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Interview with Terri Bruce


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Did I decide this?! To be perfectly honest, I can’t say that I did decide or have decided. I’ve always written—it’s something I enjoy. Eventually, however, I got to a point where I wanted to expand my reach and wanted to get my work into the hands of people who would enjoy it. Anyone who is a prolific hobbyist/crafter knows that most of us reach a point where we get sick of doing something just for our own enjoyment. I crochet, and I love it, but I can only use so many afghans and sweaters and such. And besides, it’s not as much fun when you keep it all to yourself; it’s more fun when you share your hobby—it’s your love and a part of you, and it expands when it’s shared, it brings joy to others. With the crocheting, eventually I started giving items away, and then entering them into county fairs, and now I’m at a point where friends and family ask me to make them something that they can give to someone else as a gift. My writing has followed pretty much the same track. First I wrote for myself, then I posted free stories on the internet, and now I’m at the point where I’d like to expand and reach a little further, share my love and hopefully bring some joy to others.

What genre do you write and why?
I don’t think of myself as a genre writer or a genre reader, in the least—which is not to knock genre fiction. I just mean that I don’t date exclusively J My stories tend to be cross-genre and a bit hard to categorize, which is one of the reasons it took me so long to get Hereafter published.

Technically, Hereafter is categorized as contemporary fantasy, but it has elements of romance, women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, and fantasy. My first novel was future noir/science fiction. I’m working on two other novels that fall within the speculative fiction umbrella (one sci fi, one fantasy), but I also have an idea for an historical fiction based on the Bread and Roses Strike that is demanding to be written and a very serious literary fiction story that has been banging around in my head for years. Now, how many of those stories will actually get written (and published) is anyone’s guess.

Through all of my writing I explore a few key themes—the fantastical and miraculous all around us, man’s relationship with the universe (and a supreme deity if one exists), and the struggle with issues of identity and self—and I hope that regardless of the genre framework I use for any given story, those themes will come through and will satisfy fans.

Tell us about your latest book.
Hereafter is a contemporary fantasy about a woman stuck on earth as a ghost, searching for a way to cross over to the afterlife. Here’s the official blurb:
“Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn't plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex...well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.

This sounds suspiciously like hell to Irene, so she prepares to strike out for the Great Beyond. The only problem is that, while this side has exorcism, ghost repellents, and soul devouring demons, the other side has three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment. If only there was a third option…”

Hereafter was SO much fun to write! The two main characters have this great squabbling rapport—like a brother and sister; the dialog pretty much wrote itself and I never knew what was going to come out of the characters’ mouths. However, there are also touching moments that pushed me to be a better writer than I ever had been before in order to do those scenes justice. Best of all, I did a LOT of research on afterlife mythology for this book, which is one of my favourite topics, and so I learned a lot while writing Hereafter as well. My head is now crammed full of the most useless array of mythology and obscure traditions ever! I should have a t-shirt for parties that says something like, “Ask me about the afterlife!”

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
At the moment, I’m not focused on marketing so much as on making personal connections with readers. I’m trying to go to one convention or in-person event per month (I’ll be at the Boston Book Festival in October and World Fantasy Con in November), getting to know book bloggers, and connecting with book groups and libraries. I know many authors pooh-pooh this approach as overly time consuming and inefficient (“one-at-a-timin’” as Pappy O’Daniel says in “Oh Brother Where Art Thou,” rather than “mass communicatin’”), but I love it. I’m actually a very high introvert and generally find it hard to strike up conversations with strangers; but when it comes to talking about books, I find it so easy. So even if the person I’m talking to isn’t interested in my book, I just love having the opportunity to meet people and to connect over something we have in common. Becoming a published author has opened up the door for me to have an excuse to strike up a conversation with strangers and I’m definitely taking full advantage of it! I’m met so many wonderful and incredible people because of Hereafter.

What formats is the book available in?
I think it’s available in every format known to man. J It’s available from all major print and ebook retailers.

Terri Bruce
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I work full time, as a grant writer for a non-profit, and fiction writing is a second full time job on top of that, so there isn’t a lot of free time right now for doing other things. When there is, I love horseback riding, hiking, quilting, and gardening. Now ask me the last time I did any of those things! However, if Hereafter does well, my husband has agreed to let me buy a horse, so hopefully there will be more horseback riding in my future. J

Who are your favourite authors?
This is a toughie because I tend to like particular books, rather than particular authors; that is to say, I don’t always read or like everything a particular author writes. However, I own a lot of books by Alexander Dumas, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Jan Karon, Lisa See, and Terry Pratchett. My favourite books, however, include: The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman, Contact by Carl Sagan, The Chronicles of Prydain by Llody Alexander, and The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

What advice do you have for other writers?
Oh, I’m terrible at giving advice! There’s so much good advice out there already that I doubt I can add anything of substance to it. So I guess my advice is to go read the advice that is out there, find a group of writers to hang out with (whether in-person or online), and learn as much as you can about both the craft and business of writing.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” - E. L. Doctorow

This quote really illustrates the way I approach writing. I know the beginning and the end when I start a story, but that’s it. I usually have no idea how I’m going to get from Point A to Point B, and there are times when I’m writing that I begin to feel like Point A will never connect to Point B, because I can’t see the entire road. However, it always works out in the end. Over the years I’ve learned to sort of let go and just trust that I only need to see a few feet ahead and yet it will all come right in the end.

What's the best thing about being a writer?
When someone says that they like your book! No better feeling in the world! And getting to meet all kinds of fabulous people—that has been a huge unexpected benefit.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

Anything else you'd like to add?
It’s clich├ęd but true—don’t give up on your dreams. In 2001 I started writing a novel that I felt might be good enough to be published; in 2005, while still writing that novel, I took the first step toward publication—I joined a writing group. It took another 5 years before I finished that novel, which never did get published. I then started another novel, which became HereafterHereafter took two years to write and then another eight months of querying before it was picked up for publication. All told, we’re talking about eleven years from the time I started thinking seriously about seeking publication to the time when it finally happened. Things don’t always happen the way we expect them to happen or on the timeline we hope for, but if you keep working at it, it will happen!

1 comment:

  1. Very nice interview and advice.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete

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