Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Interview with author Barbara Brink
Today my guest is author, Barbara Brink, who is here to talk about her novel, Entangled. As a special gift, Barbara is giving away a coupon for a free copy of her book. If you leave a comment, one name will be selected. Be sure I have a way to contact you, and I will send you the coupon code.
1) Tell me a little about your book.
What if you inherited a California winery, fully equip with a house, vineyards, and a sexy blonde lawyer, and not only does it reawaken your worst childhood memories and give you recurring nightmares, but your mother decides you need her and moves in with you indefinitely?
Entangled is told in the voice of Billie Fredrickson, a twenty-eight-year-old cynical divorce attorney from Minneapolis who inherits a California winery and must decide whether to stay and run it as her uncle wished, or sell out and return home. Billie has every intention to cut and run, but soon after her arrival, long dormant memories begin to surface. When childhood nightmares also return full-force, she knows she can't leave until she finds answers to the questions now plaguing her. In her search for the truth, Billie unintentionally lays bare painful secrets in her mother’s past as well.
Along the way, Billie’s love of winemaking is awakened, as is an attraction to her uncle's attorney. But before she can pursue these options, she must learn to see past hurt and regret to hope of the future, like a good wine that stands the test of time.
Great wine evokes a sense of place, a connection to our heritage, much as a good story. Billie's story is about finding that connection, that sense of belonging.
2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
I was out in Washington State visiting relatives and couldn't believe the number of wineries and vineyards that had popped up across the countryside. I'd read a number of articles about how popular wine tasting rooms had become in numerous states and wondered what it would be like to own and run a place like that. I also wanted to deal with repressed memories. I spent much of my childhood in Washington, but my memories are mere fragments. Not that they're repressed--just poor. I found that memories were often jogged through things like the smell of apricots ripening on a tree, tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, or the sound of frogs croaking in unison down by the creek. It set my mind spinning this story.
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
When I'm engrossed in finishing a novel, I tend to work full days, but if I'm still at the "floundering for inspiration stage" or the research stage, I am easily distracted. Laundry, unwashed dishes, or my dogs sad faces begging for a walk, have been known to take my attention away from the task at hand. I try to write in the morning or early afternoon hours when no one else is around. With the house to myself, I am usually more focused on my characters and story.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I've always loved writing. I made up stories and wrote them down in notebooks when I was a child. But I don't think I seriously began to pursue the dream of being "a writer' wholeheartedly until about eleven years ago. The stories were clamoring to get out, and I couldn't keep them tamped down any longer.
5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I played up a bit of mother/daughter tension in the story, but the theme throughout is that even though family ties may bind at times and we strain to be free, they're also our lifelines when storms come our way.
Other than that, I hope they laugh and cry and nearly wet their pants, but I'll be happy if they enjoy the story, tell their friends, and look for my next book to come out.
6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
My short stories are in many different genres, but my novels tend to lean more toward suspense or at least have a secondary thread of suspense running through them. I tried different genres on for size when I first started seriously writing, but found that just as "you are what you eat," I am "what I read the most of. " Most of my favorite authors write suspense.
7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
The toughest part for me is the business end of writing. Writing a novel is easy compared to researching agents or publishing houses and writing personal query letters. And then there is the waiting to hear back. Sometimes I feel like my life is in a holding pattern after I've finished a novel. I have to force myself to get those queries out and begin a new project. Because sitting and waiting isn't very lucrative or productive.
8) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
The only trait I think Billie Fredrickson and I share is our use of sarcasm. She is a little distrustful of people, has a complicated relationship with her mother, and has skills in self-defense. I'm the opposite of that.
9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I happily visited a winery or two--just to get the feel for such a place of course. I also had a critique partner who kindly handed over a pile of research she'd done on wineries while living in California. For other aspects of the story I visited the local library.
10) What about your book makes it special?
Entangled has something for everyone: a mystery to be solved, a budding romance, and mother/daughter relationship problems, all set in sunny California. If that's not enough--my daughter, a Graphic Design major, designed the book cover. Isn't it awesome?
11) What is your marketing plan?
I'm working on a blog tour, and am always happy when someone agrees to review or spotlight my novel on their blog--such as today. Entangled will soon be available through Amazon, Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo (Borders), and Diesel ebook Store. And of course you can purchase it now through Smashwords.
12) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
Please visit my webpage: http://www.barbaraellenbrink.com to read some of my short stories. You can also connect with me at my blog: http://barbarasthinline.blogspot.com where I write about things I find funny in the news or everyday life.
13) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
My suspense story ideas have often come from the strangest places: blurbs in the newspaper, medical mystery segments on Good Morning America, or conversations overheard in a restaurant. Keep your eyes and ears open, your imagination set to overdrive, and that niggling question always in the back of your mind--What if?
Barbara, thank you for being my guest today and giving me a glimpse into your writing life.
Here's a short synopsis of Entangled:
When Minneapolis attorney Billie Fredrickson learns her uncle has left her the winery she hasn’t seen since she was eight years old, it reawakens memories of a childhood mystery that has lain dormant for twenty years. But digging up her past also lays bare the skeletons of others, including her mother’s. Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure, or will she run home, where everyone is Minnesota nice?