Friday, February 3, 2017

Interview with non-fiction writer Wendy Brown

Writer Wendy Brown is my guest today. She’s written an educational self-help book on relationships called, The Six Passions of the Red-hot Lover: Find out which one is yours.

Wendy Brown is an individual and couples’ therapist who estimates she has done over 35,000 hours of therapy and discussed love in most of them. She is in private practice in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her first book, Why Love Succeeds or Fails won the National Indie Excellence Award for a relationship book in 2014.

Welcome, Wendy. Please tell us about your current release.
The Six Passions of the Red-hot Lover asks if you know what type of lover you are. If you are a Red-hot Lover, you probably figure you could star in a great love story. You may very well be capable of mind-blowing sex; you might even do wild and crazy things in the name of love.

Passion is described as either a powerful, barely controllable feeling that can overtake you at times, or a delicate, intuitive sense much like an artisan has for his/her craft. It can produce drama with emotions ranging between despair and rapture. Passion can also cause you to do things that are wild and crazy in the name of love.

There are six passions; these are the drivers of passion for Red-hot Lovers:
Heartbreak: You don’t understand how or why someone totally loves you and then loses that love. The script that goes with this passion is the Lovesick Lover, a person who is so worried about rejection that he/she almost invites it.
Challenge: You need to find someone who ticks all your boxes and has the tenacity to pursue you. The Prince/Princess is the role for playing hard to get.
Pursuit: It’s important for you to tap into your deepest feelings to determine if you should go after a particular lover, whether or not this makes sense to anyone else. This passion produces the script called the Lover’s Fool; you could make a fool out of yourself or others.
Gallantry: You strive to do everything in your power to rescue your lover from a life without your love and protection. The accompanying role here is the White Knight.
Vindication: Having felt a perfect love and then something went wrong, you desperately want it restored. This passion produces the script called the Black Knight, which is all about rejecting disenfranchisement.
Attention: You thrive on the spotlight, having your innermost wants and needs understood and met. The role that goes with this passion is the Drama King/Queen whose worst fear is being invisible.
You can figure out which passion is yours by taking the tests for each one.

As you can see, there are a lot of overtones in the passions and the scripts from the medieval courtly love period. In the book, the author interviews Ron, a high school teacher and self-proclaimed Red-hot Lover. He tells many stories about the courtly lovers to illustrate his points. There are also current day examples of Red-hot Lovers, like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

Red-hot Lovers are often criticized as high maintenance. Passion can be finicky and difficult; it may even fizzle out.

But, there are people who adore Red-hot Lovers. After all, Red-hot Lovers are the people who are capable of going to any lengths for love. When they’re on, you can feel their passion in the air, see it in them and forever in the world it feels like a force the lovers and everyone else must reckon with. They just might be the quintessential great lovers of all time.

What inspired you to write this book?
My first book, Why Love Succeeds or Fails includes descriptions of four types of lovers: Gripping Dramatist, Passionate Adventurer, Sensible Compromiser and Joyful Diversionist. I decided to go into some depth about each type individually. I started with the Gripping Dramatist and re-named it the Red-hot Lover.

As an individual and couples’ therapist, I fundamentally believe that we need a clear and easy way to understand love and lovers. So, when you meet someone online or in person, after a few minutes you can say to yourself ‘Aha, a Red-hot Lover, just like me.’ That just might save you a lot of stumbling around, getting things wrong and wearing out the relationship.

Excerpt from The Six Passions of the Red-hot Lover:
This is the generic Red-hot Lover Script. There are additional more detailed scripts for those who have one of the passions.

When I fall in love, I have the lofty, regal feeling of being in the right. I have to admit that I spend a lot of time in my life doing what feels right and true to me. I tap into my inner sense of what is and isn’t warranted by the love I feel. When it comes to love, I have the passion of a craftsman/woman and a gifted lover. My beloved generally feels very connected to me as I thoroughly revel in the angst, drama and chaos that fill my life and make me feel fully alive and thriving. I need my lover on board, ready to explore all of that with me, at the edge of his/her seat in the excitement of it all.

I have to say, to a great extent, passion is my guide and my governor. It allows me to run the full gamut from being a vulnerable candle in the wind to a super-charged rapturous lover.

My passion does make it difficult for me to get and maintain a perspective on a given situation. Typically, I’m too busy attending to my emotions which constitute my driving force. I do realize that this means I can’t see clearly or fully; I miss a lot because of that. But I love being guided by my passion so much that I really can’t see myself changing.

My perfect state is being passionately in love. It makes me feel like royalty that has arrived. I am so pleased and proud that I feel like I could burst into a million glorious pieces.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My next project is writing about my second type of lover: the Passionate Adventurer. I suspect I may rename that one as well once I start working on it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
All through school, I was told I should be a writer. When I finished my undergrad degree in English and went on to grad school, I stopped writing and didn’t start again for decades. When I look back, I think I’ve always considered myself to be a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I don’t write full-time; I am an individual and couples therapist in private practice. My work day involves seeing people who have quality of life or clinical issues and want to grow and change. I regularly deal with grief, heartbreak, conflict, love and joy. That’s my full-time job. I write whenever I have a chance. If one of my clients cancels an appointment, I write. If I feel inspired wherever I am, I jot down notes. If I have a writing deadline and no time to write during the day, I write during the night.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Have you heard of people who decorate a room by starting with one item that catches their fancy? I once saw someone inspired by a green apple. That’s how I research. I become intrigued by something and then everything flows from there. With ‘The Six Passions of the Red-hot Lover’, I started with my initial concept of the Gripping Dramatist, which intuitively led me to look up the beginnings of Valentine’s Day and peoples’ associations with the color red. From there, I looked into the Courts of Love in medieval Europe.

As I research, I write. So, I’ll do a paragraph on something, a chapter on something else. Then I start to pull it together and see what kind of shape it naturally takes. Of course, I have to critique it for content, form, etc. which I generally do three times. Pretty much, I do three complete re-writes.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Writing was my first love. At about the age of twelve I remember reading about mental illness and deciding that I had to figure out how peoples’ minds work. I used to really enjoy character analysis in English literature because it brought the two together.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, I was writing The Six Passions of the Red-hot Lover during the campaign for the Presidency in the USA. I was very busy and didn’t read much about it. Then, when Donald Trump was declared the winner, I read everything I could. I was trying to understand how and why he won. It was then that I realized he is a Red-hot Lover.

And President Trump is extraordinary. Your average Red-hot Lover has one passion; he appears to have three. By my estimation, his passions include pursuit, vindication, and attention.


Thanks for being here today, Wendy!

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