AUTHOR INTERVIEW 102 – Keri Brown

Keri Brown

I was born in Tennessee and raised in Chicago. I love mythology, dark fairy tales, and anything medieval, so I decided to put them all together in my writing. C’mon in and pop a squat, it’ll be fun!
When Inco and Gray witness the brutal slaughter of a Deiran village, they intervene, but they can’t save everyone. A young mother is struck down in the fray, and in her final waking moments, she pleads with them to protect her newborn son. In no time, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary boy. As if being raised by DúHuman dragons isn’t unique enough, young Jak begins to show abilities no dragon or human has ever had. What’s more concerning is the darkness that grows within him … and the looming prophecy it carries. As Jak grows, his family does everything they can to keep his true identity a secret and raise him to be a good man. He must learn to control his inner darkness. For it is said …We all have darkness in us. It’s what we do with it that matters.

Romelia: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Keri Brown: I never aspired to be a writer. The story was just stuck in my head for 20 years and, on a cold December day in 2018, my husband suggested I go write it down. I didn’t know I loved it until I started doing it.

Romelia: how long does it take you to write a book?

Keri Brown: Book one took me 3 months and the first draft was 115k words. 8 chapters were transferred to book two and the remaining 100k of book two took me 5 months to write.

Romelia: where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Keri Brown: Most of my ideas come to me while in the space between awake and asleep, just before I drift off at night. I also pull ideas from everyday things. Watching the mailman sort the mail might twist in my head to the government leader desperately searching for a document, which evolves into a scene as it stews in my mind.

Romelia: what literary pilgrimages have you gone on?

Keri Brown: I shuffled myself all the way to the library for a book signing once. Haha. I’m not much of an outgoing person. My journeys lie in my mind, which has first class seating on every trip and no people to get in my way. I explore through research and try to absorb the information through scenes.

Romelia: what is the first book that made you cry?

Keri Brown: A child called it by Dave Pelzer. An absolutely heart wrenching tale of child abuse, not necessarily at its worst, considering his fate allowed him to live to tell the tale, but definitely not a childhood anyone every deserved.

Romelia: what is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?

Keri Brown: Oh Lord! There are so many! The one that has affected me the most is underqualified editors posing as professionals. PayPal does not protect digital services such as these, so went into it thinking I was protected and I wasn’t. When I received my manuscript back, I hardly kept 10% of the changes and had to rely on peers to help me do what I had already paid a so called professional to do. This is a quick way to lose a thousand dollars.

Romelia: does writing energize or exhaust you?

Keri Brown: Definitely both. It energizes my mind to the point of circuits sparking everywhere, but my body aches and droops from the countless hours of fidgeting in place while I write.

Romelia: what are common traps for aspiring writers?

Keri Brown: Well, as for traps set by others, I would say vanity presses and underqualified editors. As for natural traps of learning the trade, I would say fear! Fear of your work being stolen is the best way to keep it from seeing the light, especially in the earlier phases. You are at much greater risk of never being noticed than you are of someone stealing your ideas.

Romelia: does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Keri Brown: I learned very quickly to leave my ego at the door. It can and will dissolve any chance you may have of learning or improving your skill. If you pass up an edit or suggestion, make sure you know why. If you don’t, it could just be your ego rearing up and holding you back.

Romelia: what is your writing Kryptonite?

Keri Brown: Interruptions. For the love of candy and money, would you please just ask your father!!?? HA. But more so is marketing. It is so time consuming and complex, it just kills any and all creativity I might have flowing for the day.

Romelia: have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Keri Brown: It has such a subjective definition. I’ve been stopped up due to the dampening effect of marketing, and I’ve had days where the story gets a little stuck, but I’m usually able to push past it within a day or two. Some may say that’s not writer’s block because they’ve had worse. Some may say it is.

Romelia: did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Keri Brown: I did, for a short time, when I first started out. I just knew I would be rich and famous within a year and didn’t want crazy stalkers to find me. But then I came back down to earth and just used my own name. Technically, since I dropped the second half of my first name, it may still be considered a pseudonym, but it’s what people call me in daily life … other than ‘mom’ that is.

Romelia: do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Keri Brown: I do what my characters tell me, for the most part, and it has turned out to be quite original. I don’t write for “what readers want,” nor do I know what they want. I don’t think Homer wrote for the market, or Tolkien, or the Brothers Grimm. The idea of writing for the market just feels generic to me, but that may be because I’ve never done it.

Romelia: do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

Keri Brown: I believe there is a genre for everyone—and an audience for every genre. Emotional, non-emotional, clumsy, autistic, artistic, dry, funny, serious, etc. Individuals are unique, but not many stand in a class of their own, and those who do have the most to offer.

Romelia: what other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Keri Brown: Deborah Garner writes cozy mysteries that involve a lady and her mischievous Yorkie. She has been an amazing mentor to the publishing process. Lex Allen writes an assortment of things, most notably his religious fiction series Eloah. He has been an incredible mentor in flow, style, and technique, helping me to see my repetitive flaws and bad habits.

Romelia: do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to buld a body of work with connections between each book?

Keri Brown: My books don’t really stand alone, and I get a lot of flack for it. My peers insist that each book should stand alone and a reader should be able to start with any book in the series without being confused. My response is … tough titty said the kitty, but the milk’s still good. It is what it is, and making it suit this opinion would destroy the story, so it stays as is. I will keep this advice in mind for future series, though. I’m sure there is some merit to it.

Romelia: if you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Keri Brown: Nobody wants to steak your sh*t! You don’t need an official copyright to get constructive criticism from peers. Get your ego out of you’re a** and let people critique it! oh, and don’t send your first draft to an editor. HAHA. Yeah, I made quite a few mistakes early on. Telling my younger writing self a few things might take a day.

Romelia: how did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Keri Brown: I learned pretty quickly that getting an agent or being published by one of the big five is not something to reach for. It will only take my attention away from writing and pull me farther from that goal. Then I realized that most publishers don’t market, and after learning to do the rest on my own, I don’t see a need for a publisher. HOWEVER, doing everything the fastest cheapest way possible isn’t productive either. Too many people throw their stuff out there without putting any effort into it and that’s what gives indies a bad name.

Romelia: what was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Keri Brown: The money I spent on illustrations. Most are sketches, but they help so much to have something visual to put me back in the mindset. Then I got a couple of color ones done and I just love staring at them. I vision … beautifully illustrated … there’s nothing like it.

Romelia: what authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

Keri Brown: I didn’t think I would like the Eloah series because of the sci-fi technobabble undertones, but by the middle of book one, I couldn’t put it down. But I never disliked the author himself.

Romelia: what did you do with your first advance?

Keri Brown: I’ve never had an advance. But if I did, I would hire someone else to do all my marketing and scheduling for me. HA. Okay, maybe not. But it would definitely go into marketing.

Romelia: what was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Keri Brown: In 6th grade, we studied Latin roots. I realized that many languages are connected. Then, in college, I learned about the unspoken language of the body and face—microexpressions and telltales. Language not only has power, it has many forms. I learned this over a lifetime, and am still learning it.

Romelia: what are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?

Keri Brown: I’ve never been one to pick up a magazine unless I’m bored out of my mind in a waiting room.

Romelia: from where you get inspired with your first book?

Keri Brown: In 6th grade, that same teacher gave us a taste of writing. Blind since birth, She was a great inspiration and living proof that people can do anything, regardless of the obstacles before them. In 9th grade, we had an assignment to write a short story and I remembered a tale about a dragon and a boy spending the day together. So I gave it more of a plot, with the dragon saving the boy from a rattlesnake, spending the day together, realizing he was an orphan, and deciding to raise him. This story never left my brain. It just latched on and sank its teeth in and never let go. I got rid of the snake, and the dragon went through some changes, and 20 years later, I wrote Origo, son of darkness.

Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Keri Brown: I hate politics … so much so, I’d rather not elaborate because I just can’t stand the topic. I also hate hatred, as funny as that sounds, but I think it is the most evil feeling on the planet.

About me, I am thirty-something, born in the south and raised in the north. I like Chicago pizza and the word y’all. I’ve a wonderful, supportive husband and we have seven children together, ranging from 3-early 20’s.

I’m obsessed with mythology and some parts of history where missing information can be beautifully filled with fiction without altering the facts around it. I’m meticulous and anal and drive myself nuts.

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