Back in January, I interviewed Briana Morgan about life, writing, and her novel, BLOOD AND WATER. Fast-forward seven months, and you can now read BLOOD AND WATER’s online – Briana has published the first version online for curious readers to try out (perhaps in a nod to one of her favorite writers, Ksenia Anske).

With BLOOD AND WATER now entering its second iteration, I decided to ask Briana about her experiences writing this post-apocalyptic novel, and how it has impacted her writing life.

Welcome back to my blog Briana! It’s lovely to have you again. Tell me about your exciting new book, BLOOD AND WATER!

Hi, Brett! Thanks for having me back! BLOOD AND WATER is a post-apocalyptic YA novel in which a boy named Jay discovers that he and his sister are infected by the same virus that killed their parents, along with half the world. Along with the help of their friends Sean and Melanie, Jay and his sister Maia head out in the world in search of a cure.

It sounds incredible! What was the inspiration for writing BLOOD AND WATER?

This answer is a little more difficult to pin down. Setting-wise, I knew I wanted to write something European, and having spent a semester in London, I figured that was a good start. Really, though, I’d like to think it’s Jay who inspired me. He fell into my head one day, and I knew I had to share his story. It’s as complicated and as simple as that.

What kind of research did you do? Did you learn about pandemics and diseases?

For the first draft, I did some preliminary research on pandemics, but I didn’t go as intensive as I would have liked. Most of the research I did involved the Chunnel and logistics for walking through it, since that’s not a common thing for people to do. For my second draft, I’m doing a lot more research on world-killing illnesses like Ebola and trying to pin down the specifics of my imagined virus.

That sounds like intensive (and frightening) research. What challenges did you face while writing BLOOD AND WATER?

Eek. I love challenges, but there were a few obstacles I had to tackle while working on this novel. For one thing, my protagonist is a black teenage boy. As a white adult female, sometimes it was difficult for me to wrap my head around his thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Another issue I had to deal with was lack of trauma in my life. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – I’m grateful to have been so lucky – but it certainly is tough to understand how it feels to lose most of your family if you haven’t gone through that. Emotional integrity is important to me, so I spent a lot of time sorting through how different characters would react to the bad things in their lives, and the ways in which their reactions might manifest themselves.

Now that you’ve come through those challenges, what kind of advice would you give to other young writers out there?

I’m going to go with some clichés here because they are absolutely true. Write as much as you can, read everything you can get your hands on, and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be a writer. If you love writing, keep at it no matter what happens. I’m a firm believer in hard work, and if you put in the effort, you’re bound to see some amazing results.

And speaking of advice – tell me about your blog! What can visitors expect to find when they visit you?

I’ve always heard that writers should write blog posts for readers rather than other writers, but that’s not a philosophy I pay much attention to. Instead, my blog serves as a source of encouragement and advice to other writers. There can be some negativity (read: a LOT) in our profession, and I like to think that I’m cutting through some of that. At the same time, it’s not all sunshine and butterflies. I want to share some hard truths of writing, too, but presented in a way that makes them easier to swallow.

I always love your blog posts! What’s your favorite article you have published on your blog?

I’ve been blogging for four years, so that’s a tough question! Off the top of my head, my favorites are some of my more recent posts: How to Handle Plot Bunnies While Editing, How to Handle Harsh Critiques , and How to Get to Know Your Characters

Where is the future going for you? More BLOOD AND WATER, or do you have new ideas to explore?

Right now, I’m writing/editing my second draft of BLOOD AND WATER. I’m hoping to have the finished product by October of this year. I’m also working on planning out a YA urban fantasy involving murder and shapeshifters. Blogging-wise, I have some exciting posts planned, too – and then there’s vlogging and social media and my email newsletter – basically, I hope I never stop moving. I thrive when I’m busy!

Let’s talk about your YouTube series. What encouraged you to start Vlogging, and what’s been the best and worst part about it?

Oh, goodness. Well, I’ve always been fascinated by YouTube, especially the rise of writers and book bloggers on YouTube in the past several years. I wanted another way to connect to my readers and fellow writers, so I decided to give it a shot. That’s the best part of vlogging – being able to develop a more meaningful connection. The worst part for me is getting past my self-consciousness. Every time I’m filming, I’m worried about what people will think. Maybe one day I’ll be able to move past that feeling!

Outside of YouTube, where can people find you on the internet?

I’m all over! Seriously. You can find me on my website, TwitterFacebook, Bloglovin’, Instagram, Tumblr, Wattpad, Pinterest, and probably a few other places I don’t even know about.

Thanks so much for letting me talk your ear off, Brett!

Thanks so much talking with me about BLOOD AND WATER. I can’t wait to see where the project goes in the future, and to all of my readers, I encourage you to check out Briana’s account and blog!

Thanks for reading!