Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Interview with K.L. Brady, Author of The Bum Magnet


When and why did you begin writing?
I've been writing since I was a young kid. I've kept diaries and journals since I could remember. My mom used to buy me the ones with the little lock on them...and then she'd break into them and read them. What was the point of the lock? I don't know.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Even though I've been writing and practicing my signature since I was a kid, I never considered myself a fiction writer until I turned forty and took the leap into writing my first novel. After I finished it, I knew writing was my first and only love (at least in an occupational sense). I really cannot see myself doing anything else. This is it for me. Write or die.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I'm not a very artsy or literary writer and I wish I were. I envy authors who have that sense of lyrical prose. I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never be a Toni Morrison on Maya Angelou.  The Bum Magnet won't win me a Pulitzer. But at the same time, I will entertain and make people laugh through characters that readers can connect with on a personal level.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I had an Oprah "aha" moment a couple of summers ago. I was watching her "Live Your Best Life" series which had started not long before my revelation. I was successful in my career as an analyst but I wanted more. I knew that I had a destiny to fulfil and being a government employee or contractor, while often rewarding, would never cut it. Writing is something that I had not only kept hidden from other people in secret journals, but I think I kept it buried within myself. Once I hit forty, I couldn't suppress it anymore. The writer in me wanted out come hell or high water--and The Bum Magnet was born.

Are experiences in your books based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
People ask me this question all the time. I always give the same canned answer...that all authors put pieces of their own stories in their work. And this time will be no different. :) Seriously though...I don't think anyone could write this story as it is and not have experienced the drama for themselves or know people who did. People connect with Charisse because she's so  real and she doesn't mince a single word about her situation. She tells it like it is, even when it doesn't reflect positively on her. With all that said, the story is based on a little bit of fact and a lot of fiction, exaggerated significantly so I can't be sued for slander (hehe).

What books have most influenced your life most?
I would have to say that for me, The Autobiography of Malcolm X was unquestionably one of the most life-changing books I've ever read because it really widened my perspective, not only about the black community and civil right movement, but the world. I so admire Malcolm X's willingness to grow and transform. I think we all have to be open to transformation if we are to fulfill our destiny. You will always see growth and transformation in my characters...and hopefully me.

With Worst Impressions you took on the YA world and Pride and Prejudice. What led you to combine YA with a literary classic?
I didn't really start reading books outside of non-fiction African American books until after I started college. I'd never been exposed to the literary classics growing up. It was like a whole new world opened up for me, and Jane Austen's stories are part of that. I'll never forget the first time I read Pride & Prejudice.  I bought it right after watching the movie, You've Got Mail.  I was amazed at the drama and humor. I consider it to be the original romantic comedy or chick lit novel, which represents the kinds of stories that I devour. I would never have thought something written so long ago, by a white English lady, could make me laugh or touch me the way that book did. I would really love to see young adults use Worst Impressions as kind of a gateway to widening their perspective and reading classic novels from other countries and cultures. That was my hope in writing Worst Impressions. Plus, Liz is just so funny, she's a character that will stick with teens and whom I think they can relate to because of her self-image issues. 

What book are you reading now?
My Kindle is so full of TBR books it's not even funny. It's been my goal to participate in the Colorful Chick Lit challenge but with the effort I've put in promotion, I just haven't been able to read like I've wanted to.  With that said, I have several things that I'm really looking forward to reading.

I just finished a book called One Thing She Knew by Toni Meyer which was fabulous, definitely a page-turner. I want to finish up Two Tears in a Bucket by Traci Bee which is more of an urban drama--a page-turner as well. I'm looking forward to Bollywood Confidential and The Sari Shop Widow. I've been hooked on the Indian culture and food since Bend it Like Beckham and Bride and Prejudice. And I have a bunch of books I've promised reviews on that I have to add to that list. Too many to name them all.

What are your current projects?
Well, the sequel to the The Bum Magnet, tentatively titled Got a Right to be Wrong, is completed and with my editor. I really love that story. You're going to see a lot of loose ends get tied up in the sequel. We find out what happens to Nisey and the baby. Mama Tyson plays a much bigger role in this story and has her own drama. Most importantly, we get to see the history behind Charisse's relationship with her father, how that has contributed to her "bum magnetism" and whether she really does find her happily ever after...and does that necessarily involve a man?

In addition, I have two big projects that I'm working on now and hope to have both finished by the end of the year. The first one is a young adult novel called Soul of the Band, which features a music-loving African-American teen girl from DC who, after a family crisis, moves to a small town in Ohio and becomes the only black girl in an all white band. This book really stands apart from your typical books of this type because I explore the racial issue with a very truthful but humorous character.

The second project is the first in a series of adult novels featuring an AA female FBI agent named J.J. McCall who catches spies. I liken her to a black "Salt"/Jackie Brown working for the FBI instead of the CIA. I love this storyline because it features a very strong female character in a spy romantic comedy/suspense novel. In my former life, I worked with women like J.J. and always wondered why no one was telling their stories. So, I'm going to do it. I haven't read anything like that, and I'd really like to. I hope readers agree with me.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a single thing. I think one of the beautiful things about self publishing this novel first before it found a publisher is that I got to tell this story EXACTLY the way I wanted to tell it...and readers love it anyway. :)

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes, I learned to grow some thick skin and how to accept criticism. I really had to get over myself and "my art" and do the right thing for the story so that my audience would get the kind of quality they deserved. At a certain point, you have to distance yourself from your work so that you can make it better. And you have to learn to take the useful information from criticism and ignore what you don't need. A very important lesson for new writers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, get over yourself, grow some thick skin, and learn to accept criticism! (hehe)

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I would just like to thank everyone who has read or plans to read my work. Your support and great feedback is what helped me get "discovered" and why I have a book deal today. I'll never take that for granted...not ever. Please connect with me on Facebook (Karla Brady or K.L. Brady), on Twitter (@KarlaB27), or my website (www.authorklbrady.com). I would absolutely love to hear from you and I respond to every single note, letter, e-mail, message, post or Tweet that I receive.

If you haven't picked up a copy of The Bum Magnet, it's available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Booksamillion, Target and Walmart. Get a copy for you and a friend or two (because you know they need to read it. lol)

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