Sunday, November 27, 2022

An Interview with Ohio Author Brieanna Wilkoff

An Interview with Ohio Author Brieanna Wilkoff

Residing in Westerville, Ohio, young adult author Brieanna Wilkoff is a bundle of good energy. I met Brieanna at a recent book festival where she showcased her new novel. From Brieanna’s bio…


Brieanna Wilkoff (she/her) believes wholeheartedly in the power of kindness, the importance of theatre, and the awesomeness of ’80s rock. She married her husband onstage at the oldest surviving theatre in central Ohio, and their first dance was to Bon Jovi’s “Thank You for Loving Me.” Her favorite musical is a three-way tie between Les MisWicked, and Hamilton.

 

I’ll Be There for You is Brieanna’s debut young adult novel. It was inspired by her family’s commitment to kindness, including performing 100 kind acts in a single day.”

 

Welcome, Brieanna!

GM: What is the premise of your new book?

BW: I’ll Be There for You is about a 16-year-old girl named Rae who is struggling to move on after the death of her father, who loved ’80s rock, Bon Jovi most of all. A trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on the anniversary of her dad’s death leads Rae to embark on a kindness mission after someone does something unexpectedly kind and tells her to “pay it forward.” In addition, Rae decides to audition for the school play after meeting Mac, a boy who uses humor, charm, and some well-curated Broadway playlists to help her open up again. But his friendship and the hope for romance come with the potential for more heartbreak. The book is full of fun music and theatre references, but ultimately, it’s a story about healing.

GM: Where is your favorite place to write?

BW: We turned our living room into a home library, filled with bookshelves and comfy chairs. I love writing in that room because I’m surrounded by all of my favorite books—those that have moved and inspired me, made me laugh and cry. I’ve even incorporated my love of theatre into the space, with a custom-made blanket featuring my favorite musicals.

GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?

BW: Over the years, I’ve found that if I’m generally thinking about a book, even when I’m not actively thinking about it, ideas will pop into my head. So, I try to keep whatever project I’m working on in the front of my mind. I also make it easy to jot ideas down, keeping several notebooks and a list on my phone in case ideas strike when I’m away from home.

GM: Are your characters based upon people you know, or are they truly fictional?

BW: No character is based on one real person, but elements of people I know or myself are in several of the characters. Theatre is a passion of mine, so I definitely drew on that as I was writing Mac, Rae, and Joss. I also love ’80s rock (my husband and I danced our first song at our wedding to Bon Jovi’s “Thank You for Loving Me”), which I tapped into to create Rae’s dad. The character of Paul, who appears later in the novel, is the least fictional—he’s a mix of several real people.

GM: Who is your favorite character in your novel?

BW: It’s too hard to pick between Mac and Rae because it’s the interaction between them that brings out the best in each. I had so much fun writing their scenes together, and I would often hear them talking in my head. They share moments that are funny, playful, and touching.

GM: I’ve seen a photo of your library. You’re an avid reader. Who is your favorite author?

BW: I’m a big fan of YA—John Green and Becky Albertalli are two authors I adore. They write wonderful characters, with such great voices, that I thoroughly enjoy all of their books. I like contemporary stories, and characters are what draw me in. These two are masters of the craft.

GM: What advice do you have for novice writers?

BW: Embrace revision. It’s hard to get words on paper, especially if you’re writing a book and need to string together tens of thousands of words. If you accept that the first draft isn’t going to be great, it helps take the pressure off. You can always change, add, or cut words later. That’s a necessary part of the process—revision is what turns a good idea into a great book.

GM: Do you have a muse or ritual that spurs creativity? 

BW: I don’t have a lot of free time, which sometimes works in my favor. When I get the opportunity to write, I take advantage of it because time is limited. Also, while it’s not specific to creativity, I do take inspiration from the craft book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. I’ve found it to help tremendously in shaping story structure. I also recommend GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon for creating compelling, believable characters.

Connect with Brieanna

Independent bookstore Cover to Cover Children's Books

Website (brieannawilkoff.com)


Brieanna's home library

 


 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great interview, and love that library!!

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