We have a special guest today! Bronwyn Storm is here with us to talk about her new romance novel, Ethan’s Chase (The Wild Rose Press). Enjoy!
There was only one thing Bronwyn wanted to be when she grew up: a superhero. Sadly, this goal was made moot when she realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and her super-weakness for anything bright and shiny meant that a magpie with self-control could easily defeat her in a battle of wills. So, she turned to writing as a way to unleash her inner superhero. She doesn’t get to live on a secret space station orbiting the earth (and thank goodness because she gets motion sick on a merry-go-round), but she still get to wear leotards, a cape and say things like, “STAND ASIDE! THIS IS A JOB FOR WRITING-GIRL!”
Bronwyn’s latest book is Ethan’s Chase.
You can visit her website at www.bronwynstorm.com.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Bronwyn. Can you tell us what your latest book, Ethan’s Chase, is all about?
Okay, so this one time, I ended up at a gigantic party where I knew ONE person. Now, you have to understand, me in a crowd of people I don’t know is like tossing nun in a strip club: it’ll be entertaining, but somebody’s going to need therapy.
When I’m in a crowd of strangers, I get nervous, try too hard to make friends, and usually end up spilling something or injuring myself. Most times, I end up doing both. (I so wish I was kidding about that).
Anyway, so I’m in this four person group, and things are going great. We’re talking about archaeology, and I (because I’m buzzing on the fact the conversation is going well, that I haven’t injured myself or tossed any liquids on anybody, and because it looks like I’m actually making friends) say, “Why is it if you dig up a grave of a person who died a day ago, you’re a criminal, but if you dig up the grave of someone who died a hundred years ago, suddenly, you’re an archaeologist?”
And this GINORMOUS guy (like big enough to block out the sun, big) gives me The Look and says, “Uh, I’m an archeologist.”
If my glass of wine had been bigger, I would have tried to drown myself.
Ethan’s Chase began in a similar way: Let’s say you’re a computer programmer and what if you’re walking out of a coffee shop and literally run into the man of your dreams. And what if you take a chance, try to chat him up? And what if he completely (but nicely) rejects you?
It wouldn’t be the greatest feeling, but you’d manage, right? I mean, until you found out he was your newest client and now you’re forced to work with this total fantasy guy who won’t give you the time of day.
And if you’re like Chase, then you’d try to repair that embarrassing moment by being über professional and sophisticated…and while it would probably work for you, unfortunately for Chase, all her attempts go wrong and instead of raising his opinion of her, she just ends up further embarrassing herself in crazy, mind-bending ways.
To make matters worse, Ethan’s old service provider is a guy named Tony Saligene, and he’s been making Chase’s life a living hell by spreading rumors, vandalizing her property, and leaving disturbing messages on her phone. The police are doing their best, but they can’t catch Tony in the act or prove he’s the one responsible.
When Ethan’s confidential files go missing and start showing up on the desks and in the presentations of his competitors, all evidence points to Chase as the culprit. Of course, both Ethan and Chase know she’s not responsible, but if they’re going to help the police catch Tony, they’re going to have to set down their preconceived notions of each other and become a team.
Chase is Every Woman. She’s doing her best to make her computer programming company successful, trying to keep her grounding as a woman in a male-dominated industry, and trying to do the Life Juggle: have a career, have a life, and have a forever love.
I really enjoyed writing Ethan because he’s wounded (almost marrying a con artist can make you wonder if you can ever trust your heart), and I wanted him to be hurt enough to be reluctant when it came to Chase, but brave enough to take a chance…a real chance. Not sleep with her and then pretend it never happened, or do the “I want you” “I don’t want you” dance. He had to make a real decision (then have it stir up all his issues). I wanted him to be a stand up kind of guy, the kind of person a woman would love and a man would respect.
My biggest challenge was the subplot. As I said, Chase is in a male-dominated industry, and Tony Saligene is her nemesis. I wanted him to be creepy and dangerous, but not a moustache-twirling villain.
Laws are changing, but when I wrote Ethan’s Chase it was horrifically hard for people to prove the charge and find safety. Here in Alberta, there was a woman who was stalked for thirty years, and the police were helpless to do anything permanent (they’d arrest her stalker, he’d get out) because there were no laws that gave them the room they needed.
I didn’t want Tony to be the idiot villain where the reader is rolling her eyes and thinking, “This guy’s broken fifteen different laws. How stupid are the police not to catch him?” Tony needed to be subtle, clever, and work in the shadows.
The supporting casts of Diana, Jesse, Austin, and Gladys were just good fun to write—especially Austin. It took weeks to come up with some of his one-liners, but it was worth it (especially as I’ve had readers ask for a sequel that would focus on his search for love).
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Bless you for thinking I actually know people who exist outside of my imagination. Actually, it’s kind of funny. The best traits of the people I love most, I use as part of the psychology of the antagonists.
For example, I have a few girlfriends who are really precise about the way they speak. They know language and grammar and listening to them talk is like auditory dessert. So, when it came to Diana, the kind of pretentious woman who disdains cotton blends and uses her beauty and brains as lethal weapons, it was awesome fun to put her way of speaking off the grid, have her as the kind of person who would never use contractions and uses speech as a way to belittle those around her.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
Let’s be honest, it’s me. Most days, I’m not sure I’m consciously aware, period.
Seriously, though, I’m a plotter.
Writing is one of those jobs that seems glamorous in theory but in reality is just…well, who am I kidding? I love writing. So even on days when I’ve spent eight hours to get three sentences, it’s still the best job in the world (even if it’s not as sexy as Murder She Wrote led me to believe).
But plotting. Yes, I plot. Inspiration and the muse’s touch are all well and good, but let’s face it. I’m a total klutz. It’s just good sense for my muse to maintain a hundred meter distance from me (and carry fire retardant). I just can’t rely on divine inspiration.
So, I take a week and plot things out. I go from the big points (She’s at the coffee shop, she meets him) to smaller detail (Chase leaves the coffee shop, and realizes she’s been given the wrong order. She’s looking for a place to dump it, but instead of finding a garbage can, she finds a man’s coat), and that gives me room to get to the actual writing (The cloying smell of almond syrup skittered along the tendrils of mist rising from Chase’s cup of steamed milk. She snorted in disgust. Either the server at the coffee-shop had given her amaretto flavoring when she had asked for hazelnut or, distracted with her thoughts of work, she’d grabbed the wrong cup. Searching in vain for a garbage can, Chase rounded the street corner and collided with something hard and solid—a wall, or a door. Then she realized walls and doors didn’t come with cashmere coverings, nor did bricks or wood possess that spicy, masculine scent that tickled her nose.).
I find if I give myself a road map, it’s the most loving thing I can do for myself as a writer. I don’t wake up every day knowing exactly how I want the story to go. If I have a plot or guide, at least I give myself a general idea. It’s a bit like mapping out your route from one city to another. You can still stop off at all the lookout points, have lunch at the diners—you can still have spontaneity and flexibility—but on days you feel a little lost, you can look down and see where you’re going.
Q: Your book is set in Toronto. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
I wanted a big city feel, a place where people could get lost, feel anonymous, but a place where there was a sense of excitement and sophistication.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
Only in the sense of it being a big, Canadian city. I had a general sense of the laws governing stalking, so I felt comfortable writing about it. If it had been a small town, or based in a non-Canadian setting, I don’t know if I could have done the subplot justice.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A: (Is it only romance writers and teenage boys that snicker every time they see “69?”)
Chase is claustrophobic and got stuck in an elevator (with Ethan, of course. Would have been way too easy for her if she’d been alone). On page 69, they’re out of the elevator. He’s doing his best to comfort her, and she’s doing her best to sink into the office floor.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
Sure. The set-up is the first meeting between Chase and Ethan. She’s just dumped milk all over his coat:
“Sir, are you all right?”
Maybe he didn’t speak English.
Okay, so he wasn’t a fellow Brazilian.
“Parlez-vous Francais? I hope not,” she muttered to herself. “After that, the only French phrase I know is Voulez-vous coucher avec—” She looked up, saw him watching her, and snapped her mouth shut.
A smile twitched at the edges of his firm lips. “I speak English.”
Her insides rippled with pleasure at his rich, bass voice. The man crossed his arms in front of him and leaned a shoulder against the brick building. “So the only French phrases you know are “Do you speak English,” and “Do you want to sleep with…” His gaze ran over her in a sensual perusal that warmed her from her scalp straight down to the rubber soles of her Sorrels.
Chase winced and wanted to blurt, “I’m usually more attractive than this—ignore the boots, the oversized jacket, and the wind-tossed hair.”
“With what?” His deep voice rumbled and warmed the winter air currents to heat-wave temperatures. “Do I want to sleep with…?” He arched an eyebrow and waited.
Chase racked her brain, but ten years out of high school and her French had deteriorated from dismal to atrocious. “Ah…voulez-vous coucher avec les lunettes?”
The man grinned. “Do I want to sleep with the lights? French really isn’t your language, is it?”
He took a step closer to her. The spicy notes of his cologne seemed an extension of himself: totally male, full of strength, power, and seduction. One inhalation left her with a dry mouth, weak knees, and a palpitating heart.
“I think…” the warmth of his breath sent tingles down her spine, “what you meant to say was voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir? Do you want to sleep with me, tonight? Yes?”
“Yes.” She jerked away, her eyes wide. “I mean, no! Ah—I mean, yes, the statement is correct, but I don’t want to sleep with you. Not tonight.”
His eyebrows rose in speculation.
“Oh! Not that I want to sleep with you any other night.”
He cocked his head.
“Let me try again,” pleaded Chase. “Your coat. I’m very sorry for spilling milk on your clothing. May I please pay the dry cleaning bill?”
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Bronwyn. We wish you much success!
Thank you so much for hosting me. If readers would like, they can visit my website, www.bronwynstorm.com, for free stories like The Genie’s Curse( Doctor Doolittle meets Freaky Friday) and Shoe-In for Love, (The Disorderly Orderly meets The Devil Wears Prada).