The Heroine’s Journey of Marilyn Brant

What is the best thing that I love about my work? I love getting to be creative every single day. Fiction writing is hard work at times and it can bring with it a rollercoaster of emotions, but it’s always an interesting, creative challenge.

What is my idea of perfect happiness? Somehow managing that balance between time spent working on my novels, time spent with my family and good friends, and time spent practicing healthy habits (like exercising regularly). I rarely get the balance exactly right, but I keep trying!

What is my greatest fear? That bad things might happen to those I love.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I’m such a worrier. I worry about everything. I worry about how much I worry, LOL. I wish I could temper that trait a bit.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? I admire anyone who takes the risk of putting words on a page and sending them out into the world. It requires emotional strength and unwavering nerve for aspiring authors to take such an enormous leap — getting his or her writing critiqued by other writers/editors and then reviewed by readers — but it’s the only way to become (and remain) a published author.

What is my greatest extravagance? It’s a tossup between items I find online for our son (he has many interests, and the Internet cookie trackers are definitely aware of this!) and books I can’t resist purchasing for myself or for people I know. I buy a LOT of books! Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audio…I love them ALL.

On what occasion would I lie? To protect someone I care about or to help the police solve a crime.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? Having to sit for so long. I have a tendency to slouch when I’m drafting a story, so I find myself with a cramped neck/back/shoulders fairly often, and I need to make a daily effort to stretch and to get enough exercise.

When and where was I the happiest in my work? I’m really happy when I’m writing late, late at night, usually on the floor of my home office, with printed out manuscript pages, a cup of hot tea or coffee, and novel notes all around me in a giant arc. It’s thrilling to work deeply and without any interruptions — I can follow a thought from its beginning, all the way to its twisty, turny conclusion — and I love that. It feels a little magical when it’s just me and the story I’m creating.

If I could, what would I change about myself? Aside from worrying less and exercising more, I can’t think of too many things. I have plenty of flaws, but many times those negative traits are the flip sides of positive ones, and we don’t get to have the pros without the cons, do we?

What is my greatest achievement in work? I’ve won some writing awards, like RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart®, been honored to be named “Author of the Year” by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English, and hit a few big bestseller lists — all VERY exciting! But my greatest achievement was simply persevering in becoming an author. So many people told me it was going to be too hard to write a novel and nearly impossible to get it published, but I just kept working (and working!) on my stories. For years. It wasn’t until I’d written my fifth completed manuscript that it finally happened. Getting that phone call from my literary agent that my debut novel, ACCORDING TO JANE (a story about a woman who has the spirit of Jane Austen in her head giving her dating advice), sold to Kensington Books in a two-book deal was a moment I’ll always remember!

Where would I most like to live? I happen to really like the northern suburbs of Chicago, where I live now, but I sometimes fantasize about living on Italy’s Amalfi Coast. So beautiful! And all of that delicious gelato is readily available, too. Quite a perk.

What is my most treasured possession? As the saying goes, the best things in life aren’t things. But my photo albums remind me of wonderful experiences I’ve had with my family and friends, so I cherish them. When I need a little day brightener, I’ll flip through a few of pages of some of my favorite albums and remember the joy captured by those pictures.

What is my most marked characteristic? From the standpoint of a physical characteristic, many people have remarked on my curly hair. (Attempting to tame it has been a lifelong challenge!) If referring to a specific personality characteristic, it’s probably my curiosity and exacting memory for detail. My family members and dearest friends have mentioned these traits to me often, although not always with an intent to flatter, LOL.

What is my most inspirational location in my city? We have a forest preserve at the edge of town, and it’s a lovely and inspirational place to walk or bike. I like wandering around there, particularly in the warmer months, daydreaming about story ideas.

What is my favorite place to eat and drink in my city? There’s a local coffee house I visit frequently with my friends. We spend a few hours in a booth, usually a couple of times a month, just drinking good coffee, eating freshly made sandwiches or salads, and catching up on our lives.

What books influenced my life and how? Like many writers, I was an avid bookworm as a kid. Back then, I first discovered the wondrous escape that novels could bring and the hours of imaginary delight those characters inspired. So, some of my most influential books were the children’s stories and young adult novels I read in grade school and high school, like all of Dr. Seuss, A Wrinkle in Time, the Little House on the Prairie series, Escape to Witch Mountain, A Separate Peace, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, 1984, Catch-22, and Pride and Prejudice. I devoured comedy and mystery, historical and science fiction, romance and epic drama…pretty much anything my favorite teachers or librarians recommended to me, and my awe of authors only grew as I got older.

Who are my favorite writers? Oh, my goodness, I have too many writers I adore to post them all here — my answer would be a dozen pages long, if I even attempted it — but I can safely say that Jane Austen tops my list.

You Only Die Once. What music would I listen to on my last day? I have pretty eclectic musical tastes. I love pop hits from the 1970s and 1980s, Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks, some Mozart, some Scott Joplin, some Elton John, and groups with a range of styles from Matchbox Twenty to Fall Out Boy. So, if it were my last day, I’d listen to as many of them as I could.

Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? In fiction — Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Who wouldn’t want to be lively, witty, and Mr. Darcy’s love interest, right? In real life — my parents and grandparents. They experienced hardships that are difficult for me to fathom and, yet, they not only overcame them, they remained such generous, loving, and supportive people.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? There’s a film trilogy starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy that takes place in Europe and begins with the movie Before Sunrise. The other films in the series are also very good, but the first is one of my absolute favorites.

What role plays art in my life and work? Life is where we find inspiration and meaning. Art is where we express what inspires us and is meaningful to us. So, to me, they are interdependent to the point of merging into one and the same. I actually just had a short story of mine called “When Life Imitates Art” published in the Romance Writers of America’s newest anthology, SECOND CHANCES. It was very much on this subject…how a young woman drew her creative inspiration from real life and, as a direct result of her creation, something she’d hoped for and had fictionalized eventually came true.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? I’m fortunate to have some incredibly supportive people in my corner. My parents, brother, son, and best friends have all been there for me since the beginning of my writing career, but my husband has been the greatest partner of all. He really encouraged me to go for it, and he made sure I knew he was on my side, no matter how tough things were sometimes.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017? For me, the year is racing to its conclusion and I have my projects for the next few months already planned out. I doubt any new collaborations will pop up before New Year’s Eve. However, much like the temptation of good chocolate, I’m always open to serendipity.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? I’ve been lucky enough to meet quite a few of the writers I admire, including the wonderful Diana Gabaldon (I’m a huge Outlander fan!) and, having had so many good experiences, there are many authors I’d love to chat with again. I’ve never met Sue Miller, though, whose thought-provoking prose always blows me away, or Anne Lamott, whose humorous insights never fail to make me smile.

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to working on? I just finished the final book in my romantic Mirabelle Harbor series (COMING HOME) and I’m now at work on a handful of projects that will carry over into early 2018. I’m more than halfway through drafting a new novel that’s probably best described as humorous romantic suspense. I have a sexy contemporary novella in the works, too. And I’m revising one of my women’s fiction books for rerelease next year.

Where can you see me or my work in 2017? All of my books (about 20 novels and novellas to date) are listed on my website (, and I have story excerpts for each title, purchasing info, and reader extras available there, too. I’m also at the major online bookstores: Amazon ( Barnes & Noble ( Apple ( Kobo ( As for face-to-face events, I don’t have any big library presentations or booksigning appearances in the next few months, but I love visiting book clubs. (In person, if I’m close by, or via Facebook video chat, if I’m not!)

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? No matter what our age or circumstance, there’s a simmering desire within each of us to experience and share the things we love. That desire doesn’t go away, even after the passing of decades.

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Talented authors Laura Moore, Susan McBride, and Lexi Ryan

How can you contact me? Via email (, on Facebook (, on Twitter (, or through the “Contact” page on my website ( Hope you’ll stop by one of these spots and say hello!!

What follows is a message of Peter de Kuster,  the founder of the Heroine’s Journey

What is Your Story?

One Day Tour with Peter de Kuster  in the greatest bookstores of your favorite city. In Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Berlin, London and Amsterdam we offer this unique What is your Story? experience.  To (re) write your story about yourself and your work. In the process transforming your capacity to successfully have the creative life and work you love. 

In this journey, Peter de Kuster,  founder of The Heroine’s Journey explores with you the way we tell stories about ourselves to ourselves — and, most important, the way we can change those stories to transform our creative business and life.

“Your story is your art, your art is your story,” says Peter. As human beings, we continually tell ourselves stories — of success or failure; of power or victimhood; stories that endure for an hour, or a day, or an entire lifetime. We have stories about our creative challenges, our art, our clients, our money, our self promotion, our time, our families and relationships, our health; about what we want and what we’re capable of achieving. Yet, while our stories profoundly affect how others see us and we see ourselves, too few of us even recognize that we’re telling stories, or what they are, or that we can change them — and, in turn, transform our very destinies.

Telling ourselves stories provides structure and direction as we navigate life’s challenges and opportunities, and helps us interpret our goals and skills. Stories make sense of chaos; they organize our many divergent experiences into a coherent thread; they shape our entire reality. And far too many of our stories, says Peter, are dysfunctional, in need of serious editing. First, he asks you to answer the question, “In which areas of my creative life and business is it clear that I cannot achieve my goals with the story I’ve got?” He then shows you how to create new, reality-based stories that inspire you to action, and take you where you want to go both in your work and personal life.

Our capacity to tell stories is one of our profoundest gifts. Peter’s approach to creating deeply engaging stories will give you the tools to wield the power of storytelling and forever change your creative business and life.

Become a great Storyteller

That’s why I set up What is your Story? service in the great cities of the world and their great bookstores. A new way to use the power of your story.  To guide you to life-changing, eye-opening but often elusive works of literature, both past and present, the books of fiction that truly have the power to enchant, enrich and inspire.

In two days with Peter de Kuster you’ll explore your relationship with books so far and your unique story identity will be sketched. You will be guided to books that can put their finger on what you want to rewrite in your story, the feelings that you may often have had but perhaps never understood so clearly before; books that open new perspectives and re-enchant the world for you.

You will be asked to complete a questionnaire in advance of your session and you’ll be given an instant story advice and books to read to take away. Your full story advice and books to read list will follow within a couple of days.


What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of the WHAT IS YOUR STORY? journey.

Journey Outline


  • What is your Story?
  • Are you even trying to tell a Story?
  • Old Stories  (stories about you, your art, your clients, your money, your self promotion, your happiness, your health)
  • Tell your current Story
  • Is this Really Your Story?


  • The Premise of your Story. The Purpose of your Life and Art
  • The words on your tombstone
  • You ultimate mission, out loud
  • The Seven Great Plots
  • The Twelve Archetypal Heroines
  • The One Great Story
  • Purpose is Never Forgettable
  • Questioning the Premise
  • Lining up
  • Flawed Alignment, Tragic Ending
  • The Three Rules in Storytelling
  • Write Your New Story


  • Turning your story into action
  • The Story Effect
  • Story Ritualizing
  • The Storyteller and the art of story
  • The Power of Your Story
  • Storyboarding your creative process
  • They Created and Lived Happily Ever After


The “What is your Story?” one day fee is Euro 995 excluding VAT per person

Questions? Contact Peter de Kuster at 0031 6 33661772 or mail him at


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