I would like to thank the wonderfully funny and talented Brenda Cothern for sitting down to answer a few of my questions! Please check out her interview with me and find out all about her books, her writing style, and some fun personal facts. Come back on Thursday to read all about my review of her book, Undercover Love!
When did you first start writing?
Brenda: I first started writing in 2007, but writing didn’t become my full-time career until 2010 when I published my first book.
Why did you start writing?
Brenda: I am an ‘old school’ gamer even though I play multiple MMORPGs online now. I was always the DM when we played Dungeons & Dragons, so I was the one to weave the tales that became our adventures. I created a character in 8th grade and they stuck with me for so long that the backstory for them just had to be written. So, I started to seriously organize the story in 2007.
What or who inspires your writing?
Brenda: The voices in my head inspire me. I am sure many authors say that, but in my case it is true. I have mild schizophrenia (to hang out with my bi-polar). I used to think I was like other authors until I casually referenced them to my doctor when he asked about work. It turns out, there is a high risk for bi-polar people to have schizophrenia. So, my doctor told me to keep writing about the voices because it is a good coping mechanism.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Brenda: This answer may seem facetious, but my pens dying. I write my novels ‘long hand’ in composition books. Crazy, right? I use a certain type of pen because it flows good, but I tear through them like crazy. My husband has them on auto-order from Amazon. Aside from my pens, though, I would have to say ‘transcribing’ my books into MS Word. I used the Dragon software (speech to text) and it can be a pain training it new ‘made up’ words.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Brenda: Oh, I absolutely write from the seat of my pants! I have a start, middle, and end of a story, but these seems to just fill itself in.
What comes first for you – the plot of the characters – and why?
Brenda: The characters always come first. Remember those voices I mentioned? <grin> Their story (the plot) usually isn’t far behind when I start hearing them.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
Brenda: They develop themselves. I am really just the medium that gets them on paper to keep my sanity.
How do you use social media as an author?
Brenda: Yes. I have a fan group and used to have a dedicated author page until it was hacked and deleted by the hacker. And, of course, I have my regular page and belong to some groups. I used to have Twitter, but have closed my account there. I was very active on social media when I first joined Facebook, but not so much anymore. It has changed so much that I can no longer spend hours a day on it because I get frustrated over the ads and all the other BS that seems to have become the norm.
How do you handle writer’s block?
Brenda: I’ve never had it. I get the opposite, actually, since my head gets really crowded sometimes.
How do you process and deal with a negative book review?
Brenda: I usually just take them with a grain of salt. I can’t please everyone all the time and sometimes what I write isn’t what the reader expected it to be.
What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Brenda: Invest in an editor (get references so you don’t get ripped off) or have a really good and diverse Alpha & Beta team. And, don’t rush to publish. There will always be readers.
What is your favorite part of publishing? What is your least favorite part?
Brenda: My favorite part is the feeling I get when the story is finished and set free into the world. My least favorite, now, is marketing. I used to get a rush from advertising my latest release, but now I just can’t stomach social media.
What do you think is the most important part of publishing after you finish writing your manuscript?
Brenda: Marketing, marketing, marketing. Ironic, huh?
Did you choose to write romance or did it choose you?
Brenda: My first book was a high fantasy, but my second was more erotic than romance. However, that book seemed to open the floodgates for the rest to be romance. So, I guess it chose me.
Which book is your favorite that you have published so far?
Brenda: Wow. Hard question. I guess it would be a toss up between The God of Fate and Undercover Love.
Are any of your books part of a series or are they all standalones?
Brenda: I have both. My standalones tend to be set in the same universe and relate to one another but aren’t a series.
Do you base your characters on real people?
Brenda: Not to my knowledge, but I am sure there are occasionally some aspects of my characters that my subconscious has pulled from people I know or met in passing.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most and why?
Brenda: Brew from Undercover Love. He is a Master (Dom) in the BDSM community in the book and I am a Ma’am (Dom) in the BDSM community in my area. All of the scenes in the book come from my own experiences and are things I have done.
How much research do you need for your books?
Brenda: This is another hard question. My Mad Dogs series is military based, so I had to do a ton of research. A few other books in my I.N.E.T. series needed research, as well, but all of my novels containing EMS/Police/BDSM reflect personal experiences and knowledge.
What was the hardest scene to write, and why?
Brenda: I think sex scenes between men are the hardest. Gay couples don’t behave the same in bed as M/F couples. For starters, the logistics aren’t the same and the verbal exchanges are vastly different. Thankfully for me, I have been active in the gay community since before I have started writing, so I had a lot of real life reference material (including being present for their sex… long story short, Gay BDSM ‘dungeons’ include A LOT of sex as opposed to het dungeons.)
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
Brenda: Dwitt (The God of Fate.) I’d say I am sorry.
What is your favorite quote from one of your books?
Brenda: “Rick's memory turned to fantasy as his mind took a different path than what reality had already turned into history.” (Undercover Love)
What tropes are in each book?
Brenda: 80% of my novels are contemporary paranormal and the other 20% is only contemporary. I have three novels that are fantasy, but the majority of what I write is contemporary paranormal romance, or as seems to be the new label, urban fantasy romance.
What is your favorite trope to write?
Brenda: Contemporary paranormal romance since I can insert my paranormal characters into our real-life settings.
How long did it take you to write each book? If one book took longer to write, why?
Brenda: It usually takes me 2-3 months to finish a story from pen to paper to published. The God of Fate and Undercover Love took longer because of the length of the story. Of course, The God of Fate took a few years, but I wasn’t working on it full time, at the time.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Brenda: A gay man who can relate to the personalities and actions of the characters.
Are your books wide or only in Amazon?
Brenda: My novels used to be on multiple sites. Smashwords would distribute to many sites including Apple and Barns and Noble. However, I only release audiobooks on Audible (which is owned by Amazon) and digital, paperback, and hardback Amazon directly.
Tell us a little about each book or a little about a new release?
Brenda: Oh, boy. Here goes…
Mad Dogs – military wolf unit fighting a hidden war.
Undercover Love – undercover cops infiltrating a BDSM human trafficking ring.
Shadows – a nightclub in Ybor City, Tampa.
The Witch’s Brew – a nightclub set in Chicago belonging to the brother of Shadow’s owner.
Those Who Dare – Mobsters, also in Chicago.
Guns & Hoses Universe (Standalones) – EMS/Firefighters/Police.
I.N.E.T. (International Narcotics Enforcement & Tracking) – International Agents. Think a cross between the CIA and DEA.
Dragon Saviors – dragons fighting a hidden war (similar to The Black Dagger Brotherhood) set in Las Vegas.
*New Series* L.E.H.D. (Layma Enforcement & Human Defense) – federal vampire & human agents; primarily solving murders.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
Brenda: Beer & music. Sounds weird, right? I used to write my novels in a gay bar that I went to for 19 years before it closed. Now, I sit outside under my canopy with a cooler and iHeart year-round.
If you could spend a day with another author, whom would you choose and why?
Brenda: I used to spend hours on the phone with Sandrine Gasq-Dion before she passed away five years ago. We just ‘got each other’ and would lose track of time. Now, I would love to spend the day with Nazri Noor. His series are set in the same universe and I love how he mixes mythology and magic in with his paranormal/supernatural characters. His stories are always engaging and his humor makes me laugh out loud, literally.
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
Brenda: I don’t really. I tend to take a week off and then start the next novel just to quiet the yammering in my head.
What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?
Brenda: I attend conventions that have nothing to do with books. Sci-Fi/Fantasy/ or even medieval festivals. Readers are everywhere and being the only or one of a very, very few, usually pays off well.
What has helped or hindered you the most when writing a book?
Brenda: When characters take off in an unexpected direction and I have no idea why. It’s usually a hinderance at first, but overall helps the story become better in the long run.
What advice would you give to help others create plotlines?
Brenda: Try to stick to what you know or be prepared to do research. The last thing you want to do is throw a reader out of the story by having incorrect ‘factual’ information.
How many hours a day do you write?
Brenda: I write twice a week in 5–6-hour blocks (roughly 8-9k words a week)
What are your favorite or most helpful author resources?
Brenda: My Alpha & Beta teams. I wouldn’t survive without them. Following them, my Dragon software and Grammarly.
Be sure to follow Brenda!
Website (really out of date!) - http://bcothernbooks.com/
Facebook Fan Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/Brenda.Cothern.Fans
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/B.Cothern.Author
Mad Dogs Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/The.Mad.Dogs.Werewolves
FantasticFiction - https://www.fantasticfiction.com/c/brenda-cothern/