17 February 2013

Guest Blog: Michael Brown

This week, we're welcoming author Michael Brown, whose latest title is WILLIAM & LUCY: A TALE OF LOVE & SUSPICION. Michael will offer a free copy of the book to a lucky blog visitor; your choice of a paperback (US and Canadian residents only) or an ebook (international). Here's the blurb: 

One of the most romantic poems in the history of English literature “She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways” was written by William Wordsworth. The subject of his poem was a young woman named Lucy -- she is one of literary history’s most enduring mysteries. Who was Lucy? Where did she come from? Did she ever exist? No one knows. 

This is their story…

It’s 1798. England is at war with France as struggling poet William Wordsworth meets Lucy Sims, a novice painter working as a nanny in the English countryside. They fall into a love burdened by social prejudice, crushing debt and dangerous rumors that threaten to send Wordsworth to the gallows for being a French spy. Meanwhile, Lucy’s employer plans to seduce her and make her his mistress. William and Lucy’s relationship hangs in the balance, until fate intervenes and in a suspense-filled, action-packed finale, their love triumphs and becomes part of literary history. Winner of the 2012 Global Ebook Award for Best Historical Fiction Novel of the Year (1500-1940), Michael Brown’s deeply romantic work establishes William and Lucy as one of the most captivating relationships in literature, and lovingly conveys how the enigmatic young woman became the poet’s muse, much like how Beatrice influenced Dante.

Romanticism in poetry, as personified by Wordsworth, was marked by meditation, worship of nature, and the decision to abandon classical verse by composing poems for the common man. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge led the way with the second edition of their book Lyrical Ballads, which became the single most important work of poetry in the history of English literature. The Lucy poem in that volume, “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways,” one of five Lucy poems Wordsworth composed during his lifetime, presents Lucy living in rural Somerset and charts her “growth, perfection, and death,” according to literary critic Geoffrey Durant. Lucy’s unresolved identity has intrigued literary historians for ages.                                                                     
At long last Michael Brown, through dedicated research and imaginative storytelling, has released the poet laureate from the bondage of his dour portrayal in history and has given us the flesh and blood Wordsworth, a man of adventure and passion. And for the first time ever, the author originates the identity of “Lucy” in a love story that has never been told.

**Q&A with Michael Brown**

How did you get the idea for the novel?
From one of my favorite poems “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways” by William Wordsworth. It’s beautiful, mysterious and heartfelt. The poem features a young woman named Lucy. Curious to know more about her, I did some research and was surprised to discover that her identity was indeed a mystery. That was the beginning… Research brought out some fascinating characters: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Geoffrey Walsh, an agent of the Crown who, throughout the novel, endeavors to have William hung as a French spy.

This would make a great film.  Any talks of turning your book into a movie?
At the moment, I am writing the theatrical script as I believe it would make a wonderful film. Or, it could be a TV movie, perhaps produced by Masterpiece Theatre.

When you start a new book, do you like to outline the entire story or fly by the seat of your pants? What about your characters? Do you figure them out entirely before you start writing or do they reveal themselves to you along the way?
My first step is to write a rough outline, incorporating my characters along with their physical characteristics, mannerisms, background and level of education. Once you know your characters the “magic” of writing dialogue materializes and begins to flow, at times surprising even the writer. Characters that develop and grow, some for the better, some for the worse, take the reader to unexpected places and help to keep the pages turning.

What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?
For my second novel, I was looking for a challenge and I found one in the comedy genre. Writing sexy/humorous/adventure narrative and dialogue has truly been a challenge wherein timing and taking the reader by surprise is critical. My novel, Love, Sex, and Other Near Death Experiences is now complete. For my next novel, I will take on another challenge -- the thriller novel. It should be fun.

If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?
I believe the theme would focus upon the mysterious love affair between the 28-year-old William Wordsworth, and his 17-year-old muse, Lucy Sims. Wordsworth wrote five poems featuring a young woman named Lucy. Her identity has baffled literary historians for generations. Who was she? Where did she come from? Was she a figment of the poet’s imagination, or the embodiment of his sister, or …? My novel William & Lucy takes the mystery and unravels it…

Leave your comment to win a free copy of Michael Brown's William & Lucy.

An acclaimed film editor, Michael Brown has won three Emmy Awards, an ACE Eddie Award and a Lifetime Career Achievement Award for feature and TV work. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America. As a TV writer, his credits include “CPO Sharkey” (NBC), “Brothers and Sisters” (NBC), “A.E.S. Hudson Street” (ABC), “Three for the Road” (CBS) and “Piper’s Pets” (NBC pilot). He lives in Chatsworth, California with his wife, Holly. William & Lucy is his first novel.