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).
I’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.
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!