- You have just won a book award at the best hero book awards. Have the hero of your last book in explain your last book and introduce you.
Hi, there. I’m Todd Brennan, former Air Force pararescueman, and current security specialist for Steele Security. In Gwen’s last book, I was tracking a killer in the Montana mountains when I literally bumped into a beautiful woman named Lindsey Garcia. I saved her from a deadly fall, and from the kidnappers on her trail, and planned to get her back to civilization for help. The bad guys had other plans. We ended up sharing a tent in the wilderness and got to know each other better, and she changed my life in the best way possible.
Gwen Hernandez, the author of my book Blind Trust, was a military brat and spouse, so her books often feature military heroes and heroines who must overcome danger to find true love. She was a programmer and manufacturing engineer before she started writing, and now she feeds her inner geek with book research, and by teaching others to use writing software called Scrivener.
She lives in the Los Angeles area, where she and I both recently relocated.
- Tell us about your last book’s heroine?
Lindsey Garcia is an accountant from Los Angeles. She’s smart and strong and introverted. When she and her best friend are kidnapped, she figures out a way to escape to go for help. Todd saves her and teaches her how to survive in the wilderness, and she learns that she’s tougher and braver than she ever knew. And she falls hard for the handsome redhead.
- In your last book what was the hardest part write? What was the easiest?
The hardest part for me is usually the very beginning, but this time it was the final showdown. I completely rewrote a big chunk of the second half of the book, but it was worth it.
The easiest part was Todd and Lindsey getting to know each other while on the run. I loved them as a couple, and I enjoyed immersing myself in my travel photos and research of that part of the US. Plus, it was fun picking my outdoorsy son’s brain about camping and backpacking.
- Did you plan this book at the beginning of the series or not till it was time to write it?
This book wasn’t planned until…ever. It’s just how I work. It’s not the most efficient process or the fastest, but I love the challenge of it.
- How did you come up with the idea for this book?
I have no idea! I often start with a premise or some vague idea of what I want to write about, usually triggered by a news story, magazine article, conversation, or a TV show. In this case, I was toying with having the heroine be some kind of whistleblower, and maybe having a militia group in the mountains. That latter part is how I ended up choosing Montana as the location. I’d also recently been on vacation there, so the landscape was fresh in my mind.
Once I start writing, I almost always veer from the original “spark,” and this book was no exception. The villains’ and their motives changed, but the setting stayed in Montana, and the opening scene came to me while I was doing a writing exercise to get the creativity flowing.
- Are you a plotter or a discovery writer? Have you ever tried writing the other way? What happened?
I fall heavily on the discovery writer side of the scale, as you can probably tell by now. I have created plots for quite a few of my books, but it ends up being an exercise to get me started writing before I change almost everything about the story, lol. I usually end up starting the book several times until I land on a story premise that has the tone I’m looking for, and feels like it has enough conflict and potential to sustain a full-length novel. I used to think I lacked ideas, but really I just find it hard to choose one.
- How do you make time for writing?
I’ve gotten to the point where I actually block out writing time on my calendar now. Most days, it’s the first work thing I do, before checking email or social media or doing other business tasks. That way, no matter what happens later in the day, I’ve worked on my book. I try to write again in the afternoon or evening.
- Do you have rituals or habits that you follow in order to help you write? What are they?
This is something that I should probably be better at given the way I’m wired. I do have a favorite writing chair, and I often write best listening to music in the background. Figuring that out was a total surprise because I always thought I preferred silence.
But, honestly, once I’m in the flow, it doesn’t matter where I am or whether there’s noise.
- What is your favorite drink while you write?
Hot mint green tea.
- How long does it take typically to write a first draft? What types of things make it take longer and what types of things will help it take less time?
For a romance writer, I’m on the slower side. Manuscripts have taken me anywhere from four to 18 months. I think I’m actually getting slower. *cries* The environment of the last few years and losing our family dog, have been especially hard on my creative brain. When we have a lot of travel or visitors, that’s definitely a distraction, but the good kind.
If I knew what made writing go faster, I’d do more of that! Being more consistent about working on the manuscript even when I don’t know what happens next helps. I try to “touch” it every weekday for two to three hours, even if it’s just reviewing the last scene, brainstorming, or doing research.
- What house hold chore do you love and why?
Love is probably too strong a word for any household chore. 😉 But, there is nothing more satisfying to me than creating a clutter-free space. Disarray and mess stress me out.
- What was your first non-writing job? Did you like it why or why not?
Unless you count my very first job at Mcdonald’s in high school, my first full-time job out of college was as a programmer for a company that did phone surveys. Coding is a fun mental challenge, and is often an iterative process, much like my writing process. I liked the project-oriented nature of it too, regularly getting something new to work on. More writing parallels! But I didn’t enjoy the tight timelines we were given or the stress of working up to 16-hour days when a deadline loomed.
- What do you do when you’re not writing that is not a wi-fi dependent activity?
I love to get outdoors. Hiking, biking, and jogging at the beach are some of my favorite activities. I also love to travel or play tourist in my own area. And I’m always in the middle of reading a book.
- Do you believe in luck?
Absolutely. Though I think it often takes hard work to be in a position to take advantage of it when it comes your way.
MARCH QUESTION OF THE MONTH
WHAT’S AT THE END OF THE RAINBOW?
My own personal pot of gold would be a long life with good health until the very end. And the ability to write a little faster.
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