This past week I had the awesome opportunity to talk to Brandon M. Davis, a prolific author who just published his debut fantasy. He’s been honing his craft for a while now, and it certainly shows in his work. Read on to see what secrets we can learn about this up-and-coming storyteller.
Tellest: Hi there Brandon. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. These days it feels like everyone is working on multiple projects. Finding the time can be challenging, and I wanted you to know that I appreciate the chance to get to know you better. I’m looking forward to learning more about what makes Brandon M. Davis tick!
Brandon M. Davis: Of course! I’m glad to have a chance to sit down and converse. This is officially my first interview since publishing my debut book so I’m super excited. I agree that it’s hard working on multiple projects at once which is why I try and stick to one project at a time and even that isn’t easy for me as I find myself jumping from one thing to another at different parts of the day. It’s how I keep my thoughts in order most of the time so it apparently works.
T: When it comes to your writing, how many hats do you wear? I know you’re the writer and storyteller—I’m sure you’re editing, marketing. Your Facebook page has got lots of great pictures of people enjoying your book, so I’m guessing you’re your own publicist as well!
BMD: I suppose I am a man of many hats but, only because I feel I have to be. I’ve always felt that you know what you want better than anyone else so it’s up to you to get what you want. I’m better at some things than others but I’ll improve with time. I’m not afraid to write, edit or try anything new when it comes to my book because in the end it’ll all be worth it.
T: You also had a trailer for the book put together (which, for our readers, will be included in this interview down at the bottom of the page). How much of a say did you have in its composition and creation? If there was anything else you wish you could have added to it, what would it have been?
BMD: I was involved in every aspect of it. I found the music and wrote the script. I would’ve done the narration for it as well, but my microphone is trash and I need practice when it comes to voice work. From the start I knew I wanted a trailer and if I had one, I would have to be involved throughout all of its construction. The only thing I wish I could’ve added was a picture of the Guardians but that would’ve taken too much time. Other than that, I think it came out pretty much how I wanted. It perfectly reflects the tone and atmosphere of the book and what the readers should expect when reading it. I have to thank the people who helped me bring it together of course. Mblessedchozen who I found on Fiverr for the visuals and editing, Careycolney also on Fiverr for the narration, and Angel-Akino on deviantart for the final Smiling Devil photo. I couldn’t have done it without their help.
T: So, one of the things that I like to ask the authors I interview is how things started out. I know you dabbled with storytelling when you were younger, but what spurred you to jump into writing again in adulthood?
BMD: I was at a low point in my life. I was doing terrible in college and was on academic suspension. I was on the verge of dropping out when my mother had a conversation with me about what I wanted to do. She asked me what really brought joy into my life and what I would do every day if I could. My answer was writing. I had been writing stories since elementary school and had somehow forgotten how much it was a part of me as I grew up. The pressures of adulthood and finding a “real” job made me put writing away and force myself into other fields that brought no joy to my life. It took me awhile to realize that if I don’t find joy in what I’m doing I’m not gonna take it seriously.
T: You wanted to create video games at one point in your life before you shifted gears and returned to your passion for writing. If Between Heaven and Hell were adapted into a video game, what would it be like?
BMD: It would probably be a beautifully detailed and hyper realistic action fighter in the vein of the God of War or Devil May Cry series. Traveling around fighting demons throughout different parts of the world with each member of the Guardians and upgrading their equipment sounds like it would be fun. The story is already there so it would just be a matter of adding moments for the player to be in control and fight as a Guardian. In fact, that sounds like a great idea to me!
T: Are there any other kinds of mediums you would like to see your stories explore? Graphic novels or mangas; can you imagine your work as a television show or a film?
BMD: Definitely yes. I have ideas for stories for DC characters that I think would be epic. I’d also love to write a sequel to Yoshihiro Togashi’s Yu Yu Hakusho (my favorite anime). As far as my debut book, I’d love to make it into an animated series, but a live action series is fine as well. My dream is to have people cosplaying as my characters at some point. One of my characters looks pretty much like me so I can cosplay as myself without doing anything.
T: Do you have any favorite authors or storytellers that inspired the tales you like to work on, or that may have influenced your work?
BMD: Definitely! As a child I was into R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. Those books started my spiral into a love of writing and books in general. In elementary school I even started my own series of stories based off of one of his earlier books, Dead House. In early high school I was deep into the Lone Wolf series by Joe Dever. I read the first book and couldn’t put them down. It was the most immersive experience I had had with a role-playing book. Late high school I was an anime head and fell in love with the story telling of Yoshihiro Togashi, the creator of “Yu Yu Hakusho” and “Hunter X Hunter”. As an adult, Richard Matheson is the most important that comes to mind. I Am Legend taught me how to use small situations to build incredibly tense moments. He has so many great stories that are well known or have been made into movies that I didn’t know came from him! From “Real Steel” to “What Dreams May Come”, the man is one of the GOATs.
T: How did you come up with the idea for Between Heaven and Hell? Was it always an idea that had been brewing, or was there something specific that pushed you in that direction?
BMD: I’ve always been fascinated with Christian lore. It always seemed cool to me. It was just figuring out what story I wanted to tell. What was my story? I was inspired by the movie “The Prophecy” for the concept of my first book but I wanted to go even further than that. I wanted my book to have everything I look for in a story, tense and intelligent fight scenes, memorable and impactful dialogue, interesting and complex characters, legitimately surprising plot twists, and a story that you can take with you when it’s finally over.
T: The story stands well enough on its own as a thrilling fantasy with a great story. But there are some underlying details that are present as well. What would you say is the deeper meaning of this book and the series it is a part of?
BMD: Though this is primarily a work of fiction, I will showcase real life scenarios or policies that everyday people endure with the hope of shedding light on actual problems within our society. Each book will have its own lesson revolving around each character and their experiences. The main underlying message of my series is “no one is perfect”. Every person has their flaws no matter how kind, upstanding, or heroic they may be. The main theme of the stories at large is a warning to not put anyone on a pedestal no matter how well you think you know them. People are just people and we should understand that putting them on a pedestal can, and usually does, lead to a devastating let down once we discover otherwise. We may discover that the person we hold in the highest regard is a monster or that they made a horrible mistake in their past that hurt many people, so it’s important to temper our expectations of people with the reality that they are still human and humans make mistakes.
T: What has been the most rewarding part of the writing process for you? Was it spilling your thoughts onto the page, the first time someone picked up your book and asked you to sign it, getting your first praise from someone who read it, or some other time altogether?
BMD: For me it’s two things. I have so many ideas that just getting them out on paper or on a computer feels good in and of itself. Knowing that an idea or my version of an idea is finally a part of a cohesive story feels great. The second thing is when people respond positively about my writing. When people comment and say “wow, this is amazing!” or “You should consider publishing a book!” makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
T: What challenges have you faced along the way when it came to publish your first book?
BMD: Paying for it! Paying for publication was a more frustrating task than writing the book. I wasn’t always financially stable and because of that things were much harder for me. Everything else was a cakewalk in comparison. Writing, editing, re-editing, and promotion can’t hold a candle to being broke and trying to pay for a book. I’m just glad I’ve made it this far.
T: What advice would you give to other writers and storytellers who are just starting out on their journey about what kinds of things to look out for?
BMD: There is nothing new under the sun so don’t worry about if your story is similar to someone else’s. Find your story and tell that story in your own way. Think about what you can do to make that story yours and what you can add to make it stand out. Sometimes adding a single character or item to a dull or common situation can completely change how it reads. There’s a moment in the I Am Legend book that sticks with me to this day. Spoilers for anyone who has t read it yet. The main character runs from his car to his door while being chased by monsters. Seems like the standard scenario, right? But when he makes it to the door, he realizes in his rush that he forgot the keys to his house in the car and has to run back to get them as a horde of monsters are rushing down the street to him. A standard moment made into a much better one just by the addition of one item. So, to reiterate, find your story!
T: Have you ever run into any creative roadblocks on your writing journey? What did you do to make sure they wouldn’t hold you down?
BMD: I don’t have many moments of writer’s block personally so I can’t really speak to that particular problem. The issue I have sometimes is when a specific scene or moment contradicts the previous scene or messes up an upcoming moment in the story. I usually find them when I re-read a story and it’s frustrating when I have to redo an entire scene because it doesn’t make sense in the larger scope of the story. My method of fixing that is thoroughly re-reading the narrative and being open to change it if necessary.
T: What’s next for the Between Heaven and Hell series? Are you working on a sequel already?
BMD: The sequel is already completed and being edited now. I like to be a bit ahead of the curve when it comes to my writing so I’m going to attempt to have my next book completed as the previous book hits the shelves, that way I have some breathing room between stories in case anything comes up. Between Heaven and Hell will be a multi book series. I already have in mind what stories I want to tell as I continue and what arcs each of the characters will take as I go. I won’t say exactly how many books I plan on writing in this series, but I will say it will be at least five. If you’re a fan of character development, then you’re gonna enjoy this ride!
T: Are there any hints you can give us about the sequel to the first book (without spoiling too much, of course)?
BMD: Normally I’d say no because even the little things matter when I write a story and I’d hate to accidentally ruin a moment for any of my readers. Since this is my first interview, I’ll make an exception. All I can say is that you’re going to learn more about Father’s past and how his actions shaped his life.
T: Where can readers go to find out more about you and the Between Heaven and Hell series?
BMD: I’ll have a website up soon which will have everything Between Heaven and Hell related where fans can get updates on all of my books and anything related to me as well. I will also have more info about the inspiration for my books and the origin of the characters for the fans that want to know more about that. As for now, anyone can follow me on Twitter @BDavis_Author, on Instagram @bdavis_author, and on Facebook @tefus2004
T: Thank you once again to Brandon Davis for sharing some of his time and his insights. It’s always great to get into the mind of an up-and-coming author. Davis’s debut story is Between Heaven and Hell: Genesis, and it is available on Amazon and Dorrance Publishing. Check it out if you want to take on a great urban fantasy! Don’t forget to check out the awesome trailer for the book below.