I'm an award-winning author of mystery novels set in foreign countries and YA books on time travel and - I write in two languages. So ask me anything! About my life (within reason), my writing, self-publishing and my books. Can't wait to meet you.

Evadeen Brickwood
Sep 12, 2018

I grew up in Germany and studied cultural sciences and languages. In my younger years, I travelled extensively and many of my books are inspired by those experiences abroad. Of course, my family and friends thought I was odd and too headstrong, but hey, I wanted to live and learn and didn't care what they said. Feeling adventurous as a newly qualified translator, I moved to Africa in 1988 and worked for two years as a secretary and language teacher in Botswana. Eventually, I settled down in South Africa, where I got married and raised two daughters. In Johannesburg, I worked as a corporate software trainer, professional translator and lecturer at WITS University. I also ran my own training company and was involved in various business committees. That was my other life and it began to feel too restrictive for a creative soul like me. Enter my current life, a writing career that began in 2003 with youth novels in the ‘Remember the Future’ series about time travel adventures in prehistory.  Aimed at younger readers, adults soon began to take an interest in the stories and so far, there are three books in the series and counting. My first fully-fledged mystery novel was 'Singing Lizards', followed by ‘The Rhino Whisperer’ and both are set in Africa. The novel ‘A Half Moon Adventure’, which was probably inspired by my own experiences the most, is about to be launched. I often translate and rewrite the novels for my German readers and once in a while, I realise that to some people this must seem a little unusual. 

twitter.com/EvadeenAuthor

evadeen.wixsite.com/novels

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How important is collaboration in your work? Who have you collaborated with recently?
Sep 12, 4:54PM EDT0
How does the final novel relate to your original outline?
Sep 12, 4:14PM EDT0

Well, I pretty much stuck to the storyline of 'A Half Moon Adventure', which is based on my own teenage years. The writing of 'The Rhino Whisperer' was quite different and I adapted the storyline as I went along. So initially, there was no actual plot. I sometimes write intuitively, which is hard to explain.

Sep 12, 4:33PM EDT0

Well, I pretty much stuck to the storyline of 'A Half Moon Adventure', which is based on my own teenage years. The writing of 'The Rhino Whisperer' was quite different and I adapted the storyline as I went along. So initially, there was no actual plot. I sometimes write intuitively, which is hard to explain.

Sep 12, 4:33PM EDT0
Have you read the classics of sci-fi or fantasy? Do any authors, in particular, stand out as "must-reads" for fans of the genres?
Sep 12, 2:43PM EDT0

I have indeed read many books in this genre, such as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or Michael Crichton's works. There are many more but these are the books that spring to mind. I didn't enjoy overly intellectual works that are touted as classics, though.

Sep 12, 4:08PM EDT0

Hi everyone. Thank you for posting all these interesting questions that I tried to answer to my best knowledge. I'm here and happy to chat with you. So, if you would like to know anything else, now is your chance 🙂

Sep 12, 10:41AM EDT0
What book marketing methods have been worked the best for you?
Sep 12, 7:24AM EDT0

It depends. Usually, I find that word of mouth works best. That requires direct contact with readers at events, such as book fairs, launches, book clubs etc. That coupled with online activity, especially blog tours and so on is effective. Well, with my German readers that is. However, I can't travel thousands of miles to every book fair overseas, so at the moment, I do all of this more locally and participate in blogs and social media otherwise. Also, hiring reputable promoters can be costly but is very effective to get the conventional media interested. I once made the mistake of hiring an overseas promoter/blogger who specialises in a different genre. Imagine my surprise when the only Amazon review my book got, found it to be far too tame for sex/horror/violence. So double-check when taking advice from other authors 🙂

Sep 12, 8:17AM EDT0
Where did your writing begin? What did you think when your first novel was released? How have things changed?
Sep 12, 3:48AM EDT0

I started writing the first book in the YA fantasy series in 2003 and 'Children of the Moon' was published in 2005, then again in 2007 by another publisher. I had at least 10 testreaders on it and only when I felt that the story was really good enough, did I approach publishers. I had no influence on the layout and cover whatsoever and the first publisher failed to sign a contract with me. Despite that, I organised a glamorous launch at a hotel, catered myself employed a harp player for two hours and around 50 people attended. I was very excited, gave interviews and received rather positive feedback. The publisher never came through with the contract, so I severed my ties with them and signed a contract with a new publisher. At last my book was in shops and on Amazon before they had to close down in the wake of the economic crisis in 2008. So it was a turbulent few years before I learned how to self publish but just to see my book in print and all the interest it received, was exhilarating. Btw, 'Children of the Moon' received the 2017 Book Talk Radio Club award in the science fiction category last year after all this time.

Sep 12, 5:21AM EDT0
When writing a plot based in a foreign country, how much reading is involved to get as accurate information as possible?
Sep 12, 2:11AM EDT0

I travelled a lot when I was younger, so most of my stories are based on my own experiences plus the information I google or read about. My dialogues are also proof-read by native speakers and explained in the text, unless the main characters don't know at all what's being said. Then I sometimes create a glossary at the end. There is still plenty where those stories came from but in case I should ever start writing about countries that I've never been to, I'd speak to people from that country first before gathering any other Information. There is so much online information out there that's not quite authentic, and you want the information to be as authentic as possible. Trying to think yourself into that environment and how people are likely to think and react is essential and that's all very different, depending on the respective mentality. In my opinion, this approach adds depth to the story.

Sep 12, 5:02AM EDT0
How did growing up in Germany influence your writing style?
Sep 12, 12:21AM EDT0

I think that growing up in Germany gave me the kind of freedom I needed to develop into a free-spirited yet hard-working person, despite the restrictions of school and family and so on. My writing style had to develop over time from research and observations into gripping stories. But I was always convinced that I could do it if I put enough effort into it.

Sep 12, 4:45AM EDT0
When did you write your first story of life? And, what was it all about?
Sep 11, 7:02PM EDT0

I wrote 'Singing Lizards' about my life in Botswana around 2010. I never write purely about my own life, but mix in elements of fiction. So these kind of books are not really memoirs as such.

Sep 12, 4:34AM EDT0
When writing the books in german, do you write based on the english version or do you write independently?
Sep 11, 5:49PM EDT0

I am a qualified translator, so I translate the English book first, then rewrite based on this German version. Editing and proofreading afterwards is still essential.

Sep 12, 4:28AM EDT0
What elements should be in a book trailer to make it stand out?
Sep 11, 7:06AM EDT0

Everybody seems to have a different idea of what a book trailer should be like. I think it should be short, a minute or two at most and not give away too much of the story. I have started making longer trailers for 20 min readings of late, which is different to giving prospective readers a brief insight into the book. Have a look at my YouTube videos on the Evadeen Brickwood channel to see what I'm doing.

Sep 11, 8:48AM EDT0

Everybody seems to have a different idea of what a book trailer should be like. I think it should be short, a minute or two at most and not give away too much of the story. I have started making longer trailers for 20 min readings of late, which is different to giving prospective readers a brief insight into the book. Have a look at my YouTube videos on the Evadeen Brickwood channel to see what I'm doing.

Sep 11, 8:48AM EDT0
What motivated you to become an indie author? How is it different from being a mainstream author?
Sep 11, 6:57AM EDT0

When I started out, finding a publisher was the only option available to authors. I had two publishers and was not very involved in the publishing process. Even if I gave some input, it didn't matter much. Still I learned as much as possible and most of the marketing fell on my shoulders anyway. Money was not good, although the book sold well. As a self-publisher I had to learn a lot about digital publishing and marketing, but it works for me. The money is good and I'm a lot more empowered. I used to be in awe of agents and publishers, but since I'm now doing the same work as they do and put a lot more passion into it, I feel more like an equal. Don't get me wrong, there are good and caring publishers out there and many authors feel overwhelmed even thinking of doing it for themselves, but I'm a lot happier working with my own team of experts and reap the awards as well.

Sep 11, 8:42AM EDT0
You create really strong female relationships in your books, are they based on relationship experiences you have had in real life?
Sep 11, 3:28AM EDT0

If you are referring to the fantasy series, I used the relationship between my daughters a lot. They were models for the characters. I also have a very strong personality and enjoy relationships with people who are just as strong-minded.

Sep 11, 4:46AM EDT0
If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?
Sep 11, 1:40AM EDT0

Well, I'm very interested in ancient or even antedeluvial cultures, especially if they were more advanced than we are today. I imagine that it could be quite dangerous to just pop up in another epich without speaking the language perfectly, being dressed appropriately and a credible background story - especially - as a woman, but if all of this was possible, I would probably explore Atlantis.

Sep 11, 4:42AM EDT0
Have you read any other indie authors? Any that you would recommend?
Sep 10, 10:12AM EDT0

I have read the work of other indie authors  and find that if they are diligently following the publishing process, they are often better than conventionally published author because there is a lot of passion that comes through. There are so many but only a couple spring to mind right now: Silke Kaiser 'Gotcha', which is crime non-fiction and Jann Weeratunga and her Polly the Parrot children's books. Both very hard-working authors. 

Sep 11, 4:36AM EDT0
How much of your time is spent researching? What is your overall process for researching and eventually writing the story?
Sep 10, 6:21AM EDT0

Yes, I spend a lot of time researching and thank goodness for the internet nowadays. When I first started writing books, I had to get my info from library books, e.g. on quantum physics. I also check online whether my memory serves me right, if the book is based on real life events. With the fantasy books, I did all my research upfront, with the mystery books, I do vital  research, such as hypno therapy and settings upfront, then do more research as I go along.

Sep 11, 4:30AM EDT0
What are you currently working on? What is the inspiration behind your new work?
Sep 9, 6:21PM EDT0

I am busy with the translation of my crime mystery novel The Rhino Whisperer. I need to release a new book on the German market this year to keep my readers happy. But it requires re-writing the book in the other language. Plus I'm already working on a new crime series.

Sep 10, 3:43AM EDT0
What were the easiest and hardest parts of the plot to work out, and why?
Sep 9, 2:30AM EDT0

It's hard to start off in a way that keeps the reader going, and to add suspense in the right places takes a while to figure out. I find dialogue the easiest part, probably because I listen a lot to how people speak to each other.

Sep 9, 5:08AM EDT0

What keeps drawing you back to the idea of time-travel as a theme?

Sep 9, 12:06AM EDT0

I've always been fascinated by time travel stories in their various forms. To be able to experience a period in time as it might have been or will be, is just really exciting. I did a lot of research around the actual conditions on earth from around 12 000 years ago to make the setting as realistic as possible. But as so very little is known of prehistory, I also studied ancient legends and made up some of the things along the way. It's fiction after all.

Sep 9, 5:03AM EDT0
Do you self-publish your books? If so, how was your experience with self-publishing different from working with a publisher?
Sep 8, 11:50PM EDT0

Yes, I've been selfpublishing for 5 years now and it's been hard work, learning the ropes. There is so much you need to know, but if you are as pro-active as I am, it's better than sitting around waiting for an agent or publisher to get back to you with an often negative answer. And you are not allowed to approach another agent or publisher for the next 3 to 6 months, while they allegedly assess your work. It's a soul-killing process and I just didn't want to give my power away anymore. I learned a lot when I was conventionally published and I had to do most of the marketing anyway. With all the digital tools available these days, it's also so much easier. Selfpublishing is preferable by far, from where I'm sitting.

Sep 9, 4:54AM EDT0
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