Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/04/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Sandra Brown

A HEART TO HEART

SANDRA BROWN LIKES TO DO HER homework face-to-face. To prep for Slow Heat in Heaven, published in 1988, she traveled from her suburban home near Dallas to Davy Crockett National Forest in southeast Texas lo watch loggers fell trees at dawn. For her recent paperback best-seller, Where There's Smoke, she longed to find a "maverick pilot who could fly drunk, sober or with one eye closed." With the help of a friend, she found the perfect candidate—a convicted former drug runner—at a tiny Arlington, Texas, airfield. "He was full of details, everything I needed," she says.

Brown's latest novel, Charade, was inspired by a 1992 Donahue show that paired donor families with heart recipients. "I kept thinking, 'Suppose you could recognize someone you hated if their heart was beating in someone else's body?' " she says. With that premise. Brown, 46, went trawling for a transplantee who fit her hero. A surgeon put her in touch with a local woman in her mid-30s who had had a new heart for four years. "She was so life-affirming and candid," says Brown. "She never wanted to be deferred to in any way because of her condition. I gave my character, Cat, that same characteristic."

So how does Brown, married to a video producer and the mother of two, occupy herself between books? "Oh," says the writer, "I love to move furniture around."

From Our Partners