Brandy Vallance fell in love with the Victorian time period at a young age, loving the customs, manners, and especially the intricate rules of love. Since time travel is theoretically impossible, she lives in the nineteenth century vicariously through her novels. Unaccountable amounts of black tea have fueled this ambition. Brandy’s love of tea can only be paralleled by her love of Masterpiece Theater Classics, deep conversations, and a good book. Brandy is the 2013 Operation First Novel winner and the 2012 winner of the ACFW Genesis Contest for historical romance.
You can connect with Brandy via her website: www.brandyvallance.com
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Brandy! First of all, Congratulations on your new release, The Covered Deep. What was your favorite part about writing this story and what was the hardest part?
Brandy: Thank you very much! My favorite part about writing The Covered Deep was the writing into the wee hours of the night. Those are the magic hours for me. When you get a phrase just right, you fell it deep. When the house is quiet, and it feels like you and God are the only ones in the world, that space becomes holy. I remember one particular night when I was struggling with a plot point in the story at 3am. When I finally broke through, it felt like God had given me the key. Tears streamed down my face and I put on the song “My Redeemer Lives” by Nicole Mullen. The following minutes were intense. Now, every time I hear that song, I think of that time in my office. I am reminded how much God cares about the little details in our lives, and the details in our stories.
Another favorite with the writing was getting to know Paul and Bianca. They grew so much throughout all the different drafts (the book had 11!). Now, all the characters are so real to me. I still think about them all the time.
The hardest part about writing The Covered Deep was perhaps the research, although I had a blast doing it. I corresponded with the British Museum in London, read lots of Victorian etiquette books, and travel books. Sometimes when you write historical, it takes weeks just for one small detail to fall into place.
Savanna: I just finished your book last night and really enjoyed it. It was obvious you spent a great deal of time researching the details and bringing it to life. Thank you for that. If readers could only take away one lesson from this story, what do you hope it would be?
Brandy: True love has to be fought for daily.
Savanna: You’ve won multiple writing awards. What has been one of the greatest lessons and fondest memories from participating in these contests?
Brandy: Wow. One of the greatest lessons for me is that you can’t give up hope. You have to believe in your story even when no one else does. Take colossal risks. The publishing world rewards bravery.
The fondest memories come from the friends who believed for me when I didn’t have the strength to believe for myself. The late night Facebook chats of encouragement and the phone calls were amazing.
Savanna: Your website mentions you also do speaking engagements. What has been one of your favorite workshops you’ve presented and why?
Brandy: I love teaching and paying it forward because so many people did that for me. One of my favorite workshops is a workshop on personification and metaphor because I love using both in my fiction. I like to take the story to a deeper level by making the reader feel emotion subconsciously. When the writers I’m teaching get how to do that, I can usually see it click on their faces. That is a really amazing thing for me.
Savanna: Of all the places you’ve traveled to, what has been your favorite location to visit so far and why?
Brandy: I was able to go to England, Scotland, and Wales in 2011. It was a life-long dream trip for me. I adore the British Isles! Everywhere you look there is history. Every street you wander down has a story to tell. I could easily live there and be quite content. It helps that it’s never difficult to find a good cup of tea. 😉
A highlight from the trip was standing in the British Museum where my characters meet for the first time. Also, Bath, England is really fantastic. The Roman Baths are amazing, and the Pump Room that Jane Austen mentioned is lovely. There’s this eating house called Sally Lunn’s. You can get these buns that are absolutely delicious. When I was there, an opera singer was singing in the main square. It was an absolutely perfect day!
Savanna: How fascinating! I love the fact that you got to stand where your characters meet in the story. Too cool! 😉 It’s clear to see that history is very important to you. Can you name a historical figure you would have enjoyed getting to meet in person and have lunch with?
Brandy: Queen Victoria!
Savanna: What does your writing schedule look like from day to day? Any helpful tips – or secrets – on how you manage all your writing responsibilities?
Brandy: I work all day and usually well into the night, but that’s me snatching every available moment and doing a lot of other stuff in between. As far as tips, you’ll never have enough time to write. You have to make time and something always has to be sacrificed—the dishes, laundry, sleep, etc., etc.
Savanna: Thanks, Brandy, for being our guest this week. It’s been great to have you here! Readers, be sure to connect with Brandy through her sites below:
Brandy has graciously offered to give away TWO copies of THE COVERED DEEP! So two of you have some great reading ahead of you! 😉
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