Thursday, February 09, 2006


Continuing our Q&A with suspense novelist Brandilyn Collins, author of Web of Lies (Zondervan). An award-winning and best-selling novelist, she also has written the distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). In between writing novels, Brandilyn teaches the craft of fiction at writers' conferences.

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How many books do you read a month?
As many as possible, given my schedule. In a regular month, perhaps 6-8. In vacation mode, more. An author needs to keep reading -- in various genres, and especially in his/her own. I make sure to keep up on Christian suspense. I need to know what's happening in my own market.

What are your writing habits?
I hit the office around 7 a.m. and write until my daily page count is done (anywhere from 6-10 pages.) I tend to write my first drafts the way I want them, which slows me down some. (Opposed to some authors, who like to get the first draft down in a hurry, then spend a lot of time editing.) When that's accomplished for the day, I have devotions (reading the Bible and praying the Psalms -- I have a long list of people who've asked me to pray for them). Then somewhere in there I run my five miles and do marketing stuff -- which, by the way, seems to increase with every book.

Are you an “outline” writer or a “make it up as you go” writer?
Neither, completely. I'm more of a plotter. My stories have a lot of twists, and infinite details go into those twists. That's not something you can just make up as you go along. From page one, I am writing to the ultimate twist. On the other hand, I don't fully know every scene when I start a book. I plan some scenes and have others generally in my head. But as I write, details and characterization cause new possibilities to arise.

Are you a full-time novelist?

How many books did you have to write before you were able to go full-time? (When did you know you had “made it”?)
This is a hard question; I'm not the sole breadwinner in the house (and my husband makes a far higher salary than I). That said, if I were on my own, I could support myself with writing full-time. I sold my first novel toward the end of 1999. By the time it hit shelves in 2001, I'd sold four more novels and a nonfiction (my book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character). But I'd say when I signed a seven-book contract with Zondervan in 2003, I felt pretty solid. At least I knew what I'd be doing for the next three and a half years.

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Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. Find Ms. Collins online at or at her daily blog, She is also a regular contributor to the multi-novelist blog Charis Connection.

Find Web of Lies at Amazon or ask for it at any fine bookseller.

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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at Watch the trailer on YouTube.