Like many writers, author Brianne Moore has been working on her craft for a long time. When she was young, she writes, “I spent my childhood inventing and acting out stories of brave princesses and gutsy ladies (always in AMAZING gowns!).” And now, those stories are out in the world! Brianne is the author of two books: All Stirred Up, which Laurel Ann Nattress calls “a delightful contemporary twist on a classic tale [that] will make Jane Austen’s many fans laugh, cry, and eat,” and the recently published A Bright Young Thing. With this new work, Brianne moves into historical fiction, taking the reader to 1931 England. Readers are raving, and Booklist said of the book: “Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy the depictions of grand houses and estates—with maids, butlers, and high society traditions—as well as the changes that women were making for themselves during that time.” Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Brianne now lives in Scotland, where she’s as busy as every other person I’ve featured in the series. Many thanks to her for taking time to answer my questions so thoughtfully.
Brianne: Thank you! At their heart, both books are about young women discovering and tapping into strength and talents they didn’t really know they had, and growing up a bit in the process. Both books (I hope!) have a fair bit of humor in them and a cast of rather quirky secondary characters. But there I think the similarities end. All Stirred Up is contemporary and there’s much more focus on the romance aspect of the story, whereas A Bright Young Thing is historical and, while there is a romance, it’s much more about Astra’s journey into adulthood.
Christina: A Bright Young Thing begins with the tragic loss of Astra Davies’ parents. Did the story always begin there, or did that beginning come about in the revision stages? How do you decide where to begin a story?
Brianne: Originally the story began some months after her parents’ deaths, with Astra sitting down and trying to sort out what to do next. But feedback from other readers suggested this was a little confusing, and I felt like we were missing getting a real glimpse into her relationship with her parents by not seeing the immediate impact of their loss, so I revised the story to start right when her life really changed.
Christina: All authors have a publishing journey. Can you tell us a little bit about yours?
Brianne: It was a very long one! I started writing this book my senior year of college, which was nearly 20 years ago now. I kept working on it and putting it aside, and then picking it up and putting it back down for many years before I decided I needed to buckle down and get it to a place where I was happy with it. I did, and soon after managed to land an agent. While he was shopping this manuscript around, I wrote another book, which became All Stirred Up. That book was what originally caught the attention of my editor at Alcove Press, and after she acquired it, my agent sent her A Bright Young Thing, and she took that one as well! So, my first manuscript became my second book!
Christina: In another interview, you mentioned that you enjoyed writing the dialogue for A Bright Young Thing, saying, “I took a lot of inspiration from 1930s comedies, which were so amazing, with their witty, quickfire exchanges. I had a lot of fun playing with that.” Do your characters speak to you? Did anything surprise you as you captured their conversations on the page?
Brianne: My characters definitely speak to me—I feel like all authors must be a little insane, because we have all these other personalities constantly taking up space in our brains! There are times when I see something happen in real life and think, “What would Astra or Toby think of that?”
I think what surprised me was how easily some of these conversations flowed. There are times when dialogue can be a bit of a slog, but other times it just flies along. Most of the scenes between Astra and her cousin, Toby, were in the latter camp; they were a joy to write. When I write conversations between characters, I tend to approach it in an easygoing manner. I have a general idea of what information needs to be conveyed, but beyond that I just let it flow as naturally as I can. It’s a fun way to do it—I often feel like I learn something more about these people as I go!
Christina: You “were born into a family of chefs.” Do you consider yourself a chef? Do you see any parallels between cooking and writing? How does cooking inform your writing?
Brianne: I wouldn’t consider myself a chef, no. I’m a competent home cook and baker, certainly, but chef is a whole other level of ability and I definitely leave that up to the professionals! Having said that, I really do love cooking and baking. Like writing, they are creative pursuits, but you have to know a bit about what you’re doing before you start lighting fires. Cooking and writing both rely on structures, too. You start off with an idea or ingredient and build up from there, but you have to know when to restrain yourself, when to edit, and when to say, “Ok, this is done now” or you’ll end up with a complete mess.
Christina: Your bio states that you are a “writer, editor, baker, knitter, and lifelong history lover.” Did you have trouble deciding the order for that list? Which one do you wish you had more time for?
Brianne: I didn’t think too hard about the order of that list, beyond putting writer first, because it’s something I both love and find vital to my life (I get genuinely twitchy and irritable if I haven’t written for a while). Editor is second because, even though I enjoy it, it’s my job more than my passion. I wish I had more time for writing. It’s tough when you have young kids and a partner and a house and a dog, because there are so many things competing for your attention and you’re so busy all the time. I think a lot of writers in my position also feel a lot of guilt about taking time away from those people and things, and a lot of social pressure not to because writing is often looked at as a sort of hobby. I’m lucky to have an extremely supportive husband and tolerant children who don’t mind me periodically shutting myself away to work on a book.
Christina: If you had the ability to time travel, where and during what era might we find you most often? Why?
Brianne: Depends on whether I’d be able to bring antibiotics with me! Honestly, though, there are so many eras that I think are fascinating—Ancient Rome, China and Japan had such vibrant cultures and such fascinating women operating within very strict societies—it’d be amazing to have the opportunity to witness some of that. And I’ve long had a fascination with the early 20th century, which was an era of really explosive change. Imagine being able to see the women’s suffrage movement unfold! Also, the clothing was beautiful and I would honestly love to wear some of those gowns and hats.
Brianne can be found in multiple places!
Thanks to Brianne for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.