Here is an interview with author Kirsten
What inspired you to write this book? I love fantasy, all subgenres, and there’s common mythical beings who get written about (vampires, shifters, fae, witches to name a few), and I was trying to think of a “darker” fantasy character to write about, and a banshee popped into my mind. Researching it more, I found out banshees stem from Irish/Celtic folklore, and it was a slippery slope from there, leading me to all the other characters like druids, pucas, and other Celtilc fae.
What can we expect from you in the future? **Chants** More books! More books! More books! I wish I could write as fast as my novel ideas sprout in my brain. I plan for Banshee’s Curse to be a 4 or 5 book series. Plus, I have the first book of my YA mermaid series written, and I hope for that to be a 4 book series. That one is really fun because I essentially thought, “I have a lot of knowledge about the ocean, so how can I take real ocean phenomena and create a mer-community?” I still take creative license plenty of times, but most of what I write is grounded in something factual, so in a way it hinges on sci-fi too. Also, I already have a witch-familiar trilogy loosely plotted, dragon shifters, and incubi/demon ideas. Different representations I will have across these will be more LGBTQ+ characters, cancer survivor, and epilepsy to name a few. Also, in my mermaid series I have a main character who lost an arm. I am so excited with how all these diversities wind into these fantasy worlds I’m creating. Again, I wish I could write faster. I want to get books out to readers as soon as I can, which is one of the many reasons I decided to go an indie instead of the traditional publishing route.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters? I do have a prequel novella out called Losing The Light. It’s short and sweet, about five chapters, and written from the perspective of the main love interest about six years prior to when the main series takes place. What happens in this novella is so pivotal to why certain characters are certain ways in the main series, I couldn’t help but dive into the day that changed everything a little bit more.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Whisper of Darkness? Cara is the main character who has spent her life thinking she is cursed due to a ringing that occurs in her head before someone around her dies. Surprise! She’s not cursed, she’s a banshee! Other fun facts, she loves animals and makes inappropriate sounds when eating something delicious or has coffee. Also, she struggles with her mental health, which is to be expected when you have lived life with death haunt you.
Shay is a druid, and kind of a prick. He’s also the reason Cara ends up being taken away to another realm.
Killian can make a person’s worst nightmares come to life, but broody and hot despite the scars maring the left side of his body. Oh, and he loves crumble. Shay and Killian have a complex history, but I can’t tell you too much more because that’s part of the story!
I’d say these are the main three, at least for Book 1.
Where did you come up with the names in the story? Googling Irish/Celtic names until I found ones I liked. Sorry, it’s not more interesting than that.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book? I really love complex characters. Creating their backstories was so wonderful, and really letting my mind fly when it comes to magic.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel? Darkness is a theme for both Cara and Killian, something they bond over, both with their powers and the darkness they fight mentally. Whisper of Darkness makes me think of those evil voices in the back of your mind. You know the ones. The ones who say you’re fat, not worthy of love, that you’ll never accomplish anything, and whatever other terrible things that make you question yourself and your life. Cara is haunted in many ways, and I feel it’s a darkness always whispering in her mind, in her soul, dragging her to a darker place.
Who designed your book covers? A very talented friend and coworker designed Book 1, and I am using Miblart to design the others. My talented friend has 3 kids and is moving soon, so I didn’t want to make him commit to a 5 book series and figured it was better to find someone to finish out the series covers sooner rather than later.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Don’t ask a writer that! We are our own worst critics! We will never be fully happy with our books, and we will always question things, even down to the “should I use the word ‘excited’ or ‘ecstatic’. So, needless to say I’ll say ‘no’ because if I think about it, I’ll question myself too much and start to stress out. See! Those little evil voices! Totally a thing. (Note: The end of this answer will only work if coupled with the ‘Title of your first novel’ question).
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? So much! I learned so much about Irish and Celtic folklore. It was all wildly fascinating and so much fun to find ways to incorporate it. However, what I was most excited to learn about was more about autism for my character, Cadan. I did tons and tons of research as it is not a personal identity. However, I ended up hiring this absolutely amazing sensitivity reader who is not only autistic, but has a BA in creative writing and is currently working on a Master’s in Critical Theory with an emphasis on environmentalism, postcolonialism, race, gender and disability. They, also, identify as Black, an immigrant, trans, and indigenous. So, their scope both personally and academically/professionally was astounding. This made it so not only did they provide me feedback on Cadan, but often would explain more on the “why” behind including a specific characteristic. I wasn’t only being told what I did well or needed to work on, but learned why that is too. I am so immensely appreciative of them, and finding them was a complete blessing.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? Lily Collins would be perfect.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers? Find me on social media and say ‘Hi’! I love creating worlds, my mind creates worlds even if I don’t write them down, but it’s the readers that keep the steam in my engine. Hearing what you love, fan theories, seeing fan art, or just connecting about our mutual love for fantasy is such a huge driving force and will make my entire day.
What is your favorite part of this book and why? I love the Korrigan! A small water sprite who can see the past, present, and future. I make her a little devilish and wildly beautiful. It’s one chapter encompassing one of the trials in the competition that Cara is a part of, but I love it so much!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? 100% from my imagination. Well, I guess certain qualities of my main character was inspired by my alpha reader, like her love for animals.
Have you written any other books that are not published? My YA mermaid series, but I plan to publish Book 1 soon!
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be? “First Rain.” The smell of a first rain is so distinct, and that would 100% be my book. You’ll completely understand why if you decide to read it.
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why? Any fantasy writer! I want all the author friends! Annette Marie, Sara J Maas, Laura Thalassa, Audrey Grey, Annette Marie, Leia Stone, Jaymin Eve, Jennifer L Armentrout, Holly Black, this list could go on forever! They are so amazing with their world building, character development, story flow. They are all icons in their own way, and it would be hard not to fangirl around any of them. I would do my best to play it cool though because I want more author friends. I adore the best friendship between Leia Stone and Jaymin Eve, and totally hope to find my author BFF one day.
Whisper of Darkness
Banshee’s Curse Book 1
by Kristen Braddock
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Cara Winters is cursed.
Loss has haunted her through life. A fun night out with her sister ends in disaster when she learns she’s a banshee. With a chance encounter and life debt owed, she’s coerced into a deadly competition in the far realm. To survive she finds an unlikely ally in Killian, a mysterious and prickly dark fae.
The only way to win and get back to Earth is using her powers, but doing so may unravel her to the point of no return.
Perfect for fans of fated mates, enemies to lovers, complicated & diverse characters, slow burn romance, and celtic folklore. Suggested for ages 15+ due to some language and violence.
**From June 7-21, 100% of my profits will go to Foundations of Divergent Minds (instead of the usual 10%), a nonprofit founded and run by autistic people for disability justice!**
About the Author
Characters and their worlds have inundated Kristen’s mind since she was a kid. Traveling to far off places and having words on a piece of paper transform into entire scenes pulling at her emotions is an obsession.
Her goal as a fantasy author isn’t solely to relish in her imagination, but to bring representation to this genre. She wants stories with characters who are diverse inside and out. Their differences are not the focal point of the story, but rather a natural part of their being. Due to this, you will often not only find characters of varying ethnicities, but of the LGBTQ+ community, who battle diseases, are neuroatypical, and plenty of other areas that make us all so different from each other. These are not their defining qualities. It’s simply a part of who they are. To further support these communities, Kristen donates 10% of her profits to various organizations.
When Kristen isn’t cooped up on her computer or curled up with a book, she is often outdoors– hiking, snorkeling, diving, camping, etc.
Currently, she resides in California with her husband and fur babies (two dogs and a cat).
Signed paperback + Swag Pack (1 winner, US only),
$15 Amazon giftcard (1 winner, WW),
ebook of Whisper of Darkness (5 winners, WW)
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
- Welcome to Brenna. Where were you born/grew up at?
Born and raised in Northern Georgia, on the cusp of Alabama and Tennessee. I’ve lived in North Carolina briefly, but otherwise I’ve stayed close to my roots. Would I love to move to the snowy mountains of Colorado? Yes. But could I manage being that far away from my family? Eh, probably not.
- What do you do to unwind and relax?
I read, and read, and read. Or I’ll fill the tub up and soak in a hot bath. If my kiddo is at her grandparents, I’ll stay in until the bath water gets cold and then fill it back up again. Something about the hot water calms my nerves, and it’s easy to immerse myself into my books.
- How to find time to write as a parent?
Simple, write while she plays, eats, and sleeps. Haha. We take walks, and go outside. I read her bedtime stories at night, and watch Disney movies with her. She knows when Mommy is working she has to go and play with her millions of toys inside of her bedroom.
- What inspired you to write this book?
I would say that reading a million books with tropes that I loved inspired me to write one of my own. Also, vampires have always and will always be my favorite creatures of the night. I cannot help it. It’s ingrained in my soul. I grew up on Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, The Vampire Academy, True Blood… I may or may not enjoy blood and biting tropes LOL.
- What can we expect from you in the future?
I have the next two years pretty much outlined. So this year, I will be releasing the first FIVE books in The SoulBlood Series, one surprise novella that links to The SoulBlood Series, and one super secret anthology project. I’ll be releasing a demon romance standalone in 2022, and finishing off the SoulBlood Series (seven books total). We’ll see what happens after that. 🙂
- What book do you think everyone should read?
I always, always recommend anything by Ruby Dixon. If you are new to her, please go pick up Ice Planet Barbarians. It’s the start to my ALL TIME favorite series! If you aren’t into sci-fi romance, you can try out her Fireblood Dragon series!
- How long have you been writing?
I, like many others, have been writing since childhood. I think it all started when I was in middle school, and I became obsessed with the now-famous Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. I wrote my first original story, about fated mates and high school romance, around that time. I started taking writing seriously in 2019, when I started writing on Wattpad for practice and found out that my writing was actually not that bad and something other people might enjoy.
- Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
Um, yes! Of course I read, how in the world would I get better at my craft otherwise? My go-to tropes are fated mates, captive romance, protective/possessive alpha males, anything with vampires, blood bonds, yadda yadda. I’m a hardcore romance reader and writer, through and through.
- Do you have a favorite movie?
I don’t have a single favorite movie, but I have a favorite genre/sub-genre of movies. Any guesses? Haha, I love horror. Way over the top love, lowkey obsessive. If I don’t indulge in at least one horror flick a week, then something is wrong. My favorite sub-genre of horror is creature films, whether that be zombies (my all-time fav) or aliens, vampires, werewolves, etc.
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
As a person, my spirit animal is most certainly a raccoon. Funny story, I actually rescued and rehabilitated one as a teenager. They’re kind and very similar to a cat, though a little less domesticated. But as an author who writes about vampires, I’ll go with a bat as my spirit animal. Anything that sucks a little blood and only comes out during the night totally fits my aesthetic.
- What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I do a ton of market research before writing. I’ll pick up a few top sellers and read them, analyze the tropes, and find out what makes readers gravitate towards that particular book. I’m an avid reader, so my market research is normally just my leisure reads. Before I begin plotting, I outline my characters like crazy. If they are professional NASA scientists, then you best believe my search history is all about what the heck a scientist at NASA does. Most of my plot is all about romance, suspense, and horror/tension. I don’t need to do much research on that, but places, environment, weather conditions… Yeah, authors do a ton of learning with each new project.
- Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. Writing good books is a profession. I am constantly learning new things about the craft and the business side of this career, but it has never been ‘just a hobby’ for me. (Okay, maybe when I was a kid it was a hobby, but not anymore.)
- Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I prefer to write listening to sounds. I have a playlist that I listen to on Spotify called ‘Lofi Beats for Ghosts’ and it has single-handedly gotten me through almost every draft I have ever written. When I go in to revise and do line edits, I normally turn on my WIP playlist. Current band obsessions are Haley Henderickx, Big Thief, Modest Mouse, Fleet Foxes, Grouper, and a ton of other indie rock/folk tunes.
- Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I’ve found that I work best when focusing on one book at a time. I normally section out blocks of the month and devote those days/weeks to my WIP. Same goes with revising, if I’m editing one book, I find it difficult to be drafting another. I’m just weird like that.
- If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
I’ll most certainly get tons of shade for this, but if I could take Stephanie Meyer’s place and write Twilight the way it should have been written, i’d do it in a heartbeat. Or maybe Rachelle Mead… Her Vampire Academy series gave me life while I was in middle school. Props to her!
- Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
So when I was in my late teens, I read a book called Stray by Rachel Vincent. It’s a steamy paranormal romance about werecat shifters, and the FMC Faythe Sanders gave me so much life. She’s strong, knows what she wants (kinda), and kicks ass. It’s so hard to pick a single favorite character from all of the amazing books I’ve read, but she is high on my list.
- A day in the life of the author?
*Opens front door* Hello, and welcome to a day in my life. *Gestures wildly to the debris of toys that cover the living room, put there by one tornado of a toddler.*
In this home, we drink coffee non-stop. Here, have an espresso. *Shoves cup of triple shot into your hands* Let’s get on with the tour! Oh, don’t mind my messy bun and leggings, I always look like this.
Here is where you’ll find my computer, which currently has sixteen tabs open, most of which serve as a distraction from the writing I need to be doing. Never mind all that, hows your coffee? *Child screams in the background*
You get the gist.
- Advice they would give new authors?
Just don’t stop, and do not get caught up in all of the marketing advice that can easily consume all of your time- time that would be better spent just writing the damn book. Write, and write more, and for the love of all things holy, please do not create your own cover. Yes, you need an editor. Yes, you need a marketing plan- but only once you have the book! Or multiples, if you want to try your hand at rapid releasing. Do NOT get caught up in all of the marketing tactics like I did. Yes, you need to know them. However, you don’t need to know them all in the first month. Slow down.
- Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Witchy, Moody, Anxious, and Nerdy.
- Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Why yes, I’m glad you asked! Sometime at the end of the year, I have plans for a novella featuring my two main characters for book one. 😉 I’ll leave it up to the imagination on what exactly it’s about, but here’s a clue. “Happily Ever After can be rounded, by two.”
- Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in (Name of book)?
Of course! Book one, Blood at Dusk, follows the life of a woman named Kora and a Vampire named Aldeon. Their paths cross, of course. (It wouldn’t be a love story without that, haha). Kora was a Senior at Nashville State Community College before the end of the world came. She was a vegan, bookworm, and partied with her sister on the weekends. Nowadays, she deals with a lot of anxiety and grief (as to be expected).
Aldeon is a vampire from the world know as Azure. He doesn’t remember how he, or his people, got to earth. His mind has cleared from the fog of bloodlust, but his species is still mad, tearing through the human and animal population on this new planet. He wants to help the, but when he meets his fated mate- a human, he has to choose. Save her, or stay true to his kind.
- What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
My most favorite thing about writing this book was sharing my struggles with a select group of writing friends. They have grown into an amazing community who lends a helping hand to all those who need it. Without them listening to my endless rants, I don’t know what I would do. I especially wouldn’t have been able to get this book written without my amazing friend and critique partner, Winter. I owe this all to her.
- How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
The concept for this series was a combination of reading a dragon series that I loved (the male main characters inspired my dhampirs’ protective/possessive/alpha nature) and a dream. Daydream might even be a better world. For a whole month, I would lie in bed and visualize the scenes, and then the next day I would write them. It really was a beautiful process.
- If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Psh, I already have. I wrote this book in a month, and then rewrote it completely a few months later, and then sent it through betas and rewrote pieces of it again, and then changed things one more time before my editor got ahold of it. It’s as good as I can make it at this point.
- If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Kora would most certainly be Emilia Clarke, and Aldeon would probably be… Hm, maybe Joseph Morgan with long black hair. *shrugs* Aldeon is a hard character to cast.
- Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Yes, for sure. My books are not meant for young readers, and there are very mature themes involved. Also, I hear a lot of smack about ‘weak’ heroines. Let me be clear, my characters may seem weak in the beginning (I mean they’ve survived an apocalypse, I feel like they deserve a little credit for that already) but each and every one of them turn their weaknesses into strengths by the end of the book. This is called a character arc and for me, it’s important.
- What is your favorite part of this book and why?
Haha, all of the steamy scenes are my favorite. And anything with heightened emotion. The dream about Cece (my FMC’s dead sister) made me cry on my first reread, and then the scenes with Aldeon when he’s super sweet and loving towards Kora… ❤ Heart melts.
- If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would say Aldeon, because he’s a hottie, but I feel like that betrays my sisterhood with Kora. I’m weird and totally think of her as a BFF. So, I’d choose to spend my day with her. Maybe we would go and scavenge a book store, or talk about all of the beauty in life. I think she would appreciate that conversation.
- Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They come from my imagination, though I feel like I may inject parts of my self into them at times. Like Kora enjoys books and is an animal lover. Those are totally quirks of mine. She’s also a little bit softer spoken, which is totally me. Aldeon is super protective, and overthinks sometimes. Also me.
- Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yep! I’ve written 4(ish) that have never been published, and three novels that were published using my legal name. I’ve unpublished those books, and hope to one day rerelease them under this pen name. 🙂
- If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Blood orange, or maybe strawberry lemonade. Or forest scented, mixed with a tinge of vanilla.
- What is your writing Kryptonite?
Nitro Cold Brew from Starbucks. And I need to have a candle lit before I begin writing. Don’t ask me why, I just do.
- What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I do a basic outline. I like to know what ‘beats’ I need to hit, and I know how the story starts and ends. Those points never change while I draft, but before each chapter, I do a summary. Things change while I write, but I roll with it. I’m not sure what I would do without a simple outline.
- How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It takes me a month on average to write my first draft. Most of my drafts tend to be around 45-50k. After that, I’ll decide how much needs to be rewritten and then focus on that for another month. At that point, the manuscript is normally clean enough that I can manage a couple of weeks of self edits before sending it to my editor. From the first line to hitting publish, it normally takes 2-3 months. (That is for a full length novel.)
Content Warning: This book does contain mature themes, such as but not limited to; sexual content, suicide and suicidal ideations, violence, and strong language. Not suitable for ages under 18+.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brenna Harlow (if that’s even her real name) lives happily in her own fantasy land, drinking way too much coffee and reading an endless amount of smutty paranormal romance. She joined the land of the living only to share her love for the creatures of the night, and henceforth has claimed her throne at the Kingdom of Vampires and Fated Mates.
You can find Brenna in any coffee shop that provides free Wi-Fi, drinking her triple shot espresso and stabbing her keyboard to death.
Paperback of Blood at Dusk + Swag Pack, $15 Amazon giftcard – 1 winner each
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!