I am delighted to welcome Brynn Chapman to my blog. Brynn is a fellow member of team Aponte Literary, represented by our wonderful agent Victoria Lea, and I recently had the great pleasure of reading her YA Fantasy Romance, Where Bluebirds Fly. Now I’m not normally a fan of YA, but Verity Montague is such a unique and compelling heroine that I was captivated from the get-go. Forget typical teen angst (mean girl peers, boyfriend woes, my-parents-don’t-understand-me), Verity is a young woman forced to grow up fast during a time when survival was a struggle and neighbors could turn enemy without warning. She has to conform and protect her brother, her only remaining family and a young man for whom conformity is an even greater struggle. Her fight to protect him leads her through time and to an equally compelling hero, one who shares her unique gifts.
Here’s a summary from my review:
Verity Montague and her brother John have secrets. They’re different from their fellows in 17th Century Salem, and in this time of paranoia and suspicion, difference is a death sentence. When they can no longer hide their strange way of perceiving the world, not to mention the injustice of the persecution that surrounds them, they are condemned as witches. Their only chance to escape is a mysterious portal through time.
Truman Johnstone has dedicated his life to helping children with autism, giving them the love and support he never had during his own troubled childhood. When he hears a desperate cry for help one dark night, he answers without question. But saving a beautiful girl from the past puts his sanity in question and his orphanage for troubled youths in jeopardy. Can the unusual traits they share save them?
Thanks for being here with me today, Brynn! I was fascinated by your spin on witch hunts, a very dark spot in American history. Sadly, in troubled times, the ugliest part of human nature often leads us to target those who are different as scapegoats. In this case, indentured servants Verity and John are singled out because of their unique way of perceiving the world. Can you tell us more about the phenomenon of synesthesia and what inspired you to use it in your story?
I first heard of the phenomenon on NPR, and as is my way, proceeded to devour several books on the subject (the man who tasted shapes and others) I then went on the cognitive neuroscience boards and interviewed people who had it—their experiences, how it affected their daily lives to try and be accurate in my representation.
Here’s a handy-dandy neuroscience video:
Thanks for the explanation. I also very much enjoyed the setting for your story, rich in historical detail. Looking at some of your other work, you seem drawn both the distant past and an imagined not-too-distant future (e.g. Project Mendel). How do you decide (or how do your characters tell you) where/when your stories take place?
Hmm. I am fascinated with all things historical—anywhere from 1700 to 1930 is typically where I write. My father was a history teacher and used to drag me to historical sites all over America—which I hated—which I now love.
Most of my favorite paranormal stories blend elements based in fact/science seamlessly with the supernatural to create a setting just one or two shades shy of reality. You do that quite well – how extensively is your research for each story and how do you approach it?
I’m one of those obsessive researchers. I went to Salem and experienced every historical tour I could find, wandered through the graveyards. Read and have extensive tomes on the subject. I’m very Aspergerian in my research obsessions.
So… the ending of Where Bluebirds Fly just screams sequel. Any hints of what’s next in the Synesthesia-Shift series?
WHY yes. Why don’t we just do the cover reveal for Requiem Red! Look for it in March or April of this year. Book Two in the Synesthesia Shift Series. What I can tell you—is it takes place in a 18th century asylum…and that I am going to tour and do a photoshoot at one such asylum next month.
That is such a gorgeous cover! I’m very excited to be a part of its unveiling! Random question just for fun – dark chocolate or milk?
Neither, allergic. Bummer, I know.
How do you balance life and writing (yes, I’m always looking for advice on that!)?
Ug. I have to write in fits and spurts. Luckily, I do write fast—so days off, holidays, evenings, weekends—wherever I can fit it in.
Top three absolute favorite fantasy books?
I’m just going to give you my favorite of late. They seem to change every few years.
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Entwined, and The Night Circus stand out in my mind today.
I recently received a copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth as a gift – now I have a great reason to bump it up in my TBR pile. Thanks, and thank you so much for the wonderful interview! To learn more about Brynn, please visit her website. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Where Bluebirds Fly is available now from, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Look for Requiem Red (Synesthesia Shift Book 2), coming soon from an online retailer near you!