Name: Theresa Braun
Age: in my forties.
Where are you from:
St. Paul, Minnesota, originally.
A little about yourself (i.e. your education, family life, etc.):
I have a B.A. and an M.A. in English literature, with a focus on Shakespeare. Right now my day job is teaching English to high school students, and all my extra time is put into writing fiction and hanging out with friends and family. I’m currently single and enjoy somewhat of a quiet life, traveling whenever I can.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I recently helped edit a monster anthology called Monsters Exist which will be coming out next month. My story in it is about a Goatman who lures victims to their deaths on the Pope Lick train trestle. There are quite a few spine-tingling stories in it. I have another piece based on a true story, entitled “Lost Time”, that will be coming out over at Sirens Call. And another piece about a therapist who goes through a mirror and into the past that will be released in Hardened Hearts, put out by Unnerving Magazine. And a few other tales are looking for markets at the moment. Later this summer I’ll be going to a horror writing conference in Colorado, which I’m really looking forward to. Stephen Graham Jones will be there, among others.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing when I was very young—not always fiction, but lots of diaries and poetry. It wasn’t until middle school that I toyed with penning short fiction. In high school I started a couple of novels, which I never finished. Perhaps I’ll get back into those stories one day.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I started to take this whole writing career seriously when I got my first short story acceptance about a year ago. Before then, I kind of pegged myself as a hobbyist of sorts.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was inspired by a crumbling marriage. I am such a romantic and was rather devastated when it didn’t work out. So what did I do to heal? I wrote about it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
No, I don’t. I’d like to think I have a down-to-earth vibe to my prose. However, I enjoy experimenting with different points of view and creative techniques. I do a lot of reading of other fiction to see what kind of writing chops other authors have. That can be very inspiring.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
To many of my friends’ dismay, I’m really fond of word play when it comes to titles. I spent a lot of time looking at phrases and clichés that had to do with my novelette before settling on Dead over Heels. Then, I looked on Amazon and found one or two writers who have also used the same title, which kind of surprised me. At the time, I thought I was being so original.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Well, I like the idea that our pasts are always a part of us. We really can’t escape it, at least not completely. The past in this story just so happens to involve the supernatural, which I’ve always believed in. The idea that there are all kinds of spirits among us is something I’ve even sensed in real life.
One of the messages in the story has to do with the destiny and the transcendence of love. I know it seems a little bit like the Celine Dion song from Titanic, but I think it’s true. And, love isn’t always a happy ending. I’m sure many people out there have experienced that first hand. However, we all go on, and we are all connected in a powerful way.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There’s definitely a bit of me in the main character, especially when it comes to her point of view and her dating experiences. And, the setting is a real place, downtown Ft. Lauderdale, near where I live. That restaurant inspired me when I was there, so it was bound to end up in a story.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I always note Stephen King as a writer who has inspired me. Also, many of the classic Gothic authors have been huge influences—such as Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.
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?
Most recently, I read “The Prospectors” by Karen Russell in The New York Yorker. You can still read it on the website for free. It absolutely blew me away like no other story has. Her technique and her descriptions are phenomenal. I would love to one day write even half as spectacularly as she does.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Many of my writer friends have been invaluable support systems. I can’t tell you how that has helped me to grow and to feel liberated to try new things. Often, I will write something that I think is crap, only for someone to encourage me to keep at it or to tell me that it’s much better than I believe it is. I think it’s rather normal to feel a bit insecure as a writer, so it is extremely critical to have a team of other writers who can keep me motivated and who I can help motivate as well.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I really do hope that I can get to that point. If I can one day pay my bills with writing, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to contain myself. I will definitely have to celebrate, big time! So, I’m crossing my fingers that it happens one day.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That’s an awesome question. I think that writers can be revising forever—literally, forever. There’s always something that can be revised and improved upon. So, when I get that feeling that it’s done, I have to quit. I might be tempted later on to go back and revise every single one of my stories, but right now I need to keep creating new work and plug on.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My parents encouraged me to be a reader, so I think that it came from that. I kept reading words on the page until one day I wanted to be able to do it myself.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m getting back into finishing a story that I started a few months ago. It will be a bit horror and a bit science fiction, which I don’t normally write. I don’t want to give it away, but it’s about a young woman who works at a hospital and finds out one of the doctors is up to something sinister. If I can pull it off, it will be quite the story.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes I feel that keeping it fresh is a bit of a challenge. I don’t want to be tapping into the same old character types or the same old point of view. I really like to push myself, which can sometimes be a scary thing. It’s risky. And there have been times I’ve trashed portions of stories because they didn’t work. But, I think it’s all a part of growing and getting better at the craft. That, and finding time to write, or being in the mood to write can be tricky. Life can sometimes get in the way of the creative process.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Traveling thrills me the most. I always get new ideas or feel more alive, which is conducive to writing—at least for me. Each trip I’ve taken has been a great source of information and feeling. More often than not, I come back with something I can use in my writing. However, it’s not an essential ingredient. I’ve written lots of things on my bed at home with my cats on either side of me.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The Dead over Heels cover was designed by Anna Reith over at Frith Books. When I’m in a collection, usually the editor takes care of that. The images on my website that go with the stories have been done by family and friends. I sometimes select some stock images and play around with the text. That’s always fun.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think the hardest part is always the editing and getting everything right. I try not to overuse words, or sometimes the scene isn’t the way I want it to be. And, it’s important to stay true to my vision of the work when it comes to letting friends or editors read it. I’ve learned when to defend my choices and when to bend to their suggestions. Sometimes another viewpoint can be crucial to polishing a story. But a writer can never surrender the soul of the story.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
One of the things I learned is to let the public read and critique it. I’m lucky that Dead over Heels has been well-received over all. However, there have been some harsh reviewers that absolutely skewered it. I’m learning not to take that so personally. It’s happening again with Monsters Exist. On one hand, I’m terrified of reading the reviews. On the other hand, my palms get sweaty hoping that the comments are positive. As an author or an editor, one needs to have thick skin. Not everyone is going to love your work. That’s just a fact of life.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead.
The story called “Heirloom” which will be in Hardened Hearts would be a fun one to cast. I think Jennifer Aniston would be great as the therapist. Adam Levine or Colin Farrell would make a great bad boy client.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice is to find a great writers’ group or team of writers for support and to get feedback from. And, definitely hire a good editor to polish your work. Even the most skilled grammar Nazis need help with ironing out various things. Lastly, keep at it. Write as much as possible and don’t be afraid to cut things or start over. Be fearless in the process, because that will go a long way.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I just hope that everyone enjoys what I’m doing. I’d love to hear feedback or just connect on social media.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
One of the books I’ve been wanting to read for the longest time has crossed my path: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. That is definitely on my summer reading list, along with Nightmare Magazine and a couple of others.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not at all. I’m sure it was some kind of fairy tale or Bible story.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
That would be an endless list. Lol! I love to watch comedies or stand-up comedy on Netflix. That usually does the trick as far as laughter. But real world things make me crack up, too, such as some of the things my students and friends do or say. As far as crying, I can be moved by a good commercial. Sometimes sad movies can be evocative, but I don’t like to be manipulated, so it has to be done well. Getting up early tends to make me cry, or sometimes thinking about my bank account. Seriously…
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’m going to go with Shakespeare today. I just want to shoot the breeze with the old bard, and find out if he was really the one who wrote all those plays. I’d also want to ask him how he managed to get such great insight into the human experience, and from so many points of view—male, female, young, old, rich, poor… I would pick his brain about so many things.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“I told you this would happen” would be rather funny. It would be great to think that something witty would appear on my tombstone, partly because I never take myself too seriously. But it would also be nice to be remembered as a kind soul. Underneath it all, I’m really a bleeding heart.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Ghost hunting is one of my favorite past-times. I’ve investigated all kinds of locations near where I live and also go on the local ghost tour whenever I travel. I even seek out haunted spots to visit. I love the spooky experience and to interact with the other side.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The list is endless. “Black Mirror” blew my mind—I can’t wait for the next season. Recently, I’ve been really into “Shameless”. I love the ridiculousness of it and that it really takes me out of my own life for awhile, since the characters are so outlandish. I also watched “13 Reasons Why” because one of my students recommended it. I’m glad I did, partly because it’s so relevant and because it connected really well with Romeo and Juliet this year. We had a lot of great discussions because of it. I’m also really into super hero movies. Wonder Woman was really fun. And, of course, I love to watch horror films. The best one I’ve seen lately was The Eyes of My Mother on Netflix. The cinematography is outstanding, as well as the dark storyline.
Fiona: Favorite foods/Colors/Music:
I really love Mexican and Thai food. Black, gray, and red are my favorite colors. Music, I’m all over the place. ‘80s music is dear to my heart, but I also listen to the radio a lot. My guilty pleasure is Taylor Swift. And, I like a lot of electronic music lately. M83 is really awesome. They did the opening song for the “Versailles” series, which I love. Recently, I’ve been writing a lot to electronic music. It really puts me in the zone.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I think acting or directing would be really amazing to do. It still has to do with storytelling and character development, but from a different vantage point. It’s more about conveying the ideas and emotions through other means. That really fascinates me.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Here are my links: