Friday, April 21, 2017

Interview with novelist Kate Brandes

Novelist Kate Brandes joins me today to talk about her newest women’s fiction, The Promise of Pierson Orchard.

During her virtual book tour, Kate will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

An environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wildflowers.

Welcome, Kate. Please share a little bit about your current release.
This story is Erin Brockovich meets Promised Land, about a Pennsylvania family threatened by betrayal, financial desperation, old flames, fracking, and ultimately finding forgiveness.

In the novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack and Wade–years ago.

When LeeAnn’s parents have good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land, and the way of life they love.

What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve spent most of my career, not as a writer, but as an environmental scientist. I didn’t start writing creatively until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve always loved stories about complicated families and relationships. When I learned about fracking through my environmental science career, one of my first thoughts was that it would make a great metaphor in a novel about a fractured family.

Excerpt from The Promise of Pierson Orchard:
“A brand new black pickup was parked between LeeAnn’s red Chevy and Jack’s old beater. A man stood beside it, with his hand raised in greeting, but he said nothing more. Coming from the bright light of the barn into the dusk prevented Jack from making out the man’s face. Jack stared in his direction. Some tug of memory caused him to hesitate. There was something familiar about the slight curl in his shoulders.
LeeAnn emerged from the edge of the orchard and the man turned at the sound of her boots on the gravel drive. “LeeAnn?” the man said.
She stopped. “Wade Pierson?” She hesitated a moment more and then walked slowly toward him. “Is it really you?”
There, right in front of him, was his brother. Wade. Back after twenty years. He was still alive, at least. Wade’s arms encircled LeeAnn.
Jack clenched his fists and went back into the barn. He offloaded the fruit from the wagon, bruising most of it. He washed apples with shaky hands and then crushed them for the cider press. LeeAnn and Wade came through the doorway.
“Jack, look who’s here.” Jack glanced up and then couldn’t take his eyes from his brother’s face for a long moment. He wasn’t a sixteen year-old kid anymore. He’d grown taller than Jack and filled out. Damn if he didn’t look even more like their dad now, with that same dark red hair and fair skin. That curl of the shoulder used to give Wade the look of someone unsure of whether he belonged. But now Wade stood there smiling, like he would be welcome. Like he could just show up after all this time with as much warning as he gave on the night he left.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m at work on my second novel, partly inspired by Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. It will be another book club fiction novel with an eco-bent, but it’s a completely different story from my first novel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s an interesting question. Since I’ve spent my career as a scientist, it took me a long time to think of myself as a writer and not to refer to my writing life as a “hobby.” Honestly, it’s taken me more than a decade and a publishing contract to truly feel like I could call myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full time. I still work part-time as an environmental scientist. I write when I can, which is usually in the early morning hours before the rest of the world is awake.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to draft long hand with a notebook and pen. For whatever reason, the story comes out deeper and more fully formed if I begin with paper and pen.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A geologist. Then I grew up and became a geologist. I’ve also always loved fiction and words, so it seems inevitable now that I would figure out a way to become a writer too.

Anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
Bookclub Giveaway: In celebration of my upcoming book launch, I'm offering 8 signed paperback copies, 8 small prizes, a $25 Amazon gift card and a list of book-related discussion questions to one lucky book club member to share with your club. All you have to do to enter is tell one person about the book and sign up here. Contest runs through my book launch date, April 22, 2017. The winner will be announced the following day! Good luck!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog today, Kate!
Thank you so much for having me!

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win

Kate Brandes said...

Thanks, Lisa:)

Kate Brandes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate Brandes said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today:)

Kim Pickett said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win

Bridgett Wilbur said...

I would love to read your book it sounds amazing.

Rita Wray said...

I enjoyed the interview.

Kate Brandes said...

Thanks, Kim, Bridgett, and Rita. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by the blog:) Thanks for reading!