Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Guest Author: Jean Brashear

I first met Jean Brashear through a mutual friend years and years ago at an RWA conference. Might've been New Orleans, but who knows? In any case, she's one of the truest, most helpful, and positive women I know and we both have Superromances out in October! Please join me in welcoming not only a wonderful writer, but one of my all time favorite people in this world. Here's ... Jean!

What I Learned from Scarlett O'Hara and Thelma and Louise

Recently I watched Gone with the Wind on the big screen for the first time since I was a teenager. It was a test, I decided, for me personally. See, the ending always, always drove me crazy. Just like the hissy fit I pitched at the end of Thelma and Louise (for which my daughter continues to rib me.)

But, I mean...the waste. They didn't have to go off that cliff. Really. I just wasn't ready.

So when I became a romance writer, my daughter looked at me knowingly. I knew before everyone, she seemed to be saying. You just can't handle an unhappy ending, can you?

Well, okay, so sue me. Life sucks just fine all on its own, doesn't it? So why do we have to pay to see or read more of the same? But this time, I went to see Rhett and Scarlett, all braced to be mature and blase, to not lose my cool at the unsatisfying nature of the ending.

To my immense surprise, it wasn't that hard--which I must admit worries me a bit about myself. ;-) I spotted places that my younger self hadn't, moments when if either of them had spoken their hearts, they could have had the romance I always wanted for them. But the older, wiser me saw that when each felt vulnerable, he or she retreated into their chosen roles from the first--Scarlett kept being a blind fool over Ashley and Rhett was afraid to risk his heart (not that I blame him.)

But I do stick to my guns on what a waste it was. They could have been amazing together (though Rhett was clearly more hopes for Scarlett to ever quit being pig-blind and self-absorbed are dim.) I still wanted to pimp-slap Scarlett, but I was surprisingly okay with it and actually hopeful that Rhett might go on to have a good life without her. And I recognize that had the ending been more satisfactory, maybe it wouldn't still be eating at all of us and thus, remain memorable.

It's reassuring, though, to discover that some things are eternal. When I was walking down the street afterward, I passed a family with a girl who looked to be sixteen or seventeen, all uber-cool and modern...then I heard her cry out, "But there weren't ANY happy endings!"

Hello, Ms. Future Romance Writer. Don't get blase or worry about being cool or mature. Come on over to the dark side. Welcome to the club. ;-)

Jean Brashear
Harlequin Superromance October 2009

Three-time RITA Award finalist, Romantic Times BOOKreviews Series Storyteller of the Year and winner of numerous other awards, Jean Brashear finds hearing from readers a special joy. You can reach her at


lois greiman said...

Hey Jean, thanks for joining us.

You are soooo absolutely right. Life is tough enough without adding to the unhappiness. When my daughter was in elementary school I refused to make her read one of the books that were required. It was about an animal that died at the end of the story and I didn't want to put her through the emotional duress. I mean, seriously, she used to cry when she saw taxidermy. Her third grade teacher was snooty about it, saying, "Well, sad things happen in real life." Well, duh!! Does that mean I have to make her a hardened ten year old??

Anyway, thanks for the blog. I'm looking forward to reading your happy ever after.

Betina Krahn said...

Jean, welcome! And I'm soooo with you on Scarlett and GWTW. I mostly just wanted to bean her through most of the movie. I mean ASHLEY, darlin'. Ewwwwwwwww.

And everyone around me in the theater sniffled when little Bonnie died. I looked at them as if they were nuts-- who didn't see THAT coming? I guess I just didn't engage with the characters at all. . . not sure why. And then the dramatic/unhappy ending.


Maybe that's one reason I became a romance fan-- to expunge all the icky UNHAPPY endings I'd had to suffer through. Tess of the D'Ubervilles anyone? Arghhhhhhhh!

Helen Brenna said...

Hi Jean! Thanks for coming today.

You could do what I do and rewrite the endings of movies in your mind. Sometimes I actually forget which one is real and which one I remade. LOL

Jean Brashear said...

Oh, lordy, Tess, Betina! I did a whole paper on her in college--back in that period when we all fall in love with the tragic and cynical (since life has handed us little of that up to that point.) What was I thinking?

Lois, I agree--the loss of innocent optimism in kids these days is an indictment of our society, I think. Good for you for protecting your daughter. Life will show her the dark side only too soon.

Helen, thanks so much for the invite. What I want to know is were all of us expert liars as children? (She says, raising her hand...but it was that re-forming reality to suit me; I didn't mean to be lying...exactly.;))

Betina, I was gone until too late to comment on your men vs. women post, but it was hilarious! (And soooo true!) Not that I'm surprised, coming from the woman whose luncheon speech at RWA still makes me laugh out loud to think of it.

Thanks for the welcome--so fun to be with so many good friends here!

P.S. May I share some very exciting news? Your own Deb Dixon and Deb Smith have bought the book of my heart to be published by Bell Bridge next spring, and I am over the moon at the place I most wanted it to be published liking it too! It's called THE GODDESS OF FRIED OKRA, the tale of Eudora "Pea" O'Brien, convenience store professional, who hits the road to search for the reincarnated soul of her dead sister and learns swordplay and the art of perfect fried okra on her journey to finding her strengths and her place in the world.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hi Jean
Great to see you here! Love your take on the HEA and am so happy to be a part of an industry that perpetuates it!!
Good luck on the new release!! Love the cover

RKCharron said...

Hi Jean :)
Thank you for the great post & congratulations on The Goddess of Fried Okra being sold!
Love & Best Wishes,

Jean Brashear said...

Hey, Cindy! Sure was fun to sit in front of you at the RITAs--congrats again!

RK, thank you so much! So are you a Rhett or Ashley fan? (No snarking, Betina...someone has to be an Ashley fan, right?)

Not quite the burning issue nowadays like Edward vs. Jason or Jean Claude vs. Richard. (Want to pimp-slap Richard and Edward's too Ashleyish for me...heresy, I guess, but...)



Helen Brenna said...

Yay! Congrats on the sales to Belle Bridge! Love that title. I'm sure you've written a beautiful story, Jean.

Michele Hauf said...

Welcome, Jean! Congrats on the sale to BelleBridge!

I love HEAs, but I gotta admit I'm a fan of HEABs too. That's 'Happily Ever After. But.'

Especially in paranormal romances, I like the hero and heroine to have an HEA, but with a condition that it's not all going to be rosy in the very near future. ;-)

Pamela Keener said...

Thelma & Louise is a favorite movie of mine despite the ending or perhaps because of the ending. I love my HEA but I also want it to be true to the story. Thelma & Louise were in a difficult place at the time. Perhaps if they fast forwarded the movie in the end to a time when it could realistically be a HEA I could have accepted that HEA.
Love & Hugs,

Debra Dixon said...

Hey, Jean!

You know I hate it when things don't work out. Hate it. I like things tidy and happy. I love the moment in a romance when it all works out and I can sigh that big sigh of relief.

I love it when the bad guy is caught. The evil demon banished. Or the emotional trauma overcome.

I was watching a Buffy the other day. The one where she comes back from the truly-dead-in-a-grave. Joss Whedon knew not to short change the viewer. We get to see "the moment" for the scoobies, for Dawn, for Giles and for Spike. We get these discrete moments we don't have to share with other characters.

Of course it all goes to hell shortly afterward, but I remember thinking that I am unabashedly in favor of people getting what they want.

JeanBrashear said...

Hey, Michele and Pam and Deb,

I don't have to have everything neatly sewed up ( it!) but I do want it to, as you say, Pam, be true to the characters and story...but I sure like to have some sense of hope.

Did anyone ever read the sequel to GWTW, what, 15 years or so ago? I couldn't bring myself to do it, but I'd gladly accept a spoiler now. I don't want to invest the time in reading it, I don't think, but I'm sorta curious as to what that book posited as how things went from there. Anybody know?


Stephenia said...

Well said! I am a fan of happily ever after also!

Christie Ridgway said...

I turned off Marley & Me just yesterday, and I was mad at my yellow lab puppy for making a huge mess. Still couldn't manage that ending.

Listening to McKee's STORY on audio and he talked about Thelma and Louise while I was walking said pup and I made a noise that caused dog to look at me. Still am mad about that ending!

Thanks for blogging, Jean!

JeanBrashear said...

Hey, Christie! Long time no see!

So what did McKee say about T&L? I bought the book and I know he's wonderful, but I am SO not a how-to girl, so I donated it to my library and thus missed this.

This blog was mentioned on another one today, and I was reminded of the ending of the Twilight series. Not to diss something that so many love, BUT (ah, that infamous but, Michele) the series is Vampire Lite to me, and I thought the ending with Jason was such a cop-out!

Okay, so now that I've offended millions...aren't you all glad I came?

This is a great bunch--so many of my favorite authors right in one spot!--and a really fun blog. I sure do appreciate you all letting me come play!

mariska said...

Knowing a great and new author always makes me happy! Hi Jean!
HEA is my favorite :) can't wait to read yours.

JeanBrashear said...

Thank you so much, Mariska!

MarthaE said...

Hi Jean! I'm a little late to the welcome but "better late..."!
I agree so much with your comments! And I don't hold out much hope for Scarlet and didn't care much for her character in the sequel either! "Pimp-slap"! Not quite sure what that is but not sure it would help her!
I like the HEA ending! I like your cover and title too! Best wishes on the release!

Susan Shay said...

I'm a day late, but I have to agree, Jean, on both movies.
The one I remember hitting me so hard, the people around me thought I'd lost it was Funny Girl.
At the end when Omar Sharrif comes back from prison just to wave 'so long' and leave again, I was left gasping. Someone had snatched the floor right out from under my size sevens!
I so wanted things to work. Looking back, I realize he wasn't a strong enough character for Fanny, but she loved him so! (Oh, my man I love him so . . . he'll never know . . .)
Enjoyed the post!

JeanBrashear said...

Wow, Susan--I'd forgotten all about that movie! (And Omar Sharif...gorgeous. Some of the old stars could put the new pretty boys to shame, couldn't they? Though just say the name Clive Owen....yum!)

Fun to hear from you!