Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, Brandon.
During the daylight hours, I am a special education teacher for students with emotional disabilities. Being a published writer has been a life long dream, and I am so ecstatic for it to be coming to fruition. My other favorite roles are being an uncle, boyfriend, and corgi-daddy.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
That I have a degree in youth ministry.
When did you start writing, is it something you've always been interested in, or did it develop later in life?
I fell in love with writing during my sophomore year in high school, thanks to Ms. Hungerford. She’s also part of the reason I became a teacher. She was wonderful!
Has it been everything you thought it would be or not?
So far? Yes! And more, although, I have only just started reaching this goal, so we will have to see what comes next. It’s been so euphoric to get to hold my words in book form. Such a dream come true, and people (authors, readers, bloggers) have been so very kind!
How did it feel when you realized that your very first book was going to be published?
I’d fought for so many years to get published that I honestly had trouble believing it. Even when I told people, I just kept saying, “They’ve agreed to publish The Shattered Door and Men of Myth, but you never know until it’s printed, so we’ll see…” Dreamspinner has been wonderful.
What's your favorite part of writing a book?
Oh, that’s nearly impossible to say. The easiest part, for me, is right in the middle, when you’re deep in the heart of it all. My favorite part are the times when I’m writing, and tears are pouring down my face and/or when my characters do something that I had NO idea they were going to do. The other best part is seeing the cover. So fun!!!
Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
In addition to teaching and writing, I have two other jobs, so reading time is rare, but I listen to endless audio books. My favorites are fantasy and horror novels.
Are there any other genres you'd be interested in writing?
Tons! I’ve got some children's picture books in process. I’d also like to do a young adult trilogy. Horror would be fun as well!
Please tell us a little about your most recent release.
Then the Stars Fall was released September 2014. It takes place in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks and revolves around a widower who is still mourning his wife, while raising his three children, and the new vet in town. It is a very slow burning type of romance. Very character driven and full of realism.
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
I’m planning on diving into writing full time after the summer of 2015. So I am hoping and praying that you’ll be able to look forward to an endless stream of novels!
Anything you want to say to your readers?
As cliché as this sounds, THANK YOU! For giving my writing a chance, for your kind words and support, for caring about my characters (and my corgis!). When I dreamed about people reading my books, I never thought about actually getting to speak to them and hear from them. It’s wonderful. You all are the best group of people in the world!
Brandon Witt's recent releases:
Then the Stars Fall
The death of his wife four years earlier left Travis Bennett a shell of the man he used to be. With his dog by his side, Travis raises his three children, manages his business, and works as a ranch hand. But every day, every minute, is an aching emptiness.
Wesley Ryan has fond memories of the small Ozark town of El Dorado. Seeing it as a safe place to put his failed relationships behind him, Wesley moves into his grandparents’ old home and takes over the local veterinary clinic. An early morning visit from Travis and his dog stirs feelings that Wesley seeks to push away—the last thing he needs is to fall for a man with baggage and three kids as part of the package.
Life, it seems, has other plans.
The Shattered Door
After a tortured childhood and years of soul-searching, Brooke Morrison has finally settled into a comfortable life. While his sexuality prohibits him from practicing his degree in youth ministry in a church setting, he’s found a fulfilling job as a youth counselor at a residential treatment facility in Colorado. He falls in love, marries the man of his dreams, and makes peace with God. He’s happy.
Then his buried past drags him back to the Ozarks.
The life Brooke has worked so hard to build is crumbling in his hands in the face of painful memories and past abuse, and his confidence is withering. In El Dorado Springs, where his nightmares come to life, Brooke desperately seeks closure life doesn’t offer. Brooke must find value in himself, in his marriage, and in the world around him—and create the hope and perseverance to keep his past from swallowing him whole.
Brett Wright and Finn de Morisco come from vastly different worlds. Disowned by his family for being gay, Brett builds both a life on his own terms and walls around his heart. But nothing can prepare him for the evil that stalks him in the night or from discovering the dark secrets of his heritage.
The youngest of a doting family, Finn lives a sheltered life that allows him to trust easily and makes him quick to jump to the rescue. While using his knowledge of the supernatural world to help Brett uncover the truth of his ancestry, Finn learns neither his magical life nor falling in love is as simple and risk-free as he believed.
New knowledge comes with a price—one that may prove too high for them to pay.
Excerpt from Then the Stars Fall
Wesley relaxed, leaning against the boards of the trough once more. “How long were you and Shannon together?”
The question surprised Travis, making the anger leave in an instant. When was the last time anyone had asked about Shannon and him? There were endless questions about how he was doing and how the kids were getting along, but never anything about her.
“You don’t have to answer that. Sorry. I know a breakup and what you went through aren’t the same thing.”
Travis reached out, fearing Wesley might walk away. He tried to ignore the desperation he felt in the gesture. “No. It’s not that. I just haven’t talked about her in forever. At least not like this.”
“You want to?”
“Yeah.” Travis nodded and felt his eyes burn. Luckily he didn’t cry anymore. Outside the barn door had been a fluke. “We were married for sixteen years, but we’d met way before then. Just like Caleb told you, I met Shannon in high school. We were juniors.” He realized he’d just outed himself, that he’d admitted he’d been eavesdropping. Wesley didn’t let on. “We got married when we were twenty-two, same year we graduated from college, and moved here. She wanted to be near her folks.”
Wesley waited when Travis stopped talking. When Travis didn’t speak again, Wesley spoke softly, barely more than a whisper. “Do you want to talk more about her?”
Travis nodded again, feeling stupid at not being able to just keep speaking.
Maybe understanding what Travis needed, Wesley only waited a few more moments before beginning to learn about Travis’s wife. “How long ago did she pass?”
“Four years.” That fucking burning in his eyes. Did his voice just tremble?
“How long was she sick?”
Travis’s brows knitted. Had he said something? Maybe during Dunkyn’s surgery?
“Wendy told me.”
“Oh.” Travis took a deep breath, or at least tried to. “Two years. Kinda. The cancer came right after the twins were born. They said they got it all. Said she was good. Clean. She wasn’t. Shannon died right before their second birthday.” More burning. And was his throat clenching up?
Travis looked toward the barn doors, suddenly realizing how much he’d said. No one there. He glanced back to the house. Only the kitchen and living room lights were on, and Caleb’s.
The twins were asleep.
He looked back at Wesley. “The kids don’t know that. Not even Caleb. I don’t want them to ever think it was their fault.”
Wesley didn’t even look confused, understanding the unspoken. “I will never say a thing. So the cancer.... Shannon’s cancer was caused by the pregnancy?”
“Choriocarcinoma.” Big word. He hadn’t even been able to say it correctly at the beginning. Ugly word. Now it spun around in his brain when he slept, the dark letters forming, swirling, then reforming in his mind. Fucking word. “You know about it?”
Again Wesley’s voice was so soft. So warm and kind. Like Shannon’s, but nothing like Shannon’s. “No, I don’t. I’m sorry. But it’s okay. I understand what it means, for the most part.”
“She lost her hair.” Why had he said that? What the fuck did that matter?
Painful, but not awkward. “What was she like?”
Travis almost flinched at the question, but didn’t. How could this man not know what Shannon had been like? The whole world should know, should feel her absence. To this man, to Dr. Ryan, to Wesley, it was like Shannon had never even existed. How was that even possible?
The burn went away as he spoke. The hands around his throat loosened. The whispers in his ears increased. “She was.... Shannon was so... alive. She was so many things—beautiful, funny, smart. But mostly, she was alive.”
Travis met Wesley’s gaze, and the vet didn’t look away, only nodded in encouragement.
“She was like her hair. She was on fire. All the time. Either laughing loudly or mad. Man, that woman had a temper.” Travis laughed. The whispers laughed with him. “Everyone loved her. Everyone. She was the town sweetheart. She’d grown up here. She taught Ag at the high school, at least up to that last year. Helped out with the babies at church too. At the church where Wendy takes the kids now. I never went. Still don’t.”
What could he tell the man so that he’d see her? So that he’d know Shannon? So that he’d miss her too? “She was strong. Brave. She’d fight with everything in her. Always looking out for the loser. Caleb got that from her. Always looking out for me. No matter what I did or what I was. She fought with me and for me.”
Why was the barn still standing? Why weren’t stars crashing around them outside? Why was he still here?
“She was my best friend.”
A tear fell from the brown eyes that looked at him, slowly making its way down the recently shaved cheek.
Travis always got angry when someone outside the family cried about Shannon. Sure everyone had loved her. But she’d been his. She’d been the kids’. No one else’s.
He felt a tear tracing a path down his own stubbled cheek, or maybe it was just a ghost tracing the path he saw on the other man’s face.
“She gave me Dunkyn.”
They stood less than two feet apart, the modernized barn bright around them and the glow of the house Shannon had redesigned visible through the wide doorway of the barn.
The roosting chickens were tucked away for the night. A herd of red Limousin cattle was sleeping in the tree-speckled field.
The early November evening wind swirled the browning leaves. A grave with a smoothed-out moniker lay at peace across town. Whispers soothed, just out of earshot. Two more tears fell.
The stars remained in their places. The barn stood strong. Four-year-old promises came due.
“You made Caleb laugh.”
Wesley didn’t respond, the shift from mother to son too abrupt to follow.
“He laughs, of course. With Wendy. With the kids. Sometimes with me. But he sounds like a man when he laughs. Like a man who has to hold his family together. Who lost his innocence too long ago.” Travis couldn’t deny the tear that fell this time was his. It was definitely his. “He laughed like a child tonight. I heard my boy laugh. It sounded like hope, like he might believe there is more for him than just the twins and this town. More than opossums in the chicken coop. More than his fucked-up father.”
Travis grabbed both of Wesley’s arms, squeezing his shoulders so tight it probably hurt.
Wesley didn’t flinch; nor was he startled. He just looked into Travis’s eyes.
Travis held him still. He didn’t inspect Wesley’s face, didn’t let his gaze wander over the man’s body, didn’t ask for permission—neither Wesley’s nor his own.
He pulled Wesley to him, one hand traveling up Wesley’s shoulder and around the back of his neck, pulling the man’s face nearer.
Travis felt Wesley flinch when their lips met, but only for a moment before he gave in.
There wasn’t electricity or fire. Only pressure and warmth. He held Wesley there, their lips pressed together.
Wesley’s fingers grazed over Travis’s shoulders, touching, darting away, then returning. They slid up his neck, and then a hand held his cheek. Fingers long and smooth and strong rested on either side of his ear. A warm palm pressed against his stubble.
A groan broke the silence. It sounded of surprise and sadness. It sounded of relief. It was gone before Travis realized it had come from him.
The hand still held his face while an arm passed over his shoulder and down his back, pulling Travis closer.
At the pressure of Wesley’s body against his, Travis released his hold on Wesley’s neck and shoulders, wrapping his arms around the other man’s back, crushing Wesley to him.
Then the kiss was more than pressure. More than warmth.
They pressed up against the planks of the trough.
Another groan. Maybe more than one.
Travis felt his own strength as he held Wesley’s hard body to him, and was surprised at the power of the arms that encircled him.
For just a moment, Travis’s eyes flitted open, as if he had to be convinced this was real and not another delusional dream. It was real. And though he could hear her whisper, it was not Shannon kissing him back. He’d known it wasn’t, hadn’t expected it to be.
He let his eyes close again. He didn’t pull away as he felt himself harden against the other man. Against Wesley.
Wesley’s lips parted, and Travis let his tongue caress the opening before deepening into the kiss.
His fingers sank into soft hair, short at the base but longer as his hand rose on the back of Wesley’s head, desperately pulling him closer.
The barn continued to stand. They kissed.
Maybe a few stars fell.