Thursday, October 1, 2020

Brandi Reeds

Brandi Reeds is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Trespassing and Third Party. Under the pseudonym Sasha Dawn, she writes critically acclaimed young adult novels of psychological suspense, including Panic; Blink, an Edgar Award nominee; and Oblivion, which was chosen as one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens, recommended by the School Library Journal, endorsed by the American Library Association, and selected by the 2016 Illinois Reading Council as a featured book.

Reeds's new novel is The Day I Disappeared.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Often, I have titles in mind prior to actually drafting a manuscript. The Day I Disappeared was untitled even throughout the first couple of rounds of developmental edits. We (my editorial team and I) discussed several other titles, including The Eleventh Girl and The Living Dolls, both of which seemed a bit too on-the-nose, and detracted from the main characters; although the most imminent motivation is to solve the case of a currently missing girl, the underlying and driving force behind it all is for Holly to know what happened to her. We also talked about The Blank Space, in regards to Holly's lack of memories about what happened to her when she was a missing child. Ultimately, we landed on The Day I Disappeared because it lent to the mystery and kept the focus on what Holly can't remember about the day she was kidnapped--or how she survived the ordeal.

What's in a name?

In order to name a character, I first become acquainted with her parents. In Holly's case, Trevor is a craftsman, and Cecily is an artist. They'd be artful about naming their child, who was born in the Christmas season, but they're also traditional, so they wouldn't, say, create a name, blend two together, or name her as a hybrid of themselves (Trecily?). I settled on Holly, which is both earthy and hearty, and season-appropriate, and then decided to name her after a very good friend's daughter, Holly Adryenne. Her last name is courtesy of my husband's biological father.

Readers have already asked me how I decided to name Holly's best friend, Kitten. Susan and Paul would not have chosen an exotic name, however they spoiled their adored Katherine, and Kitten seemed more appropriate than Kathy or Kate. Besides, I liked the idea of having a Kitten and a Dog in the same book.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self would not have been surprised to be reading The Day I Disappeared. I have always been enthralled with suspense and tales of survival, and this novel is the embodiment of both. I grew up reading Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie, and I started writing when I was seven years old. It was always teenage Brandi's dream to write twisty plots--and she did, but more than her best friend (Thanks, Mary) read her work now.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Several suspects present in The Day I Disappeared, and the narrators aren't exactly reliable, so naturally, the novel could have ended in any number of ways. I actually drafted suspect A, suspect B, and C and carefully pondered each before deciding which scenario to present to my editors. Even still, we did the most work with the ending, revising and rewriting several times, and by then, I decided to exonerate one suspect and to accuse another. In a sense, even I kept guessing until the end. I hope my readers do, too.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

There is a little of me in every character I write. In my alternate life, I own a design and build company, so Holly's comfort on the site of custom homes definitely stems from the fact that I've frequented
hundreds. However, Holly and I are nearly complete opposites in every other aspect, namely her willingness to let life happen to her, versus her seeking what she wants. I think I'm least like Kitten, though, who tends to demand attention.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

This may sound strange, but I combine my two careers, and often write beautiful or interesting residences into my work. In this particular case, I envisioned a barn converted to a house and wanted Holly to live in it. I sketched a floor plan, and put together some interior details. While most of them didn't make the final cut (Holly has light green kitchen cabinetry--Paris Rain by Benjamin Moore--for example), her place was fully formed in my mind, as was Kitten's art deco condo in the city, and Trevor and Cecily's farm house. Currently, I'm redesigning a lakehouse (per the vote and request of my readers) in which to place my next family. It's great fun to design prospective places and rewarding to see them come to life on the page.
Visit Brandi Reeds's website.

My Book, The Movie: Third Party.

The Page 69 Test: Third Party.

The Page 99 Test: The Day I Disappeared.

My Book, The Movie: The Day I Disappeared.

--Marshal Zeringue