By JT Ellison
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I’m so delighted to have Jennifer Brooks here today! Jennifer has been my first editor for many years, and she has just released her latest novel, WHISPER OF DARKNESS, a wonderful contemporary romantic suspense that you must add to your reading list. Her first book, NO EVIL LOST, was a winner as well. It’s as exciting for me to see her books for sale as it is for her, I think.
Without further ado, I give you my adorable sister from another mister, Jennifer Brooks!
Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (Billy Joel). Can I just comment on this? Since we’re talking about writing, it’s too perfect an allegory to let slide—it’s a story within a story: Two old friends who haven’t seen each other in a while meet for dinner, order a bottle of wine; the POV character catches his friend up on what’s been going on in his life, tells her how great she looks; they reminisce about old times, old friends; and then it’s time to go and it’s sad to see the evening end, knowing that it may be years before they see each other again, even though they agree to try to get together more often . . . all within the setting of Joel’s brilliant musical style, varying tempos, killer piano licks. One of my favorites. Sigh.
Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?
The next book! It’s a contemporary romance, a fish out of water tale about a young Chicago attorney, orphaned at a very young age, who finds the key to his past—and his future—on a Texas ranch. I wrote the original manuscript a few years ago, so it really just needs some dusting off and a bit of upgrading/tweaking/polishing. And a new title (to be revealed at a later date).
What’s your latest book about?
WHISPER OF DARKNESS is a romantic suspense about widowed author CJ Moore, who leaves her quiet life in Vermont for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to help a private production company adapt her most cherished book to the silver screen—and the psychotic fan who follows her there, intent on making sure the film is never made. It’s been called Nora Roberts meets Agatha Christie, and it has a bit of everything—intrigue, sex, humor, and a whole lot of tension, both romantic and suspenseful.
Where do you write, and what tools do you use?
Ten years ago my husband and I were very fortunate to find a house that would accommodate our family of five so that each of us had our own “space”—mine is a 10 by 12 office, full of everything you’d expect a writer’s den to have: bookcases crammed to the hilt with all kinds of books, a couple of filing cabinets, a recliner, and two desks. This is my workshop, and these are my tools. The recliner is my reading space (when the kitten’s not sleeping in it). I use one desk for writing, on my laptop. The other desk has more books, mostly a collection of how-to’s on writing, reference books and such, as well as my CD player and music collection. (I have to have some kind of orchestral music playing while I write, always, or the Muse deserts me.) I generally write in Word, just because it’s been my friend and my crutch for about 25 years, although I do occasionally use Scrivener, which is the coolest program on the planet for getting your thoughts organized.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Oh my goodness I read everything when I was a kid—but my favorites were mysteries, mostly anything Nancy Drew or Agatha Christie. It seems funny to say a ten-year-old’s favorite book was And Then There Were None, but I thought it was the most brilliantly written thing I’d ever read in my life. If we’re going back further than that, my favorite children’s book was probably Ferdinand, the story of the bull who didn’t want to fight matadors but was more content to sit under his favorite cork tree and smell the flowers. Or Angus and the Cat. So precious.
What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?
I think Stephen King came up with the most sound advice I’ve ever heard, even if it is the most simple—“Read a lot. Write a lot.” (I may be paraphrasing, but that was the gist.) I try to do at least a little of both every day, and would encourage other writers to do the same.
What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?
I have to take a break when that happens, and do something that stimulates and recharges my brain. Puzzles—of both the word and jigsaw variety—are my favorite vice. And hidden object games. But I read, too, to keep my finger on the pulse of the creative process. Once my cerebral palate is cleansed, I go back to the writing, and generally spot right away what the problem was in the first place. A very wise friend of mine (I won’t tell you her name, but her initials are J.T.) once said, “Writer’s block is your story’s way of telling you something’s wrong.” (Again, paraphrased.) But I’ve found that staring at the words on the page doesn’t give me the perspective I need to solve the issues.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Having raised my children well. And being the kind of woman that when my feet hit the floor each morning, the Devil said, “Oh crap, she’s up.”
Thanks for being here today, sweetie! Good luck with WHISPER OF DARKNESS!
Jennifer Brooks was born in Tucson, Arizona, the “quintessential Air Force brat” of a USAF fighter pilot and a stay-at-home mom who to this day is never seen without a book in her hand. An insatiable reader with an overactive imagination, Jennifer’s passion for literature manifested itself early in her youth, and she discovered her talent for writing during high school. In a career spanning 20+ years, Jennifer has written, edited and/or published a fairly lengthy list of books, novellas, short stories, essays, articles, interviews, and book and movie reviews, covering a wide range of genres, authors and topics in both the fiction and non-fiction realms.
Jennifer holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Indiana University. After a brief stint as a paralegal, she began working in the healthcare field and has now been there for almost 25 years. A bona fide Yankee transplanted to the South, she lives near Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and a small menagerie of cats and dogs. They have three adult children.
About WHISPER OF DARKNESS: Acclaimed mystery author CJ Moore has strayed out of her regular genre and written a gripping love story based loosely on her own life. After six years, CJ is still grieving the loss of her husband, and unlike her novel’s heroine, she has yet to find someone to mend her shattered heart. Now one of Hollywood’s biggest stars wants to turn her most cherished book into a blockbuster film, and their whirlwind romance is at the heart of the deal.
Unfortunately, CJ has an overzealous fan who believes they are ruining her story, and his obsession drives him to eliminate those he feels responsible. When heartbreaking truths from the past come to light, CJ’s emotional strength is pushed to its limits—until she learns to let go of the past, embrace the present, and find her happily ever after in the most unexpected of places.