Recently I had the chance to interview author Brenda Hammond about her book Sailing for Trouble.
Brenda Hammond: Hi Amberly, So happy that you asked me, and thanks for the kind words about Sailing for Trouble... and for reading the novel! Yes, I lived in Cape Town for fourteen years, and spent many Christmas holidays (summer in the Southern hemisphere!) in a cottage on Leisure Isle. So I became familiar with the lagoon, its tides and treasures. I got to visit again last February and it's still one of my favorite places. As to google maps, I have a story to tell. On our way back to Canada from the States one summer, we stopped at a small town for gas. Waiting to pay inside, we stood behind the Google guy -- his special car was parked outside -- who asked 'Can you please tell me where I am?' His cell phone battery was dead, so he had no means of knowing!!
Me: What a great story! You spotted the mythical creature, a man that will ask for directions. It sounds like you've traveled extensively and have been exposed to many different cultures and racial issues. As a firm advocate of diversity and accurately representing people in fiction, I was pleased to see your story handle these issues intelligently without getting too preachy. So, Alexa is a strong independent woman, who will chase after muggers and save herself from boating accidents. Without giving too much away, she has to be plucky to stop the 'bad guys' and help her long lost brother. What do you think makes Alexa so driven and so likable as a character?
Brenda: I'd say it's her adventurous and indomitable spirit, but also that, underneath it all, she has a kind heart. Also, her curiosity and longing to deepen her understanding of her late dad, his roots and background, so foreign to her, is like an insatiable need. This plays into her eagerness to experience as much as she possibly can during her short time in the Cape, South Africa. Plus, of course, who wouldn't want to find a long-lost and never-met half-brother??
Me: Yes, her love for her father drives her forward. I noticed you've written for Harlequin. What was that like? Why did you switch to Indie Publishing?
Brenda: I enjoyed writing for Harlequin because I love writing humor... different from my South African set stories. At Your Service, Jack did well for me. A second romcom was in the works when the Temptation line ended. She's the Boss is now published under my pseudonym, Alice Bramley (amongst a couple others), which already kind of explains my decision to go indie. It was my editor at Harlequin who suggested I try a submission to the new Bombshell line, although that too was nixed fairly soon. However, this was what brought Alexa into my life! She was my Bombshell heroine and she hung around persistently until I eventually gave her my full attention.
Me: Pesky characters, always wanting their stories told. I'm glad your blazing the Indie path. It gives us so much choice and responsibility. Which intentionally leads me to my next question. What is up with this cover? It isn't bad but I almost didn't read it because of the cover. Thank goodness I did or I would have missed a terrific story. And yes, sorry if you or your second cousin's niece made the cover, but it reminds me of teen romance novels in the early 90s. There is so much going on here than romance.
Brenda: Well, I'm chuckling here re your remarks about the cover. No need to apologize, though. One of the great benefits of being a writer is that you have to learn to take criticism. Anyhow, it was supposed to appeal to the new adult market, so in a way you're right. My budget at the time was minimal. And even now I'm struggling to find a suitable cover for my novel Cape Town, published here in Canada, but I retain rest-of-the-world rights. I hope to put it up soon as Dance to Freedom. Also, talking of covers, I have to confide that, as pretty much a feminist, I freaked when I saw mine for At Your Service, Jack. So there we have the dilemma. For me as a mid-list author, trad publishing has its advantages and disadvantages and so does Indie. Simply writing, on the other hand, brings me great pleasure and keeps me interested in people, the world, and life in general.
Me: Yes, seeing the world through our writerly eyes...I love that thought. Now that you mention it, Sailing for Trouble would appeal to the New Adult market. Early twenty somethings on grand adventures, still figuring out a few hard truths about life. For my last question, what are you working on now? What's next book wise for you?
Brenda: I'm actually working on two manuscripts. This week has been final revisions on a women's fiction all about what happens to three different couples when they attend a wedding in Vermont. Next week it's back to South Africa for my companion novel to Cape Town. Many readers asked for a sequel. My response? 'Sequel? There's no sequel.' But then an idea took hold (you'll know what that's all about, I'm sure) and I began to explore what was happening in the life of one of the other dance students. The first draft is about two thirds done, and I'm loving the way the story is revealing itself to me. But the process will take another few months before I reach the end and achieve a draft that's as good as I can make it.... So that's it from me. Many thanks again, Amberly, and especially for the thought-provoking questions and insightful responses.❤
Me: It's truly been a pleasure! Thank you for answering my questions.