person want to know if my books have a HEA before they are willing to read them. I struggle to understand that, as when I’m reading, if a book has a granted ending, I struggle to get invested. Goodness, that was a long rant to simply say that I claim I don’t write romance just so people will know up front they’re probably not going to get the typical romance they are used to.
Talk to us a little about your writing process. What part of writing a book comes the hardest for you?
All of it! It’s strange, for something that I love so much and do with a nearly compulsive desire. The act of writing is terrifying and difficult. That said, I LOVE it!!! I would say the hardest part is moving from planning to writing the draft. I plan a lot, which I have to do with pen and paper. I can’t plan on the computer for some reason. I don’t map out every event, but I have page upon page upon page of the character’s history, personality, family life, town history, etc. Much of which I may not use in the story, but it helps me know who these characters are, so that when I’m writing, their actions just come naturally. To the point that it really doesn’t feel like I’m writing a story out of my mind, I’m simply reporting what these characters did. It allows them to take on a life of their own—and they do. Some stuff they do firmly goes against the story line I had mapped out originally. It’s my favorite when that happens. Planning, for me, is several weeks to months in the making. When it’s time to move to drafting, it gets scary. Can I really do this? Can I pull it off? Can I really get lost to this world for the next six or however many months? Writers are such annoyingly insecure creatures. At least this one is.
I have spent a lot of time talking with editors recently about the whole process, so that got me thinking. When you are writing, do you take a break from a first draft to get distance from it, or dive right into editing, or edit heavily as you write?
For my first two books, Shattered and Submerging, there were years between the writing and publishing, so there were also years of revisions. For Rising and Clashing, there was no time at all. Honestly, I think I prefer the second way. I edit heavily as I’m writing, and as I said earlier, I plan so much that, in a way, that is editing of its own.
Ah my favorite topic is reviews, of course. Do you read your reviews, and if so do they influence the way you write the next book at all?
I do read them. For a long period I was compulsive. I was checking goodreads several times a day. I’ve let that go. Like a drug addiction, nearly. I still find myself going to goodreads then I have to force myself to leave before I check. It was sick. Sick, I tell you. I could read ten glowing reviews and one negative, and it would be the negative one that I would fixate on. It got the point that I hindered me from writing. You can’t create or lose yourself to characters when you have someone’s negative comments in echoing around in your brain telling you that you can’t write. I still read book blog reviews, but I’m weaning myself off the others. The reviews I read don’t affect what I write. Most of the negative reviews I’ve received revolve around not liking an ending or not liking choices my characters make. To me that’s not a constructive or useful thing to consider. I write my characters as they are, for better or worse, and I hope I don’t loose that. I will say some of the reviews of Submerging that had critical aspects to them pointed out weakness in the writing that I knew were there or came to realize later. Weakness that I hope I’ve flushed out in the next two novels. Weakness that were there because I was a timid writer or wasn’t really sure of my craft yet. Hopefully that gets less and less with each novel. I love Submerging. It’s one of my babies, but I can honestly say, it does have the most weaknesses of all four of my books. Even so, I’m more proud of that book than it’s two stronger, younger siblings. Submerging was terrifying for me to write. I love that it exists!
As a corollary to that question, what’s the best thing you’ve ever had someone say about one of your books in an email or review?
I love when I get comments about how relatable my characters are. I didn’t expect that with the fantasy series, but it’s really fun that people can relate to such a different experience. Again, I think that’s because my characters are honest. Far from perfect, but honest. The Shattered Door, which couldn’t be more different than the Men of Myth novels, gets a lot of that feedback. I’m most thrilled when I get messages from a straight person (a woman, typically) saying that she bought the book for a family member or friend who doesn’t support gay rights because she believes that book will give them a different perspective. That is awesome. And, unexpected. When I was writing the first two novels, before I got published, I didn’t expect anyone straight to ever read my books. I had no idea that the vast majority of readers of gay fiction (and writers of gay fiction) were straight women. It blew my mind when I found that out. And, as those are the vast majority of readers that have read my writing, I’m so very, very thankful for it!
Who are your writing idols, both within the genre and outside of it. What types of things do you try to emulate from those authors?
SOOO many! First and foremost, Eric Arvin. I read Woke Up in a Strange Place, and thought it was the most beautiful gay thing I’d ever read. I wrote Eric and told him so. In the following couple of messages, I confessed that I had two manuscripts that I’d written. Eric told me about Dreamspinner and encouraged me to submit. Eric Arvin single handedly change my life and started my dream transitioning to a reality. And, his writing is epic!
As mentioned before, I love Kelley Armstrong.
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, Audrey Niffenegger, and, my all-time favorite, JK Rowling. I am a Hufflepuff. With all of these writers, there characters are true and relatable. Not perfect, but beautiful in their humanity and brokenness. (Sensing a theme here?)
What are you currently working on? What is next?
I’m working on an actual romance. Believe it or not. At least Brandon Witt’s version of a romance. I nearing the end of the planning stage, so I’m terrified all the time at the moment. I need to jump in a start writing. I’m leaving my Men of Myth world for the next two books, then returning to write books four, five, and six. This current book is a contemporary piece set in the Bible Belt about a father of three coming to terms with his sexual identity in a small town. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I hope it will come out this coming December or January.
Where can readers find out more about you?
The easiest would be brandonwitt.com
Thank you so much for taking the time do this interview! I loved your questions. Several of them I’ve never been asked before, so that was a blast! And, thank you, everyone who took the time to read this interview. I look forward to hearing from you sometime!
About the Author
Brandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he can be found tucked away in his favorite coffee shop, nose inches away from the computer screen, fingers pounding the keys. When he manages to tear himself away from the coffee shop addiction, he passionately takes on the role as a special education teacher during the daylight hours.
Where to Buy
Brandon Witt has kindly offered 3 lucky commenters their very own copy of their choice of eBook from the Men of Myth series.
Contest ends 23 Feb @ 11:59pm CST. 18 Or older to enter, void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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