You may remember my review of Orpheus Girl from a couple of weeks ago and my promise to try to get an interview with the author, Brynne! Well, the wait is over and here is the interview! I felt so honored to get to talk to Brynne and she was so lovely.
Brynne is only 19 years old and has won numerous awards for her poetry and fiction, including the 2017 AWP Donald Hall Prize and the 2016 Adroit Prize for Prose for an excerpt of her novel The Glass House. Her writing has appeared in Denver Quarterly and The Adriot Journal and her work is often centered around feminism, lesbianism, and girlhood. I asked Brynne 11 questions (because I just couldn’t stop myself at 10) and her answers are below:
1. Orpheus Girl was your first fictional novel. How was it different from poetry? Was it harder? Easier?
I actually mostly write fiction, I’m just much slower of a novelist than I am a poet! When I write poetry, I usually write very quickly, but for me fiction is a longer process, where often I’ll spend months just thinking about the characters before I sit down to write them.
2. How do you get inspired to write and how often do you write?
I write full time, so there are hours I put aside in each work day for writing and editing.
3. What’s your favorite book? What are you currently reading?
I love and always revisit Blue Nights by Joan Didion. I’m currently reading Birthday by Meredith Russo, and it’s incredible! I highly recommend it. Meredith is an amazing activist and author.
4. Favorite hobby?
Growing orchids, and painting!
5. What’s your advice to other young writers?
My advice is to believe in your work, to prioritize your craft, to set aside as much space as you can for reading and writing, and to find a community of other young writers.
6. I am a big fan of SoHo Press, how was your experience publishing with them? Did you approach them with your book or did they approach you?
They’re fantastic! My agents, Vicky Bijur and Alexandra Franklin, submitted Orpheus Girl to Soho Teen in 2018. I’ve really enjoyed working with Soho, and with my editor, Daniel Ehrenhaft!
7. Would you like to continue writing for a living?
Yes! I have been for a while.
8. What are some goals (or bucket list items) you have that are unrelated to writing?
I would like to adopt more dogs and to continue to travel frequently.
9. Writing is a very vulnerable experience. Was it scary putting your writing out into the world?
I think publishing something can always feel scary or bittersweet, since you’re letting go of stories and characters you’ve created and letting them out into the world. But it means you can create new stories, so I always try to focus on that.
10. How do you like to get involved in the reading/writing community?
I founded an online group for LGBT+ artists and writers when I was 15! I was the head of the group, and I co-ran it from 2015 to 2018. My friend, Bronwen Brenner, who is a brilliant young writer, now runs it. I think it’s important for artists to have community spaces.
11. You are a very young writer, how are you so talented? Do you believe you were born with it? How have you improved your writing over the years?
Thank you! When I first started writing, I read constantly and tried to experiment with form and styles in my own work, which helped me a lot.
Thank you so much Brynne, for connecting with me and telling us more about yourself! I am still so in love with the cover of Orpheus Girl! The book will be out October 8th and you can preorder it now on Barnes and Noble. If you don’t remember what Orpheus Girl is about from my 5-star review here is the Goodreads Synopsis:
Abandoned by a single mother she never knew, 16-year-old Raya—obsessed with ancient myths—lives with her grandmother in a small conservative Texas town. For years Raya has been forced to hide her feelings for her best friend and true love, Sarah. When the two are outed, they are sent to Friendly Saviors: a re-education camp meant to “fix” them and make them heterosexual. Upon arrival, Raya vows to assume the mythic role of Orpheus to escape Friendly Saviors, and to return to the world of the living with her love—only becoming more determined after she, Sarah, and Friendly Saviors’ other teen residents are subjected to abusive “treatments” by the staff.
In a haunting voice reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, with the contemporary lyricism of David Levithan, Brynne Rebele-Henry weaves a powerful inversion of the Orpheus myth informed by the real-world truths of conversion therapy. Orpheus Girl is a mythic story of dysfunctional families, trauma, first love, heartbreak, and ultimately, the fierce adolescent resilience that has the power to triumph over darkness and ignorance.
Comment down below if you plan on reading this book when it comes out!