It’s MuseItUp Publishing Monday, and October is paranormal month. I love all things paranormal—have I mentioned that lately? Anyway, today’s guest is Gail Roughton Branan, author of Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights, a Fantasy Romance from MuseItUp, coming in April, 2012. Sounds like so much fun, I can’t wait for this one.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I first started writing in 1987 or 88, somewhere around there. And I finished my first book about four months after I started it. I loved that book then and I love it now, because it’s the first. But I’d never submit it in its present form, though I think it has moments of magic. One day that first book will appear in a resurrected format but honestly, I’m kind of sentimental about it and don’t really want to revise it. Silly, I suppose, but I’ve got lots of other things I don’t mind revising and lots of other projects yelling for attention, so I’m leaving my first-born alone for a while.
Do you have a day job/family/children, and how do you balance everything?
Oh, Lord! I’ve been a paralegal for thirty-five years. Right now, in a firm of over twenty-five attorneys, I have three partners I look after. I’ve raised three kids, two of whom have failure to launch and who are still home. That’s not really a complaint, my boys are both single and pretty self-sufficient. They come and go as they please and when they say they’re hungry, I say, “There’s the kitchen,” so it works out well. My grandson is with us a lot due to his parents’ work schedules. Right now, balancing isn’t a problem, my husband mostly looks after my grandson when he’s with us. He’s five now and a little person in his own right anyway. Neither my husband or the boys expect to be waited on and they leave me alone at the computer. However, when my children were hitting their teens, between them and work, I stopped writing completely for probably a ten year stretch. Everyone is only human and what the kids needed, what the job that helped feed the family needed – that had to come first. Kids are only small children or teenagers for a limited number of years. And for those with small children thinking they’ll get a break when the teen years come, sorry to break it to you, but the teen years are the busiest and the years when they need you most. But I don’t have any problem, now that those years are over, claiming these years for me. The writer.
Random Question #1: Favourite colour?
Red. I’m an Aries. I can’t escape it.
How did you choose the genre you write in, or did it choose you?
I don’t even know that I have a genre. Everything I do is different. A story occurs to me, some characters get up and start walking and talking, it’s whatever it turns out to be. I’ve done romantic suspense, a crime thriller, a dark horror, a fantasy romance. I’m working on an urban fantasy. I will say that there’s always a paranormal thread running through somewhere, though, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. And though I didn’t realize it until recently, they’re always romances, too. Even the dark horror.
Random Question #2: Light or dark chocolate?
White, specifically. My daughter says she always knew who “Easter Bunnied” each year because I always bought white chocolate bunnies and her Daddy bought dark chocolate bunnies.
Do you work from an outline, or do the characters dictate the plot (I’m a mix of both)?
Total pantser. I have a general idea. When the characters start talking, sometimes full scenes pop in my head that I’m dying to write but the deal with myself is – I don’t allow myself to write those scenes, even though they’re full-blown ready, until I can write my up to them logically. So sometimes I sort of write the same way a donkey follows a carrot.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I think everything everybody writes is based to some extent on personal experience, even fantasy. Because otherwise, it wouldn’t be believeable.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I think the best thing I ever wrote is my dark horror novel. For me it’s different from anything I’ve ever done or ever will do. Before I found Muse, I submitted it a few times in the conventional publishing world and nobody was interested. However, I’m planning to pull it out, fine-tune (yet again) and see what Muse thinks of it.
Random Question #3: Are you a dog person or a cat person? Or horse, bird or whatever else floats your boat. LOL.
Predominately a dog person. Though I do like cats, too, but it’s hard to make both species comfortable in the same house unless they’re raised together so we’ve had mostly dogs for years. I have three. Usually, I like them a lot better than the people in my house. We’ve also had guinea pigs, a parakeet named Bird who lived at least 12 years, and a turtle named Spike. We’re pretty equal opportunity animal folks.
What is the title of your most recent novel, and can you tell us a little bit about it?
Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights debuts April, 2012, thanks to MuseItUp Publishing. It’ll be in the MuseItUp Bookstore, of course, and on all the sites MuseItUp Books are so blessedly sold, including Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. Miami Days is Everywoman’s fantasy. I was blown away by and will always remember the comment of one of my Alpha Readers – not that I knew what Alpha and Beta readers were till I got to Muse, even though I have both, right in my office – who told me it was a “Calgon, take me awaaaaaaay….” book.
Com’on, who among us hasn’t wanted to fly over the rainbow? Though not by flying through the Bermuda Triangle, I’ll grant you that. But Tess Ames, who’s the personal troubleshooter of the CEO of Miami based Ramos International, does exactly that on her way to Jamaica to serve as corporate hostess at one of the corporation’s big parties. Her double Masters Degrees in Marketing and Finance aren’t a lot of preparation for the world she discovers. Magic, omens, portents and power stones weren’t discussed much in her graduate classes. But Tess is nothing if not versatile. She’s going to give it her best shot. The first sight of that Truscan king would give any woman incentive. But trust me – she ain’t in Kansas anymore.
And just back in September, my crime thriller Down Home was accepted and will publish in September 2012. This one’s truly near and dear to my heart because the setting is so real to me. I’m a Southern girl who lives in a small Southern town, very much like the town that’s the setting of this novel. In small Southern towns, everybody knows everybody else’s business. They know Maggie Kincaid hasn’t spoken to her father in twenty-five years, not since she buried Billy Brayton. Her daddy’s the town and county kingpin, Big John Kincaid had no trouble railroading Billy out of town and into the army on trumped up armed robbery charges. Nobody could have been happier about that boot camp accident resulting in Billy’s reported demise than Big John. Nobody ever grieved harder than Maggie. The town thinks it knows the whole story, but they don’t. They’re about to find out that the reports of Billy Brayton’s death have been greatly exaggerated. He’s home. And it’s payback time. Sometimes you can go home again.
My blog is Flowers on the Fence and I truly love it when folks stop in for a visit. So y’all don’t be a stranger, com’on in. The door’s always open.
And should you be so inclined, I’ll drop off this little excerpt as I take my leave. Ladies and Gentlemen, Writers of all Ages – May I present for your entertainment the opening paragraphs of Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights, never before viewed by human eyes. Not publicly anyway. And maybe I can find Ringling Bros on the way out, too.
“Jamaica Unicom, this is Alpha Delta Charlie…”
I was beginning to think there were no other words in the English language. Certainly, it didn’t appear there were ever going to be more by way of a reply.
This was supposed to be a combined business-pleasure trip; a short junket from Miami to Jamaica during which I would add “hostess” to my job description of personal troubleshooter to the CEO. I’d made similar trips at least ten times in this little Piper Cub during the last two years of my employment with Ramos International, with pilot Ken Hanslett at the controls. We’d become big buddies and I’d always had absolute confidence in him. I still did. It was the gray, clinging, swirling, never-ending fog I didn’t have any confidence in.
“Ken, give it a rest. You’re getting hoarse. Nobody’s answering.”
“Yeah, but you never know, Tess. We need to keep on trying.”
We’d been flying in this peasouper for over an hour, all instrument gauges oscillating wildly from one side of their respective circles to the other. I’d almost given up looking at them on purpose as the force of my stare obviously wasn’t effective in making them behave. But I glanced back down frequently anyway, in the manner of a passer-by who just couldn’t stop looking at a traffic accident.
I couldn’t believe it. The needles were no longer swinging crazily. And the fog – the fog was lifting and then, almost instantaneously, we were back in the blue, rushing rapidly into flashes of green and brown. I saw thick treetops and rolling hillsides. The plane seemed to skim the tops of the trees on its way down to rolling meadow and my brain screamed in protest. No way. We were supposed to be over ocean, not land. We were supposed to be cruising at 8,000 feet, not tree level.
His hands flashed out to the controls and I heard the engines cut out. Kaleidoscopic colors rushed past. I felt the horrendous jolts of impact before my ears registered the noise, and then there was only the slow swishing sound of the propellers as they revolved ever more slowly into stillness.
I don’t think I was completely knocked out, and fought back to the light through dancing motes of black, wrenching nausea. The plane was at an angle and the impact had been on the pilot side – the pilot side! Oh, my God!
I was lodged far back in the seat and tried to struggle up, panicking at the bonds that held me. I had visions of the plane exploding while we were trapped inside. Then I realized I wasn’t trapped at all, but still securely harnessed in. I brought my hands down to locate the release on the seat belt buckle. I rose and turned my head.
The pilot side had, indeed, taken the impact. His seat was pushed forward, and he lay slumped over the wheel. My mind tried to shut it out, to deny the obvious, but I couldn’t let it. His chest was crushed. Blood trickled from his lip. No, that wasn’t right. Not from his lip. Down his lip, coming from his mouth. I lurched forward, moving too fast, and the body of the plane shifted its balance. I sat still.
“I won’t think,” I told myself. “That’s easier. Much easier. Just for a minute.” And I lay back against the seat and let my eyes shift out the window and look out at a vista that couldn’t possibly exist on any island in the Caribbean Ocean. I was looking at trees native to the deep hardwood forests of the Northern Hemisphere. The sunlight was wrong; subtly different, redder, rawer, newer.
Then my eyes shifted to Ken and I knew I couldn’t avoid thinking about it, the very thing Ken and I had joked about on different flights across this same stretch of ocean, flights ending with normal, happy landings.
I’d flown through the Bermuda Triangle and come out alive on the other side, with a dying pilot and a wrecked plane.