Please welcome, best selling author, Robert Gregory Browne to the blog, as we chat about everything from a writer’s occupational hazard to some of the best moments of his life, and a quick fire round, which includes what Rob thinks of the Real Housewives Reality show franchise.
In honor of Rob’s visit, I made an apple-caramel-cinnamon-roll-coffee cake (recipe below) to go with a cup of his favorite beverage—Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Rob is a coffee aficionado, so feel free to ask him how to make the perfect cup of coffee.
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Selena: What five things would you put in a time capsule for future generations and why?
Robert: Books by Stephen King, William Goldman and Donald Westlake (or better yet a Kindle filled with all of their books and many others). A collection of my favorite songs by The Beatles, a perfectly preserved In-n-Out cheeseburger animal style, a tablet full of great movies (including Chinatown, Taxi Driver & The Tenant), and a nice card that says, “Enjoy.”
Selena: I’d love to find that capsule, but I’d leave the animal style cheeseburger behind. 🙂
As writers we strive to give our readers a sense that they can hear, touch, smell, taste things that our characters are experiencing as I (like most writers) believe it helps create multidimensional characters. Since I don’t share your love of coffee, it’s a challenge to remember to give my characters a cup of coffee.
Is there a certain food or vice that you find it challenging to give to one of your characters?
Robert: I have no problem with food or vices, but I have a hard time with occupations. Giving a character a certain occupation requires you to know that occupation and that means a lot of research—which is always a challenge.
Selena: I agree, research can be challenging, especially if it’s real interesting and you end up reading about a topic more than writing. Which brings me to my next question.
Did research lead you to developing your thriller TRIAL JUNKIES or are you deep down a trial junkie yourself? Have you been to court and observed the trial junkies there and perhaps based some of your characters on them (in a loose fictional way of course). If so, which characters?
Robert: When I was younger I spent several years working for the Hawaii State Public Defender as a “Criminal Intake Clerk,” which meant I was on the front line, helping potential clients understand the process of obtaining defense counsel and maintaining their case files. Part of my job was to go to the courthouse every Monday for arraignments, where I would approach those who didn’t have legal counsel, listen to their stories, and get a lawyer assigned to their cases. There would be down time on those Mondays, so I often roamed from courtroom to courtroom watching trials. It was an education.
I’ve never really been one to base characters on people I’ve known or interacted with, but I’m sure people who populate my stories have bits and pieces of those I’ve met over the years.
Selena: Sounds like working as an Intake Clerk can provide fodder for quite a few books. Besides marriage and children, what would you consider to be the best moment in your life?
Robert: Hmm. I have a lot of best moments. The first time I drove on my own. The first time I kissed a girl. The first time I tasted sushi. The first time I sold a short story to a magazine, sold a screenplay, sold a book to a publishing house. Being on the set when they shot the Kiss Her Goodbye pilot. Seeing Trial Junkies become an Amazon bestseller. There are a lot of little moments like that. I can’t really choose just one.
Selena: Those are great moments and congratulations again on the success of Trial Junkies, well deserved. Along with the success, I know at times there are things that can pull us away from our passion for writing. What do you feel are the occupational hazards to being an author?
Robert: One of the true occupational hazards of being an author is that you actually have to sit down and write and not talk just about writing. You have to actually do it. And sometimes you don’t want to. You just want to hop in your car and drive to the coast and look out at the ocean, or watch a movie and avoid climbing into that desk chair. But you can’t. Because it won’t get done if you don’t sit your butt down and you’ve got a mortgage to pay. One of the things you learn very quickly when you break through is that writing is a job. And it’s a difficult one. Not that I’m complaining. It’s probably the best job you could ever have. But it’s still a job.
Selena: I hear you and if I lived near the ocean, I would probably drive there a lot, and multi-task—gaze and write. Given all the technology we have today, do you think it’s possible to write a suspense/thriller, where a perfect murder could be committed; one where the FBI and all top police experts would not be able to solve, and therefore that character could be carried on through a series, until he gives himself (or herself) up?
Robert: It could be an interesting backstory for your hero—like Dexter, for example, who often comes close to being caught. But when you look at the statistics—and this is something I mention in one of the Trial Junkies books—only a small percentage of murders get solved, despite our advances in technology. So maybe coming up with the perfect murder wouldn’t be all that difficult.
Selena: Do you think that writers are born with their creative talent or that anyone can learn the craft and write a book?
Robert: I think anyone can learn to craft a book, if they really, really work at it. And they may even craft a good one. But I think there are some writers—like Stephen King, for example—who were obviously born with an innate talent for it. And while the rest of us are struggling and producing workable prose, these people create work that sings.
Selena: You’ve co-authored a book, POE, with Brett Battles, at any time did he want to drive over and smack you? (Kidding.) Well, not entirely, what was the co-authoring experience like, having to meld two strong writing voices into one?
Robert: Actually, it was all very civil. POE is based on an idea I’d had on the back burner for years and when we decided to write something together, Brett suggested we revisit that idea. So I sent him the proposal I had done a while back and he took the basic premise and turned it into a plot outline. We discussed that, got it working to both of our satisfaction, then Brett sat down and wrote the first draft. I came in and did a rewrite and he did the final polish. And believe it or not, we never had a single disagreement. It all worked out quite well. And now I’m the one writing the outline and first draft for POE #2.
Selena: Are you enjoying these interview questions?
Robert: You’re putting me through the wringer here. 😉
Selena: LOL! Okay, next up will unloosen you from the wringer with some fun quick fire, fun questions.
I’ll throw out one word and you write the first thing that comes to your mind.
Coffee — Roasted bliss.
Real Housewives of any city — Get off my TV and stay home
The Voice — Michelle Chamuel
Book Covers — All important and a blast to design
Indie Publishing — Salvation for mid-list writers everywhere
Romance — Life’s blood
Hawaii — Home
Heidi Wiley’s Review of The Best Selling Legal Thriller – TRIAL JUNKIES
I was intrigued by the premise of this story. Ethan Hutchinson is reunited with old friends to grieve over the death of a woman that at one time in his life was his friend and lover, when he is thrown in the middle of the criminal investigation and trial of her death.
I loved the character development of Hutch. He had success as a star and had cleaned up his act but he still had enough self-doubt to keep him on the brink of inviting his past demons back into his life but still a good enough man that wants justice for his Jenny. Each of his old friends held a special place in his life and now he needs all of them to help him find the truth and convince them of the innocence of one of their own even though he’s not entirely sure of it himself.
Robert Gregory Brown was careful to write these people from Hutch’s past realistically so all their opinions and thoughts on the case were worthy of consideration but also kept the mystery of who killed Jenny alive so that none of them were above suspicion.
The research of how the legal system works gives the reader deep insight of what it’s like to be in a courtroom and what it really takes to get the information needed to understand how the investigation and the trial unfold.
This well written story is more than a legal murder mystery, but a journey of discovering if old friends are still the same people that meant so much in a more simple time or if life has hardened them all to a point where their memories are the only thing that holds them together today. Highly recommend.
Selena’s Review of NEGLIGENCE
NEGLIGENCE is packed with action, mystery and suspense as the reader is taken on a thrilling journey into the lives of a group of old college friends, who now years later, are dealing with their own internal conflicts, job losses, career changes and relationship challenges.
This book deals with more than a murder case, which the protagonist, Hutch and his friends get involved with. It also deals with parenting issues and how secrets can have a tragic effect on family members. It also deals with friendship, loyalty, trust issues, and wanting to do the right thing, and how far some will go to not only do the right thing, but risk their lives to help.
This book is aptly titled, as neglect is a running theme throughout the book.
The dialogue is snappy and the interaction between the characters flows smoothly. All the characters, including the minor and secondary characters are well developed. Nurse Cathy was one of my favorite minor characters, she could make a reader laugh, shock a reader and bring a reader to tears.
I really enjoyed learning more about Hutch and in this book he shows us his flaws, which allows the reader to connect with him even more the second time around. I also loved more interaction with Hutch’s friends and reading their points of view in this book.
This book is also packed with a lot of emotion, from giving you a few laughs at the banter between the characters to bringing you to the brink of tears.
NEGLIGENCE is a tightly written murder-mystery, which encompasses all the elements of a fast paced, suspenseful action-packed, excellent crafted novel that pulls you in from the first paragraph and won’t let you go until you finish the book.
Reading both Trial Junkies and Negligence gives one the urge to go and sit in a courtroom and observe the “trial junkies” and the trial going on.
I look forward to the next Trial Junkies book, as I want to catch up with Hutch and all his friends and see what’s in store for them next.
I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves a well written page turner that makes you feel like you are part of Hutch’s inner circle.
NEGLIGENCE is the second book in the Trial Junkies series, however, even if you haven’t as yet read Trial Junkies (and I highly recommend you do), you can read Negligence on its own.
At the urging of a novelist friend, Rob tried his hand at long-form fiction and the result, a thriller called Kiss Her Goodbye, sold quickly and was later developed and filmed as a pilot for a CBS television series. In the years following his debut, Rob has written eleven more thrillers under his own name and some top secret pen names. His most recent book is the follow-up to the bestseller, Trial Junkies—TRIAL JUNKIES 2: NEGLIGENCE.
Rob grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, but now lives in Southern California with his wife, dog, two cats and seven guitars.
and for a limited time, Rob is giving away a copy of THE INNOCENT ONES to everyone who signs up for his newsletter. Visit his website
FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY
For a limited time, anyone who signs up for Rob’s newsletter, will receive a FREE digital copy of his thriller, THE INNOCENT ONES.
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
2 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP corn starch
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half or evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
In your electric mixer bowl add: 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.\
Heat milk until lukewarm
Add milk, 1/4 cup butter, and egg to the dry mixture and mix at low speed until ingredients are combined.
Gradually add remaining flour until the dough is clear from all sides of the bowl.
Lightly flour your working surface.
Turn the dough out your surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic.
Spray bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl.
Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour).
After dough has risen, punch it down, turn it over and let it rise again (about 20 minutes).
In a large saucepan add: apples, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes (until apples are tender).
Set aside to cool.
Roll dough into 10 x 16 (approx.) rectangles.
Spread apple filling over dough.
Roll up tightly, start with the wide side, pinch the edges of the roll together.
Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray.
Cut rolls into one inch slices, and place them in a pan, all touching each other.
Cover pan and let rise until double for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375
Bake for 30 minutes (or until golden brown)
In a sauce pan add: brown sugar and corn starch and add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil.
Stirring constantly, cook until thickened, about four minutes.
Drizzle warm caramel sauce over all the rolls until covered.
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