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TJ Bown, Summerset Abbey, and Water.

In the brief teaser I tacked onto yesterdays blog post I let you know there would be a special interview today, and I’m not going to disappoint!  I had the chance to ask author TJ Brown a few questions in regards to her new release Summerset Abbey and the series it kicks off.  So, let’s jump right in!

TD:  Was there a certain event or idea that inspired the book?

TJ:  I have always loved the Edwardian period, but after Downton Abbey aired, I really wanted to write something in that period. I told my agent, we should pitch an Edwardian and she asked me what I had in mind. 5 weeks later I had a contract for a three book Edwardian series!

TD:  I know this is your first foray into historical fiction, did this pose any particular challenges or did you find it was a natural fit for you?

TJ:  It actually isn’t my first foray into historical fiction. Six months prior to getting the Summerset Abbey contract, I got a contract for a young adult series set in the 1920’s. So even though it won’t be out until June (Born of Illusion, June 15th!), I wrote it before the Summerset Series.

I honestly never thought I would be a historical writer, even though I love history and reading historicals. I just thought I had a more modern voice and the research intimidated me. But I had this idea that wouldn’t go away and once I wrote Born of Illusion I was hooked. Of course, Summerset is in a different time period, but before I started writing it, I figured that I had done so much research for the twenties, surely ten years prior couldn’t be that big of a difference could it? Was I ever wrong. 1914 England was a whole different world than 1924 New York. I had to start the research all over again! And I love it!

TD:  Can you tell me a little about your process?

TJ:  Usually, I start with a concept for a plot. Just a sketchy idea. Then the characters’ come. It’s rather like putting together a puzzle. And then my plot constantly changes and develops as I write. I’m not quite a seat of my pants writer, but the Summerset books have been unusually organic for me.

TD:  How many books do you foresee in this series?

TJ:  I am contracted for three but I have an idea for a fourth that my editor likes. Nothing is set in stone yet, and it may not happen, but I do have a fourth Summerset book in mind. We’ll see! But four for sure.

TD:  Do you have a favourite character or is there one who resonates more with you than the others?

TJ:  Victoria. In all of my books I have at least one over the top character and in Summerset Abbey, Victoria is the one. She is smart and imaginative and she says almost everything that comes into her mind. I adore her. Even though all girls are featured, Bloom in Winter is her book, and I had such an awesome time working on it!

So there you have it folks!  TJ Brown on her new book, Summerset Abbey, her process, and on writing historical fiction.  Now all that’s left is to drop a few details.  😉

Summerset Abbey is available at:

Book Blurb:

  • Summerset Abbey
    1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women
    seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of
    society and the distant rumblings of war. . . .
    Rowena Buxton
    Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women
    in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister
    Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she
    believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under
    their uncle's guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey.
    Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the "under class" in
    this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive
    social circle of aristocratic "rebels," Rowena must decide where her true
    passions-and loyalties-lie.
    Victoria Buxton
    Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams
    of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most
    unladylike wish is not her only secret. Now, Victoria has stumbled upon a
    family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever.
    Prudence Tate
    Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their
    bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess's daughter, and
    to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her
    true place in society-as ladies maid to her beloved "sisters." But Pru
    doesn't belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than
    she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls.  And when a young lord catches
    her eye, she begins to wonder if she'll ever truly carve out a place for
    herself at Summerset Abbey.

For more check out TJ at http://tjbrownbooks.com/

TJ Brown, author headshot

Author TJ Brown – Hooray for MomWriters!


Now, as if that alone doesn’t make one heck of a blog post, I still have more for you!  That’s right… we’re still in the middle of the January Photo Challenge – and I’m not one to give up on a challenge.  So here we are.  😉

The challenge today was to photograph water.  Easy peasy, right?  Yep.  Here’s the girl, immersed in the stuff:

kid in the bathtub

My little bathing beauty.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a LITTLE more of an actual challenge…

photo a day challenge for january

Something I’ve bought?  Well…  I guess there’s at least a little bit of thought to go into that one.  😉

 

Pandora strikes Lily-Ann mute!

Okay, so y’all are probably getting sick of me mentioning the Goddess Girls series…  well…  too bad!  LOL  Today the challenge was to photograph something that I’m reading, and that’s what I’m reading.  Book nine:  Pandora the Curious.

Our copy of Pandora the Curious by Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub.

Our copy of Pandora the Curious by Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub.

Usually we’ve been inside the heads of the popular girls, but the last couple of books have taken us inside a couple of secondary characters (the girl and I ADORED Medusa the Mean).  Pandora, along with Medusa and Pheme are the anti-heroines to the cool clique of Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite and Persephone.  So it’s kinda fun to get to see inside their lives.

This book, in particular, is awfully special to Lily-Ann.  The first time she saw it she was actually rendered speechless for the first time in her five and a half years…  well…  since she uttered her first word (which happened to be “woof”) at three months of age anyway.  😉  What exactly caused her awestruck silence?  Take a peek:

There she is, the first name on the third line...  Lily-Ann S.

There she is, the first name on the third line… Lily-Ann S.

Kid kid managed to keep her wits about her when she saw that it was an autographed copy (she has a couple other autographed books too)…  but seeing her name actually inside the book?  Her jaw dropped and her eyes nearly bugged out of her head.  She just stood there and stared at it for several seconds, completely mute.  It was pretty amazing.

Lily-Ann LOVED the little heart.  :)

Lily-Ann LOVED the little heart. 🙂

So, that’s what we’re reading right now.  And I imagine we’ll keep on reading the Goddess Girls books for as long as Joan and Suzanne keep writing them.  I do have to admit…  I really look forward to the day that kid kid goes back on her own to read #1 all by herself.

You can keep up with Joan and Suzanne at the following addresses:  www.joanholub.com   www.suzannewilliams.com

Lily-Ann (hat hair and all) proudly showing off her Goddess Girls books.

Lily-Ann (hat hair and all) proudly showing off her Goddess Girls books.

 

Suzanne and Joan thank you so much!  You’ve given the girl and I many wonderful memories and are helping to build a love of books in a new generation – and that is something that deserves much appreciation.

Join me tomorrow as I share a little “happiness”:

photo a day challenge for january

Dwarf Eye Candy?!?

Okay, one last post on the new Hobbit movie.  I just can’t let this slide.  I actually found this completely insulting and fairly disgusting to tell the truth.

The fact that movie moguls assumed The Hobbit wouldn’t be marketable to a certain segment of the population without eye candy is completely degrading.  When I watch a movie, especially one with a literary foundation like The Hobbit, I’m not watching it looking out for hot men or sexy women.  I’m watching it for the story.  The notion that I, or anyone attracted to men, wouldn’t be interested in seeing the film if it were lacking in sex appeal is pretty revolting.

Every time I saw one of these “sexy” dwarves it pissed me off.

There was a lot in The Hobbit that left me feeling less than satisfied, but this whole thing with the dwarves?  Not cool.  Not at all.  Can someone explain to me exactly how we go from this:

thorin oakenshield

A beautiful rendition of Thorin by artist Turner Mohan.

To this:

a very non-dwarfish Thorin.

While yummy, totally undwarf-like in every way.

…because frankly?  Besides attempting to sex-up The Hobbit (which is supposed to be a light hearted children’s story) I can’t see any reason for the change.  And for anyone who loved the book, not only is the movie Thorin uncharacteristically good looking he’s also uncharacteristically noble and self-sacrificing with a voice as smooth as silk.  Movie Thorin would be welcome many places (and in many beds), but in this movie?  Not so much.

Of all the things wrong with the new hobbit movie (and despite the long list I AM trying desperately to like it still) this one is the worst.  It is insulting, degrading, and someone – perhaps many someones – really deserve to be slapped upside the head over their misogynistic attitudes.  Because truly, there is something wrong with the person who believes we must be tricked into a theater with the promise of eye candy.  Seriously, eye candy not required or requested.

For more reading on what exactly went wrong with what should have been a wonderful romp of a movie, visit http://whatculture.com/film/the-hobbit-20-blunders-that-ruined-an-unexpected-journey.php

And, just because I am concerned that some may lay blame with Armitage (the actor portraying Thorin),  I feel the need to note; Armitage does a beautiful job portraying this non-dwarf version of Thorin.  The fault for this offense does not lie with him.  He’s not the one who chose to change a character to appease some warped view of the movie going public.

So You Want to Be a Wizard

The cover of my twenty year old copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard.So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane was one of my favourite books as a kid.  I think I was about seven when I read it.  The bookmobile had just gotten a copy of it and I remember my name was the first one on the book slip – I always loved it when that happened.  I absolutely devoured it, and then couldn’t wait for the end of the week when the bookmobile would again be parked next to Dr. Seager Wheeler Park so I could tell the librarian about it – to ensure she stocked the next book when it came out.

A few years ago now, I saw an old copy (though not so old as the one I would have first read) on the “for sale” rack at our little neighbourhood library.  It was old enough that it still had the kraft paper envelope glued onto the first page – where the book slip would have slid in so perfectly.  I grabbed it pretty darn quickly, and when the girl was done checking out her books I gratefully handed over the quarter (or two, I can’t recall exactly how much it was) that the paperbacks withdrawn from the library collection sell for.  When we got home, I stashed it away on a shelf, knowing some day my girl might just love it as much as I did… and excited that it would be here waiting for her.

Inside my copy of So You Want to Be a Wizard, the withdrawn stamp and the kraft paper envelope... memories.

Tonight we started reading the brittle, crinkly pages, each one crackling and popping as they were turned.  There is just something special about older books.  Something magical in the way they sound, feel, and smell.  Even leafing through them is a journey…  and I’ll admit to a palpable tingle in the air as I listened to the pages turn taking us to the prologue and our epic adventure.

As my husband read aloud, I was taken back to the very first time I read So You Want to Be a Wizard.  And I was quickly reminded why I loved it so much, even then.  I was never one for flaky books with characters as thin as the paper their lives were printed on.  Even as a kid, I liked my words meaty, purposeful, and true.  Listening to Nita’s experience going back into the children’s section of her little library, I relived those first moments of discovery, when I knew what it was to stumble – with her – onto the amazing book and looking forward to where it would take her.  …yep, I’m going to enjoy doing this again.  😉

Writerly Style

Every writer has a style all their own, a way of communicating that not only shares a story or a thought, but also that persons way of being.  My favourite writers have always been those who relay their tales as if telling, or retelling an oral folk story.  Who’s words come off the paper as if spoken, from a dear friend.  I suppose that is why I have such an easy way with words…  I write in the same voice as I speak.

Some writers are amazing world builders, artists like Tolkien, who’s worlds and characters take on an entire life of their own.  However these writers are not always easy to read.  Tolkien’s works don’t flow easily from the tongue, and they can be difficult for a novice reader to slog through (though even as a child that never stopped me).  Other writers craft amazing dialogue, to the point where you can hear the characters voices in your head as you read.  So many of Ms. Rice’s characters pop into mind – voices you’ll never forget, each completely distinct from one another.  Then there are those who are able to do both, and who do so with such brilliant smithery as to beguile your very senses…  and these are the writers for whom you cry for a reconnection with, when their stories come to an end.  These are the writers like DiTerlizzi – seriously, if you haven’t read his WondLa books yet what are you doing sitting at your computer or on your iWhatzit reading this?  Get on it!

Myself?  Well…  I’m not a fiction writer.  I’d never delude myself into thinking I could craft a novel.  A short story?  A bit of flash fiction?  Sure thing.  But I could never hold your attention long enough to bring you so deep into a world with such rich characters that you’d mourn for them when finished.  And I’m okay with that.

I write in my voice, and I write for every day people.  I may not particularly like people, but I love them…  I think people are full of potential.  And if my voice, my stories, my experiences, my knowledge, can inspire people?  Then I was “write” to put fingers to keys.  I know I will not change the world, but perhaps I can enkindle you.

red quill and silver ink well

Check out the weekly writing challenge here at wordpress.com:  Stylish Imitation

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