Please join me in welcoming Marilyn Brant, one of my favorite authors (and good friend!) to the blog. Her fabulous new book A Summer In Europe just hit shelves and she was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions.
Tell us about your latest book.
Thanks so much for inviting me to visit, Maggie! My new novel is called A SUMMER IN EUROPE. It’s a story about a woman who’s given a five-week-long European trip for her 30th birthday as a gift from her eccentric aunt (and the wild senior citizens in her aunt’s Sudoku and Mahjongg club…). At first she’s hesitant to leave the familiar behind for the summer, but she chooses to go. As a result, a new world of experience opens up to her, and she finds she has to really examine her life and the direction it’s going based on what she learns abroad.
What pulled you into this story, and as a writer made you think ‘I have to write this’?
A SUMMER IN EUROPE is, in many ways, a modern version of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. I loved both the book and also the film with Helena Bonham Carter as the young woman who’s transformed by her experiences abroad. With that theme in mind, and having personally experienced the power of foreign travel to literally change one’s worldview, I was passionately excited about getting to show that change in action. I also wanted to create a unique and fun-loving group of fellow travelers to accompany my heroine on her European explorations. Her aunt’s Sudoku and Mahjongg Club fit the bill perfectly, and it also gave me a chance to bring a math/science element into a trip that is very humanities based. A love of music and theater, along with a growing appreciation for history and art, help draw my heroine out of her shell, and the British physicist she meets shows her how to connect the arts with her day-to-day life and the physical world…something she needs to learn so she can live more fully in it.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I don’t have regimented hours set aside to always do one task or another, but I work on writing or promotional things for most of every work day — pretty much from when my son leaves on the bus for school until he comes back home. Then, after dinner, I often do some online tasks. When I’m approaching a deadline or when a book is just about to be released, I work well into the night also. There are a great many business-related aspects to being a novelist that many aspiring writers don’t realize until after they’ve sold their first book. Those things (like designing/buying ads, doing guest blogs, giving phone interviews, preparing presentations, logging expenses for tax records, etc.) definitely cut into the time we’re able to spend on actually writing our next novel or getting the final copy edits done for a book that’s soon to come out. I try to make sure I’m getting in a little creative writing time each day, but sometimes the other sides of the career take over.
How do you promote your books? Are you going on tour for this book?
I’m doing an online blog tour for the book, but I’m going about it a little differently this time. I’m in the midst of a “Virtual European Grand Tour” right now, which is a blogging tour about the novel, geared toward travel lovers. I’ve set up visits with about 15 blogs and am sharing pictures and stories from a different European city on each site — all of which are places my heroine visited in the course of the novel. Sometimes I’ll tell a little about what I loved from the site; other times the focus of the post is on how I used a real experience I had in that city to help write a scene in the story. It’s been a lot of fun, and I have the itinerary up on my website, if anyone wants to journey along with me: http://www.marilynbrant.com.
What do you love about being an author?
Getting to do something creative every single day. Truly, that’s been such a gift. Even when the plotting of a scene is giving me fits or the synopsis doesn’t seem to make sense at all…I love knowing that I have a place to play with these characters and storylines. My hope is that by writing about women’s dreams and experiences as honestly as possible, I might get closer to helping readers recognize truths about their own lives. It was this sense of “recognition” that my favorite novelists gave to me.
What’s next for you?
I enjoy writing in the romantic comedy genre as well as in women’s fiction. This past year, I chose to release two of my romances — ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAE and DOUBLE DIPPING — on ebook, and it’s been an interesting and often exciting experience. I have several completed, never-before-published novels that are in the process of being revised and edited, and I’ll be working on getting one, possibly two, of those novels ready for digital release in 2012. I’m also working on a completely different fiction project in a genre that’s new to me. I’m about 100 pages into it, and that’s a story my agent will be submitting to editors next year, fingers crossed… Hopefully, I’ll get to talk more about it soon!
Thank you, Marilyn. Congratulations on a great new book!