“The truth is, I am having an affair with words, and I’ve decided to make this relationship public. For those interested in seeing the magic happen, welcome”
Brandi Meliha is a budding Canadian artist who is launching her new book “Sunset and the Cool Kids”. Interested in learning what was behind the making of this novel, what to expect and what Brandi feels is the key to pursuing a career in the written arts? Read on!
Creative and Chaos: Tell us a bit about how you got involved in writing. At what moment did you know this was what you wanted to do?
Brandi: To be honest, there was no real ah-ha moment. I have been writing creatively since I learned the alphabet and it wasn’t until high school, when I was asked if I’d do it for a living, that I realized, “holy shit, I can get paid for this?” To me it was like being paid for breathing.
I’ve always had a deep connection with music, so when I was young I took singing lessons. This pushed me to write lyrics daily. But as time went on, the songs slowly stopped rhyming, eventually took shape, grew depth, had more substance, and suddenly I realized I wasn’t writing songs anymore, I was telling stories. Writing has always been a part of me. I don’t mean to sound cliché or pretentious, it’s just a fact. The days I go without writing are days I feel most disconnected with myself. Writing, something I can’t separate from myself any easier than the gene that made my eyes brown... Yes, I just stole a quote from my own story…
Creative and Chaos: You have just completed your first book ‘Sunset and the Cool Kids’; can you give us a sneak-peak of what the novel is about?
Brandi: *Exhales* You know what’s crazy? That’s always the question I fear most when people find out I wrote a book. It’s such a strange and personal thing to explain – I realize how insane that sounds. So in spite of myself, I’ll give it my best shot (elevator pitch coming right up)…
Upon an initial spark at a party late one evening, eleven young adults seem to find their surrogate family in and amongst each other, creating a bond that tests the destructibility between lovers and friends. Sunset and the Cool Kids makes you wonder “how far can one go for the person they love before they break themselves?” And the antagonist, the wild-eyed Andrew Stevens, will have the reader repeating that question over again, as they too struggle with the same tenderness and frustrations he evokes. Sunset and the Cool Kids is a coming-of-age story, possessing the same essence as The Outsiders, On the Road, and Catcher in the Rye. Inspired by such things as innocence, love and loss, and how the combination of all three shape the human character. And really in the end, what it means to be just that…human.
‘If I told you there was no muse, no incident that sparked this novel, I’d be lying’
Creative and Chaos: What inspired the main characters and the story that unfolds? Would you say it is rooted more in personal experiences or things you have observed and cultivated creatively?
Brandi: If I told you there was no muse, no incident that sparked this novel, I’d be lying. It comes from a place of heartbreak, self-realization, but also less humane things, like whiskey and long nights under stars with people I’ll never forget. During the creation of this novel I was in a dark place in many ways, and I found that as these characters came to life around me, that dark place wasn’t so cold anymore. I almost enjoyed being there. But, back to your question, I think the essence of many characters in Sunset and the Cool Kids came from real life observation – but it’s just surface stuff. For example, I was at a party one night and there were five or six guys – really close friends with one another. They had such an incredible, contagious and familial-like dynamic that I found to be so powerful…it overtook me. Everyone called this one guy Daddy because he was frantic about cleaning and making sure everyone was okay, and for whatever reason, I fell in love with that tiny detail. So, I used it. Daddy is a character in Sunset and the Cool Kids. It’s as simple as that. But the name is as deep as it goes. Everything else is fabricated, like magic, it quite literally comes out of nowhere. There is no explaining it beyond that.
Creative and Chaos: What would you say sets your book apart from other novels of the same genre?
Brandi: I’m no critic. I’m a true believer in that old saying: everyone has a story to tell. So, I don’t quite feel comfortable listing the reasons why people should pickup my book (new adult fiction) over any other. However, for those who are fascinated by the rebels without a cause, or those who force us to accept the raw human underneath, I think Sunset and the Cool Kids is just right for you. It resonates. It confronts the true and troubled pasts; the haunting mistakes that we too face, yet sometimes leave behind us, never seeing the way they reflect on our lives as time moves on. Through the characters Sunset and Andrew, we get insight to the light and dark of the human spirit – what love does to the soul, what loss does to the mind – and ultimately, how you can never truly judge a book by its cover (no pun intended).
Sunset and the Cool Kids proves that even the seemingly toughest, most burned and tormented amongst us are in fact breakable, and no matter what walk of life we travel from (the prims, the pin babies or somewhere in between), we are never exempt from the freedom love grants or the suffering loss provides. I won’t hop on my high horse, but I can assure that Sunset and the Cool Kids won’t disappoint any heart that is looking to break and be whole again. All I can say is this novel fell into place too easily for it not to mean something. I’ll explain in my next answer…
Creative and Chaos: What were some challenges you had to overcome writing your novel? Did you find you faced a lot of ‘writer’s block’?
Brandi: There were no challenges; there was no writer’s block. That’s why I believe whole-heartedly this book was meant to be written. I was twenty-three when I wrote Sunset and the Cool Kids, and I kid you not, it took me a month and a half. It’s like once it was there, it wasn’t going anywhere but on paper. *Laughing* The biggest challenge I overcame while writing this book was self-acceptance. Realizing that I had a damn good story to tell, and I wouldn’t stop until that final word was on that final page. I could go into details about timing and the people who came in and out of my life during these moments, but instead, all I will say is the process of writing Sunset and the Cool Kids, more than ever, made me realize that things do happen for a reason. That was a detrimental time in my life to learn something so shaking.
Creative and Chaos: What would you say is necessary to keep in mind when pursuing writing as a career?
Brandi: Do your homework! What I mean is, make sure you know the steps to take to get your work noticed. Start early! That was a big mistake of mine. I have always been so incredibly private about my writing that now when I’m finally ready for people to see it, it’s harder to break through. Other than that, don’t stop reading. Reading to our kind is what exercise is to athletes. It’s a necessity; it keeps your writing in shape! And, don’t let anyone take it away from you. People don’t realize how powerful and important writers can be. It’s about perseverance. Don’t be afraid to write badly! Progress is marked by the words written down, not by their quality. That comes later. Write, write, write, breathe, breathe, breathe. And start again.
For more writing magic check our Brandi’s author Facebook page at facebook.com/affairwithwords