I am delighted to feature Rebecca Bryn, a very successful and creative novelist, on my website. Here are some details about Rebecca and her books.
Rebecca Bryn lives on a smallholding in West Wales with her husband, rescue dog and a flock of sheep. She loves walking, gardening and painting. She write thrillers with a sprinkle of romance, mystery, heartbreak, and a twist. She also paints the stunning coastal scenery in watercolour and has work in private collections worldwide.
Psychological thriller set in West Wales.
A reader wrote : ‘Gripping family saga set against the backdrop of a rural and very insular community. When Alana Harper inherits a cottage from an aunt she never knew, family secrets slowly begin to unravel, but only lies and half-truths emerge. Crimes from the past, including child abduction lead to present day acts of revenge. This is a book you will not want to put down until you know the truth of what went on all those years ago. Alana must face a past of which she was totally unaware and people she should be able to trust who want her to stay ignorant. Excellent storytelling.’
WW2 thriller set partly in a Nazi death camp in Poland
A reader wrote: ‘Books about the Holocaust are never easy reading and it’s an emotive subject. From this comes a beautiful tale of survival and love. I shan’t give away too much but the pace of the story is constant, the characters are full and human with frailties like anyone else. The horrors of Auschwitz are terrible but love & humanity prevail. The conclusion is a surprise and expertly written. I thoroughly recommend this book.’
Dystopian thriller set in the High Atlas Mountains of Morroco
A reader wrote: ‘This is an inspiring, thought-provoking book unlike any I’ve read. Set far in the future, this is the story of clashing societies and their interpretations of the second coming. Some groups cover war, while others are peaceful by nature. It’s very dystopian, but incorporates interesting political, social, and spiritual elements into the story. At the heart of it all is a story of love. A couple fighting against all odds who end up kidnapped. Heartbreak and loss seem eminent, but beneath it all is hope.
There are many characters in this book, but they were so well developed and I found it easy to follow along, while at the same time getting lost in the story.
Rebecca Bryn’s writing style is lovely, and there were so many deep, emotionally charged issues underlying the story itself. Although the tale is futuristic, it has this old worldly feel to it, and I loved the author’s ability to paint the scene and evoke powerful emotions from me as a reader. 5 stars.
http://smarturl.it/YoureNotAloneAnth A charity anthology in aid of MacMillan cancer nurses.
Rebecca and Kes at home in Pembrokeshire
Q: How did you come to be a writer.
About twelve years ago, a friend had a serious accident. She’d always enjoyed writing stories as a child and I suggested she write while she was recuperating. She began sending me hand-written chapters by snail mail. I’d comment on them and return them. Her therapy turned into a desire to be published and, as I thought she had talent, I offered to proof-read for her. Paper and barely-decipherable squiggles of biro became e-mail attachments and, one day, quite out of the blue, I sat at my computer and typed Chapter One. Jem frowned and scanned the horizon. Nothing.
I was hooked and my first novel, Destiny, was conceived. Convinced it was the best thing since sliced bread, I sent it off to an agent, stating that I wanted to grab mankind by the throat and shake him. (I was passionate about my subject, as you will gather.) The agents duly returned it saying it wasn’t for them.
A reality check, one of many: the message was always the same. You write well and we really enjoyed your story but don’t feel it is something we can market. After ten years of this I found myself with several stories they’d really enjoyed, none of which they felt were marketable.
It’s frustrating to know you have a story people would enjoy reading, but marketing – profit – gets in the way. I wasn’t writing for money. I was writing to be read and enjoyed… to get across a message, to share my hopes and dreams, my passions – Not marketable.
Q: Is this what got you into Indie publishing?
Partly. About eighteen months ago, after a close brush with success with an agent, which frankly terrified me, I decided to take control of my own destiny and join the growing ranks of self-published authors.
It’s been a near vertical learning-curve, an immense amount of work (agents and publishers earn their cut) and a very rewarding experience. I’ve met talented and generous people, both authors and readers, and had fabulous reviews: a vindication of my determination. I’m one very tired, emotionally battered but very happy bunny.
Q: Have you had any rejections that have inspired or motivated you?
Oh yes. Every rejection was a motivation to improve. And those readers who’ve taken the trouble to give me feedback have inspired changes, new exciting paths, and improved characters. I take criticism very seriously. It almost always leads to huge improvements in my writing and my story. If nothing else, it makes me question everything I write and think more deeply.
Q: If you were trying to describe your writing to someone who hasn’t read anything by you before, what would you say?
That’s a hard one. I write about difficult subjects: things that matter to me and to others – injustice, loss, guilt, forgiveness – what makes people who they are. I like to dig inside a character, let them grow and flourish, and I like to think I make my reader aware of all the shades of grey that lie between black and white, lest they judge my characters too quickly. None of them are perfect, any more than I am.
Before you judge a man, walk two moons in his moccasins, a Native American Plains proverb, is a maxim I live by.
The Silence of the Stones is woven around injustice in the legal system and the devastating effects that injustice has on the convicted and their families. It also delves into injured minds and what drives people to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of doing.
Touching the Wire is partly historical, set largely in Auschwitz… need I say more, except that the research had me in tears and it was a story I was driven to tell. It was published to coincide with the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Where Hope Dares, my latest novel, is a rewrite of the novel, Destiny, the story that sparked my writing career eleven years ago. It kept me awake at night thinking about what man is doing to our beautiful planet in the name of profit and progress. Again, it’s a story I was driven to write. Jem is now Kiya: she no longer frowns, nor does she scan the horizon, and Abe has taken on a whole new and more dangerous persona. The story has evolved with me, and several of the events I foretold in the first draft have since come to pass. Most notably the present flooding in the North of England.
Q: The protagonist in Where Hope Dares is Abe. What ten words best describe him
Committed, driven, compassionate, gentle, lonely, religious, great-hearted, guilt-ridden, open-minded, courageous.
Q: Tell us a little about the major areas you had to research for this novel.
Where Hope Dares is set loosely in the High Atlas Mountains, because it was a region that satisfied the geography and probable climate I required to place both my protagonists and the scenario. Though not set in our time, I still had to research much about the mountain terrain, flora and fauna, the areas of Morocco that border the Oum Erribia and south of the High Atlas to the Grand Sahara. Kiya’s people originate in the Horn of Africa so I researched the customs, democracy, religion and history of the Oromo people, which is fascinating and should be a model for all countries’ governments. I collected images that inspired me and posted them on my Pininterest page. I also researched texts from the bible concerning original sin and the second coming. Berber dress and religion was another area plus Catholicism, poisonous plants, sailing a small ship in a storm, the coastal waters of West Africa, surviving a sandstorm and a blizzard. How to build a snow cave, surviving a desert without water, and climate change and sea-level rise, which is a minefield. Fortunately, I was able to call on someone who has done a lot of research on the past, present and possible future climate of our planet. One joy was the proverbs of the Oromo and Native American peoples. Why don’t these wise people rule the world?
Q: Regardless of genre, what are the elements that you think make a great novel? Did you consciously ensure all of these are in place?
A plausible, gripping tale, interesting settings, well-developed characters with whom the reader can empathise, an underlying message of some kind that might inspire or give the reader pause to think, good grammar and writing that flows. The reader should find themselves transported to the place, living the story. Re part two of your question: I try to ensure these things are in place, but my readers will judge if I’ve succeeded.
Q: In which ways was writing transformative for you?
Writing is cathartic. It allows you to put feelings into words, which most people find difficult in real life. There were many parts of my research that gave me cause for concern about our beautiful planet. I think writing about it has helped me come to terms with my own mortality and insignificance. As Raphel in Where Hope Dares observes, while waiting to be sacrificed, mankind is mere grains of sand. Writing has also given me confidence, as did my painting success.
Q: What is it about your novels that you feel make them particularly suitable for book clubs?
They raise questions about religion, society, justice, democracy and fear and hope for our future, but all packaged in stories of courage, faith, sacrifice, hope and, above all, unbreakable love. They also explore the way events shape people, and people shape events and each other.
Q: Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?
Yes and no, in that order. Recurring themes are the stupidity of war, the insubstantiality of religion, man’s greed and brutality to man (and woman), loss, courage, faith, hope and love, and what makes us who we are – nurture over nature. In a way, that answers the question. We are who we are and we keep repeating the same mistakes. Learn from history or others’ mistakes? If only.
Q: ‘I’ve always said there are two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. Architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up.’ (George R R Martin) Which are you?
If I were an architect, I’d have organic flowing shapes. If I were a gardener, I’d have some structure. On balance, I’m more a gardener. I love a garden when it’s slightly out of control, growing wildly and over-stepping its bounds, and I think that’s much how my characters behave. I have a general idea of a plot, my characters decide where that takes them and me.
Q: Do you write under a pseudonym? Do you think they make a difference to an author’s profile?
I do write under a pseudonym. I think when I began I had no confidence that readers would like my novels. I wanted to save myself and my family any embarrassment. As it happens, my readers’ comments have been amazing and inspirational, in fact one actually had me in tears, so, in hindsight, maybe I should have had the courage of my convictions. Does it make a difference to an author’s profile? I really don’t know.
Q: Do any of your books have dedications? If so, to whom and why?
Yes, of course. The notable one is my old botany and zoology teacher, Dr Schaeler, a gentle Polish Jew who lost his family in the holocaust: it was the pain in his eyes, etched into my teenage soul,which partly inspired Touching the Wire. Also, I have cause to be grateful to so many people during the vast learning process of becoming a published author, and far beyond. The Word Cloud, an on-line writers’ group, nurtured my early writing aspirations and I would highly recommend them to any writer in need of creative support. My friend Sarah Stuart, author of Dangerous Liaisons and Illicit Passion, has been a tireless support and inspiration. My elderly in-laws have been a role model throughout my life, my ex-husband wrote an afterword for Where Hope Dares, and has been very encouraging, my children because they say everything I do is rubbish and I love them to bits, my dog for taking me on thinking walks, and not least my husband for putting up with not getting his tea, or his dinner for that matter, mostly talking to a brick wall, generally doing all the things I forget to do, and loving me despite it all.
Q: Have you been involved in any other writing projects?
I contributed a short story for a charity anthology in support of MacMillan cancer nurses. A second anthology is due out sometime in 2016. The first one was called You’re Not Alone and was published earlier this year. My contribution Ooh, Air Margrit can be read at http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn if you download Ooh, Air Margrit. It’s an embarrassingly true story.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A project close to my heart. I’m 35,000 words into On Different Shores an historical love story inspired by the true story of my great-great-great uncle, James Underwood of Yardley Hastings, Northampton who was convicted of killing a gamekeeper in 1840 and was transported to Tasmania, leaving behind his new wife/girlfriend. (Haven’t discovered who she was yet or what happened to her) The research is fascinating as I’ve found newspaper reports of the inquest, committal and trial, conduct records on board the convict ship, HMS Tortoise, and probation records in Port Arthur. He died aged 93 and is buried in Hobart. I have a lot of research still to do at the Tasmanian end of the story as 70 years of his life are as yet a complete blank. I seem to enjoy writing journeys, and it looks like this is going to be another epic one.
Q: Is your writing plot-driven or character-driven?
Character driven. I have rough idea of a storyline when I begin, but it’s the characters who take it on its devious, twisting, heart-rending route. I let the characters deliver the message and ponder the morals in my stories. I fall in love with them, even the evil ones, and I don’t think I ever really let go of them. They all dwell still, deep inside me, and I deep inside them.
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