Welcome to this Question and Answer post brought to you by: you! Thanks for sending in your questions via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even through spoken word. If you have more questions or if you want to see another post like this, let me know!
If this is your first time here, welcome! My name is Brittni Brinn (she/her) and I write post-apocalyptic fiction (most of the time). My book The Patch Project came out from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing in early 2018. The sequel is called A Place That Used to Be, and is forthcoming from Adventure Worlds Press.
Without further ado, let’s get into the questions:
Can you tell us how you got your new publisher?
Yes! Adventure Worlds Press is a Windsor-based publisher that specializes in genre fiction. I got to know Christian Laforet and Ben Van Dongen, the co-founders of the press and authors in their own right, through local book and writing events. When I found out that A Place That Used to Be wasn’t going to be published by another press, they offered to publish it as an Adventure Worlds Press book!
Did you find the second book easier to write than the first?
Writing A Place That Used to Be was a very different experience from writing the first book. I wrote The Patch Project over a long period of time: I initially wrote it in 2011/2012, and didn’t revisit it until I reworked the manuscript in 2016/2017. It was the first novel I actually finished writing, which was a huge breakthrough for me. Knowing that I could write a novel from beginning to end made writing the second one a lot easier.
A Place That Used to Be took around 8 months to write. After a break, I took a few months to edit the manuscript. I had a better idea of the world I was writing in, and had learned so much from publishing the first one. But the second book came with its own challenges too.
Do you have an expected release date or pre-sale?
At this point, I’m hoping for a June release. Given our current global situation, it’s hard to be sure of a date since so much depends on printing and delivery capabilities. As soon as I know, I’ll post the release date. Hopefully, we’ll have an online launch around that time as well!
What was your favourite part of the book to write?
I really enjoyed writing a dream sequence that features in the latter part of the novel. It felt like it was a dream I was personally experiencing (and I suppose in a way I was—isn’t fiction like a shared dream?) and I didn’t change much about the chapter once it was written. There’s a kind of freedom writing about the surreal, describing visions of the subconscious.
Have your views on love and romance changed from the first book to the second book within the post-apocalyptic world?
When I wrote The Patch Project originally, my experience with romantic relationships was mostly observational. I am older and wiser now (am I?) and am married, which I think did change how I wrote about relationships in the second book.
But I’m not sure if my portrayal of love and romance in the post-apocalyptic world has changed: relationships that are built on mutual survival and opportunity. People in a world like the one in these two books sometimes go weeks or months without seeing another human being. Many of the characters crave words, touch, thoughts, from someone outside of themselves. To be seen by another. A connection with someone tangible, even if it’s not for very long. And I think that’s what brings people together most in the world I’m writing about.
How do you feel the book engages with Road Trip and Western genres?
It’s an interesting question, because I think that the Post-Apocalyptic genre as we know it today, especially in North America, grew out of these two genres. Thinking of books like The Road or Station Eleven, the main plot driver is movement. Moving through the wild lands between settled places, in search of safety or belonging. Road trip epics like On the Road are pervaded by this restless searching for the self through experience. The Western looks at ideas of civilization and wilderness, often portraying a colonialist view – for example, the show West World demonstrates the colonial Western fantasy and upends it. All of these genres are traditionally male-oriented or focused.
I think A Place That Used to Be especially engages with and hopefully challenges the expectations that come with the Post-Apocalyptic genre by including varied points of view and different ways of organizing communities.
How much change do your books go through from early drafts to final draft?
Early drafts are often skeletal: I tend to want to get the main gist of a scene down before I forget. Sometimes these appear simply as snippets of dialogue scrawled in my notebook with a couple of trailing notes at the end of things I want to add. Editing is mainly filling in the scenes, ordering them, and reordering them. With another book I’ve been working on, this has included writing extra chapters and expanding on areas of the plot that are not clear enough. I don’t do a lot of planning before working on a novel, so the plot is often the thing that changes the most. The characters grow along with the book, and they generally stay the same between drafts.
Any sneak peeks?
You’ll have to wait a little longer, but I’m hoping to feature a reading of chapter 1 in the near future!
Thank you so much everyone! Feel free to send more questions along, and stay tuned for next week’s update!