Hi! Kristi here…
About a month ago I was lucky enough to come across J.L. Brown’s debut novel, Don’t Speak. (Click on the title to see my full review.) As one who doesn’t expect much from debut novels, I have to say I was completely blown away by this book. The writing was excellent and the story was gripping and in the moment with this being election season. This book exceeded my expectations and even before I had finished the book J.L. Brown was on my “must-read” author list.
I was so happy and excited when J.L. agreed to an interview for our blog. I know authors are extremely busy so I would like to extend a great big thank you to J.L. for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. I would also like to give big thank you to Audi Brown for helping make this possible. I hope you enjoy getting to know J.L. Brown as much as I have, and now, without further delay, the interview.
KM: Don’t Speak is an absolutely awesome book. How did you come up with the story, and how long did it take you to write the book?
J.L.B.: In 2010, my wife told me that since I read so much, I should write a novel. In my best Michael Jackson voice, I said, “I’m a reader, not a writer.” That night, I had a dream about the plot of my novel. Five years later (including a two-year hiatus), I finished Don’t Speak. Most of the characters and plot survived the journey, as well as the ending.
KM: Is there a little J.L. Brown in Jade Harrington? I felt like I was connecting with you through this character.
J.L.B.: I am an Army brat, former basketball player, and martial artist, but that’s where the similarities between Jade and me end. Jade’s a badass. I wouldn’t want to play her one-on-one in basketball.
KM: I really liked the way you told the story in third-person except the killer’s chapters were in first-person. Why did you write the story this way?
J.L.B.: From the first draft, I wrote the killer’s viewpoint from first-person. I didn’t realize at the time that was unusual. I experimented writing it in third-person, but I didn’t find it as powerful.
(Kristi note: I’m glad she kept it that way. It makes the story more unique and powerful.)
KM: When can we expect the second Jade Harrington book? How many more are there in the series? (A lot, I hope.)
J.L.B.: Good question. My goal is to publish book #2 in the first quarter of 2017. I envision a lot of books in the series. At least twenty.
KM: What do you find the most challenging when it comes to writing?
J.L.B.: Time. I wish I had more time to write.
KM: Do you outline your stories or just let the characters dictate the story as it goes?
J.L.B.: I outline about 100 scenes before I start writing. The scenes change during the writing process, and my characters will sometimes take the story in a different direction, but I know from the beginning how I want it to end.
KM: Do you have a routine when it comes to writing? Do you have a set time to write?
J.L.B.: I write almost every day. I used to have a set routine of writing 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. before work (and I’m NOT a morning person), but now I write after work for two to three hours and most of the weekend.
KM: Who are your favorite authors?
J.L.B.: Wow. There are so many. Some of them, not in any particular order, are: F. Scott Fitzgerald, E.M. Forster, Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Leo Tolstoy, Ken Follett, Harlen Coben, Pat Conroy, Herman Wouk, Ann Patchett, Patricia Cornwell, Phillip Margolin, and Scott Turow.
KM: What types of books do you like to read and what is your all-time favorite book?
J.L.B.: I read a lot of thriller and spy novels, but I also enjoy reading books in other genres: narrative nonfiction, sci-fi, historical fiction, literature, biographies. My favorite book of all time is War and Peace.
KM: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
J.L.B.: Like most endeavors, if you want to be successful, you have to put the time in. And never, ever, give up.
Those sound like great words of advice for writing or anything in life, and great words to end our interview with. Again, I would like to thank J.L. and Audi Brown for making this interview possible. I am anxiously awaiting the next Jade Harrington novel. (And the 18 that follow it.) If you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of Don’t Speak, you can do that now by clicking here. J.L. Brown has graciously made the ebook version FREE now through election day. Don’t forget to connect with J.L. Brown on Facebook, Twitter, and her website. Happy reading!!