Meet Honey Brown

On Monday night, we held another fantastic online event at which we meet the lovely Honey Brown. Honey joined us on Facebook, where we were able to find out a little more about how she put her latest novel ‘Dark Horse’ together to create such a suspenseful read.

In case you weren’t able to tune in on the night, here’s a transcript of our chat with Honey…

TBYL: Okay, first up then… Dark Horse spooked me silly! Do you like scaring your readers?

Honey BrownHoney: Believe it or not, I’m hopeless at reading scary books or watching scary movies. I don’t think I do like scaring readers, all I’m trying to do is get to the raw emotional truth of my characters, and to do that I have to put them in tense or problematic situations.

TBYL: Wow, I’m surprised. What do think it is in Dark Horse then that people find the most suspenseful?

Honey: I hope it’s that they can relate. I try and make my characters real. I’m hoping they’re thinking of themselves in that situation.

TBYL:  I know I certainly could, perhaps maybe due to the mountain setting. It reminded me of a lot of places I’ve visited in the past.

Honey: I’m happy to hear that. Describing places and settings isn’t always easy. If I’ve painted the picture, I’ve done my job.

TBYL Reader, Tracey: I actually couldn’t relate at all but that made me unable to put it down as I didn’t know what I would do and I needed to find out what would happen…..

Honey: Hi Tracey, that’s wonderful to hear too. If I can take someone somewhere new, what a thrill.

TBYL Reader, Carissa: It worked well here, I was definitely spooked! I have to ask though, do you spook yourself as you write these storylines?

Honey: Hi Carissa, I’m never spooked. Sometimes I find myself frowning very hard as I type though…and I feel quite stressed.

TBYL: I absolutely loved the mountain setting of Dark Horse… Where did you get your inspiration for this misty backdrop?

Honey: I used to do a lot of bushwalking in the Strzelecki Ranges in Gippsland, and just in general I’ve always walked into the wilderness around the places I’ve lived – the Tasmanian wilderness as well. It goes without saying that those places inspire.

TBYL: Where abouts in Tasmania? I grew up in Tas myself…

Honey: Campbell Town. Right in the middle.

TBYL: That’s fantastic Honey, that was always our rest stop when we did road trips from the North West Coast to Hobart.

Honey: My middle novel The Good Daughter is sort of set in Campbell Town, inspired from my high school years there.

TBYL: Wonderful, I’ll have to check it out! Now, I knew something was up, but I didn’t see the ending coming. How do you go about building a twist like that?

Honey: It takes some careful writing and some backtracking. I did plan the twist all along, but the details of it unfolded as I wrote. Enjoyment for me comes from not knowing what’s going to happen until I write it; it’s exciting and fun to sit down at the keyboard. I never know how good or bad my characters are going to be until right up to the moment they’re doing their best, or worst, on the page.

TBYL: Given that then, did you end up liking Sarah and/or Heath in the end?

Honey: It could take me hours to answer this, because I re-wrote the two characters quite a bit. I had them badder, nastier, and then tried them milder. Your toes might curl at some of the old drafts… but I like who they ended up. Both more realistic. Although – it was fun writing Sarah truly kick-ass!

TBYL: That’s really interesting, because I loved the subtlety of their characters… kept me guessing to the very end. Would I be right in thinking this was deliberate?

Honey: Yes. Sometimes I feel like I have to overwrite in the beginning, because I’m getting to know these characters too, and then I trim it back where I have to, to make it subtle and real.

TBYL Reader, Carissa: I especially liked the way you wrote about Heath through Sarahs eyes – he ended up being everything but nothing of how she “saw” him throughout the book! That for me, added to the big twist at the end!

Honey: Thanks Carissa, I like sticking to one character to tell a story, it feels realistic to me – in life we do only get to see one view of things as it unfolds.

TBYL: Have you ever tried to do the ‘double narrative’ thing in any of your work, or do you stick to one main character?

Honey: I do it in “The Good Daughter”. Maybe I should do it again soon.

TBYL Reader, Kathy: I liked how you managed to have the shifts happen in Sarah and her ability to self doubt so you never knew where she was really at – I think we can do that in stressful situations… I found it propelled me forward though out the book….

Honey: There’s something about linear and clean storytelling that I love.

At this point I opened the wall for questions… 

TBYL Reader, Maryanne: What do you like to read and what are you reading now?

Honey: I’m writing at the moment, so I’m not reading much by the manuscript over and over…and over

TBYL Reader, Kathy: There was one part of the book that was a little confusing to me…. The stag. Was he more significant than giving Sarah the desire to push on or am I reading way more into it than necessary?

Honey: Kathy, the stag was significant just in the way you say… you read into it perfectly.

dark horseTBYL Reader, Linda: I particularly loved the rounding off at the end, a hint of the courtroom, the institution setting, it displayed such a range, suddenly we are out of the bush and are getting to know the characters personalities and if we can feel safe with them; this is when I found it distressing to have so few pages left, no, no I want more now! Exciting that you can cover so many areas and it be so real – the unravelling was my favorite!

Honey: Hi Linda, thank you, beautiful praise. Smiling here.

TBYL: Were you tempted to cover more of the ‘after’ Honey?

Honey: Not really, I’d struggled with the ending, and I think I was happy to sign off. Too much longer with the characters and I would have wanted to leave up the damn mountain forever! Can you understand that? I love them now of course, but I’d had enough at the time.

TBYL: I can understand that completely, and I think perhaps if you’d spent too much time down from the mountain it might have lost a little of its magic?

Honey: Yes, I liked that it was a condensed period of time, and then we leave them again.

TBYL: I was wondering which of your earlier novels you’d recommend that I read next?

Honey: All my novels I like for different reasons. If you like a bush setting and some sexy isolated cabin action, try Red Queen. If you feel like a few more chills, try After The Darkness. The Good Daughter is the most critically acclaimed, longlisted for the Miles Franklin, set in a small town, gritty and tense.

TBYL: Oh no, I still can’t decide!

Honey: :)

TBYL: One last question, one that I always have to ask… what’s next from the desk of Honey Brown?

Honey: My next novel is due out next year. I’m finishing it now. It’s set in the city for a change. Maybe the best way to describe it would be to ask you the question I asked myself – What if you didn’t know you were an abducted child? The book is my way of exploring that situation, wondering about the dangers and complexities, the emotional toll, and the trap it might pose.


If you’d like to find out more about the novel Dark Horse, you can read my earlier review here…