Thursday, 21 June 2012

Author Spotlight: Viviane Brentanos

It’s a real pleasure to welcome interesting author Viviane Brentanos to the reading and writing blog today. Viviane brings her own unique, inimitable style to answering the questions and I’m finding how much I agree with most of what she says! But first a little about her latest novel, Past Undone, which has been well received and provides a complex and intelligent read.

Past Undone

At nearly twenty-one, Sofie Jameson is a little tired of paying the price for her director father’s caped crusader routine. She wouldn’t mind so much. but the bodyguards he periodically hires to protect her possess as much charm and wit as a gulag guard.

Nik Lloyd is no exception. Mr. Lloyd has one simple set of rules: do as I say and don’t speak unless spoken to. Sofie wants to hate him on sight, but it’s a little difficult when every time she looks at him, her feet leave the ground and she spins on an emotional roller coaster. Hidden away together in his beautiful Greek island home, Sofie soon realizes Mr. Lloyd is an “international man of mystery,” and a man, if his housekeeper is to be believed, who is hiding dark secrets.

The housekeeper claims he is a tortured soul. The livid scar on his back convinces Sofie she may be right. Who does he cry for at night? And just who is the mysterious young girl, Bella, who turns up out of nowhere, latching on to Sofie with all the tenacity of a limpet?

Past Undone is available from MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon UK, and Amazon US

Many thanks for taking time to answer the following questions, Viviane. We all want to know more about Sofie, Nik, and Bella now!

First of all, I would like to say a huge thank you to Rosemary for inviting me to her very well-respected blog. It is always honor to guest for someone whose talent I respect.

Tell us a little about how you became a writer

So, how did I become a writer? I suppose I ought to thank Donny Osmond – oh and my English teacher from first year secondary. She was the dear, old lady who first saw something in my writing and encouraged me to keep at it. I don’t quite think she meant for me to furiously scribble down teenage angst-ridden love stories, starring Donny and myself. She certainly didn’t intend for me to pass them around the class and thus disrupt her lesson. Nope. I spent many a time hauled up in front of the headmistress. It was worth it. The response I received from my love-starved class mates was overwhelming. It made me think – hey, I am good at this.

I then dabbled over the years with many tales but it wasn’t until 2004 that I sat down, grabbed my muse by the throat and penned my first complete ms – a staggering 180k of - well, let’s just say – pretty raw stuff. I soon learned the hard way. I listened, I learned and, in 2006, my first novel was a accepted for publication. Since then, I have two single titles released with Red Rose Publishing and three with the wonderful house MuseItUp Publishing, with a further title scheduled for release later this year.

You’ve lived in different countries – does that inform what you write about?

For those who know me or have read any of my works, you will know about my on-going love affair with the beautiful island of Corfu. I first visited this Ionian gem in 1984. After three days I decided I wanted to live there forever. This is what I set about doing. To cut a long story short, I met and married my husband, had two children, endless dogs and limitless cats and I am now a bona fide Grecophile, although I am now temporarily back in the UK, sharing my time between Huntingdon and good auld Glasgae toon. Glasgow is another place I adore. It is the city of my childhood and a great place to live. I have featured a Greek island in three of my novels: Dreamweek and Fragile Dreams, two stories in which I leaned heavily on my experience as a travel representative for inspiration. My latest release, Past Undone, also uses an imaginary Greek island as a setting.

Did you have to do a lot of research for this novel?

Past Undone is a tale that came to me overnight. The theme and one of the main characters, the mysterious Bella is inspired by a popular movie and novel. I can’t reveal the title because, to do so, would perhaps give too much away. Did this story require a lot of research? I would have to say no. The setting, the travel arrangements etc, I was already so familiar with. The suspense elements, the ‘baddies’, their blinkered and ultimately violent beliefs were aspects inspired by events and situations that feature prominently in the news. I think, over the years, we have all seen how dangerous fanaticism in any religion can be. The main theme of Past Undone, however, is guilt and one man’s struggle to overcome his demons.

What is the most difficult part about starting a new book?

Oh this is a good one. What’s the most difficult part for me? It is deciding which of the many storylines swirling around my head to go with (I know the feeling!). I am often so torn and in my cerebral planning, I jump from one to the other. More often than not, inspiration comes to me in a dream or from a song I hear and then – whoosh – it all becomes clear and I make my choice.

Do you think eBooks are the future? Or do you prefer print?

Oh dear, I need to tread lightly in answering this. Yes, I believe ebooks are here to stay but print ain’t going anywhere soon. Why does everything have to be a battle? I love my kindle. I adore reading paperbacks in the bath, I love looking at a line of beautifully bound hardbacks. The only thing I hate is that people automatically think e-publishing means compromising on quality and good editing. It doesn’t. I have seen examples of shoddiness in both print and digital.

How do you promote your books and does it work?

Ah promotion – the bane of my life. Sometimes I love it, sometimes it is a huge chore – especially when life gets in the way and there are just not enough hours in the day. It is, however, a necessity. My problem is, as I am sure is the case with many authors, lack of funds. I cannot afford a publicist or a professional promotion agency. I use the resources available to me, mainly the internet and social networking. I will aggressively ask for my releases to be reviewed. I try to blog regularly but I often fail at this. After talking to so many authors, one thing is clear. No one knows the secret.

Do you have a favourite writing place?

Favourite writing place? Mmm. Dare I say at work? I am old school. I cannot write straight onto PC. I need pen and paper. I have been most fortunate in that most of my day jobs involve blocks of hours where I left alone in peace to scribble away. Oh, did I mention I can only write in summer? Winter is for transferring to PC and the editing and tweaking begins.

Do you find time for hobbies?

Excuse me while I pick myself up the floor after rolling about laughing. I barely have time to breath at the moment. I’m not sure if I even have a hobby. Does stalking Darren Hayes and Enrique Iglesias count? I wish I did have a hobby. I used to once, back in the real world. I used to show Afghan Hounds and I loved it. I miss it so much and I hope to do it again someday {check out Written in Stone for Affie inspired scenes}.

What are your current writing plans?

Plans, plans – what are those? Ah yes. Those are things that invariably never work out. I jest. My plan is for my agent to land me a trillion dollar contract for my latest saga, Spin, and then have this saga turned into a movie directed by Spielberg, starring Enrique Iglesias, Colin Firth, Helen Mirren and lots of other folk. Oh – and musical score by Hans Zimmer, theme song by Darren Hayes. Do I ask for a lot? I don’t think so. My agent doesn’t think so. He admits he signed me up because I was pushy.

Any tips for new writers?

Advice for new authors Run! Get a day job! Again, I jest but so much has been written what can I add – except stay true to your voice, believe in yourself but most of all, have a sense of humour. If you haven’t got one then find one. YOU ARE GOING TO NEED ONE!

Phew - I am done, I think. Once again, thanks, Rosemary for inviting me. Sorry. I am sure you were expecting a sensible author. What can I say? Crazy is as crazy does.

What great answers – thank you, Viviane! Not crazy at all, except in a nice way.
You can find out more about Viviane and her writing on her WEBSITE and BLOG

I was born in Reading UK in 1958. My father is English and my mother is French although there is a strong vein of Spanish on my maternal grandmother’s side. I was educated at various schools before completing Sixth Form College at St Peter's Huntingdon. I somehow managed to collect A levels in English, French and History and I subsequently won a place at Sheffield University where I decided to read Classical Civilization. Once there, however, I decided that I had had enough of the academic life; I found the student mentality rather false and having been brought up in student circles, rather boring. Much to my mother's horror, I gave up my studies and went to London to begin a course as a Canine Beautician.

In 1984, my first husband and I parted ways amicably and I decided to visit the Ionian island of Corfu to celebrate my new freedom. It proved to be a life-changing decision. I still remember to this day, sitting in a café-bar, overlooking the crystal clear azure sea and saying to my friend. "I never want to leave here." I absolutely love the life-style here. I would recommend it to anyone. I remarried and have two children. But I decided that there was more to me than being a mother and wife {although, I hasten to add, it is a worthy assignment.} I decided to finally get my head down and do what I'd always promised myself; I was going to write. I have been writing romance since my early teens, mostly for my own satisfaction and for my friends but now I really want to work at it. Writing has become my passion. I have always been a ‘Romantic’, often accused of not living in the real world but who wants to do that? I like to call my work Romance with a quirky, humorous Brit twist and I am always striving to make my characters real, characters we can all relate to. I hope you all enjoy my world.


Joanna said...

This was such an entertaining and fascinating interview. Thank you, Rosemary and Viviane.
I love the Greek islands too and visited some of them with my husband when we were first married. I'd love to go back to them. They have something special that I've never felt anywhere else.
I use to make up poetry about Merrill Osmond and create stories for my best friend that featured Donny, who was her favourite. I'd forgotten about that, but perhaps that was where my passion for writing began too!
Viviane, your book is so enticing. I really want to know what happens after reading this!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Joanna - thanks again for your support. Viviane's book is intriguing! I love the Greek islands too and have visited a few.

Viviane Brentanos said...

Thank you for your interest,Joanna. Merrill, eh? Did we perhaps meet in the front line of Osmond fans v police battle lines? Were you also perched on a precarious ledge at the Heathrow viewing terrace screaming your lungs out?


Joan Fleming said...

Interesting blogpost, Viviane and Rosemary. I'm chewing on the idea of only writing in summer - such an unusual approach, but clearly one that works!

Christine London said...

May you find the magic, Viv. No one deserves that illusive something that makes one's work take off like a rocket, than you. If it were true that stellar work always becomes widely read, you would be on the NYT bestseller list. :)

Thanks for, as always, an entertaining interview.

Christine London

Patsy said...

I found myself nodding agreement to many of the answers here.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I thought the same, Joan! Although I'd probably prefer writing in winter.

Hi Christine - thanks for coming over to support Viviane!

Me too, Patsy!

Talli Roland said...

Fantastic interview, ladies. That's the first time I've ever heard Donnie Osmond thanked for a writing career. :)

Talli Roland said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cara Cooper said...

Hi Viviane and Rosemary. Great blog post. I love a tortured hero -the new book sounds fascinating. I too often find inspiration in films and TV series as well as in real life.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for visiting, Talli!

Hi Cara - me too!

Viviane Brentanos said...

Thank you for all your wonderful comments. Yes, Donny is responsible for so much. Lol.