How does a man show his love – for country, for heritage, for family – during a war that sets the three at odds? What sets in motion the necessity to choose one over the other? How will this choice change everything and everyone he loves?
Jacob Miller, a first-generation American, grew up in New Berlin, a small German immigrant town in Ohio where he endured the Great Depression, met his wife, and started a family. Though his early years were not easy, Jacob believes he is headed toward his ‘happily ever after’ until a friend is sent to an internment camp for enemy combatants, and the war lands resolutely on his doorstep.
In An Enemy Like Me, Teri M. Brown uses the backdrop of World War II to show the angst experienced by Jacob, his wife, and his four-year-old son as he leaves for and fights in a war he did not create. She explores the concepts of xenophobia, intrafamily dynamics, and the recognition that war is not won and lost by nations, but by ordinary men and women and the families who support them.
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Teri M. Brown whose book An Enemy Like Me moved and captivated me from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love historical fiction but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight, a biography of the author and an interview between me and Teri M. Brown will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Teri M. Brown!
Born in Athens, Greece as an Air Force brat, Teri M Brown came into this world with an imagination full of stories to tell. She now calls the North Carolina coast home, and the peaceful nature of the sea has been a great source of inspiration for her creativity.
Not letting 2020 get the best of her, Teri chose to go on an adventure that changed her outlook on life. She and her husband, Bruce, rode a tandem bicycle across the United States from Astoria, Oregon to Washington DC, successfully raising money for Toys for Tots. She learned she is stronger than she realized and capable of anything she sets her mind to.
Teri is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author who loves word games, reading, bumming on the beach, taking photos, singing in the shower, hunting for bargains, ballroom dancing, playing bridge, and mentoring others.
Now, how wonderful does Teri M. Brown sound?! Teri M. Brown is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of the author’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and the author and I hope that you enjoy Teri M. Brown’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Thank you for joining us today at Red Headed Book Lover! Please tell us more about yourself.
Although you are interviewing me because I am an author, I’m so many things that it is difficult for me to figure out what to tell you! Family is really important to me. I’m a mom of three daughters and a son plus three bonus daughters. Add to that spouses, grandchildren, and even two bonus great-grandchildren, and my immediate family stands at 29 people! I love celebrating holidays or simply making any day special. Basically, I’m an optimistic person hoping to get the most out of this amazing life.
That doesn’t mean that life hasn’t been difficult. It has been. I’ve lived through divorce, an emotionally abusive spouse, deep financial issues, the loss of my dad to Leukemia, and now, after finally finding the right man, my husband, Bruce, has been diagnosed with brain cancer. But, through it all, I have always believed that some good will come out of it all.
Although I wanted to be a writer since childhood, it was not on my radar for years. When I went to college, my parents insisted I go to “become” something, and a writer was not something because one couldn’t make a living at it! Then children. Then a bad marriage. However, when I left that marriage in 2017, words started tumbling out of me, and I wrote my first manuscript. By the time I met and married Bruce, I had 5 manuscripts but was afraid to let them be seen by anyone.
However, a 3102-mile tandem bicycle trip from the coast of Oregon to Washington DC solved that. The ride was my adventure of a lifetime. In addition to raising money for Toys for Tots, I healed my heart and learned that I was capable of anything I set my mind to. When we got home, I got my first book, Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, to a publisher. It came out in January 2022 and now? Now, my second novel, An Enemy Like Me, is launching.
Could you please tell us readers about An Enemy Like Me and what inspired you to write it?
An Enemy Like Me is a dual-timeline historical fiction set during WWII. It follows the life of a first-generation German American man who ends up fighting as an American soldier in Germany. The story is seen through his eyes, as well as his wife and the four-year-old son he left behind, as well as through the son’s eyes as an adult looking back.
The idea was inspired by something my grandfather once told me. My family has German heritage, and my grandfather fought in WWII in Germany. Despite over 200 years on American soil, fighting there haunted him. He once told me that he often wondered if the person on the other side of his gun was a distant cousin. I’ve kept that thought with me for over 40 years and used that angst as the starting point for An Enemy Like Me.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
I have four things I suggest to anyone who wants to write. The first is to actually start writing. Don’t wait for a class or a degree or a writing group. Just start writing. You will never become a better writer by thinking about it.
Then, once you have something you think has some merit, get someone you trust to read it. Ask their opinion and then listen to what they have to say. You will never become a better writer by doing the same things over and over again.
The third thing I suggest sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but I’m not. This advice is to not listen to everyone. Although it is important to listen to suggestions, not every suggestion is right for you, your writing style, and what you are trying to accomplish. There are many different ways to write a book and many types of readers. So, listen to what others say and give it a try, but if it doesn’t work for you, then set it aside and move on.
Finally, remember that being an author requires a person to do more than write. Once the book is written, it will be primarily up to you to promote it. I highly recommend getting well-versed in marketing long before your first book is ready to launch.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
In my opinion, it is character. I love reading and writing character-driven fiction. I believe that if a character is strong enough, readers will follow them anywhere, in any setting, through any series of events. My website tagline says that I introduce readers to characters they’d love to invite to lunch. If a reader walks away with a new friend, then I’ve done my job as a writer.
What is your writing process like?
I’m always embarrassed to answer this question because my process isn’t glamorous. In fact, I use words like pantster, vomit, and binge to describe it! Let me explain.
Because I do not write an outline, many people refer to me as a pantster. In other words, I write by the seat of my pants. I actually write what I hear my characters whisper to me as quickly as I can get it down. I call this portion word vomit because I don’t worry about wordsmithing. Once I finally get the story out of my head, I have a lot of editing to do. Finally, I do not write every day. Sometimes, I don’t even write once a week. Instead, I write in large blocks of time that I call binge-writing. The first draft of An Enemy Like Me, for instance, was written in two weeks while I was at a writer’s retreat.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
One of my passions is researching. My kids call me Google Mom. I call myself a #researchjunkie. I think that’s why historical fiction is such a good fit for me.
The type of research I do depends on the book I’m writing, but often includes general encyclopedia-ish articles to familiarize me with a time period. Once I feel adequately enlightened, I take some deep dives that can include both fiction and nonfiction books, movies, documentaries, personal interviews, and more.
Then, as I’m writing, I continue to do research to make sure that I what I am writing makes sense for the era. I’ll look up words and phrases to determine when they came into use, products to determine when they were invented, clothing styles, and more. In An Enemy Like Me, I learned that a small town in Ohio, New Berlin, changed its name to North Canton after WWI to avoid sounding so German. I also learned that many German-Americans changed their last names for the same reason.
My goal for research is to make my historical fiction as accurate as possible. My characters are fictional, but the historical events going on around them actually happened. I don’t take artistic license with the facts.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
I’m very much an inspired writer. However, I love to go on writer’s retreats, which, obviously, must be scheduled. There is something about a writer’s retreat, though, that gets my creative juices flowing. I usually start getting ideas while driving to the retreat and can hardly get my computer out before the words start to flow.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I’m an avid reader and have been since I was a child. However, I don’t have favorite authors – or even favorite genres. My favorites change based on what I read and enjoyed last. For me, it comes down to character. If a writer can make me connect with a character, I am going to like the book. Some recent favorites include A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, A Life Unraveled by Jill Hannah Anderson, and The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
Sunflowers Beneath the Snow is my debut novel, and An Enemy Like Me is my second. My goal is to write at least one novel per year.
I’m currently working on a book about an NC mountain healer woman in the 1890s. I’m bringing in Appalachian traditions and folklore as well as Cherokee traditions and am excited about where this book is going.
In addition to historical fiction, I also have ideas for a children’s book about trains, a romantic comedy about a woman going through menopause, an inspirational book about our tandem bicycle adventure (you can read the blog I kept every day while on trip at doublebuttedadventures.wordpress.com), and a YA dystopian novel.
The best way to keep up with what I’m doing is to sign up for my newsletter. I send out two emails per month. One recommends a book I’ve recently read. The other is book news. Readers can also follow me on social media – I’m on just about everything!
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Teri M. Brown! If you have liked what you have read about the author and are interested in learning more, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,