Fiction Fest: Up close and personal with Braden Bell, author of ‘Luminescence’

Braden BellHis students know him as Mr. Bell. Members of his church’s local congregations know him as President Bell. His kids know him as Dad and his wife knows him as Hey You–but in a loving way. While you might not know him personally, chances are you’ve heard of his Middle School Magic series, especially if you’re a fan of juvenile fiction.

Braden Bell’s “Luminescence” is the final book in this trilogy and was released on March 11. You can get your copy in bookstores and from online retailers.

In the meantime, let’s get to know Bell a little better.

Now that you’re done with the Middle School Magic series, what’s next?

I’m working on two things. One is a YA paranormal book inspired by the hollows and forests of Tennessee. I hope to start querying agents on it this summer. The other project is non-fiction. I’ve had a lot of requests over the years to turn my “Middle School Monday” blog posts into a book, and I’m hoping to do that over the next few months.

Luminscence 2x3 WEB
‘Luminescence’ is Book 3 in the Middle School Magic series.

Have any of your students, family members, or colleagues been the inspiration for characters in your books?

That’s a good question. It’s funny because there were two colleagues who inspired Madame Cumberland and Mrs. Grant. However, once I started writing, these characters took on their own personalities very quickly and ended up being different than I’d initially imagined. The three main kids were initially suggested by three students, but that also changed very quickly, and they ended up being their own people.

If you weren’t a teacher/novelist, what would you be doing for a living?

Wow. Good question. Probably a psychologist/counselor.

Who would you want to score the motion picture versions of the Middle School Magic series?

John Williams.

J.K. Rowling recently went public with her wish that she had done the romantic relationship dynamics of Harry Potter differently. What aspect of Middle School Magic do you with you had done differently?

'Penumbras' is Book 2 in the Middle School Magic series.
‘Penumbras’ is Book 2 in the Middle School Magic series.

There is not a lot about the big picture I’d change. However, I’ve grown a lot as a writer, and I would like to tighten the pacing in “The Kindling.” The other thing is that there is always more than word count will allow–there are some things I wish could have been included that we didn’t have room for.

What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

Finding time. Also, I’m not very good at grammar. I’m trying to study and learn, but for that reason, I find proofing and line editing difficult.

How did you propose to your wife?

Sort of a long story, but here goes. We’d talked about the possibility of getting married a few times, and I’d told her I thought it was going in that direction, but I didn’t quite think we were ready. I said, “It’s sort of like baking cookies–you have to let them get them cook all the way. I think they’re baking nicely, but not quite ready.”

One night we were talking outside of her residence hall at BYU. We’d had a nice night hanging out with head residents in their apartment and I found myself thinking a lot about having a family like that. In a rush, I decided to ask her to marry me. Right then, the outside light above us made a weird buzzing sound. I said something like, “Do you hear that buzzing. It almost sounds like what you hear when the cookies are done.”

I got down on one knee and asked her. Twenty-one years later, it’s easily the best decision I’ve ever made.

'The Kindling' is Book 1 in the Middle School Magic series.
‘The Kindling’ is Book 1 in the Middle School Magic series.

Which authors have had the most influence on your writing style?

I have such a hard time answering that because I’m not consciously following anyone. But I read all the time and I know I’m absorbing things from everyone I read. I love the way Dickens characterizes his characters, and I have tried to learn from him.

Who would you want to play you in the movie of your life?

Jimmy Stewart.

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke!

Ed. Note: Really? Coke?