Gilbert Speaks On: The Burning of Arbor with Author J.L. Brown

8 Jun

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I think the most important thing an author should do is promote other authors. I met J.L. Brown last year at the Mount Holly N.J. Horror & Writers’ Conference. We chatted about my ghost investigation at the Mount Holly Library. When Jennifer’s book came out, I contacted her for the promised interview. Here goes!

Gilbert: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

J.L. Brown: I am a momma of two boys, fourteen and five years old, and we live in a little old home here in South Jersey. Coffee, wine, and chocolate are my biggest guilty pleasures. I’m an unapologetic liberal, and am often found raving about politics. Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Rice, and Jane Austen are my favorite authors, and they inspired me to write from a very young age.

Gilbert: What was the inspiration for The Burning of Arbor?

J.L. Brown: The character of Evangeline Clarion, a fiery, brash, bisexual artist and witch, drove me to write The Burning of Arbor. I needed to tell her story. Evangeline practices elemental, Goddess-centric witchcraft, and she is extremely powerful. I wanted to create a world that was rooted in reality, yet amplified with the magical. The climate of the country, what I saw as a growing acceptance of ignorance and bigotry, played a large part in crafting the novel. The fictional small town of Arbor could be any town USA, which is what makes the story all the more frightening.

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Gilbert: Can you tell us a little bit about your book without giving too much away. 

J.L. Brown: Evangeline Clarion dreams of opening a gallery in her conservative town of Arbor. But Eva’s embrace of her own power and sexuality offends the pious sensibilities of the devout Arbor citizenry. Eva’s beliefs run contrary to the far-right ideology of those who control the levers of power in the community – the reverend of Arbor’s only house of worship and Arbor’s despotic mayor. The mayor is campaigning for the state legislature, and having a brazen witch in town sullies the well-crafted image she carefully portrays to the world.

The reverend, the mayor, and their families set out on a witch-hunt to ruin Eva and drive her out of town. They attack her in the pews, in the press, and in person. But instead of weakening her, the relentless barrage fuels the fire within her. It isn’t only magic set aflame within Eva, but desire. While her neighbors plot against her, Eva falls in love – first with the mysterious heir of the Morgan Manor estate, and later with a deceptively angelic Wiccan. Eva relies on both of them – along with a cast of magical cohorts – to help her combat the witch-hunt. But when magical retribution goes too far, Arbor’s salvation rests in the hands of a witch.

Gilbert: Will this book become a series? If so, what is the next book about, and if not, what will be your next project?

J.L. Brown: The Burning of Arbor is the first in The Witches of Arbor, a five book series. Each book in the series will focus on an element, and each will highlight a different magical tradition. The second book is Arbor’s Descent, which revolves around the element of water and explores the magic of Ireland and Nordic cultures. It revolves around the arrival of dark witches, and once again, Arbor’s survival rests in Eva’s hands. I am also working on a solo novel without a stitch of magic called Gaslight Wylde. It is a mash-up of the 1940’s movie Gaslight and The Stepford wives.

Gilbert: Why did you chose to use a pen name?

J.L. Brown: I decided to write under a pen name because I felt it offered me freedom to speak my mind without regard to what family and friends might think, although in hind-sight that really wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it might be. It also separated my “real life” from my life as an author, which I honestly find quite fun.

Gilbert: What advice would you give new writers?

J.L. Brown: My advice for new authors is very simple: don’t stop writing. The more you write, the better you write.

I want to thank you, Marie, for the opportunity to talk a bit about The Burning of Arbor. Writing this book has been the biggest personal accomplishment of my life, and there is nothing I love more than sharing it with the world.

Gilbert: The pleasure was mine, and I’m sure that my followers will soon be checking out your book.

You can purchase The Burning of Arbor: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Bub, Smashwords, Goodreads, Books-A-Million, Kobo, and SCRIBD

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