Please welcome Robyn Bradley author of Forgotten April. She is currently on tour with The Virtual Book Tour Cafe' and today she joins me on Nauset Beach in Orleans. Welcome Robyn and thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today.
Robyn Bradley is a Short Story Seductress and Novelist Ninja with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in FictionWeekly.com, Metal Scratches, The Breakwater Review, Writer's Digest, and The MetroWest Daily News, among other places. In 2007, she won a short story award for “A Touch of Charlotte.” Forgotten April is her first novel. When she's not writing or sleeping, Robyn enjoys watching Law & Order marathons, drinking margaritas, and determining how many degrees really separate her from George Clooney. Learn more at www.robynbradley.com.
BK: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
RB: I've known I wanted to be a writer ever since Mrs. Shea gave me four red stars on a short story I wrote in the fourth grade. The whole experience -- drafting the story (in pencil), finalizing the story (in pen), and sharing it with an "audience" of fellow fourth graders -- was magical from start to finish. I knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life, although it took some time to get where I am today (and I took a few detours as well).
BK: What inspired this particular story?
RB: For me, like so many writers, it started out with a question. What if someone was given up for adoption at birth and when she finally finds her birth mother, decades later, mom can't reveal the "why" because she's suffering from Alzheimer's disease? I know people who've been adopted, and the question of "why" is one that haunts them. The story grew from there. In the book, Maggie is the person who had been given up for adoption. She's in her early fifties when she decides to find her birth mother, and when she does, she finds she has a half sister, April, as well as a birth mother suffering from Alzheimer's.
BK: Tell us a little bit about your main character April, and what was it like to write her story?
RB: April is a fighter. She's suffered many losses in her life -- the death of her father when she was only five and then the deaths of her husband and young son when she was in her twenties. When the story opens, April is also dealing with her mother's descent into Alzheimer's. But despite all this, April has hope, deep down. It's this hope that pulls her through. I think she's a character people will be able to relate to, because we've all heard the saying "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." April knows some of this is out of her control. And despite all the heartache, she doesn't give up, and she eventually takes a chance on forging a relationship with her half sister, Maggie. I enjoyed getting into April's head, but I also enjoyed getting into the other three main characters' heads as well (the story is told in multiple first-person viewpoints), since this device showed April from different perspectives.
BK: Will we be seeing more of April?
RB: April's story feels "done" to me. But never say never, right? :)
BK: What have you learned about yourself as a result of becoming a published author?
RB: I've learned how valuable my day job as a self-employed marketing copywriter has been in helping me market my fiction. I've approached this publishing venture as a business, which I realize might make some fellow writers cringe. Writing is an art, but once the book or short story is finished (and I realize a story is never really "finished"), the writer has a choice: let it "be" and be satisfied with whatever happens. Or treat the book like a product and do everything in your power to get it out there to your audience. I've been self-employed for almost a decade, so starting up this second business wasn't as daunting as I sometimes hear it is for other writers. I know how to market (and I know it takes time, thus the "drudgery of marketing" that you'll hear about). I'm willing to take risks. And I'm not afraid of falling, or failing.
BK: What is a day in the writing life of Robyn Bradley consist of?
RB: My day starts with strong coffee and scratches behind Dorian Gray's ears (my cat). Then, I check email, my FB page, my Twitter account, Goodreads, and KindleBoards. I don't check sales, believe it or not, but I do check my rank on Amazon and on B&N and see if there are any new reviews. From there, I divide my day between writing, reading, marketing my books, and client work for my copywriting business.
BK: Do you have any writing quirks or must have's that you need to write?
RB: Coffee. Red Swedish fish for a treat. I prefer silence to music, although background noise (like what you find in a coffee shop) can be a nice change of pace. Otherwise, all I need is a computer (I'm not a longhand writer, mainly because my handwriting stinks).
BK: What do you hope your readers take away from your writing? Is there a hidden message?
RB: I want my readers to be entertained. I'm a storyteller first and foremost, and I love it when readers tell me they couldn't put the book down. If someone loses sleep because he or she is reading my book, I've done my job well. There are no hidden messages per se, but some threads are perhaps a little more subtle than other threads.
BK: What is one piece of advice that you have received that you always carry with you while you write?
RB: I like Stephen King's "write with the door closed, but revise with the door open" advice. The hardest part, for any of us, I think, is just getting it down. Don't censor. Don't judge. Turn off your inner critic. Write with the door closed and know it's you and only you right now. Be fearless in your drafts and know you can always go back later and change things.
BK: What can readers always expect from you, regardless of the covers of your books?
RB: Readers can expect a story -- I'm not looking to be cute or precious or to introduce a new form. I just want to tell stories, ones that make people laugh, cry, think, feel.
BK: Are you currently working on any projects now?
RB: My next novel, What Happened in Granite Creek, is coming out in October. I'm working on final revisions now as well as the marketing plan and cover art.
BK: Where can readers find you?
RB: I love connecting with readers! I'm proud of the community my readers have helped me create on my Facebook page, so if you're on FB, I hope you'll stop by and join in on the conversations: http://www.facebook.com/RobynBradleyWriter
I'm also on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RobynBradley
My website has links to my blog and Goodreads: http://www.robynbradley.com
For April Sullivan-LaMonica, the last ten years have been hell: her husband and young son were killed in a car accident, and soon after, her mom descended into the darkness of Alzheimer’s. So when broadcast journalist Maggie Prescott shows up claiming to be April’s half sister and tries to capture their reunion on film, April outwardly regards Maggie with much suspicion. In reality, she’s simply afraid to grow close to someone again, only to have that person leave — or worse.
Maggie, meanwhile, is battling her own demons: figuring out why her biological mother gave her up, facing a secret she’s kept from the one man she’s loved all her life, and giving herself permission to follow the dream she’s had since she was a child.
Separated by nearly two decades and radically different life paths, April and Maggie must decide if pursuing their sisterhood is worth it…or even possible.
A story of loss, love, survival, and redemption, Forgotten April will speak to anyone who’s experienced the pains — and riches — of an unexpected friendship that emerges from family ties.
Thank you so much for chatting with me.
Thank you! :)
I'm happy to give away one paperback (mailed in US) and 5 ebooks (Mobi or ePub files).
Thank you so much Robyn. To enter, simply leave a comment for Robyn, telling her one life struggle you've overcome. Don't forget to leave your email address so we have a way to reach you should you win.
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(you will have to visit her site to go to Goodreads)