AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: BRITA ADDAMS
So Brita what book would like to chat with the bunnies about today?
My most recent work came out on February 20. It’s an historical romance called, Demands of the Heart. It’s at Noble Romance.
Tell us a little about Demands of the Heart, what inspired you to write it?
The book follows a trope that I love – that of young lovers torn apart as their romance blooms and how they must find their way back to each other. My young lover, Richard and Victoria, are madly in love and fall victims to the hatred of a man Richard had thought to be his friend and to Victoria’s father’s intense greed.
The intervening years change both of the characters, in some almost unrecognizable ways. Life tends to grow us up, particularly when adversity is all we know.
When they meet again, years later, anger and an ingrained sense of betrayal color Richard’s feelings and Victoria is mistrustful of her own. She wants “her Richard,” and he has apparently stepped aside in favor of the mature, not easily cajoled Richard of their youth.
The dynamic between the two characters is interesting me—that inability to let go of the past, both bad and good, really characterizes their attitudes, but love conquers all.
Ultimately, they defeat the past, through many hard won battles with outside forces.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
Both. I have a general idea of where I want the story to go, the overall flow so to speak. However, I give my characters free rein, because I find their ideas infinitely more interesting than any “set in stone” idea of my own. Stories take twists and turns, and as an author, it would be unfair of me to not allow the natural flow to occur.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I love romance. I love love. For me, because I have been so happily married for many years, love is as real to me as this computer is. I’ve seen it in all its incarnations, both bad and good, and it truly is what makes my world go round.
I do believe happiness in one’s life is a choice, just as unhappiness is. I know people who thrive on adversity. They are at their best when their lives are in turmoil and the world is throwing every obstacle in their way. They bemoan their lot in life, but wouldn’t do a thing to change it.
I’ve been unhappy and went about major changes to see my way to a better place. When I found the man who wanted to share my life, we set about it and on May 9th we celebrate 32 years of extremely happy marriage. We’ve always chosen to take life’s bumps together and not allow them to damage us, and it’s worked out splendidly for us.
That’s why I write romance and always have.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Yes, I do. Of all my characters, my favorite is Phillip Allard, Duke of Thornhill. He makes appearances in Serenity’s Dream and Lord Decadent’s Obsession, and though it was never my intention to give him his own story, he spoke to me in ways that I can’t begin to describe.
He was only the Duke of Thornhill in those two books, a minor character, a client at the Sapphire Club. I always knew I wanted to write several books in that series, and as I thought about the third book, I’d intended to write a very involved one with Haynes as the subject. However, the Duke smirked at me at every turn, and seemed to subtly nudge Haynes out of the picture. His turn might still be a viable option, though.
Phillip is a dark character, who holds a rather significant secret, particularly given the times in which he lived – 1817ish.
In Chocolate, Tea, and the Duchess, Phillip meets Felicity Linden, a young woman whose mother is hell-bent on pairing her with the wealthy duke. Felicity unwittingly sets the course for their lives, but being the uncompromising man he is, Phillip doesn’t go wanting for long.
I’m actually planning a sequel to Duchess, because there’s much more story to tell.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Again, I’d have to say it’s Phillip. My characters aren’t usually as dark and introspective as he is. He’s a man with a dual purpose in life, one which he keeps deeply hidden, much of the time, from himself.
I consulted with a friend who is known to write darker characters, and he helped me with Phillip. I’m quite proud of him.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The hardest part of writing is editing, both self-editing and then the edits you go through with your publisher. I’ve never suffered from lack of story (usually quite the opposite) or from writer’s block, but the editing is frankly a necessary pain.
I’ve come to hate the term, word economy, though I completely understand it. Something that can be said in five words shouldn’t be said in ten. I’ve learned a lot from edits, including how much I didn’t know when I started writing, but it’s all good.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
That I once kissed Mickey Rooney. Yep, sure did. True story.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love reality shows. American Idol, The Voice, The Next Food Network Star, The Amazing Race, Big Brother—all huge favorites.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Time and absolute quiet. Fortunately, our children are all grown, so I don’t have to contend with that. I never turn the television on before five in the evening, no music and very little conversation. I guess I’m easily distracted, but in the quiet, the ideas flow very well.
Does music influence your writing?
Never. Too distracting.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Well, I did pattern Lucien Damrill in the Sapphire Club series after Clark Gable, but it’d be rather difficult to get Clark to play him. Same with Tyrone Power and my character, Prentice Hyde.
I don’t know. I have several contemporary characters, but I’ll write ‘em and let the casting directors do what they do best. Of course, Gerard Butler would be a top choice and maybe my newest crush, Channing Tatum.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I received my first contract in April, 2010, and I was at home, on a Sunday morning. My husband was still sleeping and I confess to waking him up. Very exciting day.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
I was 15 when I was visiting my aunt in Concord, Massachusetts. I spotted, A Summer Place, which happened to be the title of a movie I’d loved. I took the book off the shelf and started to read it, when my aunt saw it and had a fit. She went to my dad and told him I shouldn’t be reading it and on and on.
My dad wasn’t a particularly enlightened man on the subject of things young girls should or shouldn’t read, but he defended me and later bought me a copy of the book. My aunt took hers back. I often wonder what she’d think of what I write these days. She’s still around, but I’m sure she knows nothing of my writing. LOL
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I’m really an Aleks Voinov fan, huge. I’m more subtle about fan girling, though. Usually I write to him and gush about his work. We’re friends, so it works.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
No outside job, other than working as Chris over at Riptide. I’m marketing manager and it keeps me pretty busy.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
I’m writing a novel about old Hollywood and it’s taking forever. The research is immense and since I’m weaving real life events into the story, I have to be very careful with dates. I’m taking my time with this project, because I really want to get it right. It will span 25 to 30 years in the life of my main character and how Hollywood changed from the 19teens to the mid 1930’s.
I’ve also got a novel started, which is a continuation of Chocolate, Tea, and the Duchess. It’s simmering but I won’t resume actively writing it until I’m finished with Hollywood.
I’ve learned that short stories aren’t my thing, so sadly, the Romeo Club is closed. I have one more for that, which I might put up as a free read on my site sometime this year.
This will be a slower year as far as releases, but very productive by way of writing.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Honestly, I have no aspirations to write with anyone else. I’ve seen friendships end when two writers collaborate and one wants to have the story more their way, or get more credit, or top billing, or some other thing. No, I’m not interested in slogging through the mire than can become a joint effort.
How do you pick your characters names?
I have several different ways of doing it. For historicals, I’ve created a huge list of first and last names, taken from old census records in England and the US. For contemporaries, I write down every name I hear on television and in movies, and add them to a database.
I’ve also named characters after people in my family tree. There are many of them sprinkled through my work. Lucien Damrill, in Serenity’s Dream, was named after my great-great uncle, John Stanhope Damrill, who was the first fire chief in Boston and my husband’s great-grandfather, Lucien. Serenity’s maiden name was Malin, which is the middle name of my favorite aunt. Nelson is a name I often use for groomsmen, and that was the name of my grandfather and my favorite uncle. I really don’t know why I only use the name for groomsmen, though. Hmm.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I think it all depends. If the love at first sight approach is used simply to get the couple in bed, then no. However, I believe in love at first sight. I’m living it every day with my husband. We met, thunderbolts struck, boom, here we are.
Conversely, I think the steady growth approach can become as contrived, if stretched out over the course of too many chapters. Constant conflict is as annoying in reading as it is in real life. After a while, you being to wonder why they don’t just cut their losses and move on.
True conflict is easily resolved by asking questions, confronting the problem, and working out the solution. Blowups over misspoken words, for instance, will make me put a book down very fast.
A reader can spot a contrived situation a mile away and we as authors have to be clever enough to create conflict without it being so farfetched that it sucks sand.
My favorite approach – lost love finds new life. You’ll see that theme often in my work. It’s the kind of movies I love, the kind of books I love to read, and the kind of stories I like to tell.
What is your reaction to people who say one of the following…”Oh you write romance, I thought you were a real writer”, “Romance isn’t a real writing career” or the ever popular “Oh, one of those books”.
LOL. My ex-husband asked me what I wrote, and I got the last reaction when I told him. I could see the dismissal in his eyes, while he was congratulating me on having gotten published so many times. His wife and daughter in law read my books though, so, not too shabby.
Here’s what I think. Anyone who thinks any of those things has a problem with romance itself, as it affects their lives. Then I think how I don’t have to justify what I write, because I’m writing and I’m published. People buy my books if they happen to like what I write and that makes me happy. Do I live off the royalties—no, I can only wish. But I’m fulfilling a dream, and in the scope of life, that suits me fine.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Any. The world revolves around chocolate consumption. Yes, it does.