As a former teacher, library staff member, freelance magazine writer and national book reviewer, Marilyn has spent much of her life lost in literature. She's been told -- and not always with the intent to flatter -- that she's "insatiably curious" and "a travel addict." She admits to combining these two passions by taking classes in foreign countries whenever possible and, consequently, she's been able to learn lots of fascinating things in Australia, in England, in Italy and in universities across the United States.
|Marilyn at RWA in Orlando|
from Marilyn's blog
Kim: Tell us about your home in Chicago - what's your favorite sight, sound, and smell!
Marilyn: Oh, this is a great question, Kim! Until last month, it had been a while since I visited somewhere very different from Chicago. You and I met in downtown NYC at the end of the RWA Conference (!!) but, while New York was charged with more activity than I'm used to getting at home, being in the heart of a city still has a familiar feel to me. In October, though, I had a chance to visit the Pacific Northwest for the first time and, while I loved the experience, it did succeed in making me feel as though I'd traveled pretty far away. So many tall evergreens there! As for my hometown favorites, I absolutely love the sight of the changing fall leaves. There's something about their flaming colors against a crisp blue Midwestern sky that I always associate with life here and that remind me of the autumns of years past. My favorite smell comes courtesy of a pizza parlor my husband and I have been going to for 20+ years: The Pizza Bakery. Their hand-tossed mushroom pizza with a perfectly zesty sauce and lots of cheese is delicious...and it smells wonderful! As for sounds, my favorite one is that of my husband's and son's voices. I hadn't realized how much I'd miss hearing them in person while I was away from home!
|Marilyn and her husband in Pompeii|
Kim; "Travel Addict" - not a bad moniker. Can you share a favorite "thing" you experienced in Australia, England and Italy?
Marilyn: Absolutely! I'll do the first two very quickly and the third more leisurely: Australia -- holding a koala!! England -- taking a class on Jane Austen! As for Italy...well, right now, because I'm in the midst of a blog tour for A Summer in Europe, I've been talking a lot about my travel addiction and my favorite memories abroad. Whenever possible, I've been trying to share a more in depth experience about a different European city on each blog, so it's kind of like a travel tour as well as a book tour (I've got the "trip itinerary" up on my website: www.marilynbrant.com). Since my characters start their journey in Italy, I'll tell you one of my favorite sites that I'd visited was Pompeii. (I've included a photo of my husband and I from back in the early 1990s...) I appreciated the incredible history of the place -- you could really see hints of what some of the ruins might have been like when they were large standing buildings there, almost 2,000 years ago! We were also in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, and it was altogether too easy to imagine the tragedy of that famous volcanic eruption. And one fact that I found particularly fascinating was how their walkways had small tiles, called cat eyes, in the ground, which would catch the moonlight or candlelight and help to illuminate the paths of the long-ago residents. Amazing to me how well-planned their city had been!
|Marilyn with Italian import Fabio!|
From Marilyn's website
Kim: "Insatiably curious" - also not a bad moniker. No doubt it lead to you exploring new ideas ... and your Golden Heart. Tell us what it felt like to hear your name called?
Marilyn: Thanks, the Golden Heart win was very exciting! I was, however, battling some mixed feelings when I heard my name called. What I truly appreciated was the honor of winning my category ("Best Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements"), especially when I knew how many entries had been submitted and how many talented writers were nominees that year. I'm not a huge fan of public speaking, though...and there were over 2,000 people in the audience that night when I had to give my acceptance speech!! I only half remember what I said then, but I do remember how stunned and delighted I felt. And I still love wearing the golden necklace sometimes :).
Kim: Tell us about A SUMMER IN EUROPE - what inspired it?
Marilyn: A couple of things combined were what first inspired the story. For one, I've been a fan of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View since I saw the Merchant & Ivory production back in the mid-1980s and read the novel. So, I wanted to write something that had overtones of that book but was a thoroughly modern story. I also did quite a bit of backpacking through Europe and a few bus tours with my husband in those years before we became parents. So, I had all of these impressions of cities I'd loved and a collection of experiences (not to mention all the foreign chocolate & ice cream I'd tasted...), and I very much wanted to show the power of travel in opening up a character's mind and getting her to look at her life anew. Additionally, it was an opportunity to highlight more than "a few of my favorite things," to quote The Sound of Music song. My characters got to visit sites I adored, listen to music I'm crazy about and taste test dishes that make my mouth water. It was a pure pleasure to write this book!
|Helena Bonham Carter in A ROOM WITH A VIEW|
Kim: What's next for Marilyn Brant?
Marilyn: I've got two new projects in the works right now, both under the umbrella of contemporary women's fiction (well, one is for sure WF...the other is a bit of a genre bender, LOL :). As I continue to work with my agent on getting these manuscripts finished and ready to submit to publishers, I'm also preparing to edit another romantic comedy for the digital market that I'll most likely publish myself next year. I released two romances this summer -- On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping -- and I was delighted by how well they were received. Not only was it interesting to learn more about the ebook world, but I appreciated being able to keep the price under $3 for readers and release the books on my own schedule. My first literary love was romantic comedy, so it was exciting to get to delve into those stories, go wild with light dialogue and tell part of each tale in the hero's point of view. Always great fun for me!
Thanks so much for having me here today, Kim, and best wishes to everyone!!
Mahalo, Marilyn, for joining us at SOS Aloha! I look forward to seeing you in your hometown when RT comes to Chicago ... you'll be safe from me in the taxi line! In honor of your visit, I am giving away a Hawaiian travel trinket to one randomly selected commenter. To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about a book or movie that inspired you to visit its locale (even if you haven't visited it yet). Needless to say, Braveheart inspired me to visit Scotland.
2. This giveaway is open to all readers.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, December 3, 10 pm in Hawaii. I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 4.
Kim in Hawaii
To learn more about Marilyn, her books, and her travels, check out Marilyn's social media:
Amazon link for A SUMMER IN EUROPE