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Interview with Brenda Coulter and book giveaway!

Captain's Log, Stardate 02.20.2006

I'm so lucky this month cuz I get to interview all these neat people, who just happen to be my friends since I'm a neat person myself. LOL (can you see my ego inflating?)

I met Brenda Coulter online at the Steeple Hill discussion boards, and I read her blog regularly. She's hilarious and blunt and fun to read. It was great to spend time with her at the 2005 RWA conference in Reno. Her newest book is A FAMILY FOREVER which hits the bookstores March 1st.

Interview with Brenda Coulter:

CT: Who do you write for--moms, singles? What do you want to say to that demographic?

BC: I write to entertain the woman I see in the mirror when I brush my teeth. She's just an average Christian lady, but I know that if I can please her, lots of other women will be happy, too.

I write "Christian" because that's my worldview, but I'm not consciously trying to "say" anything to anybody. I just want to write stories Christian women like me can feel good about reading.

CT: Where would you like to see your writing going, in terms of genre and scope, in the next several years?

BC: I don't think in those terms, perhaps because I haven't been writing long enough to have built any dreams about the future. Right now I'm just enjoying the ride.

CT: Do your kids influence your writing at all? How? How about hubby?

BC: There's a line in my first book, Finding Hope, that my husband actually said to me years ago. When the heroine asks the hero what's bothering him, he growls, "My absolute inability to say no to you. It annoys me no end." And I didn't have to do any research for the bike scenes in my new book, A Family Forever, because my elder son is a cyclist and together we've been following professional cycling for years. The bike shop in that book is modeled on one my son worked in for three years.

CT: What was the funnest part of writing A FAMILY FOREVER?

BC: Writing Tucker's newspaper columns "explaining" women to men. That was a kick because the columns actually reveal very little about women and quite a lot about how men think. Essentially, I had to pretend to be a man who was pretending to write about women when he was actually writing about himself (and men in general). Is everybody confused now? Me, too. But I'm telling you, that was fun stuff to write.

CT: What's your favorite scene from A FAMILY FOREVER?

BC: Breakfast at Shelby's apartment (Chapter 8). She's doing her best to pick a fight, and easygoing Tucker protests, "I'm hardly in a position to debate anything. A moody pregnant woman is holding a pot of coffee directly over my lap and I have no idea when she had her last chocolate fix." But I love all of the scenes where Tucker demonstrates his absolute cluelessness about women. (Which, come to think of it, is the entire first half of the book.)

CT: How did you choose your characters' names?

BC: Names aren't something I spend a lot of time on. In real life, people's names don't always say a lot about them, so maybe we should stop expecting every fictional character's name to mean something. Jennifer Crusie named one of her heroes C.L., which stood for "chopped liver." After giving him that awful name, she turned him into a great hero—just as he might have become in real life.

CT: And if I send ten pounds of chocolate and French scented inks to you, will you name your next heroine Camy?

BC: Quite possibly. Let's try it and see.

CT: What's your next novel?

BC: I have nothing in the pipeline at present. Right now I'm working on revisions to an uncontracted manuscript.

CT: If you were a fast-food item, what would you be and why? (For the record, Camy is a French fry, and she'd probably eat herself in all her salty goodness while she was still hot from the fryer.)

BC: I won't be a fast-food item, Camy. Not even for you. I want to be a Godiva Grand Marnier chocolate truffle, because then I'd be beautiful and rich and everybody would love me.

CT: What books do you like to read and why?

BC: This is going to sound very strange, because I write inspirational romance, but I almost never read it. I prefer nonfiction books and classic novels. And Shakespeare. And P.G. Wodehouse.

CT: Confession time: what's your weirdest habit?

BC: I regularly wake up in the middle of the night and write for an hour or two. Some of my best stuff gets written at 4a.m., when I have only one eye open and am not alert enough even to carry on a conversation with my husband. I have no idea how that works. Maybe I'm just transcribing my dreams.

CT: Do you cook and why or why not? What's your most famous (or infamous) dish?

BC: I'm a good cook, but for the past couple of years, my husband has been doing most of our cooking. That's why I have so much time to blog.

My dried-cherry scones are almost sort of famous on the internet. The recipe is on this page of my website.

CT: Any TV shows you love?

BC: I rarely watch TV. We have only one TV in our house, and it's in our (finished) basement. At this writing, I haven't been down there in a week. We're computer people. And we buy a lot of books and magazines. (By the way, why does The New Yorker have to come every week? I can read only about three of those things in a month.)

CT: How did you get into English tea?

BC: I've been a tea drinker all my life. I started collecting English bone-china almost twenty years ago, and of course that led to tea parties so the pretty cups and saucers and teapots could get some use....

CT: Do you classify yourself as an Anglophile?

BC: No, not at all. I just like their china. And scones. And Wordsworth.

CT: Have you been to Great Britain/Do you want to go to Great Britain?

BC: Nope. No real interest. I can buy imported china and I can make my own scones. And Wordsworth, I hear, is dead.

CT: Do you have high tea with friends often?

BC: Ahem. That's afternoon tea. ;-) I usually do a big, formal one at Christmastime, then several small, simple ones (two or three ladies, often in the back garden) throughout the year.

CT: If you ever come to California, I'll take you out to a yummy tea shoppe here.

BC: Great! Thank you!

Tomorrow--part two of the interview!

Another random thought from my brain: This weekend I went to a workshop given by Donald Maass based on his book WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL (both the book and workbook are terrific).

For one part of the workshop, people read a random line from their novel and had to think of ideas to increase the tension even more than what was written (a very useful exercise and editing method--hint, hint for those of you who didn't attend). One woman had a sad scene about how an estranged father and son were talking and suffered a tense moment. The line in question was when the son walked away from his father.

People gave out ideas for increasing the tension--creating worry in the father's mind as he watches his son walk out of his life, hesitation on the son's part before he leaves, etc.

Guess what MY brain came up with:

His son walked away. The father yelled, "Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!"

I didn't shout out my idea, for obvious reasons.

But isn't that completely random? I think my brain is really not wired for drama.

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