Today’s interview is with YA and Adult author, Lira Brannon!
Intro: What is your name, what do you write, and where can readers find you on social media? And just for fun, if you could be any mythical being or creature, who or what would you be?
Lira Brannon. I write anything from picture books to YA. I can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lira.brannon My website: http://www.lirabrannon.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lirabrannon and Instagram: authorLiraBrannon . I am also on Goodreads and Amazon.
- Your most recent publication, A Different Kind of Black Belt is the second in your Para-Athlete series. It’s so rare to find a YA book series with a lead character who has a disability. What made you want to write about para-athletes?
I went to a football game a few years back where one of the marching band members was in a wheelchair. It got me to thinking of all the other times I had seen disabled people following their dreams. The more I saw, the more I wanted to write about a teen struggling with all the issues teens do who just happens to be in a wheelchair.
- YA is such a wide-open category and you write in several genres. What type of YA do you enjoy the most and why?
Probably fantasy. It’s a genre where imagination can go anywhere—and mine usually does.
- Do you find there are central themes or elements that are unique to your books? (For example, are you drawn to anti-heroes, antagonists, certain settings etc.) Why do those things stand out to you?
I tend to write about overcoming and finding your true self. Everyone has obstacles and has to find their purpose in life—some paths are just a little more convoluted than others. My settings, characters, and everything else varies a great deal—I get bored.
- A Different Kind of Black Belt focuses on martial arts while its predecessor incorporates cheerleading. Do you have personal experience with these sports and if not, why did you pick them?
Although A Different Kind of Cheerleader came first, A Different Kind of Black Belt was easier to write. I do not have experience with cheerleading, though the sport is very big in our small town, but the research was fun. I got a great pinterest board with lots of misc. ideas.
As for TKD, I have 2 daughters who are 2nd degree black belts and one that is a blue belt. I have been learning and watching the sport for over 10 years. The girls helped me a lot.
My next book in the series, A Different Kind of Rodea Queen, will focus on one of my loves—horse riding.
5. What kind of research did you have to do for this book and what was the most surprising thing you learned?
Lots of Youtube videos. I watched competitions, practices, para-olympics—it was fun.
6. Why do you think readers will love your main character, Meg Barnes? Why is her story important?
Despite Meg’s flaws and the fact that she is at a difficult time in her life she has some great attributes that I would want in a friend. She loves kids and is good at teaching them. She is loyal, smart and brave.
7. You are Secretary of Northeast Texas Writers’ Organization (NETWO), a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and belong to several critique groups. How have these organizations influenced your writing?
Wow. Big question. I honestly can say I wouldn’t be where I am without these groups. The conferences, critiques, and networking have taught me so much. Through the patience and understanding of fellow members I have become a much better writer faster than I would have on my own. Also, where once I could never speak or read in front of a group—I find myself doing this almost weekly. The ladies and gents of NETWO have gone above and beyond to nurture me along. My critique partners (Thanks Mike, Joy, and Galand) are both relentless and encouraging.
8. In addition to novels, you’ve also written a plethora of short stories, many of which have won awards. How do you choose which ideas to make novels and which to keep on the shorter side?
That’s a tough one. Some stories just seem to have a shorter arc. Other times I plan to write a short story and know that arc must be shortened.
9. How is your short story writing process different than your novel writing process?
Novels take a lot more planning. The scope is broader and generally have more threads. In a Different Kind of Black Belt there are 3 far reaching threads, a romantic thread, a TKD thread, and a spiritual thread that run the length of the book. I don’t think I’d attempt all that in a short story.
10. If you were to participate in a para-athletic sport, which would you pick and why?
I love sports now, so I probably wouldn’t change. I’d try horse riding, volleyball, basketball, archery—yeah, pretty much everything I do now.
11. Why is Meg’s story so important for readers to pick up?
Because it’s a great story and honestly one of my favs.
Thank you Lira! Don’t forget to check out her books and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lira.brannon, her website: http://www.lirabrannon.com/, Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lirabrannon and Instagram: authorLiraBrannon. She is also on Goodreads and Amazon.
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As always, keep making magic, word weavers!