How Author Sandra Brown Says Texas Influences Her Bestsellers

Brown is no literary slouch, she’s the author of 67 New York Times bestsellers and she’s touring Texas this week to support her latest work. She joins the Standard to discuss the book and why Texas heroes are larger than life and our bad guys are “badder than anybody else.”

By Emily DonahueAugust 21, 2015 10:13 am|

There’s a small Texas town in the middle of an oil boom; wildcatters and roughnecks move in and so does trouble. That’s a little bit of detail about Texas author Sandra Brown’s new novel “Friction.”

On the inspiration for her hero in “Friction:”

“I wanted to write about a Texas Ranger. Being from Texas all my life, there’s so much lore and so much legend that surrounds them. We think of them in terms of the guy… with the six shooters strapped to his thigh, which is not at all a bad image. But recently, I was watching when Texas Rangers were the ones who arrested the man who was ultimately convicted of killing Chris Kyle, the American Sniper. It was Texas Rangers who were questioning him when he confessed. These guys have on ball caps, t-shirts and blue jeans. I thought, this is the new Texas Ranger. This is the new image but they’re still the tough guys. There are only 180 of them spread over 245 counties and 700,000 square miles.”

On details about the plot:

“I thought, what would be a problem I could give him beyond the crime solving? He is trying to get custody of his five-year-old daughter. A little girl in pink ballet slippers and glitter fairy wings is such a contrast and so incongruous to a single dad who would be a Texas Ranger. So that’s the problem I gave him and then the troubles ensue from the very first chapter.”

On whether she get backlash from readers:

“I could always be taken to task for painting certain people in a bad light. I remember one time my bad guy was a banker and the next appointment I had with my banker he asked, ‘Are you mad at me or something?’ And then other times they’re really very flattered. My heroine in this book is a family court judge. I happen to be friends with a family court judge. I write the scenes [where] I want them to go because I don’t want to be constrained by actuality. After I had written the scenes between the judge and my hero Crawford, who have a very strong but forbidden sexual attraction, I called my judge friend and [asked], ‘Now would it be unethical for Judge Holly Spencer to react in this way if she did this?’ There was a pause and she said, ‘Highly unethical!’ I went, ‘Oh no don’t tell me that.’ She goes, ‘Oh Sandra write your book! Judges do unethical stuff all the time!’”

On Texas as her inspiration:

“Our history is so rich culturally and our characters, our heroes, are larger than life unlike other parts of even the U.S. Our heroes are world renown. Likewise, our bad guys are badder than anybody else. We have a mystique and all of that inflames the imagination of readers. I’ve had other people in the country who have read this and said, ‘I’ve heard of Texas Rangers but I thought it was the baseball team!’ But I’m talking about the law enforcement agency…. I just think the southern United States, generally speaking, we have a lot of crazy people. And crazy people just make for good storytelling! It’s no accident that so many wonderful, classical, American writers have come from the South.”