Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Eleanor Brown

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Welcome, welcome, welcome to Eleanor Brown, author of one of my favorite novels, The Weird Sisters. I’ve been hankering to learn a little something-something about Eleanor’s writerhead ever since The Weird Sisters debuted and now (whoop! whoop!) I do.

Listen up, folks!

The Scoop About The Weird Sisters

The Andreas sisters were raised on books—their family motto might as well be, “There’s no problem a library card can’t solve.” Their father, a renowned, eccentric professor of Shakespearean studies, named them after three of the Bard’s most famous characters: Rose (Rosalind—As You Like It), Bean (Bianca—The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordy (Cordelia—King Lear), but they have inherited those characters’ failures along with their strengths.

Now the sisters have returned home to the small college town where they grew up—partly because their mother is ill, but mostly because their lives are falling apart and they don’t know where to go next. Rose, a staid mathematics professor, has the chance to break away from her quiet life and join her devoted fiance in England, if she could only summon up the courage to do more than she’s thought she could. Bean left home as soon as she could, running to the glamour of New York City, only to come back ashamed of the person she has become. And Cordy, who has been wandering the country for years, has been brought back to earth with a resounding thud, realizing it’s finally time for her to grow up.

The sisters never thought they would find the answers to their problems in each other, but over the course of one long summer, they find that everything they’ve been running from—each other, their histories, and their small hometown—might offer more than they ever expected. [from http://www.eleanor-brown.com/]

The Buzz

“…bright, literate debut…a punchy delight…” ~ Publisher’s Weekly

“Here’s what I adored about this book: the first person plural narrative voice (I can still hear it in my head), its realistic take on the pleasures and pangs of sisterly relationships, and a cast of complex, three dimensional characters who love reading but find that real life sometimes doesn’t fit neatly—or can’t be solved—within the pages of a novel.” ~ Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust and Book Lust to Go

“Brown’s knockout debut about the ties that bind us, the stories we tell ourselves, and the thorny tangle of sisterhood was so richly intelligent, heartbreakingly moving and gorgeously inventive, that I was rereading pages just to see how she did her alchemy. Brilliant, beautiful, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before.” ~ Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You and Girls in Trouble

First Sentence

“We came home because we were failures.”

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And now, Eleanor’s writerhead

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

You describe writerhead as a temporary state, but for me it’s a state that lasts a long time, just in different levels. On the first level, usually when I’m thinking on a new project or just starting to write something new, everything I see calls out its story to me— conversations I overhear (okay, eavesdrop on), articles in magazines, song lyrics, the perfect blue of the summer sky. Things are sharper and clearer to me. It’s like a heightened sense of awareness of everything that’s going on in the world, and I’m usually very, very happy.

The second level is when I’m actually writing, and that’s when I really start to get sucked in, when I can draw on all those things that have been catching my eye, literally or metaphorically, and start to put them on paper. That’s kind of dreamlike, because I’m no longer aware of the outside world. I’m fishing around in my heart and my memories to find exactly the right way to describe that perfect blue.

The third level is when I’m deep into the project, when I’m beyond sorting through my notes or doing research or anything that pulls my eyes away from the page or the screen. The words are just coming out—not always pretty, but they’re coming!—and I can’t stop them. Interestingly, I am usually very, very grumpy at this level, maybe because my body keeps making ridiculous demands, like needing to be fed or washed or something silly like that.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

I don’t usually notice! My partner will say something to me, and I won’t respond—I genuinely don’t even hear it. Usually, he then launches into an extended monologue about how he and our cat are going to go to the moon in their cotton candy spaceship. By the time he gets to cotton candy, I’m usually aware enough to tune back in, but sometimes he has to get even more ridiculous before I’ll notice. Maybe I should suggest that he mention ice cream earlier in the story—I think even writerhead can’t keep me away from ice cream.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

For me writerhead feels like I’ve passed out of my body in order to connect more directly with the world through its stories.

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Eleanor Brown is the New York Times and national bestselling author of The Weird Sisters. Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Eleanor 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.

To find out more about Eleanor, visit her web site. You can also give her a wave on Twitter (@eleanorwrites) or Facebook.

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Q4U: Readers / Writers / Looky-Loos / Sisters: What grabs your attention about Eleanor’s writerhead? What makes you go “Hey, that’s so crazy!” or “Oh, my god, that’s just like my writerhead!”

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Today—Wednesday, August 24, 2011—I’m giving away 2 signed copies of Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters.

RULES: To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment right here on WRITERHEAD for Eleanor. Compliment her on her shoes. Tell her about your sisters. Talk about a shared writerhead experience. Ask her a question about how she wrote The Weird Sisters. Give her a standing ovation for writing such a spectacular novel. Etc.

*Comments must be posted before the clock strikes midnight on August 25, 2011. (That’s Eastern Standard Time U.S.)

**This contest is open internationally.

***Winners will be drawn on Thursday, August 25. Be sure to check back to see who wins.

****Though I welcome all your charming comments, only one comment per person will be counted in the contest. (I know, I know…but this isn’t American Idol.)

****The winner will be drawn randomly by the highly scientific method of my 3yo pulling a name out of a hat (or some other convenient container).