One of the nicest, most talented writers I know is releasing her debut novel, DEALING WITH THE VISCOUNT at the end of this month and I have the privilege of introducing her to you today in anticipation of that wonderful event. I met Clair Brett 3 years ago at a romance writing meeting and was instantly capitated by her quick wit, her intelligence, and her kindness. Plus, she’s a helluva good writer. So, sit back and get to know the writer I call a friend ( and I’m always so pleased to say those 2 words in the same sentence – writer and friend!)
Clair, The Writer
What drives you to write?
I have written since I can remember. As an only child, I would create stories in my head. Now, as an adult, I love the feeling of bringing my characters to life and since I am a pantser at heart, even though I do plot in my own way, I want to see how the story will end. I write the stories for me first.
What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why?
Right now I am writing Historical Romance set in the Regency period with a spatter of suspense because that is what I love to read. When I started reading for pleasure again after college, I was teaching full time, had two babies 12 months apart and we were a typical young struggling couple. I liked the historical romance genre, because it was so far removed from my own life and let me step into a world that was glitzy and glamourous, but not familiar. I believe reading for pleasure should be an escape. I do have a couple of contemporary ideas and even a YA dystopia retelling of a childhood classic, oh and there is that Scottish Highland hero who keeps raising his hand now and then…
What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?
Obviously, I love Historical romance, but find when I am writing a new book, I can’t have another historical writer banging around in my head. I also love a good romantic suspense. I am also fortunate enough to edit for some writers so I get to read a variety of genres then as well. One of my goals for 2017 is to read more. As a writer I find I have less and less time to just read, not to mention I feel guilty when I sit down to “just” read. I am starting my list of books for 2017 on goodreads and I am trying to branch out.
What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day?
Ha, funny. Seriously, I am still working on that. It depends on the day and my workload from the day job. My goal is to write or edit every day, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I try to get emails and some marketing out of the way when I first sit down, because my brain is too scattered with everything that I have to do that day, but once I have been able to settle my mind, I usually open the MS mid-morning and I will set a timer to make sure I don’t get distracted. Once I begin writing, I already know where that scene has to go and I can bang out 2000 words fairly quickly. I work away from home two days a week, and don’t usually get much writing done on those days. My goal is to get to the point where I can write in the morning, earlier than I do now, and then work on edits in the afternoon, with the other business stuff stuck in between.
Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?
When I got done teaching 5 years ago now I had a wish for an office. For a while I moved into what I thought of as our dining room, but was not being used as that, at the time. Two years ago, my contractor husband finally agreed to move forward with some major remodels on our house and we closed in the middle part of our wrap around porch and created a very cozy office for me. I will eventually have sliding pocket doors for more privacy, but it has a bank of windows to let in the sun and warm breeze in the summer, and it is just big enough to fit my desk, an over-stuffed chair for editing and reading, and my two bookcases. It is by far my favorite spot in our house now! Before we put up the drywall, my daughters and I went around on the studs and wrote inspirational messages, one of which above the doorway says “bestsellers are written here”, so I feel like I am surrounded by positive thoughts.
Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnelvision?
I am fine with normal “noise”, but when people are talking, or yelling as teenaged girls are prone to do, I can’t get into the scene. That is why I can’t wait for my sliding doors. I did find recently at a writers’ meeting when we did a write in for NaNoWrimo that I also am calmed by the sound of clicking keyboards. Yes, I am letting my geek flag fly. I went home and I now have a download of clicking keyboards that I can play when I don’t want to listen to music.
Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?
I usually play instrumental music. I choose classical most days because I am not familiar with any lyrics, because if it is a song I know I have caught myself singing it in my head. I have a writing and editing playlist I listen to on Spotify and it helps me settle into the mood of writing, since I only listen to it when I am writing or editing.
How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?
My current WIP is the second book in my debut series Improper Wives for Proper Lords. The hero, Lord Breakerton was meant to be a secondary character in Dealing with the Viscount, which debut’s on January 31. Instead he tried to take over every scene he was in. I knew he needed his own book and was trying to figure out his story. At a writers’ meeting we learned how to use tarot cards to help plot a story. During that workshop I kept getting cards with swords and like a lightening bolt I got a scene of my hero having a sword fight with the heroine and just like that I knew she was a highwaywoman dressed as a man, and he was sent to apprehend, or kill the highwayman, and a story idea was born.
Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?
That is a hard question. My first reaction would be to say character, but usually I get a full scene, which may or may not end up in the book, but it is the main character, sometimes hero, sometimes heroine doing something, from there I start asking questions and might just sit and journal freestyle for a bit to try and get a handle on what I saw. Then, I will have to find the romantic interest. Sometimes as I am writing one story I have a character, like Lord Breakerton, who screams for their own story, then I will try to learn about them as they evolve throughout that story. My stories are, as most romances, character based and so I would guess I have my characters and try to figure out their stories, instead of coming up with a plot and sticking a character in to fit it.
What 3 words describe you, the writer? Determined. Scared. Perfectionist.
Clair, The Person :
Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!
My nickname growing up was Charlie. I didn’t always like it and the first day of first grade I hit an older boy in the chin with my metal “Sigmund the Sea Monster” lunchbox for calling me by it. (he still has a little scar). I grew into it however, and there are still people in my little town, and family that only call me Charlie. (My dad used to call me Charlie Brown and it got shortened)
Who was your first love and what age were you?
Donny Osmond, and I was 6 or 7 maybe younger. (Peggy here – I lovedlovedloved Donny Osmond!!!)
If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and….
Ooo, this is tough… I would have to say the second day of my honeymoon. We were officially married and unpacked at the hotel. We had two weeks of vacation ahead of us, with no worries and plenty of money for tropical drinks. No worries, oh and his snoring didn’t yet drive me nuts. lol
Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando?
I like a little mystery, so I’m going to say boxers. They have a tendency to be a bit more fun with the patterns lending to a laid back feel, and I am not a fan of commando. A girls like a little mystery. Wink, wink.
If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be?
Hair dryer. Without it my hair is curly, and not the “oh, look at her beautiful curls” curly, more like “Is she trying to create dreads?” curly.
What three words describes you, the person? Loyal..Reserved (some would say repressed. =) ).Focused
If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?
“My Fight Song” is my current favorite song. But I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, so I hope I never have to do that!
If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?
It is no secret that I have an unhealthy love of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, so I would pick Elizabeth Bennett, because she really was very modern for her time and out spoken. To have a woman that self-possessed during that time period was unique. I would like to sit with her, have tea, and talk about the topics of the day to see how they affected her and her sisters, and also to get her thoughts on how life should be.
I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:
Favorite sound; Rain, or ocean waves, but water definitely!
Least favorite sound: An alarm clock
Best song every written: “Light My Fire” by the doors (love all Jim Morrison’s lyrics):
Worst song ever written: Any of the “screaming music” if it sounds like you need a laxative or an ambulance, it isn’t music.
Favorite actor/actress Gerard Butler// Kate Hudson
Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead)
I would like to be Eloisa James, Historical romance writer extraordinaire, for a day. She is wildly talented, and she is married to Italian aristocracy. She gets to travel all over the world, and she just always looks so elegant and composed. I would love to be her and then take what I learn to get myself to where she is.
What turns you on? Humor and thoughtfulness
What turns you off? Cockiness or conceit
Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) “You remind me of my ex.” Ok, it is 6 words, but you get the idea. =)
What’s your version of a perfect day?
Summer, a warm breeze comes off the ocean and floats into my bedroom waking me with the sounds of ocean waves and birds chirping. My hardworking husband brings me a cup of tea and we sit and talk enjoying the sunrise and the warm weather. Then I get dressed and go to my obscenely opulent patio and have the entire day to write, with no marketing, advertising, or “business stuff” to do because my assistant has that under control. In the afternoon, after my massage and a snorkeling session, I would stroll into town and sit at a café eating something rich, but non- caloric. I would end the evening with my hardworking husband, and a dinner of lobster and steak with champagne, and maybe a chance to curl up in the moonlight and read a good book, before we go to bed…
Have you ever thought of going into intelligence gathering, Peggy? What a list of questions. Lol!
Love ya! Clair!
Peggy here: Love ya, back!!!
DEALING WITH THE VISCOUNT
After making a wager of marriage to settle her father’s gambling debts, Ella Bowen-Thorn Renwick escaped the husband she foolishly began to fall for and disappeared into the Scottish countryside carrying a secret. Four years later, and the owner of her own bakery, she is still not free of the demands of men when a violent and anonymous blackmailer threatens her, her livelihood…and her daughter. And then, there is him…
Viscount Renwick still mourns the wife he began to love before her untimely death–that is until he discovers her alive and well living in Scotland. Now, Devon’s face to face with the wife he thought he’d buried and the daughter he never knew existed. He’d like nothing more than to welcome Ella back into his arms, but mysterious and troubling incidents and a history with an unloving father have Ella trusting no one.
But, if Renwick convinces his wife he’s the husband she always dreamed of and the father their daughter deserves, will the scandalous secret the blackmailer is holding threaten their future together once more?
Dragon keeper and historical romance author, Clair Brett lives in NH with her hard working husband and two teenaged daughters. Her office staff during the day consists of Cinta, a black cat and the matriarch of the fur babies, Mojo, a yellow kitten who spends his day holding Clair down in her seat to get her word count in, a boxer/beagle mix puppy named Willow, who sleeps next to her chair to make it hard to do an Oreo run without doing a pee run as well, a hermit crab who keeps to himself, and a bearded dragon, who is kind of upper management.
A former middle and high school English teacher, Clair has had a lifetime love affair with reading. Once she read Pride and Prejudice as an extra read in high school, she was hooked. Clair began pursuit of publication when she was a new mother in need of a hobby. Her oldest daughter will be graduating in 2017, so you do the math. Clair is a firm believer that a reader finds a piece of who they are or learns something about the world with every book they read. She wants her readers to be empowered and to have a refreshed belief in the goodness of people and the power of love after reading her work.
Visit Clair on the web