As you guys know, I loved The Bro-Magnet. It was an original and hilarious story that I think every romance fan in need of a good laugh should read. And today I’m happy to welcome the person who created such an enjoyable story. Please let’s give a warm welcome to Lauren Baratz-Logstend!
Hello Lauren, welcome to Romance Around the Corner. Excuse me if a start laughing in the middle of the interviews but that’s what happens every time I think about your book. I’m like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I hear The Bro-Magnet and I start laughing.
Q. First of all, tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
My career started 22 books prior to The Bro-Magnet with a novel called The Thin Pink Line. That earlier book received a starred Kirkus review – the first book of any of the thousands upon thousands of books published by any Harlequin imprint to ever do so – and was published in 11 countries and was optioned for a film. But if people come to Pink after reading Bro they’ll be in for a rude surprise because while Bro is a light comedy, Pinkis a very dark comedy, a satire. In addition to writing, I love my daughter, reading, and shooting pool.
Your career has been prolific and diverse. You have written books for children, teenagers and adults, something I find quite interesting since authors usually focus on one specific audience. Would you tell us more about your previous books and how did you go from writing books like The Thin Pink Line, to The Sisters Eight series, to finally The Bro-Magnet?
Just like I’m an eclectic reader who’ll read almost anything, I’m an eclectic reader. I don’t think, “Oh, I’ll write the same kind of a book all the time so I can become a brand,” nor do I ever thing, “Ooh, X genre is hot right now – I’ll write one of those!” Rather, an idea comes into my head, I love the idea, and I can’t help but write the book so that I’ll know how everything turns out.
In terms of The Sisters 8 series, the idea for that came about when my family was snowbound in Crested Butte, CO, in December 2006. My daughter was six at the time, there were no other kids around or any TV, so by Day 9 we were looking for fresh ways to amuse ourselves. And how did we do that? My YA novelist husband Greg Logsted, Jackie and I brainstormed what would become a nine-book children’s series about octuplets whose parents go missing one New Year’s Eve.
Greg is also partially responsible for The Bro-Magnet. He’s a novelist by night but a window washer by day. One time he came home from work and mentioned that the owner of the house he’d done that day had asked him if he wanted to go skiing. It occurred to me that this wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened. Who asks their window washer to socialize? That’s when it further occurred to me that my husband was...a bro-magnet.
What can you tell us about The Bro-Magnet?
Outside of the fun of creating The Sisters 8 series with my daughter – how cool is that? – it’s the most fun I’ve ever had with any book. I love writing from a male POV and it was a joy to write. It tickles me when I hear readers say the cat scene is hysterical because, while I know you’re not supposed to laugh at your own jokes, I was laughing the whole time I was writing it. Oh, and here’s a scoop for you. You know how Johnny dreams of putting his cat on a leash, taking him to the local bar, sitting down on a stool and saying, “The usual for me and a saucer of milk for my furry little friend here”? I want to do that.
I admit that what made me decide to read The Bro-Magnet was the fact that the whole book was told from the hero’s POV. Did you always plan on writing a book entirely from a guy’s POV? Was it challenging writing from a male perspective?
Prior to this, the only one of my books to feature a male first-person POV is the YA novel Crazy Beautiful. That one’s not pure male POV though; it’s a he-said/she-said story in alternating male-female first-person accounts. But The Bro-Magnet from the beginning was conceived of as a purely male POV book. I have to admit, I never had a moment where it was difficult to write Johnny – who he is and what his voice is are just so clear in my mind. Voice is one of the things I love as a writer. I’ve written books set in England, in the U.S., history, comedy, adult, teen, children’s. The Sister’s 8 is written in the rare first-person plural and yet each of the octuplets has her own distinct voice when speaking such that when I meet with little kids and I make up random lines of dialogue, they can tell me exactly who would say that line because they know the characters’ voices so well.
I’m in love with Johnny. I found him charming, sweet, honest and funny. Was he based on someone in particular? What inspired you to create such an interesting character?
Johnny is pure invention except for two things: 1) as I said earlier, my husband has clients who’ve wanted to bro up to him, although all similarities between Greg and Johnny end there; 2) there’s a section in the book where Johnny recounts things he’s done that guys love and women get annoyed at, like all the clunker cars he’s owned – I actually once knew a guy who did all those things. Other than that, Johnny sprang from my brain. Over the years, I’ve written some dark characters and some complex characters and even some I-would-never-want-to-live-next-door-to-you characters. When I wrote the YA Victorian suspense novel The Twin’s Daughter, even though the book is told from a first-person female POV, there’s a boy in the story, Kit, who I just loved writing. He was the first purely good and heroic person I ever wrote with pretty much a starring role in one of my books. In some ways, Johnny is an extension of that kind of experience for me although I doubt you could find two books by me that are more different from each other.
Let’s talk about comedy. As I said before this book was hilarious, and I’m still laughing even though I read it days ago. Is comedy something that comes naturally for you, or did you have to work hard to come up with ideas for all the crazy situations and wonderful dialogue in the book? Do you know someone who actually thought that walking a cat would be a good idea? (As a cat owner I think this was ridiculously awesome!)
When I left my day job in 1994 to take a chance on myself as a writer, I thought for sure I’d write the G.A.N.: the Great American Novel. But the voice that came out of me when I started to write was a comedic one, and it stayed that way through my first several books before I started sometimes writing things that demanded a different voice. The thing about writing comedic books is that it can be hard to find an audience. Drama? We can all agree on what’s tragic and at the risk of sounding cocky, I can write that scene that will make you gasp in shock (The Twin’s Daughter, Chapter 22) or bring a tear to your eye (The Twin’s Daughter, pages 321-322). But write something that a wide range of people will agree is funny? That’s hard. And yet I do love to write comedy. It really wasn’t hard coming up with the comedic situations in The Bro-Magnet. What was hard was wondering if readers would enjoy over-the-top scenes like the barn opera as much as I enjoyed writing them. You can imagine how gratifying it’s been for me, seeing the reaction of bloggers. The dialogue was sheer fun to write – sometimes I think I could just write whole books with dialogue and barely anything else. As for the cat question, let’s just say I’m a cat lover, a cat owner, and I have lots of fun ideas of things to do with cats.
There’s a rumor going around that you’re writing a sequel, is it true? Can you tell us more about it? What else can we expect from you in the future?
In the future, you can expect more books from me! In addition to continuing to write for teens and children, my next novel for adults will be another offbeat comedic ebook called Z, about a writer who returns home to CT after years living out in L.A., only to meet a wealthy window washer who may or may not be Zorro. And yes, the rumor you heard is true. I hadn’t planned to write a sequel but then an idea popped into my head and I saw how strong reader response was to the book so I’ve decided to write Isn’t it Bromantic? It opens with the wedding of Johnny and Helen and if the theme of the first book was getting into trouble by pretending to be someone else, the theme of this one is getting into trouble by just being yourself.
And finally you have to answer our standard question: what’s your favorite romance novel?
It’s actually a historical novel but the doorstopper Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George contains not one but two strong romantic storylines and some of the scenes involving Cleo and Caesar or Cleo and Marc Antony are just brilliant. Thanks for having me!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and I hope you visit us again!
Because I loved this book so much and I want to share it with you, I’ll give away one copy to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave a comment telling us what’s your favorite romantic comedy (can be book or movie, but books are more fun!). Remember to leave your email on the comment so I can contact the winner. Contest open to all.
- Winner gets one e-copy of The Bro Magnet by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Kindle and Nook only)
- Open Internationally.
- Ends on 02/11/12.
- Winner will be chosen using random.org and announced here.
- Comment must have email address.