Today, my guest is multi-talented author, Barbara Brink. Be sure to check the end of the interview as Barbara is offering a contest for a free copy of her book!
Please tell us about yourself?
Hello, I’m happy to be here at One Writer’s Journey. Thanks for hosting me, Penny.
I’m a writer, wife, mother, and dog owner. My writing journey has taken me from publishing short stories and articles to writing and publishing novels. I’ve written in many genres, including western romance, Christian fiction, and time travel, but most of those will never see the light of day. Although I still stretch and write in other genres at times, I think my love of reading suspense has bloomed into a love of writing suspense. I love to read mystery/suspense with everyday people solving crimes, and thrillers with evil serial killers that inevitably get payback in the end.
I have a large collection of books, and I purchased an ereader with the mistaken notion that it would negate my need for another bookcase. I now have hundreds of eBooks on virtual shelves and yet have managed to overload my actual wooden bookshelves as well.
My husband and I love taking weekend trips on our motorcycles during the summer months, and going hiking with our dogs. I also enjoy gardening, watching movies, and of course reading lots of books.
Tell us your latest news?
I’m excited to announce that the second book in my Fredrickson Winery Novel series is out! “Crushed” was published at the end of March and is available in paperback and eBook formats.
“Crushed” continues the story of Billie Fredrickson and Handel Parker that began in “Entangled,” but in this volume the story focuses on their siblings.
Here is a brief synopsis:
Creating the perfect wine can sometimes be murder…
When Adam Fredrickson shows up at his sister’s California winery, footloose and carefree, looking for a chance to play his music, he doesn’t expect to find the winery struggling financially, or that the girl next door might just be the girl of his dreams.
Margaret Parker, a single mom, newly hired as chief winemaker at Fredrickson’s, finds her simple world put to the test when her father is unexpectedly released from prison, and the man who got her pregnant at fifteen, shows up from Italy wanting to play daddy nine years too late.
It’s crush time at Fredrickson Winery and everyone is working feverously to get the grapes in and ensure a great harvest. No one expects murder to be part of the joyous harvest season.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been making up stories since I could write in full sentences. Writing was really the only subject I truly enjoyed in school. Anytime a teacher would say we had to read a book and write a report or make up a story and read it aloud, my ears perked up. I didn’t enjoy getting up in front of the class, but I loved the writing part!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t consider myself a writer until about twelve years ago. When I held in my hands the 600 double-spaced page printout of my first completed novel, I knew I was a writer and I couldn’t stop.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I always knew I wanted to write a book and I started many stories over the years, scribbling away in notebooks, but never finished one. Mostly because life intruded on my free time. Once my kids were teens, I had no more excuses. There was a story in my head that just wouldn’t go away. I literally dreamed scenes for it. So I sat down and started typing on an old portable typewriter we owned. My husband realized that I was actually serious this time and bought me a computer. I finished that novel and went on to write many others. Most of them have never been published, but all the experience and practice helped hone my writing and find my writer’s voice.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The message would definitely be about family ties. We often take family for granted. Sometimes they seem too close for comfort. Parents can be domineering, siblings can be nosy and bossy, but…when hard times come and you have nowhere to turn, or especially when you have something to celebrate….family is always there. They are the ones you turn to. The ones you can rely on. The ones you feel safe to cry with or rejoice with.
What books have influenced your life most?
The books I remember most clearly from early childhood would be “The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet,” “The Borrowers,” and “Moccasin Trail.” So I guess I’ve been influenced to write suspense by small boys building a spaceship to save an unknown planet from extinction with the eggs of a chicken, tiny people living in the walls of big people’s houses - surviving off scraps they salvage or borrow, and the story of a teenage boy who after living with Crow Indians for six years, returns to help his white family journey west while struggling with distrust and culture shock as they learn to accept one another again. And from that I apparently came up with quirky characters running a California winery.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’ve read so many great authors over the years that I don’t really know how to answer this. But as an impressionable young teenager, I read dozens of mysteries by Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, etc. Then when I was about seventeen, I found Mary Higgins Clark and read every one of her books as she put them out. So, I’m sure that all of these writers had a large influence on my writing even though I was not writing novels at the time I read most of them. If I had to choose just one, I think I would choose Mary Higgins Clark. Mostly because she writes contemporary mysteries, and although I love historical fiction, I have not tried my hand at that yet.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I just finished reading “A Nail Through the Heart” by Timothy Hallinan and “The Pawn” by Steven James. I’d never read either authors before, but I would definitely pick up another one of their books. They were both terrific writers with great thriller/suspense stories.
What are your current projects?
Besides promoting “Crushed” and “Entangled,” I am currently working on another novel. This is something different than I’ve written before. It involves the age-old struggle between good and evil, but I want to take that back to what it once was, when evil was truly evil and not a confused, gothic-obsessed teenager driven by a hidden dark side. I grew up watching monster movies, and reading scary books. I read Dracula when I was fourteen and absolutely loved it! I think we need to get back to definite lines of right and wrong. I’m planning on bringing the bad back to evil. There are just too many sparkly, kind, soulless creatures these days, driven by bloodlust and the angst of unrequited love. Monsters should be monsters. Heroes should be heroes. Black and white and good and bad shall ne’r become a dingy grey of indecision in my new book. You can count on that!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The research for The Fredrickson Winery series was very challenging. I immersed myself in the world of winemaking, watched videos, visited wineries, read books, articles and websites . I needed to learn about growing grapes, the different varietals grown in different regions, the wine making process, the people employed at a winery/vineyard and the jobs they perform. All of that research was interesting, but a little intimidating. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes somewhere along the line, as I am in no way an expert in this field, but I did my best and I hope you will enjoy the fruit of my labor.
Do you ever have problems with writers block? If so how do you get through it?
Writer’s block is something that comes at some point to every writer. If I have a deadline, I force myself to stay at the computer and write. A trick I’ve learned is to work on something else for a short time and then come back to the book. When I was writing “Crushed” I would take breaks, go downstairs and work on a puzzle for a few minutes. I would fill in a few holes, and then return to work on my story. It gave me a break from consciously thinking about the story, but I would often come up with some great lines after returning to the computer. I finished the book about the same time I finished my 1500 piece puzzle. So it all worked out.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about his or her work?
I can’t tell you who my favorite author is because it changes yearly. I find new favorite authors all the time. I guess I’m just fickle. I recently finished the first four books in Sibella Giorello’s Raleigh Harmon Series and I would say she is right up there at the top of the list. She is an awesome writer and you should check out her books. She is able to infuse her stories with heart-rending elements, suspense, and humor at all the right places, while using beautiful prose and description.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I always advise other writers to stick to it. Keep writing. It takes years to learn and hone your craft. Perseverance is the most important thing in a writer’s life. Just write.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
To those who have already read “Entangled,” I would like to say thank you. Thanks for taking a chance on a new writer. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews and comments you’ve sent me. I certainly hope you will pick up “Crushed” and be just as excited about Margaret and Adam’s story. I think you’ll love the romantic undertones and you’ll definitely be pulled in by the suspense in this one.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
I am an Indie author, self-published at this time. I published my ebooks through Smashwords and Amazon and my paperbacks through Createspace. The ebooks are available at most online stores. Paperbacks are available at Amazon, Createspace, and Barnes & Noble.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.
Facebook Novelist page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Barbara-Ellen-Brink-Novelist/145508512158754
Smashwords Author page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/barbaraellenbrink
His voice, familiar as silk on skin, sent shockwaves through Margaret. The thick Italian accent she once swooned over was now polished to an aristocratic smoothness. She dropped the spatula she was flipping pancakes with, and turned to stare at the tiny television on the counter behind her.
“Of course Minor Hurricane is a long shot, but I have brought him to America to run and he shall certainly do so.” Agosto Salvatore smoothed his tie and smiled at the camera with an impressive set of bleached teeth. He would make a perfect model for Esquire. He continued, “And I have no doubt he will rise to the occasion and surprise his competition.”
The reporter appeared completely dazzled as though Europeans in Armani suits were worth much more than a dime a dozen. She asked, “Aside from the business of racing, do you have plans for a holiday during your stay in California?” Her expression said what her words did not, that she’d be more than happy to fit in with them.
He shrugged; one side of his mouth lifted. “Perhaps, but first I plan to visit my son.”
Margaret gasped and stared numbly as the picture flashed to the racehorse in question, Minor Hurricane, being exercised by a groom.
“Thank you, Mr. Salvatore,” the reporter’s voice-over concluded. “And good luck to Minor Hurricane on Saturday. This is Jane Goodall with channel five news at the Golden Gate racetrack.”
“Your pancakes are burning,” Handel said as he strolled into the kitchen and set his briefcase on the floor by the door.
Margaret continued staring at the television screen.
“I didn’t know toothpaste commercials could be so mesmerizing.”
“You promised me I would never have to see him again.” Her voice was soft, an undercurrent of hysteria running through it. “That Davy would never have to know him.” She looked up and held her brother’s gaze. Her lips trembled as she tried to gain control of her emotions. “Now what?”
“Now what?” Agosto folded his arms over the top of the fence and watched Minor Hurricane prance in a tight circle, defying the rider’s instructions. The Jockey used his crop to get the horse’s attention and Minor reared up in anger. Agosto frowned, and cursed under his breath. “What are you doing, Giuseppe? If you can’t control him now, how in hell are you going to ride him to victory in the race on Saturday?” He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned from the fence.
One of the young men who worked in the stables stood there in filthy boots, a leather grooming-apron covered jeans and a t-shirt. “A guy wants to talk to you, Mr. Salvatore. He’s waiting over there.” The teenager pointed past the buildings to the parking lot in the distance where a man stood with arms crossed, leaning against a red Porsche.
“Another reporter?” Agosto frowned in annoyance. He turned back to the fence in time to see his prize horse throw Giuseppe from the saddle. The jockey grabbed the reins before the stallion could run off. Agosto snorted his derision as the jockey was nearly knocked to the ground again. He glanced back. The boy was still waiting. “Tell him I don’t want to give anymore interviews. Ms. Goodall was exclusive,” he said, and smiled remembering just how exclusive.
The boy shook his head and held out a business card. “He’s not a reporter. He’s a lawyer. He said to give you this.”
Agosto took the card, read the words, and glanced quickly toward the parking lot. “Tell him I’ll be there in a moment.”
The boy ran off and Agosto released a breath. He reached inside his suit coat for the silver cigarette case he normally kept there, but realized he’d left it in the hotel room earlier. “Damn.” He patted his other pockets. None.
“Take Minor back to the stable and have him rubbed down,” he ordered the jockey who had finally gotten the horse under control. He watched the pair canter down the track before he straightened his tie, slowly turned, and strolled toward his visitor.
The tall, blonde man took a step forward as Agosto approached, his gaze bold and direct even in the bright afternoon sun. Agosto saw a bit of Margaret in her brother’s features, though broader in stroke. The familiar curve of the brow, wide mouth, and slanting eyes appeared rather ominous on Handel Parker, like an angry wolverine ready to pounce.
“Ciao, Handel! I’m surprised to see you here at the track. I didn’t think you went in for racing or games of chance.” Agosto held out his hand but Handel ignored it, the firm set of his lips and iciness of his gaze fair warning that this was far from a friendly visit to an old acquaintance.
“Why are you here, Salvatore?” Handel’s question, blunt and to the point, put an end to formalities.
“I’ve come to see my son.” He smoothed his hair with one hand, a nervous gesture that he stopped abruptly as he realized what he was doing. He hated feeling small and insecure, and Handel had always made him feel so. Margaret’s brother, responsible, athletic, intelligent, and damn tall, was a thorn in his flesh. He would have to be taken out of the way before Margaret would listen to reason. “A boy needs his father to teach him to be a man.” He waved an arm toward the track. “I can show him another world. He should know where he came from, what he’s missing. My son should not have to live as though he has nothing when I can give him everything.”
Handel leaned on one hip, his arms casually crossed over his chest. He let out a short, mirthless laugh and shook his head. “How do you expect to teach something you’ve never learned yourself?”
Agosto felt the sting of the words but held his tongue. There would be time enough for getting even. He sighed expressively and spread his hands in supplication. “I had hoped we could come to some sort of agreement for the boy’s sake, but if you intend to fight me on this…” He let the unspoken challenge hang between them.
Handel straightened to his full height, pulled a pair of sunglasses out of his front pocket, slowly slipped them on. Precise movements of extreme control. “There’s nothing to fight about. You have absolutely no connection to the boy. His birth certificate does not bear your name. You are nothing to him, and nothing to Margaret. You severed any ties you might have had when you ran off to Italy ten years ago, abandoning my sixteen-year-old sister as though she were nothing more than a rich boy’s broken toy. If it weren’t for my friendship with your cousin, you wouldn’t be standing here today.” Handel turned and opened the door of his car, revealing black leather interior and a rich wood console. He slid into the seat and twisted the key in the ignition. The engine roared to life. “Do yourself a favor and stay away from the Parker family.” He slammed the door and hit the gas. The car’s tires spun around on the concrete. A cloud of smoke lifted at his departure, and floated on the breeze toward the stables.
Agosto stared after the car for long seconds, his teeth clenched, his hands balled into fists at his sides. No one talked to him like that and got away with it. He glanced toward the paddock and saw the young groomer watching. He turned and strode across the parking lot toward his car, angry heat rising from his collar. Stay away from his own son? Handel Parker’s ultimatum was a lot of hot air.
Agosto needed the boy. It was the only thing that would satisfy his father, who seemed to be in an all-out campaign to pressure him into producing an heir. His father had been pushing him toward marriage and a son as though the pope himself had ordained it. But his riding accident three years ago had caused more damage than anyone else knew. He would gladly appease the old man if that’s what it took to have him relinquish control of the company, but an operation to reverse the damage proved fruitless; the doctors said there was nothing they could do. The son he conceived with Margaret Fredrickson was the only heir he would ever have. Nothing and no one could keep him from his own flesh and blood. The boy was his. Papers or no papers.
Perhaps he needed to go at this a little differently though. He let himself into the back of the limousine. Margaret was the key. She’d been head over heels for him ten years ago. She would be again.
The driver, dozing at the wheel, abruptly woke at the slamming of the door. He straightened and waited for instructions.
“Take me to the hotel,” Agosto demanded and reached for a cigarette. He lit it and leaned back against the plush upholstery, inhaling deeply. After his nerves calmed, his thoughts were clear. Yes. Seducing Margaret again would not be hard. She was a lovely girl, most likely a beautiful woman. He stared out the window, but instead of scenery, sweet memories filled his vision…
Long blonde hair fell over his chest as they made love. The twin bed in her room creaked with their combined weight. Margaret smiled, leaned down, her breasts grazing his skin as she whispered the Italian words he taught her, words she is afraid to say too loud for fear someone will hear, words of lust and need. Later, she was pale and fragile beneath his hands when he moved above her, touching, caressing, teaching…
Agosto crushed his cigarette in the ashtray remembering Handel’s sudden return from the winery that day. The interruption had been most unfortunate. He’d wanted Margaret to crave his touch like an addict, to scream for more until he was through with her. Perhaps this time he would have the chance to make her beg.
I’m giving away a free signed copy of “Crushed.” Just leave a comment with your email address(at)blah(dot)come and you will be entered to win. Follow me on twitter or (Like) my facebook page and you will have two more chances to win. Just leave a comment telling me what you did. Good luck and happy reading!
I can only mail to the United States or Canada, but if anyone outside of that area would like to be included, I can give them a free ebook download instead.
I can only mail to the United States or Canada, but if anyone outside of that area would like to be included, I can give them a free ebook download instead.