Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt
Cover Artist Anne Cain
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Brandon Witt here today to share some insight about his writing, his characters and his latest release, Under a Sky of Ash. Welcome, Brandon. Just a few questions….
Where do you normally draw your inspiration for a book from? A memory, a myth, a place or journey, or something far more personal?
Typically from either my own life or the people in my life. After 16 years of teaching/counseling, the inspirations are limitless. It’s amazing that one moment of my own life or someone else’s can trigger and open up an entire world for a novel. In Under a Sky of Ash, the teaching and my students’ lives were the biggest inspiration.
Are you a planner or a pantzer when writing a story? And why?
I’m a big planner. We’re talking notebooks, outlines, character sheets, pictures, family trees, on and on and on. The reason is twofold, for me. One, it’s just how my brain works. I need to be able to see the entire picture to have an idea where I’m going. I’m very one-track minded, with everything. I’m not a good multi-tasker. So, planning helps. Although, my plans typically change as I write the story, but at least it helps to know where I’m going. Two, I feel like it really helps me know my characters inside and out before I start the story. Granted, they change and grow over the course of the book, but I have no idea how I’d ever start writing a story about characters I didn’t know. I’ve heard other authors talk about how they never plan and how they get to know their characters as they write. I would be completely lost. But I admire them for being able to do so!
Contemporary, supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction narratives or something else? Does any genre draw you more than another when writing it or reading it and why does it do so?
I know this is the wrong answer, but fantasy is my biggest thing (or at least urban paranormal). However, I’ve always tended to write real life, even though I read more fantasy. Maybe it’s just using writing as therapy? Not sure. Though I do have a fantasy series out and a couple shorts coming in the next couple of months. As far as romance? For about six years in Jr. High and high school, I read every Christian Romance novel I could get my hands on. Yes, you read that right! (For any of you who had the same sickness, my favorites were anything by Bodie Thoene and The Winslow Series.)
If you had a character you’ve written you would write differently now at this time in your writing career, who would it be and why?
Oh! That’s a dangerous question. I almost don’t want to answer that one! However, that answer is easy. Brooke Morrison, from The Shattered Door. It was my first novel and over ten years ago now. He really documents where I was in that moment in my journey out of learn-to-be-straight therapy and my Christian beliefs. I read that book now and I’m in such a different place than where he is (where I was), it’s honestly hard for me to get through it. However, that is one of the wonderful things about writing. It captures the author where they are at that moment. I’m sure I’ll feel the same about some of the characters now when I look back in ten more years. Ultimately, I wouldn’t change him. There are many people that LOVE Brooke. I think I see so much of myself in him that it’s hard to show him the same amount of grace as I do my other characters.
Can an author have favorites among their characters and do you have them?
Dear lord yes! And I’m not sure what this says about me, but, for me, it’s almost always my supporting characters and/or my women.
In The Shattered Door, it’s Maudra. I’ve even named my Mini Cooper after her. She’s perfect and I want her in my real life.
In the Men of Myth Series, it’s Sonia. She is so gorgeous and strong and damaged and vicious. I’m totally captivated by her.
In Under a Sky of Ash, it’s ManDonna. The drag queen. Writing her was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a character. I swear she was in the room with me in every scene she was in. I couldn’t believe the things she said as my fingers typed the words.
If you were to be stranded on a small demi-planet, island, or god forbid LaGuardia in a snow storm, what books would you take to read or authors on your comfort list?
Easy. Cliché though it may be. Harry Potter, by JK Rowling. Those books are and always will be my all-time favorite.
Woke Up in a Strange Place, by Eric Arvin
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by JR Ward
Beneath the Stain, by Amy Lane
From the Corner of His Eye, by Dean Koontz
Lonely Heart series, by Heidi Cullinan
Dogwood Days, by Poppy Dennison
How early in your life did you begin writing?
Sophomore year in high school. All thanks to Ms. Becca Hungerford. She was the teacher that started it all. School and reading (and even more so, math and science) were never easy for me. I had to work hours and hours each night, often over tears, and then still go in for tutoring. Ms. Hungerford taught us creative writing. It was the first time I didn’t agonize over homework. And she was always so complimentary and kind. She fostered growth through gentleness and encouragement. I owe her everything!
Were you an early reader or were you read to and what childhood books had an impact on you as a child that you remember to this day and why?
As I stated above, reading was hard. I wasn’t able to really read until fifth grade. Before then, I only read Garfield and Archies. Then mom forced, FORCED, me to read Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Secret Garden the summer between 4th and 5th grade. It clicked and I devoured every book I could find. I loved Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Secrets of a Unicorn Queen, anything by Gene Stratton-Porter and Laura Ingalls Wilder, on and on and on.
What question would you ask yourself here?
Is living the life of a full-time writer as wonderful as you dreamed?
Yes! A billion times yes! The ONLY draw back is the constant terror of if I will be actually able to support myself with writing and not have it all slip through my fingers. Other than that, it really is better than I dreamed. To write every single day? Unreal. To life a life that I’ve dreamed of for nearly two decades? I’m so very, very blessed and I pray that it will last. To hear from and talk to readers who connect with my books and find out they were touched by them or simply entertained? Absolutely floors me. I am completely filled with gratitude and hope.
If you were writing your life as a romance novel, what would the title be?
Tag-line: Romance readers beware, this romance has almost everything you hate in your romance novels, however, the two main characters couldn’t be happier.
Thank you, Brandon, this was wonderful. Please come back and visit us again.
Now read on to discover more about…
Under a Sky of Ash by Brandon Witt
More than a decade after leaving Colorado to attend college and escape his past, Isaiah Greene moves back and builds a life in Denver as a special education teacher. When he meets Ben Woods, the mentor of one of his students, the attraction is immediate. The revelations that they’ve both suffered traumatic childhoods form a bond between them.
Raised by an abusive grandmother, Ben is a recovering addict who has made a family with his construction worker boss, Hershel, and Hershel’s husband, Daniel—drag queen ManDonna. Adding Isaiah to his life gives Ben a glimpse of a future he’d never dreamed possible for himself.
Both Isaiah and Ben are survivors, but when guilt drives a wedge between them, the past threatens to end their relationship.
Ben and Isaiah embark on journeys of self-discovery. Though their path will be difficult at times, humor and love find a way to bring light to the darkness.
About the Author
Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….
- Website: “http://www.brandonwitt.com“
- Author Facebook Page: “https://www.facebook.com/brandon.witt.author/?fref=ts“
- Dreamspinner Press: “http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/brandon-witt“
- Amazon: “http://www.amazon.com/Brandon-Witt/e/B008FV6Y4M/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1454952325&sr=8-1“
- Goodreads: “https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4896623.Brandon_Witt“