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, Marie Brown – Hi! I’m Marie Brown, and I write a lot. I self-publish through Smashwords and Amazon because I got tired of getting “well-written, but not our thing” rejection letters..
Thanks so much, Marie, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
Marie Brown: Yes! Very much so. I read pretty much every story with horses, cats, dogs, or adventure before I discovered sci-fi and fantasy. And those new genres did nothing to discourage my reading habit. I always had a book. On the bus, in class, in my parents’ car, whatever, reading was pretty much my whole life.
JSC: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
MB: I originally wanted to be a writer when I was a kid. I wrote my first short story at the age of four, about a little girl looking for a flower for her mother. (wince) But then I got the ridiculous notion in my little head that writers are some kind of separate species or something, and didn’t write anything else until I was twelve, and my teacher convinced me that writers are just people who write.
After that, I never stopped writing. Discovering I’m good at it, now, that took a long, long time. Because I had to go through years of writing crap before I accepted that I wrote crap and began taking writing classes and workshops. When I started getting nice comments, rather than scathing critiques, that’s when I decided I really can be a writer.
I made my first sale in… either 1999 or 2000, can’t remember which. But that’s when I started thinking I’m okay at this writing stuff.
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose, and why?
MB: I think 1990. I would choose to accept the full ride scholarship to the out of state school that wanted me and break away from what my mom wanted me to do. I think that would have resulted in a completely different life than the one I managed to screw up so thoroughly and well.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
MB: Oh, wow. The word that immediately comes to mind is “eclectic.” My style tends to be pretty clear and direct. I’ve heard the words “in-your-face action” applied to my writing more than once. I tend to think of it as more of a rolling boulder or giant snowball, myself. I tend to avoid fluffy, flowery language, instead keeping things easy to read and very direct, with lots of rising and falling action.
As for genre, well, one of the reasons I self-publish these days is that I don’t always stay neatly in any kind of genre box. I love sci-fi and fantasy, so almost everything I write is sci-fi or fantasy. But sometimes it’s both. And most of the time, romance, horror, and paranormal stuff sneaks in, making it hard to say definitively which genre some of my stories belong in.
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
MB: I’d have to choose PC Hodgell. I met her, once, but had such an extreme fangirl moment that I could barely even say anything. But if I could ask her anything, it’d be, “Can I have a recording of you teaching your creative writing class?” That way I’d have a copy of my favorite writer’s wisdom, tips, and techniques.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
MB: My first published work of fiction was a short story called “Behind the Mask.” It was released in a Hadrosaur Press anthology ages ago, and is currently available for free from my website (evilkittenproject.net) or Smashwords. It’s a sci-fi story, kind of a fanfic of a fanfic.
I read a Battlestar Galactica fanfiction with a concept that really got hold of my imagination, and asked the author for permission to adapt her idea into an original story of my own. She graciously agreed, and I wrote the story of an asteroid miner who got kidnapped by a legendary race, the Mazuri, and became something other than human. Which, of course, resulted in difficulties when Kevran tried to go back home. Lots of difficulties.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
MB: There is currently a cat’s tail stretched out along the spacebar area of my keyboard. It belongs to Tasha, a big orange tabby that thinks my computer is there to sleep on. I have two other cats, Sweetie and Puff, who also enjoy laying on my keyboard.
JSC: What’s your writing process?
MB: My writing process involves a LOT of thinking. I have a day job that eats up 50-60 hours a week, plus a heck of a lot of time spent commuting, so I tend to store up a lot of stuff in my head to write on the weekends. I’ll come up with an idea, or a world, or a character that interests me. Then I think up a general outline, to see if there’s enough story there to bother with. If there is, and I like it, then I’ll come up with three scenes at a time. That way, I always have something in reserve, because chances are really good I won’t have time to write more than one scene a day.
I do frequently get up at 4:30am so I can squeeze in an hour of writing before work, but again, not too likely to get more than a scene done. And then, when the weekend comes around, I park myself in front of my computer and write ’till my hands hurt.
NaNoWriMo plays a huge part in this process, because it guarantees three months out of the year with a requirement to write, and a reward for hitting my wordcount goal. Even a little image to stick on my website is a worthy reward, after all!
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
MB: Pern. No contest. I’ve loved Pern since the day I discovered it. My friends and I used to role-play being on Pern long before LARP-ing became a thing. It just seems like an amazing place to live, and there’s always the slight possibility of getting Searched, or maybe Impressing a fire-lizard…
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
MB: I have three current novel-length projects that I’m trying to finish. The only one I’ve given a tentative deadline is Firestorm, the sequel to Eternal.
Despite occasional reader complaints of “It’s so long!” for Eternal, well, Firestorm is a honkin’ big book, too. I’m hoping to get it finished and ready to release in time for Valentine’s Day. This may or may not happen, because it’s a huge project and I’m slightly behind on it at the moment.
And now for Marie’s new book: The Hidden Game:
This omnibus edition contains all three novels in the Hidden Game series: Luminous, God’s War, and Dawnfire.
Necessity forces Prince Telion of Amrontil to enter into an alliance marriage with Prince Farven of Vinge. Normal in Vinge, such a thing was completely unheard of in stuffy Amrontil. But Farven brings a cadre of powerful mages with him, and the promise to train any with mage ability to fight against the unstoppable armies of Un. Little does Telion know, his Prince also brings love and adventure…
Farven and Telion return in this sequel to Luminous. Transformed from Princes into fugitives by the unbelievable events of a single chaotic night, the two decide to take their followers to the mysterious city of Prime, capitol of Vinge, the land once protected by the magical Barrier. But the aggressive Un warriors have no intention of letting the humans rest and regroup. Neither do the demons…
Farven and Telion return in the conclusion to the Hidden Game series. Humanity is given a fresh start on the beautiful, unspoiled world known as Dawnfire, but the two Princes must leave the lovely world behind on a journey through the worst hell of all to rescue God’s partner, a Divine held captive in the Obsidian Heartbreak for six hundred years.
Telion felt a fluttery feeling of excitement mixed with terror clench his midsection. He’d never gone into combat before, and most certainly not as a mage.
“And so it begins,” Farven said, sounding subdued. “The death of over a thousand years of idealistic refusal to fight, as battlemages take to the field once again.”
“And what a field, too.” Their “battlefield” was really the lawn in front of the manor house, a smooth, manicured expanse of still-green grass. From there, they would destroy the invaders in perfect safety.
“I don’t know whether to be terrified or excited,” Farven confessed. Telion gave him a tight grin. “I know the feeling. Ready?”
“I’d better be, because here we are.”
The lawn was pleasant and fresh with early morning dew. The sun was out this day, in a sparkling clean sky fresh from two days of chilly rain.
“This does not look like a field of battle,” Telion said, then Erb Rashkalan began speaking.
“Fellow luminants, the time has arrived that we of the Magemeet have been preparing for since time out of mind. Are you prepared to do battle?”
In response, the mages formed a circle and said as one, “We stand ready.”
“So be it. Cashion? Find our first target, please.”
Cashion, a middle-aged woman with salt and pepper hair and the strongest talent for seeing the Magemeet possessed, folded her legs and sank to the ground gracefully. “Working,” she said, her voice very abstracted, her eyes closed.
A long moment later, Cashion spoke again. “First target is on the left flank. The mage group assigned there has not yet arrived. The Un forces are advancing through heavy cannon fire, but there are more than enough of them to roll right through the artillery line.”
“Give me the reference?” Rashkalan requested. Pause. “Thank you. Erbs, join me. Good. Farven, join with Telion. Then join our meet. Good. First spell, Thunderground.”
Too late for fear or second thoughts now. Thunderground required complete concentration and five part energy management. They built the spell at a distance, on a battlefield seen through Cashion. Energy hummed and crackled around their physical bodies as the mages prepared to unleash their destructive force in anger for the first time since the Founding Wars.
Then Erb Rashkalan released the spell. The mages watched through Cashion’s sight as the ground seemed to depress under the Un warriors’ feet. Then an explosion burst upward, fountaining dirt and stones and metal bodies high into the air.
Telion felt an immediate horror, and a distant sense of relief that they had destroyed unstoppable mechanical creations, not living beings.
“Good job,” Erb Rashkalan said calmly, although his voice sounded strained. “And again.”
“Marie Brown has lived in many locations across the United States, but
spends most of her time exploring the realms of imagination. Currently
located in Colorado, her brief moments of free time are spent in front of
her computer, frequently covered in cats.”
Yeah, okay, that’s all true. But I’m tired of hiding behind a bland, third-person pseudo-bio, utterly lacking in personality.
Hi! I’m Marie Brown, and I write a lot. I self-publish through Smashwords and Amazon because I got tired of getting “well-written, but not our thing” rejection letters. Because, you see, most of my fiction tends to include characters that are either bi or just plain homosexual, and despite increasing acceptance of human sexuality and its many variations across the world, heroes and heroines are still supposed to be straight.
Well, mine aren’t. So if you’re brave, and you don’t mind that the main character of a story either isn’t interested in sex at all, or is quite likely to hop in bed with someone of the same gender, then give my writings a chance. Come explore my fantasy worlds, or my science fiction worlds, or even spend some time with an occasional random love story set on Earth.
And by the way, just this once, I wrote this entire blurb without a cat on my keyboard.