Rita Mae Brown Book Signing at Rehoboth’s Browseabout
Author and literary icon Rita Mae Brown will be in Rehoboth on August 11 at 5 p.m. to sign her latest book at Browseabout on Rehoboth Avenue. As Letters Feature Editor, I had a chance to ask the author a few questions, which she was happy to answer for us.
FJ: Hello! We’re delighted you will be coming to Rehoboth Beach for a book signing at Browseabout on Aug. 11 at 5 pm. Have you been to Reho before?
RMB: In 1985 I visited Rehoboth about every two weeks to visit a dying friend. I never got to see much of the town, but what I did see was pretty.
FJ: I understand that we finally have a political candidate representing all Americans—both predator and prey, with Sneaky Pie for President, the book you will be celebrating at Browseabout. As we all know, Sneaky Pie is the cat who has been your collaborator for 20 years with the Sneaky Pie and Mrs. Murphy mystery series. This is, of course a groundbreaking campaign, as Sneaky Pie could well be both the first feline and first female president. Our readers will want to know how you “vetted” this candidate and why you support her.
RMB: Sneaky Pie vetted me, I never vetted her.
FJ: You’ve written that, “I can never understand how authors can write books without having animals become important characters. We share the earth with other sentient creatures and they often do a better job of living full lives than we do.” How did you come up with the idea of collaborating with your investigative cat?
RMB: Sneaky Pie proposed we write a mystery in 1988 during the Writers Guild of America strike. As I was working in L.A., I eventually agreed since as a member of the Guild I couldn’t work in film or TV.
FJ: Now that Sneaky Pie is on the campaign trail, will we have to wait until after November for more mystery solving with Mrs. Murphy? What other adventures are you writing about?
RMB: Your candidate is already working on a mystery involving corn. I just finished Fox Tracks, the eighth in the Sister Jane foxhunting series.
FJ: Of all your books, and you have been fabulously prolific, my very favorite characters were found in Six of One, where you had the fabulous Hunsenmeir sisters, Weezie and Juts, and the flashbacks to their ancestor, the audacious Celeste Chalfont. I always wanted to see this made into a film. It’s not too late, how about it?
RMB: A writer has little ability to get any work made into film. That’s up to an intrepid producer. Of course, I think the Hunsenmeir sisters would be great fun on the screen.
FJ: Readers love the Sister Jane Foxhunting mysteries. And we know you love the sport of American Fox Hunting. Can you tell your readers a little bit about your experience with the Hunt and how you’ve integrated the sport in your writing?
RMB: With the exception of studying at New York University and then working in L.A., I have hunted all my life. I can’t imagine life without foxhunting and it grieves me that it is so misunderstood. We don’t kill foxes, but we sure do chase them until they get tired of us. The Sister Jane series celebrates this sport as well as a wise, tough 71 year old woman surrounded by all manner of people, hounds, and horses.
FJ: As a writer, your book Starting from Scratch was very important to me. What advice do you have for today’s writers in this changing world of publishing?
RMB: The advice I give to anyone who is truly serious about writing for a lifetime—not just a book or two—is learn Latin. It is the basis of our culture as well as 60% of our language. Would you become a surgeon without learning to use every tool on the tray?
As far as the changing world of publishing, you can’t expect your publisher to understand and truly utilize the various media platforms. They are behind the eight ball. Best you figure it out yourself. For all the excitement about self-publishing, and the few breakthrough novels, one needs an established publisher to sell in bookstores. It’s a bit like Coca-Cola. They get the shelf space, and the start up drink company does not. The other thing to remember is that people will always read books. Will they also read Kindle, etc.? Sure. Why not? You can do both.
FJ: Your first novel, Rubyfruit Jungle, was groundbreaking in 1973 and an iconic treasure for the lesbian community. A lot of us also remember your activism with the feminist movement in the days of the Lavender Menace, when the women’s movement feared collaboration with lesbians. I’m sure you are as amazed as I am with the positive changes we have seen since then. Can you reflect a bit for us on your feelings about how we got here and where we are going?
RMB: The people who have benefited most from the feminist movement and the gay movements are the white, middle classes. I was and remain out of step with that outlook. I celebrate their victories, but my concern is what it always has been: food, clothing, shelter, jobs. I am very basic, but then again, I’m a farmer.
FJ: Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with us. I know we all look forward to seeing you at Browseabout.