Today I’m visiting with award-winning author and freelance writer Brooke Williams. Brooke’s fiction spans genres but all of her books feature ordinary people facing challenges with courage and grace. Today Brooke talks to us about her writing process and how she manages to write novel after novel AND maintain an active freelance career while caring for two very young children.
Be sure to read on after our chat for my review of Brooke’s Someone Always Loved You.
Author Brooke Williams
Someone Always Loved You, the book featured today, is a family drama, but the subject matter of your novels varies a great deal—from romantic comedies like Taxi Delivery to your suspense novel Beyond the Bars. How do you decide what to write and what, if any, themes do you find uniting your various books?
I think what I write is decided for me! The ideas come to me and I only write them when they bug me so much that I simply cannot NOT write them. Someone Always Loved You is the first book I ever wrote and it is the one I was most inspired to write. I always wanted to write a book that featured someone in a coma. My grandma was in a coma on two occasions, and I wondered what she thought, if she could hear, things like that. Once I came up with the prologue for the book, I HAD to write it down. And once I did that, I desperately wanted to see what would happen. When it comes to writing, I will get a basic idea for a book and then, once I get the first scene in my head, the rest happens as I write it. I don’t plot and scheme outside of my computer time. There are characteristics that are similar in characters throughout my books, I think. Probably because of who I am. Otherwise, I think my overall themes are similar too in the underlying spiritual contexts. But like you said, I’ve written a bit of it all. I’ve had recent success in romantic comedy and that’s where I’m sticking for the time being. But who knows what idea will hit me next!
You’re married and the mother of two young girls. You also undertake quite a bit of freelance (non-fiction) writing. How do you make time for your fiction?
It’s certainly not easy and it’s not something I get time to do everyday. My girls come first, hands down. They are 5 and 18 months old and I’ve been a bit of a stickler when it comes to naps. When I figured out how to get them to nap at the same time, I was able to carve writing time out each day. My oldest doesn’t really nap anymore, but she has fun playing alone in her room for an hour or so while the little one naps. I have to prioritize my freelance writing at times and make sure I hit deadlines with clients. They pay, after all. The fiction doesn’t! At least not right away! Though I have several books under contract, so when I have editing deadlines, I put those items first. I have a lot on my plate and only 1-2 hours a day, tops, in which to do things. The good news is that I work really fast and seem to be able to fit it all in. I can only imagine what I’ll be able to get done in a few years once my youngest is in school and I’m all alone for big chunks of the day!
Your books demonstrate a strong faith in God and in a way that enhances and supports the work without overpowering it. Are you conscious of your audience as you write? How do you strike a balance between remaining true to your beliefs and being entertaining to readers who may have more secular points of view?
I don’t really think of the audience when I write. I think, for me, that part comes later in editing. I just think of the story, the characters, where things are going, how to make happen what the story and characters say should happen. I think my faith blends itself into my writing as it does my life. I’m not an overpowering in your face person of faith in real life so I am not in my writing either. And yet my faith is always there and is a huge part of my life. I think it just comes through in my writing as part of who I am. Even when I am writing a character that seems nothing like me, there are little bits of me in them. I have a novella coming out December 9th called Wrong Place, Right Time and I had intended to make that a Christian romance. Due to the plot line and the circumstance surrounding the piece, it became more of a romantic comedy. It’s clean comedy, it has some spiritual elements, but there is no hard hitting faith message. And it works better that way in this instance. I was trying to push it to be something it shouldn’t have been and that’s the last thing I want to do.
Some writers are quite protective of their work—they won’t show it to anyone until it’s as polished as possible. Others seek feedback early and often. At what point do you invite an outside eye into your process? Do you have a beta reader? And, when you get advice on revising your work, how likely are you to take it?
I’m protective in some ways and not in others. I’m protective over Someone Always Loved You and do not want to hand that book over to a publisher. I just can’t let it go. But I appreciate people reading my work in any stage. I recently wrote another romantic comedy entitled Mamarazzi (due to be released in August 2015) and I enlisted the help of several beta readers on that one. I wasn’t looking for spelling and grammar help because I know that will come with an editor. But I wanted overall feedback. Did the story make sense? Was I missing any plot holes? So on and so forth. I sent it to beta readers right after I completed it. I hadn’t edited ANYTHING at all myself yet. They pointed out a few things and I really appreciated the help. I went back through and did my own self-editing and changed what they suggested. I then sent it to my publisher and received a contract thanks to their help! So I’m very open to ideas from others. That being said, everyone has an opinion and sometimes those opinions clash with my own. I was once told that I should completely trash Someone Always Loved You and re-write it from scratch. That came from someone who hadn’t read it, so (…) I ignored that advice and many people have greatly enjoyed the book as it is.
There’s a semi-serious saying: what publishing needs are fewer writers and more readers. So many of us come to writing through a passion for reading. But then the writing sort of pushes out the reading. Have you experienced this? How do you make time for reading?
I don’t spend nearly as much time reading as I could if I weren’t writing, that much is true. If I didn’t have my freelance writing and author career, I would probably spend a lot of the time I spend writing reading instead. I write because I love to read! However, since I love to read and always have, it’s not something I am willing to give up. Actually, right now, I am “reading” an audio book. I have a book on my kindle on my phone. And I have a paperback. I read little chunks here and there throughout the day. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t read. And like writing, I read fast. I used to read a book a week or more back when I was in radio. Today I’m slower, but I still have to read. I want to support other authors and I just plain love it. It’s as much a part of my life as writing. Now that I think of it, I actually DO spend more time reading than writing if you count the endless children’s books I read to my daughters! I’m starting them on the reading addiction early.
What do you enjoy reading? Do you find your reading influences your writing—either in style or content? Of the books you’ve read and loved, which one made you stop and think: Gee, I wish I’d written this one!
Like with my writing, my reading tastes are varied. I like romantic comedy and clean romance, but I also like James Patterson Thrillers and others like his. I love Karen Kingsbury and I really enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife. Lately, I have been blown away by Heather Gudenkauf and wish that I had written her books. She’s from Iowa and I grew up there so I feel like success for a Midwestern author is possible. Plus her books are just amazing! I also enjoy Dan Walsh, though (there are) historical aspects in his books, and I know I don’t have the knowledge to do that or the patience for heavy research. And I have liked Richard Paul Evans for a long time as well. I started my book God in the Kitchen with his style in mind though it didn’t turn out like his books at all as I continued with it!
What are you working on now? How did you come up with the project?
I started a new romantic comedy called Love is a Roller Coaster, but I only got three chapters in when other writing projects took over. When I’m writing a novel, I like to write the novel. Period. I like to put all other jobs on hold and write. But with Wrong Place, Right Time coming out December 9th, I have editing and promotional work to do there. Accept this Dandelion, another romantic comedy inspired by the Bachelor TV show, is due to come out Feb 2015 and will be in the editing phase soon. Couple that with my freelance jobs and I haven’t been able to concentrate on a new story. But I came up with the idea for Love is a Roller Coaster after visiting the Adventureland theme park with my daughter this summer.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you being doing (professionally) with your life?
Gosh, I’m not sure! I was in radio for 12 years, but I left that career to stay home with my daughters. When I left radio, I knew I wanted to do some sort of “work” from home. I knew any job I had would have to be a home-based thing. I’ve always loved to write so I figured looking into writing jobs would be a good idea. When I left radio, I didn’t know what I was going to do. But research and time and a little go-and-get-it attitude created a career in freelance writing which then led me back to fiction. I liked many aspects of radio, but honestly, if I’d known writing was an option in terms of a viable career, I would have left years before I did. I can’t imagine doing anything else now. I feel like I am where I was meant to be…doing what I love to do. I can’t believe people actually pay me to make things up! And I look forward to having more time to do so in the future. If I could no longer be a writer, maybe I’d go back into TV news. I was a traffic reporter for 5 months once. This is where we insert the sarcasm because I was pretty bad. Read Wrong Place, Right Time when it comes out December 9th. The main character is a TV traffic reporter and she emulates my experience! In reality, if I wasn’t a writer, I think I’d stick with being a mom for now and try to get back into another career once my girls are in school in a few years. I don’t really know what, but with any luck I won’t have to find out!
Brooke Williams is an award-winning author and freelance writer. She began her career in radio, both on the air and behind the scenes. She did a brief stint in TV news and then took on her most challenging job as a stay at home mom. During the few quiet hours in her day, Brooke writes articles for a number of clients as well as fiction creations such as Someone Always Loved You. Brooke has also written Beyond the Bars, a thriller, God in the Kitchen, a Christian novel, and Taxi Delivery, a Christian Romance. Brooke looks forward to the December 9th release of Wrong Place, Right Time, a romantic comedy and the February 2015 release of Accept this Dandelion inspired by the Bachelor TV show. Brooke has been married to her husband Sean since 2002 and has two daughters, Kaelyn and Sadie.
(Scroll down for my review of Someone Always Loved You)
Someone Always Loved You amazon link:
Someone Always Loved You
Ambulance driver Jay has a really bad first day on the job when he speeds toward the ER and accidentally hits a woman hurrying to see her ill husband. Overcome by guilt, he sits by Jordan’s bedside and gets to know her husband, all the while unaware of how his own past is intertwined with theirs.
Author Brooke Williams moves between past and present to tell a story of young love and difficult choices and the fine line between chance and fate. It’s a quiet book that deals with big human and spiritual questions. Simple cause and effect, action and consequence, play out against a grander spiritual design that nudges things along behind the scenes.
With so much back story, the pacing gets a bit slow in places. There’s a lot of co-incidence driving the plot twists but, as there’s a strong spiritual element to this novel, this doesn’t undermine the reading experience to any great degree. It’s easy to like Williams’s believably flawed characters, and the reader wants to follow them to the end of their story. Dr. Evan Rodriguez shined the most for me. His single-mindedness, his loyalty to a promise from his childhood really moved me. I wanted to know more about him. He seemed to have no life–romantic or otherwise–outside of his work and his private vow.
SOMEONE ALWAYS LOVED YOU is a touching family drama with enough emotion and compassion to make up for any minor plot issues.