TweetBrenda is well travelled and has led a colourful life, providing her with a rich source of material for her novels. They are in the suspense genre and Brenda feels she has mastered the ability to surprise. Now happily retired, she lives with her husband, Derek, in a South Yorkshire town in England.
What is your latest book?
Suspicion: A cold-case mystery & suspense, is set in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales.
I always write the scenes in order. They appear in my mind’s eye like a reel of film.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I edit each chapter as I go along (some might say excessively), but I have to feel reasonably satisfied with what I’ve written before moving on to the next chapter. Despite this, I still edit ruthlessly once the draft is finished. It’s the way I’ve always worked and, unlike many authors, I don’t find the editing process a bind. I enjoy restructuring sentences and refining my work to make it the best that it can be.
How much of your own personality goes into your characters?
It’s hard to be the judge of that; not too much, I hope, since some of my characters possess very unenviable traits! I have a strong personality; I’m tenacious, outspoken, and can be a tad too opinionated at times. As all of my books contain strong female characters, it’s fair to say that this will be reflected in my writing.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?
Yes and no. I have to know the fate of my main characters, even though the details haven’t been fully thought out. In other words, if one of them were to kill someone, the method isn’t always clear, but invariably comes to me as the story progresses. As for the title; I never worry about that until the book is finished.
What else have you written?
I have written a good few poems, but never had any of them published. This is mainly because I was inspired to write them after I lost my father. He was very special to me, so the poems are heartfelt and never intended for publication. A fellow author has read some of them and urged me to consider publication as she feels a lot of people would be able to relate to the sentiments.
I have also written several short plays, three of which were performed at the former Bradford Playhouse. These were page-to-stage productions with the minimum of props, but, nonetheless, for a paying public and all were well attended. As a newcomer to script writing, I was quite proud of this achievement.
Before retiring, I spent seven years as Administrator for an independent library where I produced a quarterly magazine. As editor, I had the freedom to write book reviews and articles which was a rich experience and helped to hone my writing skills.
What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?
I like writing dialogue, which I feel is my strong point. I particularly enjoy this when it involves a humorous character where I’m able to bring some wit or sarcasm into the conversation. I also enjoy writing the dramatic scenes after I’ve racked up the tension.
The thing I dislike the most is writing the synopsis and blurb. Perhaps because I have a tendency to overwrite, I struggle to condense a complex storyline into a few short sentences and never feel entirely satisfied with the results.
Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?
I love writing characters I truly despise. It’s one of the joys of being a writer – the freedom to say and do as we please. How powerful is that?! In the same way that actors love playing the part of villains, I find bad characters great fun to write.
Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I love the interaction with members of the writing community, some of whom have become good friends. I enjoy seeing the success stories, reading the many interesting articles and hearing about the books that fellow authors are currently working on. It’s wonderful to receive such great support by way of retweets, but I it does concern me a little that people might tire of seeing the cover. Maybe I’m not alone in that?
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
I do a fair bit of research for my books, mostly on the Internet. As far as the setting goes, where possible, I try to visit the places I’m writing about. My debut novel Taking Chances alternates between the Yorkshire Dales and Cyprus, both being familiar to me. Suspicion is also set in the Dales, but I still revisited Bolton Abbey and its surrounding area as part of my research.
Do you have any secrets for effective time management?
I wish!! All I will say is that I try not to put myself under too much pressure by setting strict deadlines. I write as often as I possibly can, so there’s no point in beating myself up if the word count hasn’t gone according to plan on a particular day.
Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?
I am proud of all my books, but if I had to choose a favourite it would be my second novel At the End of the Sentence.’ I labored long and hard over that one, which is fast-paced and has a complex plot with lots of unexpected turns. Despite being suspenseful, I was able to bring some humour to it; the character who made this possible an ex-con (nickname RT). I loved writing RT and he still remains one of my favourite characters.
I live in a South Yorkshire town in England. If I had to move, it would be to somewhere warm. I hate the miserable British weather!
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger? Five years ago?
That everything can change in the blink of an eye, particularly as we get older; the reason we should embrace every day.
Care to brag about your family?
I consider myself extremely lucky. I have a lovely son, a husband who supports and encourages me in everything I do, and two wonderful brothers – the youngest being only four days older than my son. We call him the golden child as he was a late arrival and helped to keep my parents young at heart. They shared 62 happy years together, which is an amazing feat, considering they met and married within two weeks of meeting (a book waiting to be written). With our support, despite her disabilities, Mum manages to live independently at the ripe old age of 94! She is still as bright as a button, so if her genes are anything to go by, I hope to have a good few years writing left in me.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I would love to be able to play a musical instrument. My dad played the piano and accordion, which gave us so much pleasure as children, especially at Christmas time.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I’m an armchair mountaineer and devour books on the subject. I have a shelf full of fascinating stories, written by some of the world’s most famous climbers. I’ve read so much about Everest that, in my dreams, I could find my way to the summit – amazing if you realised how much I hate the cold. Although the stories hold me in thrall, my fascination is more to do with the mindset of the climbers – what drives them to attempt such formidable challenges.
What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?
Be kinder to one another.
Educate our children to be less materialistic.
Do everything within our power to help those in need, especially the homeless.
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
The sound of birdsong.
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