Over the last few weeks, I have been extremely fortunate to get to know Braxton A Cosby. I recently finished his amazing breakout debut from Firefly Publishing, The Star-Crossed Saga: ProtoStar.
I want to begin this interview by getting the obvious out of the way, yes, he is indeed the nephew of legendary performer and comedian Bill Cosby and with that said, let’s focus on Braxton A. Cosby.
Braxton A. Cosby is a physical therapist by background; he received his Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate from the University of Miami. As a writer, Braxton creates storylines that focus on character relationships and exploration of the psychology of human connection, especially concerning themes of trust, faith and selflessness.
Braxton was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule for this interview from his home in Georgia. Thank you, Braxton, for the opportunity to interview you and for the chance for readers to get to know you. Welcome!
Being a new author, who or what has been the biggest influence on your writing? Who has been your biggest support?
My biggest influence in writing to date has to be J. K. Rowling. She has such a vivid imagination, and I admire her courage to create a phenomenon that she believed was great, despite the feedback she received from people who were not ready for something so different. I feel the same about my first novel Protostar. My biggest support thus far has been my close circle of family, church and friends. They have really rallied behind me and encouraged me to push my book forward.
Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Wow, a very loaded question. I think early on in the creative process (building the outline) I lean more toward plot driven because I need to develop the setting, the environment, the theatrical elements such as good vs. evil/emotion/morals, then I dive into the characters. I want to make them real and allow them to “pop” off of the page and make them become real to the reader. Early on I found myself carrying my IPad and pieces of paper around with me in order to capture ideas for Star-Crossed so that I did not forget.
What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
I love pacing and big finishes. I want to deliver a story that has good pacing, allowing the reader to get a “jolt” of action here and there that moves the story forward, and then slow it down so that there are opportunities for character development. I hate to give everything all at once. I fear that readers will have a let-down and lose interest if the story moves too fast or slow. I’m a huge fan of “Big Finishes.” I want the reader or audience (movie plug) to experience a climactic ending so that they remember the story. It was imperative to me that Protostar have these elements. I had the ending completed in my head mid-way through writing the book.
What is it about this genre that captures your imagination?
Young people, young love, young ideas, and young innocence. Did you hear young anywhere in there? Lol. I love working with young people, and I understand the challenges that they go through, but I appreciate their potential. Everything they want is at their fingertips, but they have to be determined to obtain it. There is so much opportunity to create fresh stories and characters that reflect our society today.
Please share with us about the challenges you face in world building with paranormal elements in a contemporary setting and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? How much research is involved?
There are many challenges, but I think for me the main one was trying to stay true to what I vision The Star-Crossed Saga to be; YA Romance with a Sci-fi backdrop. I love Science-fiction something fierce, but I have become somewhat of a romantic as well. It’s not anything that men grasp easily, but with an appreciation for God and people, I respect the power of love. Mixing the two together was difficult. The Science-Fiction scenes flowed like water as I poured out descriptors and original ideas. The Romance challenged me, especially trying to grasp the perspective of what women want from a man romantically and what they think when they see a nice looking guy. I spoke with many ladies over and over again and observed what they liked about guys. There is a percentage of Romance versus Sci-Fi in the book, and I know what it is but I leave it to the readers to decide for themselves.
Trying to keep it rated PG. LOL. It was important for me to deliver sensual moments that had passion to them, but maintaining the importance of waiting before going all the way. There is so much time for that. I believe young adults should appreciate the innocence of young love and explore one another mentally and spiritually, achieving true oneness. There are some very sexy/close moments in Protostar, with more to come across the series, while valuing the power of non-physical intimacy.
What media influenced your writing? What were your favorite things to read (or watch) as a kid?
Movies are my big vice. I’m a big time “Movie Buff,” but I also love music, especially love songs. Huge fan of John Mayer and Babyface. My favorite shows are all on the Syfy channel and The CW.
Who has been your favorite character to write about and why?
William Derry, from Protostar. He’s a complicated character to write because he has lived this very structured, pristine life with everything he wants at his fingertips. Yet, he decides to venture out on this crusade to salvage his family name. The strength of his character is that he has strong conviction and he is very accountable of his actions. His morale ethics are a big part of the dilemma he must face when choosing between duty and love.
Do you plan to or would you like to write novels in other genres besides YA? If so, what?
Right now I have plans to do a number of different projects. One is a Witch story that revolves around a young girl that is grows up for a majority of her life not knowing that she possesses supernatural powers, until someone comes knocking at her door one day. I also have what I call a “Spiritual-Thriller” on tap that deals with demons. There are also plans for a graphic novel with a different take on Werewolves and Vampires; just to name a few.
Why do you write for young adults? What do you think is different about writing for teens than for other audiences?
Teens read — a lot! They still appreciate a good story and they commune with one another around the excitement of experiencing a fresh, new story. You can pitch a new idea to teens and they can listen without the cynicism of old adults.
What are some must haves when you sit down to write?
Quiet, Root Beer, and occasionally some music in the background. It helps my creative juices to flow.
If you became trapped as a character in a book or series, which would you choose and why? (Any book, any series, new or old)
I love Fred Saberhagen’s The Berserker Series, and there is a character that he followed for a couple of books named Harry Silver. He was gritty, real character with flaws, but good moral character that drove his decision making across the stories.
Were there any Books, Movies or Writers that have inspired you?
The Twilight series and Harry Potter, of course. I would look at the movies and read excerpts to inspire me late at night. I usually write in the hours between 10pm and 1am.
What do you feel are the benefits of the new electronic readers such as Kindle, Kobo & Nook to the environment?
You can market to an entirely different crowd. People love portability, and they can just download a plethora of books and read them at any time, all on the go. Pricing is a big selling point as well. I appreciate having a hardcover in my hands. I love the feel and smell of a new book, but it’s kind of hard to carry three or four at a time.
What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors in the end? Do you feel they have a negative impact or positive, or no impact at all that you can see?
I think it differs in the way an author tries to get published, with considerations of volume versus dollars. Once you get your work out there and create a fan base, it may be easier to re-coupe dollars down the line rather than trying to grab it all at once.
What sort of things influence you into naming settings and characters from your books as they are named?
I do research on the settings. If people read something interesting in Protostar and do some digging, they will find real facts lurking beneath. Here’s a free one: look up Fabricius and you will find a researcher that discovered Mira A and B.
Did you write as a teenager?
Not at all. I did create a comic book one time with characters that resembled the X-Men. I still have it to this day.
What, or who, has been the greatest inspiration for your stories?
God’s love. The relentless desire He has for people becoming more than what they imagine themselves to be. Love, is the one element that perpetually drives the foundation of the book.
What’s your greatest comfort food?
Brownies and ice-cream. Very bad.
Who is your favorite cartoon character?
Which cartoon character is most like you?
Lion-O from The Thundercats. He wants so badly to ascend to his rightful position, but learns that everything takes time.
What were you like as a young reader? And when did you know that you wanted to write?
I struggled for a very long time to find my comfort with reading, especially out loud. I always anticipated the moment that I would stumble over a word and my classmate would correct me. Now, I do presentations for eight hour seminars and public speaking engagements, and I mis-read things all the time; doesn’t bother me one bit. I apologize and keep it moving.
Could you describe your road to publication for us?
Bumpy at best. I queried literary agents and anticipated their responses, praying before I read their email. Talk about stress. Finally, I contacted Firefly (my current publisher) directly and sent my first five chapters. They liked it and we began working on the editing piece, cutting away the fat and leaving only the essential elements of the story. Months later, all that was left was to design the cover.
Thank you, Braxton, now let’s shoot some pool!
Please check out Braxton’s website for the latest news on The Star-Crossed Saga: ProtoStar.