Frances Susanne Brown writes both fiction and non-fiction, including novels, magazine articles, book reviews, and memoir. She received her MFA in creative writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. She lives in New England with her husband of 35 years, a Boston Terrier, and lots of tropical fish. She has a daughter and twin sons, and an absolutely adorable grandson (not that she’s biased) who lives way too far away. Oh, and then there are the orchids…she loves all kinds of orchids and is known to rescue (and revive) dying specimens from irresponsible retail sites. The house is filled with them.
Q. Hi Frances, lovely to have a Romantic Novelists Association NWS member on here – the scheme did a lot for me and I’m sure you’ll love being part of the RNA … So, tell us about your writing?
I started writing personal essays about my family and the memorable moments in my life almost twenty years ago. When I won a creative writing contest held by a nature journal, Whisper in the Woods, in 2004, I found the courage to submit more. My first historical article appeared in Renaissance Magazine shortly after, and I now write features for them, as well as book reviews, on a regular basis. My work has also appeared in Herb Quarterly, The History Magazine, and Family Chronicle.
My memoir, Maternal Threads, began as my Master’s Thesis and explores the mother-daughter bond, and how family secrets can affect future generations. I sold this work unagented, though I am now seeking agent representation for my novels.
My most memorable writing success was being admitted to the RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme this year. I am excited to be a part of such a great, supportive group, and thanks to the internet, can participate even from across an ocean. The most memorable rejection I received was for my first attempt at writing romance. I entered a First Chapter contest held by a romance group here in the U.S. Three of the four critics skewered my work with such vehemence I cried for days. The fourth was kinder, tactfully suggesting I needed to learn more about the genre. That was five years ago. Thanks to organizations like RWA and RNA, I’d like to think I’ve come a long way. I’ve completed two contemporary romance novels, one with paranormal elements, and I am presently working on a chick lit.
Q. I’m sure you’ll find the critique offered by the NWS reader kinder, as well as constructive! Congratulations on the publications of the historical articles and the memoir – I’m sure your fiction will also find a home. So – any top tips for writers?
1.Write what you love to read. And read every single book in that genre you can get your hands on, both those selling on home turf as well as globally.
2. Find your niche. If there’s something you love to research, you can probably become (if you aren’t already) an “armchair expert.” This may not qualify you to write a non-fiction treatise on the subject, but will give you a springboard from which you can create some pretty fantastic stories – with passion. The very best writing is fuelled by passion.
3. Join a critique group, and participate generously. Don’t take criticism personally, and be as careful with other people’s feelings as you would want them to be with yours.
Q. Excellent tips – thank you. Can you tell us a bit about your work? Do you write full time or have a different day job? What do you love or hate about your work?
I am a split personality – left brain by day, right brain after hours. I work in scientific research at Tufts University, which is all consuming and leaves the logical part of my brain limp and soggy when I get home.
My usual day is: rise early, before 5 a.m., and write until 6. Be at work by 7, home (hopefully) by around 4 p.m. Then it’s cocktail hour! I write or do some editing, running back and forth between my office and the kitchen, while cooking supper. In the evenings (depending on how much wine I’ve consumed), I’ll either write some more or retire early to rejuvenate for the next day. Weekends, holidays, vacations – whenever I’m not spending time with hubby or my children or grandchild, I’m either reading or tapping away at the keyboard. Television? What’s that? When my husband is out of town, the thing never gets turned on.
I love my day job because it keeps the analytical part of my brain challenged (it also pays very well, and is satisfying – a never-ending treasure hunt for the unknown). I hate my day job because it keeps me from writing full time. Would I be happy writing full time? I don’t know. I’ll update you after that first big book contract – the one that matches my salary.
Q. I’ll wait to hear from you! 🙂 So, lastly, what’s your favourite wine?
I’m particularly fond of white wines, Pinot Grigio topping the list. A good white Merlot is nice too… but let me be honest: I love vodka. I’ve even created my own special martini recipe, which my daughter named the “Frantini.” Email me for a recipe 😉
I will! 🙂 Thanks for popping in and good luck in your search for an agent.
Frances’ memoir, Maternal Threads, is due out later this year from High Hill Press, www.highhillpress.com.
Frances also writes fiction under the pseudonym Claire Gem, and you can find out more about her upcoming novels at www.clairegem.com. Her Twitter handle is @gemwriter.
Hope you’ve enjoyed meeting another author…
Until next time…
Happy reading and writing, Nikki x