With us today is David Blank. His novel, Mysteries of Brettenwood, tells the story of Erik Christian and Kristina Glynnis, two twelve-year-old children who embark on a thrilling journey to uncover the secrets of a dark, mysterious land.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m 36 years old, born and raised in the Toledo, Ohio area, where I still am living today. You could call me a nerd (though someone close to me said I was closer to a dork); I play a lot of board games with friends, I love a lot of geeky subjects, and I can sometimes be a little socially awkward. Some of the things I’m interested in are mythology of all kinds, learning about history, literature (specifically the similarities and differences between that and pop culture), psychology, forensics, things like that. Most of the people I know aren’t into the same things as me, so I tend to have to learn these things solo, unfortunately. Oh, and I have a talent of being able to memorize movies very quickly.
2. When did you start writing?
I originally started writing when I was about 10, and have written on and off ever since, but have always been fascinated by it and have studied it as much as I could, both in reading books and watching movies. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I decided to start making a serious effort at writing. I had always wanted to when I was younger, but the publishing industry, being so difficult to break into, tended to discourage me. But with the rise of self publishing, the interest has been rekindled.
3. Talk to us about your book’s title.
The title Mysteries of Brettenwood came about mainly because I couldn’t think of anything more interesting, though I knew that I had lots of mysteries throughout the book, so it seemed a natural fit. Brettenwood just came from the setting, which was actually the name of the neighborhood I grew up in.
4. Does your story have a moral?
As far as a solid moral, I can’t really say. If readers are able to see a clear message or moral I’d be very impressed. However, some of the themes involve loneliness, isolation, a loss of innocence, friendship, and deciding between doing what’s selfish and doing what’s right. I suppose there is a moral in that. Some of the more surface themes are ancient mysteries, a kind of gloom that comes with discovery, and trying to keep a spooky vibe.
5. Using five words of less, describe the protagonist in Mysteries of Brettenwood.
Quiet, withdrawn, inquisitive, conflicted, tempted.
6. What does a typical writing session look like for you?
It really depends. For me, the hardest part is the beginning. Getting started is the worst obstacle of getting through a writing session. However, when I do get into a groove, I tend to write for longer periods than I expected and get more done than I had hoped. So, it’s really getting past that initial inertia of not wanting to get started, and then I can write sometimes 2,500 to 4,000 words a day. It tends to be all or nothing.
7. How do you feel about outlines? Are you for or against them?
I come from a long line of engineers, so an outline is my friend. But I’ve never been for or against them. To me, every writer’s different, and every writer works in their own unique way. It all comes down to whatever works for you individually. Some people, like me, work well by plotting everything out and keeping meticulous detail, and others do just as well making it up as they go along. Neither is right or wrong.
8. What is your favorite book?
I tend to be a sucker for the classics. I’d have to say Dracula. When I originally read it in junior high, it flipped everything I knew about point of view, how to tell a story, and characterization upside down. It’s not a perfect book, but what it gets right, it gets absolutely right. That and Redwall (the other great novel from my youth) have had the most influence on me as a writer.
9. Any projects in the works?
Yes, I’m currently working on book 2 of the Mysteries of Brettenwood series, and I hope to delve deeper into the characters’ psychologies and have them develop in their own unique ways that don’t always mesh together.
10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t overthink it. I made that mistake and it cost me a lot more time than I would’ve liked. The best thing to do is just to jump into it and learn as you go. Experiment, make mistakes, mess around…that’s how you learn. Try different methods and find the different techniques that work for you personally. Also, for those just starting out, I’d advise to emulate the authors you enjoy the most; model your style after their’s to begin with. Then, as you get more experienced and learn more skills, take what you know and branch off into your own style.
And now for a game of “Which Do/Would You Prefer?”
1. Books or movies?
Both. They both have positives and negatives.
2. Dogs or cats?
Both. I’m an animal lover, so throw in rabbits and lizards, birds and almost anything else with them.
3. Living in the city or living in the country?
Country. I love being in the wilderness, although I can see the appeal of living in the city.
4. Having telepathy or telekinesis?
Telekinesis. If you learn to observe the small details, telepathy is almost unnecessary. And throwing stuff with your mind is cool.
5. Being Spiderman for a day or being Batman for a day?
6. Going without internet access for a week or going without watching any movies/television shows for a week?
I hate to admit it, but I couldn’t go without internet for a week.
7. Having your car break down on an extremely busy expressway or along an abandoned road in the middle of nowhere?
In the middle of nowhere. At least that’s thrilling. On the expressway is just dangerous.
8. Losing your ability to speak or losing your ability to hear?
It wouldn’t be so bad if I couldn’t speak anymore. I can communicate in other ways.
9. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a hurricane or finding yourself caught in the middle of a snowstorm? (Note: in both scenarios, you’d be outdoors and have no access to shelter.)
Snowstorm. At least I won’t have cars flying at me.
10. To never again eat a piece of chocolate or to never again drink a cup of coffee?
I’d give up coffee. Never been a big fan.
11. Finding yourself trapped in the universe of The Walking Dead or finding yourself trapped in a slasher film?
The Walking Dead. In a slasher you’re just waiting for it. In the Walking Dead you can fight back.
12. Have every day be Saturday or have every day be Halloween?
Halloween. I love Halloween.