Exploring Literary Worlds: An Interview with Fern Brady

Unveiling the Inspirations and Passions of a Multifaceted Author 

“Discover the captivating mind of author Fern Brady as she delves into her favorite books, the power of relationships, and the beauty of world-building.

PHOTO: Fern Brady, acclaimed author and CEO of Inklings Publishing, shares her literary insights and inspirations during our engaging interview.

Fern Brady is the founder and CEO of Inklings Publishing. She holds multiple Masters degrees and several certifications. She began her professional life as a foreign correspondent, and taught for 15 years in Alief ISD. She has published numerous short stories, two children’s picture books, and a couple of poems. Her debut novel, United Vidden,which is book one in herThyrein’s Galactic Wall Series, was given a glowing review by Dr. Who Online, the official site of the fandom. Also available for purchase is volume one of her graphic novel/novella hybrid project, New Beginning, and Love’s Call, book one in The Dragon and His Kitten Series. She has returned to the leadership of the Houston Writers Guild, with whom she served as CEO for four years previously. She co-hosts on the popular podcast Author Talk. Besides being active in WIVLA (Women in the Visual and Literary Arts), she is also a member of Blood Over Texas, Romance Writers of America, and American Booksellers Association. Fern lives in Houston TX with her parents and her talkative husky, Arya. 

What’s the last great book you read?

I had always thought of Stephen King as focused exclusively on horror. Then I discovered that he also writes fantasy. After watching the movie version, I took up reading his book The Gunslinger. Needless to say it is absolutely magnificent. Loved the visuals and the personification of the character. What a great job of world building and I love that through the Dark Tower series he embeds hints and tie-ins to other works. One drawback to having watched the movie first is that now I just can’t see the Roland as anyone other than Idris Elba. I could hear his voice as I read.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein was a recent read. I’m not sure how I got through high school and college without reading it, but I decided to do so when Dean Koontz took up the idea of Frankenstein in a series of his own. I read her original work first. I found it incredibly frustrating. Dr. Frankenstein is such a ridiculous character. I just wanted to shake him the whole book through. I mean he’s a scientist yet he runs away from his own project? Then he doesn’t seem to consider that he can just not make the female have reproductive abilities. Yet, when you consider that Mary Shelly was only 19 when she wrote this work, you realize why it is a masterpiece. And the themes of our human condition and our relationship to God are clear and well handled.

You’re organizing a party. Which two authors, dead or alive, do you invite?

I would totally want to invite CS Lewis and Tolkien. To me they are just amazing authors. Though Jules Verne would be another I would definitely want to come and as far as living authors, I would definitely want to invite George R Martin, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King. Oh, my, I just don’t think I could narrow it down to two. All these are amazing world builders and explorers, pioneers of fantasy and speculative fiction as a whole. There would be so much to talk about with them.

Who are your favorite writers? Are there any who aren’t as widely known as they should be, whom you’d recommend in particular?

My favorite authors are too many to list. I’ve mentioned several already but others whose works I enjoy include Jane Austin, Agatha Christie, Frank Herbert, Jim Butcher, Kevin J Anderson, and I absolutely adore Oscar Wilde.

Of those who are not as well-known I would highly recommend Meg Hafdahl who is an amazing up and coming voice in the suspense and horror genre. I would also recommend Mack Little, whose prose is so beautiful and just amazing. She writes speculative fiction and paranormal as well as historic fiction and romance.

What do you read when you’re working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?

I love to read psychology and sociology materials while working on a book. I also read widely on geo-political issues. Because I am creating a wide universe of many different people, I like to delve into the human experience and psyche to create well-rounded characters. I also like to build in thematic content about what is happening in our world today, so readers can explore how they think and feel about the issues in the non-threatening context of a fiction novel. I really don’t have anything I necessarily avoid reading. I don’t believe that reading your genre and then writing leads you to plagiarize. I think if you are a mindful author, you can create your own unique content while enjoying the works of others in your field.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

Relationships are for me the heart of a book. It is how the characters work through the situations in relationship to each other that really makes a book compelling. That’s how we live our life. The problems themselves and the world they are embedded in are not the main focus of our lives. It is the relationships that make us or break us in certain moments. And the resilience of the human spirit as it rises again from the ashes of a defeat as presented in books helps build hope for me in times of difficulty in my own life.

What books and authors have impacted your writing career?

The books that have most impacted my writing are the Dune series novels by Frank Herbert. I also read a lot of the Star Wars novels and enjoy how the many authors that have been invited to write in that universe work to bridge elements from the films that have been left open. I love Dean Koontz. His voice is compelling and leaves you with a lot to think about. I particularly love what he did with his Frankenstein series. Plus he is one of the authors from whom I always learn new words I never knew before.

I am also intrigued of late by Tim Lebbon’s novels set in the Alien and Predator universe. I find Predator a compelling character and love seeing how Lebbon is fleshing out the world and culture of these iconic beings. And who doesn’t love the slimy aliens who are perfect killing machines.

What kind of reader were you as a child? 

Because I was so different and painfully shy, I grew up an avid reader. My father introduced me to the legends of the knights of the round table and I grew up believing in the importance of honor and justice and standing up for those who can’t defend themselves. I read Jules Verne and Alexander Dumas and enjoyed the mythological stories of the ancient Greek and Norse gods. I read a lot of Agatha Christie and admired how she skillfully wove in the clues and misdirection into her stories. For me reading was a safe haven, and I am grateful to the bullies for having driven me to books. They expanded my mind, gave me empathy for people, and build up my imagination.

Have you ever changed your opinion of a book based on information about the author, or anything else?

No. I think it is important as a society to remember that who the author is as a person and the value of their work as an artist are not the same thing. Authors are human beings. They have personal lives and personal beliefs. But those don’t necessarily remove the value of their work. NOW, if an author is very blatantly pushing a particular belief system in their work which encourages harm to others then that is not acceptable.

What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

There are a couple books that I love to re-read. One series that I do every year at some point is the Chronicles of Narnia. I love those stories. Another book that I enjoy revisiting is Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austin is a favorite. I love how her characters are nuanced and varied. She builds up the sexual tension between her main characters and it is done so well. I love seeing it resolve itself into a happy ending.

Reviewed by Nathan Jones for Dr. Who Online
Fern Brady‘s United Vidden—the first book in her Thyreins’s Galactic Wallseries—is a highly creative, compelling Science Fantasy / Space Opera story set in an imagined future of our universe, with a unique romance theme at its core.The story revolves around Princess Verena, daughter of the widowed King Dekkyle, ruler of Dravidia—the northern half of the Vidden continent on planet Jorn, one of fifty-one major populated planets in Thyrien’s Galactic Wall (wall, we believe, meaning galaxy). The second major player is Prince Amiel, ruler of the southern half of the Vidden continent—Aulden. Amiel seems set on ruling over the whole continent and winning the heart of the fair and courageous Princess Verena. His motivations, however, are questionable. Across the eastern Black Ocean, or western Green Ocean, the Gortive people of the Parthia continent seem to be preparing for war, so perhaps a United Vidden would be in favour its people, who usurped the aboriginal Gortive from “their” lands eons earlier. More than anything else, United Vidden is a wonderful combination of royal court drama (reminiscent of Elizabethan times) and adventure. The changing allegiances of the aristocracy as the story progresses are captivating and led by the intriguing twists and turns of the masterful plot. The main characters are truly unforgettable and far from static, changing and developing as the gripping story unfolds. Their tempestuous journeys make this a real page-turner. The machinations of the Wall’s magical religious sects (Rajin, Nijar, The Elamin Order, and more) overlay the plotting and romances of the book’s “ordinary” folk. And on a higher level than this, we get hints at The Wall’s interplanetary politics, between members of the Intergalactic Council such as planets Schol, Drulin, Fratern, and Fridgia. The various levels of power and influence give the read a true sense of being a Space Opera, along the lines of Frank Herbert’s Dune. This book would make an amazing movie, it very much plays out like a blockbuster in the reader’s head. One that would appeal to both Sci-fi and Fantasy fans. Understandably, as this is the first book in a series, many of the plot lines remain open at the climax, but the ending of the novel is very satisfying regardless.

Excerpt Opening Scene Chapter 1 of United Vidden:

Clad in sim-armor, Princess Verena prepared for the battle intended to prove her worth as a ruler. Her heart rate quickened. On this, the morning of her twenty-first birthday, she would fight a virtual representation of a venladon queen, the most dreaded beast in the entire known universe. Thanks to the digital fibers embedded in her suit, she would feel the full effects of the monster’s attacks. She thought of the bruises she’d be sure to have by the time her party started tonight and was glad the dress she’d chosen would cover most of them. She pulled her long auburn hair into a tight bun. Her emerald eyes took in the elegantly attired guests from the fifty-one planets of Thyrein’s Galactic Wall.

For past heirs, many noble families had skipped the coming-of-age ritual. After all, the outcome was assured: The heir to the throne always died. The contest was about stamina, critical thinking, and endurance. It measured how long the warrior lasted and how much damage he inflicted upon the one monster that could not be killed by the hand of man.

But today, every person of importance in the Intergalactic Alliance turned out to witness her demise. The dynamic interface software, gathering signals from the sim-armor, would record the hits the animal made on her, just as it would those she managed to inflict on it. The DSI would calculate when she’d lost enough virtual blood, or received a deathblow, and declare the battle over, the heir to the kingdom dead.

Verena noticed the speculative stares directed at her and the excited chatter filling the room. The question in their eyes: How long would the first female successor to the throne of the Kingdom of Dravidia last against a venladon queen? Verena straightened and squared her shoulders.

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