Brandi Megan Granett is fueled by a passionate desire to share her long-held belief that our thoughts, these ethereal things continuously bouncing around in our heads, have the power to shape our life experiences and change the world that we live in. As a creative writing teacher — one who holds a Ph.D. from Aberystwyth University in Wales, an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.Ed in Adult and Distance Education from Penn State — Granett encourages her students to diligently examine the stories they tell, to explore the worlds they are creating and identify not only the meaning behind them, but also the real-world influences that helped to mold them.
In February of 2000, Granett published her debut novel, My Intended, a melancholic tale of a bride-to-be who, after the sudden death of her fiance, opts to proceed with the wedding as a testimony of their love for one another. Granett followed that up in 2014 with Cars and Other Things That Get Around, a collection of short stories about love, family and the endless desire for human connection.
Granett’s third work, Triple Love Score, which was released on September 1, 2016 by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, tells the story of Miranda Shane, a poetry professor who stumbles into fame and fortune as an online poet who uses a Scrabble board to compose her work. But when her quiet existence is upended, Miranda is forced to make difficult decisions regarding her career and her desire to find love.
What was your childhood like? How did it shape who you are today?
I had an awesome childhood. As an only child, I was always very close with my mom. This shaped me in many ways. First, I learned how to listen. As a little kid allowed at the big table, you needed to listen more than you talked—or else they might notice you there! Some of my earliest memories are about sitting around my Great Aunt Joyce’s kitchen table as my family played Scrabble after church. You learn a lot about telling stories this way!
Which authors have had the strongest influence on your life and your writing?
Joyce Carol Oates influenced me first. During my undergraduate program, I won an honorable mention in Seventeen magazine for a short story; Joyce Carol Oates did during her time at college too (though she took first place). But it inspired me to keep writing! Also in college, I studied with Marjorie Sandor. Under her tutelage, I learned about Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Ann Beattie, Eudora Welty. I found myself immersed in excellent story telling and women’s voices. Marjorie’s mentorship also pushed me to keep writing. Her belief in me and willingness to pay attention to my writing validated the entire enterprise and prompted me to become a professor myself.
What aspects of the writing process did you struggle with the most when you were first starting out, and how did you overcome those struggles?
I’m going to give you the biggest honest answer I can here. I struggle with the “why bother” mentality. The world of publishing shifted so much during my time as a writer; it is increasingly difficult to get a book published traditionally, and when you do get one published, either traditionally or indie, a new struggle with promotion begins. But I also come back to the heart of it: I love writing. I love immersing myself in the worlds I create and the scenes that unfold like movies in my brain. Without exercising this part of myself, I wouldn’t be complete. Now on the practical side, how do I get over it? My husband takes me out for a drink when I get really agitated about the state of the world of publishing and, after a glass of Prosecco with St. Germain, I feel a lot better and get back to work.
What inspired the story of Triple Love Score?
I started writing Triple Love Score after a divorce from my daughter’s father and what turned into a whirlwind courtship with my friend of nineteen years. Falling in love again made everything seem possible, so I returned to writing novels after a long hiatus. I found myself writing each day to send passages to my then boyfriend. I wrote each morning thinking of what emotion I could provoke in him that day. He became my ideal reader during that time. As for the story, Miranda found herself at a crossroads between love and trust and career and motherhood—many of the same challenges I found myself facing at the time.
How much of yourself is there in the character of Miranda Shane?
I would say she and I share the same heart. We both leap, but tentatively.
What sort of research went into the writing of Triple Love Score? Specifically, how much Scrabble did you play?
That is a funny question! At the time, I was playing a lot of Scrabble online along with Words with Friends. I got very good at placing the two letter words for maximum score. Other than that, the majority of the book is all imagination.
What does your work environment look like?
I have an office in my home in Stockton, NJ. We live in a rural part of NJ, so the windows in front of my desk face out on to five acres of woods. I watch birds on the feeders and stare longingly at my archery targets in the distance as they beg me to come outside and play. On my desk itself, I keep piles of the books I am reading for the author interview series I do on my blog on the Huffington Post and a giant desk calendar to plot out all the due dates for students’ assignments.
What would you like to do that you simply haven’t found the time for yet?
I would love to take a real honest to goodness vacation. I teach online, and while that is very flexible, I have never been off from work for more than a day or two for the last 16 years. I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Middle of Somewhere by Sonja Yoerg and salivated at the thought of being away from all things tech for a hike up the PCT!
If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
The best piece of advice I offer to aspiring writers is to keep writing AND reading. You want to read what is classic along with what is being published in your field now. Know what books would be on either side of yours in the bookshelf to get a feel for what the publishing world is looking for. But do this with the detachment of a researcher; don’t let the idea of all those books stop you from writing your own. Just go into it with eyes open.
What are you working on next?
I am working on a novel titled Straight Shooter about a woman who inherits a summer camp. A good friend of mine on the archery circuit, Candice Raines and her husband Thayer, own Roaring Brook Camp for Boys in Vermont. Like hearing about hiking the PCT, I’d love to spend the summer at camp, but being unable to just do it, I decided to imagine what it would be like in my next novel. Plus, I get to write about archery!