Jen: Today we welcome Brantwijn Serrah to Romancing the Book as June is a huge release month for her. Brantwijn, will you share a short bio with us?
Brantwijn: When she isn’t visiting the worlds of immortals, demons, dragons and goblins, Brantwijn fills her time with artistic endeavors: sketching, painting, customizing My Little Ponies and sewing plushies for friends. She can’t handle coffee unless there’s enough cream and sugar to make it a milkshake, but try and sweeten her tea and she will never forgive you. She moonlights as a futon for four lazy cats, loves tabletop role-play games, and can spend hours watching Futurama, Claymore or Buffy the Vampire Slayer while she writes or draws.
In addition to Lotus Petals, Brantwijn has had several stories published in anthologies by Breathless Press, including the 2013 Crimson Anthology and 2014 Ravaged Anthology. She’s also had a short story published in the Cleiss Press Big Book of Orgasm, and hopes to have several more tales to tell as time goes on. She has author pages on GoodReads and Amazon and loves to see reader comments on her work. Her short stories occasionally pop up at Foreplay and Fangs, her blog at http://brantwijn.blogspot.com.
Jen: Tell us about your June releases.
Brantwijn: This June is full of new releases for me! I have two new flirts out: Change of Pace, a romantic tale of mistaken identity, and Phone Home, a story about how one couple keeps the spark of marriage going when they are far apart. But the really, really exciting new release is the print release of Lotus Petals, my first novel. Having the book in print is seriously a dream come true for me. I’m over the moon about it. I started writing Lotus Petals after reading historical erotic romance that really fell short of my expectations. I wanted to write something beautiful and sexy and serious, not something that would make readers laugh out loud at ridiculous scenarios and dumb, ditzy leading ladies. What came out of thatwas a story I’m really very proud of, and characters I love. To be able to share them with readers and to know others are enjoying my tale…that’s made me about the happiest I’ve ever been.
Rhiannon Donovan, daughter to the vampire Queen, would rather die than be made a bride to a demon Lord. Aijyn, courtesan to the undead Daimyo of Kansai, can think of nothing more horrifying than his promise of eternal life. In the halls of the Blood Lotus Temple, the two women struggle against the chains of their fate, and find a solace in each other that could mean freedom for them both… or might cost each of them their lives.
Change of Pace (released June 6)
Edward Prince was raised a man of privilege and wealth. He’s about to find out, though, what it really means to be rich.
A chance encounter puts Edward Prince face-to-face with his exact double: a coffee barista named Tom. Over macchiatos the men decide to take advantage of a rare opportunity: switching places. Tom will go home to a life of luxury as Edward, while Edward finds himself in Tom’s comfortable studio apartment with Tom’s girlfriend, Vicki.
A few days of living Tom’s life, however, and Edward finds himself in a troublesome position—he never wants to go back.
Phone Home (releasing June 20)
What to do when your honey’s traveling but you’ve just got to have some fun? For Catie and Ryan, good times are only a phone call away…
Ryan’s on a road trip with friends, which means Catie is by herself for a long—and lonely—weekend. When the phone rings just before midnight, though, she can guess what it means: Ry’s lonely too, but he’s not about to let miles of road stop them from having a hot night together.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Brantwijn: My dad has a creative streak, though I rarely see his “writerly” side. When I was in fourth grade he confided to me that he’d written a sci-fi screenplay, and I asked to read it. It was very reminiscent of Hitchhiker’s Guide and Slaughterhouse Five, though a more serious embrace of the genre rather than satire. Thatwas the only real glimpse I got of my dad as a writer, though. Until I started actually publishing books. Suddenly, he’s had a renewed interest in the story of that screenplay, and is recreating it as a novel. His dad is helping him edit it, and he’s illustrating it. I think that seeing me succeed has given my dad the confidence to take a chance on his work, instead of hiding it in the drawer under the idea that “it’s almost impossible to really make it”. On a similar note, he’s also started submitting illustrations and prints to local art galleries. I’m incredibly proud of him.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Brantwijn: Music. I often associate scenes and ideas with a song or instrumental piece. I imprint the scene to the flow of the song…kind of like orchestrating a music video around it. This helps me a lot when I set up to actually write the scene.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Brantwijn: Lotus Petals required a lot of research into multiple avenues. Historical Edo Japan, the rise and fall of the shogunate, the samurai, the era of geisha and their predecessors, the oiran, etc. I think my absolute favourite piece of research, though, was the kimono. I could spend hours looking into the different styles of kimono, the significance and meaning of each, how they were made and what sorts of dyeing or embroidery techniques were used. I think readers of the book will see I utilize of variety of kimono in different scenes, for different effects. I just hope my research paid off and I got it all right!
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Brantwijn: I’ve gone back and forth on who would play Rhiannon and Aijyn, the main pair. I think my mind keeps changing as different actresses change or come up. The three villains, though—Daimyo Gohachiro, Nagisa, and Sölva—have always remained the same in my mind. Ken Watanabe would play the Daimyo, Lucy Liu would be the vampire Nagisa, and—my personal favourite—Lucy Lawless would be the vicious Viking, Sölva.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Brantwijn: When Lotus Petals was first released, I got a tattoo commemorating the event! In the book, Rhiannon has the tattoo of a labrys, which is a double-headed axe. This symbol has also, in some circles, become an icon of the lesbian community. For Rhiannon, it is the symbol of her guild of Weapons-masters, the Orchályva. So I got the axe, with Lotus Petals falling down around it and the word “Orchályvan” tattooed on my left ankle. I made a sort of “promise” to myself that I’d celebrate each new series with a new tattoo or body piercing. I have an idea in mind for the tattoo I want in commemoration of my second book, Goblin Fires, but I’ve hesitated in getting it for now. It would be the first tattoo I wouldn’t be able to easily hide at my day job, and unfortunately I’m in a position where a visible tattoo would be highly inappropriate. I’m keeping the sketch, though…one day…
Jen: What’s next for you?
Brantwijn: I’ve got multiple projects in the works! The sequel to Lotus Petals has been submitted to my editor for consideration, and if that gets accepted I want to get on the third book right away! There’s also the sequel to Goblin Fires, and I have a stand-alone story I’m hoping to take to novel-length. This one is part of a Haunted House call by my publisher, Breathless Press. I took the kernel of a plot I created for an Role-playing scenario, modernized it, and set it in the real world. It’s the story of a single father in post-war England, being haunted by a temptress of a ghost, threatening to take him away from his daughter. I’m very, very excited for it.