Gerri Brousseau is a rare writer indeed. While most of us put our creative impulses into staring into space and writing about our friends while we waited for story inspiration, Gerri used to jump out of airplanes. These days, though, she finds her adrenaline rushes sitting at her laptop, creating dashing romantic characters and giving them exciting complications.
Her debut novel, A Pirate’s Ransom, was just published this month–and she already has another one coming out in November.
Writing, she says, comes easily for her. It could be that it’s easy compared to finding the courage to jump out of an airplane–but whatever. Here is the Waterbury resident’s take on writing, pirates, love, romance and procrastination.
Tell us about your new book.
Here is the description from the back of the book … Despair filled Lady Catherine as she boarded the ship for England, and toward marriage to man she’s never met—the Duke of Devonshire. But the sea is no place for a lady. She’s captured by the Pirate Captain, Edmund Drake and held for ransom; a ransom that has nothing to do with coin. But when she’s stolen from him, he realizes she has captured his heart. She becomes the pawn in a dangerous rivalry between two pirates—the handsome pirate Captain Edmund Drake and his notorious and fearsome opponent, Blackbeard. How far will Captain Drake go to reclaim his prize? Which pirate will decide her fate? And who will pay … A Pirate’s Ransom?
But let me assure you, the Duke has more of a commanding presence than you would think and who the heck is the Contessa Theodora de Lorenzo … hmm … guess you’ll just have to read the book to find out.
Where did the germ of the story come from? How did you first know you were going to write this story?
Most of my story ideas come from dreams. I have always sort of daydreamed about being captured by a handsome pirate who would sail away with my heart. So, I thought I would give it a go. This idea sort of started out as a glimmer of a story and grew into the pirate adventure I dreamed it would be.
Did this book come to you easily, or did you have to wrestle it to the ground once or twice? Did you ever give up on it?
When I sit down to write, I sort of let my characters tell their story. It comes easily and then I go back and do some fine tuning. I never gave up on it. I always had faith in my story. It was just a matter of finding a publisher who agreed with me.
Do you have a writing process you could share with readers, a way you like to proceed when you’re writing a book?
I get an idea for a story. I think about it a bit so I have a solid beginning, turning point and end. Then I sit with the lap top and just start typing. I write fast fiction – finish it quick with my internal editor turned off. Then once it’s finished, I go back and do the fine tuning.
Are you a “pantser” (writing by the seat of your pants, discovering the story as you go along), or do you have the entire plot outlined before you begin? Or something in between?
Pantser all the way. I know the beginning, turning point and end, but I let the story flow out of me. I don’t like outlines because it makes me feel too confined.
How do you get yourself to write when you don’t feel inspired? Is there anything that can bring that mood, or voice, back to you?
I tend to take a bit of a break between works. It clears my mind. If I am truly uninspired, I will go for a walk, watch a movie, or listen to music. Many things inspire me. For example, I am working on something now that was inspired from listening to Spanish guitar music. The smallest thing will inspire me, for example fireflies, the smell of being in a wine cellar, the picture of a lighthouse. When I get an idea for a story, I make a quick one paragraph synopsis in the computer and just let it stay until the characters are screaming in my head to have me tell their story. That is when it will get written.
When did you first know you were a writer?
As far back as I can remember I was writing stories. I think in a past life I might have been a scribe or something. I only seriously decided to try my hand at writing a novel in 2009.
If you weren’t a writer, what job would you like to do?
I would like to have a job like Robin Leach … Remember Life Styles of the Rich and Famous … the guy traveled around the world and did stories on rich and famous people. I guess if you can’t be rich and famous, you can at least travel in their circles … right?
What’s your favorite, and least favorite, part of the writing process?
I love every aspect of writing. When I was waiting to get my first round edits back from the editor, I was nervous, but I found I even enjoyed doing those. I like the first draft but realize that with the editor’s help, I’ll love the last revision … and hopefully, so will my readers.
What’s your process of revision? Do you have readers who give you advice? At what point do you enlist their aid?
When I finish my first draft and have read it over, I will send it over to my one and only critique partner. She reads it and sends it back to me with her suggestions. Once I feel I have done all I can do with it, I will send it off to my publisher for their consideration.
Readers tend to think that everything authors write is autobiographical. How do you handle those sorts of questions—people assuming that everything in your book really happened to you?
I write historical romance, so not too much in those books could happen to me. Although I have fantasized about being swept away by a handsome pirate, that has not happened to me … no. Still, I understand what you’re saying. How could you describe something you have not experienced? I have a very, VERY active imagination and I do a ton of research for the historical aspects of my work. As for the love scenes … To some extent things are from personal experience … but no, not every love scene has occurred in my personal life. When people ask me if these things have happened to me I simply tell them I have a great imagination. I do get snickering comments from men telling me if I ever need help doing research for any love scenes to let them know. Those comments I simply ignore.
Have you ever written a character who’s close to someone you know, and have you worried that that person will be furious with you?
No not intentionally. If there is any similarity between my fictional characters and anyone I know it is purely coincidental. However, I do have a friend named Theodora and I asked her if I could use her name in my novel. She agreed and was overjoyed to find out the character in A Pirate’s Ransom, The Contessa Theodora de Lorenzo was … shall I say, a woman of renowned talents. I am presently working on a novel and have asked another friend if I could use her last name for it. Honestly, I find that people are excited about it and honored when I ask. I would never do it without first asking.
Have you ever gotten up in the middle of the night to write a scene that simply will not let you rest?
Yes. I keep a pad and pen on my bedside table for just such occasions. Sometimes I find the scene is so exciting, I can’t get back to sleep and have to get to the laptop and actually write it.
Do you procrastinate? What’s your favorite mode of procrastination when you’re supposed to be writing?
Yes, I can be quite the procrastinator. I try not to berate myself for it because it usually turns into some productive thought. I will usually watch a movie. Sometimes I will go on Facebook and see what my friends are up to. One thing I will admit to NEVER doing by way of procrastination is housework. God, I hate doing housework.
What about being a writer has made you truly happy?
Hearing people who have read the book say they love it. Little comments from my readers make me smile. I got a few emails which I will share with you. One person said she burned dinner because she couldn’t put the book down. Another said she went to bed, tossed and turned for 30 minutes and had to get back up to keep reading. That makes me happy. I want my readers to love reading my books as much as I loved writing them.
What do you tell people who want to be writers, too?
I tell them to write from their heart. Write every day. Believe in yourself and your work and above all else, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up.
A Pirate’s Ransom is her debut novel is available now at Available at: http://www.soulmatepublishing.com
According to Legend will be released in November, 2012.
Visit Gerri’s website at http://www.gerribrousseau.com.