AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: CONNIE BROCKWAY
Connie Brockway has stopped by to talk with us about her latest book, co-authored with a few other well known and loved (by Joyfully Reviewed reviewers) authors….
What is your most current work we can find?
The Lady Most Willing published by Avon. Co-authored with Julia Quinn and Eloisa James.
Tell us a little about writing The Lady Most Willing:
Julia and Eloisa and I had gotten together a few years back to write The Lady Most Likely, “a novel in three parts.” None of us had ever collaborated to this extent before—it truly is one story containing three romances– and found we really enjoyed the process as well as each other’s company. When authors get together to brainstorm ideas, the creativity and energy that transpire really motivates you to write!
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
For The Lady Most Willing it was important to have a plot already in hand before the writing began so that we, the authors, would not overlap or pen romances or characters that were redundant. In my full-length novels, I don’t plot as thoroughly. I have an idea of how the book starts and how it ends and who my characters are. I write the middle as the ideas evolve. I find that as soon as I plot something out on paper my brain considers it sacrosanct and refuses to consider anything else. Or even come up with anything else. Bad brain.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I have always loved romance. I read it as a girl and in college and in grad school. Escaping into another world with characters that are hyperbolized ideals is irresistible to me.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
If I had to choose, I would have to give the nod to Letty Potts, the heroine of Bridal Season. She’s s unrepentantly herself. While acknowledges her mistakes and short-comings, she refuses to live her life as an apology. And she loves life!
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
Right Now. Giles Strand. He made his first appearance in Promise Me Heaven and played a major role in All Through the Night. From the first to second book he’d developed into quite an interesting character. But while the reader learned more about how he acted they know little about who he was or, more importantly, why. Now I’m having to explore his history –and an interesting one it is– at the same time writing a romance firmly cemented in the present tense.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
I wish I could but those pesky lawyers…
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Sitting down and writing when I’m uncertain of where to go next. There is nothing so intimidating as a blank screen!
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I am terrified of June bugs.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Ha! Where do I start? 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets (has to be long fibers) is a good place.
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
Hell on Wheels! So You Think You Can Dance. The New Girl. Dexter.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
I have about half a dozen playlists themed to specific emotions—romance, valor, angst, bitterness etc.– which I play when I’m in a pivotal scene. Sometimes it’s the music, sometimes the lyrics but it sets me up to feel the scene.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
Oh, this is too hard. Most of the stars I find appealing are around 40 –Clive Owen, Michael Fassbender, Anson Mount, Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman—too old to play Robin Parles (who is 28) or Lady Cecily Tarleton (who is 22). And younger actors all seem too beefy or too spare or too American <g>.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
I was in my kitchen, shaking like a leaf. As soon as I got off the phone with my then agent, I called my best friend and writing buddy, Susan Kay Law. She promptly brought over champagne and chocolate. That night my husband took me out for a wonderful dinner. I should sign first contracts more often!
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
15. We were driving through the Black Forest. I was in the back seat and bored –Hey! I was FIFTEEN! Constitutionally obligated to be bored! So when we stopped for petrol, I popped out to look for a comic book or anything else they offered that was in English. I found one lonely Barbara Cartland title and the rest, as they say, is history.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
I’m not much of a squealer—too Minnesotan. And I’m far too politic to tout one romance author over others when there are so many for whose work I drum my finger waiting. But I will own to having auto-buys on anything by Imogen Robertson and the Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Pendergast books.
If you still have one of those pesky non-writing jobs what is it?
I’m lucky. I do what I love for a living.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
All time favorites—I’ll have to break it down by genres. Usual Suspects for script. Educating Rita for tear-inducing romantic comedy (my exception to the loathing tear-jerkers avowal but in my defense it was a comedy, too) and the 1940’s French version of Beauty and the Beast (no subtitles!) for a purely sumptuous visual experience. For perfect comedy I’ll go with A New Leaf –an Elaine May hard to find script starring her and Walter Matthau at his drollest best.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
As already noted, I’m working on Giles, Lord Strand’s story—a regency set romance with a touch of darkness. It’s entitled No Place For a Dame and will be out in July, 2013. After that, I’m not certain. It will be another romance and it will definitely be a historical. I have a couple ideas that are percolating merrily in back stairwell of my imagination…
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I don’t think I would! I’m far too much of a control freak. The sort of collaboration Eloisa James and Julia Quinn and I shared when writing The Lady Most Likely and The Lady Most Willing where the interstices are a combined effort but the specific stories are one’s own is perfect amount of co-writing and I hope we can do it again!
How do you pick your characters names?
I go through baby name books or look at birth records online for a specific year.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
Love at first sight is extremely hard to pull off convincingly and there’s always a question about the character’s judgment/maturity when you do write it. So all in all, I prefer the long course… and I like best of all for the groundwork to be set before the first chapter even starts. I adore writing about friends who become lovers. Perhaps because that was my own story.
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”.
It ceased to bother me long ago. Anyone who would say something like that to me isn’t worth my time—including the time it would take to reply. I’ve literally turned around and walked away from people who’ve said things like that. It’s as if a spoiled three year old came up to you at a party and announced “You’re a poopy butt.” You consider the source and wish their parents had done something about his manners.
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
Hershey’s Kisses. I’m a chocolate pleb!