Ki Brightly on Writing and her release Trust Trade (Gem City Grit #1) (author interview)

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Trust Trade (Gem City Grit #1) by Ki Brightly
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reamspinner Press

Cover art by Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to welcome Ki Brightly here today to talk about her writing and her latest release, Trade Trust.  Welcome, Ki!

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Hi! I’m Ki Brightly. My book Trust Trade is due out on January 27th, and Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words was kind enough to invite me to their blog for an interview today. I’m excited to answer some questions, so I will get to it!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

This is a tremendously difficult question to answer, though it appears up front. I don’t think any writer can say nothing of themselves makes it into a character. Any character, no matter how unique or researched or villainous, can only react to a situation as a writer can imagine that character reacting. Now, a person can have a damned good imagination, but the writer is the limit. So, how much of myself goes into a character? I think that depends. If I start out writing with a clear picture of a character, or say I have gone all out and created a character sheet for them (attributes, thoughts on certain subjects, and what not) then I would say that less of me goes into them. They become more of themselves when I know who they are to start with. If I start writing and I’m sort of discovering a character as I go, say I just can’t get a bead on them or I’m confused about what type of person they will be, then I would say more of the essence of my thoughts ends up in that character because they don’t have their own thoughts yet. Sometimes when that happens and say I hit the middle of the book and realize it is happening, I will go back and edit a little or a lot, sometimes I don’t. There a couple of characters that have a lot of “me” in them. I would have to say one of the ones that most has “me” responses out of all of my books is probably Duncan from Threefold Love, (he also briefly appears in The Paranaturalist). Duncan works in a museum. I have a history degree and adored my art history classes. He loves to cook and I would spend about 6 hours a day cooking and eating if I could. He’s pudgy. Left to my own devices, without my marathon training, I’m pudgy. I’ll let you guess at what other attributes he and I share. He is a character, but yes, there are definitely bits of me there.

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Not really. I define a Gary Stu as “perfect person syndrome”. It’s when that character is a super hero with a fix for every situation to the point where their story is almost boring. I can quickly and easily think of a few stories with these types of characters, both mainstream and other. If I’m doing a good job putting together a story you should never know that the experiences I’m using to create it are my own. In any event, most of the things that I would probably use while writing would be unpleasant things, creating trouble for the character, and since I try to write realistically, whatever it is would likely end up being a pie in the face to said unsuspecting character.

There’s that old saying, “Don’t do or say anything around a writer or it will end up in a book.” It’s true. Writer’s mine their own lives as well as anything and everything around them for inspiration and story ideas. I don’t think it is unusual to use personal experiences to write.

Does research play a role in choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Yes, for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever written a book or article that didn’t require some form of research or another. For Trust Trade I think I probably spent somewhere around 100 hours doing research on Deaf culture to create a single aspect of the story as accurately as possible.

I don’t know if I enjoy research, but I certainly don’t mind reading about things that I find interesting, so to that end I like it. I don’t like the time it tends to eat up. It can really slow down a story if I decide to write about something I am minimally informed about. I do like story building and world building, my first published books were paranormal romances, but even with those I spent a lot of time researching. While writing The Paranaturalist I did paranormal research (before the time I spent with a local paranormal investigator I would have called it Ghost Hunting) and made a very nice friend along the way.

I think I like hands on research best.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

Yes and no. I was a large fan of Ann Rice when I was younger. To that end, I do enjoy writing paranormal romances, but I don’t think I particularly emulate her style. I do like description, but anyone who has ever read Interview will know what I’m talking about when I say she LOVES description. She takes description above and beyond. To some degree I like that. I like showing people what is in my head, creating a reading experience that can compete with a movie or television show. But I mainly write gay romance. I’ve toyed around with writing something a little more mainstream, and perhaps someday I will, but right now I’m focusing on what I love to write and attempting to do it well.

Have you ever put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it? You were hurting with the character or didn’t know how to proceed?

Yes. I have two separate stories right now that I have set aside. One I will be coming back to this year, hopefully, because it is sitting pretty at 60 thousand words (that is novel length for those of you not familiar with word count, but probably about 1/3 of the size of the books I usually put out). One is a paranormal romance, and one is a contemporary.

Both have an abusive boyfriend.

I started the first book, untitled except for the main characters Matteo and Devin, and ended up setting it aside. After I finished Trust Trade I started the second book, tentatively entitled The Bullsh*t Hippy Cure, but it also has an abusive boyfriend. I get stuck when there are abusers involved in the storyline, mainly because I had a quite lengthy (five years) emotionally and physically abusive relationship while I was in college. I refuse to write a book where the abused individual doesn’t “save themselves” because honestly, even if a prince comes along to rescue a person from the outright violence, they still have to do the work of putting themselves back together. I suppose the problem arose when I was trying to move the person who had been abused into a new, healthy relationship. I think it is an issue of time collapse in a novel, you only have so much time, and in real life it could take a person years, if not longer, to get over something like an abusive relationship. I suppose when I figure out a healthy way to move those characters forward those books will almost write themselves because I know the story arcs, the plots and the sub plots, but I just haven’t gotten them written yet.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

I suppose I prefer Happy for Now over Happily Ever After, simply because it is more realistic. I have no way of knowing, even with characters I wrote, what the future will bring. That being said, I have to stop myself from ending every book with a ring because I so badly want my characters to be happy, even when, or maybe especially because, I put them through the wringer.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Yes! Of course! I’m not sure anyone could write romance and not read it. I used to read m/f as well as m/m, but in the last several years I’ve slowly progressed into reading primarily m/m. Every once in a while I think maybe I’m missing out on something and will venture back out into het land, but I still prefer gay romance to mainstream.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer? Now and growing up?

I’m not sure. Growing up I loved Ann Rice and she spawned many a started and abandoned vampire novel. For a while I was stuck on Laurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry series, but the shine has worn off those for me. I read all Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books and liked them a lot. Mostly what I read now days is in the gay romance genre. I have a New Year’s resolution to read one “mainstream” book for every gay romance I read this year, but I’ve been reading true crime novels as research for the upcoming two books in my Gem City Grit Universe. Love It Like You Stole It (the one I’m working on editing it now) will be a mob influenced book, and the one after that (actively writing) will be more of a gang crimes book…it features Gus Jolliss and Kare Eckland. For anyone who reads Trust Trade and wonders what happens to Kare…well, you’ll find out, hopefully by this time next year, if I can get moving faster. 

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

Ebooks are a mixed bag for me. I love them for their affordable price points and space saving. If I had every ebook I own as a physical book then I wouldn’t have room in my house for anything else….I have book problems. I also like that I can make any book a large font book. On the other hand, sometimes I want to give my eyes a break from screen time, but most of my books are digital. Then I have to make a choice between reading the digital book I’m currently sucked into (and there always is one) or picking up a paperback that I haven’t started. This is how I end up with seven books going at a time. At this point I feel ebooks are well established and I don’t see them going anywhere. As the economy improves I think perhaps we will see a resurgence in physical book buying, but only for those people who have issues reading digitally or thoroughly enjoy the physicality of holding a book.

How do you choose your covers?

I have to take a moment to gush about the Dreamspinner Press art department. They are absolutely amazing. I get beautiful art packages before my books are published, including book marks and post cards. I can’t say enough good things. The book cover choice starts almost as soon as the book is accepted: the art department asks for everything possible about my characters and the setting of my book. They also give me samples of covers from the artists they have on hire, and I can choose anyone, so long as they are available. Only once have I not gotten to work with the artist I requested, but the artists I did work with are all amazing. I tell them the ideas I have for the book and they send me several mock ups to choose from. I pick, and from there on out they do their wonderful, artisty goodness and produce glamorous, beautiful covers for me. The artist for the cover of Trust Trade was Bree Archer and she was a delight to work with.

I always want to have one of the most engaging scenes from the book on the cover, but unfortunately, that usually isn’t possible based on how covers are made and what is determined to “sell well”. With The Paranaturalist I had a sketch artist, Christine Griffin, so I did get to have Joe in the river, which was spectacular. Working with her was fun because I could give her input on any and all aspects of the cover, down to the lights on the water and the shade of Joe’s eyes. It was great! As a writer there is no better feeling than seeing a talented artist breathe life into the wisps of your imagination.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories? And why?

Any time I’m asked this question the answer is usually going to be the book I just worked on, so I will go ahead and say Trust Trade. I think that happens because in order to put a book out you have to become so immersed in it, eat sleep breathe it, that it becomes a part of you. During the first professional edit for Trust Trade I literally spent four days, ten hours a day, sitting in my chair, staring at my laptop with Trust Trade—littered with spelling and grammar and other errors—staring back at me. I was on deadline. It was brutal. I had to edit it four more times. When you go through a process like that you either start loving or loathing something, and I usually turn toward loving it. Eventually.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently working on the next book in the Gem City Grit universe. It features Ben Jelen and Michael Levine, two characters who aren’t in Trust Trade, but there will be several other characters you should recognized throughout the book. Ben is a mechanic. Michael works for Ben, and finds himself caught up in a mob run scheme to funnel illegally procured car parts out of the country. There are a lot of different nuances in this book—Ben rescued Michael (he usually calls him Meeko) from bullies when he was a teen, and Michael has been hanging around Ben’s garage, learning about and working on cars ever since. But Michael’s all grown up now and Ben’s not entirely comfortable with how he feels about him. I had a good time writing this book because for the first half Ben’s part of the book is a “romance”, mostly, and Meeko’s part of the book is sort of a romance but mostly a crime drama, and then they run headlong into each other. I’m hoping everyone else likes it as much as I’ve enjoyed burning the midnight oil on it. 

Ki, that was a terrific interview.  Thank you so much for sharing.  And now for more information about Trade Trust!

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Blurb for Trust Trade

Life hasn’t been good to Jeb Birchman. When he attempted to escape his abusive, zealot father, he found himself on the streets, making a living the only way he knew how, the victim of more violent men—one of whom orchestrates a series of vicious attacks that leave Jeb deaf. Now that he’s aged beyond his latest client’s interest, Jeb knows he needs to escape his risky lifestyle before it’s too late. Seeing one last chance for himself, he earns a GED and enrolls in college.

Freddy Williams enjoys a life that couldn’t be more different from what Jeb has survived. He loves sports, being a personal trainer, and hanging out with friends. The son of deaf parents, Freddy is an outspoken advocate of the Deaf community and works as an interpreter at his college. When he meets Jeb at the bookstore, he’s struck by how attractive he is, and as they get to know each other, he finds Jeb’s good heart just as appealing. By the time he learns of Jeb’s past, it’s only a few steps behind them, and Freddy must make a choice between school and his familiar routine and protecting the man he’s falling in love with.

About the Author

kibrightly

Ki Brightly

Ki grew up in small town nowhere pretending that meteor showers were aliens invading, turning wildflowers into magic potions, and reading more than was probably healthy. Ki had one amazing best friend, one endlessly out of grasp “true love”, and a personal vendetta against normalcy.

Now, as an adult, living in Erie, Pennsylvania, Ki enjoys the sandy beaches, frigid winters, and a wonderful fancy water addiction. Seriously, fancy waters…who knew there were so many different kinds? It’s just water…and yet…

Ki shares this life with a Muse, a Sugar Plum, and two wonderful children.

Social Media

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/kibrightly/

Blog http://www.brightlybooks.wordpress.com

Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/search/Ki+Brightly

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KiBrightly

E-mail: kibrightly@gmail.com

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