By Leslie Lindsay
Anne Browning Walker, author of The Booby Trapis with is today answering questions and providing hints, tips, and insight into her latest book and her writing process. As a writer, I am especially sympathetic to her last comment on all of the distractions to the writer’s life! I think you will all find this a joy to read
I was inspired to write The Booby Trap after a road trip with my husband through the South. We passed signs for so many small towns with weird names, like Belcher and Toad Suck. I thought about how people from those towns might be misperceived, based on where they were from, or perhaps an accent. From that germ of an idea grew my main character, Bambi, who is misjudged because of her name and her good looks and the place where she’s working.
Who are the main characters of this story?
ABW: My heroine is a sexy PhD candidate (they’re out there!) named Bambi Benson, who has to overcome some pretty tough circumstances in life. One of them is her name, which doesn’t convey her brains, ambition, or general humanity. By contrast, Trip Whitley, the hero, seems to have had it easy. He’s good-looking, charming, has the support of his family, and went straight into the family business. But Trip is spoiled, which drives the book toward his relationship with Bambi in the first place. They both have problems to overcome over the course of the novel.
This is your first novel. What kind of special research went into it? You know the geographical and literary history of Massachusetts fairly well (Emerson’s house, Little Women, etc.), in addition to the history of the arts in general.
ABW: Part of the reason that I based the novel in Massachusetts is that my husband and I spent three years there. I’ve had the opportunity to visit all of the places that Trip and Bambi visit. I’ve seen the Frog Pond at Boston Common and Louisa May Alcott’s grave in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. I feel like firsthand experience is very helpful when writing a novel, especially your first one.
You stated that you crafted your heroine with your closest friends in mind. So how did they inspire you, and what was the end result?
ABW: My friends are smart, thoughtful, educated. Many of them have pursued advanced degrees, but I wouldn’t call them nerds in any way. I wanted to build a character like that, who was smart but felt comfortable in the world and in her own skin.
Romance has always been a staple in literary culture, but it’s red-hot right now. Why do you think that is?
ABW: Two reasons. First, I think that romance has been changing over the past thirty years, and women today are discovering that it isn’t what they thought it was. Women have power in modern romances, and that appeals to modern women. Once you set aside your stereotypes and pick up a book, you discover that. Second, romance’s recent spike in popularity owes a lot to Fifty Shades of Grey. My book is different in a lot of ways from Fifty Shades, but I’m happy that it’s brought a lot of attention to the genre.
Is it possible to be a modern woman: career-driven and smart, and still be a fan ofromance novels? Do you think this means the modern woman isn’t entirely fulfilled?
ABW: Of course! Romance novels, just like other fiction, are an escape. And most modern romance novels don’t feature women who are powerless. They feature women who are smart and career-driven and manage to squeeze love and great sex into all of that.
Who was the inspiration for Trip Whitley? Would you consider him a modern-day man?
ABW: Trip Whitley is an amalgamation of people. I cherry-picked traits from people I know, both male and female, to create him. Looks-wise, I always saw him as a younger version of the actor Bradley Cooper, but I hesitate to let that on because I always find it jarring when movies of books are made and the casted actors look very different from the characters in my head!
ABW: I would consider Trip a modern-day man. He falls victim to his assumptions, which people do today as much as ever. Ultimately, however, he wants a modern partnership with Bambi.
Have you been burned by stereotyping before?
ABW: You know, I can’t remember a time that I have been. But I’ve stereotyped before. I’ve made judgments based on first impressions that turned out to be incorrect, and I think it cuts both ways. Sometimes you discount a person because of what they seem to be, and sometimes you give them too much credit. I’ve succumbed to both misjudgments.
Any hints you can give us about your latest novel?
ABW: I’m in the process of writing it now, and I’m a bit of a pantser (translation: I fly by the seat of my pants, as opposed to being a plotter), so I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but it’s the story of a steamy road trip that reunites two college flames.
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
ABW: Come visit me at my website: annebrowningwalker.com or follow me on Twitter (@AnneBWalker) or Facebook (facebook.com/AnneBrowningWalker)! I always like to have conversations with fans, readers, and fellow writers! (image source: http://www.inreads.com/2012/09/26/inauthors-anne-browning-walker-on-knowing-the-rules-of-the-game/)
Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
ABW: places to write. First is on my couch at home. I’m comfortable there, so I can really get on a roll. But sometimes, it’s too distracting. I have the TV in front of me, my iPad just a step away, and an apartment that needs to be cleaned! So my second favorite place is just downstairs at my building’s coffee shop. I lug my laptop, order a large coffee, sit down, put my headphones on, and write. I challenge myself to keep typing until I’m finished drinking the coffee.
[Leslie’s note] Ha! But usually for me…it’s finishing that coffee and that delicious scone then going back for seconds because, you know…that chapter is just not good enough till you eat three scones and drink two mochas! (okay…I am exaggerating a bit).
Special thanks to PRbyTheBook for connecting me with Ann and The Booby Trap.