Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Won’t You Be My Neighbor—Shelly Brown

I have a treat for everyone today...*cue dramatic music*...Small Town Shelly Brown or Shelly Morris if she would rather. I never know what identity she will choose.

Shelly: Depends on what I'm writing about. If it helps, you can just call me Gorgeous.

Angie: Oh, I like that! No need for false modesty. I'll call you Gorgeous and you can call me Good Lookin'.

Shelly (Gorgeous): You got it, Good Lookin'. You know it fits. Probably because you're wearing that evening gown. I feel a little silly sitting here in my hoodie with kids climbing over me when you look so Oscars.

Angie (Good Lookin): It is second hand, so don't be too jealous. There... I'll change into my Mr. Rogers sweater so we are both more comfy.

Shelly (Gorgeous): Throwing a ratty sweater over your Vera Wang doesn't make you look any less stunning. If I didn't already love you--I'd hate you. 

So Good Lookin' did you come here to ask me some questions or just have me gush over your wardrobe?

Angie (Good Lookin): Of course I have questions. Burning questions that everyone wants to know. Okay, Gorgeous...What animal is the most like you and why? 

Shelly (Gorgeous): The Mexican Mole Lizard.

Because I only have two legs
I am semi transparent
I hail from the sunny land of Mexico
I spend most of my life below surface only coming out at night, or after a heavy rain, or to hunt small invertebrates.
I can't decide if I'm a mole, a lizard, or an earthworm
I can sometimes be found under a pile of leaves
I am neither endangered, threatened, or useful.

Angie (Good Lookin): You are a little hairless :) As I read your list I kept thinking...check...check...check. How did you answer that so perfectly? I'm in awe.

So you're an actress (super talented by the way) and I want to know how acting is like writing? Do both skills complement each other?

Shelly (Gorgeous): As an actress I step up on stage to tell my character's story. Even if I am not the main character of the play I am there to tell my story, it is the only one I am able to tell. I use my body, my voice, and my words to express to you my joy, my sorrow, my frustrations, and my anger, in hopes of helping you to feel them too. I am trying to get an emotional response out of the audience, be it laughter or tears.

As a writer I get to play every part in these stories. I even get to play the part of playwright. I try to shape stories that will elicit an emotional response out of my readers much the same way that I did on stage.

But as a writer I have quite the learning curve ahead of me. It's not as easy as celebrity writers make it look. In fact you might even say it's as hard as your high school english teacher made it feel.

Angie (Good Lookin): The best writers make it look effortless. But when you start writing you realize how much work effortlessness really is.

I know you write MG, which I think is SOOO hard to get right. You have to think like a kid. How do you alter your adult perspective to see the world like a child?

Shelly (Gorgeous): I'm not sure that I have an adult perspective. ;) 

I spend more time talking to children, my children, theater children, primary, elementary school, my kids friends, than I do EVER speaking to adults. Kids are just my surrounding. I think in 'kid'. My husband's maturity level doesn't help. ;)

Angie (Good Lookin): Most husbands operate at a 12 maybe 16 year old (if you are lucky) level :) Do you use your kids for inspiration or characters?

Shelly (Gorgeous): I make notes of quirky things that they do but I have yet to write much of it into my stories.

My husband, on the other hand, wrote a totally boy-crazy, talks-too-much, silly twelve-year-old girl into one of his stories and didn't even try to hide the fact that he based it on me.

This actually might refer back to your 'how do you write middle grade' question...

Angie (Good Lookin): I think that is kind of sweet. I would hate my twelve year old self immortalized in a book. I wasn't very nice at twelve. Not my finest hour.

Shelly (Gorgeous): I think Dale Basye said it best in his first Heck book when he said:

"There is a time that chafes against childhood and adulthood, leaving a rash that never quite goes a way. Sometimes it itches uncontrollably, and no one can see it. It's like when you wear swim trunks for too long out of the pool. Heck is like that..."
Adolescence. It's a painful time.

Angie (Good Lookin): What a great quote!!! I love it. I think I still have a rash :)

Now, I've got the best question for you. I'll even make it multiple choice so it is easier...
Have you ever:
A) Eaten an entire bag of chocolate chips in one sitting?
B) Gone to the movies in your pj’s?
C) Saw someone from high school you didn’t want to talk to, so you hid in the potato chip aisle?
D) All of the above but not in the same day.
E) Something WAY worse, that I will disclose now…

Shelly (Gorgeous): That is the BEST question.

A. Not chips but I have downed my share of chocolate items in one sitting. I do not actually recall one of these incidents but I know I am capable of such a thing.

B. I can live in my PJs and not even think twice about it. I do remember going out to the car during Gettysburg and getting a blanket and laying across three chairs instead of finishing the movie. I don't believe I was actually in my PJs but I was not very subtle.

C. Once my friend and I thought these creepy guys were following us through the grocery store so we tried to lose them by hiding in the chip aisle. I thought that we were just being paranoid until we heard them say, "Where's that girl with the red coat?" I gave away my second-hand plether coat shortly thereafter. It was nothing but trouble. I don't really run into high school people much. I moved too far away from them.

D.& E. There was always that time that I got out of the ride on It's A Small World and waded through the water (THE STORY IN ALL IT'S GLORY)

Angie (Good Lookin): I totally remember your Small World story (if any of you haven't read it--you should)!!!

Okay, last question and I will let you go.  Tradition dictates that it MUST be a pageant question...I'll put on my pageant judging hat, but it clashes with the gown and the sweater so don't judge me.  

Tell us one time in your life where you overcame an obstacle. What did you learn?

Shelly (Gorgeous): I’ve always seen my life as charmed. Everyone has their trials and troubles but the ability to look outside myself has shown me that my troubles are so small by comparison.

Probably one of the most difficult things I faced was when my twins were born. (Yes, this trial is fertility. I know many that would love to have that trial.) I found recovery from a C-section to be more complicated than I would have suspected. I was also trying to feed two babies, which was time consuming, exhausting, and frustrating. I really began to see myself as a milch cow.

And though they were pretty good babies they weren’t sleeping through the night those first several weeks. Not even close. Nor where they on the same schedule. Not even close.

I had a three year old son at the time, as well as a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. They mostly slept through the night. Mostly. I mostly did not.

Then to add insult to injury our plumbing had an issue and leaked through the ceiling, putting our upstairs bathroom out of commission for while and a big mess downstairs.

And then I got an abscessed tooth. I have no idea how this happens but the infection went into my sinuses and I looked just like this kid.

Which was miserable but only horrible because I had to be at my brother-in-laws wedding. You know weddings. Lots of family you only see once a year. A photographer. And here I was looking like a monster, trying to dress four kids and a husband for the occasion, dragging four ‘babies’ around a formal event, in actual pain from the infection and not quite recovered from the C-section.
Oh, and post-partum like I never had before or since.

So that was the first two weeks after my twins were born.

What did I learn?
-- Sometimes when it rains, it pours (and sometimes it does it right into the living room!)
-- I’m a survivor. I can do hard things.
-- Bad things happen to good people. Life can sometimes just be hard. God’s not mad at you. He’s just refining you. And, ugh, refining fire is HOT!

Angie (Good Lookin): What a perfect answer Shelly! You get a 9.5 for the answer and a 10+++ for tenacity :) Thanks so much for coming today Shelly. You are awesome and make me laugh so hard all the time!!! Shelly and I both have the flu. If you want you can picture us lying on the ground staring up at the ceiling talking.

Shelly (Gorgeous): Thanks for having me Angie. I'm glad you put that disclaimer in there. Yeah, I'm in bed sniffling but I drug myself out of bed to put this dress on for the pageant question ((I've attached the picture)) Yeah, that picture gives me the creeps too but remember I have the flu and my leg is out of joint. I hope the next time I come on this blog in a schmancy dress I won't be so ill.

Thanks EVERYONE for reading :)

Angie (Good Lookin): Has anyone ever told you, there's a striking resemblance between you and...gosh, I don't even know her name...some movie star I think :)

Shelly (Gorgeous): I've never been told that I look like anyone else but I have been called striking on many occasions. Usually in the middle of a bar fight.

So there you are ;) Shelly and I can’t stop talking when we get together (I’m finding this a common theme on Tuesdays).  Give Shelly a cyber hug and wished her a speedy recovery.



Melissa Sarno said...

I love, love these interviews, Angie! And your outfit choices for the occasion are nothing short of amazing. I know the pageant hat is supposed to be figurative but I'm having a lot of fun thinking of what a pageant hat could look like with your gown and Mr. Rogers look. :)

Kelley said...

Hilarious!!! I can't stop laughing :)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I'm impressed by anyone who can write MG lit, especially because that part of adolescence is so difficult for anyone to live through. I remember that there were a few MG writers I read back then who made me feel like they knew just what it was like to be twelve, and I read their books over and over again.

elizabeth seckman said...

I'm sure Shelley will have no trouble writing, she seems like a natural. And anyone who has that many kids under age five can handle anything!

Angela Felsted said...

Too funny. Love the interview.

Emily R. King said...

Shelley and Angie, this was a delight to read. Shelley you are one-of-a-kind. I want to grow up to be as strong as you are!
Thanks for having her, Angie. Great choice!

Anonymous said...

For a bit of fun - I've tagged you on the Lucky Seven Meme:

J. A. Bennett said...

You guys had me rolling with laughter! And I'm seriously disgusted by the picture of that weird animal, ew!

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

What a fun interview! My husband is right around age 14 for maturity, I tell him all the time. :)
I love your answer to the pageant question. I feel for you. I have four kids, too, and while they are close together in age I did not have two come at the same time! I can only imagine how hard those first few weeks were. Thankfully, kids become more fun the older they get. (I think.) :)

Cherie Reich said...

Wonderful answers! Very funny too. :) And having some theater training really does help with writing.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I always pictured it something like what Princess Beatrice wore to the royal wedding.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Oh, I think you just described my dream. I think everyone should have a place (a book) to run away from the reality of being 12.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Hey! I just bought your poem book on Amazon!

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Thanks Angie for having me. I'm glad that I never have to wear that awful dress again. But if I could borrow yours...
Thanks everyone for the kind comments :)

Tara Tyler said...

always fun sitting in on these sessions =)
thanks, gorgeous & good looking!

Donna K. Weaver said...

You two crack me up!

Leigh Covington said...

These sessions are fabulous. You ladies are awesome together. And fabulous answer for the pageant question Shelly. You guys ROCK!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

You guys are hilarious. Shelly, I missed your It's a Small World Story. Going to read it now!! :D

Tyrean Martinson said...

Love this interview from beginning to end!!! This is awesome! I'm going to read that Small World Story now.

Melissa Sugar said...

Great interview and the banter is perfect. I love Shelly's comment about what she learned, "sometimes it your living room..." What an incredible attitude.

Sarah Pearson said...

Get well soon Shelly, your pain was definitely our gain :-)

Stacy Henrie said...

This was an awesome - LOL - interview! Thanks for the fun, you two. :)

Shallee said...

You ladies are a crack-up! Thanks for the laugh. :)

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