Today, I’d like to welcome Brue Baker, who has been so kind as to take answer a few questions for us. Welcome, Bru!
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Who is your favorite secondary character that you’ve written?
Hmm. I’d say Ian MacKay in Island House, but that probably doesn’t count anymore since he has his own book in the series now, Finding Home. * g * I think I’d have to go with Clare Smith, who’s in all of the Dropping Anchor books. She’s neurotic and intense, and she’s got a withering tongue and a completely awesome sense of humor. She’s pushy but loves her friends and family deeply and is extremely loyal. Everyone who meets her is taken off guard, because she’s a total whirlwind of energy and charming awkwardness. I don’t have much interest in writing M/F romance, but if I did, she’d be the main character.
What is your favorite cookie?
Do Oatmeal Creme Pies count as cookies? They are chock full of preservatives and other unhealthy things, but my rational brain kind of shuts off when it comes to junk food. I’m big on healthy eating, so they aren’t something that ever appear in my pantry. Though I’m probably going to go make myself oatmeal cookie sandwiches with butter cream frosting now. (Not as good as the Little Debbie version, but at least mine are redeemed a little bit by flax seeds and wheat germ.)
Tell me about your writing process. Are there particular things you do to get into the writing mindset? (A drink, music, meditation etc.)
When I write in the mornings after my kids have gone to school, I usually brew a pot of coffee. The act of brewing it helps me shift gears after a busy morning and slip into writing mode. Half the time I end up getting so caught up I what I’m writing that the coffee goes cold, but I treated myself to a coffee warmer last year, so that helped. At night, I usually sit down for a few more hours of writing after I’ve herded the kids to bed. I usually listen to music then, mostly to drown out household noise. I’m all over the place with my musical taste, so I usually just queue up something that mirrors the tone of what I’m writing.
Tell us about your weirdest quirk.
I will not, under any circumstances, walk across a grate on a city sidewalk. Seriously. I don’t care how many other pedestrians I inconvenience by taking the long way around them—I absolutely refuse to step on them. When I was a kid my father used to tell me all sorts of fantastical stories, and one of them was that dragons lived in the sewers and would snatch people off the grates for a snack. Here in Indianapolis, the grates steam all winter long, which only supported his story. So even now, at age 34, I refuse to walk across them.
Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?
I’m extremely lucky to have a very supportive husband. We have two young kids, and he’s great about getting them out of the house when I’m on a deadline and doing whatever he can to facilitate writing time for me. I have a lot of great friends and writing buddies who help me through plot problems and just cheer me on in general, but my husband makes it possible for me to write. Well, I’d probably write anyway, but his help makes it possible for me to write and sleep.
What is the most trying part of the publication process for you?
Writing a blurb and synopsis is probably the part of the process I dread the most. When you’ve just spent several months writing a novel, it’s hard to sum it up in a paragraph! I’m not too fond of the wait after submission, either, but that’s gotten easier. Now I usually have three or four projects going at any given time, so I have something to work on instead of just sitting around nervously checking my email a hundred times a day for a response. * g*
Is there anything you absolutely won’t touch when it comes to writing – genres, sex, death, etc?
Well, my debut novel Island House featured the death of my main character’s partner, so that seal has already been broken, so to speak. I don’t think there’s much I wouldn’t write. Up until recently, I’d have said I wouldn’t write any genre outside of contemporary. The thought of venturing into a different genre was daunting because I’ve always been leery of world-building. But after writing Branded and seeing how much fun it was to write a historical, I think I’d be open to doing it again. I probably wouldn’t write sci-fi, but I’ve said never before and we’ve seen how that worked out, so who knows.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? The publication process?
I think my favorite part is crafting characters and seeing them grow throughout the book. My writing is usually pretty dialogue-heavy, so the characters reveal a lot about themselves through banter. A good writing day has me grinning at the end over things the characters said.
I don’t know how many authors would agree with me, but my favorite part of the publication process is that first (and often brutal) draft of edits from my editors. I’m a journalist, so I have a pretty thick skin for criticism of my writing. And I really value the feedback editors give, even when they’re telling me I have to completely rewrite a scene or add in scenes that I’d hoped I could sneak by without. I ended up with a few of those in Finding Home, mostly because they were going to be real emotional wringers and I just didn’t want to write them. My editor saw right through that, though, and the book ended up so much stronger in the end after they’d been added in.
Who is your biggest literary influence?
I grew up reading the classics. When other kids my age were tackling The Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High, I was reading things like Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. (Not that I didn’t read popular YA fiction as well…I did. I still have the Christopher Pike inspired nightmares to show for it!) There are so many great authors to choose from, but I’d have to say that Daphne du Maurier had the most influence on me. Her books are high in angst, which I love, and they also have no clear-cut moral wins, which really blew my mind as a preteen. It still does, actually. The ability to get readers invested in characters who frankly aren’t likable is an amazing talent.
That’s bled over into my own writing in the form of really trying to create characters who are human and not just caricatures. Most of my characters have pretty obvious flaws. In Finding Home, Ian is pretty selfish. He’s been a serial playboy for his entire dating life, so settling down is completely foreign to him. That selfishness doesn’t just magically disappear when he finds Luke. (Unlike du Maurier, though, my books always have a happy ending!)
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the one book you would choose to take with you?
I re-read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights at least once a year, so I’d probably take that. I have a soft spot for reading unhappy stories and deeply flawed men, so that’s kind of like my holy grail. * g *
When an inheritance fell in Ian Mackay’s lap, he fled the high-pressure banking industry and didn’t look back. Since then, he’s spent four years living carefree on the island of Tortola, his life a series of hookups and hanging out with friends.
After his best friend moves to Seattle and gets married, Ian finds himself lost. His unapologetic existence doesn’t hold the same appeal, and he wonders if he’s throwing his life away. After visiting Niall in Seattle, Ian decides to stay, but that means taking his life off hold and finding a real job. Meeting Luke Keys, who is about as far from a player as possible, isn’t the plan but might be just what Ian needs. Luke and his values intrigue Ian, and he pursues Luke ruthlessly until Luke agrees to a date.
Their courtship sweeps Ian off his feet, and when the relationship gets complicated, Ian has the chance to cut and run. Habits born from years of being on his own are hard to shake, and self-proclaimed playboy Ian must decide if love is worth fighting for.
About the author:
Bru Baker is a freelance journalist who writes for newspapers and magazines. Fiction makes her happiest, whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s. She and her husband live in the Midwest with their two young children, whose antics make finding time to write difficult but never let life get boring.
Visit Bru online at www.bru-baker.com or follow her on Twitter.