Interview with Madison Windsong

dreamstime_s_4283030 Where are you from?

Originally I was from the Lancaster area in Pennsylvania which, as you probably know, is Amish Country. Among other things, it is a land of big barns, beautiful farms, ‘plain’ dresses, shoofly pies, and horse-drawn buggies. None of my family is Amish although I do have several cousins who belong to the Mennonite community. However, I’ve been living in Florida so long I think of myself as a Florida ‘cracker’ now.

When and why did you begin writing?

It seems like I’ve been writing all my life but there must have been a time—like when I was five!—when I wasn’t. What got me to thinking about writing as a way of life was my discovery—through extensive letter and email correspondences—that I could express myself much better via a keyboard rather than orally. That’s probably because I am basically a shy person who is not very outgoing and not very verbal.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I took a course in short story writing one time and was subsequently fortunate enough to sell a couple travel articles. The bylines resulted in a job interview for an administrative position with local government. One thing led to another. Later, a new position opened up as a ‘publications specialist.’ I applied for and got the job.   That position blossomed, centering mainly on writing, editing, and publishing all sorts of articles as well as other kinds of government documents. Suddenly I became the go-to ‘writer person’ for the whole organization. That’s when I started seeing myself as a ‘real’ writer.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I think my readers can define my writing style better than I can. I just try to keep the writing as simple and direct as possible. My goal actually is to disappear as the writer and to let the story itself and its main characters be the primary focus. The reader shouldn’t even be aware that someone else is actually writing the story. At least that’s my goal. I don’t always reach it.

Is there a message in the novel?

I’m not a ‘message’ writer. But my primary suggestions from me to my readers are these. Be yourself. Like yourself. Have confidence in yourself. Develop whatever talents you have. And most of all, try to be the best YOU you can be.

Are the experiences based on someone you know, or on your own life?

No, I never write about myself or about people I know. I consider myself a craftsperson, rather than a philosopher or artist or memoirist. I just try to construct a good story and populate it with believable characters. As I responded to the previous question, whatever ‘messages’ come through are just icing on the doughnut.

Who is your favorite author?

I enjoy any writer who can craft a good story.   But if I had to pick one female writer in particular it would probably be Janet Evanovich. And what appeals to me most about her stories are her wacky characters, and the wacky situations they get themselves into. Some of her stories are just plain hilarious.

Who designs your covers?

I especially like covers that have REAL people in them, instead of fanciful drawn figures. That’s one of the things that attracted me to my publisher, Aabra Publishing. Most of their covers are photographs of actual people. My “Brandi” cover is a real person also but we decided to do a silhouette to lend a bit of mystery. I especially loved the hat that our cover model was wearing! Because that’s the kind of hat Brandi wears! It’s her trademark.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book?

At one time or another, I’ve visited most of the states in our beautiful country. And I always take tons of photos. Drawing from my memory, my photos, and my imagination— with a little bit of research thrown in—I can usually create a believable location or setting. So, no, I don’t physically visit every location mentioned in the story.

What is the hardest part of writing your book?

The hardest part for me is always the first draft. Once that is done, the sledding is all downhill. In fact, all of the rewriting and editing that comes after that first draft is the real FUN part, believe it or not. I know, some writers HATE the rewriting and editing. Not me. That’s where the satisfaction comes in: honing and polishing and getting the book ready for its lonely journey out into that cold, cruel publishing world. It is a world that is deluged with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of new books every day. All I can do, is do my best. Whatever happens after that is, to a large extent, out of my hands, and into Brandi’s hands.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Turning a one-sentence idea into a 150+ page book is enough of a challenge for anyone. But I think the hardest part is just STARTING a book. Starting a new writing project of any sort is, for me, very difficult. No matter how many projects I’ve done before, the next one—the new one—begins at square one again.

What are your current projects?

I plan to write another novel that features Brandi. But I might also develop a few other lead characters, all of whom will be working for Colonel Western and the B.O.S.S. agency. But first we have to see how the readers respond to BRANDI: IN PURSUIT.

Did you learn anything from writing your book?

I learned I can combine humor with action and suspense. Most of my previous attempts have been straight suspense. Adding the humor has made the Brandi project a very enjoyable one.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Whatever you are writing, write it the way YOU want to write it. In other words, develop your own style and your own voice. It’s okay to study other writers, to learn the techniques of writing. But don’t try to copy another writer’s style or subject matter. See question #5 above.

Do you see writing as a career?

Don’t let anyone mislead you. Freelance writing—especially novel writing—is a very, very difficult way to earn a living. We all see the headlines about the writers who sign million-dollar, multi-book contracts. And that does happen from time to time. But the odds of that happening to either you or me are very, very slim. That’s just the reality of the book publishing world. The competition is fierce and the financial rewards are few and often very far between. From my experience, the only security you can get as a writer is to become a staff writer for some organization that provides the usual benefit package along with a weekly paycheck. So until you can secure a staff position, keep your day job.

What books have influenced your life the most?

That’s a tough one. There have been so many and most of them have probably been nonfiction. I’m especially interested in history, psychology, anthropology, paleontology, and other sciences that delve into the fascinating subject of evolution and the reality of life on our planet. However, my all-time favorite book, long out of
print no doubt, is a combination prose and poetry book called “John Brown’s Body” by Stephen Vincent Benet. It’s about the Civil War but it has some of the most beautiful language and descriptions, and the most sensitive writing you will find anywhere.

What book are you reading now?

“A New History of Life” by Stuart Sutherland, which is part of a DVD course I just finished. As its
itle suggests, it is a fascinating history of life on earth as it has existed and changed during the last four billion years. It definitely adds a new perspective to our sometimes humdrum daily life.

Are there any new authors who have grasped your interest?

In this day of ebooks and self-publishing it is easy to get overwhelmed by the endless supply of new writers and new books that appear daily. Some are good, some not so much. When the weariness sets in I often return to the old masters like Steinbeck, Hemingway, Frost, Sandberg, Bradbury, et. al. Quality never goes out of style.

Can you share a little of your current work?

I had hand surgery recently so my keyboard work has become very slow and laborious. That means I’m not currently working on any new project. However, Brandi and her possible
adventures continue to percolate in the back of my mind. And one of these days I’m sure she’ll push her way into the foreground again.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope you’ll enjoy reading BRANDI: IN PURSUIT as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you did, tell all your friends