Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A chat with Brigid Kemmerer, author of STORM

Today, I'm honored to host Brigid Kemmerer, author of STORM:

Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming . . .

As I mentioned Monday, I've read STORM twice. I'll probably read it again, too. It's that good. I am also lucky enough to have read SPARK and a bit of SPIRIT, books 2 and 3 in this fabulous paranormal YA series (SPARK comes out in August of this year!). Brigid was kind enough to answer a few questions I had for her about the Merrick brothers.

A lot of reviews have mentioned the relationship between these four brothers, and that really stood out to me, too, from the first time I read the book. One of the things they're struggling with is how to relate to each other, since Michael, the eldest, assumed the role of caretaker after their parents died. Can you talk a little about how each brother thinks about that relationship?

 Chris is the youngest, and trying to determine where he fits in his family and in the world, living in the shadow of his older brothers. Gabriel and Nick are twins and the middle brothers, and they have each other to rely on -- though they're fiercely protective of their brothers when they need to be. They all resent Michael somewhat, because their parents' deaths have forced him to move into a parental role instead of that of "big brother." The Merrick brothers are trapped in town by circumstance: they're not allowed to use their abilities or they'll be put to death, while bullies in town seem determined to take them out themselves.

Michael wants to keep the peace to keep his brothers safe. Gabriel is a hothead and thinks they should fight back. Nick is more even-keeled and doesn't directly defy Michael -- but he'll follow his twin brother into trouble without looking back. Chris is torn between two camps: wanting to respect Michael, the older brother to whom he was once close, and wanting to fight back. When I started writing from Chris's POV, it was startling how quickly the brothers fell into their respective roles -- and how passionately they felt about their place in the family.

I've read several reviews that mention that STORM has a contemporary feel, and that is the best compliment ever -- because I wanted to deliver a story that had the action/adventure of a paranormal, but the emotional punch of a contemporary. The brothers deal with supernatural abilities, sure, but they have to deal with real life, too.

One thing I admired about the family dynamics in STORM is that they feel very realistic to me. In real life, conflicts don't get resolved in a single sitting, and patterns get pretty entrenched over time. But as a writer, I'm often tempted to let my characters off the hook, to have them reconcile quickly because I have trouble tolerating their discomfort. I suspect many writers experience the same thing. What advice do you have about when to stick with the tension, and when to let characters kiss and make up (or, in the case of the brothers, give each other manly hugs and all that)?
I firmly believe in putting conflict on every page -- and family conflict can be some of the hardest to deal with. It's insanely uncomfortable. It's so uncomfortable that I'm dodging writing the next chapter of SPIRIT right this second. Yes, really. (Unless my editor is reading this, and in that case I'm totally kidding.) Sometimes when I'm writing a scene of heightened family conflict, I have to do other things just to get through it. I'll write a few lines, then go read a news article. A few more lines, then go watch a YouTube video. A few more lines, then check Twitter. It's almost like I'm watching the altercation from the next room, and I keep peeking around the doorway to make sure everyone is still alive. The tension is that palpable to me. My husband has found me sobbing on the laptop, and he always rolls his eyes at me -- but I have to cry because the Merrick brothers just can't. (I like to say that if they knew how much I cried while writing their scenes, they'd demand to be written out of the book.)

Bottom line: my advice is to not walk away from the conflict just because it makes you uncomfortable. That discomfort is what's going to make your scene powerful. And I only let them make up when a character has fallen so far that I know one more conflict is going to break him.
Now, seriously. You want to read STORM now, don't you? One of my commenters today will win a signed copy, so sound off and let me know if you struggle with your characters' discomfort as much as I do, and how you deal with it! Also, feel free to ask Brigid any questions about her work, her writing/publishing journey, etc. She'll drop by throughout the day to answer them.

I'll announce the winner of the signed copy of STORM on Monday, May 21st!

29 comments:

  1. Great interview -- and writing about the complex relationship of four brothers sounds like a challenge!

    Funny you should mention the discomfort thing today, because while considering exactly what should happen in the next chapter, I find myself reluctant to put one of my favorite characters in too much discomfort. There could be some uncomfortable tension and conflict coming up, or I could chicken out and leave that character clueless about the situation. Thanks for reminding me what the RIGHT thing to do is.

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    1. Sometimes it's so hard to put your characters through a rough situation -because if you're doing it right, you'll feel the pain right along with them. :-)

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  2. He, he, he...I love to put my protagonist up the tree and then have a hurricane try to blow her out of it. And wow! You read STORM twice? Now that's a book I want to read.

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    1. I love that bit about the tree and the hurricane. :-)

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  3. I think that might be too many hot dudes for one cover.

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    1. I don't think the words "too many" and "hot dudes" should ever go together. :-P No, seriously, I *was* surprised when I first saw the cover. Boys on the cover of a YA novel? And so many of them?? But it usually generates a reaction. :-D

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  4. Wow this sounds deliciously delectable! I always say you can tell how awesome a read is by how many times a reader will read it! You've already got two under your belt! That's amazing! Great sign!

    I loved the interview. Such great questions and insight on the story!! I'm already hooked :D

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  5. This sounds fantastic! A paranormal with a contemp feel? Sounds right up my alley! Thanks for introducing us to Brigid and her book!

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  6. I just finished reading STORM (literally this morning)and what I loved most about it was that it WAS a contemporary that just happened to have these paranormal aspects. Brigid has really done a great job of focusing on the way the powers affect the brother's relationships to each other as well as to "outsiders" rather than falling into the trap of letting the powers dictate everything.

    This is great by the way, "I only let them make up when a character has fallen so far that I know one more conflict is going to break him."

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    1. Thank you so much, Helene! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. :-)

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  7. After your awesome review and this great interview you bet I want to read it!

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  8. Sounds like a good one for the tbr list. ;)

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  9. Oooh, I like the sound of this and I LOVE the title. Very, very cool. Adding it to my TBR pile ASAP, thanks for pointing it out and hosting the interview Sarah:)

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  10. I read (and re-read) this post because I'm working on a ms with a lot of family drama. I'm struck by this:
    "I only let them make up when a character has fallen so far that I know one more conflict is going to break him."

    Now I will keep that in mind as I write the parts it relates to. It's great advice. I have to remind myself, drama, conflict, drama!

    Thanks! I'd love to read it too.

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    1. Yay! Thank you! I spend so much time thinking about family drama that I sometimes end up picking fights with my husband by accident. :-P

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  11. I struggle with letting my characters off the hook, too. When you're so close to them - and especially when you know resolution is coming - its so tempting to just skip to the "happily ever after". But when I think over the conflicts and tension I deal with in life - family conflicts included! - realistically, hurt feelings last past apologies, grudge-holders always exist and family may forgive - but they don't forget. I try to stick that. Usually, I deal with the emotional stress of creating that tension by calling family members and telling them I love them - and trying to forget that time when I was eight and my older sister wouldn't play with mario bros with me. lol.
    Can't wait to read STORM!!

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    1. Yay, thank you! And you're so right about family grudges lasting FOREVER. :-)

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  12. Mountains of conflict is what makes the book good!
    So glad you pointed the way to these books. Sounds like the kind of stories that I inhale.

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  13. Even the title suggests conflict. Great cover. I'm sure this book will fly off the shelves.

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  14. I love stories that tackle family dynamics. It's interesting to me how nature throws us together often with people that are so different from us. This story reminds me of Party of Five and the ways the siblings had to cope, with the oldest of them taking on the parental role and the rest not all that keen on it. But, you know, with paranormal stuff. Lol. Sounds like a great read. I write paranormal, but I always aim for a contemporary feel as well.

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    1. Party of Five, the show from the nineties? I never watched that. Now I'm going to have to go look and see if it's on Hulu or Netflix. I like that paranormal is starting to slowly gravitate toward contemporary. I haven't read Born Wicked yet, but it looks like it might have a contemp feel, too. (And it's sisters instead of brothers.)

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  15. Sometimes when I'm reading a scene filled with tension I want to stop reading to calm down, but then curiosity gets the best of me and I have to go on and find out what happens! I really liked reading Storm, and thought that the conflicts in the story were great in that they weren't resolved too easily (we know that the brothers will have to keep working at it in their relationship with each other).

    :)

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  16. Okay, I really, really, really, really want to read this! Already added it to my Goodreads TBR list. :) Sounds awesome!

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