Marilyn Brant: The One that I Want for Coffee with Colette!

Coffee with ColetteGood morning, dear readers! 

Have you missed me??? It's been so long, you must have thought I'd given up coffee! Hahahahahahahaha!!! As if that would happen...

I must say that my guest today, fellow Austen Author  (and USA Today Bestselling Author - not too shabby!) Marilyn Brant has to be one of the most patient and understanding people I have ever known. You see, I invited her to stop by a month ago to tell you all about her exciting new Mirabelle Harbor series, and of course that's when my laptop decided all it wanted to do for me was show my desktop image. I mean, I love penguins, but I need a computer! So she is finally back for the first time in two years! Then she told you all about her romantic mystery The Road to You.  She also joined me for coffee earlier that year to tell us about Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match.  I just love the premise for her new novel, having the chance to meet your teenage idol once you're an adult.... (Of course, I've seen Mikhail Baryshnikov lately - not looking so hot!) Just take a look at this snippet and I know you'll agree!

Marilyn Brant on The One that I Want

It's *always* a pleasure getting to visit Colette...and I hope someday we'll get to have coffee together for real! 

I love writing modern versions of stories that touch upon certain Austen-esque themes and deal with characters who have to reevaluate their opinions of each other. This new Mirabelle Harbor series -- and the novel THE ONE THAT I WANT in particular -- was based on a premise that's been a part of my imagination for a decade and a half: What would a woman's "first impressions" be of a man she'd idolized as a teen...if she finally got to meet him 20 years later?

I had lots of movie-star idols when I was in high school and college, but I rarely thought it would be possible to meet one of them. I lived in Wisconsin (read: very far from New York City or Los Angeles) and I just didn't happen to be introduced to any famous pop-culture folks during my youth. Not rock stars. Not film/TV actors. Not even authors. I didn't meet my first published writer until I was a teacher living just north of Chicago. 

But something else happened when I moved to the Chicagoland area, where I've set my
fictional suburb of Mirabelle Harbor. Not only did I start to cross paths with some fairly well-known personalities from the world of sports, music, and media, but being in a metropolis meant that Windy City actors I'd avidly watched as an adolescent (like Chris O'Donnell or John Cusack) would, sometimes, come back to their Midwestern hometowns. They'd show them on the news -- just eating out somewhere or listening to music at a club downtown. Other actors originally from the area (Jeremy Piven, John Malkovich, etc.) would return to do theatrical productions. And I figured if my brother could chat with Jay Leno at O'Hare Airport (he really did!), and if one of my teaching colleagues could be married to a Cubs baseball player (she really was!), and if some of my friends' husbands could play in a band that opened for Dennis DeYoung of Styx (who was great, and I got to meet him, too!)...then it wasn't really so hard to imagine that my 30-something heroine could be introduced to her favorite (now-grown-up) movie actor.

So, that was definitely part of the inspiration I had in writing this story, set in this area. Here's a little more about THE ONE THAT I WANT, which is a standalone romance in my new series:

The summer after her beloved husband died in a car accident, Julia Meriwether Crane is still picking up the pieces of her life in Mirabelle Harbor and trying to help her ten-year-old daughter adjust to this difficult new reality.  

After her best friend Sharlene—one of the well-connected Michaelsen siblings—talks her into finally going out on the town again, Julia finds herself stunned to be the object of interest of several different men: The boy who’d broken her heart back in high school. The college ex she’d left behind. And most surprising of all, the movie actor she’d always fantasized about but had never met in person...until now. Can one woman have more than one “great love” in the same lifetime? And, if so, how can she be sure which man that’ll be? 

Sometimes the person you think will be best for you isn’t the one you really want. THE ONE THAT I WANT, a Mirabelle Harbor story.

Story Excerpt from THE ONE THAT I WANT:

With the exception of my best friend Sharlene, the others at the wine bar had gone back to their conversations so, thankfully, I didn’t have too many people witnessing my fumbles with setting up a (sort-of) date for the first time in twelve years. It was awkward, but I agreed to coffee with my old high-school boyfriend and gave Kristopher my phone number, which he dutifully punched into his cell so we could arrange a time and day to meet later.

Shar nudged me when he wasn’t looking and whispered, “See? Not so hard, is it?”

I made a face at her and shrugged.

Finally, the party was beginning to break up. I was mentally congratulating myself on making it through the evening when the very sweet, well-dressed woman—Elsie was her name—wolf whistled. “Wait, people!”

Everyone halted.

“I’ve been wanting to tell you this good news all night.” She paused for effect. “You know my friend Rosemary, the one who works at the Knightsbridge Theater in the city, right?”

Most of the group nodded, seeming to have met Elsie’s friend or, at least, heard about her.

“There’s a dress rehearsal for their upcoming summer production, ‘The Bachelor Pad,’ this Thursday at six-thirty in the evening, in advance of next Friday’s Opening Night,” Elsie said. “And Rosemary reserved a block of seats for us.”

Despite the noise in the wine bar, an audible spike in sound came on the heels of those words, and a couple of the women actually squealed.

I squinted at them. I mean, tickets to a play were always nice, but wasn’t this taking theatrical enthusiasm a bit far?

“But that’s not all,” Elsie continued enthusiastically. “Rosemary also got us passes to meet the cast, just as she did for that steampunk musical last year—”

“Steampunk musical?” I hissed in Shar’s ear.

She nodded. “It was bizarre. Tell you more about it later.”

I grinned and brought my glass of wine to my lips, draining it of its final swallow.

“—including a special Q&A session with the director, Zachary Leeward,” Elsie added, “and with the star of the show, Dane Tyler.”

I choked on the last drops of merlot, coughing so hard that Bill reached across the table to hand me a fresh glass of ice water, Shar patted me on the back, and everyone else stared at me worriedly. Except for Kristopher. He shot me a knowing look.

Yeah, of course he’d remember that.

“Are you okay?” Elsie asked me.

I gulped down half the water. Oh, God. Of all the actors on the planet—Dane Tyler. Here? REALLY?

My teen world had just materialized out of thin air, like that freaky phantom ship that came from absolutely nowhere in Pirates of the Caribbean. My gut twisted weirdly, and I could barely breathe. “P-Please go on,” I managed to whisper.

She smiled. “So, if any of you want to go to the performance, and I know you do, let me know now, and I’ll email the list of names to Rosemary in the morning.”

Elsie was right. With the exception of one accountant guy, who had an out-of-town business trip next week, and a very disappointed single mom, whose kid was playing in a baseball tournament Thursday night, everyone else signed up to go.

Including me, at Shar’s insistence. And including Kristopher.

My old high-school boyfriend leaned over the table and said with a laugh, “Well, isn’t that something? Maybe, if you ask him real nice, he’ll recite your favorite lines from your favorite movie to you.”

“Ha,” I said weakly.

“Which lines? Which movie?” Shar asked.

Before I could reply, Elise jumped in and pointed to Shar and then me. “You two want to ride down with me?”
Shar answered for both of us. “Oh, yeah!”

Although I managed to stop tripping over my own tongue and was able to thank the kind woman, I didn’t succeed in making more than a few last bits of small talk. All I could do was blush furiously and think to myself, in the fevered squeaking of an adolescent schoolgirl, OMG, I’m finally going to see Dane Tyler in person! Maybe even talk to him!

In just one evening, three distinct memories of men from my past played out like a warped summertime version of A Christmas Carol in my mind. Haunting memories of relationships that I’d had or had lost or had wanted—sometimes simultaneously and always more powerfully than I’d expected—were reeling through my brain on a continuous loop, braiding my emotions with the mental film footage.

Before my best friend could ask me any more questions I didn’t want to answer, I hugged her goodnight and raced into the evening, forgetting until my feet hit the pavement and I collapsed into the driver’s seat of my car that I wasn’t, in fact, lost in time.

That I wasn’t living out some high-school fantasy.

That I wasn’t a vulnerable young woman, helpless in the face of fate.

I started the engine, replayed those last three thoughts again, and shook my head.

Like hell I wasn’t. 

Do you have a famous actor or musician you idolized as a teen and wish you could meet now?? :)

Buy Links:

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Author Bio:

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato. Look for all of the contemporary romances in her new Mirabelle Harbor series, beginning July 26, 2015! 
Visit her website:


  1. Colette,
    Thank you for your very sweet introduction and inviting me here today! I'm not necessarily a patient person, but some things -- like a visit with you ;) -- are worth waiting for!!
    And about Mikail B. -- yeah, I know. Time waits for no man and aging takes its toll on us all, even on very hot Russian dancers, LOL. I could watch him back in his "White Nights" era forever, though!


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