Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Sarah Hadley Brook – Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go.
Sarah is giving away an ebook of “A Love to Remember,” the first book in the series, with this post – for a chance to win, just comment on this post below.
Thanks so much, Sarah, for joining me!
Hi. I’m so excited to be here talking about my newest release, “Everything He Wants” (The Men of Wesley Lake #2), answer some questions, and give away an ebook — “A Love to Remember” (The Men of Wesley Lake #1).
So let’s get started!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Sarah Hadley Brook: There are three writers who influenced me as a child: Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Judy Blume. Louisa May Alcott’s Jo in Little Women and Laura in the Little House on the Prairie series portrayed strong, creative women that had a story to tell. I knew I had my own stories to share and as a child, I started writing stories for my stuffed animals.
Of course, growing up in the 80s, I was a fan of Judy Blume’s books. She wrote about important issues relevant to children of that era, using humor and warmth, and inspired me to keep writing my little stories. My teachers encouraged me and I had dreams of becoming a great writer, but life got busy and I put those dreams aside.
I started writing again as an adult and after time, began sharing with people. Letting others read the words I had written was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. I expected to be laughed at, told there was no way I would ever be a real writer, or placated by friends, which would be worse than hearing the truth.
Instead, I received positive feedback that only made me want to continue writing.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
SHB: My goal is always a happily ever after. Growing up, reading was an escape—it still is—and we all need to turn off the noise from our chaotic world once in a while. I want to write sweet stories (with some hot sex scenes thrown in, of course) that let the reader believe in love and all of life’s possibilities.
JSC: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
SHB: First of all, I would yell at myself and tell myself to stop hiding and write! To stop telling myself that nobody would read my stories and just write. To work at it and keep working at it. I waited so long to follow my passion—wasting years. Years I could have been living my dream.
Yes, life gets in the way, but it shouldn’t get in the way of living. There’s a difference. Push yourself to meet your goals and then set new ones. Keep going. It’s the only way to learn and grow and experience everything life has to offer.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story?
SHB: While I was writing A Love to Remember, I knew I had to write Marc’s story. He was such a sweet guy that wanted to find love, but he wasn’t sure how to go about it. The fictional Wesley Lake where both stories take place, is based on a lake I often vacationed at while growing up and I enjoyed writing it so much, I wanted to revisit it. There is a quiet beauty to a small-town lake—a close-knit community of people that want to enjoy life.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
SHB: When I was 21 years old I was diagnosed with Agoraphobia. For 6 months I was so scared to walk through my front door, I didn’t leave my apartment. It took a lot of therapy before I was able to go anywhere without panicking. Even the grocery store was too overwhelming. Today, it’s mostly about getting through the front door. Just bracing myself and walking out. Once I do that, the rest of the fear generally subsides and I can continue on with my day mostly unaffected. But there are still mornings where the panic takes hold and I internally fight myself to open that door. I notice if I stay in for the whole weekend, it makes Monday mornings even harder. I’ve come to accept that I will probably always feel like this, but every day I get the chance to fight against it.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held?
SHB: My first job in high school was working the drive-thru at a McDonald’s. Over the years I’ve also worked as a telephone operator, an engraver, a data entry clerk, a child care director, a loan funder, head of quality control for a finance company, an office manager, and an executive director for a nonprofit (currently).
I often pull from those experiences when writing my characters.
JSC: What do you like to read in your spare time?
SHB: I read practically every genre, but horror—although I read Dean Koontz. I love mysteries, romances, historical, and sci-fi. As for nonfiction, I love reading about anthropological finds, old cities buried beneath centuries of changing geography, artifacts that tell us how someone from the past may have lived and died, eaten, made a living. I also like to learn about space because that fascinates me. There is no way we are alone—space is too vast a place to only house one small planet of people.
So basically, put a book in front of me and I’m going to read it.
JSC: Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
SHB: I am a huge history geek. Learning about the past is a hobby of mine. No matter the time period, there is so much we can learn about humanity from the past. That being said, if I had a choice to visit the future or the past, I would choose the future, for several reasons. First, I don’t think I could narrow down a time period to visit—when would I choose? Pioneers facing the old west? When the Vikings traveled across the ocean? Ancient Egypt? Too many choices! I would love to see the future, though. Does humanity ever figure out how to save our planet? Do we ever learn to accept each other and love each other? Or would I travel to the future only to find that the world is a barren place, destroyed by the choices humans made? But I hold out hope that I would meet an enlightened humanity that endeavors to take care of our planet, treat all people with love and respect, and continue to learn and evolve. I would also love to find out if we ever invent the technology to travel to other planets and meet other beings.
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
SHB: Oh- one of my favorite topics! I am a Star Trek Voyager fan from the day it began. Captain Janeway is my idol! I had already been a fan of The Next Generation, but when Voyager started, I ventured into “super fan” territory. A woman that could command a ship, be treated with respect while treating others the same, and could alternate between fierce and vulnerable? It was eye-opening. And thrilling!
I enjoy Star Wars, too, but I will forever be a Star Trek fan. It fascinates me that so many of the ideas they come up with are often turned into reality years later. The science behind the shows is realistic—for the most part.
JSC: What are you working on now?
SHB: I tend to work on several stories at once, stopping one when I need to reevaluate the story or hit a brick wall. But when I get past the rough draft and dive into the real editing, smoothing out the edges, recreating scenes, then I put any other story aside and focus on that.
Currently I’m working on a story about three brothers that live on a ranch that will be a full-length novel, a novella about two men who cross that line from best friends into something more as they take to the skies and spend a week at an airplane convention, and the third book in the Men of Wesley Lake series. I’m not sure which I’ll finish first—I let the story kind of dictate that to me and let me know when it’s time to get serious about finishing it.
And now for Sarah’s new book: Everything He Wants:
Graham’s best friend Marc Byrne has been in a self-imposed dry spell for the past six months, reevaluating his life. Tired of the bar scene, he wants something true and lasting like Graham found with Sam. He wants to find Mr. Right.
When Marc meets the gorgeous, motorcycle riding, tattooed man of his dreams at a lake party, he falls hard and fast. Reminding himself that was how he was hurt before, he puts the man out his mind. Easier said than done.
Aiden Wright is blown away by Marc and wants to get to know him better, but he keeps running and Aiden can’t figure out why. The attraction between them is intense and Aiden is sure he can give Marc what he wants, if he’ll just take a chance.
The Men of Wesley Lake Book Two
Marc brushed past Aiden, and stepped outside. The path leading to the road and the driveway was actually up a hill some, so they walked quietly, Marc in front until they reached the road. When he laid eyes on the motorcycle, he gasped and spun around.
“You have a vintage motorcycle?”
Aiden’s eyes crinkled as he smiled. “Yeah. It’s a 1969 Triumph 500. I rebuilt her myself. It’s a hobby. You know about motorcycles?”
“Some. I read. A lot.” Marc was completely impressed as he traced his hand over the cycle. The green paint job was gorgeous in the moonlight. The long seat was made of soft, black leather and he couldn’t wait to ride it. “Great hobby,” he murmured.
Aiden laughed. “Yeah. I enjoy it. You have any hobbies? I mean, other than being the world’s foremost expert on George Michael?” he asked as grabbed the two helmets and offered Marc one before he swung a leg over and settled in.
Marc put his on. It was a little big, but he was used to things being too big. It had been like that all his life. “Yeah. I love dancing. Reading.” Marc grinned. “And just so you know, the man was an amazing artist and had a fabulous solo career. I have several concert shirts, and all sorts of collectibles. You should see them!”
Aiden nodded, his eyes twinkling in the moonlight. “Sounds great. I’ve never been a fan of someone so much I collect anything. I’m impressed.” He patted the bike seat behind him. “Hop on.”
“Oh, hang on. Let me throw this into my car,” he said, holding up his backpack. He tossed it into the back seat and walked back over to Aiden.
Marc struggled a little with climbing on. He was short and the bike wasn’t but he finally got on, wrapped his arms around Aiden, pressing his chest to Aiden’s back. His heart sped up as Aiden started the engine.
“Hold on tight,” he called back.
Marc tightened his arms and felt Aiden’s chuckle as he merged onto the empty road. He followed the path around the lake until they drove over the dam and then out onto the country roads, where he sped up.
His soul was flying as they rode under the open sky, the stars twinkling high above. Cool air blew against them and scooted closer to Aiden, soaking up his warmth. It had been incredibly hot earlier, but the nights could get cool rather quickly.
Marc leaned forward, resting his head against Aiden’s back. The man was pure muscle and he felt safe with him, even after just meeting him. He breathed in deep and sighed. He could get used to touching Aiden.
Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats.
During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go.
When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals.
In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have co-starred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity to live.
She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.
The Great Pretender
The Promise of Hope Shelter
Fate Heats Things Up
Eggplant Highlights and Mustard Yellow Jeans
Officer Charming and the Prince Who Wooed Him
Home for Christmas
A Love to Remember (Men of Wesley Lake #1)
Everything He Wants (Men of Wesley Lake #2)
In His Arms (July 2018)
Courted (August 2018)