By Melissa Patafio
**Giveaway is now closed**
Josie Brown, author of “Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives” dishes up a heaping portion of sex, secrets, and scandals in her third novel. Not only is she the author of three successful novels, she also interviews celebrities and writes relationship articles which have appeared in Redbook and Complete Woman magazines as well as a number of websites.
Josie, a self-proclaimed lover of foreign films and linguini and clams in white sauce, graciously took the time to answer some of my questions. She is witty, warm, and generous and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her better. I am sure all of you will too! She is even giving away three signed copies of her book to some lucky readers in the US and Canada.
What is your usual writing routine?
I'm the ultimate plotter. Besides knowing a basic premise for my story, and figure out a middle and an end for it, Ithen plot out the core turning points that get me from the beginning to the end. Some of the middle is always the fuzziest, since characters have a way of taking things into their own hands (LOL!) but channeling their voices always keeps the plot churning...and that's the joy of writing novels.
If your book were being made into a movie, who would you like to see cast as the main characters?
Ideally, for Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, Julia Roberts would be Lyssa. An imperfect Ted would be Robert Downey Jr. Clive Owen would make a great Harry. And I could see Gwyneth Paltrow as DeeDee.
Do you ever suffer from writers block? If so, what are your personal remedies?
Ha! No, I have the opposite issue: too many plots, so little time! I'm always running into great book premises when I'm out and about, or when I read a juicy news item. And then it's a matter of thinking through the "what if's". You know, "What if this character did/said this? What if then the plot twists this way?" And always:" Is the ending satisfying?
Most of the mail I get from readers says "I didn't want your book to end..." That makes my day.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I'm hiking. In fact, when I'm walking, I'm usually plotting out my next chapter, or my next book. We live in a county that has the most national forest land near a metropolis (Marin, in California). The trails here are spectacular. There are several points where you can stand and see the city (San Francisco) and the bay, and the Pacific Ocean in a panoramic vista before you. Makes it hard to go on vacation when you feel you live somewhere so pretty.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
I started writing fiction the day I brought my first born, my son, home from the hospital. I was in the advertising industry (much later than Mad Men, but many of those stories ring SO TRUE), and I felt that now that I was someone's wife and someone's mom, I also wanted to be someone who let her creative side be her prime identity..
But with a new baby and all, that book was put in a drawer. It took several years (and a switch from advertising to freelance feature writing ) for me to get up the guts again to write a novel--but only after I'd written two non-fiction books (MARRIAGE CONFIDENTIAL: 102 HONEST ANSWERS EVERY WIFE WANTS TO KNOW, AND EVERY HUSBAND IS AFRAID TO ASK; and LAST NIGHT I DREAMT OF COSMOPOLITANS: A MODERN GIRL'S DREAM DICTIONARY). Then I asked my agent, "Would you look at some fiction I'm writing?" He said yes, and that book (TRUE HOLLYWOOD LIES--a story that came to me while I was interviewing celebrities and writing feature profiles) had three editors bidding on it. It was pitched on the first 50 pages (to demonstrate my fiction writing voice) and a 10-page synopsis.
How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
We went to my favorite sushi restaurant (Sushi Ran) with friends. I wanted to go to Paris, but hey, if you have to settle for less, at least the food was sublime.In fact, I'm going to London and Paris in October--three novels later! I'm finally making the time between my books. I've just turned in the next one (THE BABY PLANNER, out April 5, 2011), and I start another the minute I get back.
I read that aside from writing, you interview celebrities. Who has been your favorite celebrity to interview so far? Why?
I loved interviewing Kenneth Branagh. He was hella lotta fun! It was for a movie he both directed and starred in (HAMLET) and I wanted to ask him stuff no one else had thought of. Some questions centered on his directing process. Another was about the look he had cultivated for the movie. He had pumped up for the movie (the Danish prince did more than mope around Elsinore Castle) so I asked him if he'd be doing any Hollywood hardbody movies. That actually made him laugh. His answer: "If I get to wear a white leather breastplate all the time, I'd be happy....I do get asked to do action pictures--usually as the director, not to be the sweaty pectoral boy." That's may favorite soundbite of all time.
Where is your favorite place to vacation?
I love both the beach and the mountains. And I love warmth. Hana, Hawaii is a great combination of all three. For that matter, so is most of Hawaii. But ask me again in an month. Once I hit Paris and the French countryside, my opinion may be different...
Are you originally from California? If not, what brought you there?
I'm from Atlanta Georgia. I grew up in Decatur (they have a great book festival, fyi) and Kennesaw (where it's now the law that you have to carry a gun. Go figure. Well, at least the mountain is gorgeous!) My husband brought me out to San Francisco right before our honeymoon, and gave me my engagement ring on the Sausalito Ferry. We loved the area so much that it became our get-away place, whenever we could go. Then finally before our children were old enough for elementary school, we decided if ever we were to move, the timing couldn't be better. And we've never looked back.
How was the story of “Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives” inspired?
I thought of the premise a year or so prior to the recent recession, which happened to have downsized many "masters of the universe" business-type alpha guys. I wondered would would happen if in fact one such guy had made the decision to be a work-at-home dad, if only to hold onto his family and his home after his wife walked out on him. The idea was to have his story narrated through a female neighbor--and of course, she gets caught up in the story as well. Lots of sex, scandal, gossip, and adults behaving badly. In other words, a fun read!
Special thanks to Josie for this interview and for offering the books to give away.
How to win "Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Thursday, September 16th at midnight EST.