Q&A: Alison Brodie, author of Brake Failure

Today’s guest on What Cathy Read Next is Alison Brodie, author of Brake Failure. I read Brake Failure a few months ago and really enjoyed it despite not being a ‘romcom’ fan (or so I thought). However, Alison converted me with the book’s quirky humour, breakneck pace and larger-than-life characters. Do be sure to check out my review of Brake Failure here.   In case you need tempting further, I’m delighted to say Alison has agreed to answer a few of my questions about the book and its inspiration.

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BrakeAbout the Book

‘Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?

Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is in control of her life, tightly in control until…she ends up in Kansas. Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart. Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person. Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England, but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to erupt. She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure. And he’s not thinking about her car. As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars, a bottle of Wild Turkey and a smoking gun. What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper? And why did she shoot Mr Right?

Format: ebook Publisher: Clipboard Press Pages: 340
Publication: 9th Jan 2017 Genre: Romance,Humour    

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com ǀ Amazon.ca
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme  

Find Brake Failure on Goodreads

Interview: Alison Brodie, author of Brake Failure

Alison, without giving too much away, can you tell us a little about Brake Failure?

Brake Failure is a romance set in Kansas during the months leading up to the Y2K “meltdown.” It was so easy to write because most of everything that happened in the book happened to me. I guess you could call it a memoir.

How did you go about creating the main character, Ruby?

The feisty heroine came fully formed in my mind, along with her name – Ruby. So did her nemesis, Sheriff Hank Gephart. I know I shouldn’t admit this but – the other characters I took from real life.

What made you decide on Kansas City as the location for the book?

Like me, Ruby wanted to live in Paris but ended up in Kansas City. Like me, she was devastated. ‘The City of Lovers versus the City of Leftovers’ – that’s how I initially thought of Kansas. How wrong I was!  It really is one of the most cultured places I have been to. It has more working fountains than any other city on the planet. I’m not talking about a trickle of water coming out of a spout, I am talking about huge, magnificent cascades crashing down on enormous prancing stone horses.

I live in France now – “the cuisine capital of the world” – but I have never had as juicy and tender a steak as I had in Ruth Chris’s Steak House. And the BBQs! OMG…!  Anyway … *mopping the saliva off my keyboard* … I assumed Kansas was flat; instead it rolls and undulates with hidden sandy coves and vast sparkling lakes. Shawnee Mission Lake was where Sheriff Hank Gephart caught Ruby in only a pair of silky briefs and a shrivelled bikini top. (She was wearing them, not Hank).

Did Ruby’s character change during the process of writing the book?

I didn’t transform Ruby from Miss Prim-and-Proper to Hell-Hound. She did it herself. Well, it was Hank. He brought emotions up in her she couldn’t handle. I guess she was angry at him for the power he had over her. She wanted to stay in her “safe” marriage; to be in control; but by the end of the book she totally goes off the rails. The final – and major – event in the book actually happened. (I won’t give away the plot). To prove it, I still have The Kansas City Star newspaper from 2 Jan, 2001.

How did you approach the research for the book?

I researched the history of Kansas to give some background to Brake Failure. Fascinating stuff! It was called ‘Queen of the Cow Towns’ where Wyatt Earp hung out. It was from here the early settlers trekked across America to forge new lives. I thought of all those women who set off on the Santa Fe Trail carrying babies, surrounded by young children … going into the unknown…

I certainly didn’t have to suffer deprivation like those early settlers. I had GADGETS: an icemaker in the fridge (never heard of in England at the time), a trash compactor (I loved shoving stuff down in to hear the noises it would make) and Coca Cola coming out of a tap!

What personal memories do you have of living in Kansas?

The friendliness of the people. On my second day there a couple who I’d just met invited me to their Thanksgiving Dinner and when I arrived at their home, they had their entire extended family there – and they still managed to make space for me!

So what was the Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Kansas? The Good has to be the handsome cowboy-types with the fabulous Kansas accent. The Bad was the tornado that hopped over our house and demolished the Toyota garage. And the Ugly? Well, it has to be Mr Schoettler waking me up with the cock …

?? You have to read the book.

What is your favourite and least favourite part of the writing process?

I love it when characters appear for the first time in my head. Then I start to write their story and have no idea where they will take me! I like polishing a finished book. But I don’t like having to format a book for Kindle – there is such a lot of pressure to get it perfect.

What are you working on next?

I have just finished Zenka. Zenka is a seductive Hungarian pole-dancer. When London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. With devastating consequences. Zenka is releasing on 23rd October 2017.

Thank you, Alison, for sharing with us some of the colourful facts behind Brake Failure. I’m sure those of us who enjoyed Brake Failure will be eagerly awaiting Zenka.

AlisonAbout the Author

Alison Brodie is a Scot with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. A disastrous modelling assignment in the Scottish Highlands gave Alison the idea for Face to Face which was published by Hodder and became a bestseller in the UK, Germany and Holland. Alison is now an indie author. Check out Wild Life and The Double. Alison lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley. She loves to hear from her readers.

Praise for Alison’s books:

Face to Face – “Fun to snuggle up with” (Good Housekeeping, Pick of the Paperbacks)

Brake Failure – “Masterpiece of humor” (Midwest Book Review)

The Double – “Excellent … Proof of her genius in writing fiction” (San Francisco Book Review)

Zenka (to be released 23 Oct, 2017): “Zenka is on my (very short) list for best fiction this year. If Tina Fey and Simon Pegg got together to write a dark and hilarious mobster story with a happy ending, Zenka would be the result.” (Lauren Sapala, WriteCity)

Connect with Alison

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4 thoughts on “Q&A: Alison Brodie, author of Brake Failure

  1. […] On Tuesday I published a Q&A with Scott Kauffman, author of Revenants: The Odyssey Home, a mystery novel which explores some thought-provoking themes. On Tuesday I did some more clearing out of my To-Read shelf on Goodreads courtesy of the Down the TBR Hole meme. Wednesday is WWW Wednesday, where I and other book bloggers share what we’ve been reading, are currently reading and plan to read next. I also took part in the book blitz for the historical fiction novel, New Caledonia: A Song of America by William McEarchern. And Thursday has become Throwback Thursday so I shared another review from the early days of my blog – the first in a thriller series I’ve enjoyed, Poor Boy Road by James L Weaver.  And there was another book blitz as well, for a short story collection about residents of Manhattan – Skyline by William Fowkes. On Friday I was delighted to welcome author Alison Brodie to my blog for a Q&A about all the stories behind her romantic comedy Brake Failure. […]


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