Monday, September 27, 2010

Interview with Marilyn Brant and book giveaway



**Giveaway is now closed**

Marilyn Brant is a former teacher, library staff member, freelance magazine writer and national book reviewer. She is also the author of "According to Jane" and "Friday Mornings at Nine," which is being released tomorrow at book stores. Marilyn has traveled to 45 states and over 30 countries and now lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family. On Sunday, she will be participating in Wine, Wit and Lit along with Susan McBride and seven other authors. I had hoped to meet her in person during my trip to Illinois this past summer, but our schedules didn't connect. I have enjoyed e-mailing with her over the past few months and have had fun getting to know her through this interview. After you're done reading this and still want to learn even more about her, check out her blog, Brant Flakes. Marilyn has also been kind enough to give away one ARC of "Friday Mornings at Nine" to a lucky reader in the US or Canada.

What is the first thing you did the first time you got published?
On release day, we raced over to our neighborhood Borders to look at my debut novel, According to Jane, on the actual bookstore shelves. I took about a dozen photos: Of my husband and son with the book. Of friends (who stopped by to look, too) with the book. Of me with the book. Of the bookstore staff with the book. Of the book on its own... Then, of course, we celebrated with ice cream!

What is the inspiration behind "Friday Mornings at Nine?"
I've talked with a lot of women about their marriages -- and, in some cases, about their affairs. Sometimes these revelations came in the form of random comments thrown out unexpectedly. Other times they were a part of well thought out discussions about whether the women in question should or shouldn't stay married. I met my husband 20 years ago and we've been married for almost 18 of those years. I consider us to be happy, but I don't know anyone who's been married that long who hasn't experienced some ups and downs. I think the fortunate couples are the ones who keep choosing to be together and work on their relationships despite all of those years and the inevitable changes. Of course, it takes both people to do that, and it also takes a lot of time and effort. The individuals involved have to want to get to know these people they married (who may be different creatures than the ones they met a decade or more before), and they need to really pay attention to their own needs and desires, too. Sometimes, in the process of that kind of deep analysis, it turns out there was a profound disconnect somewhere along the line. In some cases, it's possible to reconnect. In others, not so much. So, essentially, I wanted to write a story about three women who have marital disconnects to some degree that makes them wonder what would have happened if they'd chosen differently. Then I wanted them to finally take the time to examine their lives so they could choose mindfully where to head next.

Who is your mentor?
Once I'd already written my first novel and entered the writing community, I was fortunate to meet lots of wonderful authors, many of whom helped and supported me through the business side of the industry and others who were excellent critique partners. I've never had a writing mentor for fiction, though, much as I would’ve loved one. I did have a few very encouraging teachers in high school and college, however -- my university English professor, Dr. Raymond Schoen, being one of them. I'll never forget Dr. Schoen advising me one afternoon with a phrase from Hamlet, “to thine ownself be true.” He also reminded me that “writers write.” He shared with me some of his personal poetry (I didn’t really understand it, but I appreciated his willingness to tell me about it and explain his own struggles over the lines) and, best of all, he possessed this amazing confidence that I would somehow, miraculously, figure out my life, especially once I stopped listening to “that nonsense from other people” -- LOL. As someone who wasn’t even 20 when I first met him, he seemed to require of me near-impossible bravery. But, when I’d pop in to visit him, I always knew I was in the presence of someone not only much older, but also far wiser than I. We kept in touch for many years, but he died in 2007 before I could tell him about my debut novel. I have no doubt he would’ve been pleased. though.

Did you run into any challenges or roadblocks while writing "Friday Mornings...?" How did you overcome them?
There were the usual writing challenges -- especially that pervasive author fear that I'd never finish it or it wouldn't make sense to anyone but me, etc. -- but the only really big hurdle was in trying to tell this story the way I'd wanted it to be told. I've read and enjoyed novels where thoughts of infidelity were contained to one woman's perspective and they were these really intimate, deeply personal portrayals. With "Friday Mornings at Nine," I wanted to feature three individual women but, also, show the group of friends as almost a 4th character. In fact, in my earliest draft, I even wrote the first chapter as "we" and "our" instead of "they" and "them" (i.e., "We met on Friday mornings at nine because that was when..." etc.). In the end, I decided to write those group chapters with more of a traveling 3rd person/omniscent point of view, but I hope it still gets across that, in a way, the group of friends are an entity onto itself.

If "Friday Mornings...." was made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
Hmm... I imagine someone like Kate Winslet for Bridget, Calista Flockhart for Jennifer and Kim Cattrall for Tamara. In any case, it's a cast I'd love to see together!

Is your relationship with your friends similar to or different from the relationship between the women in "Friday Mornings...?"
For the most part, it's different...and thank goodness! While my friends and I often get together for coffee to talk about our lives, just like the women in the book, the friends in Friday Mornings at Nine have a few things to learn, not only about each other but about themselves. (Big time!) I think they make a fair bit of progress during the course of the novel, but I also think it's pretty clear that it's difficult to be a good friend -- or a good spouse, for that matter -- if you're not examining your needs and your motivations with a clear eye. I've certainly been in group situations with other women where there were secrets and hidden agendas. Where the people involved still had so much personal stuff to work out that they couldn't be honest -- even with themselves -- about who they were and what they wanted out of their lives. By contrast, my friends and I, while we're hardly Zen-like creatures of calm and poise (although I can hear one friend saying, "What?! I am too Zen-like!"), we tend to be pretty straightforward with each other. We have varying levels of comfort when it comes to revealing deeply personal information, and our personalities are different, too, but we also know each other well enough by now to trust that we have each others' best interests at heart. That none of us would do anything intentional that might hurt another. That sort of trust allows for a great deal of candidness in our conversations. And while we spend FAR more time talking about baked goods than about any subject someone might consider racy (it's the truth -- talk of hot, muscular guys sadly takes a backseat to discussions about caramel brownies), I'm so grateful to them for being people who know the over-analytical geeky girl that I am and still want to spend so much time with me.

Do you have any future books in the works?
Yes! I just finished my 3rd novel, which will be out next fall. The title is still being debated, but it's kind of a modern "A Room with a View" story. This woman gets a summer trip to Europe as a 30th birthday gift from her eccentric aunt and, so, leaves her comfort zone to travel from Italy to England with the members of her aunt's Sudoku and Mah-jongg club. There, she inevitably meets someone very interesting (mmm!) and eats a lot of gelato and linguini (mmm, again!). And I just want to emphasize right here and now that the inclusion of these food items was *absolutely necessary* to the plot. MAJOR turning points happened as a result of my heroine devouring these things. And the fact that I had to eat them while I was writing these KEY scenes was equally necessary...so I could get, you know, the tastes and textures just right. I'm all about the authenticity. *grin*

What movie do you think everyone should see at least once in their lives?
You mean aside from the Colin Firth-as-Darcy version of Pride and Prejudice?! Hmm. I'd say The Scarlet Pimpernel (Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour version). It's got French Revolutionary history. It's got British guys in those very attractive tight pants, fitted jackets and cravats. It's got Anthony-as-Sir Percy saying things like, "Sink me, my dear. Did you expect me to challenge the Countess to a duel?" Oh!! And then there's the contemporary classic When Harry Met Sally -- a hilarious and brilliant film. Everyone should see all 3 of these.

If you were to take someone on a tour of your town, what would be the must-see places?
Okay, first, the gelato place. Yum. The owner is from Italy and they make homemade gelato there. Yes, really! Every flavor is great (I've conducted a thorough sampling), but the chocolate-peanut butter is beyond amazing. Then the library. (I love libraries anyway, but I'm biased on this one because I used to work there.) There's a martini and wine bar nearby, which is fun to visit. Tasty appetizers. My very favorite coffee place in town is no longer open...sigh. I actually teared up in the middle of the street when they closed it but, fortunately, we've found other good coffee haunts. We have an open protected wilderness area that's lovely, with a walking path all around it. And did I mention there was a gelato shop?

Aside from writing, what is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I love reading, but that goes hand in hand with writing. So, it would have to be traveling. Something as simple as a family road trip for a weekend is wonderful, although it's been years since I've been in Europe. I'd love to show my son a few sites there. And I know my husband, who's a world history teacher, would enjoy going back, too.

Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Melissa! It was such fun to visit!!

And thank you, Marilyn, for a fun interview and for providing the book for our giveaway!


How to win "Friday Mornings at Nine":
Please comment below with your e-mail address.
(Please note: Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted.)

For additional entries (each as a separate comment including your e-mail address, as well):
1. Please tell us: What movie should everyone see at least once in their life?
2. Marilyn Brant is a fan of 70's and 80's music. Please tell us: What is your favorite song from either the 70's or 80's? (Or both?)
3. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
4. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
5. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends Sunday, October 3rd, at midnight EST.

80 comments:

Jonita said...

I'd love a chance to win this one. I'm a firm believer in the fact that every marriage takes work, and it saddens me that so many people throw in the towel without giving the marriage one last effort first!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

Hmmm....everyone should see "Hackers" with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Lee Miller at least once. It's a 90's classic!

Jonita said...

GFC follower.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

Facebook fan!

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Jonita said...

This contest is posted on my blog at http://book-chic.blogspot.com.

jonitathebookchick(at)gmail(dot)com

Inspired Kathy said...

I'd like to win this.
bkhabel at gmail dot com

Inspired Kathy said...

I follow this blog. bkhabel at gmail dot com

Inspired Kathy said...

Everyone should watch The Sound of Music at least once. bkhabel at gmail dot com

Inspired Kathy said...

FB follower.
bkhabel at gmail dot com

Marilyn Brant said...

*waving*
Just wanted to say thanks to Melissa for hosting me here today (!!) and hello to Jonita and Inspired Kathy for visiting ;). Best wishes for a wonderful week!

Wanda said...

I'd love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Wanda said...

An old movie I'd recommend is Casablanca.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Wanda said...

I like Dance the Night Away by Van Halen from the 70s.
Dance the Night Away - Van Halen

Wanda said...

I am a follower of your blog through Google Friend Connect.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Wanda said...

I tweeted!
http://twitter.com/lemonslippers/status/25701345637
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Wanda said...

I am a member of Chick Lit Central on Facebook.
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, ladies (although everyone ought to see Slapshot at least once).

I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Marilyn, if you'd like us to help with any other promo, drop us a note!

Edie Ramer said...

No need to enter me, as I won an ARC already, and loved the book! I'd put When Harry Met Sally as a must see film.

Anonymous said...

I think that all marriages require work but also I believe that both partners in marriage must work together. It cannot be one sided.


CarolNwONG(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

"Bridge over Troubled Waters" is a song that is special to me.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Yes, I follow this blog with GFC.


CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I am a long time fan of this blog on FB.


CarolNWong(at)aOL(dot)com

Marilyn Brant said...

Stopping back to say hello to Wanda, Susan, Edie (so nice to see you here!!), and Carol -- thank you all for visiting!

Morgan Mandel said...

Congratulations on your new release, Marilyn.

And I see you did all the right things when your first book came out, taking photos at the store, eating ice cream. Those are musts for every author!

Morgan Mandel
morgan@morganmandel.com
http://morganmandel.com

tonya kappes said...

Hi Marilyn! Loved the interview!! I can't believe you have that third one almost done...you exhaust me girl!

Sarah said...

I would love to read this book! Thank you so much for the great interview and giveaway:)

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I am a loyal follower!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I am a Facebook fan!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

tweeted @happymama82

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I think everyone should see Dirty Dancing:) It is one of my all time favs!

foxchick0323@live.com

Sarah said...

I love Van Halens "Jump". I used to listen to it on a 45 :)

foxchick0323@live.com

Tiffany said...

I would love to win this one! I've had my eye on it!
Schlarmette AT gmail DOT com

Tiffany said...

I am a follower of this blog
schlarmette (at)gmail(dot)com

Tiffany said...

Facebook follower!
schlarmette (at)gmail(dot)com

Tiffany said...

You've got mail and dirty dancing!
Schlarmette (at) gmail(dot) com

Tiffany said...

Contest posted on my blog sidebar!
Http://acozyreaderscorner.blogspot.com
schlarmette ATgmailDOTcom

Tiffany said...

When a Man Loves A Woman - Michael Bolton (remake) and Whitney houstons I believe in you and me

both 90's
schlarmette(at)gmail(dot)com

Laura Rachel Fox said...

Thanks for sharing this fascinating interview. I especially liked it when Marilyn confessed to eating a lot of gelato and linguini for the sake of authenticity. I'm inspired now to write a novel featuring chocolate.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

1. Everyone should see "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." For one it is one of the best action movies. For two it features a very sexy Harrison Ford and an equally sexy Sean Connery.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

2. "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany. btw I was only 12 when the 80s ended.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

3. I'm a follower

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

4. I posted a link on facebook

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

Laura Rachel Fox said...

5. I follow Chick Lit Central on Facebook.

lostlibrarygirl@sbcglobal.net

piabernardino@bermillion.com said...

Everyone should see The Sound Of Music.

piabernardino@bermillion.com said...

From the 70's I love Emotion by the Bee Gee's and the 80's P.Y.T. by Michael Jackson

piabernardino@bermillion.com said...

I am a follower and posted this in Twitter and my blog.

http://solittletimeheresmine.blogspot.com/

Ruthie said...

I would love to read this! Please enter me, thanks.

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Ruthie said...

I just saw the movie 'Up' recently. It's an animated movie for kids but is about love & marriage. It was funny & also touching...made me cry!

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Ruthie said...

FB follower

ruthiekb72@yahoo.com

Marilyn Brant said...

Morgan, you know me well enough to know I'm not joking about all that ice cream -- LOL!!

Tonya, YOU must be exhausted from bopping around the Blogsphere! Thank you SO much for visiting me in multiple places!!!

Sarah~I'm a HUGE "Dirty Dancing" fan (can't count the number of times I've seen it ;), so I'm glad we share that...and a love of VH's "Jump"!

Tiffany, oh, yay! Another "Dirty Dancing" lover! And I used to listen to a LOT of Michael Bolton and Whitney in the late '80s...

Laura~I really hope you write that novel about chocolate...need a writing partner on that one?!! ;)

piabernardino~I have "Emotion" on my iPod. When no one's home, I sing it in the shower sometimes... Thank God no one can hear me!!

Ruthie, thanks so much for visiting! I haven't seen "Up" yet but I've heard great things about it ;).

Heather said...

I think everyone should see Good Will Hunting!
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I love the song Jessie's Girl from the 80's.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I am a follower.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I am a member of Chick Lit Central.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

Heather said...

I posted to facebook.
ra6352 (at) gmail (dot) com

PoCoKat said...

Would love to win this book!

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

PoCoKat said...

I follow on GFC.

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

PoCoKat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PoCoKat said...

Old 80s song: Urgent by Foreigner...always makes me want to get up and dance!

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

PoCoKat said...

Movie: What's Up Doc? Hilarious old comedy starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal.

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

Marilyn Brant said...

Hi, Heather! I saw Rick Springfield in concert when I was about 13...so I definitely agree with you on "Jesse's Girl" :).

Oh, PoCoKat -- I so love Foreigner!!

And everyone who mentioned "The Sound of Music" -- it's one of my very favorite musicals. So much so that I used it in the book I just finished writing -- one that'll be out next fall... ;)

Sheila B said...

I'd love a copy of this book, sounds great.

sbrennan1955@yahoo.com

Theresa N. said...

I loved "The Scarlet Pimpernel" I bought a copy on VHS when it came out and still watch it from time to time.
Theresa N
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

Kim said...

Please enter me in the contest...really want to read this book!

walker03@telus.net

Kim said...

Must see movie....Dirty Dancing!

walker03@telus.net

Kim said...

Fave song of the 70's and/or 80's...where do I begin? 80's is my favorite! Karma Chameleon by Culture Club.

walker03@telus.net

Marilyn Brant said...

Sheila B~thanks so much for your interest in the story!

Theresa N~ohhh, excellent! Another Scarlet Pimpernel fan--yay!! Wasn't Anthony Andrews fabulous in that role? I have my copy on VHS because I got it years ago, too, and I'd love to watch it again soon ;).

Kim~there were so many wonderful, classic scenes in Dirty Dancing, weren't there? Love that movie!

Bonnie said...

I think everyone should see "Bridges of Madison County". I hate to admit it, but I loved all the music of the 70's & 80's from BeeGee's to Led Zepelin...can't choose favorite! Great interview! Marriage is always a work in progress!
I am a follower and shared link on Facebook!
intrepid9923@yahoo.com

JHS. said...

Would love to win!

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

JHS. said...

I think everyone should see To Kill a Mockingbird at least once. It is a masterpiece. Watching Gregory Peck made me want to grow up to be the female Atticus Finch.

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

JHS. said...

OK, if I had to pick A song . . . just one . . . only one . . . I couldn't do it. From the '70's, I would have to go with AT least two . . . ok, three:
1. The Pretender by Jackson Browne (or the whole Late for the Sky album)
2. Netherlands by Dan Fogelberg (yeah, the whole album there, too)
3. Life in the Fast Lane by the Eagles.

The anthems of my youth.

From the '80's??? Don't bother.

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

JHS. said...

Google follower.

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

JHS. said...

Facebook member.

JHS
Colloquium

jhsmail at comcast dot net

Marilyn Brant said...

Bonnie, you're SO right. Marriage is *definitely* a work in progress!

JHS~I love Dan F., I esp. love the Eagles but, ohhhh, Jackson Browne -- he is one of my absolute favorites!!! I listened to "The Pretender" over and over again and love some of his lesser-known songs, too, like "These Days," "The Fuse" and "I Thought I Was a Child."

Thanks, again, to Melissa and to everyone who's stopped by so far! Hope you all have a great weekend ;).

Jencey said...

The movie everyone should see is the Notebook. I don't think anyone should miss that. Now for my favorite 80s song. I will choose "We Built This City" by Jefferson Starship. I think that is right. I will post to blog and fb page. My e-mail is jenceyg@msn.com.

piabernardino@bermillion.com said...

posting this in facebook. Thanks!

BRN2SHOP9 said...

Sounds like a great book!

Tiffany said...

Tweet Tweet!
http://twitter.com/cozyreadersnook

Marilyn Brant said...

Jencey~I love that Jefferson Starship song and have it on my iPod :).

piabernardino~thanks for spreading the word on FB!

BRN2SHOP9~I really hope you'll like it!

Tiffany, thanks for tweeting ;).