Y'all, I am delighted to introduce you to our guest today. I've gotten to know Lauren Brandenburg over the last few years and got a peek into her journey to publishing her first book for big kids (aka adults). I can't wait for you to meet 2020's Carol Award winner in the Contemporary category.
About Lauren H. Brandenburg
Lauren H Brandenburg is a wife, mother, storyteller, author, and purveyor lovely things. The Death of Mungo Blackwell is her first novel with Lion Fiction and her first novel for grown-ups. As a former English teacher and homeschooling mom, Lauren combines her love of ‘the what if’ with her spirit of adventure and faith to delight and encourage readers young and old. Her fourth book in The Books of the Gardener series, Orlo: The Created, was a 2017 finalist for the Selah Middle-Grade Novel of the Year. Lauren is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is on staff with the Realm Makers conference. She was a 2020 finalist for The People’s Book Prize (UK), American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Award in Contemporary Fiction, and the Selah Award in Women’s Fiction. She lives with her husband, Jamie, and two children in a lovely little town just south of Nashville, Tennessee, however… she will always consider Kentucky her home.
SW: Those are the basics, lets dig a little deeper, starting with a quick round of would you rather. Are you ready, Lauren?
Would you rather have a pause button or a rewind button on your life?
LB: Definitely a pause button. Sure a rewind button would be nice… go back, right the wrongs etc. But I think it might become a bit addicting, like editing over and over again. Pausing to dwell in moments with my family or those God moments where you realize something about him you’ve never realized before and usually you forget it because of distractions would be absolutely lovely.
SW: Oh, I love that answer. Would you rather live in a world with no internet or no cell phones?
LB: This one is easy. No internet. I might actually get out more, shop more local, spend time wandering around book shops, and be less distracted. And I bet I would be able to write more too.
SW: Would you rather write in a rooftop garden surrounded by city noises or in a quiet studio with cows as your neighbors?
LB: Cows. Cows for days. I would be so distracted by the city noises that I think I would find myself looking down over the edge to see what was going on, who was walking by. Cows are far less distracting and a studio sounds delightful.
SW: Tell Us a Little More About Yourself What interested you in writing?
LB: I wanted to write books for children that would entice them to study God’s word, see the value in studying the scriptures without coming across as preachy. And I wanted to give them a world to escape to that was mysterious and other-wordly but still functioned by a Biblical worldview. Then I started writing for adults. I’ve always loved the power of a good story, something that when you get to the end you just feel happy. So, I set out on a quest to write a lovely thing… And that one lovely thing has turned into two. (And maybe a three and a four…)
SW: For those wondering and those who might be looking for something to keep their children occupied, Lauren does have a middle grade series. Check out Boone: The Ordinary (book one in The Books of the Gardener Series) here.
Will you share a little about your writing space?
LB: I would be totally fibbing if I said I hadn’t imagined my space as the captain’s quarters on
a pirate ship on more than one occasion. It’s dark, which makes it cozy. But has these fabulous eight-paned windows that can be cranked open to let in the day. And it’s elegant. My husband graciously passed down his old office furniture, which I always loved. The semi-circle desk is one of my favorite parts! But most importantly, it’s quirky with all my little bits and bobbles of me including my bunny lamp. It’s just very me.
SW: Beautiful and inspiring.
There’s a memorable scene in The Death of Mungo Blackwell involving macrons (aka “The Rooning”). As a connoisseur and baker of the delectable treats, tell us about your best and worst experience with macarons.
LB: Anytime I try to make macarons in a hurry, they are just a mess waiting to happen. The first few attempts were the absolute worst! I didn’t even know how to use a pastry bag, so I was dispensing them in a cookie press! I think I’ve had quite a few “worst experiences” because of rushing. What should be a lovely, slightly chewy shell with a soft crunch, and cute little crinkly footed edge, turns into a globby cracked mess that literally has to be scraped off of the pan. But my absolute best experience was when I was making them for a bridal shower. They were perfectly formed, shaped, and smooth! I filled the blue shells with a lime buttercream and raspberry and topped them with a golden crown. I think the bride was pleased.
SW: Wow, that looks almost too gorgeous to eat.
Switching gears, what book have you read recently that you loved?
LB: I have definitely done a lot of reading this year. But what stands out the most is Ronie Kendig’s Brand of Light. And I’m not really one to just pick up a space opera and think, “Oh, I think I’ll read this for fun!” But it was absolutely extraordinary! I couldn’t put it down – the world building was fantastic, the characters relatable, and the storyline an epic combination of romance, action, sci-fi, and adventure. I had the privilege of early reading the second in the series. I’m hooked!
SW: And it won the Realm Makers Award for Science fiction and the Alliance Award (Reader's Choice). Since you're involved with Realm Makers, can you share a little about this group for those who haven't heard of it?
LB: On the surface, Realm Makers is a conference for writers of Christian speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fic, dystopian, etc.). But it is really so much more! It’s a community of like-minded believers who support one another in and out of the bookish world. And even though my newest books don’t necessarily fall into any of those genres, the community has promoted, reviewed, and shared my writing with friends, family, and readers. And they seriously some of the coolest most imaginative people on the planet.
SW: If you would like more information about Realm Makers, visit their website.
OK, Lauren, let's get to it and talk more about your books. Your publisher had a difficult time categorizing The Death of Mungo Blackwell. What did they finally come up with?
LB: This question made me laugh because I totally stumble over my words when people ask me what I write. My publisher categorized it has humorous family fiction. I think that works.
SW: What has your experience with a publisher in England (Lion Hudson) been like?
LB: Absolutely delightful! I’ve learned so much about patience, expectations, and what it
means to really take a holiday. And there is something just magical about knowing they are in the land of Dickens, Tolkien, and Lewis! It also helps that I am a complete Anglophile and get all super swoony about anything British. There were a few times in editing we hit a bit of a language barrier with word choices. It made for several good laughs over how quickly something can become innocently inappropriate. I do have to constantly remind myself that they are not a huge house and the path many of my author friends have taken looks a whole lot different but the joy I have found with them definitely outweighs any misplaced expectations.
SW: Tell us a little about your upcoming (Oct 23) release.
LB: Oh, I’m so excited! The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson is a story of love, marriage, and scissors. It is another tale, a deeper dive, into the characters and goings-on of life in the quirky village of Coraloo with a time-slip that carries readers from the life of the mysterious Innis Wilkinson to the controversial marriage of Roy Blackwell and Margarette Toft.
SW: You can read the full book blurb below.
Last but never least, how can we pray for you, Lauren?
LB: Thank you so much for asking. I definitely feel a spiritual attack whenever I’m about to release a book – physically and mentally. Prayer for me to continually think on what is true and lovely would be much appreciated.
More about The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson
It is said that something magical happens during the festival season in Coraloo, something unexplainable. People tend to be a little crazier, reckless. Maybe it's because it coincides the full moon, but Coraloo's constable, Roy Blackwell, is beginning to think it's something else. That said, Roy has other things on his mind, like marrying Margarette Toft. A controversial decision as the Toft and the Blackwell families have a hatred for one another that is older than the town itself. Tradition collides with superstition as the feuding families compete to organize the events surrounding the most talked about wedding in the history of Coraloo. Despite the array of minor catastrophes that ensue, and the timings clashing with a four-week long festival celebrating a legendary beaver, Roy and Margarette hold fast and declare they will do whatever it takes to wed. That is until Roy unearths a town secret - a murder involving a pair of scissors, an actor with a severe case of kleptomania, and the mysterious marriage of Innis Wilkinson. Can good come out of unearthing the past - or will only heartbreak follow?
Lauren is generously giving a print copy of The Death of Mungo Blackwell and some book swag to one of our readers. I will also send the reader a book cozy. The giveaway is open to US addresses only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday, 9/29/20.
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