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Meet Duff Brenna Author of Nine Critically Acclaimed Books
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Norm Goldman


Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.

He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.

To read more about Norm Follow Here






 
By Norm Goldman
Published on July 26, 2013
 


Norm Goldman, Publisher & Editor Interviews Duff Brenna Author of Nine Critically Acclaimed Books

                                                                                                                  


Today, Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Duff Brenna. Duff is the author of nine critically acclaimed books, most recently, the memoir, Murdering The Mom which was a Finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Award; and a story collection, Minnesota Memoirs, which won First Place in the 2013 Indie Awards. His previous books include The Book of Mamie, which won the AWP Award for Best Novel; The Holy Book of the Beard, was named "an underground classic" by The New York Times; and Too Cool, a New York Times Noteworthy Book.

Duff is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Award, a Milwaukee Magazine's Best Short Story of the Year Award, and a Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention. His work has been translated into six languages.

Duff was born and raised in Minnesota, he went from juvenile desperado to dairy farmer, car-thief to crane operator, paratrooper to poet, and ruffian and social miscreant to respected writer and award-winning scholar. He is Professor Emeritus of English literature and creative writing at California State University, San Marcos.

Good day Duff and thanks for participating in our interview

Norm:

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?

Duff:

I started writing as a fifteen-year-old juvenile delinquent who loved reading and wanted to write stories as good as Jack London’s stories. He inspired me to do more with my life. What keeps me going after all these years is the fact that I’m addicted to writing and wouldn’t know what to do with myself without it.

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing and do you have a specific writing style?


Duff:

Environment was a big part of my becoming a writer. Some very bad things happened to me as a child and in turn I did some very bad things myself. Later, I used much of the bad to create the good. A lot of my novels and stories are biographical in one way or another. My writing style has been called Minnesota Gothic and also Neo Naturalism. I would call my style straightforward and simple, but not minimal.

Norm:

What has been the best part about being published?

Duff:

Being published gives a writer validation, sometimes vindication, always great pleasure.

Norm:

Is your work improvisational or do you have a set plan?

Duff:

I can’t really plan it. I get an idea and go with it wherever it wants to lead me. I would call myself an intuitive writer. I depend a lot on my subconscious and my memories.

Norm:

Are you a plot or character writer and what helps you focus when you write?

Duff:

The plot is secondary to the characters. If I don’t have a compelling character, the story always fizzles. If the characters come alive they provide all the focus I need.

Norm:

What's the most difficult thing for you about being a writer?

Duff:

Fear of the blank page and that I’ll wake up one morning having nothing more to say.

Norm:

In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?

Duff:

If you’re telling a good story then take all the liberties you want UNLESS it’s memoir or biography. That’s when you can’t fudge. Only the truth will do.

Norm:

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Duff:

I travel a lot, read every day, listen well when people are telling me stories about their lives. My habits fill up the well, so to speak. I keep a journal and write down anything that might possibly blossom into a story.

Norm:

Could you tell our readers something about your most recent work, Murdering The Mom and what served as the primary inspiration for the book?

Duff:

The death of my mother put my memories of her in motion to the point that I couldn’t resist writing about her colorful, action-filled life. I worked on the memoir for around ten years before it finally came together and jelled for me.

It was some of the most difficult writing I’ve ever done. Savagery one day, bliss the next. But all worth it. I believe I caught her and my whole family as they really were. Of course, it is only my point of view, my memory speaking to me. Others might not see what I saw or wrote about. Memoirs are tricky things. You’re often questioning yourself and weighing what you should or should not say.

I finally made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t hold anything back no matter how painful it was. Once I got over worrying about what others might think of me or my family, the memoir found its shape and I quit feeling as if some ghostly thing was looking at me and wagging a finger. My mind froze out all objections and became quietly efficient at feeding me the images, the words, the voice.

Norm:

Do you have any suggestions to help our readers become better writers? If so, what are they? 


Duff:

I’m not an advice-giver, but I will say that there is no substitute for discipline (reading-writing, reading-writing) and resilience. You have to be thick-skinned because there is a lot of rejection in this business and the thin-skinned writers don’t last. It’s not enough to want to write. You have to need it. If you really need it, you won’t be able to give up.

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?

Duff:

Just Google my name and lots of stuff comes up. Go to my WEBSITE. Look for me on Amazon—lots of reviews are there and an author’s bio. Best way, though, is to buy Murdering the Mom or Minnesota Memoirs or any of my books. I’m always there between the lines. It’s easy to find me in my work.

Norm:

What is next for Duff Brenna?

Duff:

Dying by Inches –a true story about a husband who slowly poisoned his wife over the course of an entire year. He got away with it for 15 years, but now he’s in jail because new evidence has been found. His trial will likely start in September. I’ll be there.

Norm:

As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Duff:

Do you ask other writers or friends to read your work before you send it out?

Almost never. I’ve found through experience that having others read your stories or novels or poems can make you doubt yourself. Comments from other people, no matter how well meant will almost always throw you off track and make you start writing with others in mind, rather than putting down what your own voice is telling you.

The only person I allowed to read my memoir was my sister Carol Marie. I needed her input. She was there during the period I write about in the memoir. She was a great help to me. Some of the incidents in Murdering the Mom wouldn’t be there if Carol Marie hadn’t read it and opened up her heart to me. Generally, help like that doesn’t happen. Other visions may confuse you, puzzle you, maybe even make you want to trash the story and move on to something else. Upshot is – trust yourself. You, the writer.

Norm:

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

Follow Here To Purchase Murdering the Mom: A Memoir

Visit Duff Brenna's Amazon Page

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