Brenna Marie on her IRDA Winning Book BLACK WATER

Black Water was the winner in the Popular Fiction category of the 2017 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author Brenna Marie.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Black Water published in 2016.

What’s the book’s first line? 

The first time I spoke to Chessa, she was swimming.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

The book is about two sisters caught in an ethnic conflict that is fueled by water insecurity. Without access to water, their community begins to implode and they find themselves in a dangerous position as ethnic minorities. It examines how the conflict is remembered (or forgotten) by those who lived through it and how environmental crises can worsen prejudice.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

Traveling in Kosovo inspired me to write the book; the country’s recent history of ethnic conflict and the water insecurity there were both so jarring to me as a foreigner. I had never experienced water hours before! And speaking to friends who lived in Kosovo’s Serbian enclaves highlighted their lack of access to basic resources, which I saw as part of a larger cycle of human resentment.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of? 

I think the most distinctive aspect of the main character, Alice, is her ability to find humor in really tragic situations. And the relationship between Alice and her sister reminds me of mine with my little sister.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

You should read this book as a cautionary tale! While it’s fiction, the topics it covers (water insecurity, discrimination, etc.) are all very real and dangerous.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

Yes, this is the first novel I’ve written.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m studying in law school or advocating for nuclear nonproliferation.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I’m not sure if there’s a single writer I most admire (too many great ones!), but Karan Mahajan is definitely among my biggest inspirations.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I generally try to write for at least 1 hour a day. Writing is therapeutic for me, so it’s part of my daily routine like meals or working out. While writing Black Water, I sometimes dedicated up to 5 hours per day on writing, but always at least an hour.

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