A: D. D, put down the hat.
D: What are you talking about? Briana’s coming!
A: Yes, but she does write other things besides westerns featuring Billy the Kid. Besides, the hat just looks–
D: Don’t you say it, A. Billy liked it, and that makes it just fine.
A: Whatever. Just make sure you don’t smack Briana in the face with the fringe on your shirt.
D: (eye roll). As if it were long enough to do that, sheesh. With that, ladies and gents, it is my great pleasure to welcome to the D/A Dialogues, Ms. Briana Vedsted.
D: You are a prolific writer, Ms. Vedsted – tell us a little bit about your upcoming novel, Me and Billy the Kid.
B: Me and Billy the Kid is fictitious tale about the infamous western outlaw Billy the Kid and some other characters from the time, including Jesse Evans, Richard Brewer, and the legendary Sherriff Pat Garrett. New to the tale is Billy’s young girlfriend, Angel, who quickly becomes the object of Garrett’s fascination.
D: I hear you have a publisher for Billy – what has been your experience with indie publishing versus traditional publishing?
B: Tate Publishing, the company who I’m working with for Billy, is more of a vanity press, and so far, I admit that indie publishing is my favorite. It’s a lot more stress-free and I have more control. I still have my hopes on publishing the traditional route one day, but for now, self publishing is the best I’ve found.
D: Where do your characters come from? Are they people you’ve known all your life, did they come knocking on your mind’s door, demanding to be written, or is it a combination of all of that?
B: My characters are a combination of people I know and people that just popped into my head. It is by far easier to take real life people I know and make them into characters, for me. With most of my characters who are imaginary, I usually see them very clearly when I start writing, but after awhile, appearance starts to change and I have to make a list of each color’s eye color, hair color, age, etc.
D: Of all your characters, who would you rather spend a day with? What would you do?
B: I would of course love to spend a day with Billy the Kid! Even though my character is slightly different from the really William H. Bonney, to be able to hang out with a legendary old west cowboy would be amazing. And I would just sit and listen to him talk all day long. I’d want to hear the stories he could tell!
D: Who is your least favorite character? Who, if they were to be in the middle of a stampede of cattle, would you save last?
B: The character I’d let the cattle trample would probably be Maggie, the main character in The Untold Story of Margaret Hearst, alias Maugrim Valletta (a.k.a. The Ballad of Margaret Hearst). She’s a foolish, rebellious teenage girl who falls in love with the wrong man and does everything she can to be with him. She is the only character I have that I don’t like. And actually, she turned out just the way I planned. I think I hoped she would have developed a new personality, but alas, she was a very obedient character and went alone without arguing.
D: What genre would you like to try – if you haven’t already?
B: I’ve actually tried writing every genre I could think of. But so far, my favorites are fantasy and western.
D: I hear there is a vampire-and werewolf-like story in your future? Care to share a spoiler-free sneak peek?
B: Here with the Wolves is about werewolves and the human-like Slayers who kill them to protect humans. Here’s a piece from the first book in the series:
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Ness, the conquering hero.”
My hand dropped to my knife blade, and I had to remember that it was kind of illegal for an alpha to kill a member of her pack, no matter how annoying he was.
“Hello Malcolm.” I turned to face the dark faced aggressor. His blue eyes took in my bloody appearance, my bandaged arm, and the don’t-mess-with-me-right-now-or-I-just-might-rip-your-head-off look with amusement.
“I guess I was wrong about you: you were able to kill a wolf after all.”
You could have knocked me over with a feather. Was Malcolm actually giving me a complement?
Then he opened his infuriating mouth again, “Or did Kenneth do it for you? Were you scared? However did you manage to spend three whole nights out in the woods? Did you have to borrow your little brother’s teddy bear, or maybe his security blanket, huh?”
He laughed coldly, and again, the only thing keeping his head on his shoulders was Dustin’s hand on my arm.
Kenneth started to stick up for me, but I waved him away. I wanted to show him I could handle myself. I shook off Dustin’s arm and stepped right up in front of Malcolm. The sound of my own voice surprised me, it was so low and gravely, I don’t think it even belonged to me. “As your Alpha, I command you to hold your tongue. If anyone is going to do any lecturing, it will be me. Unless you are severing the bond, bow before me so as to prove your loyalty to our pack.” This was the first time I’d ever pushed anyone. Never before had I summoned up my alpha ability of dominance to order anyone around.
And now Malcolm was faced with a dilemma. He could choose not to bow (which I probably would have done) and be turned out of his pack (okay, maybe I would have bowed, for Kenneth’s sake), or he could bow to his mortal enemy and remain in the pack.
He chose the second option.
Falling to the ground, Malcolm groveled. (It was a bit much, in my opinion.)
Embarrassed and a bit ashamed for pushing him so harshly, I cleared my throat, “Uh, okay then. Rise Malcolm. You have proven your loyalty.”
Blue eyes like daggers, his dark face shockingly pale with humiliation, Malcolm got to his feet. His voice dripped poison as he said, “I honor no alpha but Kenneth. The day his reign is over, I’ll come after your life.”
D: Thank you for sharing that with us, Briana. How much of your family’s work on its ranch has influenced your storytelling?
B: All I know about horses and cattle I learned from experience. Living on my family’s ranch has helped inspire the majority of my stores, western or other genres. Ranching can be a dangerous occupation. I know what it feels like to get bucked off a horse, come face-to-face with a lion, and get lost in the middle of nowhere. Great joy comes with the territory, as well, and so does sorrow. Living the life I do has given me lots of opportunities, and I try my hardest to accurately describe all events I write about.
D: A and I both loved your post I am an Author. What advice would you give to other young and aspiring authors out there.
B: Really the only thing I would say is that you’ve got to love this craft. I mean it. If you don’t love writing, it might be the wrong job for you. But if you do love it, then just keep writing. Everything gets better with practice. Yes, there will be naysayers along the way, but you have to be strong.
D: All right, Briana – I love asking this question of people who have a myriad of characters at their disposal: It’s a Druid showdown – me vs. a character of your choice. Who do you think can take this time-travelling Pict warrior down?
B: I’m going to have to say Kenneth, alpha of the Slayer pack from Here with the Wolves. He’s the most level-headed character I’ve ever come up with, and a born fighter. I’m not sure he could actually take you down, D, but he is an archer, as well as an extremely good swordsman. And if necessary, he’s all for flaunting his martial arts skills. If you bother his protégée, Ness, be prepared to face the wrath of Kenneth!
D: Yikes, I think I’ll leave Ness alone!
Well, there you have it folks, Ms. Briana Vedsted. To learn more about Briana and her work, head over to When I Became an Author. You can also buy her books, The Night I Walked Off Boot Hill, A Girl Named Cord and The Ballad of Margaret Hearst