Interview with Vanessa Brooks
I this episode we interview Vanessa Brooks
Vanessa Brooks - penning passion!
International best selling author Vanessa, lives in the heart of Sussex, England.
She is a believer in happy endings and writes romance with a capital 'R' which includes strong characters and some power exchange. Her books are spicy and varied!
When not being an author, Vanessa is out and about with her husband, exploring Britain's many castles and stately homes, stopping for scones & tea at every opportunity!
We ask her about her:
For more on Vanessa Brooks:
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Hi, I'm Ann Jensen coming to you from the east coast of New Jersey. Hi, I'm Skyler West coming to you from the west coast of Canada. We are two romance writers using our life experiences to break down and share with you all things romance, how you find your next book boyfriend, discovering genres and troops and looking at what works and why and what doesn't work and why. Welcome back to coast to coast romance. Today we are going to be doing an interview with Vanessa Brooks, a wonderful romance author and historical romance, romance and many other shoulders. Wonderful. Great to have you on. Thank you. It's lovely to be here. Yay. Vanessa is one of my favorite authors. So I'm happy she's here to today we're going to be diving into Vanessa's head and figuring out what it is about the romance genre that she loves to write and read and everything like that. Let's get started with this, uh, what is your favorite sub genre of romance to read, write whatever. It's very difficult to say, favorite because I have so many likes, but writing I have to say I do love writing historical romance. However, I've branched out and I've written cowboy books, westerns, I've written a kind of dimensional time travel, I've written time travel, Daddy books, and I just, I love pushing myself, I love trying a different genre. There are a few I don't particularly want to write him. But I do quite enjoy reading. I've recently started reading some of the less violent mafia stories put it that way, the more romantic mafia stories I've started read one or two of those to see what that's all about. But I don't think I'd ever write in that particular assumption. So the darker stuff is is what your darker stuff is not for me. And I have tried reading some of the darker sort of Stockholm Syndrome type of work. And that again, is not for me. So Vanessa, can I ask you a question about your your written genres? I it's interesting, because as a writer, I don't write historical at least not yet. probably still, because it scares me. I find Well, I particularly love to read it. I it's a huge passion of mine. And I've read Margaret George, and some of the more those really large, detailed novels with those historical references, I guess you could say, and Nigel Tranter, he's a historical writer who wrote about different Highland clans. So there's a lot of actual reality in the stories. And so for you, so when I read yours, I really liked at the time era in history that you picked. Is there a particular reason you picked that time in history? Yes, because to the third was the king in England that instigated the American colonies and the uprising after that. And I just thought, it's a really interesting time, there was a lot of change that went on. And it leads to Regency, which is, again, another very brief moment in history, but quite interesting. The clothing was very colorful. I quite like the outfits the men wore with the knee high leather boots, and the tight breeches and cutaway coats, loose white shirts. It's a it's an outfit that really suited a man and I could just picture my heroes in my head very easily. Okay, so part of your motivation was what stimulated you visually as well. Yes. I do love that era of history. I've done a lot of reading. I did history at school. And I've always been interested in history. When I first started writing, I did have this perception that basically spanking belonged in the past, and I wasn't quite sure how the modern woman would react to a story with spanking in it. Whereas in those days, it was commonplace. Yes, everyday occurrence. But what shocked me with some of the reviews I got, which actually thought that I was incorporating BDSM Actually, that's where it all began in the first place. That shocked me is interesting. Yes. And they all still believe that historical books the woman should consent but that's not how the past was. No, women didn't have rights. They couldn't learn. They do have bank accounts. Yeah, they have no property. They didn't have to do anything. Right. And they were spanked and they were beaten and they were murdered, which I don't dwell on in my books, obviously, because I want them to be sexy. And I want them to be romantic. But I have to say, I mean, I've got a review here. I don't know if you'd like me to read it. Yes. Yeah. This quite shocked me because this was on my, the series of books put into one book under one cover. What was it called? Master for husbands time? No, why? Okay, so I've read that series. Okay. Yes. And she says, I'm not approved. And I'm not averse to some BDSM in my stores. But these men were both boar ish. And just plain cruel at times. Well, incredible. I don't think they were at all. There were many times I wanted their wives to get up, smack them across the face. me. I made it through to the first two stories. But the third one was just too ridiculous. I gave up and return the book that I borrowed it and did not purchase it. And I was actually also shocked that she's allowed to reviewable she didn't buy Wow, yeah, well, I think at some levels, that looking at the verified purchase versus the non verified purchase. It's like sometimes I wonder with reviews if they actually read the book, or why if you only get to book page 10 you feel that you can review a book. But historicals like, there's some people that I'm like, in America, it's very, very common, where it's like, oh, the golden days of history was, you know, where everyone was happy. And, you know, rainbows were in the sky, and all those kinds of things. And you're like, Did you meet the same history books I read? Cuz that's, that's, that's not how it was? No, no, no. Yeah, this interesting perception. And Ann's made reference to me in the past, where she has stated that, you know, whether they're good reviews or bad reviews, she always finds them intriguing as to where people's mindsets go. And so a lot of our podcasts are about breaking things down and going over them and hoping that people that write reviews, whether there's certified verified purchases or not. We'll understand a little bit more about our tropes, our sub genres, our genre in general, how the writing process evolved. And at the end of the day, romance is about an hga right. How they get there is your reality a Jason story is an puts so eloquently, it's your reality, adjacent story is your fantasy, and how you perceive the characters, the I love, how you describe how you saw the men, the heroes in your stories, as brilliant. And so that's, that's what makes a story. That's what makes a writer write a story is because it's there, it's in their head. I think it's awesome. When I write a historical book, I like to make sure they're flawed. You know, men in those days were perhaps more flawed than modern men. I don't know if that's correct. But there was certainly there wasn't political correctness around. And I like to portray that. And I like to portray the fact that love changes them, and become softer towards the woman and the woman that they love. And, you know, perhaps if there are flandre it, they stop that behavior. And I think a lot of readers find it difficult to accept a flawed hero. Yes. And I also think that with historicals, you have a different standard of what was perfect, you know, like, the perfect man today, according to media is you know, completely woke and understands men's rights and women's live and you know, and everything like that, but historically, the perfect man didn't feel that way. The perfect, you know, and he certainly couldn't iron shopping. Yes, not new wouldn't have, you know, put the woman before his own knees. And the perfect characteristics was more a provider or, you know, a warrior, strong or a protector, you know, that kind of thing. I know, I don't know if you guys are familiar with Bernard Cornwall Cornwell Hello. Okay, so I read his Londinium and his Soran books. And when they go back through the history to how it's interesting, he takes the the little history of the island back to its beginning roots and so you get to see how, in his rendition, your human relationships are formed, not just the island and civilization, and you follow the ancestry through of these original peoples, right, and a lot of cases and I mean, some of it he just hold back with, you know how corrupt or nasty a lot of men were. Having said that in modern times, there's a lot of corrupt nasty men. I don't, I don't think they all exist at one time in history. Yeah, it's all very intriguing. Okay, now we're talking about the men and everything like that. But when you start to write your stories, what comes first for you like the storyline? Or is it the characters? Is it a picture of the men or the women? what triggers that story idea for you? First, I always like to start with a water and work from there. And when I begin a book, I'm waiting for my characters to come alive. Because I'm rather a pantser, which is a term we often use for somebody who doesn't plot everything out on paper. And my characters leave me and when I write, and they come alive, for me, I'm watching a film in my head and frantically typing to keep up until the story the time thing. What I find difficult is if I'm in an anthology, and I know I've got to write a certain way and a certain plot, and the characters don't come to life, and then I find it incredibly difficult, because it's like pushing chess pieces around the board that are stuck down with glue. For me, I just, I hate it. You still have sadly, like some answer, which isn't taken me takes me months to write a 20,000 word piece where the characters to me are dead. And yet I can write a 50,000 word book in about two months, if the characters are alive and racing ahead, right? And they wake me up at night, you know, and I'm thinking, oh, gosh, I've got to write that down for me say leave me alone until the morning. Oh, I love the process. Yes, yeah, I'm, uh, I'm writing, I have a Wi Fi right now. And it is a romance, obviously. And just at that point where it's no longer just about the two characters, so I'm, like, 18,000 words. And and now the mystery of what drew them together that what they thought was, you know, serendipitous, or, you know, accidental is now starting to come to a point. So for me, it's, I'm with you. It's like, when the characters are alive, they go streaming off, and then all of a sudden, I have to add in other characters for the plot to develop. And I'm like, Well, okay, now I got to stop and think about this. Who is this guy? It's this guy. Really? What do I want him to do? How's he going to fit into both their lives. And so when I stop and do the jiggling and the maneuvering, as you said, the chessboard pieces pushing them this way, in that way, so I usually find the first 20,000 words or so is like bing, bing, bing, bing, bing, I haven't done in a week, then I start to maneuver those, you know, secondary and third characters around, and that takes another week. And then, when that's all fandangled, into the plotline, ding, ding, ding, me being the last, you know, however many 1000s of words is done in a few days. And then I try to agonize over the editing process, but both of you know me, well know that I I don't. And I'm thankful for my friends. No, that's interesting, because really even so what you've said is, there's really a third option, it's not necessarily the story or the character for you, it's the situation or maybe the is it usually the what if about the meet cute, or some sort of service situation they're going to get? So it's more like, environmental? Yeah, yes, kind of. I, when I wrote my daddy books, I didn't want to write a straightforward daddy book, I wanted to explore the genre to help. When I write, I find I understand things better. Once I'm in a character, I can understand something. I wanted to understand how a little felt about a daddy little relationship. But I didn't want to write a straightforward. I thought, well, what if a woman was suddenly thrown in to that situation, and it hadn't even occurred to her to before that there were that his nipples. And so that's where I got this time dimension swap, and my character moves in an aeroplane in a situation of turbulence in the plane. And when she lands, she's discovered she's got a husband, she was allowed to marry her daddy. And at first she couldn't, she couldn't understand what was going on. She couldn't accept it. He thought that she was unwell, or it lost her memory. But no, she'd actually swapped with another version of herself in another dimension. And then I carried on and did Book Two for the other girl that unfortunately ended up in the first person pennies. Life without a daddy. And so she then had to set off and find herself a daddy. So I found it very interesting. And it was quite fascinating to write I enjoyed it. Yeah, I act that was my minor stories about writing mind stretches your mind as well. Yeah, it was sort of, I mean, it's obviously, I guess, technically sci fi but not you know, like, it was just a small quirk of reality where the two of them and while I loved that, because I think a lot of us can see that, like the person trying to discover their little miss the one who knew they were little than trying to find I love that you took it from both angles me to categorize the publisher. I was just gonna say. So you have answered our first question very in depth lately. And so I'm just wondering, as a writer, what draws you other than what you've just talked about? Is there anything else that draws you to a sub genre or as a reader? Is there any particular books that you're drawn to as a reader that you don't write? Yes, I do like murder mysteries. I'm at the moment I'm reading an author called faith Martin, and there's absolutely no spanking or sex in it. It's more about mystery, but not gruesome murders kind of think modern Miss Marple. Very English as well setting very English settings. And I love it. I find it very relaxing. But I also do read crime obviously. Well, not obviously. But I do read crime. I read a lot of cowboy daddy books, particularly like Layla Robert stories. I got such a wide reading list really. And every year I'll read a Jane Austen because I just love her writing. I do that every time I read one of hers. It makes me want to write another historical spanking. Yeah, I think I would know how I would write rewrite Pride and Prejudice if I ever opportunity. Yeah. So yeah. It's just so below the surface in her story. She's an Emma. Was it? Did she write Emma or was that? Yes. No, she did. She did. Okay. I haven't. I haven't read in years. But I remember after I read it, I watched the movie that Gwyneth Paltrow did playing Emma. And yeah, and I loved the how she gravitated to that hint of humor in that character that is in the story, but it's not. It's not as visual in the sense that the, I mean, I in the story, I find her more mischievious whereas in the movie, I find her more just she has a sense of humor that nobody else understands. Just my take on it. My favorite is sensory sensitivity, because I love Colonel Brandon. Oh, yes, yes, he's a character I hold in my head a lot when I'm writing historical books. A lovely man. Yep. Yeah. character. I should they can not really except in my head. And the author said, Yes, exactly. No, she's I homeschooled my kids for 11 years. And I made sure that my children read the classics. And so my oldest daughter just turned 30 to two days ago, and her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice and my son like they they've read Louisa May Alcott. So they've read a little man, a little women, and they've, they love all of those stories. And it warms my heart that they have an appreciation for old time writers. Now, speaking of loves books, and everything like that. I know in past episodes, I've said how much I love getting reviews, what would you say would be your favorite review or just like the favorite thing for someone to say in a review of one of your books? Well, I've had some lovely reviews. And I'm very, very grateful to readers who take the trouble to leave a review even if they just say I love this book. And that to me, means everything that they enjoyed it and they loved it. But this there was a particular review I really did like I felt proud of by cat Riker who is a reviewer on Amazon. May I read it? Yes. That is really the headline. I laugh Wow. And hot. Holy, Holy hot Kindle. Vanessa Brooks wrote a winner here. exclamation mark. I just loved that. It was just so funny. But she she talks about the story and I won't bore you with it because it just goes on about the tale basically. But she does write a very good review. And luckily really with my reviewers that they take the trouble to review my books. I was very unconfident about writing And part of it was part of the anthology for the Viking series I was in. I've not written a Viking book before. And so I was very gratified to get some good reviews on that. But I'm not sure Viking is for me, I think possibly, that was too violent a time. So I possibly won't write any more of those. Right? No, I enjoyed that. Do you find that the your biggest fan bases in the UK where you're stationed? Or in the United States? No, very much in the US? Yeah. I think in England, very, very high number of liberated women who consider anything like spanking romance to be something that should be completely blocked from society, right? England is very much a nanny state. And there's an awful lot of outside repression, that perhaps that is what I mean, a lot of repression of women's acceptance of BDSM, for instance, lots of very uncomfortable moments with some ex neighbors of mine who basically didn't want to know me when they discovered what I was writing. And that was not a pleasant experience. It always amazes me when someone sits there and says, Oh, I'm a strong woman, or I'm a liberated woman and everything like that. So therefore, we must get rid of anything that doesn't meet my needs. Exactly. And it's like, well, wait a minute. You're so strong and liberated in your views, you can accept that there are other women, men, you know, whatever, that something different, and close. And the other thing that we've tried to point out within our tropes, and whenever we talk about different books is none of us want this to happen to us in real life. You know, that? Or, you know, we don't really want we, you know, we don't want someone to kidnap us on a pirate ship. We don't want them to. We don't want to be forced into a marriage or you know, but we can enjoy reading about it, we can enjoy the fantasy of it. It's escapism, you know, if I just wanted exactly what is real, I'd watch the news. Exactly. Yep, indeed. I agree. Well, that kind of takes us to tropes. And so there's so many tropes, forced proximity at the alpha hero. Can marriage a convenience? There's so many tropes. Do you have a favorite? Vanessa? Do you like the enemies to lovers? I like that angst between character. Yes, we do too. Don't we end? Yes, no. Okay, so what about your least favorite trope? Do you have something that you just I think the Stockholm Syndrome, the woman who is caught, kidnapped and really abused and hurt, who eventually can't live without this kind of treatment? I think that's very unrealistic. I think none of us. Yes, there are people who get off on pain. But I don't think there are as many as we like to think or the authors who writes up stuff. I like to think there is, I think, I think, a fine line. I mean, it's interesting, because those two trips are actually pretty close together. because technically, they're enemies to lovers. But what we're talking about is health, you know, healthy versus Yes, yes. Yes. You locked in a cage with no clothes and starved. I really don't like the idea of Yeah, and I can, and I think that's where the dark comes in is. And a lot of times certain genres have a lot more dark than they do than others, like romantic comedy. There aren't many dark, calm, yet romantic comedies. But like I write motorcycle romance, I would say over half of them are dark mine aren't but where you forgive things that you wouldn't normally forgive, whether it be cheating, abuse, you know, those sorts of things. And so it's interesting how we want the push pole of the enemies to lovers, but we don't want it to cross that line from abuse to forgiveness without good cause, or without an actual redemption. I find that I find that that stories that tend to go into the dark romance, and certainly I'm not categorizing all, but for me, the first thing I will notice is there's a difference between a dominant partner so I think I'm not the only one who likes to read about the strong male dominant male. That's a very common theme, but the difference between that and say a sadist. So I find that the people that are that create the Stockholm Syndrome is that people. These are people in my personal opinion that are looking for control over relationship or delivering sensations or wanting to be in a daddy Dom relationship or any of those other things is there's a different piece and their personality and their mentality of how that character is represented. And for me, that's what it comes down to is, as soon as I start to read, I can tell if I'm reading about just a guy who, like you said earlier, Vanessa, is you like to write about a guy who becomes better, because he falls in love or finds the right woman or finds the right sub, or finds the right little or whatever the case may be. And these stories, I don't think they get better, necessarily, and I think they don't necessarily get better. And usually it's only one character changing in those books. Yes, but I also think it's about respect, because I've read, I've read some books about sadists, but they respected, they respected their masochist, they respect it, like, you know, you had a good dose, too. And so the argument of they want to do something, but only if the other person is also enjoying it. Yeah, it's when you have the lack of respect, where it's like, I like this and it doesn't matter what you like, right? And you'll come to like it because I'll force you or you know, or whatever the case may be. That's the line I find difficult. Right? Now, if you could write something, whether it be romance or not romance, like if you could write a type of book that is something you don't write right now. What kind of book would it be probably a very clever, non bloody murder mystery. I'd like it to be very, very good with a good twist at the end. But I'm not really that type of writer. So I'd love to be able to like very, very good mystery with excellent with. I can totally get behind that. Agatha Christie fan. Did you ever did you grow up reading her books? Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Yeah, very much. So. Yes, I do. I do like them at the moment. I'm reading lots of Lisa Regan. I don't know if you've heard of her. And I'm reading this fake art in these English setting murder mysteries. And the one I'm reading at the moment is the journey starting books, Jenny Starling, as a chef, and wherever she goes, she encounters a murder. And they're actually quite amusing as well. That's I grew up as a kid reading Nancy Drew. And so I love those. I loved how she just always managed to be wrapped up somehow in some way. With those mysteries, they're wonderful. Yeah, yes. So those that's faith, Martin, is that what you said the author's name was Vanessa. Yes. Yes. I've just started exploring her books. Actually. She's got quite a few. Yeah, interesting. Yeah. I will check one out. Yes. Well, I'm enjoying these at the moment. So and the other the other genre I absolutely love is Christmas. I just love snow. We don't get an awful lot in the southeast of England. So particularly at Christmas time. So Christmassy smelly books, particularly historical Christmas, no spanking even better. I think the first book I read, I can't remember sorry if it was yours, or brandy Golden's. But the first book I read by one of you was a Christmas spanking historical books. Short story, and I thought it was fun. Yep. Yep. There are lots of fun. Alright, before we get to the last question, I want to throw in one surprise question. And that is tell us one thing that is surprising about you. Like just as a person that, you know, reading your books, you would never guess this thing about you. Now? That's a good question. When I was 16, I was actually snubbed by actor Oliver Reed. I went to his pub in sorry, with friends. And he was in there looking absolutely gorgeous. And not people watched as he became later in life. And he took quite a showing to me and I did to him. But his manager was very aware of my age. And after we have this rather delicious case, he directed me outside the park called a taxi, put me in it and sent me home. So that's my claim to fame. That is such a cool story. For our last question, what are you working on now? What are we going to see next from Vanessa? Right next coming up is a future Stick book and then our debt in the future in the area that we now knows Colorado in America after there's been a nuclear war between China and Russia. And we have a city of women who live in the sky, they basically eradicated men from their lives apart from a few breeding males. And down on the ground underground, were some ordinary characters who have now come above ground because the levels of radiation have moved on. They are known as husbands, the men and the women are subservient in the bedroom, but part of this community of which have lived up until now in caves, and one of the sky women are call them is in her pods during a massive thunderstorm because the earth is touched by thunderstorms on a regular basis, far worse than anything we've seen now. And she's knocked off the rail in her pockets, and to his nails, find her from the ground, take her to be there woman, and she wants to go back into the wind city. But the computer who runs everything, tech, his name, his or its name is won't allow her back in until he's absolutely certain she isn't going to bring in any radiation or viruses, etc. And she very quickly decides that actually, she will stay with these two males, but I'm not going to give any more away. Oh, that's amazing. I'm also writing an anthology which will be coming out in January. And our all our say is my character is a Viking gold. And then there's another anthology and your thing, which is part of a series. And mine will be set in modern day America and on a ranch. And I don't want again, I can't really give too much away about that. So three things going on that will come next year. We'll have to bring fitness back in the new year and so we can hear more about them. Sounds great. Well, I'm hoping that's interesting. We'll copy out no before September. But it really depends on how quickly the publisher gets on with it. We're waiting to see. Sounds great. Well look forward to those new things. And I love how you write in such a diverse set of sub genres. Yes, me too. I just can't, I can't box myself in one. And I think nowadays they call an author like myself a unicorn author. And I just love it. I just love writing in different genres and pushing myself really, it's fun, and I hope the readers find it fun to think I certainly do. All right. Thank you for listening to coast to coast romance, make sure to check out the show description for links to the NASA Brooks myself and Skylar. Thank you all. Thanks for NASA for joining us today. Thank you, everyone. Thank you for listening to coast to coast romance. I'm Ann Jensen. And I'm Skyler West. If you'd like to contact either of us. Our links are located in the show notes. Have a great week. Thanks so much for joining us.