Thursday, November 21

Welcome Bru Baker


First, let me take a moment to say welcome and thank you to Bru Baker for being here today! It’s always a pleasure to have guests in the hot seat…erm, I mean interview chair.

Why don’t you start out by introducing yourself (where you call home, how long you’ve been writing, etc.)?

Thanks for having me, Helen. I'm a newbie on the promotion circuit, so it's both thrilling and terrifying to be here! Home base for me is Indianapolis, Indiana, where I live with my kids and my husband. I'm a freelance journalist by day now, but before that I managed a small newspaper. I quit the newsroom because of the 60-hour weeks, but I have to admit that working for myself isn't much better. I'm a pretty bad boss, though I do let myself work in pajamas, so that's one bonus.

I have several shorts and novellas out, but Island House is my first novel. It was my 2010 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) manuscript, so seeing it completed and published is really exciting. That was the first year I'd participated in NaNo, and I've done it every year since. It's really a great motivator to get words on the page. I also participated in Camp NaNo this summer, which is an abbreviated version of the challenge. That netted me a Christmas-themed novella that's coming out in December 2014, so all in all NaNoWriMo has been very productive for me.

 

  1. How long have you been writing?

My first published piece of fiction came out a year ago, but I've been a writer much longer than that. I'm a journalist by trade, so the writing I did for the majority of my career is a lot different from what I'm doing now. I have to say, writing about hunky guys and steamy romance is a lot more fun than reporting on bank robberies, house fires, and city council meetings. It's also nice not to have to have a “go bag” in my trunk with things like heavy boots and insulated gloves for those interstate pile-ups and other outdoor emergencies that I'd have to go cover during the freezing Indiana winters. I definitely don't miss that part of working in a newsroom.

I'm still a journalist by day, but now I'm freelancing so most of my assignments are features and I get to work from home. My goal is to transition to full-time fiction, and I'm getting a little closer to that with every new release.

  1. Please tell us three things about yourself that you think would surprise people/that most people don’t know.

1. When I learned my colors I switched orange and purple, and to this day my first instinct is always wrong when naming them. I'm pretty self-conscious about it and will avoid naming those colors out loud whenever possible.


2. I'm an extreme introvert, which surprises a lot of people. My comfort zone is being home with a cup of coffee and my kiddos. Anything that takes me outside of that (read: EVERYTHING!) is a challenge for me. I'm genuinely friendly, but putting myself out there is hard for me. I love meeting people, but after a convention or big gathering I need a week to myself to process and recenter.

3. My father was a chef and I inherited a love of cooking from him. I rarely, if ever, am able to completely follow a recipe because I'm constantly subbing ingredients or changing the spices in it because I think they'd work better. I blame that on my dad—his approached the kitchen as more of a mad scientist than a cook, so no two dishes were ever the same because he was always experimenting. I'm working on a novel that features chefs as the main characters and I have fun testing out dishes for the book on my family. (They're having considerably less fun with this, especially since one of the chefs in the book loves molecular gastronomy. Those dishes don't tend to go over so well with the preschooler and the first grader...)

 

I’m a total introvert to, so I totally get what you mean. Most people assume that introvert means shy, and that’s so not true. We can get out, meet people—then we need to go hide for a while and re-charge.

 

  1. There’s some controversy about women who write M/M? Do you have any thoughts on the subject you want to share?

One of the most common reactions when I tell people what I write is: “How?!” And I admit that there are times that I have to research how Tab A fits into Slot B, but that's what the Internet is for, right? I don't think my sister has recovered from my answer of “Xtube” when she asked how I could possibly write about something I'd never experienced. She's probably still blushing.                           

In all seriousness, I do think it's possible for a woman to write credible M/M. No, I'm not a man. I don't have firsthand knowledge of what it feels like to be one. But much of my writing focuses on the mechanics of relationships and the emotions involved, and I'm a firm believer that those experiences are universal. I do try hard not to feminize my characters, but that doesn't mean that men don't have the same fears, doubts, and joys that women do in a relationship. Sometimes it might be a challenge to show those in a believable way, but in the end that makes for a better story.

 

  1.  They” tell us that writers should write what they know—do you think that’s true? Why/why not?

One of my favorite parts of the writing process is research, so I'd say no to that. I think it's possible to research something thoroughly enough that you can put your character into that situation or role. A pivotal scene in Island House happens on Niall's boat as it hunkers down at sea during a hurricane, but aside from a few memorable experiences driving a pontoon on a lake as a kid, I've never piloted a boat. I'd say I've never been through a hurricane, either, but a few years ago one actually made it all the way here to Indiana still classed as a Category 1. I'm not sure that counts, though!

  1. Pantster or plotter? Why?

I'm a pantser by nature, but I'm trying hard to mold myself into a plotter. I've plotted out two spin-offs to Island House and I'm moving forward with them with tentative approval from the publisher, so it's a new experience for me. We'll see how closely I'm able to stick to those approved plot lines.

  1. A lot of authors write short stories as well as novels/novellas. What’s the difference for you, as an author between writing a piece that’s under 20,000 and one that’s 30,000 or more?

I can sit down and write 10,000 to 20,000 words pretty easily, but once a piece crosses that line it gets a lot more complicated. Suddenly I'm juggling several plot arcs and really flushing the characters out, which takes a lot more attention to detail. To me, writing a short story or a short novella is a lark, but writing a novel is work. It's the difference between a vacation romance and a committed relationship. When I write a novella I usually stay in that blissfully easy bloom of early infatuation with the piece. With a novel, it's more like being married to the project—before long I start to notice that it leaves its dirty socks under the bed and chews with its mouth open.

 

  1. How much of your real life experiences go into your writing? Where does your inspiration usually come from? Ever based a character on a real person (friend or enemy?)

I've never based a character on a real person, but a lot of personal quirks and experiences get worked in. One of the main characters in my novella The Buyout is a computer programmer, and there's a lot of similarity there between him and my husband, who's a programmer in real life. My husband is a good sport about it, but I think he got pretty tired of me trying out geeky pick-up lines on him to make sure they made sense. The end result was worth it—the IM conversations in The Buyout were probably my favorite pieces of dialog in any of my works. They were a blast to write.

 

  1. Do you listen to music while you write, prefer absolute silence, run off to the coffee shop…? If you do listen to music, can you name a few songs off your playlist?

I have a four year old and a seven year old, so if I had to have absolute silence to write I'd never get anything done. I've gotten pretty good at tuning out their bickering and getting words in. (In fact, they're sitting in my office whining right now!) I do tend to listen to music, but I'm not picky. I know some authors make soundtracks for each piece they write to capture the characters' emotions, but I prefer to just listen to whatever album has caught my admittedly fickle fancy. Right now I'm obsessed with Rogue Wave, a band out of Oakland. That's on heavy rotation at the moment alongside favorite bands like Imagine Dragons, Sea Wolf, and Foster the People. And the Pitch Perfect soundtrack because, like I said, my musical taste is pretty fickle. As long as it's not country, I'm happy listening to it.
 

  1. What television shows are you currently watching?

Do Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood and The Power Rangers count? Those are my kids' current favorites. I don't get a chance to watch much television on my own because I spend most of my free time writing. When I do watch something I tend to mainline it by marathoning entire seasons on Netflix. I'm not very good at moderation. I'll usually reward myself for meeting a publication deadline by watching a season of something. I just finished the first few seasons of The Vampire Diaries and I've started Breaking Bad.

LOL--your kids' shows totally count. When mine was *much* younger, the only thing I knew about "current tv shows" was Little Bear and Rupert *G*
 

  1. What’s next on the horizon for you? WIPs, writing goals, personal goals…? 

I'm doing NaNoWriMo right now, so hopefully I'll have a big portion of my next novel draft done by the end of the month. I have a pretty rigorous schedule set for myself in terms of my WIPs and I'm hoping I can stay on it. I'd really love to wrap up the two Island House spin-offs before I tackle a new project, but my brain has taken that as a challenge to feed me as many new novel ideas as possible. It always seems to be feast or famine for me in terms of creativity. If everything goes according to schedule, I should have both novels out in 2014. Fingers crossed!
 
 
Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan's dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he's carved out for himself.

When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life's simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they've begun.

 You can read an excerpt here and don't forget to visit her on her own blog, here.
 
 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great interview. I enjoyed Buyout and was glad to see Island House as a novel - looking forward to reading it and the 2 more coming.
Andrea M