Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome Teri M. Brown, the author of An Enemy Like Me for an author interview with The Reading Bud.
About The Author
Teri M. Brown
Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.
Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.
Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others.
You can connect with author Teri M. Brown here:
Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube
Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.
Hello! I’m Teri M Brown. Besides being a writer, I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. My life hasn’t been easy. I’ve been so poor that I the home I lived in had no central heat or air, and I could see the ground between the floorboards in the living room. I was also married to an emotionally abusive man for 14 years and didn’t want to leave because I didn’t want to be seen as a failure. Now, I’m married to a wonderful man who has helped me understand who I am and what I’m meant to be. However, we found out in June that he has an aggressive form of brain cancer, so my life has taken yet another twist as we navigate this journey together. Despite all of this, I am an optimistic person who honestly believes that everything turns out okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.
Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?
The characters are loosely based on my own family. My grandfather is the soldier, Jacob. My grandmother is Bonnie. My father is William. Although I take liberties with their personalities and stories, anyone that knew them in real life would likely recognize them in the book.
What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?
We are far more like our enemy than we are different from them. I believe that if we look for similarities rather than focus on our differences, we can rid the world of the hatred that splits us up into opposing groups.
Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
My favorite character is Bonnie because she is a woman ahead of her times. We see a quiet strength in her, and even when she is weak, she eventually rises above it.
What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?
My family is German-American, though we’ve lived in the United States since before the Revolutionary War. My grandfather fought in WWII and ended up in Germany in an area near where our ancestors were from. He rarely talked about the war, but once, when I was a teenager, he said to me, “I always wondered if the person on the other side of the gun was a cousin.” That idea haunted me and became the basis of this book.
How long did it take you to write this particular book?
My writing process is something I call word vomit. I don’t use an outline (also called a pantster), and I tend to find a time to write in which I can truly immerse myself for days (I call this binge writing). As a binge pantster, I try to get my story down from start to finish as quickly as possible. Then I let it sit for a while – a month or two – before going back to make substantial edits. When writing An Enemy Like Me, I did the binge pantster part during a two-week writer’s retreat. I completed the edits during a one-week retreat. After going to my editor, I spent another 60 hours or so making the needed changes.
What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
Five years from now, I hope to have another five books out, for a total of seven. My goal is to write a novel a year. I also hope to have finished my book about our tandem bicycle tour, as well as a children’s book that I’ve promised my grandchildren. Finally, although I have written historical fiction to date, my writing is really character-driven fiction. I hope to branch out and write some other genres including something with a bit of fantasy or even a romantic comedy.
Are you working on any other stories presently?
I am currently working on a manuscript about a healer woman in the mountains of North Carolina. I hope to include lots of mountain folklore as well as Cherokee lore, and show what happens to traditions as ‘modern’ advancements take over.
Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?
I love historical fiction for two reasons. The first is that I love to do research. I call myself a #researchjunkie. The second is that I have trouble with setting. I wouldn’t do well with the kind of world building often found in full-fledged fantasies or science fiction. With historical fiction, I don’t have to ‘make up’ a setting. I just have to do enough research to help my readers understand what it was like at that time. It’s a perfect genre for me.
When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you to follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?
As a child, I used to tell people that I wanted to be three things. The first was an Olympic ice skater, but for anyone who knows me, this isn’t likely because I’m not terribly coordinated! I also said I wanted to be a brain surgeon. Once again, unlikely because I hate the sight of blood. However, I also said I wanted to be an author.
I wrote a lot as a child and teen. Unfortunately, being a writer was not seen as a worthy occupation by my family. One didn’t go to college to learn to write because being a writer meant you would end up as a server in a restaurant and likely starve to death. So, I went to college getting a major in education and psychology, as well as minors in math and sociology – but I never used any of these directly in an occupation.
After getting married, having four children, and then divorcing, I needed to find a job that allowed me to continue to stay at home and homeschool my children. I began writing for small businesses, helping them create content for the Internet.
Then, I spent 14 years married to an emotionally abusive man. I eventually came to the point of no longer believing in myself or my abilities. I had stories that needed telling, but I believed – and was told – that just because I could write nonfiction didn’t mean I could write fiction.
Once I finally got out of that relationship, the words started to flow. However, I was still too terrified to let the words out into the public. I couldn’t handle the thought of rejection.
In February 2018, I met my current husband. Although I never planned to marry again, he was persistent – and perfectly suited for me. While we dated, he encouraged me to write the manuscript that became my first novel, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. Then, after we married, we went on our tandem cycling adventure. That adventure changed my life. After those three months doing something well outside my comfort zone and very challenging, I realized that I could do anything I set my mind to.
Six months after returning from the trip, Atmosphere Press accepted the manuscript for Sunflowers Beneath the Snow. And now, my second novel, An Enemy Like Me, is out.
How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?
I am a computer writer all the way. I type very quickly and can keep up with my thoughts. I can’t do that with longhand. Plus, my longhand is very messy, meaning I have trouble deciphering what I wrote later!
What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)
I have never liked this question because my favorite books change every time I read something new! So, I will give you some books that have meant something to me over the years.
- Over in the Meadow – This was a picture book with a sing-song poem by Olive A. Wadsworth. This is the first book I remember being read to me, and it still brings back happy memories.
- Trixie Belden books – Trixie Belden was a girl detective. These books were aimed at readers younger than Nancy Drew. I read them all. Then, I read all of Nancy Drew. And then? I read all of The Hardy Boys because it made me angry that I wasn’t supposed to read the books for boys.
- The Grapes of Wrath – This novel by John Steinbeck was the first book I read for something other than pleasure. It was with this novel that I learned that authors often had something they wished to impart to their readers. Learning this changed the way I read books.
- 1776 – I loved the way David McCullough weaved history as a story. I used 1776 to teach my children American history. Because the facts were part of a story, it made history fun and exciting. His books helped me to become a historical fiction fan.
- Harry Potter series – Because my children were interested, I read the books, too. I realized that JK Rowling had the ability to write in a way that intrigued children, teens, and adults. That is a skill I’d love to cultivate.
How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. When a writer can’t write, I believe it is because there is something else going on that is taking up the creative space in their head. It’s impossible to write if something big or overwhelming is crowding out creativity. The only thing to do is to fix the thing that is ‘top of mind’ or find a way to put it into perspective so that it is no longer in the way. For instance, when I first found out that my husband had brain cancer, I could not write because that was the only thing on my mind. It took up all the free space and crowded out creativity. I can write again, not because there has been a change in his condition, but because I’ve found a way to go on living despite the diagnosis. Cancer is part of our life right now and it has its own space in my head. However, I have far more control over it and when it comes out.
What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?
I have four things I would tell aspiring writers. The first is to write. Don’t wait for a class or a degree or some specific event to get started. You will never be a writer until you write, so get started now.
The second is that once you have something you feel has merit, let someone you trust – but who will be honest and give you feedback – read it. Then listen to what they have to say. Feedback can be difficult because it can feel like criticism. But you won’t get better at writing if you continue to do the same things over and over without improving.
The third sounds like it contradicts the second but bear with me. You don’t have to listen to everyone’s advice! There is more than one way to write and more than one kind of reader. Listen to suggestions and give them a try, but if they don’t work for you, it’s okay to put them to one side. For instance, I cannot use an outline. I’ve been told it is the “BEST” way to write, but for me, it stifles my creativity. I tried it. It didn’t work. Now? I’m comfortable with being a binge pantser.
Finally, you’re going to have to be more than a writer if you want to sell your books. That means you’ll need to learn marketing. So, before your first book goes to print, learn how to market and get started marketing at least 12 weeks before the launch date.
Here are ways readers can purchase the book and/or get in contact with you?
You can purchase the book on Amazon(https://www.amazon.com/Enemy-Like-Me-Teri-Brown/dp/1639885455), Barnes & Noble (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-enemy-like-me-teri-m-brown/1142018249), and wherever books are sold. You can also purchase the book from my website at http://www.terimbrown.com.
The easiest way to connect with me is through my website at www.terimbrown.com. In addition to joining my newsletter, where you will get the list of “The 10 Historical Fiction Novels You’ve Never Heard of That Will Bring You to Tears,” you can reach out to me through my contact form and find links to all my social media.
For those who prefer going directly to social media, you can find me here:
- Amazon Author: https://www.amazon.com/author/terimbrown
Thank you, author Teri M. Brown, for your insightful answers!
About the Book
An Enemy Like Me
How does a man show his love – for country, for heritage, for family – during a war that sets the three at odds? What sets in motion the necessity to choose one over the other? How will this choice change everything and everyone he loves?
Jacob Miller, a first-generation American, grew up in New Berlin, a small German immigrant town in Ohio where he endured the Great Depression, met his wife, and started a family. Though his early years were not easy, Jacob believes he is headed toward his ‘happily ever after’ until a friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, and the war lands resolutely on his doorstep.
In An Enemy Like Me, Teri M Brown uses the backdrop of World War II to show the angst experienced by Jacob, his wife, and his four-year-old son as he left for and fought in a war he did not create. She explores the concepts of xenophobia, intrafamily dynamics, and the recognition that war is not won and lost by nations, but by ordinary men and women and the families who support them.
If you are a fan of historical fiction with a love for heartfelt, introspective war stories, then you’ll enjoy An Enemy Like Me. This emotional saga explores war and its impacts in unique ways that few military fiction novels do.
You can find An Enemy Like Me here:
Amazon| Goodreads | Author Website
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