Penumbras by Braden Bell – Interview & Giveaway

braden bAuthor Braden Bell

Braden Bell grew up in Farmington, Utah and graduated from Davis High School. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his wife, Meredith live  with their five children on a quiet, wooded lot outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches theatre and music at a private school. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys singing, acting, reading, gardening, and long walks with the dog.

 

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Interview

What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Blue Bell Pumpkin Spice. Amazing.
 
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Cold KFC

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?

I am currently working on the 3rd and final installment in the Middle School Magic series and also to YA paranormals.

 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.

It’s hard to beat a royalty check. However, the one thing that can beat it is getting emails from readers who enjoyed, or felt touched and uplifted by something you wrote.
What is your dream cast for your book?
Hugh Bonneville as Dr. Timberi, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Grant, Judi Dench as Madame Cumberland. As far as the kids go, the students who did my book trailers are the ones I see: http://www.bradenbell.com/penumbras-trailers.html

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Write, write, write! And, read, read, read! Then, keep going.

 

If you could live anywhere in the world where would itbe?

I think it would be exactly where I am. Rural TN is so beautiful! Especially now. Green is everywhere. Lightning bugs come out at night and the peace and quiet are as deep as the grass in the meadow. A field near my house has hundreds–maybe thousands of fireflies every night. It’s spectacular. Also, the BBQ is hard to beat!

When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?

I always wanted to be a teacher and a writer. And that’s what I do.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?

Dr. Timberi is the teacher I would like to be. He’s smart and funny and always knows what to do. And he can shoot magical light out of his conductor’s baton.

Favorite Food?

My biggest problem is that I am very open to nearly any food! And quite enthusiastic.

 

How do you react to a bad review?

It’s getting so I can just shrug them off–although, if they are thoughtful, I try to learn from them.

 

You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
A large house in a secluded area so my kids and (eventual) grandkids would always have some place to come and stay. Our current home is–snug.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.

During the school year, I’m up at 5:45 am. We leave the house by 6:30 to get to school (I teach some distance away and my kids attend the school). Then it’s teaching choir, after school play rehearsals or voice lessons. We usually get home around 6:30 or 7:00. Then it’s often church responsibilities. I try to get some writing in and my wife and I like to relax with a movie when possible. Otherwise, we read in bed for a few minutes until we pass out. The summers are slightly more mellow. I teach a lot of lessons and camps, but get some writing in most days.
What’s your favorite season/weather?
Autumn
Favorite music?
Broadway Showtunes.
Do you prefer a bunch of small gifts or one big expensive one?
Do I really have to choose?
bradenWhere do you write?
I do a lot on my back deck. Or in bed late at night on my laptop.
What is your favorite scene in the book? Which scene or characters were the most difficult for you to write and why?

There is a scene between Dr. Timberi and one of his students towards the end of the book. It was not originally part of my plan for the book. However, one day I had a difficult confrontation with a student of whom I was very fond. I wrote the scene after the confrontation as a way to work through what I was feeling. But once it was written, I felt like it fit. I like it because it just feels “right” to me. But it is still hard for me to read sometimes.

Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?

I usually have a basic idea. I write the first and last scenes and then I go from there in a sort of hybrid of planning and discovering as I go.

 

penumbrasPenumbras

Conner Dell didn’t meant to blow up the school bus.
Or the bathrooms.
In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens.
But explosions had a funny way of happening when Conner and his friends were around.

Conner Dell wants to be good–he really does. But he is terrified that he might be turning into a Darkhand, especially when new powers start to surface. What’s worse, the Stalker is following Conner, but no one else seems to be able to see him. The Magi think he might be hallucinating, the guilt of what happened in the Shadowbox keeps weighing on him, and his relationship with Melanie Stephens is complicating things. Even for a Magi, Conner knows his life is anything but normal.

 

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EXCERPT:

CHAPTER ONE

SHADOW PUPPETS

Conner Dell didn’t mean to blow up the school bus.

Or the bathrooms.

In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens.

But explosions had a funny way of happening when Conner and his friends were around.

It all started on the annual seventh grade science trip to the Sea Lab at Dauphin Island, Alabama. Fifty-four thirteen-year-olds on a five-day field trip. What could go wrong?

Especially when three of them happened to be Magi.

#

For a fraction of a second, Conner thought he saw shadows slithering along the base of the cinderblock walls. Tensing, he blinked and looked again.

Nothing. He was alone in the darkness of his dorm room.

Well, except for his friend and fieldtrip roommate, Pilaf.

Across the room, Pilaf disturbed the darkness by turning his flashlight on and digging through a giant floral print suitcase. Fishing a book out, Pilaf hunched over, tucked the flashlight under his chin, and read.

“What are you reading?” Conner asked.

“Sorry. Did I wake you up?” Pilaf squeaked. “I couldn’t sleep. I guess I slept too much on the bus.”

“No worries.” Conner burrowed into his sleeping bag. He didn’t like messing with sheets on these trips. The springs of the ancient bed creaked beneath him. “I’m not sleepy either.” Lexa? Can you hear me? Conner reached out in his thoughts, wondering if his twin sister was awake in her room on the girls’s floor. Head-talking was a cool benefit of being one of the Magi—a secret group of warriors who used the power of Light to battle evil.

No answer from Lexa. Her allergy medicine must have knocked her out.

Melanie? He tried Lexa’s best friend, Melanie Stephens—also one of the Magi-in-training. Conner listened for her response, trying to ignore the backflip in his chest that came when he thought of her. No answer. Melanie had taken something for motion sickness on the bus. She must be knocked out too.

Conner jerked up as something skittered across the ceiling right above him. No doubt this time. He grabbed his own flashlight, raking the beam across the ceiling tiles as someone whispered his name.

Coooonnerrrrrr.

“What?” Conner pointed his flashlight at Pilaf, who looked up from his book, blinking behind his thick glasses. Pilaf’s blinks always reminded Conner of the way a light on a computer blinked when it processed data.

“What?” Pilaf squinted back at him.

“Why did you call me?” Conner asked.

“I didn’t.” Pilaf looked down at his book.

                On edge now, Conner lay back down, scanning the room for more shadowy movement, his fingers ready to snap his flashlight back on at any second.

Co-n-n-e-r-r-r-r-r-r D-e-l-l-l-l-l.

A whispered, hissing sort of growl sounded in his head as a flicker of movement caught his eye. He whipped his head around in time to see a shadowy tail vanish under Pilaf’s bed. Flipping his flashlight on, he investigated the space under the metal frame.

Nothing there.

“What are you doing, Conner?” Pilaf managed to blink and stare at the same time.

Trying to protect you from slithery shadow monsters that could slurp your soul like a slushie, Conner thought. How could he keep the flashlight on without alarming Pilaf? Out loud, he said, “Uh, it’s a game. Flashlight tag. You’re it.” He shined the flashlight at Pilaf.

“How do you play?”

“Well . . . one person’s it and he shines a flashlight all over the room.”

“That’s all?” Pilaf blinked until Conner wondered if he was broadcasting the telephone book in Morse code. “It seems kind of pointless.”

“Uh, yeah.” Conner said. “You’re right. Lame. How about shadow puppets?” He slipped his hand in front of the flashlight, wiggling his fingers until the shadow resembled a horse.

“Cool!” Pilaf shouted.

A knock at the door interrupted them and a tired-looking science teacher poked his head in, glaring beneath tousled red hair. “What’s going on in here?”

“Sorry, Mr. Keller,” Pilaf said. “We slept on the bus ride, so we’re not tired. Conner’s making shadows with his hands. Look, a horse!”

“Neeeiiiiggghhh.” Conner threw in sound effects as a special feature.

Apparently unimpressed with great art, Mr. Keller frowned. “Get some sleep. We have a full day tomorrow.”

“Yes, sir.” Conner swallowed his depression at the thought of a five-day science class. Five days of plankton, ocean salinity, salt marshes, and beach ecology. Five days of science, 24/7. At least they were close to the beach. That might be fun.

“Do another one,” Pilaf whispered as the sound of Mr. Keller’s footsteps retreated down the hall.

“Okay, but be quiet this time.” Conner opened his fingers, making a snake’s mouth, complete with a flickering tongue.

It seemed so real that Conner thought he heard a hiss. Unsettled, he dropped his hands, but the hissing noise continued, twisting into words.

Co-n-n-e-r-r-r-r-r-r D-e-l-l-l-l-l—

Trying to squash the sound, Conner raised his voice. “Here’s another one.” He cupped his hands on top of each other, stuck his thumb up, and opened his fingers slightly.

“Wow!” Pilaf yelled. “A wolf!” He giggled as Conner opened the mouth and growled. “Little pig, little pig let me come in.” Conner prayed that none of the other seventh-grade boys heard he’d been doing Three Little Pigs shadow plays. That would not be cool.

Co-n-n-e-r-r-r-r-r-r D-e-l-l-l-l-l—

The weird voice came louder. Conner dropped his hands away from the flashlight.

The wolf head stayed there.

Fighting panic, Conner switched the flashlight off, but the wolf head remained, darker than the darkest shadows on the wall.

It stretched and grew bigger, becoming life-sized within seconds. It turned and stared at Conner, a three-dimensional head sticking out of the wall like some kind of freaky hunting souvenir.

The wolf growled, then jumped off the wall, and sailed across the room toward Conner.

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Comments

  1. This was such a wonderful interview. My mind is still giddy imagining the field with countless fireflies dancing in the night. Talk about magical!

    Best of luck with this and all publications 🙂

  2. Penumbras is a great book for kids! Read it!

  3. sherry butcher says:

    I can not add to Facebook because I have a 5000 limit, I can not add to Twitter because I have a 2000 limit. Would love to have more people follow me so I can add on Twitter.

  4. Thank you so much for the interview! I enjoyed coming by.

  5. This looks excellent. Putting it on my TBR list

  6. Thanks for such an interesting interview. I got tired ready about his average day, wow!