Jen: Today we welcome Brantwijn Serrah back 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 on end sketching characters and scenes in her secret notebooks.
Jen: Tell us about your newest release.
Brantwijn: Here’s the blurb…
Fleshlings and darklings… Rune-weavers and demons… When you walk in the land of the Reaper, who will survive?
Serenity Walker has cast runes for as long as she can remember. Her teachers call her a prodigy, and her secret studies hold the key to unlimited potential. Once an orphan left on an old woman’s doorstep, Serenity finally belongs. But when her mentor is murdered right in front of her, her hopes of a home die with him.
Her quest for vengeance leads her into a dangerous deal with a demon. Armed with its dark power and her own talent with the runes, she blazes a trail across the lands where ranchers and railroad men are kings, where the prevailing law is the law of the gun. To find the man who reshaped her past, Serenity offers up her future. She’ll face a world where weavers are hunted down to be hanged, whipped, or burned alive…but she won’t face it alone.
As Serenity’s mission takes her farther than most weavers are willing to go, she’ll have to decide who her true enemy is: the wicked men of the world, or the powerful demon inside her.
And a short excerpt from The Pact for you to enjoy:
The monk stood in wait for her, halfway up the aisle. He’d appeared out of nowhere again, quick and quiet as a scavenging rat, and glared at her with eyes full of mean shock and disgust.
“Witch,” he spat. “I knew it as soon as I saw you. Devil! Bride of—”
Serenity threw the sigh of fehu at him, the sign of the cattle’s horns, and it caught him high in the chest to send him stumbling backward. The power issued forth a bit weaker than usual. Her demon felt suffocated in the holy place, sapped by the wards against their kind and hollowed out by the ravaging spells she’d twisted back in the tavern. But it cast the insufferable priest to the stone, striking him down with a callous resentment, and she stalked across the aisle at him.
“How dare you come into this place of worship!” he sputtered, crawling backward on his behind as she came closer. “How dare you—”
“How dare I?” she snarled.
“All I wanted was a place to rest for the night,” she muttered. “A room and a bed, and to be left alone. I didn’t come here to harm anyone. But somehow I get you, chastising me in the street, thinking to tell me what I can and can’t wear even while you sit there ogling, and I get your servants breaking into my room and burning years and years’ worth of study, and then I get a mob of your people screaming for my blood, planning on hanging me in the middle of the night. And you, padre, you have the gall to call me a murderer?”
“The Lord will repay you in kind!” the priest shrieked. “When you come here, doing the devil’s work! Wearing his symbol upon your breast! Whore! Devil’s whore!”
She leaned down and grabbed him by the front of his robes, pulling him up to meet her eyes.
“You’re right,” she hissed. “I do the devil’s work. I wear his mark. I traffic with demons and I command their power. So it might have been wise of you and your people not to piss me off.”
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Brantwijn: Exercise in curiosity.
Jen: 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.
Jen: Plotter or pantster?
Brantwijn: A little of both. I don’t exactly plot and what I do plan out its really just snippets and scenes that play in my mind long before their time in the story…but beyond that, I write as it comes to me. Since the entire series of The Pact was written in conjunction with National Novel Writing Months over the last ten years, it became natural to work with very little structural outline our preparation.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Brantwijn: When my first book, Lotus Petals, was 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…