An Interview with Brittany Severn, author of The Camellia Manifest
Brittany Severn is a writer from Fort Riley, Kansas. She currently lives in Alabama with two rescue dogs, every season of The Golden Girls, and a tortoise named Phil.
What is your favourite dragon in literature?
I know a lot of people are going to pinch me for not saying Smaug because I was so obsessed with Tolkien growing up (LOTR Trivial Pursuit grand champ, here), but I’m going with Saphira from Eragon. She was so damn cool.
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external hard drive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
Oh, it was abandoned for sure. I tinkered with it for years, but it just didn’t work out. And that’s okay. Not everything you write needs to be published. I learned from it, if anything.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
Practice, but also, reading. 100%. You get to know dialogue and characters, world building, what works for fan bases and what doesn’t. Reading definitely makes for a better writer.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
I’d love to be the kind that can pump out novels faster. I published four last year and got burnt out. One to two is my goal, but it’s slow going because I really want to get these stories and characters right.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
If I’m out and about, I always use my Notes app for ideas, one liners, etc. But when I’m home, I write on my laptop on the couch. It’s the most comfortable spot.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
My parents always read my stuff first. Except for the erotica – I put that out and didn’t say anything to them because I can’t imagine them reading it and then being able to look me in the eye. But my parents and some friends do a read through and give their input. Once I have a more polished draft I have a couple of beta readers it’ll go through. I fix what they find grammar-wise, and then I usually do another run through on my own. I haven’t had anything of mine edited by anyone but me (not the best thing, I know), but I look forward to someone else doing that for me one day.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
I always use the local library. I’m not a huge fan of eBooks and I don’t own an e-reader. It’s just not the same. I like to hold a physical copy. I rarely buy books, which surprises a lot of people, but when I do it’s usually from a used bookstore. Like you mentioned, that smell just draws you in. We have some here in Alabama that are nice, but I went to one in Charleston a few years ago and it was the best, complete with books from the floor to the ceiling, an archway of books, and wandering cats.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and have your tastes changed over time?
I think I’ll always be a YA reader. It’s my favorite genre. But I have gotten into more mystery/thriller lately, true crime, and other non-fiction books. I just finished Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks and it was fascinating.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?
I am so bad at social media. Even my personal account goes months without a post. I post stories on Instagram a lot because they’re easy, short, and fun, but I don’t post as much as I should. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s definitely not my favorite thing. I can’t even remember the last time I updated my Facebook page. Anything marketing-wise is not very fun for me.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
I try not to, but I’m sure I do. It depends on the questions, really. I like out of the box questions. The weirder, the better. I feel like my tone should be more proper in interviews, deeper and with longer answers and probably less cursing and the word, ‘dude’, but it is what it is.
About The Camellia Manifest
Sisters Echo and Ava know about loss, but now they are about to lose everything…
Grieving the loss of their grandmother, Echo and Ava only have each other now. On the day of her funeral, catastrophe strikes as natural disasters begin to rip the Earth apart. The world is coming to an end, but there may be hope. Teaming up with some unlikely allies, including an apocalypse obsessed radio host, the sisters seek safety. With the world in chaos, it won’t be an easy journey and they are in for a hell of a ride. As they reach their destination, a single flight headed to safety, the sisters discover that not everyone is on their side and they will have to fight for their survival. Can they make it to the plane? Or will they be left to die on the ground?