In this first installment of The Coffeehouse, I interview Booksie author BriannasBooks. Brianna has over 60 pieces of writing posted on the site, ranging from poetry and short stories, to full-fledged novels. Brianna is seventeen, but has been writing since the age of six. She is currently working on her third novel, while editing the other two. In addition to writing, Brianna also likes making cover art for books. When she is not working on stories or covers, Brianna enjoys participating and sports, and hanging out with her friends, both of which help fuel her creativity.
Where are you from, and what do you do when you are not writing?
I am from a city called Sudbury in Canada, and although it's not among one of the best places to live, I always manage to find other things to do around here when I'm not writing such as hanging out with friends and gymnastics.
Can you point to any authors, books, people, or events that have influenced you and your writing?
I wouldn't say that there were any authors in particular that have inspired me to write, but as a kid I really looked up to Robert Munsch, and I ended up writing similar stories. I actually met him in fifth grade, which was a nice surprise! I would also say that in terms of people to inspire me to further my writing, it would be my first grade teacher; she read one of my stories and was so surprised by my level of writing that she wanted me to skip a grade in school because she didn't know how to mark it.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration sources tend to vary, but a lot of times it is inspired by real-life issues that interest me. For example, my upcoming novel, Where the Sun Won't Shine, is about suicide. For a while I would think about what could have driven people to go as far as taking their own lives.
You have been posting your work on Booksie for a few years now. What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned from putting your work in the spotlight?
Booksie has definitely taught me that I shouldn't be shy with sharing my work with others, especially if it's something I want to do in the future. I've also learned that I need to accept criticism in any form, and I have to consider suggestions even if I don't think it sounds right. Writing on Booksie has taught me a lot about what it's like to publish works, because it has a similar setup; you put it out there for the world to see, and they have things to say about it.
Do you ever get nervous before hitting the publish button? How do you overcome that hesitation?
I sometimes get a little nervous before I hit the publish button, especially if I'm unsure of how good the story is. I get over it by thinking that, even if the comments are all criticism, it's going to help me improve. I love finding different ways to make my stories and poems better, so even if I'm nervous to hear the response from others, I know that it's benefiting me.
You have accumulated quite the following on the website, Booksie, a result of truly hard work and dedication. How do your fans help improve your work?
My fans are a big help when it comes to improving my work, since they are always encouraging me to do better and write more. Usually they will comment slight suggestions about fixing parts that may seem a little unrealistic, which will encourage me to conduct more research on the topic, and they are always honest with me, which usually puts a smile on my face.
You also have quite the list of contests that you have entered and have done extremely well in. Is writing for a competition different than writing for your own portfolio?
Writing for contests is a lot of fun for me, and they usually help me to further my creativity. I feel like the pieces for the portfolio and those for contests are only slightly different, since the regular portfolio writings do not originate from prompts. In contests I love to be amongst other writers doing the same thing. I'm not super competitive in contests - they're usually just fun for me - but I love trying my best and hearing the response from the contest host.
In the many years that you have been posting on Booksie, how do you think you have grown as a writer?
When I first joined Booksie, I was thirteen, and I never let anyone read what I wrote. But now that I'm seventeen, I've learned to really love sharing my works with everyone. I've learned that the more you write, the better you become. I've learned that not everyone will love what I write, and I've learned to keep in mind that I need to make the things I write believable. Booksie has also encouraged me to write more and explore different types of writing, which I don't think I would have discovered without Booksie. I have definitely come a long way, and I don't regret any of it.
You are interested in – and talented at – making cover art for pieces of writing. What initially sparked this passion?
I used to notice around Booksie that people had some really cool cover art, and I suddenly really began wanting something to show for my novels, since people are sometimes attracted to a book by the cover design. I noticed that even the covers in bookstores were beautifully done, and I knew that if I ever published a novel, I'd have a cover of my own too. I decided to make it seem more like I was really publishing a book and began designing covers, but they were awful! It took me lots of practice, and lots of looking at other covers to be able to get the hang of it, but now I really enjoy how well I can make them look, and love designing them for others.
Are there any covers, yours or others, that stand out in your mind?
I really like the meaning behind the one I recently made for my novel, The Other Half of Me; there are two puzzle pieces that are trying to connect together, which is pretty much the main goal in the novel. The twins have separated, and they are trying to make their way back to each other, and once they can reconnect, everything will be okay for them. It took me a while to create, but I'm really glad that it has meaning behind it to show what the story is really about.
What is next for BriannasBooks?
Right now, I've been getting more into writing my newest novel, Where the Sun Won't Shine, and hopefully I can post more chapters soon. I'm also looking into writing a lot more short stories for the future, and I'm really excited to see how far I can take my writing skills this time!
How do you define success in both writing and everyday life?
I would define success as achieving your goals and being happy. Being rich and famous doesn't mean anything, especially to me; I find that as long as you're doing something you love and that you're proud of yourself for what you've done, you have definitely succeeded.
If you could give one piece of advice to every writer out there, what would it be?
I think that confidence is definitely key. If you believe in yourself and work hard at your writing every day, you can do many great things. Don't be afraid to share with others and ask for their opinions, because it will certainly help you get the feel of what your readers enjoy. So go for your dreams and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
You can find BriannasBooks and her portfolio here.