Friday, December 3, 2010

Interview with Carolyn Brown

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Carolyn Brown. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us again at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Okay I’m settled down into this comfortable chair and there’s chocolate on my fingers. Wait a minute while I lick it off and we’ll get started. This is some seriously good chocolate. I wouldn’t want to be guilty of wasting a single slurp of it! Okay, I’m ready. First question?

I understand you have a new release out called Honky Tonk Christmas. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Oh, yes, I can talk about Honky Tonk Christmas all day. When I started writing the Honky Tonk Series, it was a trilogy, but then Sharlene started pitching a hissy fit to have her own book so it became a series. She had so much to tell and even more to overcome. The Army does not train women to be snipers but she had an aptitude and she worked black ops during two tours in Iraq. She brought home nightmares that refused to go away. Then she moved to Mingus and loved her busy life at the Honky Tonk. But it did not erase the nightmares. Nothing did but sleeping in Holt Jackson’s arms. And nothing could ever happen with Holt. He’s raising a set of twins since his sister died and Waylon and Judd keep him too busy to think about the spicy little red head who owns the Honky Tonk. Besides she’s his boss since he’s working for her adding an addition to the Honky Tonk. And Sharlene is determined to never let the Honky Tonk charm/curse affect her life. Somehow their hearts didn’t get the message, though and kept throwing speed bumps in their journey to the HEA!

Honky Tonk Christmas is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

It fit so well with the storyline. Sharlene wants the Honky Tonk addition finished by Christmas since she’s invited all the past owners and quirky characters back to Mingus for a big Christmas party. Alan Jackson sings the song on the juke box in the Honky Tonk so that made it even more special. And who can resist kissing a cowboy that looks like Holt Jackson under the mistletoe?

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love westerns. Movies and books. From “Big Valley” to the modern day, “Justified.” From Louis L’Amour’s Sackett series to Joanne Kennedy’s Cowboy Trouble. Western is my love and it’s easy to write about what you love!

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I’ve been asked this question many times. My best answer is that I’m neither. I plot and plot and then the characters take over and we go on amazing adventures. Put me into the pilot’s seat in an airplane and fill it with quirky characters. We’ll stay the course for a couple of chapters and then the heroine hijacks the plane and we’re off on a whole new route. I probably wouldn’t have taken that road but oh, my, it’s simply great and my readers like it so much better than the plans I had!

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I’d already done research for the whole Honky Tonk Series so I knew the Honky Tonk and Mingus and even the Bahama Mama house that’s painted pink, turquoise and yellow with orange rockers on the front porch. But I did have to do some serious research about snipers. I could almost crawl into those nightmares with Sharlene.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Like I said, it started out as a trilogy. But Sharlene played such a strong part in My Give A Damn’s Busted that I really wanted to write her story. Then my agent called and said my fabulous editor, Deb Werksman, wanted a fourth book. I didn’t even hesitate when I agreed!

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I loved all my characters in Honky Tonk Christmas, from the country music artists on the juke boxes to the hero, Holt Jackson, the heroine, Sharlene Jackson, her grandfather, her mother and the Honky Tonk patrons. But one of my favorites had to be Judd, Holt’s seven year old niece. She stole my heart! Bless her heart, she had a terrible time trying to keep from cussin’.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

My characters are so real to me that I don’t need character sheets or things like that. I do keep a recipe box with an index card on each character including secondary characters so I don’t forget eye color, hair color and specific scars or tattoos.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

How much room do we have for this interview? There are so many that have been an inspiration to me, who’ve helped me along the highway the past years. I’m an eclectic reader who likes romance, mystery and everything in-between. I love Nora Roberts, LaVyrle Spencer, Carl Hiaason, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Margaret Mitchell, Leon Uris … I told you I was eclectic!

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Word of mouth. If people love what they read they’ll stand on the top of the water tower and shout it out to everyone in town. They’ll tell their neighbor across the back yard fence and the waitress down at the local burger joint. They’ll whoop and holler and dance out of the library when a new book by that author comes out. I love getting a note from a reader I’ve never met who says that she heard about me from a friend and she can’t wait to go to the grocery store and tell everyone how much she loves my book!

What do we have to look forward next?

Spikes & Spurs starts in May, 2011 with Love Drunk Cowboy. It’s a series set on the Red River about women who give up their high heel shoes and high profile jobs for cowboy boots but they keep their kick-ass independence. And about those cowboys who find taming the women is tougher than hanging onto the back of a bucking bull for eight seconds.

Thanks, Carolyn!

Thanks goes to Much Cheaper Than Therapy for letting me stop by here today! Chocolate was wonderful. I’m leaving feelin’ like a queen with a diamond crown because I got to talk about my new release, Honky Tonk Christmas! But before I go, does anyone have any more questions?

To celebrate her book release, Carolyn is offering a free signed book of Honky Tonk Christmas to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see ifyou won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.) Good luck everyone and I hope whoever wins a copy loves it!

Carolyn will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio. Check out author’s website at Buy Honky Tonk Christmas at Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Hastings or your favorite book stores!


Anonymous said...

Good morning again Carolyn. I hope you manage to get all the chocolate off your fingers before you strike the keyboard. :) I love this series and can't wait to sink my teeth into this one. Speaking of series, what tricks do you use to keep everything straight from one book to another? Have a wonderful day.

Carolyn Brown said...

Good morning Kim. Thanks again for letting me stop here on my two month blog tour for the last two Honky Tonk books! How do I keep everything straight? I keep a small recipe box with an index card on each character filed in alphabetical order when I'm writing a series. Oh, I do have something called WTV .. that's writer's tunnel vision! When I'm writing, it's like being in a tunnel ... I only see the light ahead that says "The End".

Joanne Kennedy said...

Good Morning, Carolyn! Thanks for putting Cowboy Trouble in the same sentence as Louis L'Amour! I'm having a good day now:)
I wanted to let you know that I loved Judd too - what a tough little sweetie. She needs a book of her own when she grows up!

Carolyn Brown said...

Joanne: Well, darlin', that's where it belongs right along with Cowboy Fever, too! Can't fight facts.
That Judd is a hand full. You'd think that Sharlene was her biological mother. Who knows, down the road, when she's about twenty five, she might fall for a cowboy up in Corn, Oklahoma!

Estella said...

I have read the first three books in this series and loved them. Can't wait to read this one.

Cara Marsi said...

Hi, Carolyn, I remember you from the Avalon loop. Congratulations on all your success. I used to read Westerns, mostly Zane Gray. And I grew up watching Westerns on TV. The new book sounds great.

Carolyn Matkowsky/w/a Cara Marsi

Carolyn Brown said...

Estella: Thanks for stopping by and reading the first three books. Hoping you like Honky Tonk Christmas as well as them.
Cara: Thank you and welcome to the Tonk, where the cowboys are handsome, the music country and loud and the beer is cold!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Carolyn, what a fun title! And I'm curious where the name Mingus came from -- any connection with Arizona's Mingus Mountain?

Carolyn Brown said...

I drove over a lot of the great state of Texas looking for a small town to set the Honky Tonk series. It had to be a border down in a wet county with a dry county below it and I fell in love with Mingus, Texas. There really is a Smokestack restaurant not far from Mingus that serves up wonderful chicken fried steak, and there's really a lot of friendly people in Mingus ... the Honky Tonk is pure fiction but I could picture it right there on the Erath/Palo Pinto County line!

Amy Morgan said...

If I can ever get all the kids well, the housework caught up and the Christmas gifts wrapped...this is the book I'm gonna read!!!! It's sitting up there on the shelf right now calling out my name! I love all your books...keep 'em comin!

Carolyn Brown said...

Good luck with all that happening at once!