Robin Brande is so amazing to us. We may yammer on about being busy with Jules’s kids or Eisha’s jobs or whatever, but check out Robin’s blog bio: “…she is or has been various combinations of the following: a lawyer, yoga instructor, black belt, entrepreneur, community college instructor, Wilderness First Responder, insurance agent, outdoor adventurer, Girl Scout leader, and Sunday school teacher.” Add to that list “soon-to-be-published author” - her first YA novel Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature is set to be released by Knopf/Random House in August, and has already been nominated by ALA as one of the Best Books for Young Adults for this year!
She’s no slouch as a blogger, either. Her smart, funny commentary on “writing, reading, and other vital matters” has earned her a loyal following - or maybe it’s the fact that she gives away FREE CHOCOLATE to total strangers every month. Seriously. Free chocolate. Even though, in an incomprehensible display of willpower, she herself gave up chocolate eight months ago. You can also check in with her pretty much every Thursday for a discussion of the previous night’s Lost episode. Her blog also features a book club, of sorts. As she describes it, it is the…
Tuesday Book Club (also known as the Tuesday 50-Book Book Club, but I don’t always remind people of that in case it makes them nervous because they feel like they’re falling behind). The point of the book club is to give us all a place to check in every week to say what we’ve finished reading. It’s a total no-pressure, no-snobbery zone where you can re-read books you’ve read twenty times before or read science fiction or YA or romance or cook books cover to cover—whatever. The only point is to give us all incentive to read, read, read.
We at 7-Imp definitely approve of that. And we just adore Robin. Really, no junior-high-school analogy necessary here. Robin is simply the best, no matter what grade you’re in. Her posts can be both side-splittingly funny and then knock-you-over thought-provoking in one turn, and she’s always candid in a way that never fails to make you feel at home. We want Robin to be our neighbor so that we can have coffee every morning with her and pick her brain and just hang out with her, but alas and alack, we three are scattered all over the country. And she’s also always there; leave her a comment on one of her posts, and she always immediately responds in an effort to further the always-interesting discussions she begins (even her friends who regularly comment are fun — just who is this Patrick, The Space Lord?). We mean it when we say that Robin’s posts are always worth reading. We know you adore Robin, too, so without further ado, here’s her interview. Since she’s both a blogger and an author, we tagged on a couple of extra questions, just for her. Enjoy!
7-Imp: What do you do for a living?
Robin: I am a full-time novelist, which is my favorite thing to say to myself over and over. It took a long time to get to this point, and I mean to hang on to it. I also write screenplays, though nothing has happened with those yet. My ambition is to do both, like my hero William Goldman who wrote The Princess Bride, the best movie in the entire world, and don’t even talk to me if you don’t think so.
7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?
Robin: Since April, 2006, on the day I could say out loud that I had just gotten my first book deal.
7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?
Robin: I started blogging for two reasons: First, I like to know what people think. And I figure the best way to find that out is to throw some topics out there and see what people have to say about them. I am happiest when I get to play the role of moderator, sharing some bit of my personal life in exchange for total strangers talking about theirs. If I have to confess that I wet the bed until junior high or that I’m mean and petty about some issue or that I’ve just made a fool of myself—again—in some particular way, that’s the price I’m willing to pay to get you to spill something about your own life. I just think people are so interesting and have great stories to tell, and I have the odd need to hear them all.
The second reason I started blogging is that, despite what I just said above, I am maniacally, pathologically shy about my personal life. I love meeting people and talking to them, but I much prefer to be the one asking the questions. But I knew if I wanted this life of being a published author, part of it would involve being out there and letting strangers get to know me a little. So I’ve used the blog as a way to slowly build those public-figure muscles so that I won’t scream and run away if someone like Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast asks me a few personal questions. I can honestly say that because of my blog experiences, I am a much different — more open and comfortable — person now than I was a year ago.
And now I keep doing it because it’s so much fun when people write in and comment and share bits of their lives. I’m a total information hound. I really do need to know if you’ve ever accidentally locked yourself in the bathroom and what your theories on Lost are and whether you’ve ever eaten some food that’s so disgusting that even thinking about it now makes you want to hurl. Vital information like that.
7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?
Robin: Without a doubt, A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy Bird is just so clever and comical. I love her titles, love her turns of phrase, love the little movies she embeds. March of the Librarians alone would have made me a fan for life. I also love Meg Cabot’s and Jennifer Weiner’s blogs, again just for being so relentlessly funny.
7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?
Robin: Backpacking with my husband and dog, going to movies with my mom, hanging out with my niece and nephew. I like a lot of quiet and solitude. I’m really happy writing and reading all day with just the dog for company.
7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
Robin: Well, I’ve recently confessed some of the last two secrets — about sucking my thumb until high school and wetting the bed until junior high — so there’s not that much left to tell. I guess one thing people might not guess is how obsessed I am with fairness. Maybe it’s the Libra in me. It’s like I have this internal level, always analyzing whether I’ve been fair to someone, someone has been fair to me, the world is fair, etc. I feel personally responsible to go out there do what I can to keep everything in balance.
7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?
Robin: This year at the Sundance Film Festival I saw a movie called Once, starring Irish singer Glen Hansard and a Czech (I think) singer named Marketa Irglova. I came right home and ordered their CD, The Swell Season, and now can’t listen to anything else. Other than that, I’m a real head-banger, listening to people like John Mayer, Norah Jones, Everything But the Girl, and a now-defunct but glorious band called Blue Nile.
7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?
Robin: Right now that would be Elizabeth Gilbert (who wrote the best memoir I’ve read in a long time, Eat, Pray, Love), Meg Cabot (again, because I know she’d make me laugh), and J.K. Rowling because she is this generation’s Dickens and I’d want to thank her over and over to her face.
7-Imp: What is your favorite word?
Robin: “Swag.” Love it, want it, go out of my way to get it.
7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?
Robin: “Non-refundable.” Ugh.
7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Robin: I love humor, but I love true self-disclosure even more. I love it when someone is comfortable enough with who he or she is to strip away all the pretense, and instead speak honestly and from the heart, whether it’s in a book or in person.
7-Imp: What turns you off?
Robin: Liars. Big fat liars. Lying is weak and cowardly and low-class and wicked. A close second is bullying. I hate people who use force or manipulation, shame or guilt to get their way. It can be as simple as criticizing you for what you like to read, or as complicated as torture and war. Just bad, bad human behavior.
7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word?
Robin: Ef. But I’m trying to quit.
7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?
Robin: A stream burbling along right outside my tent.
7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?
Robin: Some strident, shrill, negative person bitching, criticizing, or complaining. It’s like poison pouring through the ears. Also don’t care for lip smacking or grunting during meals. Keep your chewing to yourself.
7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Robin: I would love to be a singer, but I can’t sing. I wish I had the kind of voice that makes people weep — in a good way.
7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?
Robin: Divorce lawyer. See “sound or noise I hate” and “what turns you off” above.
7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Robin: “See? I told you if you just relaxed it would all turn out okay.”
7-Imp: And now for the author questions . . . Tell us a little about your soon-to-be-published YA novel, Evolution, Me, and Other Freaks of Nature.
Robin: It’s a young adult novel about the fight over teaching evolution in a high school. More particularly, it’s about a girl named Mena who has been kicked out of her church for doing the right thing, and is starting her freshman year stuck in a high school filled with former friends who now despise her. When those kids begin a campaign against Mena’s favorite teacher for teaching evolution, Mena has to decide for herself whether she can reconcile her belief in God with her belief in science. The book is funny and romantic and deals with a pretty divisive national issue in a way I hope people will find satisfying.
7-Imp: What book(s) are you working on now?
Robin: I just finished a new young adult novel about a girl who devises a unique way of losing weight, then has to deal with her own and others’ reactions to her transformation. Another romantic comedy. I seem to like that in a book.
7-Imp: How has your life changed now that you’re a “published” author?
Robin: I didn’t realize how deeply the “unpublished” part was hurting me until that changed. When I was a lawyer, it was easy to answer the question, “What do you do?” Once I quit law I ran my own business for several years, and even that was easy to explain. But when I stopped everything else and just concentrated on writing, I dreaded meeting new people. Because here’s how it always went: “What do you do?” “I’m a writer.” “Oh, what have you written?” And then I’d rattle off some magazine pieces I’d had published, and some short stories that placed well in contests, and I’d see the people’s eyes start to wander and could just hear them saying to themselves, “Fraud.”
Now when I say I’m a writer, I believe it. I have proof. I hate that that’s how it is for me — I don’t think every writer working hard at his or her craft feels that way, and I don’t think they should — but for me it was immensely important to have that stamp of approval from a real New York publishing house, telling the world that yes, this person is an author.
The other way my life has changed is that I’ve met so many new, fun, creative people — both through my blog and now through working with my publisher. I never felt that comfortable as a lawyer. I didn’t really fit. Now when I hang out with other writers or with editors or other people in the publishing industry, I get that deep down gut sensation that these are my people. I can relax. I’ve found my pack.
7-Imp: Which guy who is currently/has ever been on Lost do you think is the hottest?
Robin: JACK, JACK, JACK. Because he’s noble and fair and brave and HOT. A lot of my friends are total Sawyer-ites, and I love how funny and cavalier Sawyer can be, but I will always prefer the noble guy over the bad boy — your odds for happiness are just better over the long term. I was also deeply in love with Eko because I loved his voice and his demeanor and his spiritual insights, but I won’t say why I can’t love him anymore because Eisha is still on season 2, so suffice to say it’s Jack all the way.