I would have to say that my favorite thing about blogging is the constant contact I have with brilliant authors. For instance, because of my "literary world" status, I can just email an author and ask if I could have the honor of interviewing them. I got an itch to speak with (interview) Cindy Brandner, author of the "Exit Unicorns" series, and to my delight, she said she would be honored.
Ms Brandner is a wonderful author, and an amazing human being. It was my utmost pleasure to ask her some questions about her books and her life as an author.
So, without further ado, here is my interview with author Cindy Brandner.
An Interview with Author Cindy Brandner
The Literary Connoisseur: Hello, Cindy! Thank you so much for stopping by The Literary Connoisseur and answering some questions about your Exit Unicorns series, your writing, and your life as an author! If you're ready, let's begin. Let's start with a question about you first. What inspired you to write Exit Unicorns?
Cindy Brandner: My family emigrated out of Ireland in 1915. Ireland has simply always been a part of my life, through stories and traditions and just the things we did and the way we thought as a family. I have two great passions in life- writing and Irish history, the two were a perfect fit when it came time to get serious about my writing. It was simply the story inside me waiting to be told.
The Literary Connoisseur: What made you choose Ireland and the 1960s as your time and place setting?
Cindy Brandner: I didn’t so much pick the time period as it picked me. I was really drawn to answer a question I had heard from various people— ‘The Irish—do they even know what they are fighting about?’ People didn’t understand the conflict in Northern Ireland, they didn’t realize there were 800 years of history there that explained exactly how the conflict developed, and why it kept going for so long.
The Literary Connoisseur: Are there any other points of history that hold a special place in your heart?
Cindy Brandner: I have a special place in my heart for the Great Famine- the potato famine in Ireland that started in 1847- Black ’47. I have a novel in the beginning stages set during the Famine. I’m also fascinated by 18th century France.
The Literary Connoisseur: Out of the four main characters (Jamie, Casey, Patrick, and Pamela), who would you say you connect with the most?
Cindy Brandner: I connect with them all, but if there is one character that most represents my own ideals and values, it’s probably Patrick Riordan.
The Literary Connoisseur: Who (or what) inspires you?
Cindy Brandner: So many things inspire me— good writing by other authors, music, travel, nature and people who have overcome huge obstacles to build a better life for their families. I’m inspired by my own family coming here to Canada and starting a life in a totally strange landscape.
The Literary Connoisseur: Do your characters "speak" to you?
Cindy Brandner: Absolutely. I wouldn’t know what to do if they didn’t. Casey speaks so clearly to me that, when I write his parts, I feel as if I’ve sat down and had tea and a grand chat with a very dear friend.
The Literary Connoisseur: Your readers are well acquainted with who you envision as Casey (although you might want to share anyway for those who don't know), but who do you picture as Jamie? Patrick? Pamela?
Cindy Brandner: While I admit to often posting pictures of Colin Farrell, Casey actually doesn’t look like him at all. His colouring is exactly right though. My shorthand answer for how Casey looks is this: Colouring- Colin Farrell, Size- Liam Neeson, and the devil in his eyes just like David O’Hara. For Pamela the young Jennifer Connelly is the only who comes to mind. Jamie- hmm, I don’t associate him with any actors really nor Pat either. However readers have mentioned a few actors for Jamie. Rupert Penry-Jones is probably the name I hear most often, occasionally Simon Baker too.
The Literary Connoisseur: Have you yourself traveled to Ireland? What was your impression of the country?
Cindy Brandner: Yes, I’ve been over four times now. I’m going again in the fall. I love Ireland more than I can really express. I consider it my soul’s home. The people are terrific and think nothing of stopping to have a good long conversation. Also, they are a country that loves reading. You can often find poetry on their bestseller lists and in the book shops the clerks will always have their lists of favourite books to share with you. Last time I was there I had a huge list of books to pick up just from talking to the cab driver on the way into Dublin from the airport.
The Literary Connoisseur: Your books are told through the perspectives of Jamie, Casey, Casey's brother Patrick, and Pamela. Out of those four, who is your favorite character to write?
Cindy Brandner: This is a hard one to answer, because I love writing about each of them being that they all bring such different perspectives to the story that I’m telling. Casey is the easiest to write, but I am often most satisfied with the writing in the parts to do with Jamie.
The Literary Connoisseur: What do you love most about being an author?
Cindy Brandner: I love so many things about it. I’m my own boss. I get to live in this alternate world every day, which for someone who has always lived more in her mind than in her physical surroundings is pretty wonderful. I am living out my dream. I’ve had all sorts of amazing experiences that have come to me as a result of my books. Also, I get to go to Ireland every couple of years for research. But the best thing is this— I am living my dream every day. Every once in awhile I stop to take that in and it never fails to astound me.
The Literary Connoisseur: Do you have a favorite place to write?
Cindy Brandner: Yes, I have a big rolltop oak desk filled with all sorts of objects that have meaning to me and it sits by a set of French doors. The doors lead to a balcony that looks out over my back yard. I like it here, because I can stare outside as I wait for the muse to whisper in my ears.
The Literary Connoisseur: Are you currently working on any new projects?
Cindy Brandner: I just put out a collection of short stories connected to the ‘Exit Unicorns’ series last fall and now I’m hard at work on the fourth book in the main series.
The Literary Connoisseur: Again, thank you so much for honoring me, my fans, and fans of your books with an interview, Ms. Brandner! It's been an absolute dream and a pleasure to speak with you. Please keep writing such amazing books!
To find out more about Cindy Brandner, check out her websites:
Check out her website here!
Check out her Facebook page here!
Check out her Goodreads page here!
Book One: Exit Unicorns
Book Two: Mermaid in a Bowl of Tears
Book Three: Flights of Angels
A Compilation of Exit Unicorns Short Stories: Spindrift
Author Bio for Cindy Brandner:
A long time ago someone, referring to the long conflict in Northern Ireland, asked me the question 'The Irish, do they even know what they are fighting about?" These books are my answer to that question.
Ireland is one of the grand passions of my life, writing is another, so when the time came to get serious about my life's work the two things were a very natural fit. I wanted to tell the story of Northern Ireland though, and for whatever reason it was the modern era of the Troubles that called to me most strongly. The characters have been with me for a long time, and feel like family to me now. A reader once said to me that these characters felt so real to her that she was certain they had existed somewhere, some time and had chosen me to tell their story. I often feel that way myself, I just get out of the way and let them tell their story through me.
These books are Irish history, yes, but they are also the story of people who live inside that history, with all the foibles of humanity--love, hate, revenge, joy and sorrow. They are the story of marriages, friendships and lives lived out under the weight of an extraordinary history in an extraordinary country.
Welcome to the world of James Kirkpatrick, the Riordan brothers and Pamela O'Flaherty as well as a cast of dozens, including gypsies and Jesuits, courtesans and spies, politicians and poets, rebels and raconteurs. Welcome to the world of the Exit Unicorns series, I hope you will enjoy the journey.
Read my review of Exit Unicorns here!
Enter the signed paperback giveaway here!