Author Interview – Britt Holewinski (& My First Giveaway!)

Hi guys! So as you may know, I just finished and really enjoyed Britt’s debut novel, Schism. Over the past few weeks, she’s been kind enough to work with me so I can provide a fun little interview, as well as three copies of her book to give away. 😀author

Interview with Britt
Find her on Twitter

Questions sent to me:

What inspired you to write Schism?

I began writing when I was seventeen, beginning with the story that would eventually become Schism. I had just finished reading Lord of the Flies, and my mind became fascinated with the idea of a world without adults and only children to figure out how to live and survive. Then the characters of Andy and Ben began to form in my mind, and I couldn’t let the idea go. I had to write it down. Before then, I had never attempted to write even a short story. I jumped right into the notion of writing a book.

Which authors influence your writing?

There are many facets of a good book, but dialogue, character development, and pacing are the most important to me as a reader. Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, is a master of dialogue and character development, and I find myself studying her worlds to improve my own writing. As for pacing, Dan Brown’s novels have always been my standard of a thrilling page-turner.

What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favorite books?

I was a voracious reader and enjoyed adventure books as a child and teenager. I loved riding my bike to the library and checking the shelves for my favorite authors, which were Roald Dahl and John Bellairs. I adored James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and The Witches by Dahl, while Bellairs’ gothic Johnny Dixon series was addicting. As I got older, I began reading more dystopian and sci-fi books by Ray Bradbury and George Orwell. And I remember devouring Stephen King’s Carrie in one day while home sick from school.

What audience would you say would gravitate to this book?

I believe that anyone with a love for adventure stories will like Schism. The main characters are teenagers, so obviously it will attract pre-teens, teens, and younger adults, but the struggles these characters must face are universal to everyone: love, betrayal, pain, and survival. Readers ranging from ages thirteen to nearly eighty have enjoyed this book, male and female alike.

How did working for the CIA help you come up with the premise of a government-engineered virus outbreak in Schism?

I joined the CIA a few months after September 11, 2001. The focus of my work for the majority of my career was helping to counter global terrorism. Almost all terrorists are adult-aged males. The idea that the U.S. government —or any government— would try to create a virus that quickly killed adult males was inspired by my experience working with the U.S. Military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is your writing process? Do you use a different writing process when you’re writing from the perspective of Ben? Andy?

I consider myself a sporadic writer in the sense that I don’t plan out a book from scene to scene chronologically. I tend to focus on pivotal scenes, make those as strong and suspenseful as possible, and then write the scenes before and after in a local manner and with good pacing.

Listening to music, particularly movie soundtracks, inspires my writing immensely. I envision how the scene plays out like a scene from a film as the music rages on in my ears. Soundtracks composed by Hans Zimmer are some of my favorites.

When I write from Andy’s perspective, I put myself into her shoes and wonder exactly what I would do in her situation. For Ben’s point of view, I think of what men whom I respect would do. It’s pretty straightforward.

Would you say that Schism is a love story? How would you categorize this book?

Based upon the premise alone, potential readers might classify the book as dystopian/post-apocalyptic, which is accurate. However, I consider the story one of survival and the classic struggle of good versus evil. And yes, to me, it’s a love story. Not just romantic love, but the love between friends, siblings, and cousins. Love inspires people, mostly for good but sometimes for bad.

How do you feel about the advancement of biological weapons and what it can mean for our society and the world?

Since World War I, biological weapons have been wreaking havoc on mankind. They are as destructive as any lethal weapon, but I believe that their real danger is size. Bacteria and viruses cannot be seen, making them more difficult to track than nuclear weapons. One person can infect hundreds, even thousands, without realizing it until it’s too late. And then there is the mutation factor. Bacteria and viruses want to survive, multiply, and evolve, just like human beings. Millions of people have perished from nature’s own biological demons such as the Bubonic Plague and Spanish Influenza. Adding human interference into the equation can only mean more sophisticated —and perhaps deadlier— biological weapons to come.

Questions from me:

What made you decide you wanted to be a writer? How old were you?

I never planned on being a writer as a child. I started writing when I was seventeen, and I wrote several drafts of my first book. The only thing that survived those drafts were the names of two of my main characters and the basic plotline.

How long does it take for you to write a book?

Technically, twenty-one years. But in reality, about a year to complete for the first draft. My second book is coming alive on that page much quicker than the first! I think there is a lot of pressure on writers today to finish at least one book a year. Some authors can achieve this—along with a little help from editors—but for those without these resources, they are a one-person show and may require additional time to complete a book.

Would you say you have any writing quirks? If so, what are they?

I tend to stop writing in the middle of a character’s dialogue. I don’t always have the right words, and I find dialogue more difficult to write than scene description. I talk out the words sometimes and even emulate the accents that I imagine the characters have. I just have to remember not to do this in coffee shops where people can hear me!

What are some of your hobbies other than writing?

I love traveling and hiking and wine tasting. I don’t travel as much now because I got burned out on it from my former job, but I do love a good adventure now and then. Hiking is mentally peaceful, and wine is—well, it’s just great!

What do you think is the most important element of a good story? Why?

The characters, their development, and leaving room for their growth throughout the novel or a series. Readers will purchase a book because of the genre and plot, but they will stick with a book because they grow attached to the fate of the characters.

Is writing your only job? If not, what else do you do?

Currently, writing is my sole focus. I recently ended a 14-year career with the CIA. I began writing well-before I began this job, but the experience of travelling overseas has definitely influenced my writing, especially with regards to the adaptability of people in dire circumstances.

When you were young, did you ever want to be something other than a writer? If so, what?

Writing was not part of my adulthood plans when I was growing up. I wanted to be an astronaut, and I studied mechanical engineering in college and graduate school in order to have a more realistic shot at achieving this dream. Things changed after September 11, 2001, however, and I ultimately chose the CIA over NASA, but I often wonder how different my life would be had I stuck with the original plan.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring writers?

Don’t fear your words. If they mean something to you, they will mean something to someone else. Second, always carry a notebook or something to write down your ideas. Inspiration often comes at the most inopportune moments.

What’s one fun fact about you?

I was a gymnast for many years as a kid. I used to do back-flips on the balance beam. Now I’m lucky if my legs don’t ache when I wake up in the morning!

Do you have a favorite scene in Schism, or maybe a scene that was fun to write?

I loved writing the scene in the Coliseum in Los Angeles, which appears mid-way through the book. It’s an action scene, which I can usually write more quickly. This scene, more than others, plays like a movie clip in my head, which made it so much fun to write.

I loved that scene!

Do you have a favorite character in Schism? If so, who? Why?

My favorite character is Sean. He’s the baddie and has such a mysterious past. However, he develops most and becomes more complex in the second and third novels. That development—which I know quite a few readers are anxious for—is fun for me to plan and create.

Are you currently working on another book? If so, can you tell us anything about it? (the release date realm, a teaser, an excerpt?)

I am working on the sequel to Schism, entitled Ravin, which I hope to release by early-2017. I plan to post an except on Goodreads and my website in the next month or so, but I need to edit it first! What I like about writing the sequel is that I can jump right into the action and carry on the story from page one.

Huge thanks to Britt for participating in the interview!

And now for the part I’m most excited about…my first giveaway! Britt is holding on to three copies of Schism for me, so if you’re interested in getting one, check it out. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Schism, and ended up giving it five stars! I would definitely recommend it! 😀

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway is really simple, and runs from today through June 4th. I’ll announce the three winners in a blog post and on social media. 😉

And that’s all I have for now!

I’m off to enjoy my first day of summer and continue reading The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone. I hope you’re all having a splendid day/night! ❤

Until next time…

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4 thoughts on “Author Interview – Britt Holewinski (& My First Giveaway!)

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