Interview with Terri Bruce

Posted: 12/04/2016 in Author Interview
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BP: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
TB: Well, I’m lucky that I get to write full-time—by day, I’m a grant writer for a non-profit (I call it “creative non-fiction” writing ), and “in my spare time,” I’m a fiction writer. I write mainly fantasy and science fiction, but I’m working on stories in many, many different genres. I tend to be more of a character-driven story-teller, so I write in whatever genre matches the story I’m telling.

BP: Which writers inspire you?
TB: I’m not sure I’d say that I’m inspired by other writers, but certainly there are writers whose work I admire. I’m always jealous of the talents of any writer who can make me cry, because I think making people cry is one of the hardest things as a writer to do. Aryn Kyle’s “The God of Animals” made me cry so hard my husband actually took the book away from me because he thought I’d make myself sick. It was so sad! Mary Doria Russell’s “The Sparrow,” T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” and Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy all make me cry.

I also admire any really good satirists—Terry Pratchett and Joseph Heller are two greats that I love. Being able to make people laugh but, at the same time, delivering an important message or insight is also an amazing skill to have.

BP: When did you decide to become a writer?
TB: I’ve always written—since I understood what writing was. I’m not sure people ever decide to be a writer… you just are or you aren’t. The road from scribbling stories in a notebook to published author was crossed through a lot of incremental steps: enjoying writing stories for English class in school, writing fan-fiction in college, joining a writers’ group at my local library, and finally joining the community at AgentQueryConnect.com. Each step along the way provided education, training, confidence, and support that helped me get to the next step. I don’t think I would be where I am if I hadn’t had all those stepping stones—but, at the time, I never thought of those things in that way (as stepping stones or steps on a longer path). At the time, each stage of the journey was undertaken just to fill an immediate need. Joining the fan-fiction community, for instance, was just for fun—to find other people who liked the same fandom I did and as a way for us to interact and connect. I wasn’t doing it with the idea that it was somehow going to help me become a professional writer. However, writing serialized fan-fiction helped me develop the ability to plot out a story, start to finish, the discipline to finish stories, gain the confidence to share my work publicly/show my work to strangers, and to learn how to take constructive criticism.

BP: Where do your ideas come from?
TB: Where do creative ideas ever come from? Dreams. Random things that pop into one’s head. The subconscious. Weird things you see or unusual people you see. My ideas come from all over. I rarely can ever assign a concrete instance to the genesis of an idea. Instead, it just sort of springs into my head and is there and then I know I have to write a story.

BP: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
TB: It’s a bit of both. I don’t really have a structured writing process. I usually almost always know how a story starts and how it ends and everything in the middle is a mystery that I uncover along the way. However, with the Afterlife series, I mapped out all six books of the series pretty early on. Once I realized it was going to be multiple books, I outlined each book in terms of the stage of Irene’s journey it would cover and which myths (which cultures and religions) it would include (to ensure a good diversity/mix from around the world and didn’t concentrate too heavily in one area or one time period).

BP: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
TB: I think I’ve actually evolved the most in developing discipline, gaining confidence, and in technical skill—which have all helped me to be more creative. That is, by increasing my technical proficiency, it’s made it easier for me to write more creatively. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but the thing is, I always knew when I was just writing stories for fun that something was missing—that is, that the stories weren’t very good. And it wasn’t because they were lacking in creativity or exciting plot twists or great characters. They were lacking in technical ways—poor pacing or lacking grounding descriptions and world building or poor technical writing (too much passive writing, too much tell instead of show, etc.). Developing my technical skills made my stories better, which, in turn, increased my confidence to tell even more (and more creative) stories.

BP: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
TB: “Do you read much” is one of those things I hear and think, “how is that even a question?!?!” My TBR pile currently has “only” 289 books on it at the moment, so I’m doing good.

I have too many favorite authors to name. I love so many! But I tend to lean most heavily on “the classics”—Dickens, Austen, Dumas, etc. Of contemporary authors, I love Terry Pratchett, Lisa Kleypas, and Julia Quinn.

BP: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
TB: I much prefer physical books. I find I just don’t absorb things the same on the screen as I do when I hold a book in my hands. However, I do like the convenience of not having boxes and piles and overflowing shelves of physical books that comes with ebooks, as well as the ability to travel more lightly on vacation. So I read books in both formats.

BP: What book/s are you reading at present?
TB: I’m reading “It’s Come to Our Attention,” an anthology of short stories about things happening “under the radar.” I have a Lovecraftian horror story in it, and I always love to read all the other stories in any anthology I’m in. Very next after that will be the second book in Scott Lynch’s “Gentleman Bastards” series, which I recently discovered and am loving.

BP: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
TB: I don’t believe there’s any such thing as “bad” reviews. People are entitled to their opinion, right? And not everyone is going to like the same things. There are plenty of books I don’t like—like Hemingway and Steinbeck. I really don’t like their writing styles (sorry, guys!). And Moby Dick put me to sleep and yet, it’s a much beloved classic.

If I say I don’t like Swiss cheese, does it make sense for someone else to say, “You’re opinion about Swiss cheese is wrong” or to say, “Why are you being so negative about Swiss cheese?” Sorry, but I just don’t like it. My not liking it doesn’t mean that other people can’t like it. And I’m not so vain as to assume that my not liking it will destroy Swiss cheese’s future or dissuade others from trying Swiss cheese.

So, all that is to say, is that I firmly believe writers are entitled to their opinion, and I always tell readers/reviewers to please always publish their honest opinion about my books.

BP: What was your inspiration for the Afterlife series?
TB: My love of mythology and folklore, especially the origins of myths—what’s the real event or person the story is based on? I love tracing myths back in time to see how they current version deviates from the original and all the incarnations it’s had over time. I was thinking about ghost and the various versions of the afterlife one day and started wondering about the origins of things like Chinese “Hungry Ghosts,” and Irish “Banshees,” and things like that and decided to write a story with all these things in it.

BP: Any final words?
TB: Thank you for letting me stop by and chat about Whereafter! For those that love afterlife mythology or want to learn more about the Afterlife series, during the month of April, I will be participating in the “A to Z Blogging Challenge,” and every day, I will be posting a video blog (at http://www.terribruce.net) in which I reveal all of the hidden references to afterlife mythology and “Easter Eggs” in the series. I encourage everyone to stop by each day and check out the videos! You can also sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date with all my latest news. In addition, I love interacting with readers, so please feel free to email me or connect with me on Twitter!

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