5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Margaux Mannion Brown

Indie Author Interview with Margaux Mannion Brown - Author of the Literary Fiction Novel The Devil's Opus.

Margaux Mannion Brown currently lives with her husband and three French bulldogs in Carson City, where she continues to write, play piano and attempts to play the violin. Ms. Brown loves being outdoors and frequently visits Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Interview with Margaux Mannion Brown

Author Margaux Mannion Brown
Author Margaux Mannion Brown
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Margaux Mannion Brown: My writing career began at the University of Utah. I honed my skills writing papers for my Philosophy and English literature classes and wrote book reviews for the college newspaper, 'The Utah Chronicle'. My Education degree and teaching career provided many opportunities for me to write curriculum that included writing as part of an integrated approach to the subjects I taught.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who are your writing influences?
I am a very eclectic reader, not only reading as a past time, but also reading as a passion, which has run the gambit from Tennesee Williams, Elizabeth Kolbert to Eckhart Tolle. My favorite authors include Pat Conroy, E. Annie Proulx, Lisa See, Jean Rhys, Doris Lessing, Dennis Lehane, Jack London, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leopold Tolstoy and more.
One of my favorite books is 'The Prince of Tides' by Pat Conroy. For me the book's fluid, descriptive prose reads like a prayer. I could smell the shrimp in the estuaries where fresh water meets the salty sea, and the characters, coming from a deeply personal place, told a complex story about resentment, hate, emotional boundaries, forgiveness and healing. Another one of my favorite books is Lisa See's 'Snow Flower and the Secret Fan'. Set in China in the 1900s, and told by eighty year old Lily, the story weaves a sordid tale of two friends caught in the sacred laotong sisterhood. Ms. See beautifully explores the thousand year old custom of foot binding and the role of women before the Communist revolution. I loved the book because not only was it a great read, but it piqued my interest to delve further into the complexity and richness of Chinese history. There are many more books that I have loved reading and hold in my heart as dear friends. I could go on endlessly.
My writing influences are of course the author's I've mentioned and more, as well as some of the wonderful teachers I've had throughout my life. Encouragement and meaningful criticism from people I respect have also encouraged me to want to be a writer.

"I couldn't wait for my English literature class."

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I first knew that I wanted to be a writer in high school. I couldn't wait for my English literature class. I loved the discussions about novels, plays and poems, as well as learning about the many literary elements that define literature. I began journaling, and loved doing assignments that involved writing.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was a story about our family dog, Jake, a Chesapeake Bay retriever who got stuck in lake ice on a duck hunting trip with my father. He eventually made it out but his underside was as raw as bacon after the ordeal. My father was so shaken, he cried as he told us what had happened. I sent the story into 'The Reader's Digest'. They rejected the story, but did write back to me giving it an honorable mention.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a routine?

I try to first formulate an idea based on something I'm interested in. Once I have the germ of an idea, I'm a great believer in the incubation of thought and the unconscious mind. By the time I reach the blank page, I have a beginning to the story and sometimes the story line. I have the names of some of the characters. I've defined whether or not they are sympathetic or unsympathetic and explored their emotional and psychological dilemmas. At this point I carry a small notebook with me to write down thoughts I might have about the story. I do in depth research on the various personality profile types and begin to visualize their environments. Then, the hard work begins. My routine is to get through my morning chores and then write. I stop around 2:00 pm. The next morning I read, re-write and continue to write.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
It's a mess! My desk is a large rectangular oak table. It holds my Apple computer, printer, thesaurus, dictionary, The Viking Opera Guide, a stack of 'Strings' magazines, various downloaded articles, a stack of CDs, an antique cup full of pens and pencils, my violin, and generally a cup of cold coffee. The desk is surrounded by bookshelves filled with books and other stuff. Off to the right is my music stand which holds my violin music, string tuner, rosin, cell phone and TV remote.

"There is nothing easy about writing for me. The process is a total commitment to hard work."

What do you find easiest about writing? What is the hardest?
There is nothing easy about writing for me. The process is a total commitment to hard work. The hardest part of writing is structuring a novel so that all its various components come together in a coherent, meaningful way, and then begins the endless tweaking.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is the end of a project. There is joy in knowing you've created something that now exists outside yourself.

"I began to research the sociopathic personality."

What inspired you to write the novel The Devil's Opus?
I first became interested in sociopaths when one of my childhood friends married one. There is no way to explain her husband's hideous actions without a context of evil. After Joe committed suicide, rather than go to prison for grifting family, friends and clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, I began to research the sociopathic personality. My story is based on a local couple who did lose their daughter to a sociopath. I contacted them, and after hearing the lurid details of what had happened, the novel began to emerge. Like all fiction, much of what is written is a fabrication, but there are underlying facts.

The Devil's Opus (Margaux Mannion Brown)
Click to Read an Excerpt

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
The Devil's Opus is a modern novel which addresses timeless issues still pertinent in today's world. I think people ranging in age from 18 to whatever older age would find the book relevant.

How long did it take to write the book?
After my initial research, incubating period, and formulating the novel both on a conscious and subconscious level, the writing of the work took about eight months.

"Writing is thinking and re-thinking, writing and re-writing, sometimes trashing the whole thing to start over and then starting over again."

Can you give some advice for other authors regarding the writing process?
I've been a member of several writing groups and have always loathed those people who seem to think that writing is a waiting for inspiration, being touched by a muse, or a journey to some magical place that they know nothing about. In reality, writing is hard work. The best pieces are about what you know, what you've researched. Writing is thinking and re-thinking, writing and re-writing, sometimes trashing the whole thing to start over and then starting over again. Writing is the long, lonely journey into self discovery and self realization. Writing is not glamorous. It's hard work at its purest, taking us to emotional and psychological places we didn't know we were capable of.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am working on another project. My titles are always the last thing to come when I write a piece, so I'll give my new project the pseudo title of 'On The Down Low'. My husband and I have many gay friends and have long been supportive of the gay community. One of the things that has always intrigued me about human sexuality is that there are married men seeking relationships with other men. Unlike 'The Devil's Opus', my characters in this novel are sympathetic. As the story unfolds, they come to understand the devastating effects of their choices and behavior on family, career, and friends.

"I think book stores will disappear."

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
There is nothing like holding a beautiful book in your hands, riffling through the pages and smelling its newness, but the world is moving away from paper, a good thing, and like Ekhart Tolle, I think we as humans are evolving a new consciousness about how we interact with ourselves, others and our earth. In the future there will be the success of more independent authors because so few editors can't silence the voices of the many unrecognized great authors that should be heard. They will no longer be able to determine what the many should or want to read. This is already happening with sites like Indie Author News. I think book stores will disappear. We all live in cyberspace now. For some, the only reason to get out of the house is to go to the grocery store.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have used a Kindle for years, and this Christmas my husband surprised me with the new Kindle Fire. I love it!

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am retired and so I can create my own schedule. When I am working on a project though, I tend to be gung-ho, and do create the necessary work routine. I have three French Bulldogs, and believe me, they help me stay grounded with daily walks, their clowning, grooming, working in the yard and the daily nap. Classical music is one of my first loves and we frequent the Reno Philharmonic and other musical venues around the Tahoe Basin. Both my husband and I love being outdoors and enjoy hiking the many trails of the Sierra Nevada. We are members of the Nevada Art Museum, and have been inspired by the on loan works of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Toulouse Lautrec, and others. I play both piano and violin, exercises that take me outside of myself and are truly a meditation.

How can readers connect with you?
Via my website www.TheDevilsOpus.com

Thank you very much for the Interview, Margaux.

About the Book The Devil's Opus

The Devil's Opus (Margaux Mannion Brown)
Click to Read an Excerpt
The Devil's Opus is a novel about the wealthy and prominent Reno family, the Mezzos, and how they react to Leo Buckman, a sociopath, and his involvement with the demise of their daughter Katie.

Throughout the story is the love the Mezzos have for their granddaughter, Anna. Forced to abandon Katie to the despicable life she has chosen, their mission becomes the protection of Anna's life and innocence.

After Katie's brutal murder, the Mezzo family is left spinning with questions, spiritual devastation, and a lust for revenge that exposes their meanness and most sordid actions and emotions.

- "Dynamite comes in small packages. The book [...] grabbed me from beginning to end. I liked the connection of all the personalities caught in Leo Buckman's evil web. A real reading experience into the sociopathic mind." - Reader Review

Links to the Book

Link to the Hardcover The Devil's Opus with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the Paperback The Devil's Opus with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook The Devil's Opus with Excerpt on Amazon