Interview on Dystopian and YA Literature with Author Nadine Brandes (+Giveaway!)

Back in April of this year, I was privileged to attend a Christian writers’ conference where Nadine Brandes led a workshop (one of the main reasons I registered for the conference).

Nadine_Brandes_InterviewI’d been following Nadine for a while before the conference. I noticed how she was personal and sincere with her readers, wrote fun blog posts, and was becoming well known for her Out of Time series (which I didn’t read until after the conference, and now I’m a fan). She seemed to hold some secret to being an author that I wanted to know.

Thus, I went to the conference with eyes and ears wide open. My expectations were not only met, but blown out of this galaxy.

I was amazed by her workshop, which gave me a vision for where I should take my writing, and I was flabbergasted by her enthusiasm to talk with me one-on-one. Somewhere in that conversation, I asked if she’d be interested in doing an author interview for Kingdom Pen, and she readily agreed. I was doing a happy dance on the inside!

So, without further ado, I hope you catch a glimpse of who Nadine is and are encouraged by her words of wisdom to aspiring authors.

Being an Author

KP: What led you to become an author?

Nadine: The imaginary voices in my head! [wink] Actually, I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just one thing. It’s a mixture of God’s prompting, my dad’s storytelling, my mom’s reading, my big sister’s playacting, and my love of reading. I’d always loved the concept of story and being able to affect someone’s life with it.

Only once I attended my first writers’ conference did I realize I wanted to pursue publication.

KP: At the writers’ conference, you said in your workshop that “being an author is more than just about writing, but about the ministry.” Can you explain what makes writing a ministry?

Nadine: The ministry comes from interacting with readers. Being a writer essentially means inviting people into your story. So you need to be willing to meet them there and talk about real life and show Christ through your actions, responses, and relationship. Even though I write to share the stories of my heart, the real purpose behind it is to reach others with the love of Christ. That’s where the ministry is.

KP: What’s one of the craziest things you’ve done in the name of writing?

Nadine: I’ve done a lot of crazy things. But I think the one that was the most fun for me was learning how to drive a dogsled. It was a blast—and no, I didn’t fall off. Almost, but not quite.

Writing YA Literature

KP: What caused you to decide to write with YA as your target audience?

Nadine: I think because, as a teen, I had trouble finding fiction for my age or for my tastes. That’s not the case for teens today, but that instigated my desire to write YA. Then writing YA and connecting with that age group grew my passion for reaching them.

KP: What is your favorite YA novel?

Nadine: Didn’t anyone tell you this is the cruelest question to ask an author? I have too many favorites, but I will say I adore The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, though The Hunger Games is what got me writing my first published book.

KP: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to a new writer who wants to write for the YA demographic?

Nadine: Know the YA readers. Be personal, listen, interact. You can’t write for young adults unless you create a relationship with them.

Writing Dystopian

KP: If you could sum up your Out of Time series in one sentence, what would it be?

Nadine: In a world where everyone has a Clock showing their day of death, Parvin Blackwater tries to find purpose in her last year alive.

KP: Your Out of Time books are a dystopian series. (Dystopia broken down literally means “bad place to live.”) What led you to write a series under this sub genre?

Nadine: I got sucked into The Hunger Games and, after that, Divergent, but had a hard time feeling hopeful by the end of those two series. So I started diving into an old story idea of mine with the goal of showing that hope can still overcome, no matter how despairing the darkness is.

KP: What’s the hardest part about writing dystopian literature in today’s environment?

Nadine: I think the hardest part is seeing that it can be so near to real life. Maybe not the Clocks or giant Wall or technology, but the darkness and rebellion and dissatisfaction with the current state of our world. So it’s hard writing that content knowing it exists in some places and may very well exist tomorrow. That is why understanding the true hope is so important.

KP: Some people consider dystopian YA a temporary fad that few people are interested in reading anymore. What do you think about this sentiment?

Nadine: I think the genre of a slightly futuristic but decaying system with the protagonist making “the big choice” or “the big escape” was a fad and is no longer interesting to readers. But the concept of examining our society, standing up for truth, and taking necessary action is still a very viable concept. It just needs to be wrapped in a different “world” for right now.
All genres get worn out for a time, but then they resurface with a new twist or facelift. It’s the circle of publishing, so to anyone writing dystopian, I say don’t give up or stop! Keep writing the story that’s on your heart. There is always a place for that.

Ready for the Giveaway?

Kingdom Pen is sponsoring a giveaway of Nadine’s first book, A Time to Die. To be entered in the giveaway, click the widget below and login with either Facebook or email to see all the possible ways to enter. The more options you choose, the more entries you get, and the greater your chances of winning!

This giveaway will run from July 21st to 28th, so enter while you can!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Profile photo of Rolena Hatfield
Rolena is a country loving girl who wears cowgirl boots and has dreamed of being Cinderella since she was four. She has an explosive imagination that leads her on crazy adventures in other worlds, yet she somehow always ends up back at her desk with a pencil and cup of coffee in hand. Beside writing at late night hours and devouring books, she has a tremendous love of music and musical theater. She blames them both for not being able to stay off a stage since age eleven, becoming a vocal teacher and now directing dramas. Her favorite places to be are up in her library (yes, she has a special room in her house just for books), outside for a romp or any place with people. On her shelf of favorite books you’ll find The False Prince, Once on This Island, Princess Academy and Bella at Midnight. Her favorite thing to do is laugh. Though she has tried to stop writing, she’s never been able too and has no intentions of doing so in the near future. Or ever for that matter.
Dare to share
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter0Email this to someone


  1. Nice. I’m hoping to read Nadine’s books here when I get the chance. Someone actually told me her newsletter was amazing so I subscribed just to see what it was like. 😛 It is good.

    The definition of writing as a ministry was helpful to me. I already like interacting with readers, but I think it would be good to train that specific mindset.

    • Yes, do read her books! And her newsletter is definitely amazing. Yes! I definitely found her definition fo writing as a ministry helpful as well!

    • 1) Thanks for signing up for my newsletter and liking it! xD If it ever gets boring, I hope someone will tell me.
      2) I’m so glad it helped to hear writing as a ministry. Once I finally got that into my head I’m able to approach it with so much more freedom and vision. And though discouragement still exists (those first drafts, people… O.o ), I am able to step out of it so much easier once I realign my thinking back into ministry.

  2. I’ve heard lots of good things about Nadine’s books, and I hope to get my hands on them sometime. =) I find her discussion of genres very insightful.

  3. I think I’ve heard several people talking about Nadine’s books, but this would be my first real introduction to her. Thanks for sharing. 😀 It’s always amazing to see authors who minister through their books. I definitely learned more about what it means to be a writer by hearing her perspective.

  4. In which Rolena is an awesome staff person and gets an interview while Brandon stumbles around wide-eyed muttering “writer’s conference” over and over and over. Also, drooling over the book table. He did that too. 😛

    AND YAY NADINE! Neither her nor Rolena did the Out of Time series credit. Go buy it. Read it. Absorb it. No regrets.

  5. I’ve been hearing the title of A Time to Die floating around the KP forum for quite some time now. I enjoyed this interview and I hope to read her books soon! 🙂

  6. I’ve never written dystopian and I’ve never liked reading it, but I liked Nadine’s discussion on it and why we read it. I’ve also heard A LOT of good things about A Time to Die on various blogs, so I will make an exception for it and see how it is!

  7. Yasss. Nadine. <333 One of the BESTEST authors ever. She's amaaazing.
    Quick question, is the giveaway open internationally?

  8. I LOVED all three books! I gobbled the third one up in one day! Nadine is an amazing and talented writer and I look forward to reading any future books she writes!

  9. Jada Morrison says:

    Like someone else said, thinking of writing as a ministry is really good. That should be how we think of everything but it’s easy to forget.

  10. Adaline says:

    I’ve heard of Nadine before, but didn’t really know anything about her. She and her book sound amazing!

  11. I’ve never thought about writing as a ministry before. I will definitely be thinking on that!

  12. Wow, this is a cool interview! I’ve (like so many others on here) only heard of Nadine’s books. I haven’t read them, but they’re on my list 🙂

    I like what Nadine said about how the hardest part of writing dystopia is when you see it’s so close to real life. It’s saddening, but I think that’s what attracts people to this genre. People love dystopian novels so much because we’re living in one. And when we readers watch the hero fight this darkness and overcome it, that gives us hope for our own situations. 🙂

  13. Great interview! I love the books, too!!!

  14. Catherine says:

    What a great interview! I loved her thoughts on writing and ministry.

  15. I’ve heard a lot of awesome things about her books. Now I’m more excited than ever to try them! Fantastic interview!

  16. Wonderful interview! I love Nadine Brandes. 🙂 It was especially helpful to hear her insight on the dystopia genre since it’s a favorite of mine. Thanks Nadine and Rolena! 😀

  17. I like how you say we need to interact with our readers! Thanks for the tip!

Speak Your Mind