Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e . . .“® Brandilyn’s first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn’s awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice. When she’s not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers’ conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.
Brandilyn has offered a digital copy of her new book, That Dog Won’t Hunt, to three fortunate winners! If you tweet or FB-post about the book—and include the photo of the book cover and the link to buy—she’ll put your name into the hat a second time! We need at least ten people to form a contest so make sure to leave a comment with your email address and tell your friends about this interview.
Now, let’s hear from Brandilyn!
Thank you for joining us today. Tell us about your journey to getting published, and the recent big change in your career.
Oh, I could fill a blog post or two about my ten-year journey toward publication in fiction. In fact, I filled over 60 blog posts with the story—posts written with cliffhangers and suspense, of course. You can read the posts on my old blog, Forensics and Faith (not blogging there anymore but posts are still up). The amazing, gut-wrenching, teeth-clenching, desperate, God-directed, ultimately victorious journey starts here.
As for the big change in my career, I’ve recently decided to go completely into self publishing. Which means turning down contracts from traditional houses who’d like to sign me. In today’s brave new world of publishing, an author has the opportunity to go out on her own. It’s not for everyone. And I’m doing it only after seeing over 25 books traditionally published. But if I’m going to try it, this is the time. So … I’m off! (Right: Brandilyn’s office)
What is the bravest thing you have ever done outside of stepping into self-publishing?
Gone parasailing. (I’m afraid of heights). It was great!
I would love to go parasailing one day. Now tell us about this first self-published book of yours.
Believe it or not, I’ve written a book in which I don’t kill anybody. Yup, I’ve stepped away from my trademarked Seatbelt Suspense® to write a contemporary Southern series featuring the Dearing Family. (This is my first self-published title.) Here’s the back cover copy from the first book in the series, That Dog Won’t Hunt:
Meet the Dearings, a crazy, loving, boisterous family in small-town Mississippi. There’s mom and dad, three daughters and their families, and the youngest—twenty-five-year-old Ben. Oh, and the family dog, a Yorkie who thinks she’s royalty.
“This one’s perfect,” Ben says about his new fiancée, Christina, when he brings her home for a family reunion. Ben is just sure everyone will love Christina, and she’ll fit right in.
He always did tend to wear rose-colored glasses.
Christina loves Ben but secretly fears their relationship will never work. They’ve only known each other ten weeks. She hasn’t told him about her horrific past as an only child—the beatings, the neglect, and verbal abuse. Christina doesn’t know how to trust or be honest about her feelings. Being thrust into the middle of a tight-knit family like the Dearings is sure to send her over the edge.
With poignancy and humor, That Dog Won’t Hunt explores the complexities of relationships and the inner strength needed to overcome a difficult childhood. The Dearings are no perfect family, but they know how to love—if only Christina will accept it.
Now this book sounds quite interesting! What inspired you to write it?
I had the idea to write the series years ago for Zondervan, back when I was writing both contemporary and suspense novels. In fact, the series was contracted. Then Zondervan flew a bunch of people across the country to meet with me in my home for a day and basically convince me to write suspense full-time. The Dearing Family got shelved. Now I’ve taken it back out—and am self-publishing it. I’m still writing my Seatbelt Suspense®, but in between I’ll write books in the Dearing Family series.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
Life! The world is full of craziness and wonderfulness and all-around Story idea-ness. You just have to keep your eyes open. Watch people. Eavesdrop on conversations. Read the news. Ask yourself “What if” a lot. Be curious. And a little strange. Okay, a lot strange. Novelists are not normal people. (Left: Brandilyn’s inspiration outside her window.)
Yay! You are a people watcher, too! Is there a scene in That Dog Won’t Hunt that came from a real-life happening?
Yup. And they’re doozies. Let’s see, there’s the lobster fiasco… and the howling dog … and the potties … And more. At the back of That Dog Won’t Hunt I list what’s true (from my own life) and what’s fictional about the Dearing family. It’s quite the blend.
Is there a theme running through That Dog Won’t Hunt?
The novella is humorous. But humor isn’t enough for me. I like to tackle some issue in each of my books. As the back cover copy connotes, That Dog Won’t Hunt looks at how an abusive childhood can ruin adult relationships—and what must be done to overcome that syndrome.
I cherish a letter from one reader who’d grown up in an abusive household and completely related to Christina. She couldn’t believe how well the story pegged the emotions of someone coming from abuse to a large, loving family. And she believes the book can help people in that situation.
That is amazing! What a gift you have. What are you working on right now?
Pitchin’ a Fit, book two in the Dearing Family Series. It will release in November. Meanwhile my next Seatbelt Suspense®, Dark Justice, will release October first.
Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
Such a beautiful verse! What is your number one spiritual gift?
In 2003 God miraculously healed me from Lyme disease. (The full story is on my web site.) A few months later, out of the blue, He bestowed upon me the gift of … I’m not even quite sure what to call it. Perhaps healing prayer mixed with a word of knowledge. It’s as if God said, “Okay, I gave you healing, now I want you to help me heal others.” (Which is amazing, because He hardly needs me to help him do that!) When people come to me for prayer, God impresses upon me certain places on their body to lay my hands and ask for healing. The healing is not necessarily immediate, but I hear back later what God has done. Many times the healing is physical. Sometimes it’s spiritual and emotional. Sometimes all three. All I have to do is listen and follow God’s instructions, and in turn I get to hang around and watch Him work in people’s lives. Pretty amazing.
You have chosen to be God’s vessel. I love it! Where can readers find you or your books on the internet?
You can read about all my books, including their first chapters on my web site. You can read the first two chapters of That Dog Won’t Hunt. And from that page are links to buy the book. (It’s $2.99/ebook and $9.69/paper.)
Thanks so much for joining us today and for sharing about your writing and your spiritual walk.
Now everyone, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of the book.