Theresa Braun reveals all about her new romantic, thrilling book, Dead Over Heels, which is set in a haunted restaurant.
The Minnesota-born author, has previously self-published Groom and Doom on Amazon. She teaches English to high school students and writes fiction in her spare time. Braun loves travelling and spending time with her friends and family.
What is Dead Over Heels about?
The story follows Veronica who lands a date with Sebastian. On their first meeting, they encounter the ghosts of their past that threaten to tear them apart. The couple decides to face the evil that stands between them–but will they make it out alive?
What kind of message did you want Dead Over Heels to convey?
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.
How did you come up with the title for Dead over Heels?
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.
Since you already had a book published, was the writing process for Dead Over Heels easier than before? Explain why.
I don’t think writing is ever easy, to be honest. It’s like jumping off a bridge and hoping you make it into the water. Then, you have to wonder if you should float along, get a life raft, or get out. I’m learning to trust the process more and more and let the story happen. Dead over Heels went through many stages until reaching its current state. I was ecstatic when adding the frame to it, which is what gives the ending such an impact.
What kind of research did you have to do for this book and how long did it take you?
This was one of my stories that didn’t require much research. I just wrote from my experience. I’m not against digging around for information if a work needs it, but this one didn’t.
How long does a short story of 38 pages take you to write and edit?
This story was percolating for a couple of years. It was an idea that sat on my computer for a long while before I went back to it. And, then that process took several months. Editing is so important and I never want to rush the process.
When you come up with an idea, what comes first – characters or the plot? And how do you develop the stories?
Usually the concept for the plot comes to me first. I have a rough idea for the direction of the story before fleshing out the characters. Then, I try to balance plot and characterization. I strive to invest the readers in the protagonist and to care what happens to him or her. When I read, I like to enjoy a piece on multiple levels, which is what I try to achieve in my own writing.
Your latest book cover was designed by Anna Reith. Have you had any input?
Many of the images on my website I had a hand in developing or I did myself. I have an artistic background and am very particular about what a cover looks like, especially in light of the story itself.
Was it difficult to get your first book published and break into the industry?
Getting my work out there has been quite the adventure. It’s the age old question: should one self-publish or seek traditional avenues. After self-publishing a novel-length work, I’ve been busy focussing on short stories and submitting to various magazines and anthologies. It can be painful to wait to hear back and to risk being rejected, but it’s a matter of finding the right fit. Sometimes it takes awhile to do that. Never giving up is the key to breaking into any industry.
Who is the first person to read your stories and why?
I have a few close writer friends who get to read my stories during my process. They’ve been extremely instrumental in offering feedback regarding various elements and sometimes suggesting publications to submit to. The first person to read it when the work is out in the wild, so to speak, is usually my mother.
Have you ever had feedback that made you want to give up? If so, how did you overcome this?
There have definitely been a few moments when I’ve had to deal with harsh criticism. No writer is immune to that. At first my ego is crushed, and then I weigh the source and whether the feedback is valid. If I feel there is truth to it, I’ve filed that away in my mind for future reference. Since I learn more and more with each piece I write, I’ve decided that one day I can go back and revamp earlier stories. One day I’ll probably release a collection of that nature.
Is there any advice you would give to your younger self?
Certainly. I would go back and tell my younger self to have made [writing] more of a priority. I think I was always like: oh, I can become a writer in the future. I wish I would have taken writing more seriously back then and followed through. However, I can’t beat myself up for my late start. That’s not productive. But, I just might breathe life into some of those old ideas.
Do you read book reviews? How do you deal with the good and the bad?
There might come a day when I don’t read the reviews, but for now I tend to read them all. It’s still exciting when someone enjoys something I’ve written. And, the terrible reviews are part of the mixed bag. Not everyone will like what you do, so it’s important to put that in perspective. Bad reviews happen. It’s a matter of dusting yourself off and getting back to telling more stories. And, remembering not to take yourself too seriously.
Have you ever struggled with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?
Ah, the dreaded writers’ block. Well, I try not to panic. Sometimes my brain doesn’t let me move on to a new story until the current one is finished. That’s usually when my ideas tend to flow. And, I don’t force it. The more I force a story, the more blocked I get. If I’m not in the right space to write, I tend to pick up a book and read, whether it be fiction or craft essays on the art of writing. In that way, I’m still arming myself for future creativity.
What book do you wish you had written?
That’s an interesting question. Bram Stoker’s Dracula would be one. There have been several works that I marvel at and wish I could’ve written. However, I try to focus on what I’m doing and embrace my process, foibles and all. One can spend too much time wishing to be someone else and not enough time appreciating the individual journey. That goes for writing or otherwise.
Out of all the books that have ever been written, who is your favourite character?
There are so many. Holden Caulfied would have to be one. His teenage angst is so entertaining and endearing. And, definitely Bartley the Scrivener. His passive aggressive flaws are so amusing.
Do your stories link to each other in any way or are they individual stand-alone books?
All of my stories are stand alone. I like taking on different subjects and points of view. However, I seem to be most at home writing some type of romance.
What kind of message do you hope people get from your stories?
The first thing is that I want readers to be entertained on some level. Then, I hope there is something in the story that offers some insight into life and human existence. If someone thinks about an aspect of my work after finishing the last page, that makes me happy. Those are the stories I like the most, the ones that stick with you somehow.
Will you have any events (book signings) for fans in the near future?
I don’t have any immediate plans for book signings. I imagine I’d do more of that when I release a longer work.
Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
In ten years I hope I’m traveling the world with my computer, visiting the earth’s hidden treasures and soaking up inspiration to write about. Having the occasion book signing would be the cherry on top.
Keep an eye out for my review of Dead Over Heels! Comment below or follow @bookwormgirl_24 to share your opinions.