Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Maple Express by Peter Brandt

Today we're welcoming author Peter Brandt to the blog on his tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for his contemporary Young Adult novel, "Maple Express".

The author is giving away some original prizes 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!

So comment today AND follow his tour (if you click on the banner over there on the left, it'll take you to a list of his tour stops) -- the more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

Peter was kind enough to answer all my questions and then pose some great ones for us at the end ... thanks, Peter!

Why YA? Did you choose it or did it choose you?

I suspect it chose me. I have been writing stories for years and the common theme of them all appears to be I always have a young boy or girl in the lead role.

I still relate to my youth because I never really left it (although my self-esteem is significantly better LOL). I don't think it's possible to act my age. I don't take myself too serious and look for every opportunity to have fun. It's somewhat too bad we seem to associate that with being young, but I know many adults whose life doesn't seem to be much fun.

I truly loved reading the Hardy Boy adventures as a kid. It was the secrets that we had to find out, the sneaking around and hiding, the knowledge that something is going on and watching Joe and Frank try to discover what it was. I lived through their eyes every word I read.

All of my books, including Maple Express, have elements of these stories in them. My next novel, "Holly Alexander and the Mystery of the Courthouse Square" was written with the Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys as my inspiration.

What challenges did you face writing from the POV of a young girl?

I have two stepdaughters and a bunch of friends with daughters and so it wasn't too much of a stretch for me to fill in the rest. I know when I was a young man, I used to think girls had it all figured out. Actually, I thought everyone had it figured out except for me. I was naïve, immature for my age, had no self-esteem and so on. Come to find out…young girls are just as screwed up as I was, they don't have it all together and many have the same self-esteem issues I had growing up. What a concept. Everyone has it rough.

I have also noticed that girls love their mothers and act as if they are best friends until they reach their teen years and suddenly their best friend becomes a huge irritant in their life. Can't say I know what that is about, but it's very sad to see. Some even wait until they reach their 30's before they find their mothers are an irritant.

So with that as my backdrop, it wasn't too hard to write about a teenage girl who has family issues, who causes trouble with her friends and overall seems to be a little lost in the direction her life is heading.

Plotter or pantser?

Both…but only a little as a plotter. For me, it begins with a craving that I need to get something written down or I'll burst.

I then begin to brainstorm what it is I want to write about and within a short period of time, I have the general concept of my book - usually the high-level beginning, middle, and end.

Once I know that I start writing. The details begin to fill themselves in as I write. Maple Express was the only book where I had a beginning and ending but no middle. So, I started writing the first part and suddenly - bang - I hit a brick wall. I couldn't go any further. The actual movement of the story after the start eluded me. I shelved this book for over a year and forgot about it. My old neighbors in Canada kept asking when I was going to finish it because they wanted to know what happened. I decided to give it another look and low and behold, the rest of the storyline flooded into my mind and I knew how to progress. I finished writing it and tada! It's ready for release.

Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits, or superstitions?

I hate being alone…which can really suck as a writer. In my old house, I actually went and bought a glass door for my office to replace the solid wood one. This way I could look up and see my family wandering up and down the hall. My office now is rather large and is my music room so sitting in there writing doesn't feel claustrophobic to me.

I have also written in five writer's marathons where 30 people are put into one room and have 72 hours to write a complete novel. All these people coming and going is very soothing to me.

When I write I have to wear headphones and listen to music. The music floods my head and insulates me from the noises of the outside world. Because I wear headphones and listen to music, I could actually sit and write in the middle of a mall with people walking all around me and it wouldn't interfere with my writing because I am actually isolated in my little music room.

Anything new coming up you'd like to share?

The next novel to be released by me fall 2012 is titled "Holly Alexander and the Mystery of the Courthouse Square." The setting is a small town in Canada named Goderich (a real place) that has a unique courthouse sitting in the town square with eight streets radiating outward from its center (like a spider). Holly Alexander moves there from the city and before long, she finds herself in big trouble. Holly must rely on her investigate skills, and the help of her new friends, to get out of it and find out what is really happening in this beautiful town.

Well, I am writing a novel with the setting in California about a young man by the name of Taylor Wayne who disappears on his way to school and 2 months later is found wandering the Pacific Coast Highway. He has no idea who he is and where he has been. Shortly after his return, he begins to have vivid dreams about a girl who needs his help and he realizes he won't have any peace until he figures out who she is and what she wants.

I have a video blog titled "Author to Entrepreneur" at http://www.simplesimonpublishing.com/blog that I would love people to come and visit. I prefer to talk to my readers through video. I also always wanted to see where famous authors write their books. So, I put a video together showing my office and where I finished writing Maple Express and am in the middle of writing the California novel.

Anything you'd like to ask our readers?

1. As a young adult reader, what length of book do you prefer? A couple of the Harry Potter books were 700 to 900 pages, while the first ones were 200-300. Do you prefer to read a long book or perhaps a short one?

2. Do you like short chapters or long chapters? I have seen some that are only three pages long and others that are 60 pages. I ask because I prefer to write short chapters and short books 200-300 and I wonder if readers prefer that.

3. How many of you have read a Hardy Boy or Nancy Drew book? I always loved them when I was growing up but I don't know how many young people know about them.

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.

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 girls...wow, 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 product...you and your writing.”
Peter and his wife Carly have five kids who are all grown and on their own.

http://www.peterabrandt.com is my personal site.

http://www.simplesimonpublishing.com is where my books are for sale.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/140570 is where Maple Express is for sale at Smashwords for $1.99


  1. I had all the Nancy Drew books, and read and re-read them. Passed them down to my daughter, and she is giving them to her daughter soon.
    You seem to really understand pre-teen and teen girls. You must be a fabulous Dad.

    1. Thank you for that. I have tried to raise my kids differently than I was raised (in an angry German household).

      Those books were excellent. I have read that they were written by many different ghost writers.
      Thanks Pete

  2. Thank you for visiting us today, Peter. I loved your interview! And, re: Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys -- YOU BET. I even read the Bobbsey Twin, Boxcar Kids and Trixie Belden. Loved them all. I still have most of my Nancy Drew books and they hold up even today.

  3. Thank you MJ for having me here today. I find it interesting that that the kids that read books like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys read a lot of books overall. I couldn't get enough books out of the library at school. It was like I was afraid if I didn't sign it out right away it might not be available when I come back for it.
    Of course on the other side, those kids who had a problem reading or didn't like to read and enjoy the stories read almost nothing, unless they had to for school. And even then, if they could find Coles notes they wouldn't read it at all LOL.

  4. I think a writer's marathon sounds so interesting! Have any "good" novels been produced through such an endeavor? Any novels that have been released commercially?

    I generally like short novels and novellas--something I can read in an evening or lazily on a weekend. A long novel takes a BIG time commitment for me as I'm a pretty slow reader.

  5. I read all of the Trixie Belden books, most of them multiple times. Some of them I read 5 or 6 times each. They were far and away my very favorite books, and I read them until they were falling apart. And then I found Sweet Vally High, and from there just about any romance novel or historical fiction book. Now I love all of the YA books that are available, even though I'm definitely A and not YA.

  6. Very nice interview. The book sounds good.



So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?