Interview & Contest: Brantwijn Serrah

Brantwijn SerrahJen: Today we welcome Brantwijn Serrah to Romancing the Book. 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.

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Jen: Tell us about your newest release.
Brantwijn: I’ve had a few setbacks in the timeline since my original publisher, Breathless Press, closed its doors in May. I’ve been picked up by a new group, Champagne Books, who have re-released my first two novels Lotus Petals and Goblin Fires. I’ve also self-published my erotic ghost-story, His Cemetery Doll, and am working on releasing several more of my short stories for Kindle as well.

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.

Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Brantwijn: Exercise in curiosity.

Jen: What what age did you discover writing?  Tell us your call story.
Brantwijn: My earliest memory of writing is from when I was six. Our class was taught how to use basic shapes to draw three simple characters: an owl, a frog, and a pig. Then the teacher asked us to write a story about them. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I incorporated literary device into my little tale, things like suspense and dramatic irony. I had no idea what they were; I wrote it that way because that’s how the books I read were written. I wouldn’t have even realized I’d done anything unique except my teacher pulled me aside and pointed it out. It was she who pointed out that I wrote “like a writer”. I think I’ve wanted to be a storyteller, more than anything else, ever since.

Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Brantwijn: Character names are one of my favorite parts of story writing. More often than not I look through baby-naming books, sites or apps to find something suitable, incorporating the character’s culture and something significant to their character. For example, in Lotus Petals, Rhiannon, who is Welsh-born, has a name that means “great queen”. Sölva’s name translates to “sun-warrior” in Old Norse; a bit of irony, since the Viking warrior was transformed into a demon unable to walk in the sun. Aijyn’s name comes from the Japanese word for “lover”, specifically referring to a lover in an illicit relationship.

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: 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, which is usually the case for me. The sequel to Lotus Petals has been submitted to my new 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, a fantasy BDSM romance, which I’m hoping to take to novel-length and self-publish within the next year.
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