Interview with Ann Haines and review of her novel Brunswick

Joining us today is Indie YA author Ann Haines.

Thanks for being here today. Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself and your book?

First of all, thanks Sadie for the interview and the review. Both are greatly appreciated.

Well I’m a debut Indie Author finding her way slowly but surely through the self-publishing world and enjoying it as I go. I have been writing since I was a young girl, even illustrating my younger works too. It took me two and a half years to finish my first novel but it was actually ten years in the making. So I guess you could say I’m patient too!

Brunswick is my debut novel. It’s a YA Fantasy, I think it would fit in the Tween genre as well though. It follows the story of a teenage boy who wakes up in a strange place bleeding and scared. He has no idea that when he meets the people who have been looking after him, that he will then be asked to save the land he has woken up in. With people trying to kill him left, right and centre his journey becomes perilous and the allies he meets along the way are not the kinds he is used to. In the final epic battle he must become more of a man than he has ever needed to be to conquer the hooded figure that has been haunting him. What will he do when the hood comes down and he faces his biggest challenge yet?

Brunswick has a certain appealing innocence despite the characters’ darkish mission. Was this purposeful?

Oh absolutely. Our innocence is something that we lose so quickly as we grow up. I am a strong believer in the fact that we all have an innocence about us at every age. There is always something new to learn and so every age should be enjoyed for what it is. No matter how old we get I think we all are able to feel the joy we had when we were teenagers, that’s something we should never let go of or stop reminiscing about. Even the tough bits! Jonathan’s journey is one that I think we can all enjoy and understand at some level.

The book is dedicated to the real-life Jonathan. How much alike are he and the character?

Very! Jonathan is my son and he is a little younger than the Jonathan in the book but other than that, they are peas in a pod. He is very creative and has no problem being himself. He’s brave and very down to earth, he loves his friends too. Oh and he is a great big brother to our daughter Annie!

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Actually I kind of see myself in Sebastian. I realise he is a Dog Lycanthrope but his personality and his outlook on things is very me. I try to be the voice of reason and see things from both sides and also I don’t have a ‘stand by and watch’ attitude. When I was writing Sebastian’s character and his dialogue I found myself writing exactly what I would say in that moment. There is a special place in my heart for Sebastian.

Do you remember where the initial inspiration for the story of Brunswick came from?

Oh yes, again it was my son. I used to watch him play and I was fascinated by the way he created a whole world from just his bedroom. When he was about 4 years old he used to bring me in to the game and I just loved it. It got me thinking that what if these things were really real, I mean who are we to say they aren’t? Just because we can’t see them doesn’t make them any less real, especially in the mind of a child. I ran with that idea until Brunswick was born.

What does your writing day look like? Are you a morning, afternoon, or night person?

Well there are days when I start working during the day but sometimes the flow isn’t quite there so I’ll go away and come back to it when I’ve got the blood pumping to my brain more. Sometimes I’m lucky to have a really good flow going and I will write until the flow is broken or until I just can’t keep my eyes open.

Of course, I am a mother of two so I will only write while the kids are at school, asleep or any other reason they might not be with me. I am also a cake designer, a job I do to help fund my self-publishing journey, so I have to fit it in around that too.

Do you generally read one or multiple books at the same time? What are you currently reading?

I love to read! I will read as much as I can whenever I can. However, when I am writing I stick to one book at a time, brain overload is no good for me and obviously I will always want to focus more on my own work. I am editing my second novel at the moment so I am at a one book limit and I am reading Angel Evolution by David Estes.

What is next for you? Do you have a new project you would like to tell us about?

Well my second novel ‘Mary’ is being released on 6th July. It’s a YA Paranormal novel based on the Bloody Mary urban legend. I love urban legends so I decided to put my own little twist on my favourite one.

Do you have any last words for the readers, advice, admonitions, reminders, requests?

Read what you love, but give everything a chance. An open mind will keep you young and stops boredom. Lastly the most important thing, thanks. A writer without readers is like a garden without sunshine…… it just can’t grow. So thanks for reading my books and supporting me through my growth. I am as always so very grateful.

Thank you for answering my questions Ann and I just have to add that I love the new cover. It’s a big thumbs up from me. 

–Review–

Synopsis: When Jonathan wakes up beside a lake bruised and bleeding, he has no idea how he got there or where “there” really is. Taken from his life and asked to save a land he knows nothing about, from a menacing hooded figure, Jonathan must learn quickly to survive. As he struggles to stay alive long enough to get home he is faced with a deadly choice, Join It or Die. And when it becomes clear that so many would do anything to kill him he must stay close to those who would kill for him. To stay alive and get home he must face the one thing he never wanted to, the figure in black. And when the hood comes down Jonathan is faced with a revelation that could break him and destroy everything he has fought for.

Brunswick put me in the mind of The Never Ending Story or maybe a modernized Narnia. I’m fairly sure I’m not the first person to make the comparison, but that just further supports the similarities. Jonathan and his family are about as ideal as you can imagine, everyone loves each-other and is comfortable expressing it. So it isn’t surprising that Jon’s overriding desire is initially to get home. But because he comes from a strong, loving family that has taught him to do the right thing he can’t turn a blind eye to the suffering around him. It is easy to see the influence of his home-life in the decisions he makes, and this serves to make his emotional transition believable.

He meets a whole host of interesting characters in the new land of Brunswick. This is my favorite aspect of the book. Haines really lets her imagination go wild. The variety of species is a lot of fun. That they are initially reluctant to combine their resources serves as an allegory for the manner in which racial or cultural segregation weakens a society or cause.

The story does tend to leap periodically. I would have liked for it to have progressed a little more smoothly, but I didn’t find this so jarring that it put me off in any manner. If you are looking for a story with a contagious innocence that reminds you of what is good in the world, this is probably the one for you.

You can find more about Ann here:

Blog

Goodreads

Smashwords

Twitter

You can find more about Brunswick here:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Smashwords

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