Brandon Gray is the pen name of Braden Bell (Brandon writes YA fiction; Braden writes for middle grades). Braden holds a Ph.D. from New York University. He and his family live on a quiet, wooded lot in Tennessee, where he teaches middle school theatre and music. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys reading, gardening, and long summer afternoons writing in his hammock. His most notable skill is being able to eat a full rack of BBQ ribs with one hand on long drives.
- Tell us about things you enjoy — what you do for fun or personal satisfaction besides writing?I love to read. I also really love old movies.
- When did you first realize you were an author? Probably when I was in third or fourth grade. I set up a little office in the room under the stairs and spent a happy summer writing a book.
- Have you done anything writing-related, but besides actually writing your books, that seemed to get a lot of positive response? Something that encouraged you? I have had an essay published in the Washington Post and another piece on The Good Man Project. I've had good response to my blogs about working with adolescents.
- What is the thing you struggle with the most while writing? And how do you defeat it? The biggest problem for me is time. I haven't defeated that yet.
- What is the “message” of your writing? (For example, is your purpose to encourage old-fashioned values, encourage romance, or do you have different purposes in different books?) My biggest aim is to tell a good story. Every story has its own moral structure. I don't sit down with a message in mind. Generally, as the book goes on, the theme emerges, but I try not to be too heavy-handed. A lot of authors I loved eventually got didactic and used their books as platforms for their social or political views. That turned me off to their writing.
- What are your thoughts/feelings on ebook vs. print book? I love them both for different reasons. I love the convenience and less expensive price of ebooks. There is still nothing better than holding a print copy in your hand, though.
- How many books do you have out? Are you planning a specific number altogether, either in this series or separately?I currently have seven books out. I am working on sequels for Orison and hope to have a sequel for The Soulstealer's Child soon as well.
- Are your characters/stories/scenes, etc. based on anything in real life? I think every book I've written was sparked by a moment or incident in real life--some little thing happened that made me ask questions and start imagining different outcomes.
- What are your future projects?I'm currently working on turning my blog posts about parenting into a book. And the sequels above. I also have a couple of new ideas I don't want to say too much about because they're secret!