Interview: Brynn Kelly

Jen:  Today we welcome Brynn Kelly to Romancing the Book.  An our reviewer Julie, is conducting today’s interview.  Ladies, the blog is yours.

Julie:  Will you share a short bio with us?
Brynn:  As a journalist Brynn Kelly once spent her days chasing stranger-than-fiction news reports. Now she spends them writing larger-than-life novels, in a happy bubble of fiendish plots and delicious words. Brynn has a journalism degree and has won several prestigious writing and journalism awards, including the Valerie Parv Award and Pacific Hearts Award. Her debut novel Deception Island was a Golden Heart finalist. She’s also a bestselling non-fiction author in her native New Zealand.

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Julie: You were an award winning journalist, and have written a few non-fiction titles. What inspired you to try your hand at writing a novel?
Brynn: It was always my game plan to be a novelist, for as long as I can remember. But when I was in my late teens and early twenties I made a conscious decision not to pursue publication until I was a little older. I wanted to live a little first, so I could bring that life experience into my fiction. So journalism and non-fiction were my apprenticeship in writing and in life, the perfect day job to develop and test my writing skills, while seeing a little of the world and being exposed to many different human experiences, from courtroom dramas and police manhunts, to political intrigues and human interest stories. I’ve also traveled and loved and lost and had kids and taken risks and challenged myself and failed and succeeded. After twenty years of adulthood it’s a thrill to at last list my profession as “novelist”.

Julie:  Why did you chose the Romantic Suspense genre for your debut?
Brynn: I love throwing strong and smart but flawed characters into intense situations and seeing how they cope—and what’s more intense than a danger-at-every-turn romantic suspense? You can draw out the best and worst in them, and dig deep into their psyches and fears. At the same time, it’s fun to explore the dynamic between a hero and heroine who are reluctantly falling in love while facing the most stressful situation of their lives. Things can get deliciously explosive—sometimes literally. And I love the challenge of writing so many different elements, from fight scenes to quiet suspense to romance.

Before I settled on romantic suspense, I went through a long process of exploring and experimenting to figure out where my voice fit and what I enjoyed writing. I tend to write cinematically—I see the scene playing out in my head, and hear my characters, and just try to type fast enough to keep up. Maybe that’s come from being a sucker for epic action movies and TV shows (with or without romance)—Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Matrix, the Bourne series, the Lord of the Rings, Mr & Mrs Smith, James Bond, Star Wars (The Force Awakens or the Empire Strikes Back), the new Star Trek movies, Sherlock, Gotham…

Julie: What unique challenges did you face transitioning from non-fiction to fiction?
Brynn: There are surprising differences between fiction and non-fiction. With non-fiction you’re usually telling someone else’s story, so as a writer you can hide behind that. There’s an invisibility I love. With fiction, there’s no one to hide behind—readers and critics know it’s all coming from your warped little mind and and you are solely responsible and solely to blame. Also, fiction has to be believable, even if you’re writing futuristic paranormal fantasy, whereas the best non-fiction is unbelievable. So, weirdly, you can’t push fiction as far. You have to keep it grounded in reality, and everything must make total sense.

I’ve found, to my frustration, that I’m painfully slow at writing and editing fiction. I worked for years on daily newspapers (remember them?), so I became speedy at turning around good, clean copy. With non-fiction, you rarely start with a blank page. You usually have an interview, a set of facts, a framework, a brief, a short deadline. You don’t have time to wait for inspiration or agonize over word choice. With fiction sometimes it is just a blank page, and all decisions rest with you—and the deadline is way off in the future, so there’s a temptation for endless pondering and fiddling. And I’m a real details girl. It’s hard for a perfectionist to accept that it’s impossible to get every sentence perfect in a 100,000 word manuscript and still get it finished in time—though it doesn’t stop me trying. I’m constantly underestimating my time and apologizing to my editor for being late, and as a deadline-oriented girl, that guts me!

Julie: If Deception Island were made into a movie, who plays Rafe and Holly?
Brynn: Oh wow, this has been a matter of intense deliberation among my critique partners and beta readers, and friends who’ve read the book. And we still haven’t settled it—I think because everyone develops a different mind picture. My own picture doesn’t quite fit anyone. Holly is athletic and freckly with a wrong-side-of-the-tracks tough-girl attitude. She’s a not-quite reformed conwoman and chameleon who can use her feminine wiles—or her fists—when backed into a corner. Short wild blond hair and not a scrap of makeup—not a girly girl. So maybe a dressed-down Sienna Miller.

Rafe is big and solid, with a damaged past buried behind a flinty expression, tight jaw and deep brown eyes. He’s not given to smiling. He’d need to be the kind of actor who can say a lot with a single stony look. Like Holly, he’s a survivor of violence and abuse, and very tightly controlled—what you see is definitely not what you get. So maybe Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds, or a cross between Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell (the brothers from Prison Break). Would love some suggestions!

Julie: What is your favorite quote?
Brynn: The writing inspiration I have framed on my wall is from the very quotable Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane): “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

Julie: And before we end, will you share a little about Deception Island?
Brynn: Deception Island releases on May 31.  Here’s the blurb:

A stolen boy

A haunted soldier

A cornered con woman…

Rafe Angelito thought he was done with the demons from his past—until his son is kidnapped. Blackmailed into abducting an American heiress, the legionnaire soon finds himself trapped in paradise with a fiery, daring beauty who’s nothing he expects…and everything he desires. But when he uncovers her own dark secret, Rafe realizes he’s made a critical mistake—one that could cost him everything.

Playing body double for a spoiled socialite was supposed to be Holly Ryan’s ticket to freedom. But when she’s snatched off her yacht by a tall, dark and dangerous stranger, the not-quite-reformed con artist will make a desperate play to turn her captor from enemy to ally, by any means necessary.

Yet as scorching days melt into sultry nights, Holly is drawn to the mysterious capitaine, with his unexpected sense of honor and his searing touch. When they’re double-crossed, they’ll have to risk trusting each other in ways they never imagined…because in this deadly game of deception, it’s their lives—and hearts—on the line.


Jen: Please visit Brynn’s tour by visiting TLC Book Tours.


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