Rising Frenzy–who is this crazy author?

September 23, 2013

Welcome back!  I’m a teacher of my word, so this section is the all about me, Brandon Witt, portion of our day together.  We both know that you’ve been waiting with baited breath at your screen to learn who I am, what makes me tick, and just how many years of therapy a person has to go through to end up like this!  It’s okay, you can breathe now.  (See what my students have to deal with?  Talk about needing therapy!  Poor kids!)

I am a thirty-five year old red headed man who lives in Denver. (The older I’ve gotten, the hair has tamed itself to a light auburn, but I’m holding onto the claim of red hair, damn it.  At least until I can figure out how to get a tan.)  Currently, and for the past seven years, I have taught Special Education at an elementary school.  I work with students with significant emotional disabilities—lots of anger, tears, violence, restraints, drama.  And that’s just me before my coffee on Monday mornings.  Before that, I worked for six years with the same type of kids, but in a residential treatment facility for high school age children—think Juvenile hall where kids live, with therapy and teachers.  At that point, I was a counselor.

I am a daddy two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan.  I may be one of those helicopter moms where my dogs are concerned.  I am son (duh), brother, uncle (to a four year old boy who the universe rotates around—at least mine), and a boyfriend (you’ll learn more about Stephen in blog three).

For the first eighteen years of my life I grew up in El Dorado Springs, Missouri.  A town of three thousand in the Ozarks.  My family was a very conservative Christian family.  Think—no drinking, dancing, jewelry, movie theaters, etc, etc, etc.  Shockingly, that also meant no gayness.  Surprising, right?  Later, I would go on to get my bachelor degree to be a youth pastor in a church.  A week after graduation, upon two church job offers, I came out, and left that profession so that I wouldn’t be living a lie.  Promptly, I jumped into ‘learn to be straight’ therapy (1-3 times a week for five years—boy, what I could do with that money now).  Thankfully, that didn’t work, as I’m probably the gayest man I’ve ever met.  Yep, you’re chatting with a gold-star gay, baby.  Despite all of the drama you can imagine in this scenario (and the issues, good Lord, don’t forget the issues), I am very close to my family.  We are together AT LEAST once a week.  Being the good gay I am, I talk to my mom every single day.  I say this because my first published novel, The Shattered Door, takes place in my hometown, and has many autobiographical features in it.  The main character’s mother is a horribly broken woman.  People often ask if my real mother was her basis of inspiration.  Definitely not.  I have a wonderful mother, who, like most mothers I’ve met, is the real strength, power, and love of our family.  This is a photo of my mother and I at a Centennial Celebration in our home town.

These aspects—my work with hurting children, and my own struggles growing up—greatly affect my writing, obviously.  Most of what I write has a dark tinge.  Some of it is much more than tinged.  Both in my contemporary and fantasy writing, I have characters that face things that we all face in life.  I know that for some readers, it can be too much.  However, I have seen the darkness destroy some people and make others amazing.  Children who have overcome sexual and physical abuse, neglect, learned to function with disabilities, on, and on, and on.  The questions of God, brokenness, Hell, salvation. . . life. . . tend to make their way onto every page.  I tend to not sugar coat much.  Just as in life, some characters allow themselves to be broken, others learn to fly.

Writing, to me, is as vital as breathing.  Through stories that I wrote in high school, to books upon books of journaling, and now novels that tell the lives of others, I’ve learned to live.  Ms. Hungerford, my Lit teacher in my sophomore year of high school first breathed the gift of writing words into my life.  She told me I was good, that she liked reading what I wrote.  Looking at those stories now, I often think that she had to be lying—no one would want to read those.  However, she started it.  She wouldn’t approve of the things I write, but I think she would be honored by the strength and honesty that she has inspired.

So, me.  All about me.  I guess it comes down to this.  I love living.  I love how life, darkness, and love itself affects people so differently and causes such vast array of reactions.  I have written for years, fought to see my books in print for years (and years and years).  Now, here we are.  By Christmas, four novels will be out.  It’s a testament to hard to work, an audacious belief that a person can do anything if they sacrifice, and though romance may not be the pinnacle of the words I write, Love is.  No bit of my life or my writing would be here without love.  Love of family—especially my mother.  Love of a teacher who told me I was good at something.  Love of myself enough to believe that God doesn’t see me as the abomination I was told.  Love of a publisher, Elizabeth of Dreamspinner named her company well.  Love of stories, believing they matter, entertain, tell a truth, and change lives.

In books (and movies and music, as well), I don’t like being preached at, nor do I enjoy or want a ‘lesson’ or moral shoved down my throat.  I want to entertained, enveloped into another’s life or a different world.  I love it when it’s beautiful, but it’s okay when it’s hard or dark.  What has to be there for me to love a book is passion.  An overused word, perhaps, but true nonetheless.  We should live passionately, in everything.  Life is too wonderful, fleeting, and fragile to do anything else, and I expect that in books.  And while everyone has a different view of that, of what passion should look it, I can promise that every word I’ve written (both in the contemporary novel, The Shattered Door, and the Men of Myth series) comes from that outlook.  I love my characters.  They have surprised me so many times, caused me to laugh and cry.  My hope is that people learn to love them like I do, and that they make the reader’s life a little more full in some way.  It is a scary thing sending your children out into world.

Question and Giveaway time:

1. What drives you?  What is your passion?  Where do you find your love of life?  How do you find your wings in the times you’ve not been able to feel that love?

2. For the giveaway of Rising Frenzy–What are your thoughts of darkness in novels, in ugly realities of life being written on a page?  It’s okay—you can be honest.  You don’t have to agree with me.  I work with kids, remember?  Kids are brutally blunt.  Makes life fun!

9 Responses to “Rising Frenzy–who is this crazy author?”

  1. John Amory says:

    Hi Brandon,

    I’m so excited for you today! I loved Submerging Inferno, and I’m already a few chapters deep in Rising Frenzy. Congratulations, and have fun here today!

    Best,
    John

  2. BrandonWitt says:

    John, Thank you so much! I can’t wait to hear what you think about Rising! For everyone else, check out John Amory’s short stories: Protection and Jury Duty. They’re awesome!

  3. Trix says:

    The darkness issue depends on so many factors for me. I usually like lighthearted stories best, but I much prefer something melancholy infused with hope to something that’s been smooth sailing until some huge heartwrenching moment is thrown in for poignancy…

  4. Carolyn says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing all that, Brandon. It’s amazing what you’ve gone through, and it’s wonderful how you can use that now. I sometimes wish we didn’t have to go through all the bad stuff that life throws at us, but in many ways, we know we wouldn’t be the person we are. And most of us have people around us who think that person is pretty great, so that’s something.

    I absolutely love the full range of human (or non-human) emotions in my books. So, whether something is light or dark, silly or angsty, I’m all for it. I do love those deep emotions, though, the one that rip the soul right out of you and then put it back in, just reconfigured. I never shy away from that because there’s something beautiful when that happens.

  5. H.B. says:

    Thanks for sharing all that with us Brandon. It’s interesting to see what experiences mold us and how far we’ve come today because of it.

    It really depends on what type of mood I’m in. Sometimes I like seeing dark, angsty, horrifying things in the stories I read. At other times I like it to be light, sweet and happy. All in all, I’m always up any read that can send me on an emotional roller coaster.

  6. BrandonWitt says:

    Trix (fun name, btw),
    I think you may be in the majority. Much of the time, I’m there with you. It’s nice to have something light. Life is hard enough without constantly having heaviness and darkness. To me, something is good when it’s balanced. Sounds silly, but Harry Potter does that for me. I felt kinda of silly saying the Harry Potter novels are my favorite books, until Stephen King said the same thing. If it’s good enough for the King (who I also LOVE), it’s good enough for me. Rowling has this balance. The Potter books are blast and are total fun, but when you step back and really look at them? Man–those things are dark. And I love it. The trick or the trap is that that right balance of light and dark varies from person to person. Though my writing is pretty dark, I do hope that it always comes back to hope and love. That’s my desire in life as well. Trix, thanks so much for being here and taking part today!

  7. BrandonWitt says:

    Carolyn,
    You nailed it! Somehow, in real life and on the page, you have to have your heart ripped out and be reconfigured. With the exception of a horrible relationship I was in for way too long (young, dumb, and insecure), I wouldn’t change much of my past, as hard as much of it was. You’re right, those things made me who I am now and have made it possible to be here–which is a pretty great place to be. As hard as I like to think things were/are, all I have to do is look at my students who face so much more than I ever dreamed to know that I’ve been spared so, so much heartache. And, I’m thankful for that too. As a kid, and early teen, I prayed that God would test me, put me through the fire so that I could come out the person he wanted to me to be. While I’m thankful for certain ‘trials,’ I sure don’t pray that prayer anymore. I’m ready for a long, long period of peace. Even if it means I don’t ‘grow’ at the same rate as I would in times of tribulation. Good grief–that ‘Bible speak’ comes back without even trying! :)

  8. BrandonWitt says:

    H.B.
    Hi! Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and speak up! Its great to have you here! I know what you mean by being in the right mood. Some of my favorite books and movies are so heavy and dark, I only give into them every once in a while when the time is right. The rest of the time, pop in the Easy A DVD or read an Archie comic book and ignore the cares of life for a while! (Although, I do love a roller coaster!)

  9. BrandonWitt says:

    Carolyn–I have to give the giveaway to you for this one. Please, email me at wordsfoodandmermaids@gmail.com or any of the links from my last blog. Let me know which book you’d like a copy of and if you’d like an e-version or paper copy. :) Thanks so much for taking part today!!!!

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