(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard. Brandon was written by Brandon O’Bryant.)
Kelly stopped at a bench on the trail to tie her shoe because she wanted to be ready for the hike. Her interviewee requested they hike during their interview, and one of the places Kelly could think of to hike was Robbers’ Cave in Oklahoma—lots of different kinds of trails with rock climbing opportunities to those who want to try that. Kelly hadn’t advanced to that yet, but maybe one day.
She noticed a man approaching, so she finished tightening her shoe and then put her foot back down on the ground, straightening her posture. “Brandon O’Bryant?” When he gave a nod as he approached, she smiled, stretching her hand out to him. “I’m Kelly Blanchard. Nice to meet you. You said you wanted to hike, so hike we shall!” She gestured to the paths. “Go ahead and pick a path. I’ll follow your lead. How are you doing today, by the way?”
Brandon adjusted the small pack on his back, even for a short hike he preferred to keep a few drinks and simple snacks on hand. “I’m doing well. Thanks for humoring me. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to go for a decent hike.”
“My pleasure.” Kelly smiled at him. “I’m always up for a good hike as long as the weather is bearable. It’s quite nice today.” And they began heading down a path that led through the woods. “So, Brandon, tell me about yourself. What is it that you do?”
“Right now I do bike delivery for a sandwich shop. But my hobbies tend to be pretty diverse.” Since he wasn’t familiar with the area, he picked a trail at random and started down it. Today’s hike was more about having something to do while they talked than truly enjoying nature.
Kelly was careful when she stepped over a log as not to stumble, and she nodded at Brandon’s response. “So when did you begin writing? And what got you serious about it?”
“Hmm, I’d have to say I probably started in elementary school mostly doing simple poetry when the mood struck me. But I really got into it in high school, I’ve always been drawn to the arts and my family encouraged it.” He stepped around a rut in the trail without paying much attention to it as he thought back about the answer.
“So you’ve been encouraged to write all along. That’s great.” Kelly smiled. “But was there any specific moment or story that made you stop and realize, ‘You know, I can actually publish this’, or has publishing always been your goal?” She raised her brows, ducking under a low hanging tree branch.
“I think I would have to credit my sophomore English teacher Mrs. Price with it. She took some of my admittedly rough poems and entered them in a competition that got them published. But she told me that she thought my real talent would be in telling stories and pushed me to work on doing more than free verse poems.” Brandon smiled and pushed aside a low hanging branch holding aside for Kelly.
Kelly smiled her thanks as she stepped through. Now they were going up hill, but Kelly was sure the view would be lovely. “I’m glad you’ve had such a teacher. That is irreplaceable. So, what do you like to write? What story would you like discuss?”
“I love fantasy stories where things are unique. If it starts after the dark lord has won, or you can’t really say one side is good or evil I’m more likely to be enthralled by it. the current story I’m writing is a bit of modern Fantasy.” He paused to pull a water bottle from his pack and take a quick drink as the incline increased. “While it has it’s share of magic it also deals a bit with reincarnation.”
Kelly listened to him as they walked. “Is this your story we’re talking about or just fantasy stories that you like in general?” She looked at him a bit confused.
Brandon grinning and shook his head. “Sorry, I’ve never been very good about relaying what’s going on in my head when I talk. The part about the dark lord already winning is actually the idea that started one of my favorite trilogies.” Brandon stepped up onto a log across the trail and then back down careful not to startle anything that might be under it. “But my current story is actually modern fantasy and deals with reincarnation and mythology.”
“Ah, I see.” Kelly nodded, following Brandon. “What kind of mythology are we talking about?”
Brandon managed to suppress his laugh and turn it into a slight chuckle at the question. “I think it’s easier to ask what mythology isn’t involved. While the Main character Cathal isn’t really part of any mythology he talks to gods from most of the ones we know. In the first chapter of the book he has a conversation with Thoth, Hephaestus and Tyr, To his mind gods and such aren’t really anything to be worried about, their just people that have a lot more knowledge than the rest of us- if that’s true or not remains to be seen for him.”
“Interesting.” Kelly smiled then noticed they were approaching a clearing. Heading that way, she sighed at the beautiful view. “This is breathtaking.” After a moment, she turned back to Brandon. “So what inspired this story?”
Brandon smiled and pulled off his backpack to sit down. “Honestly the idea of adding the gods came into the picture later on. Growing up I’ve had the opportunity to meet and know a lot of interesting people that are involved fairly heavily in the metaphysical community and one of the recurring themes is reincarnation.” He pulled out a second bottle of water and offered it to Kelly. “I always found it a bit odd that people always claim they remember being someone else in a past life that was human, but I always wanted to hear a story from someone that had memories of being something other than human. When I came across the Otherkin community that’s where I got the inspiration for this story.”
“That’s pretty cool.” Kelly accepted the bottle of water from Brandon, twisted off the top, and drank some then sat on a nearby stone. “Our time’s almost up.” She nodded at the sun in the sky but then looked back over to Brandon. “What’s been the most challenging thing about this story that you have encountered?”
Brandon nodded at the reminder of the time. “Probably balancing Cathal’s personality. He’s going to be saving the world not because it’s the right thing to do but for the simple fact that people he cares about live on it. He’s not exactly a sociable person either, he’d rather spend his time working in a garden or fixing a computer than dealing with people and he tends to forget that not everyone has the same abilities he does so he can be a bit abrasive at times.”
“He also has a few eons of memories jammed in his head so there’s a bit of a disconnect between how he views things and others do.”
“That is very intriguing, and I would love to hear more, but unfortunately, time’s up.” Kelly sighed with a shake of her head. Time was never enough in these author interviews. However…she smiled at Brandon. “Okay one last question before we head back down. If there’s anything you’d like your readers to take from the story, what is it?”
“I think every one takes something different away from every story but if there’s one thing I’d like everyone to take away it would be that no matter how good you are, and no matter how much you know you can’t and don’t handle things on your own. there will always be people helping you even if you don’t see them.”
“I like that.” Kelly smiled with a satisfied nod. “I like that a lot, and I hope you the best with your endeavors. What is this story called by the way?” And she motioned that they should head back down the trail again.
Brandon nodded as he put his pack back on and stood up stretching. “I’m still struggling with the title but the working one so far has been simply ‘Guardian’ which readers will understand the meaning behind fairly early on.”
“Well, keep me posted on its developments. I think you have a good story for sure. Now though, we need to head back before the sun starts setting, but I do appreciate you coming here to cha with me and answer my questions. The hike was a fun part too.” Kelly smiled as she took the lead back down the path.
Brandon nodded to her back as he followed her lead. “It was a pleasure. Like I said it’s been a while since I had a hike and I usually spend more time working on the story than talking about it.”
“Well, glad I got you out to hike and got you talking about the story.” Kelly grinned. Overall though, she had to say this was a good interview.
Brandon O’Bryant’s story, ‘Guardian’, has no release date set for it yet, but follow him on Twitter for updates!