After taking a break from the BACKSTAGE series, I’m happy to announce its return. In this entry we’ll chat with newcomer Brianna Merritt about her Dragonfly series.
BC: Congratulations on the release of Unsanctioned Eyes. Tell us a little about the book, Brianna.
BM: Thank you, Brad! It’s been a very exciting journey to say the least. I can’t wait to see where Unsanctioned Eyes is going to take me. That being said, Unsanctioned Eyes is an action/suspense thriller novel about an assassin and her redemption story. The official blurb reads:
Quinn Rogers doesn’t exist. There are no records of her name. Her DNA has no match. She is a ghost. A phantom killer no one can trace. The perfect assassin. Or so she thinks.
At the top of her game, Quinn’s no longer looking over her shoulder. Her master will protect her, save her, like he always has. But there are forces at work neither of them suspect.
Can Quinn find the truth in a world of lies? Or will her unsanctioned past catch up to her in the end?”
BC: How is book two coming along? How many books do you have planned for The Dragonfly series?
BM: Book two is coming along slower than I would like. While I have a rough draft written down, I’m trying to figure out how to juggle writing and editing all the while marketing my first book. A quick fun fact about the series though… Books one and two were originally combined in one volume. Because I split the two up The Dragonfly series now has plans for at least four books.
BC: Very cool. I can understand how difficult it is to balance all of the duties. How much research did you do in order to write Unsanctioned Eyes?
BM: Not a lot honestly. Research is probably my least favorite part of writing a book. 😉 Thankfully, I had wonderful help making the fight scenes and weaponry terms and descriptions correct. But ultimately, putting Unsanctioned Eyes in the real world during present events made it easier for me to use my own, current knowledge to build the plot and characters. Any research I did revolved around the locations Unsanctioned Eyes takes place in such as London, Tehran, and Paris. All I can say is thank God for Google Maps!
BC: I always say: “Google is your friend.” Does writing energize or exhaust you?
BM: Definitely energize! Writing for me is therapy. If I have a bad day, I write. If I have a good day, I write. In fact, I notice that my ability to function at 100% wanes when I go for long periods of time without writing and releasing my creative energy.
BC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
BM: Without a doubt, Pinterest. I’m a “pantser” writer, meaning I don’t plot out my story but rather follow the characters as they bunny trail off into oblivion. I CANNOT know the ending of the book if I ever hope to finish writing it. Consequently, Pinterest becomes my outline if you will. My saving grace from this wonderful distraction is once I hit that sweet vein of creativity I won’t come up for anything, even food. That third or fourth cup of tea, however, is the only thing I’ll surface to retrieve.
BC: Do you believe in writer’s block?
BM: I do believe in writer’s block, but I do not believe that it’s as bad as some people make it out to be. As Stephen King said: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write.”
Writer’s block is just that—a consequence of not fueling our creativity. If I’m struggling with writer’s block I’ll watch inspiring movies or read a book or listen to a different genre of music. Trust me, it works like a charm.
BC: That’s some good advice, right there! Has a book ever made you cry?
BM: Yes! Several books have made me cry, but the most memorable by far is Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. Talk about a tearjerker ending. Whoo!
BC: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
BM: This is a great question! I do think that someone who doesn’t feel strong emotions could become a writer. Their books might not excel where others have because like they say: “If there’s no emotion in the writer, there’s no emotion in the reader.”
BC: That’s a very good point. Do you integrate real people into your characters?
BM: I try to stay away from putting real people into my writing. Although I have used bits and pieces of real life conversations or events I don’t like to “immortalize” people into characters mainly because of the expectations that raises on either end of the spectrum.
BC: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
BM: Their emotions. Enough said, right? 😉
BC: I cannot argue that one bit. How do you select the names of your characters?
BM: Good question! I have no rhyme or reason. Sometimes a random name will come to me out of the blue, other times I research certain name meanings. Honestly, I’m lucky if I come up with any kind of creative names. Name Generators are a lifesaver!
BC: They really are! I noticed you have a soundtrack/playlist on your website for Unsanctioned Eyes. Can you tell us a little more about how this came about, and how you’d suggest a reader use it to enhance their experience of the story?
BM: Of course! I love music. As a ballerina and dance teacher music has always been a part of my life so it’s only fitting that this carries over into my writing. I cannot for the life of me write in silence. I have to have some kind of background sound going on or I can’t focus. The playlist on my website as well as the short list I included in my book is just some of the songs that helped inspire and guide Unsanctioned Eyes. Readers who listen to either list might just get a peek into the mindset of the characters.
BC: You and I are a lot alike in this regard. What is your favorite childhood book?
BM: Any of the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books. But my all-time favorite is The Captain’s Dog by Roland Smith.
BC: Yea! You had me at “Hardy Boys.” 🙂 Where is your favorite place to write?
BM: Outside on my screened-in porch (because bugs) on a nice spring day with a gentle breeze or thunderstorm. And of course accompanied by appropriate amounts of music and tea.
BC: Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
BM: Not really. Everyone writes differently and has their own “quirks,” but I don’t think I’m too weird. Yet.
BC: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
BM: I wouldn’t give up dark chocolate that’s for sure. 🙂 I might be persuaded to part with my phone or a treasured memento, but never chocolate.
BC: Give us an interesting fun fact about Unsanctioned Eyes.
BM: My main character’s assassin pseudonym actually came from a song by the same name.
“Dragonfly” by Shaman’s Harvest.
BC: Ah, yes. Good band. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
BM: A dragon. One, because they’re awesome, and two, they have very thick skin (which would be helpful for reviews.) They can also breathe fire and fly, not to mention they like to sleep in a cave, alone, with nothing but gold and treasure. Sounds like a good life to me!
BC: Very interesting. Speaking of seclusion, if you were deserted on an island, which three people would you want to have with you and why?
Criteria for answers:
One fictional character from your book
One fictional character from any other book
One famous person that is not a family member or friend
BM: If I were alone on a deserted island I would want to have Garrett, my hacker character from Unsanctioned Eyes. He would know how to hook up to a satellite and signal for help. I’d also like to have Peter Pan. In addition to instigating a truly wild adventure on the island, he could fly us home if Garrett’s satellite plan didn’t come through. And last but not least, I’d want to have Sarah J. Maas there to keep me company. We could talk about writing and all of her awesome characters.
BC: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me, Brianna. Best of luck as you continue to pen the rest of the Dragonfly series. Be sure to keep us posted!
Brianna Merritt’s website – CLICK HERE
Brianna Merritt on Amazon – CLICK HERE
Brianna Merritt on Facebook – CLICK HERE
Brianna Merritt on Twitter – CLICK HERE
Brianna Merritt on Goodreads – CLICK HERE
If you’re familiar with an author you’d like to see featured on BACKSTAGE or if you are an author who’s interested in participating, shoot me a line: brad @ bradcarl.com