Thriller author comes to Michigan March 22

By Kurt Anthony Krug

Legal News

With 75 books--61 of them New York Times best-sellers--under her belt, mystery-thriller novelist Sandra Brown has never written a recurring character.

"One reason why I've never been interested in writing a series is I always felt like it could be become very stale very fast," says Brown. "I never had an interest in doing a recurring character because you write the same story over and over again. With each book, I try to incorporate something that I've never done before. I try to put an element in there that is different, that is fresh, that makes this book unique. It's not only for my readers' benefit, but it's also for my own."

A resident of Arlington, Texas, Brown just turned 64 and has been married 44 years to her husband, Michael. Together, they have two children and four grandchildren.

"Boring your readers is anathema," says Brown. "That's the worst thing (a writer) can do. I try to keep it fresh for me. I have to entertain myself first. This job is too hard to do unless you really love doing it. So to keep up my love affair with writing, I have to make it exciting for me. And so, therefore, each book is like I've never done this before and I've got to do it again, but I have to approach it as though it's for the first time... I've got the best job in the world. I try not to take it for granted."

Brown will be making two appearances in Michigan on Thursday, March 22, as the guest of honor in the 11th Annual Metro Detroit Book Discussion. She will be appearing at Rochester Church of Christ in Rochester Hills at 2 p.m. and the Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills at 7 p.m.

"(Fellow New York Times best-selling author) Michael Connelly (was the guest) last year and he highly recommended that I accept the invitation. I love the format of being interviewed on stage. I found it so much more interest than hearing somebody talk. It makes for a little more interesting evening.... I like talking off the cuff," said Brown. "I've been to Michigan lots of times. I've been all over in Michigan: the Detroit area, Lansing, Flint. It's a good market for me... The people are great. I have avid fans in Michigan."

The author credits her parents, as well as her husband, for setting her on her career path.

"My father was an editorial writer for a newspaper," Brown says. "He and my mother were avid readers. I just grew up with books all over the house. Reading was very encouraged. My parents read to my sisters and me before we could even read. I loved fairy tales, I loved stories and storytelling. It was just a combination of my dad's writing ability and my mother's love of books--in particular, fiction--and it all merged. It was a natural thing for me to write stories down that I daydreamed--and I'm a champion daydreamer--it was an evolutionary type of thing."

Brown majored in English at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, which she attended on a scholarship, but never finished her undergraduate degree because she got married.

"One of the conditions of the scholarship was that I remain single. I actually gave up the scholarship for love. That's what people did in those days," she says, laughing.

After she got married, she worked as a broadcast journalist in Texas for several years. After she was let go from the now-defunct TV news magazine "PM Magazine," her husband dared her to write.

"It was at that point, my husband said, 'You've always said you wanted to write. Now seems like the perfect time to either start doing or just continue talking about it.' He put it in the form of a challenge. I took up the mantle and started writing. This was in 1979. God, that sounds so long ago. It was long ago," she says with a chuckle.

Her first book, a romance called "Love's Encore," was published in 1981 under the pseudonym Rachel Ryan. She also published novels under the pen names Erin St. Claire and Laura Jordan. After six years of writing romance novels, she shifted gears and started writing in the mystery-thriller genre under her real name.

In her current thriller "Lethal"--which will be available for purchase and signing at her March 22 appearances--a wounded assassin named Lee Coburn forces Honor Gillette and her 4-year-old daughter to do everything he says and they won't get hurt.

"I wanted to do a book about a man who has been an assassin for the military. He should've died lots of times. He has actually very little regard for his own mortality. It's an inevitability approach to death--he doesn't worry about it or think about it. He's hardened, jaded, he's seen everything terrible in the world, things people cannot imagine being witness to. And yet, he is completely undone by this 4-year-old girl and her widowed mother. So when he's put into their world, he doesn't know how to react. I love the psychology of that. I thought it would be very interesting to put him with these most vulnerable of people and yet he's the one who becomes really vulnerable; that irony really attracted me," explains Brown.

In 2008, Brown and her husband established a scholarship for creative writing students at TCU, which, in turn, awarded me an honorary doctorate in arts and humane letters.

"Actually, I'm Dr. Brown now. I just skipped a couple of steps," she says with a smile "It was one of my proudest moments. I went through the commencement ceremony and everything. I wanted the whole shebang; it was a very proud moment for me."


Author Sandra Brown will make a pair of appearances in the Detroit area on Thursday, March 22. Tickets for Brown's March 22 appearances are free but limited and available at the adult reference desk at the Henry Ford Centennial Library, located at 16301 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn. To obtain tickets, call (313) 943-2330.

Published: Wed, Mar 21, 2012