Monday, July 27, 2015

Interview with Marilyn Brant - The One That I Want - Review

I'm so happy to bring back to the blog one of my all time favorite and always a go-to author for me, Marilyn Brant. She's been busy since she last visited working on her new Mirabelle Harbor series and now Book 1, The One That I Want, and her prequel novella, Take a Chance On Me, are both out and she's here to tell us a little about them.

ISBN-13: 9780996117814
Publisher: Twelfth Night Publishing
Release Date: 07/20/2015
Length: 264 pp
Buy It: B&N/Amazon/Kobo


THE ONE THAT I WANT is Book 2 in Marilyn Brant's Mirabelle Harbor series, but this story and all of the contemporary romances in this series can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels.
The summer after her beloved husband died in a car accident, Julia Meriwether Crane is still picking up the pieces of her life in Mirabelle Harbor and trying to help her ten-year-old daughter adjust to this difficult new reality. 
Read an Excerpt:


Read an excerpt:

Story Excerpt:

With the exception of my best friend Sharlene, the others had gone back to their conversations so, thankfully, I didn't have too many people witnessing my fumbles with setting up a (sort-of) date for the first time in twelve years. It was awkward, but I agreed to coffee with my old high-school boyfriend and gave Kristopher my phone number, which he dutifully punched into his cell so we could arrange a time and day to meet.

Shar nudged me when he wasn't looking and whispered, "See? Not so hard, is it?"

I made a face at her and shrugged.

Finally, the party was beginning to break up. I was mentally congratulating myself on making it through the evening when Elsie wolf whistled. "Wait, people!"

Everyone halted.

"I've been wanting to tell you this good news all night." She paused for effect. "You know my friend Rosemary, the one who works at the Knightsbridge Theater in the city, right?"

Most of the group nodded, seeming to have met Elsie's friend or, at least, heard about her.

"There's a dress rehearsal for their upcoming summer production, 'The Bachelor Pad,' this Thursday at six-thirty in the evening, in advance of next Friday's Opening Night," Elsie said. "And Rosemary reserved a block of seats for us."

Despite the noise in the wine bar, an audible spike in sound came on the heels of those words, and a couple of the women actually squealed.

I squinted at them. I mean, tickets to a play were always nice, but wasn't this taking theatrical enthusiasm a bit far?

"But that's not all," Elsie continued enthusiastically. "Rosemary also got us passes to meet the cast, just as she did for that steampunk musical last year--"

"Steampunk musical?" I hissed in Shar's ear.

She nodded. "It was bizarre. Tell you more about it later."

I grinned and brought my glass of wine to my lips, draining it of its final swallow.

"--including a special Q&A session with the director, Zachary Leeward," Elsie added, "and with the star of the show, Dane Tyler."

I choked on the last drops of Merlot, coughing so hard that Bill reached across the table to hand me a fresh glass of ice water, Shar patted me on the back, and everyone else stared at me worriedly. Except for Kristopher. He shot me a knowing look.

Yeah, of course he'd remember that.

"Are you okay?" Elsie asked me.

I gulped down half the water. Oh, God. Of all the actors on the planet--Dane Tyler. Here? REALLY?

My teen world had just materialized out of thin air, like that freaky phantom ship that came from absolutely nowhere in Pirates of the Caribbean. My gut twisted weirdly, and I could barely breathe. "P-Please go on," I managed to whisper.

Marilyn I just adore your new Mirabelle Harbor release, The One That I Want.
Tell my readers a bit about it.
Deb, first of all—it’s wonderful to be here! Thank you so much for inviting me. As for the new novel, The One That I Want, I’m thrilled you enjoyed it! It’s a contemporary romance/women’s fiction crossover story, and it’s about finding love again, but it’s also about the heroine’s journey to an emotional place where she might be ready for to open herself up to a new relationship... The series itself consists of stand-alone stories that are connected through secondary characters (some of whom take turns being the main characters, depending on the book!) and the town of Mirabelle Harbor itself. Here’s the back-cover blurb for this novel:
The summer after her beloved husband died in a car accident, Julia Meriwether Crane is still picking up the pieces of her life in Mirabelle Harbor and trying to help her ten-year-old daughter adjust to this difficult new reality.
After her best friend Sharlene—one of the well-connected Michaelsen siblings—talks her into finally going out on the town again, Julia finds herself stunned to be the object of interest of several different men: The boy who’d broken her heart back in high school. The college ex she’d left behind. And most surprising of all, the movie actor she’d always fantasized about but had never met in person...until now. Can one woman have more than one “great love” in the same lifetime? And, if so, how can she be sure which man that’ll be?
Sometimes the person you think will be best for you isn’t the one you really want. THE ONE THAT I WANT, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

Mirabelle Harbor is a fictional suburb of Chicago.
Why did you choose a made up venue?
Because I love having complete control!! Seriously, it’s because I wanted to be able to create the layout of the town—with all of its shops, restaurants, and buildings—from the ground up. I had a few northern Chicago suburbs in mind when I came up with Mirabelle Harbor’s downtown, so there were real Illinois cities that influenced the design, but I also had very specific areas I wanted to block off for community events and particular characters’ apartments/houses. I wouldn’t have been able to plan things out quite so exactly or have certain establishments located within an easy walking distance from the lake if I didn’t do this myself. And, it turns out, I discovered I *loved* city planning, LOL. I drew out a full map on a huge sheet of paper, labeled all of the streets (even ones that haven’t yet been mentioned in the stories), came up with names for all sorts of stores and diners and parks. It was really a fun process.

Marilyn your novels all have a playlist of sorts.
Is music a big part of your life?
It is, yes. Music is my favorite of the creative arts. It always has been. And you’re right—my books do have built-in playlists. I think we all have certain senses that we rely upon more heavily than others and through which we filter our experiences. I’m both very visual and very auditory. The sound of something, the tone of someone’s voice...these are things I notice. And distinctive melodies, like Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in The Road to You or Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Changes Everything” in A Summer in Europe, can become almost an anthem for a that underscores the story with subtext. So, the music I use in any one of my books always has an added meaning. Somebody could read the book and get the general message just from the song titles, but for readers who also know the lyrics, there’s an extra layer hidden there for them as well.

Do you choose the playlist for your novels or as you’re writing does the novel choose the music?
Oooh, interesting question. I think the novel chooses the music. Or, rather, the characters in the novel—as I come to know them and they develop real personalities in my mind—choose the songs that most resonate for them. While writing The One That I Want, I’d find myself thinking things like, “Which song would Julia really love? Which one would make her cry? Or laugh?” With the first book in the series, Take a Chance on Me, there’s quite a bit of music as well. (It helps that the brother of the hero is a local DJ, so he spins love songs all day.) There were places in that story where I’d try to slip in a reference to a particular song, but it just didn’t work for those main characters. I needed to find ones that really fit each of them.

Your heroine has experienced the tragic death of her husband.
Why did you choose this path instead of perhaps divorce instead?
I have other main characters in this series who are divorced. Marianna Gregory, the heroine in Stranger by the Shore, which will be the fourth book, is one of them. And Julia’s best friend in The One That I Want—Sharlene Michaelsen Boyd—who will hopefully have her own book eventually, is another. Finding love again after a heartbreaking divorce is a premise I’m curious to explore with those characters. But with this book, I wanted to do something different. I wanted Julia to have been happy in love before her husband died. I wanted to have a character who didn’t have to get over trust and betrayal issues in a relationship but, instead, had to question what to do with a fairytale situation when it appears after a tragedy. I wanted her to wonder if, after everything that had happened in her life, she could feel that crazy sense of joy again, almost like an adolescent getting a second chance at a teen fantasy.

Did you pretty much have the story mapped out before you began writing it?
Oh, yes. This is my first time plotting out a major series, and if I wanted a shot at making sure the plotlines of the later books would come together and dovetail as seamlessly as possible with the first couple of stories, I need to map out not just one book in advance but ALL of them. So, the first two stories in the series (Take a Chance on Me & The One That I Want) are finished and now published, and I have the 3rd and 4th books (You Give Love a Bad Name & Stranger on the Shore) already plotted and partially written. There are also three other novels that I have loosely mapped out if readers end up really liking the Mirabelle Harbor series and they ask more. Certain very specific plot details for those later books needed to be embedded in the earlier ones, just in case. So, it’s been a fabulously exciting, long-range puzzle of characters and connections to come up with in advance. But there are still plenty of surprises that I know will appear when I get down to the actual writing!

Marilyn you’ve turned to self publishing like many other well established authors have.
And in the past you said that one of the difficulties in going Indy is the lack of finding good background people that the established publisher have readily available like editors, cover designers, critiquers etc

Has this improved any?
I think it has. The longer I’ve done this, the more people in the industry I’ve gotten to know, and I’ve been really fortunate to meet some great ones. I’ve had excellent experiences overall with my cover designers and my formatters. Critiquing and editing are very specialized fields, but I’ve been lucky with that, too. Although, because I’ve been writing fiction for 15 years now, I have really talented, trustworthy, and experienced critique partners that I’ve known for over a decade. It takes time to find the right CPs. And that can be a hard task for new writers, who are just breaking in, to find if they don’t already have an established circle of fellow authors. You didn’t mention book bloggers and reviewers but, in the indie publishing world, a wonderful reviewer willing to spread the word about an author’s books is worth his/her weight in gold and imported European chocolate :). And YOU, Deb Haupt, are one of those treasured reviewers for me!

Marilyn we go back a long way and I’ve enjoyed all your novels in multiple genres, times and place settings.
Is there a genre/subject you’ve wanted to explore but haven’t found the time, inclination or muse?
We *do* go back a long way! And thank you for following my stories on through my winding path of genres—contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedies, coming-of-age mysteries... Believe it or not, I’m a long time humorous science fiction fan (I loved Douglas Adams and have seen quite a bit of “Star Trek”/”Star Wars”/”Stargate”/etc.), so it would be fun to get to write a light, romantic sci-fi. And, of course, I have a deep love of Jane Austen, so it’s occurred to me that it might be interesting to finally write a Regency historical, possibly one that takes place in Austen’s England and, also, modern-day London—a time travel adventure or a parallel story, maybe? Actually, the list of books that I’d love to write are endless. I’ve always wanted to write another novel set on the European continent (and I have a romantic suspense story idea for that one), as well as a young adult series that combines my love of mysteries with music (that idea is very loosely plotted out, too). And I’ve been asked by readers for sequels, most recently for According to Jane, A Summer in Europe, and The Road to You. I would need to live to the age of 450 to write all the books I wish I could write in one lifetime, LOL.

You know I’ve loved all your novels, but like many fans I have a favorite, which I’m sure you could guess.
Do you have a favorite or is that like asking a mother to choose a favorite child?
I’m the mother of an only child, so choosing my favorite kid is easy...but I’ve written more than a dozen novels/novellas now. Choosing a favorite story from among them is nearly impossible for me. They all have memories associated with them, and I love them all deeply for different reasons. And, yes, I know which of my books is your fave!! You have no idea how pleased I am that the story in question resonated with you so much. It’s such a delight to have an author/reader connection like that!

So are you focusing on another Mirabelle Harbor novel next or something else?
Next up is the third Mirabelle Harbor story, You Give Love a Bad Name. I’m drafting it right now. And, as you can see from the premise, music is going to play an especially big role in this novel:
“Nothing but love, 24/7” is the slogan of Mirabelle Harbor’s only radio station, 102.5 “LOVE” FM. At age thirty-four, local DJ Blake Michaelsen is well-known for several reasons: his very sexy on-air voice, his omnipresent family, his eligible bachelor status, and his reputation as one of the most impulsive men in Chicago’s northern suburbs.
High-school French teacher and lifelong romantic Vicky Bernier is not at all wild about people who exhibit reckless conduct. (Blake.) Or men who have gigantic egos. (Blake.) Or grownups who still act like teenagers. (Blake, again.) She deals with enough adolescent behavior during the school day. Unfortunately, she’s the staff advisor to the Homecoming Committee, and they’ve chosen him as their DJ for the big fall dance.
What happens when a man whose job it is to play love songs for a living is forced to admit his deepest secret—that he doesn’t believe in true love—only to discover that the one woman who might capture his heart is the same woman who distrusts him the most?
No matter what you call it, with love there’s an exception to every rule. YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

Okay this question is your fault because you bring it up in the novel, (readers will have to learn the wherefores themselves) and one I’ve been putting forth to some other authors too.
So here goes, 50 Shades of Grey-Thumbs or Thumbs down?
Ha!! Yes, I do briefly mention 50 Shades in the novel—and it was great fun getting to reference it in that scene! E.L. James’s story has become a part of pop culture now, regardless of what anyone may think of the book or the movie. I’ve read only the first novel in the trilogy, and I recently watched the film on DVD, just because I was curious. I don’t shy away from reading erotica or BDSM, even though I don’t write it so, personally, any issues I had with the narrative had more to do with storytelling technique and the craft of fiction, rather than the subject matter. I thought there was a big unanswered question of motivation on Ana’s part. I didn’t understand what she *wanted* in life, prior to meeting Christian. It’s a pretty major thing for me—not understanding the point-of-view character’s goals/motivation—so that made it more difficult for me to relate to her. However, the hero and heroine of 50 Shades were directly inspired by Edward and Bella in Twilight, which is a story I really liked, particularly the first book in the saga. The characters in that series had goals and conflicts I could recognize clearly and I could identify with their motivations quite a bit better as a result. So, thumbs up for the source material!

Marilyn thanks so much for chatting with me today. Good luck with the new novel!
Are there any events coming up for fans to meet and greet?
Deb, thank you so, so much for hosting me! I appreciate the luck as well ;). I don’t have any events or conferences on the calendar until February, but I do have a brand new Facebook page for those who are interested in the Mirabelle Harbor series and would like a relaxing place to discuss the books. It’s called “The Lounge” (after the name of the wine bar that Julia and Sharlene visit in the story) and it’s here, for anyone who’d like to join in:
And I love chatting with readers online -- I’m on Facebook & Twitter often -- so please visit me there!

My Review of The One That I Want
Marilyn Brants new Mirabelle Harbor romance is an engrossing page-turner, a mix of lighthearted humor, drama and tragedy rthat packs a powerful punch in a little over 200 pages. Julia, and her wonderful cast of co-stars are all shining examples of Marilyns extraordinary character development and I love that her stars have a little age on them. But the most impressive detail is how she expertly portrays the family and friendship dynamics and realistic relationship highs and lows.

Not only did Julia Meriwether Crane lose her husband and best friend in a tragic accident 9 months ago, but her traumatized, grieving 10-year-old daughter Analise lost her daddy too. Moving on is definitely easier said than done but Julias determined to give her child some new memories – starting with sending her to summer camp. How shell cope without her for a month remains to be seen.
If that's not enough Julias well meaning BFF thinks she needs to jump back into the dating pool, which shes so not ready for. Then a pair of beaus from her past and the movie star idol that owned her teenaged heart all start showing more than a passing interest and suddenly her life is a bad soap-opera.

Connect with Marilyn - Website - Facebook - Mirabelle Harbor FB Page - Twitter - Goodreads

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. 

Today's Gonereading item is:
in honor of Marilyn's favorite
author Jane Austen
Click HERE for the buy page


  1. I think if I ever wrote a book I would have to make up a venue as well. I would spend way too muh time researching otherwise (and having to visit) to make sure I got all the details of the town/city right otherwise!
    Wonderful interview! I adore the cover on this book, so cute!

    1. Kindlemom~
      Thank you!! So glad you liked the interview and the book cover ;) .
      And LOL about making up a setting. Although using a real one (like, ohhh, Tahiti or Paris or Malta) would give us a great excuse for a "business" trip, right?!!

  2. Debbie,
    Thank you again for inviting me to visit, for writing such a lovely review of my new novel, and for being so gracious -- as always! It's a pleasure being here today!! xo

  3. I love that she isn't divorced etc and doesn't have those hang ups. Thanks so much for sharing. Debbie your reviews are always fantastic and I like getting to know behind the book info.

    1. What a sweet thing to say from my favorite reviewer!

  4. LOL and now that title is going to play through my head all day.

    I think it would be so fun to build the town from scratch and make it just in your vision. How neat :)