Name Bru Baker
Where are you from Indianapolis, Indiana
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc
I have degrees in journalism and political science and I live in Indy with my husband and two kids. I worked in newspapers before making the jump to fiction, and I currently split my time between writing and working in the reference department of a library. It’s a given that I love being surrounded by books.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My latest release, Tall, Dark, and Deported, came out at the beginning of April, and I was able to attend the LA Times Festival of Books to promote it. It’s the biggest book festival in the United States, so having a book signing there is both exciting and daunting.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
There has never been a time I didn’t want to be a writer. One of my earliest memories is writing a family newsletter when I was four. After getting a degree in journalism and spending ten years in newsrooms I made the jump to freelance writing, and from there I transitioned into fiction.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer, but there are a few milestone moments that stand out. As a journalist, my proudest moment was getting my White House press pass. As an author, it was opening up the box of my advance copies of my first novel and getting to hold it for the first time–it didn’t feel real before that point. Island House was recommended in the USA Today romance column, too, which was also pretty awesome and writer-ly.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I started Island House as part of National Novel Writing Month in 2010. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could meet the 50,000 words in the month, and I did. But then I put it away and didn’t get it back out for more than a year. Finishing it seemed so daunting, but I managed. I was over the moon when Dreamspinner Press picked it up. It came out in late 2013.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to write dialogue-heavy books because you can tell so much about a character by how he interacts with others. I write almost exclusively in third person, though the YA manuscript I’m working on right now is in first.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
In general I’m terrible at titles. It’s so hard to distill an entire book into just a few words! My first novel’s title is Island House, and, predictably, it’s set on an island. It’s the first book in the Dropping Anchor series, which gets its name because all three books have some sort of nautical element to them and they all feature protagonists who are looking for stability and a place to call home.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The entire Dropping Anchor series revolves around the themes of forgiveness and moving on. Each book follows a different main character in his journey toward learning to accept himself so he can finally move toward finding happiness. The third book in the series, Playing House, features a character who struggles with anxiety and worries about how that will affect his future. I try to write about realistic characters with relatable problems.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It’s always a mix. It’s funny, because often when I incorporate real-life anecdotes or situations, those are the times reviewers say ‘That was so unrealistic!’ My favorite example is a scene in Talk Turkey where the main character gets his hand stuck inside a turkey while he’s trying to stuff it. A reviewer called the scene out and said it was completely ridiculous–but that actually happened to a friend of mine in college!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I love gothic stories and unredeemable antiheroes. My favorite author is Daphne DuMaurier–the way she can set a scene with just a few words is amazing. I also absolutely adore Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. I collect old editions of both that and DuMaurier’s Rebecca.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I don’t know if he counts as a “new” author because he and I started publishing at roughly the same time, but I love Brandon Witt’s books. He does such a wonderful job of developing his characters–I always feel like I know them personally by the end of the book. And Brandon is an amazing guy, too.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My publisher is a huge source of support. Every editor I have worked with has been wonderful, and I’ve never had an interaction with someone there who wasn’t helpful and genuinely excited to get my book out. I’ve made a lot of great friends among other authors they publish. It’s like a family.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I definitely do. Right now I’m only writing part-time, but I’d love to be able to get to a point in my career where I could support myself by writing full-time.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Just the timing of it! I wrote Tall, Dark, and Deported almost two years ago, and at the time the title was just a fun play on words. I had no idea our political climate would become so hostile. (It’s still my favorite of all of my book titles, but I do wish recent presidential policies didn’t make it so spot-on.)
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always loved reading, and for me a natural extension of that was to want to create stories of my own.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m currently in edits for my next book, Camp HOWL, which will be out late this year. Here’s the publisher’s blurb:
Moonmates exist, but getting together is going to be a beast.
When Adrian skipped his “werewolf puberty,” he assumed he was—somehow—human. But he was wrong, and he’s about to go through his Turn with a country between him and his pack, scared, alone—and eight years too late.
Dr. Tate Lewis’s werewolf supremacist father made his Turn miserable, and now Tate works for Camp H.O.W.L to ease the transition for young werewolves. He isn’t expecting to offer guidance to a grown man—or find his moonmate in Adrian. Tate doesn’t even believe in the legendary bond; after all, his polygamist father claimed five. But it’s clear Adrian needs him, and if Tate can let his guard down, he might discover he needs Adrian too.
A moonmate is a wolf’s missing piece, and Tate is missing a lot of pieces. But Adrian is up to the challenge.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I use a lot of junk words (that, really, very, though, etc.) when I write. Try as I might, I can’t break the habit. I struggle with falling into passive voice or showing instead of telling–all the normal writer pitfalls. I know where my weaknesses are, which helps me look for those things as I edit. And I have great editors who wield their red pens (and delete keys) with laser-like precision to catch the things I miss.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t do a lot of on-location research (I tend to set books in places I’ve traveled so I am familiar with the local atmosphere) but I do take three or four trips a year to attend book signings and conferences. Last year I attended the Romantic Times book convention and Book Con, and this year my big event is the LA Times Festival of Books. I also try not to miss my genre’s big convention, GayRomLit. It’s so energizing to be at a conference full of people who all love to read!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’m extremely fortunate because my publisher has an amazing art department. I love working with them.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing my first book was convincing myself not to give up. It’s a daunting thing, writing a novel. I couldn’t have done it without all the encouragement I got from National Novel Writing Month. I’ve loved my experiences with the program, and last year I was thrilled to be asked to write about genre fiction for their blog.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’m constantly learning as I write, which is a good thing. Writing is a craft that evolves as you practice. Since Island House was my first book, a lot of what I learned from it was just about the publishing process in general. I’d never signed a contract with a publisher before or had to do a marketing tour. I had no idea that writing the manuscript was the easy part! There are so many rounds of edits and so much to be done to promote a book–it’s definitely a labor of love.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
I don’t usually think about casting my books, but I’ll admit that when I was writing Some Assembly Required (which I co-wrote with Lex Chase) I pictured the main character Benji as Jesse Eisenberg.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Stick with it. I have a bird cage in my study where I keep my rejection letters. I print them out and make them into origami animals. Having them right there where I can see them keeps me motivated to keep writing, keep getting better, and keep trying.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! *g* I wouldn’t be an author without readers, and I’m always humbled when a reader reaches out about a book or leaves a review. I’m genuinely thrilled every time I hear that someone has picked up one of my books.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Shira Anthony’s First Comes Marriage.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I have a pretty clear memory of that, actually. The first book I read by myself was This is the House That Jack Built.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love to make other people laugh and I’m constantly cracking jokes and telling funny stories. Laughter is infectious, so I usually end up laughing along. I’m not a super emotional person, so I don’t cry often.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d love to meet Shakespeare. Our image of him is of a revered playwright, but really, at the time, he was just another writer. I can’t imagine how he’d respond to knowing how his works have endured or that they’re performed much more today than they were in his own time.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I want to be cremated! Burial (and headstones) have always struck me as morbid.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I’m always involved in something. I paint and sketch fairly often, and I’ve usually got a crocheting project in some stage of disarray at any given time. My husband and I have also just joined a curling league. We’ll see how that goes…
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I rarely watch television, but I never miss a Marvel movie.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love to cook, so my favorite food changes often as I discover new recipes and flavor combinations. My favorite color is green, and I’ll listen to anything but country music.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I had a strong interest in microbiology as a teen, so I’d probably have gone into the sciences.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Bru Baker spent fifteen years writing for newspapers before making the jump to fiction. She now balances her time between writing and working at a Midwestern library in the reference department. Most evenings you can find her curled up with a mug of tea, some fuzzy socks, and a book or her laptop. Whether it’s creating her own characters or getting caught up in someone else’s, there’s no denying that Bru is happiest when she’s engrossed in a story. She and her husband have two children, which means a lot of her books get written from the sidelines of various sports practices.