Monday, October 4, 2010

Coffee Shop Conversations: Q&A with author Jenny Brown

             Hello all you fabulous Dames, and welcome to Coffee Shop Conversations! On this segment of the blog I will be conducting interviews with Authors, Bloggers and anyone else relative to the literary world and willing to answer my questions. Coffee Shops are great places to just relax, let the hair down and talk about life, love and good books! So without further adieu, let's get to chatting with my special guest:

Author Jenny Brown
"Jenny Brown studied history in graduate school and her very first professional sale as a writer was a biographical piece about Louisa May Alcott's childhood. Years later, her favorite hobby continues to be reading biographies of people who lived in the 18th and 19th century. She has earned her living in many different ways: performing as a singer-songwriter in Western Massachusetts and Nashville, writing nonfiction, and, for the past fifteen years, running a successful small press.
Jenny has been a student of astrology since her teens. This ancient art helps her make sense of her life and accept that the way she is, with all its oddities, is the way she's supposed to be. Though she has always loved reading love stories set in the past, what got her writing them was finding, at last, the Hero of Her Own Romance."Source

Jenny Brown on the web: Website | Blog | Facebook | Goodreads

Jenny's Latest Release:
'Lord Lightning'  
Releases 09.28.2010

"They call him Lord Lightning
...for his shocking behavior. An unrepentant rogue with a wicked reputation, his outrageous conduct ensures no woman will get close enough to hurt him.
But demure and lovely astrologer Eliza Farrell casts a chart that tells her Lord Hartwood is capable of great, passionate love. When Hartwood indulges in one of his famous pranks and invites Eliza to become his new mistress, the virginal country miss must meet her fate armed only with her knowledge that the cynical lord will become the tender lover she sees predicted in the stars.
Though Eliza is nothing like the brazen strumpets he prefers, the seemingly incorruptible seer excites Lord Lightning much more than the hard, calculating women he is accustomed to. Eliza's trusting spirit and quick mind touch his cold heart—and when the bewitching innocent surprisingly agrees to be seen on his arm, neither can predict the sparks that fly between them—or resist the electric passion that threatens to transform them both."

[Read an excerpt from 'Lord Lightning": here]
[Read a review of 'Lord Lightning' at Fresh Fiction :here]

RJ: Hey Jenny! Thanks so much for stopping by for a little chat. Firstly, congratulations on your debut novel, 'Lord Lightning', which is available for purchase as of 09.28.2010!  What have the past few months been like; with finishing the book and anticipating it's release? What have you experienced emotionally as well as professionally with the completion of this new book?
JB: Thanks for having me!  Actually, because publishing moves so slowly, I finished Lord Lightning almost a year ago. So this past year has been spent writing the second novel in the series, the one with the Scorpio hero, and my main emotion for most of it was stress. My editor was so enthusiastic about Lord Lightning that the bar was set very high and it was a challenge to deliver a book that is even better than Lord Lightning on deadline--in half the time it took to write the first book. I did it, but there were some "interesting" moments along the way

RJ: Why don't you tell me and the readers a little bit about 'Lord Lightning' from the author's point of view?

JB: I've always loved two very different kinds of romances--the traditional "comedy of manners" Regencies that stem from those written by Georgette Heyer and the passionate emotionally wrenching historicals of writers like Laura Kinsale and Jo Beverley. What I do in Lord Lightning is start out with characters you might have encountered in a comedy of manners, a rake and a prim spinster lady astrologer, but I drag them into a situation that strips off the charming surfaces they've been hiding behind and forces them to confront the emotional problems that have kept them from seeking love. 

RJ: Where did the inspirations for your plot, characters and setting come from?

JB: I wish I knew. If I did, it would be a lot easier to write my novels I have under contract. But they only show up if I spend a lot of time sitting in front of blank pages and writing. 

RJ: What challenges or difficulties did you face with the writing of this particular novel?

JB: The biggest problem I faced with Lord Lightning was that because it was my first completed novel, I thought it was done when it still needed a lot more work. It took me three complete rewrites--one of which changed a major plot dynamic--to get it to where agents responded to it with enthusiasm. 

RJ:  'Lord Lightning' is your debut novel (major congrats!). What were you trying to achieve with this first book, and also, do you feel like it's "mission accomplished"?

JB: My original goal when I started writing it was to finish a novel--any novel. I'd written several attempts at fiction in the past that rambled on for 100 to 200 pages before I noticed there wasn't any plot.  So it was a huge achievement to make it all the way to the end. I had to write another novel after it, and then go back to get it really working, but I doubt I'll ever again be as proud of myself as I was when I finished Lord Lightning's first complete draft.  

RJ: Why/How does astrology tie into and play a role in the events which take place in 'Lord Lightning'?

JB: I've been a student of astrology since my teens, and I've always used charts to help me understand other people close to me. Astrology helped me see hidden strengths in the man with whom I've been lucky enough to share my life for the past fourteen years. So the idea that an amateur astrologer might be able to see good in a man everyone else dismissed as a hard hearted libertine appealed to me--especially when I realized how the man himself might have become trapped in having to live up to his bad reputation the way that  Lord Byron was.  

RJ: This latest novel will presumably be the first in a new series. What is/will be the premise for this series and what direction are you planning to take it?
JB: Lord Lightning was the first of three books sold as the "Lords of the Seventh House series." In astrology the Seventh House describes the life partner, so the title seemed appropriate for a Romance series where each book will feature a hero born with his Sun in a different sign. All I can say for now is that the feel of each book will be different, because I give each one something of the tone of the hero's astrological sign. What they will have in common is historical settings and deeply moving romances.   
RJ: Lets talk about your Hero and Heroine (Edward & Eliza). What are their flaws and what are their redeeming qualities? Also, why are they attracted to each other (aside from physical attraction)?
JB: Though part of me thinks my hero, Edward Neville, who society has nicknamed Lord Lightning for his propensity to shock--is almost flawless--since I am more than a little in love with him myself, at the start of the story his character has been sadly twisted by what Jane Austen calls "Implacable resentment."  He has good reasons for his resentment, but it has led him to do things he is secretly ashamed of, despite the role he plays in public of being a man who revels in his sins. His redeeming characteristic is his ability to face unpleasant truths about himself and do what it takes to grow out of the self-destructive habits that have almost destroyed him. 

Eliza, my heroine, has a very different flaw. She has been too influenced by the advice of others and has lived too much of her life  on the sidelines observing and advising others without taking risks, What Eliza has working for her is her courage and insight. It's also a very good thing that she's very self-confident and strong enough to withstand the assaults Edward makes on it as he struggles to prove she's wrong in seeing good in him. 
RJ: How did your writing journey begin and how did you get here?  What pit-stops, wrong turns, and perfect lane changes did you make on your road to publication?
JB: Writing nonfiction has been my day job since the middle 1980s. I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to. I always wanted to write novels, too, but it took a long time to learn how to turn off the analytical part of my brain, so useful for planning research-heavy nonfiction books and articles, and let my imagination take control.

RJ: The writing process differs from author to author. Some are planners, and others just jump right in. Some consider themselves night writers, while others need daylight and a park bench or a coffee shop (wink) to set the mood for creativity; whats your writing process and atmosphere like?

JB: I like to curl up in bed--just as if I were reading--with a device like my Alphasmart or my netbook (not connected to the internet) close my eyes, and type. It's essential that I do not get drawn into revising when scenes are first surfacing in my mind. Once I have a big chunk of a book mapped out, then it's time to start working on phrasing, fleshing out the details, and putting in the missing scenes that make everything makes sense.

RJ: Romances has transcended many different sectors of pop culture. I think the Beatles said it best, "All you need is love". This being a Romance Blog, I've got to ask: what are your favorite picks for the following:  Favorite Love Song? Favorite Scent on a man? Favorite Romantic Comedy? and of course, Favorite Romance Novel?

JB: My favorite love song is one I wrote--I used to have a career as a singer songwriter. I posted it on a classified dating service  years ago where the Hero of My Own Romance heard it, loved it, and called me up. Can any love song do more? My favorite scent on a man is "just out of the shower" matched only by  "just finished mowing our half acre of lawn--without needing to be nagged ." My favorite romance novel is Pride and Prejudice. It is my firm belief that anyone who studies it enough can figure out how to write a novel.

RJ: What's coming up next for you (book-wise or otherwise)?

JB: I'm working on the third book on my series, but it's at the phase where I dare not say anything about it for fear of scaring the characters away. Ask me about it in January!

RJ: Do you have anything that you would like to address to the readers?
JB: Though astrology plays a role in Lord Lightning's plot, no interest in or knowledge of astrology is needed to enjoy any of my romances. I look forward to hearing from readers and hope they will stop by my blog to keep up with what's new. 

RJ: Final Question: Name something shocking or interesting about yourself that the readers may not know.

JB: I'll leave the shocking stuff to Lord Lightning, who does it far better than I do. An interesting tidbit about me is this: I sent my first email in 1980 when I joined a development team at IBM that was working on a pre-release version of what became the very first commercial email program ever sold.That means I've been online for 30 years!

RJ: Thanks so much for stopping by, Jenny! Great answers and I can not wait to read 'Lord Lighting'!! I am sure the readers can't wait till they get their copies either!

To all the readers, be sure to make use of those 'on the web' links above to better acquaint yourself with this fabulous author! This has been great!  I hope all of you have enjoyed this edition of:  


  1. Very interesting interview. Now where can we hear this love song??

  2. Great interveiw! I love astrology and never read about it in a romance book! Very interesting!

  3. Great questions, great answers!



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