Saturday, June 25, 2022

Fern Brady Interview - United Vidden

Photo Content from Fern Brady

Fern Brady is the founder and CEO of Inklings Publishing. She holds multiple Masters degrees and several certifications. She began her professional life as a foreign correspondent, and taught for 15 years in Alief ISD. She has published numerous short stories, two children's picture books, and a couple of poems. Her debut novel, United Vidden, which is book one in her Thyrein’s Galactic Wall Series, was given a glowing review by Dr. Who Online, the official site of the fandom. Also available for purchase is volume one of her graphic novel/novella hybrid project, New Beginning. She has returned to the leadership of the Houston Writers Guild, with whom she served as CEO for four years previously. She co-hosts two podcasts – Author Talk and The Hot Mess Express. Besides being Municipal Liaison for Nanowrimo Houston, she is also a member of Blood Over Texas, Romance Writers of America, and American Booksellers Association. Fern lives in Houston TX with her parents and her talkative husky, Arya.


When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
In 2013, I met the then president of the Houston Writers Guild, Pamela Fagan Hutchins, who was trailblazing the indie author pathways. She asked me to beta read her self-help book, What Kind of Loser does Indie Publish and How Can I Be One Too? That book opened my eyes to the possibilities of the new publishing opportunities which Creatspace and Amazon were bringing to the industry. I didn’t have a book of my own at the time, so I decided to create a small press and work with authors who maybe didn’t really want to be their own small business. As the years have progressed, I’ve enjoyed watching the authors we’ve brought into our company succeed.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
My all-time favorite book is the series by CS Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia. I love the world building and the allegorical aspects of the work. I love how he presents his beliefs and values as a Christian without sermonizing. I also love that there can be rich discussions of the text and of what the characters learn as they go through their adventures in Narnia.

Outside my genre, I have two favorite authors: Agatha Christie and Barbara Cartland. I love the way Christie crafts the mysteries so that when you have the big reveal you can actually go back and re-read and see how the clues where there. I love the character study her books present in the motivations that drive the characters to commit the crimes. Barbara Cartland’s romances where one of the first books I loved to read as a young woman. I love how much detail and information you can glean about all kinds of things in her novels and the sense of empowerment of women they bring to the genre. The women are strong and independent in a time when there were few options for women. Through her tales, you see them succeed not only in finding a good man to partner with, but in making that man see them as human and worthy of respect.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The coolest moment as a published author came when a random person messaged me asking when the next book would be coming out. The fact that there are people who don’t know me, are not my friends, and yet have read and loved my book was super rewarding. It made me realize that, yes, my writing has an audience and it is one that will be eager to read more. All authors fear that no one will like their work, that they are kidding themselves on it being a good novel. But hearing from a random reader that they are ready for the next book and that they loved what they’ve read already is very empowering and energizing. If you are a reader and you love work from a living author, you should totally let that person know.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Work. Having to make a living takes so much of our time and few of us have the opportunity to devote ourselves to full time authorship. While I love the teaching work I do with Writers in The Schools, I would so welcome being able to just write full time. Hopefully, as more of my novels come forth, they will provide an income and I will be able to reduce the work load in other areas. That’s the dream anyway.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is critical, perhaps more so now than ever before. It is through story that we remember that we are all human and that we all face the same struggles as human beings. Stories make us aware that throughout all ages of our world human beings have struggled to find balance in life, love, work, and justice in their societies. That these struggles will never be fully resolved is important for us to realize and stories help us to remain resolved in bringing to our world a fair and justice society, one person at a time.

Can you tell us when you started UNITED VIDDEN, how that came about?
United Vidden and the universe of Thyrein’s Galactic Wall was born in my classroom. During my fifteen year tenure as a public school teacher, I integrated the topics we learned in social studies about world cultures and the book novels we read in our readiing classes into the writing curriculum. Over the course of the year, my students created a brand new world, building their own societies and cultures and creating the stories that inhabited that world. It gave us a chance to write a variety of genres as we created the world and its characters. As I taught, I lead by writing my own stories with them.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from UNITED VIDDEN
“It is the fate of kings to delay their own pleasure.” – I love this quote because it speaks to the duty that leadership brings and the importance of prioritizing the needs of those under your authority over your own desires.

“Why would the arrival of a rajin shake them up so?” – I love this quote because it speaks to the struggle between the different groups of power wielders in the world of Thyrein’s Galactic Wall. The rajin, being the established order in the Intergalactic Alliance, are now facing a splintered faction and having to prove their worth.

“Arrogance of knowledge splinters the faith. A dark power rises. Can love bar the way?” – this is the prophecy that is given to the Prophet Lord Orloff and which sets the theme of the first trilogy in Thyrein’s Galactic Wall. I love the idea that we should not become arrogantly confident in our own knowledge. That we should as people explore other points of view and be open to debate and discussion so that splintering and disunity don’t invade our world and cause a riff in the fabric of our society.

The opening scene of the book is my favorite. Verena, as heir to the throne, faces the coming of age challenge and fights an augmented reality version of a beast that has been unkillable by any being in the universe. All heirs die in the battle, but the point of it is to prove your strategic mind and stamina. She does well in it and shows that she is ready to rise to the throne. Sadly, her father doesn’t trust her to bring the kingdom through the coming threat of the Gortive uprising alone as queen and forces a marriage alliance. – I love this because so often, even when we have shown ourselves capable, we face the challenge of gender discrimination as women. I love that United Vidden explores this topic. It is at its heart a story of redemption, because having made the worst mistake of her life, Verena is able to reclaim her birthright and prove herself to her people.

  • 1. United Vidden sets the stage for a large intergalactic power struggle which allows readers to explore the themes of leadership and beliefs that guide our lives as a society
  • 2. The rajin are the power wielders of the universe. They follow the teachings of the Great I Am, but they are not the central characters. They are supporting cast to the regular people of the universe.
  • 3. The importance of fairness to all people and living beings is a critical element of the story line.
  • 4. UV explores the concept of AI through a variety of characters, taking the position that it is not something to be feared, which is different from other scifi works.
  • 5. One of the key themes in the book is the idea of choices and how they can have effects on the lives of others as much as on our own lives.
  • 6. The elite guards of the universe have AI jorses. These are transportation vehicles in the shape of a horse, with synthetic skin and hair so they look like the animal, but with built in technology. They can be ridden astride or the back opens to reveal a cockpit with a force shield around it for when they need to go faster or are used in battle.
  • 7. Sir Andross in the book battles a monster that camouflages so well it is virtually invisible. That was a fun scene to write.
  • 8. The book explores the concept that power itself is neither good or bad. It is the use of it, and the love of it, that can make a person misuse power in devastating ways.
  • 9. The relationship between Verena and her husband Amiel is central to the story. How does a woman balance loving a man while at the same time holding her space and authority? This question is explored in the book.
  • 10. I enjoyed crafting a world in which society developed along monarchical lines. Could our world history have been different if monarchs had been better rulers? This idea is intriguing to me and blending in a monarchical world with modern and even futuristic technology has been both challenging and fun.
Meet the Characters
Verena is the central character in the book. She is the only daughter of King Dekkyle and will be the first female ruler of the kingdom of Dravidia. At the opening of the book, she is very sheltered and naïve. While very well-trained for her future role as queen, she is unprepared for the real challenges the leadership of a nation will bring to her. She makes mistakes and must learn from them. She is a great character for exploring how women and men differ in leadership styles and I enjoy exploring her growth as a person and as a leader.

Amiel ra Aulden is the man she marries. He is an intriguing character to work with because he is not really a bad guy, but he’s not a good guy either. He is a man born to rule, who loves power, and believes in a more authoritarian style of leadership. Can he learn to balance out and be a more empathetic ruler? Will his love of power overcome his love for Verena? These questions are fun to explore and develop in his character arc.

Your Journey to Publication
Having been in the industry as a publisher since 2013, I decided to publish my novel through my own company in 2020. The biggest challenge has been to ensure that the process for me is as rigorous as the process for the other authors we work with. I have to thank my in-house developmental editor, Kelly Lynn Colby, for having the courage to speak truth to me about what needed to be worked in the manuscript in spite of me being her boss. I also worked with an external editor, Max Regan, who has helped me push the deep thematic elements of the novel and develop them to their fullest potential.

Releasing the book during the pandemic was a tough choice. It is a debut novel coming out at a time when things were hard for people. I am grateful for the support of the writing community that I’ve been a part of for so long and for the love of my family, who celebrated with me when the book was released in a virtual book launch.

Writing Behind the Scenes
I’m primarily a discovery writer. I tend to start the stories and just let them flow where and how they want in the first draft. While I hold in my mind a general idea of what needs to happen for the larger arc of the trilogy and for the arc of that book, I don’t do much pre-writing designing. Once I am ready for revision, I sit down and plot out what the story is as it has emerged in that messy first drafting. That’s when I look at the threads of thematic elements and find the places that need to be more thoroughly fleshed out and developed.

For revision, I like to get the work up into vertical space and off the computer. I use chart paper to look at the plot arc and either index cards or sticky notes to identify critical scenes that are missing, or to identify the points in which elements need deepening. I like the kinesthetic element of being able to work with these to visually see the story up on my wall.

At various points in my process, I may stop and draw things out. Elements like the technology of the AI jorse, or the ginmra weapon used in the novel I have diagramed so I can visually see what I am describing. I also love to make maps or floorplans of places so that I can keep them straight in my mind. Some of these have made it into the book. I recently commissioned the family trees of the two main characters, which will be part of book 2’s content, so that it is easier to see the lineage and the connections between the ruling houses of the universe I’m creating. My favorite mapping activity was when I drew out the seven galaxies which the alliance encompasses and worked out the space distance and time for travel across planets in these so I could be consistent in the work. Of course, they use quantum stream space travel so it doesn’t take millennia to cross multiple galaxies.

Best date you've ever had?
The best date I’ve ever had was in my twenties. We had been dancing at a local club and it was two in the morning. He turned to me and said, “I’m going to spend all night with you.” And I was like, not if I don’t let you. But then he proceeded to get on the 610 loop and we drove the rest of the night (until four am) around and around Houston listening to music and laughing. Then he was like, “Now we are going to have breakfast.” And we ended up going to Denny’s. It was fun and quirky and I guess he was the first man I spent the night with =)

What is your most memorable travel experience?
The first time I went to Europe was with my dad. We spent Christmas in London and New Year’s in Paris. We didn’t realize that London shuts down for the holiday, so we took lots of videos in front of places that were closed and laughing that here we were but couldn’t go in because it was closed. When we were on the Champs Elysée on New Year’s eve, we went past this hotel and there was a Ferrari parked there. I called out, “Ooh, a Ferrari!” and the handsome owner of it leaned in and wished me a happy new year’s, as my dad dragged me off back to our hotel. I still remind him I might have been wed to a wealthy man who owned a Ferrari if he hadn’t been a party pooper and dragged me off.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
I’m a romantic at heart. I believe the experience of true love would be well-worth the pain of the heart break at its loss. Love is the one thing in life that is worth whatever price we pay for it, not just romantic love, but all love. Sometimes the betrayal of a friend can be disappointing and make us want to shut down, but I fight that off. I refuse to hold back loving people.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I love the life I’ve had and I love the person that has been forged from it, but if I had to go back and change a moment of my life, I would go back and accept the job offer from the New York Times’s Mexico City office. I wonder what kind of life I would have had if I’d gone into serious journalism rather than continue as a freelancer and then move into teaching.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
I would want to be Louis XIII of France. Instead of creating Versailles, I would expand and improve the Louvre and remain in Paris. I would put more into improving the lives of the people. I believe the revolution occurred because the kings left Paris and lived in a bubble of opulence that was unrealistic of the reality of the country. If Versailles had not been built, would the kings of France have been able to steer the nation better and avoid the downfall of the monarchy? That’s a fun question to explore.

Shattered by her father’s decision to deny her the throne as the first female heir of Dravidia, Princess Verena makes the worst mistake of her life: She runs away. Her departure, days before her wedding to the heir of the Principality of Aulden, throws her nation into war. In a desperate bid to reverse the consequences of her choice, the princess returns to planet Jorn, anxious to prove herself worthy to rule. But it is too late. The princess finds her kingdom conquered by Prince Amiel ra Aulden. Now, Verena must earn back her birthright as well as the trust of her people.

You can purchase United Vidden at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CREATIVE EDGE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.