SARA Café Welcomes Mary Brand

mbrand1SC: When did you join SARA and for what reason?

MB: According to my profile from RWA, I joined SARA in 2007. I can’t believe it’s been that long! I’d always been a writer. Yet I’d always kept my stories in a drawer. I wasn’t brave enough to take the next step, but I really wanted to be with like-minded, creative people and learn as much as I could about how to further my romance writing career. I came to a meeting and the rest is history.

SC: What sub-genre of romance stories do you write?

MB: I write paranormal chick-lit mixed with humor. Vampires, shifters, demons… you name it. My tastes for heat levels run steamy, not sweet. I’ve always been a big fan of independent heroines and alpha males. And my writing reflects that. Eventually, I’d like to branch out into historical romance and see where that takes me.

SC: What about the romance genre appeals to you?

MB: Like most people I love a good HEA. What really hooked me on romance, and keeps me there, is the idea that there is someone for everyone, even the one that, on the surface, might appear a villain. Your hero might be a warlock, a fallen-angel, or a vampire lord with serious issues. Yet he is capable of love. The more you dig, the more you strip away the artifice revealing their emotion, their vulnerability, leaving their heart exposed. I love moments like that.

SC: Do you consider yourself a romantic?

MB: That’s a tricky question. On the outside I’m more of a realist, more practical. Yet life experience has taught me that true love does exist and can be found in the most unlikely places. So let’s just say I’m a reformed romantic.

SC: What are your ultimate goals as a writer?

MB: Like most writers I’d like to get published and develop a following, writing books I can get excited about and that my readers love, too. Eventually, I want to make that my job. Period.

SC: If you could have any actor/actress cast as the hero/heroine of your latest work, who would you choose and why?

MB: Choices, choices. Currently I’m working on a paranormal series and the hero is a tiger shifter who is a fashion designer. Joe Manganiello would be great in the role. He has the looks and build needed for the part, plus his work on True Blood playing Alcide Herveaux really impressed me. Although playing a werewolf is different from a tiger, I’m certain he would have no problem.

SC: What’s the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?

MB: Ah, craft. Following directions and structure has always been problems for me. But I recommend two books that really opened my eyes: the revised edition of Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants! Outlining Your Books for Faster, Better Writing, and Stephen King’s On Writing. If you can only afford one, save your shekels and get King’s. It’s not only an interesting read, it’s essential. Plus, the writing style is less preachy than most writing craft books.

SC: Do you have a writing routine? What does it involve?

MB: The only writing routine I have is sitting down, knocking the cats off my desk and clearing my mind. The last is the hardest to accomplish. Sometimes creativity can be a curse. For folks like me it can’t be scheduled. It’s like finding water. Sometimes I hit a dry patch then my brain can go into overdrive at the most inconvenient moments. I can be cooking dinner, then whammo, the ideas flow like traffic in a subway. When you have all these characters in your head, vying for your attention, it’s hard to find your quiet place.

SC: Do you have any writing superstitions?

MB: I don’t think so. Considering I own a dark cat that crosses my keyboard regularly, I must not believe in them.

SC: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hidden talents?

MB: Hmmm… I love to cook, make quilts, sing in my church choir, yay alto section, and perform in community theaters now and then. And for hidden talents? I can play the spoons.

SC: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

MB: There’s that moment I love when I’m typing along in a scene where everything is crystal clear and I just know—know that the dialogue, the emotional connection,  just everything clicks into place like a puzzle.

SC: What would happen if you didn’t write?

MB: I know I’d survive somehow, but I’d rather live than just survive.

SC: How do you know when your research is done?

MB: When I can answer all my questions, I’m done.

SC: Name one thing you absolutely can’t write about.

MB: Not certain how to answer this. I think I can write about anything. It’s more where my interests lie that define what I’m comfortable writing about.

SC: Name one of the challenges you had writing or as an author and how you met that challenge.

MB: Sigh. I’m still working on this one. The biggest challenge I have writing is my own self-doubt. I’m a cheerleader of other writers and great with ideas. If you want ideas, I’m your girl. But when it comes to my own work, I’m a perfectionist and my own worst enemy. Writing the crappy first draft is a battle. When I write my biggest problem is turning down the voice in my head that says “Hey! Not good enough. You can do this better. Try again. Delete.” I’m the delete queen. Sometimes I’ve entertained the thought of removing the delete key from my keyboard. I’d get so much more done.

SC: I think as writers we all have those voices. What we need to do is remember to silence the doubt, turn up the bass and dance.

Submitted by Mary Brand