If you’re a frequent reader of my book reviews, you know that I have read and loved each of Brigitte Morse-Starkenburg’s books. They are my lifeblood during these trying times.
So, I was extremely excited to be able to sit down (virtually anyway) with her to complete this interview. Without further ado, a word from one of my favorite self-published authors!!
- Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I was born in the Netherlands and lived there until I was 23 years old, when I decided to join my fiancé after having had a long distance relationship for 3 years. We met in Assen (where I lived and he worked), but he had to return to England after a year, and we decided to give the long distance thing a go. It was the best decision as we’re still together and have a family with three gorgeous teenage children (if you leave out all the teenager horrendousness lol).
- What does a normal day look like for you?
What a day in the life of Brigitte looks like, depends on whether I am working or not as I still have a part time job at a secondary school. I used to be a teacher of geography, but now I invigilate during exam times and go on school trips! Obviously due to Covid, they have all been cancelled and exams have only just started again, so haven’t worked much over the last year. When I’m not working, I get up fairly late, do a couple of chores and shopping, walk the dog around lunch time, have some lunch at a pub occasionally when Steve joins me on my walk, do some writing in the afternoon, be a taxi driver for my kids when they get back from school to their sports and activities and nag them to do homework, do some more writing, cook some dinner, read for a while, watch some Netflix with youngest daughter or oldest when she’s home, Get the youngest to bed, sit down, do some more reading with a glass of wine (though not on Monday and Tuesday, our dry days) Then stay up way too late doing some more reading and watching Netflix with Steve and, by then, with some rum and coke. Go to bed way too late, rarely before 1am.
- When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I used to write when I was a teenager. I always wanted to tell a story. I loved reading and the world it transported me into, and I wanted to create worlds myself. Unfortunately, I never managed to finish one book! Then years later, when my children were a little older and I wasn’t working a demanding job the itching to write started again.
- What does your family think of your writing?
I think my family is quite proud but they are also extremely down to earth. Steve supports me with my terrible computer skills and gives me the time to write. My youngest is the most keen in that she has listened to me read my books out loud to her in the editing process, and she loves them! (I had to edit some of the language whilst reading, even though I damn well know she knows and probably uses the words with her friends!) My eldest occasionally chips in with helpful suggestions, but my son probably doesn’t even know what the book is about!J
- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
The actual writing of the story excites and energizes me. It is the best part of writing; making up a world where you have ultimate control! I think I am a bit of a control freak and in real life that is not practical as more or less everything is compromised by events and other people. This does make me sound rather weird, but it is the main reason I love writing! The editing phase of writing generally exhausts me and so does the promotion of the book. Not my favourite parts at all.
- What inspired you to write The Sensorians?
A little idea started playing in my head based on the sensory issues my daughter experiences due to her ASD. For her, quite often it has been a negative experience as smells particularly can be challenging, but I was thinking what if it was actually a gift, and something you can use in a positive way? That was where the idea came from. Then there are different aspects of ASD in the characters, but ones that are quite often not associated with ASD but presents quite often in girls with ASD, like extreme empathy, almost making you really feel other people’s emotional pain.
- How long did it take you to write The Sensorians: Awakening? What about its sequel Trust? Will there be another?
The first draft of book 1 took about a year and a half to write, then I tinkered with it for ages, started writing book 2 at the same time as editing book 1, to finally dive into the world of publishing after about three year from the start. Lockdown gave me the time to really look into how I wanted to publish and I decided to go independent with KDP. I published book 2, Trust, 5 months after I published book 1. I plan to have book three in the trilogy published in June/July 2021. After that, who knows! Hopefully a new project! I do have some ideas swirling around in my head.
- What is your favorite part of The Sensorians? No spoilers, of course!
My favourite parts to write are the ones with Zack in it. I love his mainly grumpy arrogant dominant character. I like the attraction between the three main characters, how it develops and how they deal with it, but I also like the action parts.
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
My spirit animal is a black feisty horse or a wolf.
- What does literary success look like to you?
Literary success to me is finishing a book or in this case the Trilogy where I feel happy with it, but the icing on the cake would be that people read my books and have an opinion about it, hopefully a positive one!
- What advice would you give a fledgling writer?
Advice to fledgling writers, coming from an not very experienced writer could be pointless, but I would say; just start writing, don’t keep postponing.
- What sort of books do you read?
I have a very eclectic taste in books, including young/new adult, fantasy, literary thrillers, classics, women’s lit, erotica, psychological thrillers, dystopian, sci-fi, detectives. Anything that interests me I will read, no matter the genre.
- What’s your favorite book?
How can one answer that? One of the books that I often recommend as it made a big impact on me is the Book Thief by Markus Zuzak, another favourite was the Secret History by Donna Tartt, and Wild Swans by Jung Chang, but I’m not ashamed to say that The Twilight Series are a little obsession for me!
- Book that made you cry?
Lots of books make me cry. An obvious one was You Before Me but also New Moon in Twilight!
(The interviewer would like to point out that while she shares a love of Twilight with Mrs. Brigitte New Moon is her absolute least favorite and she thinks it should burn in a hell fire.)
- Book that really inspired you?
Books that inspire me are any books that I am reading at that moment! Every book inspires me in a different way, even if I hate it or can’t finish it (inspiring me never to write like that). 1984 by Orwell, inspired me as a teenager and A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley really got me into the dystopian genre. Enid Blyton gave me the love for reading as a child.
- A book you didn’t like at all? (Maybe one you felt like you were supposed to like.)
I hated the sequel to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Such a disappointment. Also cannot finish When The Crawdads Sing, hate it.
- What’s your perfect reading environment?
I can read anywhere and everywhere, but I love to snuggle up on the sofa with a glass of wine and read.
- Do you listen to music while you read/write, or do you prefer silence?
I don’t specifically listen to music when I read, but I don’t mind it.
Well, that’s it! You can pick up Brigitte’s two AMAZING books at the links below! Follow her on ALL the social media platforms! Until next week, then. 😉