Eleanor Brown's debut The Weird Sisters was recently released and after having the chance to read and review it, she was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for In The Next Room.
Where did the inspiration from The Weird Sisters come from? Do you have any sisters yourself?
I am the youngest of three sisters, which definitely sparked my interest in birth order and family roles, one of the themes I knew I wanted to write about. After that, pieces just started to come together to create the story of The Weird Sisters - the family obsession with Shakespeare, the collective first-person narrator, the struggles over what it means to become an adult. It was like holding a magnet and watching little scraps of ideas cling to it until it became a novel!
Do you see yourself in Cordy, Rose or Bean?
I see myself in all three of them, and I hope others do, too! Their conflicts are ones I have felt and have seen others experience - the struggle to find a place to call home, feeling torn between a life of adventure and a life of safety, the difficulty in becoming truly independent, and trying to figure out who you are outside of the role your family places you in.
The Weird Sisters quotes a lot of Shakespeare plays, did you reread his whole canon before you wrote the novel, or just used quotes that came to mind?
I definitely did not read all of the plays, but I read and saw a number of them! I did have a list of quotations I wanted to use, but I found I couldn't write scenes just to use them, so I ended up having to go back to my poor, dog-eared Collected Works a great deal in order to find the right quotation for the situation. Other times there was a play or a character I knew I wanted to reference, so finding something to use there was far easier.
Do you have a favourite Shakespeare play?
I don't think I could pick one! I do love the snappy dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, and since Macbeth was the first play I ever really loved, I have kind of a soft spot for it (Lady Macbeth is such a great character!). But since I far prefer to see Shakespeare performed rather than read it, I think I have favorite productions rather than favorite plays - a great version of Much Ado set in a USO, performed by the University of Miami, a terrific take on The Tempest at The Globe Theater in London, an awfully sad version of Othello by the Folger Theater in Washington, D.C. I love to see the creativity directors take with Shakespeare and the way a great actor can bring the language to life.
Where do you do your reading and writing?
Wherever I can! I read anywhere and everywhere - my greatest fear is being caught in a line or a waiting room without a book. I have an office at home with a comfy chaise lounge and a treadmill desk, and I've written in both locations, but I'm not picky - I'd write during an aerobics class at the gym if the muse struck me!
What did you do when you found out The Weird Sisters had been sold?
I called my sweetie, J.C. Hutchins, who is also a writer and we celebrated together. Then I went back to work. Clearly, I am not a good celebrator.
Now that you've published this awesome debut, what are you working on next?
Wow, thank you! I'm kind of superstitious about talking about works in progress, but I will say I've been doing a lot of thinking about love and marriage and divorce and how they all fit together. We'll see what comes of it!
Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Eleanor Brown has lived in St. Paul, San Francisco, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Oxford, London, and Brighton, England. She lives in Colorado with her partner, writer and new media superstar, J.C. Hutchins. Eleanor’s writing has appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The Weird Sisters, her first novel, will be published by Amy Einhorn Books on January 20, 2011.
Thanks so much to Eleanor Brown for her time, and I fully recommend the warm-hearted The Weird Sisters. Click here to read a review of the novel on In The Next Room. To learn more about the book, visit Eleanor's website http://www.eleanor-brown.com/