We were lucky enough to get to spend some time with the awesome, funny and cool Brandon Witt. He answered some of our questions about himself, his writing and the Men of Myth books and where they might be going
1. Describe yourself in 5 words.
Writer, Uncle, Tattooed, Foodie, Dreamer
2. Are you a teacher that is an author in his spare time or the other way around? How do the two “vocations” relate to each other/complement each other?
I am a teacher that is an author. While I LOVE teaching, I dream of being able to say the opposite. I would love to write full time. I am a special education teacher that works with children with emotional disabilities. Over the past thirteen years, I’ve worked with kids from 7-18 years of age. With this type of job comes many students that have lived through very horrific things. That darkness seems to seep into most of my writing. When some people complain that my writing is too dark, I only can shake my head in wonder. My writing is nothing compared to what many of my ‘kids’ have gone through. I also believe my writing comes back to the strength that I have seen in the vast majority of my students. That and the simple joy and love of being alive. I value the struggles I have gone through, and respect the ones my kids face. I tend to find a character flat and un-relatable, or at least un-matured without having to face some life altering choices and/or events.
3. Tell us a bit about your first written work, published or unpublished.
The first book that was published is The Shattered Door. It is a contemporary gay fiction novel that takes a look a man returning to his childhood home in the Ozarks, dealing with past abusive parental relationships, and his battle to come to terms with his relationship with God. There are aspects of it that are very much autobiographical. It’s a very personal, therapeutic piece of writing for me. If you read it, know that despite the mother character in the novel, my own mother is and always has been the most wonderful mother a boy could ever hope to have. The mother in the book is not autobiographical. People always ask if I based that character after my own mom, so I have to put that disclaimer out there.
4. Why did you decide to write MM? How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since my sophomore year in high school, when I was inspired by my teacher, Ms. Hungerford. Good Lord! That was twenty years ago. Been a long journey. I write MM because as a gay man, I often failed to see myself in the novels I enjoyed reading. I’ve been told I’d have much more success if my characters (especially those in the Men of Myth novels) were straight. I was also told I was supposed to be straight. I’m still gay, so my characters are as well. What’s good for the goose and all that. J
5. Do you have any authors/books that inspired you to pursue writing?
Men of Myth was loosely inspired by Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. I also dearly love JR Ward’s Blackdagger Brotherhood novels. Eric Arvin (specifically Woke Up In a Strange Place) is the author I credit leading me to finally getting published. I contacted him letting him know how much his book meant to me. Long story short, he encouraged me to submit my novels to Dreamspinner. The rest is history. If you get the chance, please check out his writing. He is totally amazing!
6. Which book do you wish you had written?
7. Who is your book boyfriend?
Well, my boyfriend is literally in Men of Myth two and three—Rising Frenzy and Clashing Tempest. Wait till you meet Schwint, the fairy. He is Stephen to a T. You’re gonna love him!
I do have crushes on Qhuinn and Blay from Lover at Last, from JR Ward. Those men are HOT!!!!!
8. What book are you currently reading or reading next?
I’m currently reading Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune. It is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. It’s like reading a painting or a haunting piece of music. Up next is Stealing the Wind by Shira Anthony. Gay mermen? My ultimate fantasy? Yeah, sign me up!
9. Tell us a little bit about Submerging Inferno. How did the idea of the paranormal setting come to you? How was Submerging Inferno born? From the final author’s note I gather that it was a long process.
It was a long process. I had to fight for both The Shattered Door and Submerging Inferno to be published. For years and years I fought. It’s made it all that much more the sweeter now that it’s finally here.
As for the idea, my friend Trevor, after reading some of my other writing, asked, “Why don’t you write fantasy? That’s all you read.” So, with a bit of terror, I decided to take the leap. The Men of Myth series, as a whole, as I stated before, was partially inspired by Kelley Armstrong’s series. In that, as you got into the series, you felt like you were part of this huge family with old main characters showing up as supporting characters in newer novels. In Men of Myth, I really wanted to explore the different cultures of humanoid supernatural species. I love the idea and endless possibilities of these cultures, traditions, religions, and how they interact both with each other and with humans. Add to that the gay issues, and I was rather enraptured. Submerging Inferno was just the tip-toe into the water. In some aspect, the main character, Brett Wright, was written a little younger than he actually is. This was done intentionally. As gay men who come out late in life, we start off a little behind the rest of our peer group. In addition, Brett is only just learning of this supernatural world and that he is part of it. By book two and three, both the characters and the readers are plunged into the deep end of this other world.
10. Which one is your favorite paranormal or mythical creature?
I have been obsessed with mermaids and, by extension, mermen for as long as I can remember. *Spoiler alert* if you haven’t read Submerging yet—-though the merman doesn’t show up until the epilogue, the mers are the central part of first three Men of Myth books. I was so excited to write the mers’ world. And terrified. And, boy, did I love every minute of it!
11. You live in Denver, Colorado but the setting for Submerging is San Diego, California. Why there? What brought your attention to that place and how did you research places and all? Are you a water person like Brett?
I went to San Diego with my family for the first time when I was twelve. I fell in love instantly. I’ve been back so many, many times, I even almost moved there in my early twenties. Both the La Jolla cliffs (and the seals) and Old Town are my two favorite locations in San Diego and play a huge role in the books.
As stated about mermaids, I’ve been ocean obsessed for a long time. However, my greatest natural fear is sharks. Sonia’s fear in Submerging Inferno is really just mine put into her psyche. There were times when I wasn’t able to get into an empty pool for fear of sharks. I may have some issues. Maybe.
12. I love the de Morisco’s family dynamics, how did you build that relationship? Do you come from a large family?
My extended family is huge, but my immediate family is just five. Mom, Dad, me, my younger brother, and my nephew. We are very, very close. In Men of Myth, Finn is kinda me, or at least I gave him more of my personality that anyone else. For some reason, as soon as he came into existence in my mind, the entire de Morisco clan came along with him. I love them! Caitlin, the bitch she is, is probably my favorite.
13. How many books do you have planned for the series? Are they all written? Book 2 was published a couple of days ago, how is the response so far? When is book 3 coming out?
Only the first three are written, but I have seven mapped out, but that, Lord willing, will not be the end of the series. I see it culminating around book twelve (ish). Books four and five center around one of the side character of the first three books, but you’ll see old friends again. Book three is slated to come out December 9. The reaction to Men of Myth thus far have been varied, to be honest. Readers seem to really love them or kinda hate them. People have been very irritated that there are cliffhangers in books one and two. Three is not a cliffhanger. While the first three will come into play in later books, this story arch is complete and isn’t not dependent on the following books. I’ve seen a couple reviews that alluded to believing I wrote cliffhangers so that I could sell more books. Actually, it seems the opposite it true. The cliffhangers were intentional. However, there purpose was to trigger a change. The feel of each book, while familiar, is very different. Think of the first three Star Wars movies. The old ones. Same familiar world, but such a different experience in each one. While I’d love to please everyone, and want everyone to love these men of mine, I believe I was true to the story and to what my characters were experiencing. Given the choice, I’d do it exactly the same way again.
14. Finn and Brett, my God, I love them, but you broke my heart, what´s next for them?
When I started writing Submerging, I was dating a man I was certain I was going to marry. About half way through the first draft, he left me. To a scary and maybe pathetic degree, I was devastated. Another *spoiler alert*. Here’s the time line. I wrote Sonia’s death scene. A few days later, this man broke up with me. When I started writing again, it was the scenes with Brett dealing with Sonia’s death. My emotions over the breakup are on every line of those pages. I didn’t even realize what I was doing until later. Breakups happen, lives shatter, and then, morph into something new. The breakup is another aspect that readers don’t like. I didn’t enjoy it either. Neither did Brett or Finn. However, it happens. It wasn’t in the original plans for the series either. However, my real life break up allowed me to go places I never would have experienced, the same became true for Brett and Finn. Things I couldn’t figure out that would transpire in book three, became clear after Finn and I healed from our heartbreaks. It was meant to be.
15. Between blood, murder, vampires and demons, how easy or difficult was it to create a love story?
As I’ve said before, and people are probably sick of hearing, while vampires and demons may not be among us in the real world, their equals are, both in human form and in the internal battles we face. And yet, we find love, heartbreak, and still love. A love story without all of that, to me, doesn’t seem real. It would be harder to write a love story without it. Did I mention I may have issues?
16. Sex scenes are ________ to write.
Telling (You’re gonna know a little too much about my sex life. As you may have figured out, I tend to vomit myself onto every page. One way or another.)
17. Where is your favorite spot to write?
It was always the coffee shop. I practically lived there. However, I received the memo that I’m on a teacher’s salary and can’t afford coffee shops. Therefore, I’ve turned my cushy chair by my front window into my own little coffee shop. As my two corgis are by my side the entire time I write, it’s ended up being a perfect and wonderful place to be.
18. Beer, wine, tequila shooters or a big mug of coffee, what is your favorite poison?
I hang my head in shame as I write this. I know it would be cooler to say straight shots of whiskey. However, I don’t really like alcohol at all. However, I’m still an addict. I no longer have blood in my veins. It’s all coffee. All of it.
19. How important is music in your creative process? Do you have a playlist for Submerging Inferno?
Music is huge. I’m even listening to my writing playlist as I answer these questions. The album that has been most influential as I write is Leaving California by Patrick Alan Casey. So intrumental, in fact, that the song is even mentioned in Rising Frenzy as Finn and Schwint was driving down the Five in San Diego. The album is perfect. Patrick’s voice is beautiful and haunting. I love all the songs, but my favorite two are Leaving California and Anymore.
20. What´s next for Brandon Witt?
More writing. I have two contemporary romances that I’m working on at the moment. I’m hoping both of those will be out in the late spring and summer of 2014. Then a huge political futuristic novel. Then it’s right back to books four and five of Men of Myth.
Thank you so much for taking an interest in my Men of Myth and my writing. Thank you for embarking on this journey with me!