19 Jan 2014

Interview: Multiple genre author Marilyn Brant

Meet the fabulous Marilyn Brant...
Do dreams inspire your writing? What did you last dream about?
Daydreams tend to inspire my writing more than dreams at night...especially since I so rarely remember those night-time dreams and, when I do, they're usually scary! But I find myself daydreaming a lot, especially when I exercise at the gym. My mind starts wandering the moment I step onto that elliptical machine, and I begin to imagine these interesting scenarios between characters -- frequently romantic scenes punctuated by some fast-paced action. That also probably comes from watching so many episodes of "Castle," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "Nikita," "Supernatural" and "Sleepy Hollow" while trying to work out...LOL.

When did you first start writing? And when were you first published?
I always wrote poetry and essays, but I started writing fiction seriously in my early 30s. It took me nearly 6 years of writing manuscripts and submitting them before I signed with a literary agent and almost 2 more years before my debut novel sold to a New York publisher. According to Jane (a steamy, new adult, light paranormal about a woman who has the ghost of Jane Austen in her head, giving her dating advice) was my first published book, although it was actually the 5th manuscript I'd written. So, it was definitely NOT a quick process! However, three of the romantic comedies I'd written before "Jane" were later published individually and in a boxed set. As The Sweet Temptations Collection, they hit the USA Today Bestseller List this past fall, so it was exciting to finally see those stories reach readers, too.

How would you classify your books? (what genres?)
I write in multiple genres. According to Jane is new adult/light paranormal/chick lit, Friday Mornings at Nine is more serious women's fiction, and A Summer in Europe is romantic women's fiction/travel adventure. I've written several romantic comedies -- some steamy, some sweeter -- like On Any Given Sundae. And my latest book, The Road to You, is a new adult/older YA coming-of-age mystery!! Clearly, I enjoy mixing genres ;).

What is it about these genre that appeals to you the most? Do you read other genres? If so, which?
I read almost everything. I love romances of all kinds as well as mysteries, historical fiction, contemporaries, paranormal stories, both comedy and drama, women's fiction, young adult, new adult and the literary classics. The only genres I need to watch out for when reading are horror or gory thrillers. Very graphic violent descriptions will sometimes give me nightmares if I'm not careful!

What's the title of your latest book? Can you tell us about it?

THE ROAD TO YOU is my latest novel. It's a story about finding truth...and love...along the highway of life. Genre-wise, it's a road trip, a mystery and a coming-of-age tale rolled into one! Here's the official blurb:
"Until I found Gideon’s journal in the tool shed—locked in the cedar box where I’d once hidden my old diary—I’d been led to believe my brother was dead. But the contents of his journal changed all that."
The Road to Discovery...
Two years ago, Aurora Gray’s world turned upside down when her big brother Gideon and his best friend Jeremy disappeared. Now, during the summer of her 18th birthday, she unexpectedly finds her brother’s journal and sees that it’s been written in again. Recently. By him.
The Road to Danger...
There are secret messages coded within the journal’s pages. Aurora, who’s unusually perceptive and a natural puzzle solver, is hell bent on following where they lead, no matter what the cost. She confides in the only person she feels can help her interpret the clues: Donovan McCafferty, Jeremy’s older brother and a guy she’s always been drawn to—even against her better judgment.
The Road to You...
Reluctantly, Donovan agrees to go with her and, together, they set out on a road trip of discovery and danger, hoping to find their lost brothers and the answers to questions they’ve never dared to ask aloud.
"In that expectant space between silence and melody, our trip began..."

What inspired you to write it?
I'm intrigued by Route 66, and I love road trips/travel adventures. One of my favorite things about the TV show "Supernatural" is the way the Winchester brothers get to know each other and deal with their discoveries and a multitude of dangers on their road trips. I remember hearing that the show was pitched something like: "Urban horror legends meet Route 66 (the classic TV show)." In the case of The Road to You, it's more like "Nancy Drew in love meets Route 66." I read a LOT of Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid, and almost as many Gothic romances! So these were a couple of my inspirations. Plus, I had the opportunity to take an actual Route 66 road trip with my family during the summer, and I got to see many of the sites in the story firsthand. (I have pictures of them on my website here: http://marilynbrant.com/MBbooksROADTRIP66.html )

Is it part of a series?
No. Technically, The Road to You is a standalone story. But I set the novel in the late 1970s for a number of reasons, one of them being that I liked to imagine my main character, Aurora, in the present day, too...knowing how she might react to the world differently for having had the experiences she did when she was 17. So I have, in fact, written an expanded version of the novel that includes separate chapters with a parallel story about Aurora's life right now -- a story that takes place in 2014, when she's a 54-year-old mom with adult sons. That's something I may publish later this year for readers who might enjoy reading about both the older and younger Aurora simultaneously.

Have you ever spotted anyone reading your books anywhere?
Not yet! I'm hoping that'll happen one day...

Who designs your covers?

I've been fortunate to have had five excellent cover designers: Kristine Mills-Noble at Kensington Books, Rebecca Young at Keahirada Designs, Kim Killion at The Killion Group, Emily Tippetts at E.M. Tippetts Book Designs, and Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations. All of them have crafted lovely covers for my various novels.

If your latest book was made into a film, who would you cast?
I'd imagined Ian Somerhalder (of "The Vampire Diaries") as Donovan and Willa Holland (of "Arrow") as Aurora. Would love to see them take on those roles!

What's your favourite Chick Lit book that made it to the big screen?
It would have to be Bridget Jones's Diary. The Jane Austen connection drew me in and made me read Helen Fielding's book in the first place, and the fun performances (especially by Colin Firth) made the film a delight.

What were the last two books you read?
I just finished WIFE 22 by Melanie Gideon and, before that, Violet Duke's RESISTING THE BAD BOY. Really loved them both!

Name one female author who you think deserves to be better known.
Edie Ramer -- I've enjoyed so many of her books, and her novel CHRISTMAS AT ANGEL LAKE was such a wonderful, heartwarming romance -- I loved it!

Where do you write?
Depending on the type of work I'm doing, I write in different places around our house. When I'm plotting and organizing scenes, I spread all of the pages out on the floor on the living room and try to make sense of them. When I'm drafting, I sit on our bed and write in longhand. Then, I go to my office to type and clean up the draft, printing out the pages of each completed chapter. When I have most of the book written/typed, I take the printed pages with me to the sofa downstairs and edit there. I'll also send the completed draft to my Kindle and read through the manuscript that way, so I can see it in another format. The whole writing thing can be a fairly involved process, but it's the best job in the world for me :).

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It was kind of a toss up between a detective, a scientist and a musician, LOL. Every once in a while, I still play the piano or the guitar, but my first instrument was actually the viola. I sucked at it and do NOT play that one anymore!!

In the movie of your life, who would play you?
Ha! I have no idea which actress would be nutty enough to do that!!

Speed Round...
Top drink to make you tipsy?
Long Island Iced Tea
Shopaholic or shopadon't? Shopadon't!!
Sky high heels or closer to the ground? Definitely closer to the ground
E.L. James or Jilly Cooper? Neither -- for books with steam, I pick up a Lexi Ryan novel
Cry baby or tough cookie? Tough cookie
Exotic beach or enchanted forest? Exotic beach

Marilyn Brant is a USA TODAY bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary fiction, and she was named the 2013 Illinois Author of the Year by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. With Kensington Books, she wrote ACCORDING TO JANE, the story of a modern woman who receives dating advice from the spirit of Jane Austen (October 2009); FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, a tale about three suburban moms, their marriages and what happens a decade or two after the "Happily Ever After" (a Doubleday Book Club and Book-of-the-Month Club pick in 2010); and A SUMMER IN EUROPE, a novel about a woman's journey of self discovery as she travels through Europe with her adventurous aunt's Sudoku & Mahjongg Club (a Literary Guild and BOMC2 featured alternate in 2011, and a Rhapsody Book Club Top 20 Bestseller in "Fiction & Literature" in 2012). She's also a #1 Kindle & #1 Nook Bestseller and has written a series of fun and flirty contemporary romantic comedies, available as original ebooks. Her newest novel, THE ROAD TO YOU, is a coming-of-age romantic mystery and was released in October 2013. And she's also part of a romantic new-adult contemporary anthology called ALL I EVER WANTED with authors Caisey Quinn, Lexi Ryan and Rhonda Helms (January 2014).
Amazon page for THE ROAD TO YOU


  1. Suzy,
    Thank you so much for interviewing me and sharing it here on your blog!! Happy New Year to you and everyone who reads this. I hope it'll be a wonderful 2014 for all of us :).

  2. Marilyn, you're such a sweetheart! I'm so lucky to have great friends like you! As for favorite books, one of mine this last year is The Road To You, which has everything that I love in a book, including great writing. :)


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