Now and again you get your backside handed to you in a contest. I have learned that you can’t win them all, not even close when the competition is strong. I didn’t even have a chance in Operation First Novel. Why? Because Brandy Vallance entered her book “The Covered Deep” and won the whole enchilada. The truth is I don’t feel bad at all having lost to her.
I don’t review books that are less than 4 stars. Brandy would get six if the system would allow it on Amazon.com.
Let’s start with her own book blurb:
Bianca Marshal is holding out for the perfect husband. Finding a man that meets the requirements of her “must-have” list in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains has proven impossible. Bianca’s mama insists that there’s no such thing as a perfect true love, and that Bianca’s ideal man is pure fiction. On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca discovers a devastating statistic: her chance of marrying is now only eighteen percent. Unwilling to accept spinsterhood, Bianca enters an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for her soulmate. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of the Holy Land, Bianca’s true love will be revealed, but not without a heavy price.
In general that does not sound like a book I would read. But having met Brandy, and become friends, I knew it would rock the house. I was right. Here’s the review I put up on Amazon:
If you were expecting another semi-boring, safe, syrupy Christian fiction romance of a historical nature in The Covered Deep, you are in for a big let-down. What you get instead is a well researched, tightly written, delightful piece of period fiction written from a Christian world view.
Brandy Vallance is on the cutting edge of the new wave of Christian fiction writers. She writes great stories from the heart of a good woman with Christian beliefs. There is nothing formulaic in this book. There is nothing syrupy in this book. There is a lot of good plotting, splendid dialogue, and believable characters.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a solid reading experience that is friendly to Christian audiences. I would also recommend it to anyone who likes a darned good story. You don’t have to be a fan of Christian books to fall in love with Brandy’s style and skill.
I am looking forward to her next book more than you can possibly imagine. She is in a class all by herself, and since she’s leading the way for the next generation of writers in her genre, I have nothing but great expectations.
I received an ARC of this book for review purposes. I also was a finalist in the competition and couldn’t have lost to a more worthy winner.
On to the interview:
You don’t have a dog. But if you did, why would you name it Beacon?
Well, I do have a dog. And she’s named after the Loch Ness Monster. However, if I had another dog and named it Beacon, it would be because this creature had recently saved me from a deep dark forest where I wandered alone, void of all hope. The moonlight would slant, just so, and then . . .
You write Historical fiction at this point in your career. Have you considered another genre? If so, what would it be?
You know, I think I’ll be a historical romance girl all my life. But, that’s not to say I won’t dabble at some point. When I was in the seventh grade I played around with writing a fantasy. I’m pretty drawn to speculative fiction, because I love the supernatural element.
Like a lot of kids who grow up to be authors, you’ve “left the pack.” What’s the best part of having voices in your head?
Ha. You’ve got that right. I love that our characters are so real to us. I think the best thing about this for writers is that we’re never bored. Sometimes my flashes of inspiration are so real that I can almost see them.
The characters in your books are unique personalities. Where do you draw these writing skills from? How can readers who yearn to write pick up this ability to create people out of thin air?
Thank you! I think as far as characterization goes, the first thing you have to do is give your characters real emotions. If you can get to the real, raw, and the deep, you are going to have a powerful character. Pour lots of heart into them, no matter if they are the villain or the protagonist. Make the stakes high. Longing is a big one for me. I think when your reader can identify with the longing that a character has, you have won. What you want is for your reader to be able to see themselves in your characters. While they may not agree with a character’s certain course of action, they understand how or why the character made that choice. And that makes for a powerful story.
Being from the South, do you find a cultural influence that you have to fight in your writing? Or can you ignore that and step into another culture with ease?
This is funny because I’m sort of half north and half south. I spent most all of my summers in the Southern Ohio/ Kentucky area but I grew up in Northern Ohio. Maybe that gave me a rounded perspective, I don’t know. I think as writers we need to be able to step into any place and time with ease. That’s not easy, but I find that music really helps me. When I wrote the Holy Land scenes in The Covered Deep, I most always listened to Hebrew/ Arabic / eastern inspired music. You have to make yourself feel before you can get it on the page. This is one of the best parts of being a writer, I think. We get to experience so many things/places/lives. [Ed: I do the same thing with theme music when writing.]
Writing is your full-time job. What careers did you have before moving to writing?
I worked as a bank teller, believe it or not. I can hardly believe it myself. I’m definitely not a cubicle kind of a girl.
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I want to thank Brandy for her time in doing this interview. I encourage all of my readers to hit the link and buy this book to see what I’ve been babbling about for the last 6 months to all of my friends.