BookLife Talks with Steven C. Brandt
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'A Woman's Prerogative'
Brandt, a former executive and Stanford Graduate School of Business professor, strikes gold with a romantic thriller about a young woman in upper management
Tell us a little about A Woman's Prerogative. What inspired you to write it?My goal was to write a down-to-earth, heart-thumping thriller featuring regular people. My characters attempt to find a long-lost gold mine in order to save protagonist Greta Sadler's family's 90-year-old corporation from bankruptcy. Family conflicts and an Old West–style, good-old-boy network come into play. The story takes place in the present but has deep historical roots.
How do you see Greta's and Alex's struggles as reflective of young couples' experiences today?
The high-octane graduate students I had at Stanford inspired the characters of Greta and Alex. They have each earned their way into the upper echelons of their work and grapple with its challenges. The trade-off of work versus family, the competitive ambitions that can drive couples toward rivalry, and the abundance of opportunities to encounter equally successful, and often attractive, individuals all figure in their story.
A Woman's Prerogative is a wide-ranging novel that touches on love, business, family, gender, and gold mining. How does it relate to or depart from the themes you explored in your poetry collection, The Golden Window?
In the two years before my wife died, I wrote more than 250 poems that were drains for my grief. Poetry mellowed me and taught me more about love, ambition, and stress. I passed some of that wisdom on to my novel's characters in a much more deliberate creation.
To what extent did you draw from real life in writing A Woman's Prerogative? What responsibility do you feel to reimagine or change characters based on real people?The book is based in reality, that is, in experiences from my life, people I know, and actual historical figures and events. My characters change in words and deeds as the story unfolds. Ultimately, they—not this writer—call the shots.
Why or how do you think this book is particularly relevant in the Lean In and #MeToo eras?
A Woman's Prerogative vigorously supports the rise of women in management positions. Regarding the romantic side of the story, as Zsa Zsa Gabor said, "I know nothing about sex, because I was always married."
Since we're on the theme of life balance, what about yours? How do you structure your day?
Generally I write four hours a day, in the morning. Then I give attention to family, friends, colleagues, and environmental matters in which I am involved at Tahoe and the San Juan Islands in Washington State. I aim to walk a mile a day. Normally, I try to get away for a week each month, far from crowds of any kind, such as those everywhere in the Bay Area these days. Silence is hard to see but essential for thought.
What is the one thing you most want to tell readers, other writers, booksellers, publishers, or agents about you or your book?
Books do help change the world. Writing is a productive skill that is especially important as millions of people are disenfranchised by many forms of technology that help corporations and institutions to reach, influence, and control individuals. Maybe more women in positions of leadership can tame the trend. I think Greta may try to someday. It's her prerogative.