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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maple Express by Peter Brandt

I'm delighted to welcome Peter Brandt to my blog today. He's kindly agreed to be interviewed and also to provide us with an excerpt for his new release "Maple Express" which I reviewed on my blog yesterday.

What gave you the idea for "Maple Express"?
Well, first off hello Sue and thank you for having me here today.
Maple Express is a truly unique book for me. I read the news and a doctor was talking about a medical condition that the medical community all agreed was a certain way, and I thought, “what if they are wrong?” 
So - I took that same scenario and wrote Maple Express in a way that explains my belief, which runs contrary to the medical profession by the way. I am not saying what I believe is right, but merely giving the reader an alternate way to look at it.
The problem is that if I tell you what the “what if” was I would be giving away the storyline so you’ll have to read the book to understand what I am talking about. 
I know what you mean as I have read  the book. What was your creative process like leading up to beginning "Maple Express"?
I am like an addict who has overwhelming cravings. I get this feeling and I have to sit down at a computer or with a pen and pad of paper and start writing. The story begins to flush itself out in my mind and before long, I have the overall storyline all written out. 
I always look at the story from a high level from start to finish. This gives me a firm idea where the story is starting and where it will end. Most of the time I begin to write and most of the middle fills in as I go along, although sometimes I am stumped.

Maple Express is an example of being stuck. I had a clear idea where the novel started and where it would finish but how the story would be carried along just wasn’t there. I shelved this book for over a year until our old neighbors started bugging me to finish it. It finally came to it and I finished writing it.
Did you have to do a lot of research to write about a 16 year old girl?
No, not a lot. Maybe I could have done more because being a male, we do think somewhat differently than women, but I have two stepdaughters and I can see how they act as teenagers. As well, I have many friends with daughters and having issues with their mother in their teen years seems to be a standard theme. That is why Sara has some issues with her mom.
Who was Maple Express aimed at? Teenagers and young adults in general or the females of that age group?
Maple Express is aimed at young adults in general, and although the story is about a girl, the story is for all young adults, male or female. My books are all about kids being able to take control of their lives and going from someone told to be quiet and do as they are told to someone that can take control of their life and the direction it is heading.
What is your favorite genre to read and write?
Wow, good question. I read everything - young adult, adult, fiction, non-fiction, news - you name it. It really comes down to the story for me. If the story sounds good then I want to read it. A great cover also draws me in. I used to love horror but as I get older my nervous system doesn't like it anymore.
For writing, I am now strictly into young adult fiction. I wrote both my own memoir - a humorous look at my 20-year career in the Canadian Forces and my dad’s memoir of being forced into a Russian prisoner-of-war camp at the age of 14. After these two I decided to focus exclusively on young adult.
The reason I love writing young adult is because I was a pretty dull, immature kid growing up and I realized later on in life that I was just a late bloomer. I have really become what I wanted to be, although I didn’t have a great start. My self-esteem was pretty low as well as a kid, so I love to write about young people who are pathetically normal who blossom into something really special when given the opportunity.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Absolutely. I love a good story and I really think that if you’re a good storyteller than you can be a successful author. I am an actor as well and I love being able to become someone totally different from who I am in real live. I did a movie once where I had to be a mean father who punches his son and wow did I have fun showing a dark side of me on film. I am nothing like that in real life by the way but it was fun to act that way.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
When I get into writing mode I take one day every weekend, usually Saturday (where I live the weekend is Friday and Saturday instead of Saturday and Sunday) and I write the whole day. This usually works out to about 10 to 12 hours. As well, during the week I try to write at least one hour a night. 
Last year I took a week off for vacation and wrote the whole week. Wow, did I ever get a lot accomplished.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Another great question. I think we authors all write for ourselves, otherwise we couldn’t keep doing it. I personally love telling stories and I find I need to write just to keep my head cleaned out for the next great story that comes along.
Your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?
I am a ferocious reader. I read news, stories, novels, help books, you name it. I really think if you aren’t a good reader, it’s hard to be a good writer.
It is amazing how the brain works. The more I sit and write trying to develop a story idea the more my brain tries to figure it out for you. I have read that the brain is a goal oriented organ and if we tell it that we want something it will work trying to give it to us. However, there is no substitute for sitting in the chair and writing.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Yes to a point. I have some people that I can take criticism from but my wife isn’t one of them haha. It’s too personal if she says something to me so we have decided not to go that route. I have an editor who can tell me anything and I listen to her because when it comes to my manuscripts she is a genius.  
Every writer has his or her own style. That’s what makes reading so much fun. If we all wrote the same way if would be pretty boring. I have my way and I don’t think I could change even if I wanted to, so I love comments and understand we all have our own tastes. If someone loves my book, or doesn't love my book that is their personal opinion and I respect that.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help you concentrate?
I have a really cool office with posters, my guitar and violin, autographed photos from actor friends, old hockey pictures of me and I made my office like this because it makes me want to spend time there, and when I am writing I spend a lot of time there.
As well, I can’t write a thing without music pouring through my headphones. I have over 65,000 songs in my digital music collection. I have a pair of Sony stereo headphones I wear that keep me focused.
(I am wearing them right now listening to the Q107 Toronto radio station online while I write this.)
I have a great glass desk, a top of the line keyboard (because I am very selective about my pens and keyboards) and an Ikea chair to sit in while I write. I need to feel comfortable. 
As a side note, I would love it if famous writers showed us where they sit and write their books. Wouldn't it be cool to see where Stephen King or JK Rowling sit and write? 
I think this is such a cool idea that I've made a video for my blog that shows my readers exactly where I go to do all my writing. They can see my office, desk, computer and they can compare what I have with what they have. I like that it gives me something personal I can give my readers about who I am and where I do my thing.
What are you working on now?
I went to Los Angeles last September to visit family and I fell in love with the place. We went through Hollywood and Vines in LA as well as traveled through the Mojave Desert and Death Valley. I though "what a perfect setting for my next book" so I started writing a book about a young man by the name of Taylor (I have a Taylor guitar which I love, hence the name LOL.) 
Taylor disappears while walking to school and two months later is found wandering along the Pacific Coast Highway. He doesn’t know who he is, where he was, and how he got there. Shortly after his return, a young girl begins to enter his vivid nightly dreams and he realizes he’ll have no peace unless he finds out who she is and what she wants.
I have another novel already written and ready for publishing titled “Holly Alexander and the Mystery of the Courthouse Square.” This book will be released next in Summer / Fall 2012. I grew up with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries and I decided to write a book in that style. I loved those books growing up. They were the Harry Potter books of my generation.
Thank you for having me on your blog. I have some great prizes for people to enter to win who are following my blog tour. Good luck in the future and all the best.

Peter Brandt
BLURB:   Sara Maple has a comfortable life—the only child of a wealthy family—a best friend who does everything she asks—and the admiration of most of her schoolmates. Unfortunately, her temper and “indestructible” attitude quickly place her in a very precarious position.
“The Maple Express” is a powerful novel that captures the author’s take on the miracle of the human mind. “The Maple Express” delves into the actions and consequences of a young girl who has never had to take responsibility for her actions before. The story brings the reader into a world where Sara’s determination to find her way off the train sends her on an emotional trip that bonds her to her new friends and changes her life forever.
Both young and old readers will love the emotional journey Sara Maple takes them on as she deciphers the obstacles that confront her. Sara’s story ends with a surprise twist and leaves the reader with a sense of discovery about his or her own humanity.
The three girls giggled at Mr. Freezen as he walked around the cafeteria, stopping and talking to some of the boys that were being excessively loud.
“Oh, my God — he doesn’t even know it,” Jenny snorted and then burst out laughing, lowering her head and banging her fist, causing the dishes and milk containers to bounce up and down on the table.
Julie had her arm around Sara’s and the two of them were laughing just as hard. The cafeteria was abuzz with the sounds of kids talking, louder and louder to get the edge above the other voices until a crescendo of voices drowned out any semblance of understanding.
When the hair finally tickled his ear, Mr. Freezen pushed his hand through his hair and tossed his comb-over back into place on top of his head. As quick as lightning, he pulled out his comb and straightened it.
A couple of the boys fought to contain their giggles while he combed everything into place. The rest of the cafeteria continued with their own lives with no indication of what was transpiring within feet of them.
The group watched him point his comb at the boys and say something before he left.
“Someone should tell him that the comb-over look is dead,” Julie quipped.
“Not me,” Sara said, a shot of fear on her face as she fidgeted in her seat. 
Once Mr. Freezen left the boys’ table, they erupted into laughter. They watched a young man wipe tears from his eyes.
“He’s so cute,” Sara mumbled, but Julie overheard it.
“Why don’t you ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance?”
“Yea, yea I will. I just need to find the right time.”

It only takes a few minutes of thought before Peter Brandt can devise a scenario that would make a fantastic story, and minutes after that before it begins to fill itself in. 
“I have been able to think up stories all my life but it’s only been in the last seven years that I realized I was abusing my creative side by not writing them down.”
Peter retired from the Air Force and began a new career as a Technical Writer. His writing abilities have allowed him to work in Canada, the United States and even in the Middle East. 
But its Peter’s love for stories that has brought him into a new realm of writing. His humorous memoir about his life as a soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces and the tragic memoir about his father’s life in a Prisoner-of-War camp at the age of 14 allowed him to refine his writing before he began to venture in writing Young Adult fiction.
“I have a very unique way of creating my stories. It begins with a craving, like a recent smoker who just quit cigarettes but still feels the addiction. I can’t shake it until I sit down and begin to let my mind wander. Many times I start my quest for a new story by wondering - What If. Soon after I begin to write and can usually get the first draft completed within a few weeks.
 Maple Express began as a “what if” question and I’d share it with you but it would give away the storyline.”
I always write my stories as I would see them on the movie screen, which is why writing screenplays are also something I do. I am shooting a short film I wrote with a friend of mine within the next couple of weeks with another film shortly after.”
Peter has taken formal lessons in acting and has enjoyed some success as an actor in TV and film before his day job as a Lead Technical Writer required him to move out of the country.
“I can honestly say I have landed in the perfect job for me. I love to write...doesn’t really matter what I write, creatively or technically, writing is a pleasurable experience.  It has allowed me to travel and for that I am grateful.”
Peter grew up with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew hardcover books.
“I loved them. I remember sitting under my blanket after lights out, sweating from the heat and the fear that gripped me as Joe and Frank carried on with another of their adventures.”
It is with these wonderful stories in mind that Peter wrote “Holly Alexander and the Mystery of the Courthouse Square.” This young adult novel will be released summer / fall 2012.
“I never really grew up. I have tried to write for adults but I find it difficult. I was a small, shy, and bullied kid growing up. I was nothing special. I had terrible grades, no idea what I wanted to do with my life and, totally foreign to me. After I joined the Army those years faded quickly and I guess it has caused me to want to get those years back. 
That is why I crave writing about young people who feel they are nothing special until I put them in a position where they have no choice but to become someone they never dreamed they could be. It is very uplifting for me to make heroes out of young people who believe they have nothing to contribute. It’s an eye opener for me as well as for them when it happens.”
Pete continues to write and publish through Simple Simon Publishing, a different type of publisher. 
“Simple Simon Publishing is all about turning authors into entrepreneurs. For too long authors have felt dependent on the closed loop publishing industry to discover them and make them successful. Simple Simon’s philosophy is you are not just an author but the best person in the world to sell your and your writing.”
Peter and his wife Carly have five kids who are all grown and on their own. 

LINKS is my personal site. is where my books are for sale. is where Maple Express is for sale at Smashwords for $1.99
Peter has some original prizes he's giving away at the end of his tour. Two winners will win a pint jug of Butternut Mountain Farm Vermont Pure Maple Syrup, Grade A Dark Amber, in honor of the main character of The Maple Express, Sara Maple, from the small town of Mapleton Vermont. One grand prize winner will win an awesome Bachmann Trains Pegasus Ready-to-Run HO Scale Train Set. Also, the blog host with the most comments will win a 2012 Canadian (1 oz) Silver Maple Leaf Coin in an "Air-Tite" Capsule.

For details of where you can follow Peter's tour visit:


Peter A Brandt said...

Thanks for having me over for a visit today Sue. It has been fun. As well, I am happy to get a nice review of my book. As you know, we authors go to a lot of trouble to put words to page and bring a story through a couple of hundred pages to a successful conclusion.
All the best,


Sue Perkins said...

Glad to have you visit Pet, the book was a very interesting read

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Pete,
Wow, you do have an interesting background.I like the sounds of working all day, virtually non stop on a story. If only I could manage that kind of time.



Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting Peter today.

MomJane said...

This story sounds awesome. The blurb makes me want to know how it ends.

Peter A Brandt said...

Thanks for your comment Margaret. It takes a lot of discipline and my wife to take up the slack around the house. I do involve Carly in everything I do. As well, all of our kids are adults so I don't have the issues of raising kids and trying to write.
Thanks again,

Peter A Brandt said...

Nice to see you again, MomJane.
It is an interesting ending for sure. Not all my books have such endings, but it was fun to do.