Friday, February 12, 2016

Brains and Beauty by Jeanette Watts - Interview and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jeanette Watts will be awarding a Victorian cameo necklace to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

I don't have only one genre. My newest book, Brains and Beauty, is historic fiction. I was drawn to historic fiction because I love biography and history. I like bringing history to life, in all its juicy, glorious detail. But I have also written a textbook on how to waltz, and plan on doing an entire series on different dances. My next fiction book, currently in the hands of an editor, is a modern satire. I also want to write a children's book, which will be dedicated to my old landlord in Pittsburgh who was my mentor and guardian angel and passed away last year. And, on the other end of the spectrum, I'm thinking about writing erotic fiction. When I read Fifty Shades of Grey, I thought "I can do this!" I have a pretty solid idea about the characters, and a format that is, I think, a bit unusual. But it would present an interesting challenge!

What research is required?

Tons of it! The central premise for any work of historic fiction is "do your homework." Then do some more. Assume nothing. Get experts on that era in history to look it over and find all the errors. It's more than just getting the facts down - like finding that I couldn't refer to my grandmother's bad-tempered Pekingese, because the breed wasn't around yet in 1875. You have to understand how things were used historically. I still remember cringing at one piece of historic fiction I tried to read, because the writer assumed that the moment the telephone was invented, it was used exactly the way we use it today. (Well, used it 15 years ago when the book was written.) It wasn't. Businesses had telephones installed, but private homes did it much later, and originally home phones were used to call the stables to tell the groom to saddle your horse. You did not use a telephone to chat with the lady down the street. Lastly, to write historic fiction you have to research language. I nearly put a couple big, fat errors in Brains and Beauty - I hadn't known that the word "sex" was only used as a synonym for "gender" until 1929. It wasn't used to describe intercourse. And the word "baby" to describe your youngest sibling was not around in the 1800s.

Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

That I'm a bigger cynic than I ever realized. Regina is actually a poor communicator. She loves people, but she's also given up on them. There's not much point in telling people what you're really thinking, like when something's really bothering you, because it won't change or fix anything. People are going to do what they want, it doesn't matter what you want. It's kind of a cynical way of looking at people. But if that's what she thinks, and it came out of me, part of me must think that way, too.

Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I don't know how quirky this is, but I love doing my writing in pretty places. While I do plenty of writing in my office, I love to go on little writing retreats I set up for myself. When I was on my way to a dance workshop north of Pittsburgh, I went early and detoured and spent 3 days in Allegheny National Forest in a cute little cabin with gorgeous hills in front of me and a stream right next to the cabin. Another time I spent a week in a cabin owned by friends of mine in Canada right on Lake Erie. Both these places also happened to have excellent wineries in the area, which made for nice excuses to take a break once in a while.

Plotter or pantser?

Depends on the book. My next book, Jane Austen Lied to Me, was plotted. It's a satire, I don't think you can NOT plot out a satire. But Wealth and Privilege refused to stick to the outline. Brains and Beauty is a companion book, so I had a strict road map I had to follow. Everything I wrote had to fit in with everything I'd already written - only within those parameters could I simply let go and see what happens.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

Heaps of papers, audio and video equipment for converting tapes, LPs, and VHS to digital (I'm a dance instructor, I'm always converting music or old performance tapes from one of my dance troupes), empty cassette tape cases, an eraser, a lump of poster putty, an Air Canada boarding pass, one of those squished souvenir pennies (I think it's from Wright-Patt AFB), a flash drive, a paper clip, a DVD from a past cancan performance, a book on social dances from the American Revolution, and a metal 3-D model kit of Kylo Ren's command shuttle, waiting to be assembled (that's Star Wars, for any non-Jedis out there). Wow, I need to clean my desk. I'm glad you didn't ask me to look to my left.

Anything new coming up from you? What? As I mentioned, the next thing coming down the pipeline is called Jane Austen Lied to Me. It's a satire about a college girl who absolutely loves Mr. Darcy... until she meets a real live one. Then it doesn't come out quite the same as the books. So she meets a real live Captain Wentworth. Once again, things don't work out like they do in the books... you get the idea.

Do you have a question for our readers?

Do you prefer electrons or dead trees? (Since I know you want to know, I'm a dead tree person. Don't know why it is I process words better on paper, but ereaders just don't plug into my brain right.)

Regina Waring seems to have it all. A loving husband, a successful business, and the most expensive wardrobe in town. But nothing is what it appears to be. Her husband is critical and demanding, the business teeters on ruin, even the opulent wardrobe is a clever illusion.

Regina’s life is one long tiptoe through a minefield; one wrong step and her entire life is going to blow up and destroy her. Attempting to hold it all together, she appeases the husband, dresses the part, and never, never says what she is really thinking. That would get in the way of getting things done. And, if there’s one thing Regina did really well, it was getting things done.

Enter Thomas Baldwin. Young and handsome and completely off limits, Regina is smitten at first sight. Then, to her great astonishment, he slowly becomes her best friend. He’s the one person in her life who never lets her down. Torn between her fascination with him and her desire not to ruin a marvelous friendship, she tries to enjoy each moment with him as it comes.

If only that were enough.

Enjoy an excerpt:

There was grunting, and the sound of wood groaning, and then a wet thump as they lifted and threw something. Regina could tell that there was a little more room behind her shoulder blades. There was more grunting and dragging and thumping. Then she heard them both groan.

“What’s going on back there? Have I been cut off at the waist?” she asked. Not being able to see what was wrong, or the progress they were having, was making her anxious.

“The next layer is completely wedged in. We can’t do this without tools,” Isaac told her.

Both men hurried away from her, making her worry for their safety. She had also found their company reassuring. What if neither one of them was able to find her again?

That’s when she saw the flickering orange glow in the distance. “No.”

Yes. It didn’t seem possible – but in the midst of water floating below, and pouring from above, something had caught on fire.

Regina started listing in her head all the accelerants that might be contained in a single drygoods store: tar, pitch, turpentine, kerosene. How many homes used all of them? How many gas lines were ruptured all over the city? How many wood stoves were knocked into them? There was no way this heap would NOT be set on fire.

And here she was, stuck, in the middle of it. No doubt about it, she was about to die in the same town in which she was born. It was a shame, really. She had such high aspirations.

About the Author:
Jeanette Watts only lived in Pittsburgh for four years, but in her heart, she will always be a Pittsburgher. She missed the city so much after her move to Ohio, she had to write a love story about it.

She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing. When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.

Buy Link:

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So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?