Nadine & Books: an interview w/ Nadine Brandes

Hey everyone,

I’ve very excited to have with me today Nadine Brandes; Carol award winning author of A Time to Die and soon to be released A Time to Speak. Today we are discussing all things books: So put on your Geek Cap and join the conversation in the comments below.

So Nadine, let’s start off with a few of your favorites. I’m always interested to hear what other writers both like to read and hate…

What were some of your favorite books you read while growing up…?

I loved Narnia and Nancy Drew. Those were my main reads for a long time until Harry Potter came out. Then I became the kid who stalked J K Rowling’s writing updates, waiting for her to publish the next book. Even though they can be controversial in Christian circles, God used them to inspire me to see the power of good versus evil. He used it to awaken a love for fantasy in me.

Do you ever find yourself re-reading, or planning to re-read any particular book or series…?

I try to re-read Lord of the Rings every January as well as Francine Rivers’ The Mark of the Lion Series. Obviously, I re-read Harry Potter, but I don’t plan it out. I read it when I’m in the mood and also read them aloud to hubby. J

What genres do you like best or see yourself gravitating towards more…?

I used to think I was a fantasy girl, but then when I made a list of all my favorite movies and books…I realized I liked sci-fi much more than I thought. Besides, my books are technically sci fi. But when I’m picking up a book from the library or bookstore, it’s usually YA fantasy or YA sci-fi.

Any particular genres you dislike…?

Romance. *hides* Okay, it’s not awful. Actually the Christian romance has gotten much better these days. But when I was growing up it was all far too cheesy, unrealistic, and cliché. I grew very disenchanted and frustrated with the genre and I guess that carried over into my adult years. I still get irritated with unrealistic romance in YA novels.

So, hopefully I didn’t just make a bunch of enemies since Romance is the top genre in the CBA.

What about Covers, you have incredible covers; any particular covers stand out for you…?

I can take no credit for Kirk Douponce’s brilliance, but I’m sure glad he was assigned to my books! I’m a picky reader when it comes to covers (and I totally judge books by them) so I’m glad I ended up with covers to my own books that I ADORE.

Some of my favorite covers are:

Curio, by Evangeline Denmark (also by Kirk DouPonce)

Plenilune, by Jennifer Freitag

Throne of Glass, by Sara J Maas

Walk on Earth a Stranger, by Rae Carson

Those are the books that I pick up just for the covers. I haven’t actually read any of them yet, but I hope they match the awesomeness of their covers! 😀

Let’s talk Characters a moment- Who are some of your favorite fictional characters…?

I love Merlin, from BBC’s TV show Merlin, Hadassah from Mark of the Lion, Harry Potter (duh), Achan from Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings Series, and Francis from the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played.

These are all characters who had to overcome overwhelming odds. Some of them were born with talents, some weren’t. But they’re all courageous and brave, pushing forward through the toughest adversity. I love them all dearly.

I love anti heroes or the ones you’re just not sure you can trust but end up being good. (Snape is one of my favorites.) What about you, any particular anti-heroes you just love…?

You took my favorite. 😛 SNAPE! By the way, before the last book came out, I always believed he’d be good. Just saying.

Edmund from Narnia. While I hated him in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, I love how passionate he becomes for following Aslan.

Atretes from The Mark of the Lion Series.

What about villains. What stands out as a great villain..? Is there one that has ever just kind of frightened you…?

Maleficent! Maleficent has always been, in my opinion, right up there next to Voldemort. She’s scary and horrible (until Disney released a new version of her and now this example will simply never work.)

I get angry with Characters sometimes. There have been a few I find myself wanting to slap upside the head and knock some sense into. You ever come across a character you just want to say: “Why are you doing that…?” If so, who would that be…?

Any character who’s making a stupid decision. You know the ones: “So-and-so just told you not to trust that evil villain…and now you’re trusting him?!” Or if they have a secret that will save the world, but decide not to tell anyone.

To name a few: Tris Prior from Divergent, Thomas from The Maze Runner, Bella during all the Twilight books, Vrell from From Darkness Won (though I still loved her. :D)

I hate a bad ending to a book. And I have read several. What makes you unhappy about endings…? What do not want to see at the end of a book…?

Hopelessness! (*Curse you, Mockingjay*) There always needs to be a nugget of hope. Because in life, there’s always a nugget of hope. And the moment we lose that in our fiction is when we start feeding our readers lies about life and present them only with darkness.

I also hate endings that don’t fit the story or seem to random to bring in the “shock factor” (*Curse you, Merlin.*)

Okay, your series “The Out of Time Series” is Dystopian. I love dystopian fiction and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is one of my Favorites. What about you, do you have any particular favorite…?

Despite the hopeless ending and the horridness of Mockingjay, I still cling to The Hunger Games. That was one of the first books that really helped me get the dystopian genre. And I chose to set the Out of Time Series in a dystopian world because of those books.

I also love Ready Player One, which is a virtual reality dystopian. Despite the profanity (you’ve been warned) the story is brilliant.

Let’s take fictional worlds for a moment… If you could step into a book and be a part of a fictional world which one would it be, and why…?

Hogwarts. Obviously, I’d hope to have magical abilities, but even if I was a Squib, I’d want to wander Diagon Alley for a while. It’s always been the most magical world in my mind, probably because I grew up with the books and with Harry Potter. After that, I’d want to go to Hobbiton.

Is there any particular book, or series that influenced your writing…?

I’m pretty sure I answered this amidst some of my other answers, but to give a good list:

Harry Potter, by J K Rowling

Mark of the Lion Series, by Francine Rivers

Love Does, by Bob Goff

The Blood of Kings Trilogy, by Jill Williamson

A Time to Die was you first published Novel. It was nominated for a Christy and won the Carol award at ACFW this year. Did you expect this book to ever be a success like that in terms of recognition and reception…?

At the risk of sounding prideful…sort of.

Don’t get me wrong. I was still scraping my jaw off the floor and crying a lot, but here’s why I say “sort of”:

From the moment I was given the idea for the book, I knew it wasn’t mine. When I started writing, my writing came out in a “voice” (that writing professionals are calling a “natural talent”) that I’d never seen myself use before. I can’t think of it as natural talent. It came out of nowhere! When I wrote the first chapter of A Time to Die at midnight on a school night in grad school, I re-read it the next day and the whole time, I thought, “I didn’t write this. I don’t write like this.” It was like reading someone else’s work.

I feel like I’ve been along for the ride this entire time and that none of it is actually me. God’s just using my fingers. Seriously. So because it was such a bizarre U-turn from how I used to write/think/dream, I knew that God had a purpose for the book and my constant prayer was that He’d grow it so it would touch more lives.

To me…these awards and nominations are simply giving God the glory that I knew He deserved from the very start with this book. So I hope that people see it that way – it has nothing to do with me. God could snap His fingers and I’d return to my old drab way of writing and that’s okay. Because it’s always been Him.

Is there anything that you hope readers will take away from this series…?

That we are created for something mighty and powerful! We are meant to be bringers of shalom and no matter if we have a 9-5 desk job or we’re world travelers, God will use us in world-changing ways. It’s just our job to say, “Here I am.” 🙂

Thanks for stopping by Nadine. Let Nadine and I know what some of your favorites are in the comments below. And check out Nadine’s new release “A Time to Speak” this Friday.

Be Sure to Attend the Book Launch Party on October 20th

(Click on the Pic Below for more Details)


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8 thoughts on “Nadine & Books: an interview w/ Nadine Brandes

  1. I love your honesty, Nadine, about how you felt when you won the Carol award. How exciting to know your story and writing are straight from God. I’ve had that experience once, and it was amazing. (Though I’m still waiting to see what God will do with that book.)

    We share a love of Harry Potter. Whenever I feel my life is too overwhelming, I go back to my dear friends at Hogwarts. It had been years since I’d read it before this latest time through. I’m on book 7 now and loving it just as much as I always did. And I’m with you–if I could enter a magical world, it would definitely be Hogwarts.

    I’ve just added A Time to Die to my to-read list. Best of luck with the next one!

  2. I feel the same about Vrell! =P

    I started reading Janette Oke novels in high school and I can’t bring myself to re-read them … the quality of Christian fiction in general is just as good as general market work today, IMHO.

    I’m working my way through the Christy Miller series right now –it’s one YA series I never read as a teen that so many people have loved and suggested to me and I feel a similar way. There are flashes of insight but for the most part, I’m cringing while I read … I kind of feel bad thinking that, because they (and the author) are so beloved by others, but … to me, the writing isn’t very good. I’m glad that Christian fiction is becoming more open in publishing different genres and the quality in general are spades better than they were 20 years ago.

    I highly recommend Susan May Warren’s Christiansen series if you’re looking for a good, contemporary romance series. Though I think all romance have elements of cliché or convention naturally in the genre (like, I expect a HEA (happily ever after) ending, or rather, the potenial couple together as a couple (whether it’s dating, engaged, or married) by the end of the book. =)

  3. Thank you so much, Robin! I look forward to seeing what God does with your own writing. 🙂

    And hurray for Harry Potter! I’m always amazed at how God used it so positively in my life. I’m glad I found a fellow fan and reader. 😉 I’m hoping to re-read the series again around Christmas time.

  4. Thank you, Susan! Yes, Hadassah is one of those characters who feels like a good friend I hope to be like someday. 😉 Lord willing, God will grow us all like He grew her in Him.

  5. I agree that Christian fiction — in all genres — is significantly better today than it was even a decade ago! I have high hopes for the future. 🙂

    Thanks for the recommendations! I’ve never read the Christiansen series, nor have I heard of the Christy Miller series. I’ll have to look into both of those — to at least read about them. 🙂

  6. Cool interview, Nadine. And I love what you say about the writing being God. : ) Truly looking forward to reading your book. (Yes, I admit, shame-faced, that I haven’t read it yet. Alas for time…) Make that reading BOTH your books!