Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spotlight Author with New York Times Bestselling Author Sandra Brown

I am working on my six-month anniversary here at Micole Writes Romance! Those six months have been filled to the brim with happiness and many challenges both in writing career and life in general! By the time this blog posts, my family and I will have moved into a new home. Our first purchased home! ;-) Both exciting and scary! My oldest child will be graduating from high school within a couple of weeks and starting a new life. Again exciting and scary! With all of these new beginnings I feel a celebration is in order! I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the celebration than spotlighting one of my very favorite authors! She's beautiful, intelligent, kind, and such an inspiration. It is with great honor that I introduce my guest, Sandra Brown.

Let's get down to business...

Being an author comes with its fare share of joys and disappointments whether you are just starting or you have been in this business for many years. All of us need advice no matter where we are on this journey. What is the most valuable piece of advice that you have received through out your writing career that you would like to pass along to other authors out there?

The most valuable advice came to me from the editor, Alicia Condon. I was writing Intimate Moments for Silhouette. The trend at the time was humor. Writers were turning out very funny books. While I like to think that I have a funny line of dialog every now and then. I knew this wasn't my forte. I was writing about characters in strife! Worried that my books would be lost in the comic shuffle, I consulted Alicia about it. She said, "Keep doing what you do. It's what drew readers to you in the first place." So I've kept doing what I do. I've written historicals, contemporaries, thrillers, and something as different as RAINWATER, but with each book, I've tried to remain true to my "voice." A big mistake for a writer would be to follow a trend just for the sake of following it.

What do you enjoy most about being an author?

I enjoy most the storytelling process. My favorite day is one in which I can separate myself from the real world and spend hours of uninterrupted time with my characters. I love the make-believe! When I was a kid, my friends and I would say, "Play like..." And then fill in he blank. As a fiction writer I get to "play like" every day. What I like the least is having to deal with the business. It's a necessary evil, and I'm grateful that I have business to deal with! But it's not nearly as much fun as lying and playing God.

Every author that I have spoken to has their own writing process. Some spend weeks working on character building charts. Some use post it notes to plot their entire book. Others pull pictures from magazines and make a story board of sorts. Whats your writing process and how long would you say it takes when a new idea is sparked from sketching out the details to getting to THE END?

I start with an idea. I hasten to say that some ideas don't want to be books. Those ideas just sit there and go nowhere. For their lack of cooperation, I've had to cast aside some great ideas!

But when one starts to expand in my mind, I add to it, subtract from it, massage it, turn it this way and that. It's sort of like a combination lock: when all the tumblers are in place, it opens. that's what I call the "ah-ha" moment. That's when all the elements of the idea become a story. Up to that point, I've been taking handwritten notes. After the ah-ha moment, I go to the keyboard.

I don't do detailed character sketches because I don't know the characters yet. I have a rough idea of what each is like, what his or her goals are, and why it's going to be difficult for them to achieve those goals. But I prefer putting them inside the story, and letting them gradually introduce themselves to me--their strengths, weaknesses, traits, insecurities. I don't "cast" them like actors in a movie. I don't create them, so much as summon them. I feel like they are already there in my subconscious, waiting on me to find them. (You talk like this long enough and people think you're certifiable!)

At this stage, I also write a bullet point synopsis of the story, so that I (and my publisher) know basically what it's about and where it's ging. Again, I don't want to know every scene, because I like going to work everyday and waiting to see what will happen. Some of the best plot twists in my books weren't in the original synopsis.

After getting input from my editor on this outline (for lack of a better word), I write the first draft. I get the story on paper, so that it becomes official. This draft takes several months to write. When it's finished, I send it to my editor (usually with a heartfelt apology for how awful it is) and upon getting notes, I write a second draft.

This is the crafting draft, and it's as important as the first one, maybe more so. I rewrite just about every sentence, every word. I milk each scene for all it's worth. I check to see if all the scenes are engaged. Does that scene move the story along. or is it self-indulgent? Is it boring? Are the characters behaving realistically? This draft takes another several months.

The third draft is to check for pacing and make sure all the holes have been plugged. then the fourth draft is a read through--just in case I've missed something during the first three.

All of this takes a year.

Mrs. Brown, you have an amazing back list, one that I hope to have one day. Out of all of your books, which one would you say is your favorite?

I rarely answer this question, but I will tell you the ones that stand out in memory for one reason or another.

SLOW HEAT IN HEAVEN, because it was my "crossover" book. And I loved Cash Boudreaux
. The story was built around him.

THE TEXAS! Trilogy: LUCKY, CHASE, and SAGE., because they were such charming chracters, and I loved the time I spent with them. they were fascinating to watch. This was one of those instances when characters stepped into the spotlight inside my head and said, "Write about us."

ENVY because it's about a writer. it was one of the rare plots that came to me full-blown. All the elements were there in one afternoon. It was a writing challenge to weave the two storylines together, and I enjoyed that. I also loved the setting.

RAINWATER This story, these characters demanded that I write them. I had no choice. I simply loved them and everything about this book.

If you were a book, what your back cover blurb be?

Born in a small town in central Texas, Sandra Brown, enjoyed a happy childhood. She was a daydreamer and chronic reader. Her imagination was fed by books filled with romance, adventure, and mystery. But was imagination enough to see her dreams fulfilled? Bolstered by her one true love, Michael, she embarked on the adventure of her life. Armed with determination and a desire to tell stories, she reached toward a distant goal, only to discover that attaining one star opens up the pathway to many more - each littered with obstacles.

Wow! (tear, sniffle, tear) Mrs. Brown, I want to thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. It has been a great honor to have you here at Micole Writes Romance. I would also like to thank my friend Sarah Simas from The Lovestruck Novice blog, who so graciously let me borrow that back cover blurb question. ;-)

This interview a teaser. If you would like to find out more information about New York Times Bestselling Author, Sandra Brown you can find her on the web at

Thanks for stopping by. We love to hear comments and questions. See you next time friends.




Sarah Simas said...

HI Sandra!

Wonderful to see you here at MWR! I really enjoyed your interview. My favorite part was seeing the process one of your books goes through from start to finish. Amazing! As an aspiring author getting a peek at the other side of the coin is truly a gift! Thanks!

Best wishes for tons of success! :)

Heya, Micole! Great job! ((hugs!!))

Micole Black said...

Thank you Sarah! And thanks for letting me steal one of your questions for the interview!;-) I owe you! ;-0



Melissa Mayhue said...

Great interview...I loved your comment about staying true to your own voice!!

~ Melissa

Donna O'Brien said...

Loved the comment about how your characters are summoned...and I didn't think it was certifiable. In fact, I found it intriguing and very much related to having characters "tell" you about themselves. LOL

Love your books and appreciate you taking the time to share some of your advice with us.

Great interview Micole!!


Donna O'Brien