Book Nerd Interview
What was your first introduction to literature?
That was quite some time ago! I distinctly remember reading Lord of the Rings. It was a struggle, and I put it down a few times before I finished it. Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series was great, as was Orwell's 1984. I think I was the only kid in the class that finished Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. When I was young, genre or literary aspirations didn't even enter into my reading. I read whatever I could get my hands on.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I was the Great A&W Root Bear once. The regular guy was sick, so I volunteered, prancing around on the street and trying to bring customers into the restaurant. I almost caused a five car pile-up before management thought I'd done enough.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I remember writing in grade 6, though certainly not anything of novel size. A bit later, I did the teen angst poetry stuff. That was weird, and thankfully nothing remains of it. I started novels in grade 10, so I would have been somewhere around fourteen years old. I never finished anything, and it was all pretty much a rip-of of what I was reading, leaning heavily towards SF/F. I still have one of those, with a highly detailed map and pages upon pages of bad prose. I will burn it before I die, so no one will ever see it.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
School was never a great place for me. I wish I would have learned how to touch type, it would make my life a lot easier now. In grade 11, I was introduced to my first computer (a Commodore PET 2001). It was the first thing I used that didn't require punch cards or a teletype. At that point, everything else was forgotten. I had/have a great career in computers, but I still really wanted to write. Once I made the choice to start writing again, I dove in head first. It worked out for me.
Did you learn anything from writing The Operative and what was it?
Deadlines are great motivators! But seriously, I learned how to be significantly more organized in my work. Writing wasn't something that I did when I felt like it anymore, I had a responsibility to my publisher and my readers. I documented The Courier better so I didn't have to flip through pages of notes and find out what color eyes a certain character had. I mapped out some of the Levels in more detail so characters didn't go south to a place I mentioned earlier was north.
What was your inspiration for the series?
The first thing that came to me was my main character, Kris. She popped in my head as a fully formed character just looking for a story to fit into. I knew I wanted a tough young woman that could take some damage and dish it out when she needed. I also knew I wanted to throw her into so much trouble, that she wouldn't have the skills to get herself out of it. Then she did exactly that. One of my goals for the first book was to create a character that didn't need a man's help to get out of trouble. Kris has help, but in the end, it's her own efforts that save her.
Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing San Angeles?
Kris is an easy first one. She's strong, independent and doesn't take crap from anyone. That doesn't mean she isn't human though. She still hurts and laughs and loves. After that, I'd say I enjoyed writing Pat, who is prominent in The Operative and Andrew who shows up in The Rebel, book 3 in the series.
For those who are unfamiliar with Kris, how would you introduce her?
I think the best I can do here is reiterate what I've said above. Kris is a young, determined woman that doesn't take crap. When the world throws a bunch of hurt at her, she struggles forward like we all do. But she's still a softy, willing to give some of her food to a homeless boy on the street.
What part of Ian did you enjoy writing the most?
Ian was an interesting character. He wasn't in the original outline for the novel, but when he showed up, I knew he needed a bigger role. He's basically the male counterpart to Kris, with his own set of baggage to carry around. What I like best about him, is he never tries to control Kris, to tell her what to do next. He gives her the information she needs so she can make her own decisions, good or bad. A tough guy with some intelligence behind him.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
That's a tough one. I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of reading lately, and my memory for characters is fairly poor. I can tell you what type of character I’d like her to meet. Someone with a similar background, someone that can share their memories and hopes and dreams, and find a common ground for a wonderful friendship.
Either that, or Russel Blackfield from Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, just so she could kick his ass.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I think I hit the timing pretty well (thanks, Mom!). I grew up in the early years of the computer, and was able to grab it by the horns and ride the hell out of it. I wish I would have done things differently back then. Who doesn't? But I don't think I would change the time.
What is your greatest adventure?
Greatest as in funnest, scariest, most epic? I've had the chance to stand on top of mountains after climbing my way up, to laying on sun warmed granite in the Canadian Shield without another person around, surrounded by water. I've walked on glaciers over snow covered crevasses just to reach 1000 foot granite spires sticking out of the ice and climb them. I've... The list goes on. I've been fortunate.
I took a trip to Bugaboo Provincial Park for some rock climbing. We spent the morning crossing the glacier to get to one of the world's 50 classic climbs,the Kain Route. It's a relatively easy climb, with massive amounts of exposure. When you're on the gendarme pitch, the rock just falls away from you on both sides, and you feel like you're sitting on top of the world. After a great day of climbing, we were on our way back to the hut for a meal and some sleep.
About 100 feet to our left was a massive drop to the glacier below. My partner was in the lead on the narrow trail. He stepped on a slab of rock no bigger than the average office desk, one foot on, next step off the other side. No big deal, we'd both done the same on the way up. When I stepped on it, the slab decided to become a toboggan, sliding on the scree slope like it was made of ball bearings. I was surfing this thing right to a huge fall and certain death.
I managed to jump off the slab, sliding down the scree, and came to a stop only twenty-five feet from the cliff edge. It happened in seconds. The rock went over and shattered into a thousand pieces on the glacier below. Lucky no one was under it. It took me a while to get my wits back.
Where can readers stalk you?
I'm on Facebook at Gerald Brandt - Author and on twitter as @GeraldBrandt. My web page is http://geraldbrandt.com.
Thanks so much for having me. This was great!
Kris Ballard’s life changed irrevocably when, a year ago, she was targeted for termination by the Meridian corporation, one of the mega-conglomerates that controls the government in this dystopian future. She hid amongst the underground resistance—but now, right as her training with the anti-corporate movement is nearing its end, their compound is destroyed. Ready or not, Kris and the other trainees are recalled to the dangerous metropolis of San Angeles. But their transport is shot down and Ian Miller, the man she loves, is captured. Someone, it seems, is using him to get to Kris.
With the help of a retired operative with PTSD, and the mysterious man who fled the scene when Kris’s parents were killed, Kris searches for any sign of Ian. As the corporations battle civil unrest—and each other—the city slowly shuts down. Kris is running out of time.