Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday Morning with Marilyn Brant

I'm so happy that Marilyn Brant can join us today! She's a great friend of mine, and she's got a brand-new novel out called FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, which revolves around three forty-something friends who regularly meet for coffee and talk about everything under the sun. I figured to go along with the theme, I'd do a little Q&A session with Marilyn for y'all to read as you sip your morning caffeine. So here goes!

Susan: Tell us about your most recent novel in 30 words or less.

Marilyn: FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE is a modern fairy tale about three suburban moms who each begin to question whether they’d married the right man or were living the right lives.

Susan: Okay, now more details, please!

Marilyn: Each Friday morning at the Indigo Moon Café, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara meet to swap stories about marriage, kids and work. But one day, spurred by recent e-mails from her college ex, Jennifer poses questions they've never faced before. What if they all married the wrong man? What if they're living the wrong life? And what would happen if, just once, they gave in to temptation?

Soon each woman is second-guessing the choices she's made--and the ones she can unmake--as she becomes aware of new opportunities around every corner, from attentive colleagues and sexy neighbors to flirtatious past lovers. And as fantasies blur with real life, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara begin to realize how little they know about each other, their marriages and themselves, and how much there is to gain or lose when you step outside the rules.

Susan: What was your favorite scene from the book?

Marilyn: One chapter I had a lot of fun writing in FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE was an adults-only Halloween costume party in the middle of the book. It made for a long, complicated chapter (I felt as though I practically had to choreograph it), but it’s a major turning point in the story for all three of the women. Some very serious things are happening in regards to each of their marriages, but those dramatic moments are juxtaposed against an absolutely absurd party setting, which made laugh whenever I tried to visualize the event.

Susan: What was most important to you in the writing of this story?

Marilyn: I’m always trying to be honest about the complexities of human emotion, particularly in regards to relationships. I would say with FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, the biggest issue I wanted to explore was not so much the concept of “cheating” as a theme but, rather, the far less titillating subject of “choosing.” That a woman can really only be in a relationship fully -- marital or otherwise -- once she understands how and why she’s chosen to be there. That she has to look closely enough and listen deeply enough to know who she is and what she wants. And that in every romantic relationship or good friendship, she chooses over and over again (either consciously or unconsciously) whether she wants to stay. I believe that’s true of all of us, and I wanted my characters in this story to move from unconsciously living very unexamined lives to consciously, actively making a choice about where they were headed.

Susan: Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Marilyn: From conversations I overhear, things my friends tell me, funny stuff that happened in my family, incidents I’ve observed out in public, stories I’ve read in books or seen on TV and those endless “what if?” questions writers always ask themselves.

Susan: What's your favorite thing about being a writer?

Marilyn: Getting to do something creative every single day! Truly, that’s been such a gift. Even when the plotting of a scene is giving me fits or the synopsis doesn’t seem to make sense at all…I love knowing that I have a place to play with these characters and storylines. My hope is that by writing about women’s dreams and experiences as honestly as possible, I might get closer to helping readers recognize truths about their own lives. It was this sense of “recognition” that my favorite novelists gave to me, and I'll always be grateful for that.

Susan: What's your advice for writers looking to get their novels published?

Marilyn: Don’t follow trends just because you think it’ll be an easier sell. And write the books that fit your voice. If what you love writing happens to be a hot-selling genre, great. If your writing voice happens to be perfect for the genre you want to write in and love to read, that’s awesome, too. But--if not--write long and hard enough to find what DOES fit you and your style best. Because then, even if it takes longer to make that first sale than you expect, you’re writing the kinds of stories you most enjoy, and that passion has a way of working itself into the projects you’re creating.

Susan: What's next for you?

Marilyn: I’m in the process of beginning blog tours, library visits, book-club chats and other public events featuring FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, which is a Doubleday Book Club and Book-of-the-Month Club selection for October 2010. I'm also still doing some fun Austen-related promo for my debut novel, ACCORDING TO JANE. I’ve just turned in my third novel (the title is still up for debate!), which will be out next fall, and it’s a modern “A Room with a View”-like travel adventure. It has characters that play chess, Sudoku and Mah-jongg, eat lots Italian gelato and linguini, and spontaneously sing Andrew Lloyd Webber songs and other musical-theater selections. Finally, I’m starting the writing process all over again for my next women’s fiction project, which I’m really excited about. I’ll, hopefully, be able to share more info on that story soon!

Marilyn Brant has been a classroom teacher, a library staff member, a freelance writer and a national book reviewer. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and son, surrounded by towers of books that often threaten to topple over and crush her. A proud member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Marilyn's debut novel featuring "Jane" won the Romance Writers of America's prestigious Golden Heart® Award. When not working on her next book, she enjoys traveling, listening to music and finding new desserts to taste test. Readers can visit her website at


  1. Marilyn, it's so good to have you dropping by The Stiletto Gang again! We love it when you visit! Speaking of love, I really enjoyed FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE and can't wait for the next one. Hugs from St. Louis!

  2. Susan, thank you so much for having me visit!! As always, I *love* spending time with you -- in person most of all, but even in the virtual world ;). Wishing you and The Stiletto Gang a wonderful day!

  3. What a great interview! The book sounds fascinating. We share a first name and I always like to see what other Marilyn's are doing.


  4. LOL, Marilyn!! Thank you ;). There aren't nearly enough "Marilyns" out there -- it's always so nice to hear from another ;).