BIOGRAPHY: Author Marilyn Brant worked as an elementary school teacher, a library staff member, a freelance magazine writer and a national book reviewer before becoming a full-time novelist. According to Jane is her first novel, which won the prestigious 2007 RWA Golden Heart Award. Her next(, not yet titled,) novel is set for release in 2010. *** Marilyn resides in Illinois with her husband and son.
***We JUST agreed on the title! It’ll be called FRIDAYS AT NINE.
Thanks for being here, Marilyn. It’s a pleasure.
Kelly, thanks for having me! The pleasure is all mine.
#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…
Outside of writing, my life is rather quiet. I live in the suburbs, drive my son to his various lessons or practices, meet my friends for coffee every once in a while and occasionally drag myself to the gym for a much-needed workout. (I don’t go nearly as often as I should…) When I want to relax, I read, listen to music, play the piano or watch films or TV shows (like “Castle”) with my husband.
#2- We are both members of the ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA. What do you feel you have gained from the membership and would you recommend it to other aspiring romance authors?
My local RWA chapter, Chicago-North, is a fabulous critique chapter. I’ve gotten some excellent feedback on my manuscripts through the years and, better still, have had the benefit of listening to thoughtful critiques given by multi-published authors of other writers’ work. Over time and through participation, I became a much stronger critiquer, and it’s helped me to more easily see flaws in my own drafts. Plus, the industry news an aspiring writer has access to as member (at both the national and local levels) is priceless. Finally, in addition to all of that, the camaraderie of my fellow RWA members has been one of its greatest gifts. I met some of my best friends through the organization. So, a resounding YES, I would recommend RWA to anyone who writes any genre of romance, YA and women’s fiction with romantic elements.
#3- As you know, I reviewed your title ACCORDING TO JANE for Bookpleasures and loved it. But how do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?
This has been REALLY interesting! I’ll admit, it’s not easy to read a review where a reader absolutely hated every page of your book, your characters, your plotline and, quite likely, your very existence as an author--LOL! But I spent four years as a book reviewer myself. I know how subjective it is. To me, a review is much more a reflection on the reviewer’s beliefs, values, personal tastes than it is on the book in question. I had no way of controlling these values and tastes in myself when I was a reviewer, so I tried hard to focus on specific elements of writing craft in my reviews as a way of attempting to be fair and balanced (i.e., How well did the writer handle point of view? Were the characterizations believable? Did the dialogue flow naturally? Etc.). I also made sure I could find at least one area of strength and point that out. If a reviewer fails to do these things when reviewing my book--or anyone else’s--it’s hard to take his/her comments too seriously. Of course, I’d prefer it if EVERY reviewer responded as positively to my debut novel as you did, Kelly! You made the process very pleasant for me--thanks!
#4- ACCORDING TO JANE had an interesting plot where the ghost of Jane Austen speaks to the main character. How did you come up with the idea and make it plausible in a story?
Austen is my favorite author, hands down. When I first read Pride and Prejudice, I was so stunned by her acute perception of human behavior and the universality of her observations that I felt she was practically giving me advice across the generations already. I took that concept one step further and simply made that advice audible for my main character. As for the idea being “plausible” (or not) in the story, that’s something readers must decide! Are they willing to suspend their disbelief for 288 pages or aren’t they?
#5- You are a new published author. What was the publishing process like for you and was it what you expected?
Again, one of the gifts of being an RWA member is that I’ve had the opportunity to interact with multi-published authors for years and, as a result, have been able to observe firsthand their struggles meeting writing deadlines, seeing their editors switch houses, changing agents, getting rejected on option books and going through the publishing process as debut authors. I had no illusions about everything running smoothly and my life being instantaneously wonderful upon becoming published. I knew it was going to be a lot of work and I knew it would be a tremendous juggling act. It is! Perhaps the only thing that really surprised me was that the stresses were a bit more intense than I’d expected and the joys were even sweeter.
#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?
Yes! My next novel is called FRIDAYS AT NINE (we finally have a title!) and it’s a modern fairy tale: the story of three suburban moms who shake up their marriages and their lives when one of the women asks her friends a surprising question. Details about this book will be filtering in soon! It’ll be on the shelves in October 2010, and further information is on my website: www.marilynbrant.com
#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
Just that I appreciated your questions and your time, Kelly . It was fun being here with you, and I thank everyone who’s reading this. If you pick up ACCORDING TO JANE, I truly hope you’ll enjoy the story!