Thursday, October 2, 2014

Author Interview and #GiveAway: The Elusive Brandon Shire on Summer Symphony

Author Interview and Giveaway 
with Brandon Shire

Hi Everyone, I'm thrilled to have been granted an interview by Brandon Shire for the release of his latest novel, Summer Symphony. Please join me in welcoming him to the blog, and be sure to sign up for the giveaway below. Two lucky winners will receive an ebook of Summer Symphony.

Brandon, welcome back to Attention Is Arbitrary. I want to congratulate you on your latest novel, Summer Symphony. I know you like to stand back and let your books speak for themselves (read: you’re reserved), but I’m delighted that you’re letting me share more about this book with your readers. 

After reading this novel I was speechless, for a moment. Okay, I was a sobbing mess. Then I had nothing but questions. Many of those I’ll have to discuss with other readers, but there is also a great deal that I want to know from you. Thank you for indulging me. 

Lisa: The subject matter of Summer Symphony is emotionally charged to say the least. Why did you want to tell this story? 

Brandon: This story unfolded by itself. My mother, who I care for now, was staring off into the distance one day and I asked her what she was thinking about. To my surprise she started telling me about my two sisters who were lost to miscarriage, and how the doctor told her she could just have more before he walked from the room. The conversation stuck with me. Seventy years on and she was still thinking about the babies she lost. And of course, being a parent myself, I wondered how I would feel (from a male perspective) had my own children never come into existence. It was a story that needed to be written. 

Lisa: I couldn't agree more and am guilty of not recognizing that this is a problem society should take a look at.

Although Martin and Ren come from wildly different cultural backgrounds there is a common theme: that men have to be strong. To be strong seems to mean denying something to/of yourself. Do you think society’s views on this are changing? Progressing?

Brandon: Honestly, I don’t. We in the West like to think we’re progressive on most social issues, but in this case, I didn’t find that to be true. 

Lisa: You spanned 3 continents to bring this story to life, but you focus primarily on Croatia and Japan. What made you choose these areas of the world? Did your research bring you any surprises? 

Brandon: Fans on Goodreads actually chose Croatia before I started writing. I knew I wanted a European view, and because I have such a broad base of fans I asked for their opinion on a place we don’t see much of in LGBT lit. Croatia was their choice. Japan was my choice because I wanted the two MCs to come from very diverse cultures. 

Probably the biggest surprise that popped up in the research phase was the complete lack of resources available to men in grief. Couple that with the bizarre (and seemingly prevalent) perception that men don’t grieve over the children they lose to miscarriage and stillbirth and I was pretty speechless. 99.9% of the resources I found were geared to women, and those for men were most often about ‘how to help your spouse,’ yet there was virtually nothing aiding them in dealing with their own emotions. It makes no sense to me. How are we still making it shameful for a man to be upset over the loss of his child? 

Lisa: I was particularly surprised by the electric energy you infused during the symphony scenes. How were you able to accomplish this? Do you know music inside and out? Do you attend philharmonic concerts? Did you have help? 

Brandon: The music scenes were probably the hardest to write because I had to try and bring each note to life with words. This was another area of massive research– days listening to classical music and months spent trying to craft just a few paragraphs so that the reader was sitting in the concert hall. 

I don’t have any musical training, and I haven’t attended the symphony in years, but I do have a great love for music and that’s what helped. Shira Anthony was also indispensable with her technical input on music and orchestral politics. I should also mention that my Croatian consultants were essential in making this book a reality. They helped with everything from food, culture, politics, LGBT issues and street names. If readers would like to know more about the beautiful city of Zagreb I would recommend stopping by Secret Zagreb. Iva will bring the city alive for you. 

Lisa: Well the level of research and consultant input shows. Everything about this book felt solid.

This story is wonderfully complex. If I were to look at Mirnela’s actions alone I could probably write pages about her. She is strong, brave and very intelligent. I guess I don’t have a question, but I wonder if you want to tell us how she fleshed out while you developed your manuscript. 

Brandon: Mirnela’s character was in constant flux right from the beginning. Her story


Martin Zoric had vivid dreams of fatherhood, of a small hand pressed to his, of pink dresses and girlish laughter. Then his wife had a stillbirth and his world fell apart.

He listened to the unwanted apologies, stood by his wife as was expected of him, and kept his fa├žade strong and firm for the entire world to see.

But does he have the strength let go and really grieve?

When Ren Wakahisa landed in Croatia he was hoping to escape the cultural pressures put on him to conform. His family wanted him to forsake love for duty. They viewed his happiness as secondary to familial prosperity.

Does he have the courage to be who he wants to be? Or, will he yield to their wishes?

Summer Symphony is the story of how two men find their answers and what they learn about strength, and grace, and the endurance of love.

is so tightly interwoven with politics and Croatian and Romani cultures that I had to research every aspect of her personality and then sit back and look at how that would effect her relationship with Martin. I have fifty written pages of history just on her, but to include it would have made this book her story and not Martin’s. 

Lisa: Does it bother you that your readers call you all sorts of ugly swear words? I can’t be the only one. You're sort of known for your emotional impact.

Brandon: (Laughs) You’re not. I usually get an email box full of invective about making readers shed tears. It doesn’t bother me. It let’s me know the story touched you, and that’s really my goal. I’m not a great writer, but I know I can tell a story that’s going to get under your skin. :) 

Lisa: Some of us would argue the great writer part. Your writing has always reached me.

What new tortures do you have for us next? I understand you’re working with some Wicked Men? 

Brandon: I always have a few projects percolating and this time is no exception. Fans have asked for more erotic M/M and of course I’m going to come at their request with a twist. The Love of Wicked Men is going to be exactly what it sounds like -- the men we love to hate and hate to love. The first MC is a complete a-hole, and I’m dying to see him put in his place. He’s gay, rich, gorgeous, and ruthless; and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. We (me and my readers) are going to take him down a few notches. Actually I want to break him, but I’ll let fans decide on that. 

This book will be different because I’m going to put it out in small increments (episodes) and give readers a chance to change the storyline as we go along. Right now, I’m thinking six episodes which readers can grab as they come out, and then a single book for readers who prefer their stories all in one bite. Genre? Think legal, erotic, mm thriller. You’ll probably see the first episode in 2015, but I’ll post more details in the Goodreads group as things progresses. Right now I’m in research mode for this and several other projects. 

You could also probably expect another major tearjerker in 2016, but more on that later. 

Lisa: Thank you for your insights, Brandon. You’re very welcome to swing by the blog anytime. Best of luck with this release and with all of your other current projects. 

Summer Symphony is available from Amazon, Smashwords, and most other retailers for Pre-order. 

10% of the proceeds from the sale of any of Brandon’s books are donated to LGBT Youth charities combating homelessness.

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About the Author

Award winning writer BRANDON SHIRE is a distinct voice in contemporary fiction. Mr. Shire was chosen as a Top Read in 2011, Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2011 & 2012, and garnered several Honorable Mentions, as well as a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction.

Connect with Brandon at

Books by Brandon Shire



Available for purchase at:

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