Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A guest post with Sandra Brannan

Sandra Brannan debuted as an author in 2010 with In the Belly of Jonah, the first installment of her acclaimed Liv Bergen mystery series. The novel was chosen as an Indie Next List Notable by independent bookstores and librarians across the country and went into a second printing just one month after its release.

Sandra’s success in the literary world led to her being named one of the top 25 most fabulous women by Black Hills Magazine. In 2011, the e-book version of In The Belly of Jonah landed Brannan on the top 100 mysteries list nationally.

Much like her character Liv Bergen, Sandra has spent her career in the mining industry. Working her way up from day laborer in the company her grandfather founded to a top executive in the family business wasn’t easy, as Sandra often received threats from those opposed to mining. These life experiences gave her a first-person perspective into the high-stakes scenarios of which she writes.

Sandra was raised the seventh of nine children in a loving home not far from Rapid City, South Dakota. After living in Colorado (the setting for In the Belly of Jonah), Wyoming, Washington D.C. and Washington state, Sandra returned to her hometown where she lives with her husband. Their budding family consists of four boys and three grandchildren.

The second book in her mystery-thriller series, Lot’s Return to Sodom, released June 1, 2011 and revolves around the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Picking up right where Lot’s left off, Sandra releases Widow’s Might on August 7, 2012. She’ll follow those with Noah’s Rainy Day in 2014.

How Do You Think Up This Stuff?

After reading In The Belly Of Jonah, one woman asked, “What kind of mind comes up with these things?”  I wasn’t sure how to answer, other than “Mine?”  I know my stories are kind of creepy and have really twisted concepts in them.  Believe it or not, I had a near fairy book childhood.  My parents didn’t hate me.  My siblings didn’t torture me.  My friends never abandoned me.  And fast forward to today, my husband doesn’t abuse me and my kids don’t terrorize me.  I have a lovely family, my boys and grandkids truly life’s treasures, and a husband I adore.  I had a beautiful childhood, a picture perfect family life filled with structure and freedom, faith and inquisitions, playtime and hard work, individuality and community.  

Yet from the time I was a child, I was rigging up pulley systems to transport my crafted ghosts from tree to tree to terrorize my parents’ dinner guests, fascinated to find critters that wriggled and squirmed beneath rocks, and despite the nuns’ counseling to the contrary, conducted secret séances and consulted a Ouija board with my older, cooler siblings to discover the important facts of life like who had a crush on whom at school and what was Santa going to bring. 

The most relevant hours of my childhood that shaped my me as a writer were those I spent with my siblings in the woods pretending I was a cowboy or an Indian, in our driveway on our bicycles as race car drivers or Evil Kneivels , in our fort or playhouse as an astronaut or a housewife, a priest or a gypsy, or in our sandbox creating villages and moonscapes.  I had no limits on my imagination, thanks to my mom’s encouragement, belief, and most importantly, execution in banishing us nine kids to stay outside after school, leaving us to our own devices and forcing us to rely on creativity and imagination.  Possibly the best gift she ever gave me, although there are so many ‘best gifts’ I can hardly keep track.  

As an adult, I spend as much time as I can with my children, grandchildren and in classrooms… and here’s the key… LISTENING to them.  Kids are the most creative, unshackled, limitless thinkers around us.  Tap into their ideas for inspiration!

With a mind for crime solving and headstrong about protecting her family – Liv Bergen finds herself trailing a vengeful killer with a crooked sense of justice

The third Liv Bergen mystery picks up right where the second one left off: the murder of Liv’s future sister-in-law has been solved, but an older rancher has been bludgeoned to death in a style eerily reminiscent of a long-inactive killer known only as the Crooked Man. FBI agent Streeter Pierce, still on assignment in Sturgis, South Dakota, must now turn his sights on tracking down the killer—his nemesis from ten years earlier.
Pierce doesn’t complain, though; he’s falling in love with Liv and sets in motion an unconventional plan to recruit her for the FBI’s training camp in Quantico as they work the case together. But is Liv falling for the brilliant, exotic agent Jack Linwood instead?

Once again, Liv’s vast knowledge of the Black Hills of South Dakota—territory made famous by the gold rush that followed General George Custer’s expedition—and the novel folk who live there leads her to unearth critical clues about the Crooked Man. But are facts enough to safeguard Liv’s sister Elizabeth and her friend, an elderly woman battling cancer who was attacked just days after her husband was murdered? Will the frail yet feisty widow recover her strength in time to help Liv thwart the Crooked Man’s murderous plans and fatal blows?

1 comment:

  1. Scott - you always have an eye for good content :)