Welcome to Brea Brown, author and fellow Chick Lit Goddess. Hi, Brea – thank you for crossing the pond to be on my blog. I hope you didn’t get too wet on the journey over. Come in, pull up a chair and tell us all about you and your writing while I make the coffee and get the biscuits.
Hello – and thanks, Lizzie for inviting me to First Person Singular! I’m Brea Brown, an indie author-publisher from the U.S. (more specifically, Springfield, Missouri, which is smack-dab in the center of the country)
If I’m being honest, I feel a bit awkward here, because one of my favorite quotes of all time is this one, by Lillian Hellman: “If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing.”
Oh, gosh. I’m about to be one of THOSE authors talking about myself. Nooooooo!!!! Lillian’s right, of course. The young writer has to find her own voice. He has to figure out his own system. She has to find what works for her, not for Stephen King, Jennifer Weiner, or that new phenom everyone’s talking about. That being said, readers tend to want to know this stuff. Sarah Houldcroft, a Goodreads Librarian and Virtual Assistant for authors, said so right here on this very blog. According to her, the most sought-out information by readers from authors is:
What inspired you to write your novel?
How, why and where do you write?
Have you experienced first-hand any of the aspects in your books?
If so, was [one of those people] you?
Since I recently released my eleventh novel, Let’s Be Real, the answers would vary for that first question, but I can fairly easily generalize about my writing process for the other four. How, why, and where do I write? This is my current “office” setup, against a wall in my bedroom.
It’s not the grand office-library I always imagined I’d have, but it actually works okay for me right now. I don’t need anything fancy, just relative quiet, my laptop, my reference books, and the Internet (for impromptu research and fact-checking… because everything on the Internet is true, right?). I write every morning, from 4:30 to 6:30, before getting the kiddos up for school and getting ready for my day job as an administrative assistant for an environmental consulting firm. On the weekends, I sometimes escape to a nearby coffee shop, but that requires wearing a bra and shoes, which is usually not worth the trouble. (Don’t underestimate my laziness.) I don’t set daily word count goals for myself, but I try to publish at least two books a year, which means I can’t mess around. A good, solid weekday writing session is about 1,500 to 2,000 words. When I have longer than a couple of hours at my disposal, I like to double that. But again, not all writing is word production, so if I really nail a certain description or a section of dialogue, or I spend most of that time gathering some excellent data through research, that also makes me happy. As for why I write… it’s just what I do. Like breathing. I love it. And I love sharing stories with people.
Have I experienced first-hand any of the things I put my characters through? Oh, yes. I regularly take things that have happened to me and inflict them on my imaginary friends. I recently contracted strep throat for the first time in my life. It was hell. You better believe I gave one of my characters in my current work in progress that nasty little illness while the trauma was still fresh in my mind. After all, you have to make those things worthwhile.
Do I base my characters on real people, including myself? Of course, I do. Are there any characters in my books based strictly on one person or myself? No. My characters are amalgamations of different personalities I’ve encountered over the years. I don’t write people I dislike into my books only to kill them off (although it’s fun to threaten that).
Most of the time, though, especially with protagonists, I start with a trait I can identify with, one that I can write convincingly (being Type A, for example), and I then add others that may be a bit more foreign to me (like being germophobic), to make things interesting. I’m generally more interested in getting inspiration for characters from watching strangers and wondering what their life is like, then running with my own version of their story. I try to avoid basing any character solely on someone I know, because if it winds up being a less-than-flattering portrayal, and that person recognizes himself or herself, things can get awkward. Plus, it’s a lot more fun to pick and choose traits and make original characters.
If you’d like to explore the products of my process (a.k.a., my books), check out my website. You can also connect with me on social media at the links below. Please say hi if you stop by!
Brea Brown lives in Springfield, Missouri, with her husband and three sons, but her international support network stretches as far as Australia. She’s an administrative assistant at an environmental consulting firm for forty hours a week and a writer all the other waking hours of the week not taken up by motherhood, wifedom, reading, and watching cheesy TV shows like Sleepy Hollow. (That leaves a surprisingly large number of hours, believe it or not.) Her published novels are Daydreamer, The Secret Keeper, The Secret Keeper Confined, The Secret Keeper Up All Night, The Secret Keeper Holds On, The Secret Keeper Lets Go, The Secret Keeper Fulfilled, Plain Jayne,Quiet, Please! Let’s Be Frank, Let’s Be Real. Her twelfth book, Out of My League, is set for a Fall 2015 release.