This month's interview is with Stella Brians, author of The Hidden World of Wysteria Series.
Stella Brians is an author who writes Metaphysical Fantasy, poetry, and fiction. She is also an illustrator. Stella loves writing, sketching, reading, and animals. She grew up in New England, and went to the Norwich Free Academy where she studied Art and English. Her favorite bands are The Cure, Iron Maiden, and My Chemical Romance. She has also been a longtime fan of The Beatles, and reading too many books at once. Miss Brians lives with her soulmate.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Originally, the journey I went on was not intended to be a pilgrimage for my book. In 2009, I decided to take some time away from my life so I stayed in Manhattan for about a week and a half. What I was searching for was peace, and I found that and much more. I found story inspiration that I would use years later, and I made a friend from England who inevitably inspired Sarah’s character. People sometimes have trouble understanding how an introverted writer would find solace in a busy, dirty, city. This is because there are so many people, that no one pays attention to you. Looking back, it was one of the experiences in my life I have been most grateful for.
Elizabeth’s character was inspired by the trip because she is a damaged young woman who struggles on many levels. She enjoys the quiet, but loves the city. I experienced just that when I would visit the St. John the Divine cathedral. I would visit during the day and listen to the monks sing. The cathedral also has a garden, and white peacocks wandering the grounds. In so many ways, it is a place of peace.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write what is meaningful to me, and what I would want to read. There is a slim market for Visionary Fiction, but with time it is expanding. My series covers a lot of ground; dealing with mental illness, finding your place in the world, loving yourself, and connecting with the Earth are the main topics. As a writer, I am always growing and I plan to expand the content as the series continues. In some ways, I write for myself but I also really write for others. It is my way of reaching out to people and saying that is perfectly normal to be depressed, to look different, to have your beliefs or interested be misunderstood by others. I have future plans to write about spiritual tolerance within the series. That is really important to me, and I know it is to a lot of other people. A goal of mine (through my writing) is to encourage people to follow their beliefs or non beliefs, and to get along peacefully with each other.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
The Paperback Writer of Central Park was originally going to be a stand alone novel. The more I worked on it, the more I fell in love with the themes, characters, and concepts. From a book about a troubled young woman in New York City, a Metaphysical Fantasy series was born. The Hidden World of Wysteria focuses on the inhabitants of an afterlife world known as Wysteria. Pagan themes, animals, and nature are very relevant. Although parts of the novels take place in New England, the characters live in Wysteria together and work towards common goals. Living in Connecticut gave me the inspiration to create Wysteria. One of my favorite things about my work, is that I get to blend the worlds and characters that I create in a seamless and imaginative way.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
There are many, but only one book especially stands out to me. Love And Exile was written in the eighties by my father, and was not published until last year. It is a novel about a young man who goes to Canada to escape the Vietnam War. The book’s title describes the story very well; Wexler is in his twenties and is trying to sort out his love life, while being exiled in Montreal far enough from his family and the U.S. He has friends, but there are moments where he is very unsure about where his life is going. I think that we all can relate to that as people, no matter who we are or where we’re from. The book meant a great deal to me because it gave me an insight as to my father’s life before I was born, and to perhaps who he was at a younger age.
What is your favorite childhood book?
My favorite book for young people is The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsberg. It is a novel about a sister and brother who leave their Connecticut home due to the injustice of their suburban lives and parents’ rules, to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My father used to read this book to me when I was a child. I really enjoyed it because of my fascination with New York City and art museums. When I was thirteen, he took me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and we had an incredible time.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
If I did not write, I would work at a library on some level. It is clear to pretty much everyone that I love to be around books.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes, my entire family both old and new are incredibly supportive of my career as a writer. My parents have always encouraged my creativity. Both of them write, albeit very different kinds of material. My mother used to write articles for newspapers and magazines, so she is really great with editing and talking to people. As I previously mentioned, my father is an author. While in high school, I took a writing workshop run by him and I loved it. His wife Tricia helped me out greatly by doing a beautiful job formatting the kindle version of my first novel.
My brothers Marcus and Dylan are so supportive and excited for me as well. Marcus helped me get The Paperback Writer of Central Park into the Amherst, MA bookstore, and Dylan helped to spread the word about The Paperback Writer of Central Park being published. I am very close with my cousin Lesley, and she has been there all along in her support and encouragement.
I have so much to be thankful for. My significant other fully supports and encourages my career as a writer. His unconditional love and kindness is so appreciated, and without measure. He always goes above and beyond for me.
Writing these books and self-publishing them has helped me to realize how loving and supportive my family and the people around me are. That matters more than anything in the world to me.
Thanks, Stella! To more up-to-date information check out Stella’s website and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.