The Dear Author Intro Interview: Lorelie Brown, author of Jazz Baby
When it comes to careers, neither the hero nor the heroine of Lorelie Brown's Jazz Baby have quite "found bliss." Micah is a Prohibition enforcement agent, disillusioned by the realities of his job; Kate runs a swanky speak-easy she inherited rather than chose. It's a set-up for a star-crossed lovers story, Jazz Age style, complete with rolled-down stockings and ticked-off mobsters. Sound like thoroughly modern fun? Thanks to Samhain Publishing, we have copies to give away, so leave a comment for a chance to win.
What were the original "triggers" or inspiration points for Jazz Baby?
A 9th grade production of Anything Goes. It took 14-year-old me a few years to realize that Anything Goes was actually written in 1934, and by then it was too late. I was already in love with the 20's.
Later in life, I was piddling around with my writing. I'd write one chapter, back up, edit the heck out of it, post it on critique boards. Rewrite it. Repeat, ad nauseam. Get fizzled out on a project. So when I finally decided I was going to get serious about this writing thing, I realized I'd need a project that would hold my interest for a good long while. The Twenties seemed like a natural decision.
A six-word memoir for your protagonist:
Micah – Lies for greater good don't count.
Kate – I don't trust too-handsome men.
An unexpected research detour you made while writing the book:
Coffee pots. At one point, a character pours a cup of coffee and I realized I had no idea what they looked like in the 20's. Somehow I ended up spending nearly a day researching the different ways coffee was brewed. But I guess that's why I ended up writing historical romances – I love the little details you learn about how people lived.
At one point, your hero Micah makes a very romantic gesture via postcards. How did that become part of the story?
My husband is in the Army and he's been on three deployments, the shortest of which was seven months. So I've got a particular affinity for the little, quirky truths that come through when people communicate through the written word. I've got one email my husband sent me saved in five different places, and I peek at it whenever I need a little lift.
Your favorite line or moment in Jazz Baby:
I actually can't answer this without giving something huge away. Suffice it to say, it's a line by Patrick, Kate's brother.
Patrick ends up having a pivotal role in the plot, even though he's a frustrated writer and alcoholic at the beginning. Did you know from the outset where his character was headed?
No, Patrick was a little bit of a surprise. I knew he was there, and he was a large factor in who Kate is at the beginning, but every time he popped up it was like some little new kernel of information appeared about him. He's a complicated guy. There's definitely more to his story, as he's still keeping secrets – even from me.
When will readers get the rest of Jake and Susie's story?
If they want it! LOL. Jake and Susie are next on my agenda, after what I'm currently working on. She's going spin him head over tail. It's great.
From page one, draft one to the "sold" call: How long?
Number of manuscripts you wrote before Jazz Baby sold:
You mean that I actually finished? None. Remember that piddling I'd mentioned? That being said, I had written (and rewritten) probably hundreds of thousands of words.
Your oddest or most reliable writing ritual/habit:
Jazz Baby was written long-hand, in top-bound notebooks with Uniball Vison pens. It was like once I'd gotten going, I was scared to change anything for fear of breaking my mojo. Thank God I've been able to leave that behind. Now my only ritual is needing a laptop to get away from my desktop. The internet seems much more shiny and distracting when it's on a large screen monitor.
Writing advice you're glad you followed or ignored:
"Unusual historicals won't sell. Are you sure you don't want to write a Regency?" All it takes is one editor, such as lovely and fabulous Lindsey Faber, who's willing to take a chance.
Three sources of inspiration for you:
I read like a maniac, of course. When I finish a project, my favorite way to decompress is to run for my toppling TBR pile. Otherwise, when I'm actually writing, I usually tune into a specific genre of music. For Jazz Baby, I discovered Ma Rainey, an amazing artist. Then there's dance – I watch So You Think You Can Danceobsessively with my critique partners, Carrie Lofty, Kelly McCrady, and Patti Colt. It's two-minute story telling! Brilliant.
Your paying job pre- and post-publication:
Pre-publication I was a Management Assistant for the Department of the Army. It's a fancy name for secretary. Post-publication I'm a housewi – ahem – full time writer. My husband was stationed in the Southwest, and we naturally followed. Dang economy.
Your favorite book when you were 10:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
An author or book you recommend again and again:
You don't know the danger you've wandered into with this one! I'm that person you see in bookstores accosting perfect strangers. "Oh, you like historicals? Why don't you try Carrie Lofty. You'd prefer something paranormal? Meljean Brook is fabulous. Something sexier? Then you need some Joey W. Hill." Seriously. Give me a category and I'll go on at length.
Jazz Baby is available now at Samhain Publishing, and you can find Lorelie on-line at www.loreliebrown.com Alyson H. does the Intro Interviews for Dear Author; you can contact her at daintrointerview AT gmail DOT com.