Bria: Behind the Scenes
Bria Wheeler joined the One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) team in early December. Recently, I (Tineke) went on a road trip with Bria to the St. Louis home education fair, and I discovered that Bria is not only kind and a great coworker (which I knew) but also a fabulous and very interesting person. We feel it is about time you all get to know her a little too.
The first cool thing about Bria is that she has a secret OYAN identity: as “Brianna Fischer.” She was one of the “guinea pigs” in Mr. S.’s OYAN pilot class, along with Rachel Garner, another member of the OYAN team. When she married into the Wheeler family, who have a Brianna of their own, she decided to go by “Bria.”
We asked her questions—some serious, some whimsical—and here are her replies:
What is your favorite memory from taking the first live OYAN class?
Okay, that’s hard! I remember there was this light-bulb moment one day in class, when Mr. S. described a scene to us, and then asked us what we pictured or felt when we viewed that scene in our mind’s eye. Most of us said the general “sunny,” “bright,” “hot,” “windy,” etc. But one person said something like “I see a bent-over old lady in a patched skirt pulling a cart full of pumpkins.” Mr. S. then revealed that a specific, detailed picture like that was exactly the kind of thing that made for excellent writing. You could just feel that “ah-ha” moment striking all the students—it was really cool.
What are the top three ways OYAN has impacted you?
I’m not as critical of my own ideas anymore—OYAN has really helped me want to stop and give them a chance at being part of a story instead of discounting them as not worthwhile and casting them aside. I will play with them for a little while and see where they take me.
I’ve also come to realize how necessary good writers are out there. OYAN taught me how to take apart a story and see what makes it good; now that I can recognize good work, I realize there is really a lack of quality writing and storytelling out there. You can find it, but it’s harder than you’d think! I’m really excited to start seeing fellow OYAN students’ work being published. I know they’re going to help fill that gap. 🙂
I also met my best friend through OYAN—that was massively impactful!
Do you still have writing plans, and if so, how would you define them today?
I have several story ideas right now, and would love to flesh those out as soon as I can. I am also finding that I really enjoy editing other people’s writing, and I wonder if that may go somewhere eventually.
You got married recently—October, right? How did you meet your husband?
We met at a church when I was 7 and he was 11. I remember him being very kind, which was odd because boys that age weren’t often kind to girls my age. We didn’t see each other again until 8 years later, and I recognized him at a mutual friend’s house. He contacted me something like a year later, when he remembered me too. We were then good friends for several years before we started dating—the rest is history!
What was your favorite thing about your wedding?
Let me preface this by saying I can be rather shy, so, growing up, the thought of my wedding day utterly terrified me. I had always wanted to get married, but the thought of being up in front of people (not to mention kissing my husband in front of them!) was rather nerve-wracking. My favorite part was that all day I wasn’t plagued by that nervousness I’d had for so long. I was able to thoroughly enjoy my wedding day; walking down the aisle with my dad, exchanging vows with my sweet husband, and rejoicing with friends and family—without any hint of anxiety about all the attention. It was rather miraculous, and I was so thankful!
How would you describe yourself to someone who does not know you?
I’m likely caffeinated, introverted, interested, distractible, and easily enthused by embarrassingly nerdy things.
You are very interested in the field of linguistics; can you share what appeals to you about this field?
I have always been fascinated with language and the power words have. I am also that kid in class who, when introduced to a new vocabulary word, will either immediately ask or at least wonder, “Where did that word come from?”—The history and evolution of words and language is thrilling to me.
I like linguistics because it breaks down the words and the mechanisms behind language, also delving into the science of processing language and acquiring language (whether as a child, or a second language learner, etc.).
Is there a particular experience in your life that inspired you to pursue linguistics?
In high school, I took a Perspectives class that made me want to become a Bible translator—that’s probably where it started. Someone said I wanted to be a linguist in order to get that ball rolling. I then started helping teach ESL to Hispanic immigrants, which lead to my learning Spanish, and then I realized that through the lens of a different language, one sees the world differently. I wanted to figure out how to learn languages faster, and that solidified my desire to study linguistics.
What are some of your other interests?
I’m a major philosophy enthusiast. If you’re looking for me in a large bookstore, the philosophy section is probably where you will find me. I also read theology, poetry, and have recently been getting into science fiction.
Interior design, typography, all things music-related, and astronomy rank pretty highly as well.
What are the 10 books that have had the greatest impact on you as a person?
- One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp
- Death by Living, by N.D. Wilson
- The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
- The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer
- Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton
- Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg
- Alec Forbes, by George Macdonald
- The Silver Chair, by C.S. Lewis
- Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
- George Macdonald, by C.S. Lewis
Who is your favorite fictional character?
I can’t lie, that’s got to be The Doctor at this point.
Who is the most inspiring person you know in real life, and why?
The Buller family comes to mind (they may actually read this; that’s fun!). I met them at church, and they’ve since moved to Liberia love on people and children on the other side of the planet. I’ve loved reading their updates from a distance and seeing the amazing things God has been doing through their obedience—incredibly inspiring.
Who inspires you most in history?
Right now, that person would be Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
If an anonymous benefactor gave you $5,000 with the sole stipulation that you could not spend it on bills, loans, etc., what would you do with it?
I would get on a plane and go on a kind of ‘cathedral tour’ across Europe. I’ve developed this thing for enormous, stunningly beautiful cathedrals from my trips to South America and Italy, and I should very much like to show some of them to my husband.
What is the best present you ever received?
The year that my siblings and I received our tiny, black dachshund puppy for Christmas stands out. I was nine years old and had been begging my parents to get us a puppy for as far back as I can remember. I never thought they’d actually do it!
What is the best vacation you ever took?
The trip to Italy I mentioned was rather remarkable. I loved being in that foreign world, where each town had its own kind of Italian charm, where everybody spoke a different language, where my mind was overwhelmed with the incomprehensible abundance of art and history everywhere I looked. I viewed the world differently after that trip.
If you could become invisible, where would you go?
I would go walking (with headphones in) in the middle of the night. And I’d most likely go to a place with no street lights so I could do some proper star-gazing.
What are your most loved pair of shoes (now or past) and why?
I loved my first pair of converse shoes, literally, to pieces. They were navy blue, and I loved them because I could wear them with anything—and I did. I also loved them because there was a thing in my peer group back then with wearing converse and drinking coffee and playing guitars. I felt cooler than I really was because I did all those things (often all at once).
What do you do to relax?
If I’m relaxing to refocus, I’ll bring out my guitar, or I’ll go for a long walk or run. If my husband’s off work, we watch a murder mystery—or four (which is rather counter-productive, because those are quite stressful!)
Bria is not on Facebook, so if you would like to welcome her or comment on her replies, please use the comments section of this post!
I remember the moment about the pumpkins in class, too! I think it was Janice that said that. It was pretty cool.