Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Interview Time with Eleanor Brown

If you stopped by yesterday, you will know that Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters won me over. (You can read my gushing review here.) Every once in a while, there is that perfect book that leaves you so satisfied after you turn the last page, and this book did just that. I was so excited after I devoured it, that I had to ask for an fan girl moment LOL. Thankfully Eleanor agreed, I hope you enjoy! Please give a warm welcome to Eleanor...

I found that I was comparing myself to bits of the three sisters but gravitating toward Rose, who are you most like?

I'm a little bit like all three sisters. Actually, I think most of us are. There's a little bit of us that wants safety and security, and a little bit that wants adventure. A little bit that loves drama, and a little bit that's happy to stay home with a good book. In writing each sister I was playing with those conflicting parts of myself and I hope readers enjoy finding those bits of themselves in Rose, Bean, and Cordy.

That said, I'm thrilled you saw yourself in Rose - she was tough to write because she could so easily just have been bossy and unsympathetic and I wanted other people to love her as much as I do. So I'm happy to hear that you related to her!

As a book lover, I love stories that share my love of reading (though the Rose in me came out when bookmarks weren't used!). How bookish were you growing up?

Oh, I'd drive you crazy....I'm a terrible non-bookmark-er.

I was ridiculously bookish. Always have been, still am, always hope to be. I grew up in a family where reading was the most important thing we did - individually and together. I was allowed a half hour of television a week, but I could read all the books I wanted, and, a few temper tantrums aside, that was just great. I have always loved escaping into a story - nothing brings me greater joy.

What was the draw to writing a book with Shakespearean elements? The book not really about the plays themselves, rather incorporating lines into the plot which was so unique!

Wow, thank you! There were a couple of things that drew me to Shakespeare - the first was the idea of our names and how they affect the people we become. So I wanted to give the characters names that had belonged to other people, so they would feel forced to live up to them in a way. The second was the way families communicate. Every family has its own language, and I thought this bookish family would be very likely to communicate in the words of literature they loved. Shakespeare was rich enough and I was just enough of a fan that it was the obvious choice to me.

You found the perfect lines for scenes in the book, are you that familiar with Shakespeare's works or was this aspect a huge research project on it's own?

It was an enormous research project! I think there's a certain amount of Shakespeare many of us get through cultural osmosis, and then I did a limited amount of study, particularly in graduate school. But when I decided to write the book, I did a lot of reading and re-reading and watching and re-watching and research and note-taking. A lot of that ended up not being anything but background knowledge, partly because I wanted to make the book really accessible, and partly because I realized these characters have been hanging around with Shakespeare for so long they don't need to have conversations about motifs of light and dark in Hamlet. They would have had those conversations ages ago and moved on. But there are notebooks full of research I did happily sitting on my bookshelves in case I need them again!

Having tackled anthologies, journals, magazines, newspapers & most recently NY best selling novel, what's next?

I'm really enjoying writing novels, so I think I'll stick with that for a while. I'm very superstitious about talking about works in progress, so I'll just say I've been doing a lot of thinking about love and marriage and divorce and how all those things fit together. We'll see how it goes!

Thanks for stopping by Eleanor, I can't wait to find out more about your next project!

Thank you so much for inviting me for a visit!


  1. Great interview! I can't wait to read this book (and meet the author at the UCF book fest!) It's funny what she says about being superstitious about talking about books she's still writing... that's how I think I'd be and it always surprises me how much authors are willing to talk about what they're currently working on!

  2. Jenny ~ you are so lucky! I would be too, funny how that works.

  3. Great post. This sounds like an interesting and engaging story.

  4. hi!! new follower from the YA book blog directory! love the blog and i'm excited to read more!! thanks for the interview, i will check out weird sisters!

    follow me too?!

  5. Oh I really really really want to read this book!

  6. I have heard so many great things about Eleanor Brown, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of The Weird sister. I really enjoyed reading your interview. I especially enjoyed hearing about how Shakespeare played a role in this book. I have to say I love Shakespeare. I haven't really read nearly enough Shakespeare, but I like to think that my small knowledge is a good start. I am thinking that reading this book will definitely inspire me to jump into some more Shakespeare!

  7. Great interview, Mel and Eleanor. I just finished reading this book, and LOVED it!

    I remember wishing for a family like this when I was a kid—I was the only reader—although later in life, my mother became addicted to books.

    But reading the book made me realize that there's a downside to a family that is so bookish that nothing else seems to enter their "zone."

    I suspect that my kids might have seen me as an impenetrable being.