AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: BRENDA WHITESIDE
Sneaking a few minutes with author Brenda Whiteside who has a current release out with The Wild Rose Press:
Contemporary romance at The Wild Rose Press
Tell us a little about Sleeping with the Lights On especially what inspired you to write it?
Sandra Holiday is not your typical romance heroine. She’s fifty and twice divorced. The story is about discovery. She’s still looking for a career and true love. And she approaches her life with a sense of humor. There’s a bit of suspense on her journey, too. While finding her happy ending she encounters a quirky millionaire, a red-headed stalker, a secret admirer, and a hunk of an ex-husband.
The story came about after some “girl talk” with my sister. She found herself single and unhappy with her career. We started laughing over some of the experiences she’d had dating. It occurred to me that we can get to a certain age and still be looking for all the things younger women are looking for. But with more experience “under the thong”. That experience makes for richer story telling.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Both. Short stories often get written starting with only a name or a sentence. With a novel, I usually have a basic storyline, but my characters guide me most of the time.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I wish I could tell you some moving story or funny tale that so inspired me I gave up all my worldly possessions to take up writing. But the why and what is a mystery to me. People, character studies, relationship interactions – have always intrigued me. My stories are more character driven than anything else. Romance is basically about how the characters interact and play on each other. Of course there has to be suspense or mystery, someone’s losing the farm or their mind, or some other equally interesting problem. But how those characters deal with it and with each other and their love is the really good “stuff”.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Yes, but the story never sold! Hmmm…what does that mean?
Do you have a character that you look back on now and don’t like?
No. I love them all! I don’t think I could write a character I don’t like – even the unsavory ones.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Oh yes, often. But it may be a mannerism, a facial expression, a career, or any number of things about a person. And I might combine a few features or personality traits. Look around – the world is full of characters!
A story – yes – but don’t tell anyone…As I told you earlier, a conversation with my sister inspired Sleeping with the Lights On. The book is not about her but I suppose if you know her, you would see something of her. For instance – she was married twice. Or she does look younger than her years. But the story is not hers nor is the personality of Sandra hers. Well, my brother got the book and soon after he started reading it, someone told him our sister was the inspiration. He couldn’t finish it. He couldn’t get past the sensual scenes because Sandra had become our sister in his head! I’ve tried to explain but it does no good. He’ll never finish the book.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I once belly danced at a Phoenix Suns basketball game.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Oh yes! I keep a giant dark chocolate candy bar in a drawer near my desk. Mid afternoon I like to break a piece off and dip it in honey peanut.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juices don’t flow?
Not anymore. For the longest time, I couldn’t write unless I was in my “writing place” at home. I’ve gotten over that. But I do have to have a cup of coffee sitting to the right of me. And I refresh it often.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
Using music in stories can really set the mood and tone. I wouldn’t say music influences my writing but can certainly enhance it. In Sleeping with the Lights On, I used music several times. Her ex is a country western singer and Sandra co-wrote some songs with him. But Sandra loves old 40’s tunes, too. A couple of times she’s reminded of a memory through music.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Oh fun idea! Hmmm…
Sandra Holiday, the heroine Sandra Bullock – She’s a bit young but since Sandra Holiday looks younger than 50, I think she’d do. She’d have to go blond again.
Carson Holiday, the country singing ex Matthew McConaughey – Mmm, can’t you see him in a cowboy hat, sweet talking with a Texas drawl?
Wesley Johnson, quirky millionaire Johnny Depp – handsome and quirky – perfect!
Eva, the red-headed stalker Julia Roberts – She’d need to dye the hair a bit more red and beef up a little but I think she’d make a good scary stalker.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
Sitting at my computer. When am I not? The call came as an email. My husband was downstairs and I screamed for him to look at my screen.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I’m not sure it’s classified as romance but when I was eleven, I read Peyton Place. Lots of heat and romance in it!
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’ve finished the rough draft on a 1945 Historical Romance. That era is so fascinating and romantic. Next up is a three book series, Contemporary Romance. It might bleed over into the Romantic Suspense genre. That remains to be seen. It’s still percolating in my head.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I’ll take any chocolate that’s over 75%! What I keep in my drawer is Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie. A huge bar of 86% cacao and I break off a piece several times a day!