Sunday, April 19, 2020

Interview with Deborah Brenner

"The foreboding sky grew ever blacker until the last trace of daylight disappeared. It was not the comforting, soft darkness of night, but a primordial darkness, a sky devoid of stars. Along with the light, all air, movement and hope also vanished, until he existed in a vacuum. Navigating the mists and shadows of this wasteland quickly depleted his energy, and he had no idea what to do next.” So begins Serch Bythol, the first installment in The Tammabukku Chronicles quintet by mother and daughter writing team, Deborah Brenner and Kaya Gabsy.

15) OK, Deborah, explain in one or two paragraphs what The Tammabukku Chronicles is all about.

In short, The Tammabukku Chronicles takes place in the multiverse and examines our primary human relationships. Dimensions subtly change as the story unfolds and multiple lifetimes play out. The characters don’t always realize when this is happening, but the reader does. The Tammabukku Chronicles is about the journey of souls through the multiverse told through the lives of the six main protagonists.

14) What got you interested in writing fantasy and the world-building it necessarily involves?

I studied spiritual alchemy and reality creation for years and sensed the Truth in those subjects. Being a homeschooling mother of two daughters dominated my life for years, however, I was too tired to pursue many of my favorite subjects. When I delved back into them, my fire was even greater and I had more clarity.

It is interesting how even when we don’t believe we are thinking about a subject, we are. Not only do we continue to think about that which sparks us, but it grows in a world of its own and comes back to us in Universal time.

In book one, Serch Bythol, it appears the characters have created the reality they had hoped to, yet in book two, Inner Magnets, cosmic irony takes center stage.

To answer your question, I have always felt experiences of this nature and found it difficult to accurately describe them. Writing about this not only depicts the experience so others can partake in your world but strengthens your own conviction.

13) Who were among your favorite authors growing up and which ones would you cite as having the biggest influence on you?

My parents were hyper-intellectual and as a small child, I was surrounded by outstanding literature in many languages. As a very small girl I was more story-conscious than author-conscious, and among my favorite books were “Are You My Mother?”, “The Runaway Bunny”, “The Velveteen Rabbit” and “The Giving Tree”.

In my teens and early adulthood, I read everyone from Frances Hodgson Burnett to Vladimir Nabokov, and revere their works to this day. Some of my other favorite fiction authors are Hermann Hesse, Nikos Kazantzakis, Albert Camus, Milan Kundera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Iris Murdoch and Paul Bowles.

My daughter, Kaya, also grew up in this intellectual, multi-lingual environment and her girlhood favorites were Lucy Maud Montgomery, Francis Hodgson Burnett and J.R.R. Tolkien.

The Tammabukku Chronicles owes a debt to the writers listed above as well as many of the beloved English novels. Readers will find allusions to Tolkien, the Bronte family, Dickens, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde and many others.

12) Book Two of your series, Inner Magnets, takes place in “England, New York, Russia, WW1 and Ancient Roman Britain”, which is an ambitious variety of time frames and venues. Why those places and the vastly different time frames?

To tie in how all time and places are one. In Book Two, Cecilia Ley has been reborn as Lia Bailey and lives in New York. When the lovers see each other in the flesh again, it is there that they meet. Meanwhile, David, the reborn Daniel, has purchased Beak’s End, the one-of-a-kind manor house where she had lived in Yorkshire. Russia comes into the story about halfway through Book Two. David and Lia visit Russia as David’s past incarnation Daniel was born in imperial Saint Petersburg. The World War One era is the setting for one chapter in which Lia travels back in time to see the aging Ambrose de Ripariis, the partner of Nathaniel Ley. Ambrose, like Nathaniel, is one of the world’s great occultists and he is also the builder of Beak’s End.

In her first experience with the portal, Lia is taken to Ancient Roman Britain and soon understands why, though as the story progresses, she finds out there is much more to learn about the time and place they call Tammabukku. That experience takes place in Book Four, Knights and High Priestesses of the Red Dragon.

11) You’d once briefly alluded in a private conversation about your experience(s) in temporal simultaneity. Could you please elaborate on that?

One day in late 1998, I started to doze off for a nap but had not fallen asleep. I found myself in a large Victorian drawing room, preparing for a celebration; there were food and drink being placed on tables and large vases full of fresh flowers from our garden. I knew the moment in time as well as I know this life and I was familiar with every corner of the large house—it was a house I have longed for since I was very small. I also knew everyone in the room with me, several of them I was with already in this life. There were two girls who were my sisters that were so familiar but I could not place them when I returned to the present. They were born in 1999 and 2002 as my daughters, Kaya and Sara. This was not a vision or a dream—I was there like I am here now. It was that experience that laid the foundation for The Tammabukku Chronicles. I also believe it was the spirit of my daughter Kaya who would be born the following year who was showing me this.

10) How long have you and your daughter Kaya been collaborating?

Since 2014. Kaya and I work very well together and she has contributed a myriad of brilliant ideas. It all started with a short story she was writing for Uptown Stories, her Hudson Heights writing workshop at that time.

9) Quantum physics certainly plays a huge part in your fantasy world. What is it about quantum mechanics that interests you the most?

As far back as I could remember, I have been driven to bridge spiritual belief with science, and quantum physics made that possible for me.

8) How did David Pierson, the main character in your trilogy, come to you? And who’s most responsible for fleshing him out, you or Kaya?

In Kaya’s short story from the workshop, she wrote of two brothers, Dave and Tom, who had just learned from their often abrupt father that they were moving from Canada to England. She was just starting as a writer then and got stuck, so I helped her out. Somehow that short story evolved into the five-novel elliptical quintet, The Tammabukku Chronicles. I told her that Dave in the story was wanted to be called David and after that, his past, present and future and every characteristic just flowed. He is a synthesis of my ex-husband Brooke Halpin, who works with us on the books as an editor, our dear friend Tod Jackson, who passed away in January 2018, and a little of how I would envision myself as a sixteen-year-old boy. Where Serch Bythol is more of a microcosm, Inner Magnets is a macrocosm. David goes from seventeen in the first chapter to a married man, an international celebrity and owner of one of the most talked-about old manor houses in the world by the end of the book.

7) Is Timeless Keepers, the third installment, intended to round out the trilogy or will there be more installments?

It is a quintet and Timeless Keepers is the third installment. Timeless Keepers delves further into the macrocosm and escorts the reader to the portal door for Volume Four, Knights of the Red Dragon and High Priestesses.

6) Plotter or pantser?

Kaya and I are both. We believe in setting down as solid a foundation and we can before starting a book, knowing when the writing actually begins, things are going to shift. I outline every chapter meticulously. Lol. At least we fooled ourselves it was when we wrote it. Once I feel a chapter is outlined as much as it can be, scene by scene, I switch to pantser and let the characters live and speak within the framework we created.

5) Would you ever consider writing in any other genre or does fantasy do it for you?

We don’t consider The Tammabukku Chronicles to be the fantasy genre. Even the opening of Book One, which comes closest to fantasy, is not in actuality a fantasy. They have been called occult novels, metaphysical novels, speculative fiction, visionary fiction, and magic realism. It was when I happened upon the term quantum fiction that we felt committed to a genre. According to Wikipedia, “Quantum fiction is a literary genre that reflects modern experience of the material world and reality as influenced by quantum theory and new principles in quantum physics.” After reading this, I turned to Kaya and said, “That is what The Tammabukku Chronicles is.”

I have another novel, Expecting to Fly, that I plan to publish next year. It is set in the 1970s and 1980s and has similar themes to The Tammabukku Chronicles, but a much different voice and vibration. It is definitely quantum fiction, however, although time-travel and reincarnation are not part of the storyline. While I am always up for a new experience, if I write anything other than quantum fiction, it would be historical, mystery or biography. Kaya and I also love to dabble in poetry. All the song lyrics throughout the quintet were co-written by myself and Brooke Halpin.

4) Describe your typical writing day, if you have one. Do you write exclusively on a laptop or notebook or both? Do you set daily word goals and, if so, what are they?

Never daily word goals—that would be anathema for both Kaya and me. I often say something like, “I want to finish Chapter XXV tomorrow” which is our way of using reality creation, a major theme of the books. We state our wishes to the Universe regarding progress on the book and invariably it comes to pass, or at least close to the time we envision it. What’s important is it comes to pass. Time is a manmade construct.

3) Does the feud involving the Peacock family have a real-life analog or is it purely fictitious?

Great question and the answer illustrates the synchronicities that have been at work in this quintet since the inception. Kaya suggested that there be a rival for Cecilia’s hand who will provide an antagonist for Daniel. When I mentioned this to our dear friend Tod Jackson, whose energy laid a great deal of the foundation upon which this quintet was built, he warned me against it, saying a second boy and scenes with the two boys fighting over a girl was “teenage girl fantasy” and the books were far deeper. Since he was hardly ever wrong, it was hard to go against his advice and start work on a scene with Kaya’s idea, but I was inspired to and envisioned it taking place at a Yorkshire railroad stop. Not only did the scene turn out great, but it also gave birth to an entire plotline between the Peacocks and the Grayson, Ley and de Ripariis families. Once that was established, the rest of the story again flowed forth. It remains an intrinsic part of the quintet until the end, but there is a great evolution from the first two volumes.

2)You’re full of praise for several other people in the creation of yours and Kaya’s trilogy. Who are they and how had they contributed?

In order of how different people contributed, the first person to hear the story was my younger daughter Sara who has always been a tremendous support. She inadvertently came up with the name for Beak’s End by running two words together in Scrabble. In Volume One, Serch Bythol, there came a moment when the story just seemed to take wings and Kaya showed it to our dear Tod, who was her godfather. He immediately got the entire concept and became our biggest fan, offering invaluable feedback. 

After that, my sister-in-law, Anna Dora Claire began to help with the editing of Volume One and really helped us shine it into a beautiful stone. Towards the end of Book One, Brooke Halpin took over as editor. To date, we have completed three volumes with Brooke and are well along on the fourth. The books would not be what they are without him.

1) What’s next for Deborah Kaya?

Why, the multiverse, of course. Lol. Right now, we are focused on finishing Volume Four, Knights of the Red Dragon and High Priestesses later this year and Volume Five, Through an Open Door late next year. After that, I will publish “Expecting to Fly”. Kaya is working on two novels, Lavercolitca and When Darkness Comes, along with her poetry and photography. Brooke and I plan a novel about the classical music world in the New York of the 1980s and our personal love story and I plan to write a novel about my eccentric mother and my life as a fugitive for two years. We also plan to write a separate novel about the Tuatha de Danann who are mistakenly believed by many to be mythological.
If you're interested in Deborah's and Kaya's work, you can find out more through the links below:


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