Monday, October 08, 2007

Spotlight in Six with....Jackie Braun!

This month's spotlight features Jackie Braun, author of Found: Her Long Lost Husband. Let's get right to the questions, shall we????

After writing so many books, where do you find new and fresh ideas?
I’m currently working on books 16 and 17 and, honestly, I have no ideas where my stories come from. It’s one of the great mysteries. Ideas just pop into my head, usually when I don’t have a pen handy or access to a computer. Often, I get the idea for a character first and then find myself fleshing out his/her life and what challenges he/she might face, etc.

Writers often use photos of celebrities as “casting”. Do you do this, and who has inspired some of your characters?

Generally speaking, I don’t do this because then I start thinking of that celebrity’s speech patterns, mannerisms, etc. For my heroes I have been inspired by celebrities’ looks on occasion. I had a character with a Dennis Quaid grin and another with a Brad Pitt jaw, for example. I have loosely -- and I mean very loosely -- based a couple of female characters on celebrities. I started thinking about how people think they “know” these celebrities. What if these people were misunderstood and not at all like what the public perceived? How hard would it be to live down an image under those circumstances? Tempest Herriman, my heroine in the novella “Sex, Lies and a Security Tape” in the book titled EXCLUSIVE! is a Paris Hilton-type, or so she seems. Perception is one of the issues the hero has to overcome for their relationship to work. Likewise, Audra Conlan in A WOMAN WORTH LOVING, the first book in my Conlans of Trillium Island trilogy, is a wannabe actress who had been married to a much older wealthy man who dies and leaves her everything. In the opening scene she’s being strangled nearly to death by her stepson, who is upset about losing his inheritance. Anna Nicole Smith was sued by her late husband’s son rather than nearly killed, but her story (before her tragic death) was a bit of an inspiration for me. Audra was so flawed, so damaged. I wanted to explore how someone like her could rise above her very public past, heal and find redemption.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of writing a novel? Is there a particular section that you struggle with?

Are you kidding? I struggle with the beginning, the middle and the end of each book! But I absolutely love it when my characters surprise me. When they take off in a direction I didn’t anticipate and I’m forced to scurry after them, those days are wonderful, exhilarating. The worst days are those when I can spend an entire morning at a computer and my characters refuse to come to life. They remain words on paper rather than interesting individuals with conflicts and quirks I want to explore.

When you are not writing, what do you do? How do you pamper yourself?
When I’m not writing fiction, I’m often doing freelance or reviewing children’s books for local newspapers. I’m also a mom. I have a seven-year-old son (and a toddler on the way via international adoption), so I’m busy around the house. I like to putter in my flowerbeds and take bubble baths. I just got some new lavender-scented bath stuff that promises relaxation. Sounds good to me!

Imagine you’re stranded…where are you and who are you with?

Stranded, eh? Hmm, it would have to be with my hubby. He’s the only one I’d wanted to be stranded anywhere with. He’s a pretty smart and resourceful guy. Sexy, too. We spent our honeymoon in Aruba way back when and had a ball lying on the beach and doing next to nothing, so a Caribbean island holds appeal. But can we be stranded in a luxury resort with room service? Now, that’s a fantasy.

Finally, Jackie, please tell us what’s up and coming for you in the months ahead!

Well, I have the last book in the Secrets We Keep trilogy, out in October. It’s titled FOUND: HER LONG-LOST HUSBAND. Liz Fielding wrote the first book, REUNITED: MARRIAGE IN A MILLION, which came out in August. Barbara Hannay’s NEEDED: HER MR. RIGHT was the second book and it came out in September. It was a thrill to work with Liz and Barbara. They are both gifted and generous writers. To recap briefly, our three heroines meet during a charity bike ride through the Himalayas and wind up sharing their secrets, things that have held them back from being happy and fulfilled. In my character’s case, she married young in an attempt to get out from underneath her father’s thumb. The marriage crumbled quickly as a result of secrets and lies, but in addition to feeling guilty about using Ethan Seaver, Claire’s always secretly wondered … what if?

I also have MOONLIGHT AND ROSES coming in January. When wealthy California vintner Zack Holland buys the vineyard Jaye Monroe helped her late father start, she never imagines she’ll also lose her heart to him. EXPECTING A MIRACLE is due out in April. Pregnant and alone, Lauren Seville is looking for peace in the Connecticut countryside. She finds much more than that when she meets Gavin O’Donnell.

Thanks Jackie for being here with us!

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