Featured Interview With Brooke Gilbert
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. I am a microbiology graduate of the University of Tennessee, and a border collie mom. My border collie is named Rio Blue. She has one blue and one brown eye. She is a lovable trouble maker and my sidekick.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I actually was the kid who colored books instead of reading! lol. I was always extremely creative. I fell in love with the world of films and literature from a young age because I was sick a lot. I still remember my dad coming home from Blockbuster with a VHS (yes, VHS) and I could not contain my excitement. I would wait all day when I was home sick from school for what he would bring home. I fell in love with the world of stories. I would go to my bookshelf during the day and find a good book to read and escape through literature as well. And suddenly stories became my escape.
Then when I was diagnosed with my rare autoimmune disorders at age 25, romantic comedies became my safe place. They kept me company through treatment and unbearable pain. The years when I couldn’t get out of bed they allowed me to travel and escape myself. Audiobooks in particular helped me be able to get through painful everyday tasks. I had to start cooking all my meals from scratch and I hated cooking. They provided a reprieve from something that I detested and I began to enjoy cooking. That’s when I started to get interested in becoming an audiobook narrator myself. I wanted to help give voice to the stories that had provided me so much comfort. I have found such joy in the work, but after hundreds of auditions I realized I wasn’t seeing anyone like myself in fiction. And as I reader I was having a difficult enough time finding books with representation in them, let alone someone with autoimmune disorders. And so I started writing.
I never thought I was good enough to write. I always wanted to be a writer. When asked in school what we wanted to do with our life I was the kid that said “write a children’s book for every European country” while everyone else said “cure cancer.” But I never thought I was good enough. I was the student who avoided English classes like the plague. And whenever my work was chosen to be read out loud in class I would sink as far down in my chair as possible. I’d criticize and tear apart every word read. Finally, my desire to see people like myself represented in romantic fiction won out over fear. I wanted to write a novel to help women with chronic disorders, who may have low self-esteem with their condition like myself, see that they are beautiful and worthy of love. And here I am. So thankful for the love the book community and readers have shown me. You are amazing!!!
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
Highly influenced by Jane Austen. She has a way of bringing you into her world and I love the way she develops her characters. It’s so intimate and that’s what is so lasting. We can still relate over a hundred years later. I also love Sariah Wilson. It was the first time I read a clean romance and got all the feels to that extent. I remember thinking “oh, it’s possible to have this much heat and still be clean.” I was hooked. I strive to deliver that in my writing with chronically ill main characters. And as far as humor, I have been highly influenced by Sophie Kinsella. She is the queen of romcoms! I love her British humor and the funny situations she weaves. It’s the perfect romcom experience!
Tell us a little about your latest book?
I am currently editing my second novel, The Roman Agenda. It’s a romcom set in Rome. The two main characters are teachers and they feel very relatable to me. The MFC battles a rare mast cell disorder and I’m really excited to shine some light on this condition. And the chemistry was so much fun to write. The unrequited love in the novel has created so much tension and steam!
I’m currently writing my third novel, The Irish Fall and having the best time. It is set in Ireland and features a main character with Crohn’s and endometriosis. I really wanted to dive into some women’s issues that have been very difficult in my life and I hope will be very relevant in our society today. There are some heavier issues, but the humor–especially the quirky Irish humor surrounding the MMC and his Irish grandfather figure–I hope will make this a really fun read! I definitely believe humor is the best way to discuss and dive into these issues. To me it creates a safe place to do so. The MMC battles a different type of invisible disorder than the MFC. I’m really excited to explore this juxtaposition and see how the characters support and complete each other.
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