Guest Author & A Giveaway: Meljean Brook

This might be the best author interview. Ever. For any future author interviewees… this is where the bar is set! Meanwhile, we all know Meljean Brook is awesome. If you didn’t know that before, you definitely know it now. And the following is why. Imagine – if she’s so hilarious and witty here, what her books are like! (For the some time visitors who are thinking “Hey! It’s not the first Tuesday of the month!” You’re right. But it’s June.)

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

1. What’s the best admonishment your mom ever gave you, or that you’ve ever given a kid? e.g. if you make that face it’ll freeze like that. or… if you walk from the kitchen to the table w/ a fork in your mouth you’ll stab yourself through the throat and die.
Honestly, I don’t remember. My mom worked all of the time, so she wasn’t often there to scold us. My sisters and I stayed at my grandma’s every day after school, and I do remember the time that she got us to stop fighting by saying that “Sisters fighting, that’s what witches do” — with the unspoken message behind it that witches were, of course, minions of Satan, and so any sisters who fought would end up in Hell.

My grandma was awesome, though. You wouldn’t believe how freaking amazing her cinnamon rolls were. Worth going to Hell for, that’s for sure.

2. What would you name a pet rock? Why? And how would you decorate it?
Dwayne. Then I’d dress it up like a chef and run around with it, yelling, “Can you smeeeelllllllllllllllllllll what the rock is cooking?” Then I’d try — and fail — to arch one eyebrow at my audience.

3. What two movies from different genres would you most like to see combined in a mash up?
An Abraham Lincoln biopic and a vampire slaughterhouse movie– Oh wait. (Right?! I watched the trailer like six times when I first heard about it a few months ago. In fact…)

4. Who would win? A Ninja or a Viking? Do you ever watch Deadliest Warrior? If so – which was your favorite pairing?
I’ve never seen Deadliest Warrior. But I’d love to see a T-Rex versus Chuck Norris.

A viking would totally win. The ninja would be sneaking up, all stealthy-like, and then the viking would suddenly toss his head, and the long, blonde hair streaming from his horned helmet would wrap the ninja up like a boa constrictor and squeeze him to death.

5. How’d you come up with your author name?
Math class. I was done with my work and bored, so I began factoring out pieces of my name: (Mel)issa (Jean) Hol(brook) = Meljean Brook. Then I began practicing my author signature all over the front of my notebook. It stuck, I guess.

6. What do you think about clowns?
I like it when they come to my windows at night and peek in, because I’m usually sobbing in bed. They make me happy with their smiles, even though I know they are also crying inside.

7. What author promo has been most effective for you?
Not being a dick. And giving away lots of books. The best author promo is always a solid story, but it’s often hard to get our work into the hands of readers. So I do everything I can to get my work out there, and let the writing do the rest.

8. What was your first job? Your most interesting one? (If writing for the latter, aside from that?)
If you don’t count picking berries in the summers, my first real job was working the drive-thru at a Burger King.

The most interesting job I had was working the Help Desk at the university — mostly because you never knew what you’d walk in on when you went into the (supposedly empty) computer labs late at night.

9. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you at school? And what about at a conference?
Ah, well. Ninth grade, I was in love with a senior who sat in front of me in a language class. One day after lunch, we were walking back across the playground toward the high school (and I was trying to be coy and flirty) and I walked right into metal pole of the basketball hoop. Huge clang! That was awesome. (I’ve also run into a ski lift pole on a snowboarding trip with my first boyfriend. And ran smack into the glass doors of a city hall and rolled down the front steps, onto the sidewalk.)

Miraculously, I haven’t embarrassed myself at a conference yet. But if you want entertainment, just keep an eye on me … especially if I walk near any poles.

10. What did you do with the money from your first royalty check?
I paid for a stripper to come and hose me down with whipped cream.

Nah. I honestly don’t remember. I probably paid a bill. Whatever it was, it wasn’t very special (and, heh, the check wasn’t very big.)

11. What is the most interesting thing you’ve ever eaten?
Fish eyeball. Mostly because I just wanted to see if I could. It wasn’t really good or bad (though the ginger sauce around it was AMAZING. If you ever make it to Newport, OR, try the rock fish at Kam Meng restaurant. Or anything in their clay pots. So, so good.)

12. What TV show do you wish was still on the air?
The Dungeons & Dragons cartoon from the 80s. Those poor kids never got home.

13. What is your secret plan for world domination?
I don’t think it’s all that secret. I intend to turn everyone in the world into a dork by inundating their Twitter streams and Facebook feeds with my tales of spilling food down my shirt and falling down. Then I shall put on my Wonder Woman costume and rule as Queen of the Dorks. It’ll be quite simple, really.

14. If you were to become a spammer, what product would you peddle? And what would your message be? Come up with the most attention getting, creative, crazy thing. Yes, that’s a challenge.
Oh, I’d peddle this thing — I’ve wanted to since I first saw it. (O_O) Meljean provided the link, but I’m going with that emoticon because… well because.

And the e-mail subject line would have to be:


Penis + precious metals = a sure thing.

15. Can you name at least three US Supreme Court Justices without looking? Do you know your state senators and US representative?
Yep. I’m not political online, but I follow it all pretty closely at home.

16. What was your favorite class in high school?
Not PE, that’s for sure.

Probably my anthropology class, but honestly — I liked almost all of them. People called me The Brainerd, and I earned that title. (And they didn’t even know that my dad actually comes from a town called Brainerd. So it was truly meant-to-be, or something.)

17. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while writing/researching a book?
It’s really difficult to say anything is the most interesting. I never really put them against each other on a sliding scale — and there are a lot of really amazing things out there that I run across. Truth is always more awesome than fiction.

I did read a really great book while writing my last, though: “In the Heart of the Sea, the Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex.” It’s an (at times harrowing and really awful) account of what befell the whalers of a ship that was rammed by a sperm whale and sank (and which inspired Moby Dick.) In the same vein, “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage,” which describes what happened after an expedition ship was caught in the Antarctic ice. Simply amazing stuff.

18. What five deceased authors would you invite to a dinner party?
Oscar Wilde, because he’d make fun of us all, but in such a fabulous way that we probably wouldn’t realize how deeply we’d been insulted until afterward.

Shakespeare, so that he could tell the naysayers and conspiracy theorists who believe he didn’t write his plays to stop being ninnies.

Virginia Woolf, though I’d let her eat in a room of her own.

Ambrose Bierce, because I suspect that he and Oscar Wilde would either trade the most amazing set of witticisms and barbs ever, or make out. Both options would be fun to watch.

Aphra Behn, simply because she sounds like she had an amazing life.

So what’d you think? Do you have any follow up questions for Ms. Brook? (Please say yes – imagine her answers!) She’s also giving away the winner’s choice of The Iron Duke, Heart of Steel, or any of her Guardian books (winner’s choice.) International entries are fine. And guess what? Meljean has so very generously decided to give two prizes! So, two lucky winners! (And for our new friends, this is how the giveaway works.)

68 thoughts on “Guest Author & A Giveaway: Meljean Brook

  1. Laura Hunsaker

    Lime, you were right-this is the best guest post I’ve read in Looong time!

    Meljean, I can always trust you to make me LOL-the penjazzling is too funny-Wrap that bad boy in gold! *snicker*

    So since you were reading about whaling as research, does that mean we’ll be seeing some whaling in your next HotS book?

    (You don’t have to enter me)

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  3. Readsalot81

    Ok seriously, that gold peen cover/jewelry immediately brought to mind, vajazzle. (Do NOT look up unless you’re in a NSFW frame of mind) Heh. Thanks Meljean 😉

    Now, onto the serious question. You’ve been publishing books for a few years now. What, if anything, still surprises you about the publishing industry?

    1. Meljean Brook

      About the industry itself? I think just that’s its impossible to know how/what will capture a reader’s attention — and how surprising some of the trends and bestsellers are. Obviously the latest example is 50 Shades (love it or hate it, there’s no doubt that a lot of people weren’t expecting such a breakout success), but although it’s possible to ride a trend, you can’t know how far it will go or what will capture readers’ interests next.

      This is why I always, always urge authors to write the sort of books that they love to read. You really can’t know if, by the time you finish a story, there will still be an audience for it. But at least during those months when you’re slaving away on the book, you won’t hate yourself (and it) too much. Spending that much time and energy on something you don’t enjoy is just a soul-sucking job. I’d rather go back to accounting.

  4. Raonaid Luckwell

    * Laughs * Now this has been quite entertaining. I should be in bed but I am giggling over the answers. Love love love about the bet rock. I think I giggled most on that because well, I could envision it!

    Though – I am curious if Meljean had the chance to live in any movie or TV show, which one would she choose?

  5. Mary Preston

    I think “Not being a dick” should be the number one rule – for everyone. It’s to the point & memorable.

    Okay, so you have assembled your deceased guests for your dinner party, what’s for dinner?

    1. Meljean Brook

      Nothing that I cook, that’s for certain — I’d like my guests to live.

      Er. I guess they’re already dead, so eating my food wouldn’t be too bad. But I’d take them to my favorite Lebanese place or Thai place.

  6. TrishJ

    Wow Lime. This was a really great interview. I have not read anything by Ms. Brook, but am Definately going to now. What a great sense of humor. Loved how you came up with your pen name. Do you listen to music while writing? Or do you need quiet to focus? Well, I am off to check out your books. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Meljean Brook

      Well, I should warn you that my books aren’t funny. They are my dark side. This is my dork side.

      I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, because the lyrics distract me from the words. I don’t need quiet to focus, but if I know I song, I can’t concentrate.

      Sometimes at Starbucks, though, I will put on an instrumental soundtrack to drown out their music (and because if you have earphones in, people are less likely to talk to me. I have one of those faces that apparently invites people to tell me all about the book they’ve been wanting to write. Sigh.)

  7. Liz

    Best. Interview. Ever!!!! I love answer #7. I think that should apply to everyone. We’d all be happier if people weren’t such dicks all the time.

    So my question is, if you could make the world into a world from a book (someone else’s or one of your own), which book would you choose and what would that world be like?

    Thanks for the fantastic interview and setting the bar so wonderfully high for future authors (who may well be cursing you at this point), and for the giveaway.

    1. Meljean Brook

      It would have to be the world in the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Like, when you wake up, you have to decide: Do I just lie in bed for a week or do I actually go do something? And then when you decide to get up, you decide: Do I shower or do I just go out like I am? Do I eat a peach or the leftover pizza?

      Now and again a big monster might rise up out of a loch and eat you, but thems the breaks. (This traumatized me, by the way. Cave of Time, Choose Your Own Adventure #1. And for a long time, I thought that the illustration showed the monster with a weird tubular tongue, but it was actually the shirt of the boy he was swallowing.)

  8. TaraR

    Awesome interview! The dinner party sounds great.

    I’m curious to know if there is any absolutely vital piece of advice that you wish someone had given you when you began writing. Also, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

    1. Meljean Brook

      I was one of those writers who studied publishing pretty obsessively as I began, so I don’t think there was any advice that “Oh, I wished I knew that!” (Writer’s Market, online, and so on.) Of course there are always things that surprise or disappoint you, but they aren’t something that someone could have warned you about, really.

      Aside from my #1 piece of advice (write what you love), I really, really urge writers to educate themselves about the business. Go to the forums at Absolute Write and read the threads until your eyes fall out. Unfortunately, this business isn’t just about craft, and although you might get lucky and end up with a really great agent who can let you write while she handles all of the other stuff … you don’t want to count on that.

      Some people join writer’s organizations (RWA) or have local groups to help them along, some just use the internet (and everything you need to know about publishing is there; you just have to be willing to spend the time wading through it and sorting the crap from the gold — which is also sometimes difficult to do.)

      But keep in mind: nobody’s experience is going to be the same. Whatever route you take to publication, it’s probably not going to look like that writer’s on the next blog over. So it’s okay to toss advice that you don’t feel applies to your situation.

  9. MarnieColette

    This was so good it almost got me out of cranky Tuesday work funk. Ok it did. I ove Meljean and Lime had some awesome questions. I would like to know the weirdest question ever asked of you at a signing or a convention?

      1. Meljean Brook

        Correction: Someone asked me to sign *her* boobs.

        I’m a fan of singular “they” when a “his or her” construction is too awkward, but in this case, the pronoun is unarguably feminine.

  10. Alaina

    that is a hilarious interview..
    this gives me hope..ive walked into many a telephone pole before.. (it was cold! i had my hood over my face!! .. i may have been texting!)..

    what is your favorite, cannot live without.. type of food?

    thanks for the chance to win!

    1. Meljean Brook

      I was going to say biryani, but last night I bought a carton of fresh blueberries and decided that the only thing I’m going to eat for the rest of my life are those blueberries.

      Oh, and mangoes with sticky rice. Mmmmm.
      And tacos in corn tortillas.
      And you know when you go to the Thai place and you order like three main courses for takeout (even though you only need to feed two people) and you go home and mix the yellow curry with the fried rice and then stick the pad thai on the side and squirt lime juice all over the whole thing and eat until you feel guilty (but then go back and steal a little more, just because it’s SO GOOD) — I’d probably like to do that again.

  11. Brie (RAroundCorner) (@racblog)

    1. I want to declare my undying love for Meljean. I love her books so much, I wish I could marry them and have TLC film a reality show about it. It would be even better than My Big Fat Gipsy Wedding.

    2. I googled Gold-Wrapped Penis, because it sounded like a good idea. It wasn’t. I’m traumatized.

    3. Best Interview Ever!

    4. Don’t add my name to the giveaway because I already own all her books, two of each in fact, the ones I keep on the shelves and the ones I plan to marry (see point 1).

    1. Meljean Brook

      I have to say, marriage to a book is pretty much the most awesome marriage ever. The Last Unicorn and I have been happily mated for decades. The book doesn’t mind at all when I cheat on it with my husband, either (and even better are the threesomes … even the paper cuts. It’s like the most rewarding kinky relationship ever. I can just lie there and read while he does whatever it is he does, and we’re all happy.)

  12. esperanza

    Your books are always funny and interesting with all your characters. Going from angels and demons to steam punk, how was that transition? Was it easier to got to steampunk or harder?

    1. esperanza

      Oh and I just love all the covers for the foreign editions to the iron seas books. I want them all

      1. Meljean Brook

        I love them, too! I’ve been really pleased with all of my covers, but some of the foreign ones, especially.

        The steampunk was harder, just because there was SO MUCH more researching and worldbuilding. The Guardians series is heavy on the worldbuilding, but most of it is stuff that I just made up (or referred to classic lit.) But building several hundred years of alternate history and then putting the tech on top of it was much, much more complicated — especially since, as I move around the world, I’m pretty much doing the same thing over and over again. The general history is all the same, but as I go local, there are new perspectives and a new local history to build at the detail level. So each book requires me to start over, almost (but at least I have all of the solid ground work laid.)

        That said, in a way it’s also easier, because I had the experience of writing the Guardian series. I had a better grasp of how to connect the books (or to make them stand alone) and how to parse out the worldbuilding through the story. There’s so much information to relay to a reader, and in my first two Guardian books, I was pretty much winging it. Now I feel more confident in my approach when it comes to telling the reader how the world works and what information I need to give.

  13. calikali

    I always love your interviews, Meljean! I have no real questions (except please enter me in the drawing 😀 …more of a plea then a question). I pimp your Iron Seas books at every steampunk convention I go to, I think they are amazing. I can’t wait for Riveted!

  14. Diane Sallans

    I kept chuckling out loud at those questions and answers. I haven’t read any of MelJeans books (love how she created that name), but based on her responses I’m guessing there is a lot of witty repartee (which I also love).

    1. Meljean Brook

      Oh, no. Actually, they are all doom and gloom (I’m not really kidding.) There are some light moments, but I’m like one of those people who is happy in real life but tormented deep inside or something, and it comes out when I torture my characters. But torturing is a lot of fun! So it makes perfect sense.

  15. Xid Trebor

    You are always awesomeness, Meljean! Loved the questions (& the answers).

    I would like to know – which character from Dungeons & Dragons did you relate to the most?

    (Don’t enter me in contest – I have all of Meljean’s books)

    1. Meljean Brook

      I’d like to say it was Diana or Sheila (Acrobat or Thief) but the truth is I’m more like Presto, the dorky magician who keeps trying to perform magic but it never quite works out the way he wants.

  16. Kim in Hawaii

    Aloha, Meljean! That was, indeed, an entertaining interview. Funny that you came up with your author name in math class! Feel free to flex your anthropology skills here in Hawaii!

  17. Jill B

    Super fun interview! My question for Meljean is: If you and I were the Wonder Twins, as we are in my imagination, what would you take the form of? (Sorry for ending a sentence with a preposition, I hate that, but you sound like a d*ck if you turn the sentence inside out, and I know how Meljean feels about those people.) And back to the topic – my Wonder Twin would take the form of a killer wave, just so you know.

  18. JenB

    I <3 you, Meljean. I think you should elaborate on some of the things you saw in the not so empty computer labs. In graphic nerd detail, of course. I actually haven't gotten a chance to read The Iron Duke yet, so put me in, Coach! And I would pay to see Chuck Norris fight a T-Rex. Too bad Celebrity Deathmatch isn't on anymore.

    1. Meljean Brook

      Trust me, you really, really, really don’t want me to elaborate. I wish I could have said they were all hot jocks … but no. No. Nonononono. *sob* No. No they weren’t.

  19. bn100

    Very fun interview. I like how you came up with your pen name. Do you have a favorite book of yours that you’ve written?

    1. Meljean Brook

      I really don’t. I remember when I wrote Demon Moon (my second novel) that I told my mom that I was sure I’d never write a book that I loved more … and I’m not sure if I have, or haven’t, but I have written others that were just as fun, or that made me cry just as much, and that I’m just as happy with in different ways. I really hate the “my books are my children” chant, but I think that when it comes to picking favorites it’s a lot like that … you love them for different reasons, but you love them just as much as the others.

  20. Fran

    What a fun interview 🙂 I didn’t know that Nalini isn’t your real name, looks like I’m greatly disinformed 🙂

    1. Meljean Brook

      Oh, you can’t believe how mad I was when I found out that there was another Nalini using MY name! When I met her, I was all: “Who do you think you are, woman? A REAL Nalini? I wanted it to be my fake name but your parents stole it from me when they named you!”

      Then she slapped me and we rolled around in oil until our clothes fell off.

      But, seriously, the next pen name I use is going to be Nalini A. Singh — and no one is going to stop me!

  21. eli yanti

    arghh lime, you have not left me a question to Meljean 🙁

    think.. think… i got, so what is your child dream and your biggest dream to be come true beside to be a writer 🙂

    i have not read your book yet but i just ordered your book to my friend who win my giveaway, she said she is curious with your book, i hope once she got your book, she will read and i can’t wait her opinion 🙂

    1. Meljean Brook

      I wanted to be a dancer, but I am not graceful AT ALL. Even if I tried the other kind of dancing on a pole … well, I’d just run into it.

      I hope you enjoy it!

  22. VanillaOrchids

    Oh my gosh, what a fun interview! Loved it. Meljean, you seem to have such an amazing personality! I envy that.
    What book are you currently reading? If you aren’t reading anything at the moment, what book are you most looking forward to reading?


  23. kerry

    Hehe I love Nalini too (Singh that is) but I Loved the Iron Duke and the short in Burning Up – I guess my question is – do you dream about what you’ve written during the day?

    1. Meljean Brook

      I don’t really dream about it — I do sometimes get stuck in that half-awake state when I’m trying to figure out a problem in the story, and it feels like dreaming … but nah. I never dream about the characters or anything.

  24. mary f

    Loved the interview! I too have run into poles when with friends they were even trying to warn me and I bumped into it anyway. it takes talent. 🙂

    I’m new to you Which book should I start with?

    1. Meljean Brook

      I think that most readers have enjoyed the Iron Seas series the most — so I would say start with either Burning Up (which includes the first novella in the series) or start with The Iron Duke.

  25. jeannemiro

    Hi Limecello! Okay, I’ll say it – your the best interviewer in the world! Where were you when I was trying to get things, anything out of my sons when they were young?

    Merjean – Loved your answers! As a Mom and Gramma my sons and grandchildren always moan my favorite response – No is a one word answer! I can’t wait to read your books!

  26. Cecilia Grant

    1) I loooove In the Heart of the Sea. That anyone could have survived that, and gone back to walking around in mundane daily life, just boggles my mind.

    2) Your Author Behaving Badly posts of a few months ago were some of the funniest things I’ve ever read online.

    3) Can’t wait for Hearts of Darkness. Kira’s in my RWA chapter and I hope she will be HUGE.

  27. Pingback: Trapped in the Blood of Dawn | Literary Escapism

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  29. Patricia BookExhibitionism

    “Ambrose Bierce, because I suspect that he and Oscar Wilde would either trade the most amazing set of witticisms and barbs ever, or make out. Both options would be fun to watch.”

    This is where I almost died for the fourth time or so.

  30. Pingback: A Little About Me, A Little About You | A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet

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