Brandon Ellis grew up on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon in a little town known as Gladstone, where he graduated from high school and moved on to college and has two great loves in his life: writing and sports.
After being declared an All State Baseball and All League Basketball player, he obtained his Therapeutic Massage License and became one of the most successful sports massage therapists and teachers in the City of Portland. He’s now creating imaginative worlds of inspiration and art through his books. He’s here today to talk about his young adult fantasy novel,The PureLights of Ohm Totem.
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Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, The PureLights of Ohm Totem. When did you start writing and what got you into fantasy?
A: I started writing when I was a kid. My favorite books were fantasy, because your mind can create so much in that world; very few things are off limits. The mere fact you can create a world out of thin air is amazing to me. Or, merging a fantasy world into our current world with all its dramas, conditions, and beauty. That amazes me as well. Then there’s magic. One of my most favorite of things. When writing about magic, I pretend, or I should say. wish to have those abilities — you know, the good guy abilities.
Q: Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
A: My mentor is my friend Debbie. She has set me on the “path,” which I struggle with all of the time. She’s also my writing mentor who has taught me more than I can describe, which is also tough at times as well. Imagine a writing genius (my friend) trying to teach an elementary child (me) how to write like a professional. Well, that’s what she did. And, even though I’m not as good or as schooled in the art of writing as her, I think she’s done a fine job at getting me close or “close enough”.
Q: Did you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?
A: Yes. When I first started writing I had a very difficult time trying to communicate what I saw in my mind. That’s where my mentor came into play. She taught me the basics and foundations of writing.
Q: What was your inspiration for The PureLights of Ohm Totem?
A: That’s a long story, but I’ll make is short. My inspiration was an image in my mind that turned into an entire book series in a matter of seconds. I saw it all play out in my mind. I know, I know. That probably doesn’t make sense, so here goes my short version of how this book started.
It had been a long 10-hour work day. I’d just gotten home from work, dropped my keys off on the counter, then walked down the hallway toward my room. I was just entering my room, carrying my laptop, when I abruptly stopped. There, in my mind, came a single image — a tree in the darkness with snow all around. However, the snow wasn’t from clouds dropping flakes from above. It was from the tree itself, sprinkling snow from its branches and onto the ground. Then, like a movie, an entire story took place in my mind. I saw characters, action scenes, dialogue, and many other things. I quickly wrote down a synopsis of what I could remember, telling myself I’d get to it as soon as possible. When two years went by and I barely had anything, that’s when I started dreaming of the book. I saw ancient and sacred scrolls, more characters, more scenes, etc. I then wrote and wrote and wrote.
As I wrote, I had the help from a friend, one who didn’t know she was helping me. This friend of mine — a very dear and close friend — had a Near Death Experience (an NDE). That’s when someone dies, goes up a tunnel, meets angels/guides, has a conversation, then comes back down into their body. Well, she had one of the longest and most detailed accounts of an NDE ever recorded. So, with all the years I’ve known and been around her, she planted seeds in my mind full of wisdom and insights— things she learned from her NDE. I, in turn, planted those seeds in the books as well, hoping to give those same words of wisdom to the rest of the world, just as she has done throughout her life.
Q: Do you have any plotting secrets? Do you use index cards or special software?
A: I tried it all. I tried a story board. I tried software programs. I did the index card thing. But what works best for me is to write down little tidbits of what’s in each chapter, as so I can pull it up from memory. I have the entire book in my mind, so it’s easy to pull it up once I have something written — a keyword, a brief description, or a synopsis of what’s going to happen here and there. I like to write in order, but sometimes I get too excited about a chapter and skip a bit ahead. Authors always have something unique that works for them, so do what works best for you and do so with integrity.
Q: What do you tell your muse when she refuses to collaborate?
A: Nothing. Everything comes in time or doesn’t come at all. Just go with the flow, because the flow isn’t going to leave you hanging forever. It’ll take you for a ride and drop you off at certain destinations picked out for you long before you arrived here. And, that’s all I have to say about that. Hmmm… let’s hope that made just a tinge of sense.
Q: Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this?
A: I can’t. Maybe I should pay attention and see if that fits with me. Yep, it fits. I get a little tingling sensation in my toes, then it jumps into my gut, ending in my heart. It’s weird. I think it’s anticipation along with a hope that you’ll be discovered…by EVERYONE!
Q: Do you have a writing schedule? Do you set yourself weekly goals for your writing?
A: My writing schedule is “when I can.” It’s usually after the kids go to bed and when my awesome partner does her late night job, answering questions about essential oils. She’s a consultant for DoTerra Essential Oil line. Her name is Lotus Hartley, look her up and get healthy real fast! There’s a plug. Oops!
Q: How do you celebrate the completion of a novel?
A: I completed my book in WhiteFish, Montana. I’m from Portland, Oregon and took a week-long trip up there with the family, minus two of my kids. Being in Whitefish in the summer is celebration enough.
Q: What do you love most about the writer’s life?
A: The accomplishment of fulfilling and completing something that you’ve had in your heart for a long while. It’s the ability to do what you love. And writers, a lot of them, have a passion to write.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
A: Do what you love. It’s the way to liberation, where you’ll be free at last. My mentor always says, “Sing your song.”