You can't help falling in love with Eleanor Brown--both her AND her writing. I don't remember how we first met, but I remember the moments, and they always make me smile. Going out to dinner with a bunch of other writers and celebrating that we both made the New York Times Bestseller List--she for her amazing novel, The Weird Sisters. Being at the Pulpwood Queen's Girlfriend Weekend together and she had the best, best, best costumes of all of us (We were supposed to dress like clowns for a circus theme.) And I saw Ron Charles of the Washington Post interview her at the fabulous Gaithersburg Book Festival. We email. We bond. I adore her. She's smart, funny, full of heart, and her new novel THE LIGHT OF PARIS is wonderful. And I'm so happy to have her here. Eleanor! Come to our house and visit!
The Weird Sisters was an incredible sensation, shooting you justifiably into fame. Did this help or hinder writing your second novel and why?
It hindered it terribly, but that was 100% my problem. I know it sounds like whining from the penthouse, but following up a success is stressful in its own right.
I was also very determined not just to put out another book – I wanted to put out the right book. A good book. So I’m glad I waited until I had that. And whatever happens now is out of my control, so I can just enjoy people connecting with Margie and Madeleine, which is really the main reason I write – so we’ll all feel less lonely, me included.
What is it about Paris for you?
Ironically, I am not a big fan of Paris. (I KNOW! I’m just not a big city person.) But that actually makes me even more interested in it – what the hell is it about Paris?
In the story, Paris is a symbol more than anything, of the life we want to live. Because when we think of Paris, we think of wearing elegantly tied scarves and drinking coffee in cafés and wandering slowly across the bridges of the Seine and writing fantastic poetry and making beautiful art. We think of our best selves, of the people we would be if we didn’t have to worry about paying bills or doing the dishes.
And I think that’s a good thing to consider – the person you would be if you were in Paris, and then ask yourself how you can get closer to that while still managing to pay your mortgage and go to the gym.
I love that your books are always so full of sparkling humor—but how do you do it? Are you naturally funny? Do you laugh out loud?
That is a sweet thing to say! With The Weird Sisters, I think I was startled to find out people thought it was funny, but I guess that’s just my natural voice. With The Light of Paris, I did make a conscious effort to be funny, partially because poor Madeleine is having such a tough time of it I didn’t want readers to get depressed!
But I do love to laugh, and I’m fortunate to have a sweetie who makes me laugh like no one else. I’ve also been told I have a great laugh, so you all should come to one of my tour events and tell me a really funny joke so you can hear it.
How the past impacts the present—and the future—is a big theme in your novel. Do you think we can ever escape who we came from? (Especially in the light of new scientific research that shows that emotions and experiences can be passed down in our DNA?)
Ugh, that is such a huge question (clearly, I just spent 300 pages in The Light of Paris trying to answer it. And in The Weird Sisters, come to think of it).
I do think we always carry our histories with us, and we can’t escape them. But I do think we can make conscious choices about how we want those things to affect us. We had a few really hard years and I found myself becoming sadder and more negative, so I’ve made a really active effort to reclaim my natural sunniness – recording blessings in my journal, doing things that make me happy, finding new friends.
The past is the past, but we get to decide our own future.
What’s obsessing you now and why?
Justin Trudeau. I mean.
What question didn’t I ask that I should have?
Where I’m going to be touring! I really love being on the road and meeting readers, so I hope folks take a look at www.eleanor-brown.com/events and come see me if I’ll be near you (and if I won’t be, ask your local bookstore or library to invite me for the paperback release!).
I also keep folks posted at www.facebook.com/eleanorbrownwriter and post happy-making things there, so you can come say hi.