Brea Essex is a class act. Long story short… I was a dunce and didn’t realize why her interview popped up ten times larger than it needed to be. She was very calm and helpful, sending it to me again, and offering to do it once more before I realized the mistake was on my part (note: Microsoft word likes to randomly chose the zoom level)
NUTS AND BOLTS:
Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
[Brea] I’m from a small town called Gilroy, CA, called “The Garlic Capital of the World”. I consider San Jose, CA my hometown, though. I’ve been married for three years. No children yet, but we have 3 cats and a dog. I’m a full-time student, studying English. When I’m not writing (or working on homework!), I read a lot of YA and also epic fantasy. I love to watch anime, and I draw manga characters. I’m not that great at it yet, but I’m always improving! I also like to crochet, sew, and make jewelry.
Where you born writing or was there an “ah ha” moment when you knew that writing is what you were meant to do?
[Brea] I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I even before I could write, I would make up stories to tell my family. When I was younger, I would write my dad a short story or poem every year for one of his Christmas presents. I started writing my first novel in seventh grade. Unfortunately, it got lost, so it remains unfinished. Maybe I’ll find it someday.
RAVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO:
What are you working on these days?
[Brea] My main work in progress is called Foreshadow. It’s a YA urban fantasy and the first book of a planned trilogy called The Shadow Imperium. Here’s a short synopsis:
Imagine discovering that your boyfriend was out to kill you—and that the annoying boy from school was your guardian angel.
Rae Davenport has already lost her mother. The only thing keeping her sane is her new boyfriend, Andrei—that is, until she finds out that he wants to kill her. Andrei is a devil, and he wants to use Rae as a sacrifice to get back into Heaven. The only one who can save her is Logan, her guardian angel. He’s only annoyed her in the past, but now he will be her savior.
I have two other YA series/novels planned that are currently unnamed. One is about a necromancer and a demon hunter. The other is about a girl who discovers that her mother is a moon goddess and now it’s up to her to take over her mother’s duties.
Why do you write YA?
[Brea] My childhood was pretty chaotic, and as a result, I pretty much kept to myself. I guess writing YA lets me go back and “relive” a lot of things I missed out on.
THE JOYS OF RAISING A CHARACTER
How do your characters come to life?
[Brea] It depends upon the character. Sometimes, they just seem to pop into my mind. Sometimes they appear as I’m writing a scene. Sometimes I dream about them. The majority of the time, though, I do character profiles. The name usually comes first. Once I find the perfect name, it seems to pull the entire character together. I also try to find pictures of people (actors, models, friends) that look like how I picture the character. It helps me to have a physical picture.
Which one of your characters remind you the most of you?
[Brea] That’s a hard call. Raena from Foreshadow and Rhiannon from my currently unnamed necromancer series both remind me of myself, but in different ways.
Do you have any characters that are based on any of your friends?
[Brea] Definitely! I won’t say who though—I don’t know if the real life counterparts would be happy or upset.
Do you characters like to listen to you, their creator, do they like to pull all the strings and write you into corners?
[Brea] They don’t like to listen to me at all! I’m currently having a “fight” with my hero from Foreshadow. He is not being cooperative.
BELIEVE ME IT’S REAL EVEN IF IT IS FICTION
World building is an art form, even if your book isn’t science fiction or paranormal. How do you make your world believable?
[Brea] My YA novels are all set in real cities. For example, Foreshadow is set in Capitola, CA, a small coastal town by Santa Cruz. I lived there for three years, so I know all the in and outs of the town. It made it easier to tie in all the supernatural happenings. For those set in places I haven’t lived, I do very careful research. For my fantasy novels set in alternate worlds, I base them off real places. Erendiria, one of the countries in my epic fantasy series, is based on ancient Rome, during the Roman Empire.
LET’S TALK FAVORITES (we promise not to tell)
Do you have a favorite line that you have written?
[Brea] I have a few favorites, but the one I’ll share is this: “Do not be controlled by your fear of the future. You will only create a negative reality for yourself.” ~Ismene, spoken to Raena in Foreshadow. This became a favorite after a friend quoted it on Facebook. I never thought I’d see the day when I was quoted! Also, I think they are important words to live by.
What keeps you going?
[Brea] This is something I’ve wanted to do all my life. I don’t want to give up just because I might run into some hang-ups. I also want to have a career that allows me to be home for my kids (when I have them).
Who do you go to for support?
My friend Amber has been a lifesaver. She has pulled me out of writing misery way more times than I can count. My friends Cassandra, Destany, and Laura have also been huge encouragements.
Do you love it or hate it?
[Brea] Editing sometimes feels like the bane of my existence. It’s not fun for me, but each draft makes my book better.
What is the hardest part about editing?
[Brea] Trying to figure out what goes and what stays, as well as figuring out why a scene isn’t working.
THE ELLUSIVE AGENT:
Have you started shopping for an agent?
[Brea] Yes, but I’m currently unrepresented.
What has that process been like for you?
[Brea] Frustrating, but I know I will find the right one eventually.
Any tricks you have learned about writing a query?
[Brea] Revise, revise, revise. Writing a query is harder than it sounds. Keep in mind that it’s the first thing an agent reads of yours (sometimes the only thing if they don’t ask for the first pages in their submission guidelines).
How do you plan on handling rejections?
[Brea] Rejection is never easy. I just remind myself that it isn’t personal, and that I’ll find the right agent eventually.
What do look for in an agent?
[Brea] I want someone who believes in me, and in my work. I’m also looking for someone who I can have a good working relationship with.
MORE ABOUT YOU:
How many times have you wanted to chuck your computer at the next person who asks how it is going?
[Brea] Too many times to count! But then I remind myself that if I do that, I would have to buy a new computer and/or I would get sued by said person. Either would cost me a lot of money.
Do you ever surprise yourself when you write?
[Brea] Yes! Sometimes, if I’m really into it, I don’t realize what I’m writing. When I go back and re-read it, I almost don’t remember writing it.
What have you learned about yourself through your writing?
[Brea] I’ve learned that I can accomplish anything, and that I’m more patient than I thought.
Is writing a novel easier or more difficult than you thought?
[Brea] Definitely more difficult! I’m constantly having to remind myself that it’s not a race, and that I’ll finish when I finish. There’s no rush.
What is one piece of advice that you have received that you thought was good?
[Brea] My dad always told me that I could do anything I want to if I don’t give up. I know it sounds simple, but it’s true.
What advice do you have for others that are considering joining you on this rocky path?
[Brea] Stick with it. It can be a long and frustrating road, but I’m sure it will be worth it in the end.
Where do you see yourself in one year?
[Brea] Hopefully seeing Foreshadow on the bookshelves.
How about 5?
[Brea] I’d like to have all three books of this series out, and be working on something else.
Twitter: @BreaEssex; Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/breaessexfanpage
Blog: http://breaessex.blogspot.com/ I don’t have a website yet, but my husband is working on one for me and I hope to have it up in the near future. I will post it to my other sites once it goes live.