Let you introduce you to the lovely Briana Morgan. We first met over either twitter or insta, I am not sure, but since then we began to talk and even did a debate about our writing styles! The first time we had a private google hangouts we talked for about two hours without actually realising it. She is a really great lady and you will enjoy her upcoming book!
Why don’t you first tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! I’m a YA an NA fiction writer with a passionate curiosity and unshakable ambition. When not writing, I can be found watching movies, planning my next trip, or crying about The Great Gatsby.
Did you always possess a passion for writing? When did you have the epiphany that you actually wanted to publish your work?
Oh, yes! I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I remember writing and illustrating my own books, and for the longest time after I got a computer, all I used it for was writing. It wasn’t until I started college that I began to pursue it as more than a hobby and as a legitimate career option.
What draws you to write YA? Do you read it yourself and do you write other genres?
I love reading YA, and I think there’s been an influx of talent in the YA market these past few years. Adolescence is a complicated and fascinating time. When I was a teenager, I struggled to discover which way was up, and I had no idea who I was or who I might become someday. Of course, I don’t have all the answers now, but I’ve come a long way. I like being able to dive into that teenage point-of-view with a more mature perspective.
What prompted you to start your own creative writing blog?
At first, I started the blog to document my college experiences. After a while, I realized that I didn’t like writing about my life much. I love helping people, and I love writing—why not combine the two? Now, I use my blog to give other people writing advice and much-needed encouragement.
Here’s the blurb: 17-year-old Jay Harris lives in a London struck down by a deadly virus. His parents are dead, along with half the world. When Jay’s sister Maia falls ill, he must find a cure before he loses her, too. But unbeknownst to Maia, Jay is also sick… and he’s running out of time to save them both.
Where did you the inspiration for this come from?
For one thing, I studied abroad in London, and I loved it there. I’ve been dying to set one of my novels there. Also, when I’m writing a novel, I get the characters before the situation. Jay fell into my head one day, started talking, and made me listen.
Tell us about our main character/s?
Jay Harris is a 17-year-old boy from Chicago who follows his sister Maia when she moves to live in London. He’s been affected by the plague in so many different ways—the pandemic even claimed the lives of his mother and his father. He’s determined to save his sister from suffering the same fate.
What do you love about your story?
I love my characters, especially my protagonist. In my mind, Jay has become a weird mixture of my son and my boyfriend, and I will protect him at all costs. Even though he’s flawed, I’ve come to understand and appreciate him. One of the hardest things about finishing this novel is having to quiet his voice for now—as far as I know, there won’t be a sequel.
What kind of research did you do?
I did some research on pandemics, the cities of London and Calais, and the English Channel Tunnel. I did a little more specific research as well, but I don’t want to spoil anything!
Since this is a fantasy world based in a real place how do you transform a place that many people know so well?
I focus on the people more than the surroundings. When it comes to fiction, people care about people (characters) more than anything. If I want to draw attention to the setting for a particular reason, I’ll try to present it in a fresh way by describing its effect on each of the five senses—sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. I’ve found that laying a realistic foundation allows you to make the leap into more unfamiliar territory without losing your readers’ trust.
I know you are a pantser, can you tell everyone how you go about writing your book?
I am constantly thinking about my novel, no matter what I’m doing. By making an effort to keep the story in my mind all day, it’s easier for me to jump right back in whenever I sit down to write.
How do you go about developing deep characterisation?
Before I start writing for the day, I like to sit still in a quiet environment, close my eyes, and get into my protagonist’s mindset. I reread whatever I wrote the day before and ask myself some questions: What is happening to this character? How does he/she feel in this situation? If I were him/her, what would I notice? This little process really helps me fully develop my characters, so that I am able to write each of them authentically.
Who do you think would like your story and what kind of readership are you aiming for?
I think people who enjoy examining changing relationship dynamics and the ways in which trauma affects different people would appreciate this story. As a YA novel, it is meant to be marketed to young adults, but I’d like anyone and everyone to read it if they have the chance—you never know what might resonate with them, regardless of their age.
You have decided to self-publish later on this year. Why did you decide to go down this route rather than through a traditional publisher?
For one thing, I don’t have the time or the patience for traditional publishing. I work full-time and don’t have any extra hours to dedicate to researching agents, querying, and all that good stuff. The other reason I’m choosing self-publishing is that I like control. Self-publishing makes me an entrepreneur, and I love that idea.
Thank you Briana, this has been a great interview! I can’t wait to start reading your book, the first draft of which will be available for free download the week of June 22. I hope that you will let me know the day you officially self publish it and I will gladly have your book sitting on myself! I love watching you progress as a writer and everyone should check out your blog, as I myself have subscribed to it ages ago.