August 13 – Marilyn Brant

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month!

While I read romance all year long, August is the month we celebrate romantic fiction! Come back every day to read the fun author Q&As – calendar here –  and each weekday in August, we’ll also have an author guest hosting the Romance of Reading FB page. Today Marilyn Brant is doing both the Q&A and the author takeover.

This year is significantly smaller in scale. If you’re interested, you can read about some of the reasons why here. It’s been a crazy year, and a complicated few months.

Happy August. Isn’t life better with #ATouchofRomance?! xo

2018 RARM Questions:

 

Why do you write books? 

Books—novels especially—were my closest companions when I was younger. Libraries were absolutely magical places to me. So many stories! Stacks upon stacks of them! I remember being in second grade, spinning in one of the aisles like Fraulein Maria from The Sound of Music, arms outstretched toward all of those books, wishing I wouldn’t ever have to leave. Through the novels I read in elementary school and onward, I was introduced to characters who revealed their unique perspectives to me, taught me new ways to evaluate the world, made me laugh and think deeply, and shared with me their relationship and travel adventures long before I could embark on similar journeys myself. I write books in hopes of giving just a little bit of that magic back. Hoping I might entertain another person for a few moments or connect my thoughts with someone else’s the way so many authors did for me by reaching out through the pages of their novels and graciously assuring me I wasn’t alone.

 

What do you consider to be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

My son would roll his eyes if he read this, but it’s becoming a mother. Hands down. In my opinion, all parenting choices take courage and a tremendous leap of faith. We had no idea when our son was born what gifts or struggles our baby would have, what his personality or his interests would be like, or what the future might have in store for him, his peers, and the world they inhabit. He’s a thoughtful young man, almost in his twenties now, yet my heart still follows him whenever he walks out the door, whispering, “Please be safe out there.” He, in turn, is forever shrugging and saying kindly, “Mom, you worry too much.” Yeah, well…

 

Tell us why you write romances or include strong romantic elements in your books?

There was never a time in my life when I didn’t want a love story to have a happy ending. Of course not all relationship stories are tales with a happily ever after (who else read/watched Anna Karenina or Love Story?), but all romance novels end on a happy and hopeful note, and that’s what I wanted for my characters, for my readers, and for me!

 

Tell us about a romantic moment in your life. (Either romantic love, or romantic sensibility.

My husband, who’s a world history teacher, was as much of an insatiable traveler when we met as I was. We both wanted to see the world’s famous sites but, until we were self-supporting adults, we’d been limited in our travels. The summer after we got engaged (over 25 years ago!), we backpacked through Europe together, and I’ll never forget the first time we saw Venice. I’d been daydreaming about visiting this Italian city since I was in 6th grade, and as we rounded the bend of the Grand Canal in the vaparetto/water bus and I saw San Marco’s Square, I literally gasped. It was so beautiful and looked just like the pictures. Just like I’d imagined it. I couldn’t believe we were finally right in the middle of it… My husband-to-be, who knew how much getting to see it meant to me, reached for my hand as we gazed out at the canal and the ancient buildings. He kissed me lightly and said, “Honey, we’re here.”

 

If you could tell your younger self anything (either as a writer or as a woman) what would it be?

Ahhh. I’d tell my younger self (both the woman and the writer) that while we all have a lot to learn in life, criticism tends to be valuable only when it’s truly constructive. That I should trust my instincts about which comments are genuinely constructive criticisms—intended to be helpful and point the recipient in the right direction—versus mean-spirited remarks that may be hiding someone else’s agenda.

 

Tell us something you uncovered in research that fascinated you.

Travel tours and road trips have been a source of writing research and inspiration for me even before I realized I was novelist. I learned all kinds of interesting things during our European adventures that I later included in my romantic women’s fiction book, A Summer in Europe, which is kind of a modern day A Room with a View. And I specifically made my husband and our son take a Route 66 road trip with me when I was writing The Road to You (a romantic YA mystery) because I figured there would be serendipitous discoveries along the way that would help inform the story. And oh, boy, was there ever! It’s one thing to read about a place and study the pictures online, it’s altogether another to get to wander around the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma and get the true sense of the atmosphere. Or spray paint a few words on a car at Amarillo, Texas‘s famous Cadillac Ranch, which I later had my book characters do. The details became a part of me, made me delve even further into the history of the Mother Road and, ultimately, found their way into the story in ways too numerous to count.

For anyone who’d like to see photos, I have travel pictures from both the grand European tour  –   here  –  and the Route 66 road trip  –  here  –   on my website!

 

How do you handle the voices in your head competing for their story to be written? (Thanks Eileen!)  

Love this question! My debut novel, According to Jane, has the spirit of Jane Austen living in the head of the main character, offering her dating advice. When I wrote this manuscript, it was a bit of a comedic nod to the “voice in the author’s head” concept—although, instead of me needing to deal with a persistent, frequently interrupting voice, it was my heroine, Ellie, who had this problem. It started to get to be a little “meta” for me, though, while I was writing…imagining Jane’s voice in Ellie’s head and both of them arguing and invading my thoughts. I needed to put a stop to it, LOL. In writing subsequent novels, I’ve preferred to think of the narration like watching a movie on DVD, and giving myself the ability to pause it mid-scene whenever I had to deal with some real life situation. If the characters from my current book (or one I have yet to write) feel the need to jabber at me, I’m compelled to take back some of the power, put them on hold, and not feel remotely guilty about it. Because sometimes, you know, you just have to take a break and make dinner.

 

If you could live for a month somewhere (either in the present or past) where (and when, if applicable) would it be? Why?

Reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a high-school freshman changed my life, so I’ve imagined living in Jane’s Regency England with some frequency over the years. However, I’m also a big fan of modern plumbing and antibiotics, so it’s possible that a month in, say, 1813 London might be pushing it… If I got to attend fancy balls, wear beautiful gowns, and meet a few dashing Darcy-esque gentlemen, though, this may be inducement enough.

 

What is (one of) the most remarkable/inspiring things that has happened to you as a reader or writer?

As a reader, I cherish every one of those incredible moments when I come across a passage in a novel and it reflects exactly some thought or feeling I’d had but never expressed. I’m so grateful for that gift. And, as a writer, it’s been gratifying and indescribably rewarding when readers have let me know that one of my stories did that for them. There was one time when a reader told me that one of my romantic women’s fiction books helped her mend her marriage. There are many reasons why I’m glad I wrote that novel but, to me, it was worth it just for that comment!

 

Marilyn recommends:

For wonderful contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and women’s fiction, I really enjoy reading all three of these talented authors:

 

Laura Moore  –   lauramoorebooks.com   –  @Amazon

 

Katie Oliver  –   katieoliver.com     –   @Amazon

 

Pamela Hearon  –   www.pamelahearon.com   –   @Amazon

 


Marilyn Brant is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy and mystery. She’s written twenty novels and novellas to date. Her debut book, According to Jane, won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award (2007), and she was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. Most recently, she competed the “Mirabelle Harbor” series—sexy contemporary romances set in the northern Chicago suburbs on the sparkling shores of Lake Michigan—and one of her short stories, “When Life Imitates Art,” was included in RWA’s latest anthology, Second Chances.

Marilyn loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato.

For book updates, news and events, please visit her website: www.marilynbrant.com

 

Buy Marilyn’s books:

availableon-amazon         availableon-nook      availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!

 

Authors on The Romance of Reading page:

1   –   Jeannie Moon           💜         2   –   Lenora Bell

3  –    Nancy Herkness       💜         6   –   Kimberli A. Bindschatel

7   –  Cathy Maxwell            💜         8   –   Amelia Grey

9  –  Liz Talley                     💜         10  –  Dylann Crush

13  –  Marilyn Brant             💜         14  –  Sharla Lovelace

15  –  Sally MacKenzie        💜         16  –  Regina Kyle

17  –  Mimi Milan                 💜          20  –  Christine Nolfi

21  –  Susie Orman Schnall  💜       22  –  Caroline Linden

(more to come…)