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April 19, 2010

Sandra Brown and Ryan Brown: A Thrill for Writing Runs in the Family

Posted by Anonymous

SANDRA--RYAN-2-EM.jpgNew York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown is also one proud mom. Her son Ryan’s first book, PLAY DEAD, will be in stores on May 4th. Read on about what they each say about the other’s writing and what they share in the experience of being writers.

 How did you as a mom feel when you learned Ryan wanted to write a book?
Sandra: When Ryan told me he was writing a book, I experienced equal amounts of joy and dread. It was thrilling to learn that he wanted to pursue the career that I love so much, but at the same time I knew he was letting himself in for hours of agonizingly hard work and a lot of self-doubt. Writing is the best job in the world, and the worst job in the world. The good thing, though, is that I knew Ryan had the storytelling talent and, most importantly, the self-discipline to do the work.
What made you want to follow in your mom’s footsteps on becoming a writer?
!COVER -<br />
PLAY DEAD  - Ryan<br />
Ryan: It wasn’t the idea of following in my mom’s footsteps that led me to writing. Of course, I wasn’t lost on the fact that I was v enturi ng into a profession for which she had established a long and successful career…but it was the story idea itself that first set me down in front of a blank computer screen.
Are you each other’s first readers?
Sandra: Ryan was the first to read an ARC as soon as I got it.
Ryan:  My wife is always my first reader, followed (now) by my editor. But mom is usually next. I have always been touched and honored, however, to receive my mother’s first ARCs.
What is your favorite book of those your mother wrote?
Ryan:  I’ve always been a huge fan of THE TEXAS TRILOGY. ENVY is probably my favorite of the thrillers. I think RAINWATER might be the best work she’s ever done. It’s definitely the most personal.
Do you turn to each other for writing advice?
Sandra: Frequently, even before Ryan started writing, I would run ideas past him. He studied film in college, and he's always been an avid reader, so he has a keen sense of what makes for a good story. Sometimes, whenever I'd bounce an idea off him, his initial reaction was the acid test. I knew instantly if I was onto something. . .or not.
Ryan: We probably go to each other more for consolation than advice. On those days when we’re tearing our hair out, unable to string a sentence together, it’s nice to be able to pick up the phone and whine to someone who can sympathize. I must admit we’ve each done that on a few occasions.
Has the fact that you are both writers brought you closer together, or does it cause conflict?
Sandra: We've had a wonderful relationship. I believe I speak for Ryan, too, when I say that we wouldn't let anything damage it. We're supportive of each other. We understand one another's tribulations. But we've been extremely careful to keep our business concerns totally separate.
Ryan: We’ve always been close. But since I began writing, we’ve managed to strike the right balance between being involved in each other’s work, while still maintaining a separation within the business. We also know when to exchange the mother/son hat for the fellow-author hat, and vice versa.
How did you or will you celebrate Ryan’s first release?
Sandra: I'll definitely be going into bookstores and placing copies of PLAY DEAD at eye level…returning the favor that Ryan and his sister did for me when they were kids and I had a new book out. We'll probably share a bottle of champagne at the earliest opportunity.
The countdown to publication day is a time full of anxiety. What advice do you as a mom and an author give Ryan as that day approaches?
Sandra: Celebrate the publication for an hour or two, and then get back to work. Once a book is out there, and you've done all you can to promote it, the die is cast. Whatever is going to happen with that book will happen. The only thing you have control over is the book you're presently writing. Stay focused on that.
As you were growing up how did you feel about your mom being a writer?
Ryan:  I was certainly proud. I began reading her books in junior high, about the time that she moved into the more mainstream thrillers. But at the end of the day writing was just ‘what mom does.’ I don’t think I felt any different about it than any other child would with a working mother. I will, however, always appreciate the fact that she never skipped one of my league games to work, despite how prolific she has been.
What’s your favorite snack food/drink when you are writing?
Sandra: In the morning I drink French Vanilla Cafe. During the day I might munch a handful of roasted almonds or walnuts, or have an apple. I don't eat a lot when I'm writing because a full tummy makes me sleepy.
Ryan:  I’m not a caffeine junky, but I probably have four cups of coffee during an average day at the computer. I usually have a salad for lunch with salmon or chicken. For those days when I start to wilt mid-afternoon, I’ve become a big fan of Smucker’s (PB&J) Un-crustables. It was my 6-year-old son who introduced me to those.
What do you think was the best present you gave your mother on Mother’s Day?
Ryan:  When I was in the first grade, our entire class performed the song “You Light Up My Life” in sign language for all of the mothers on Mother’s Day. Cheesy, yes. But there wasn’t a mother in the room with a dry eye, including mine. That one still sticks out to me after all these years.
What was the best present you received from your “writer child” on Mother’s Day?
Sandra: A few years ago, Ryan and his wife Victoria gave me a silver locket with pictures of my grandsons inside.
Sandra Brown's most recent novel, RAINWATER, is in stores now. Ryan Brown's debut novel, PLAY DEAD, will be availble May 4th wherever books are sold.