Sunday, April 21, 2013

Interview with Barbara Bretton about Just Like Heaven




What inspired you to write this book?

A combination of things brought JUST LIKE HEAVEN to life. A random conversation with my BFF about age limits and lacy thongs. Another friend's minor (and very unexpected) heart attack which led her to reignite an old relationship. Memories of my very fey and very psychic mother who triumphed over a difficult childhood by actively choosing happiness over sorrow. And my own rock-solid belief that love, true love, can make our differences melt away.

Please tell us about your latest release.

Because love can happen anywhere . . .

Even in New Jersey!

A beautiful morning in early spring. What could possibly go wrong?

Just returned from a buying trip in England, Kate French was jet-lagged and exhausted and running on fumes. She was already running late for an appointment but a wave of dizziness forced her to pull into the shopping mall parking lot in search of a quick fix of caffeine and protein.

When the pain first hit, she ignored it and continued racing across the parking lot toward the food court. But within moments she realized something was terribly wrong as her wobbly legs gave out and she dropped to the ground. The last thing she remembered as she started to fade away was the guy in the Grateful Dead T-shirt who held her in his arms and promised he'd never let her go.

Mark Kerry didn't think of himself as a hero but the story of a Good Samaritan who had saved a woman's life in the parking lot of the Princeton Promenade was attaining the status of suburban legend. Determined to return a stack of documents that had been left behind when the ambulance swept her away, he called in some favors and tracked her down at home one week later.

The moment Kate saw him again, the world and everyone in it disappeared. She knew his voice, the smell of his skin, the way his hands felt against her skin, the taste of his mouth, everything that mattered. All the things she would ever need to know about him.

And then she took another look . . .

Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?

Book titles and characters' names are probably two of the most important components involved in making a book come to life for me. Titles, of course, can be tweaked right up until the very end but a character's name is vital to developing a fully dimensional personality. Back when I was writing my second book, I had created a heroine named Meredith Randall. Now Meredith is a lovely name. In fact, I had always wished I'd been named Meredith myself. But something wasn't right. My character just didn't feel like a Meredith. Each day when I sat down at the typewriter (yes, typewriter; I've been around a long time) to write, I found myself struggling to get inside Meredith's skin. No matter how hard I tried, she remained flat and two-dimensional to me and resisted all of my attempts to get to know her better.

Cut to late one night. I was just about to doze off when I swear to you I heard a voice inside my head and that voice was screaming, "I'm not Meredith, you idiot! I'm Lainiei! Do you hear me? Lainie!"

She was right. She wasn't a Meredith at all; she was a Lainie. And as soon as I made that change, the book (The Sweetest of Debts) practically wrote itself.

Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?

Writing Mark Kerry, the hero of JUST LIKE HEAVEN, was extremely challenging for me. I'm not a man. I'm not a priest. I'm not an Episcopalian. I'm not a recovering alcoholic. I had to take a writer's leap of faith and finally push my mountains of research aside and dive into his heart where the best stories always hide.

Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?

Again from JUST LIKE HEAVEN, I'd say the secondary character Maeve was pure delight to work with. Maeve is a self-help guru, sex a specialty, a practicing Wiccan, a mother and grandmother who would do anything to make sure her family has the happy ending they deserve. I based much of Maeve's attitude on my own mother. My mother didn't believe in giving advice. She never poked her nose into my business or told me how to live my life. But she did leave me with one very important rule of life that I passed along to Maeve: "Choose happiness." Life is too short to do anything else.


Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?

Early in my writing career, I created lengthy character sketches that described absolutely everything from height to weight to choice of jewelry. I put together binders filled with pictures of living room layouts, bedroom furniture, maps to my characters' houses.

Somewhere around book four or five all that fell away and let those details flow through me and onto with no stops along the way. I've learned that, for me, the best way to develop my characters is to rely on my instinct and intuition and give myself over to the story.

What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?

They were standing inches apart, so close she could feel the warmth of his skin and inhale the fresh-mowed grass smell that clung to his clothes from the hours they had spent outside.
He took her hands and her eyes filled instantly with tears. "Allergies," she said, ducking her head. "Springtime is lethal."
And it was, in many ways. Springtime was rife with danger. A woman might do anything on a warm spring day with the right man.
Except this wasn't the right man. She had better keep reminding herself of that very important fact. Men didn't get any more wrong than a widowed recovering alcoholic who happened to be an Episcopal priest on his way back to resume his old life in New Hampshire, more than three hundred miles away.
You would have to be crazy to let your guard down around a man like that.
"This is crazy," she said as they fell into each other's arms.
"Completely nuts," he agreed as they tumbled onto the glider.
They were so close their breath mingled in the whisper of air between them.
"You'll only be here another six weeks," she said, tracing the contours of his face with her fingers, memorizing the planes and angles, the shadowy stubble darkening his cheek and jaw. "There's no point to starting anything."
"No point at all."
He pressed a kiss to the hollow of her throat and if she hadn't been sitting already she would have melted into the ground.
"We both know it would have to end when you leave for New Hampshire."
"Your life is here in New Jersey."
"Absolutely," she said. "My home, my family, my work. Everything."
"And my future is up in New Hampshire."
"A second chance," she said, kissing the strong curve of his jaw. "Your second chance to make things right." She got it. She even understood. But she didn't have to like it.
His mouth found the nape of her neck, the tiny pulse that was beating crazily in her right temple. She felt like he was setting off tiny explosive charges everywhere his lips touched.
His lips touched her ear. "I wanted to do this the first moment I saw you."
She shivered at the sensations rippling through her. "I saw you leaning against your car and I almost tripped over my own feet."
His thumbs grazed either side of her mouth. She was finding it harder to breathe with each second that passed.
"I can't make any promises, Kate. I've already made them to my old congregation."
"I don't believe in promises," she whispered, her lips soft against his. "This is enough for me."
The kiss was as natural as breathing, as intoxicating as champagne. Her mouth opened beneath his and she gasped at the feel of him, the way he tasted of chocolate and mango and heat. She felt dizzy, knocked off-center, and she clung to his shoulders so she wouldn't slide off the face of the earth and into some vast unknowable universe of shooting stars and fireworks and whispered warnings that some things are too good to be true.
He kissed her like kissing was an end in itself, like he loved the feel of her mouth beneath his, the sounds she made deep in her throat, the way she arched against him, trying to crawl inside his skin and stay there.
They broke apart, breathless and dazed, and looked into each other's eyes for an eternity as if they couldn't quite believe this was really happening.
"A big mistake," she said. "It's moving too fast."
"Tell me to go and I will," he said. "It's not too late."
But it was too late and they both knew it. They were already in over their heads

Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?

Bits and pieces of me can be found in every character I write. And no, that's not always a good thing!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I think writers do other writers an enormous disservice when they say that writer's block doesn't exist. If all it took to produce pages of story every day was the act of sitting down at the computer, we would all have the output of Nora Roberts. It's not that simple. We're complex, creative individuals and we have different ways of responding to what life throws our way. Some of us can disappear into our fictional words while others find it impossible to make the real world disappear long enough to slip into our imaginations.

I've endured writer's block on more than one occasion and I can tell you it is painfully, bitterly real. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's always temporary. I use that time to refill the creative well by reading more, getting out more, seeing friends, eavesdropping on juicy conversations, all the things you don't have time to do when you're under deadline.

Sometimes the block can be a sign that I've made a wrong turn in my manuscript and my subconscious is determined to keep me from going too far along the path.

Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?

You mean like making a cup of tea in my microwave before I start writing and making sure I turn it off when there are exactly five seconds left?

Do you write in different genres?

I have. Non-fiction. Mainstream, series romance, mainstream romance, cozy mysteries, paranormals. I go where the story and characters take me.

Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?

Not at all. It's energizing.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

The truth? For as long as I can remember. I was telling stories to my parents before I was old enough to hold a pencil and I never stopped.

What are your guilty pleasures in life?

I've reached the age where I know longer feel the slightest bit guilty when it comes to pleasure! More is never enough when it comes to living life to the fullest.

Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?

I am a crazed, over-the-top, seriously obsessed knitter.


What was the last amazing book you read?

I've been on a non-fiction binge lately. The book that lingers in my mind is Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson.  Highly recommended!

Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?

The beauty of ebook readers is that they turn the unlikeliest places into cozy reading dens. (At least they do for me.) I've been known to catch up on my reading in Atlantic City casinos, the plumbing aisle of Home Depot, and a New York Jets football practice.

What can readers expect next from you?

A number of my titles are being turned into audiobooks that should be available at Audible.com or Amazon.com or iTunes in the next month or two. I've always wanted to be an audiobook and now I can check another item off my bucket list!

Where can readers find you on the web?

Many places! http://www.barbarabretton.com  or http://www.facebook.com/barbarabretton  or http://www.facebook.com/authorbarbarabretton  or Twitter http://www.twitter.com/barbarabretton And knitters can find me on Ravelry as wickedsplitty

Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?

You can find a juicy excerpt at http://www.barbarabretton.com/just_like_heaven_intro.shtml


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Books & Tales:


Just Like Heaven
Barbara Bretton

Genre: Contemporary romance/women's fiction

Publisher: Free Spirit Press
previously published in print by Berkley

ISBN: 9781301177493
ASIN: B00BH8FZVI

Number of pages: 320

Word Count: Approximately 90K

Book Description:

Because love can happen anywhere . . .

Even in New Jersey!

A beautiful morning in early spring. What could possibly go wrong?

Just returned from a buying trip in England, Kate French was jet-lagged and exhausted and running on fumes. She was already running late for an appointment but a wave of dizziness forced her to pull into the shopping mall parking lot in search of a quick fix of caffeine and protein.

When the pain first hit, she ignored it and continued racing across the parking lot toward the food court. But within moments she realized something was terribly wrong as her wobbly legs gave out and she dropped to the ground. The last thing she remembered as she started to fade away was the guy in the Grateful Dead T-shirt who held her in his arms and promised he'd never let her go.

Mark Kerry didn't think of himself as a hero but the story of a Good Samaritan who had saved a woman's life in the parking lot of the Princeton Promenade was attaining the status of suburban legend. Determined to return a stack of documents that had been left behind when the ambulance swept her away, he called in some favors and tracked her down at home one week later.

The moment Kate saw him again, the world and everyone in it disappeared. She knew his voice, the smell of his skin, the way his hands felt against her skin, the taste of his mouth, everything that mattered. All the things she would ever need to know about him.

And then she took another look . . .

PRAISE FOR JUST LIKE HEAVEN

*TOP PICK!* Bretton's lyrical writing enthralls from the first page as she immerses readers in a tale of romance and new beginnings. --Romantic Times

Bretton has few peers among contemporary romance novelists when it comes to combining escapist romance with everyday, messy reality. She’ll make you believe that love can happen anywhere – or make you grateful that you’ve been fortunate enough to find it.  --Susan Scribner, The Romance Reader

This one will keep you reading past your bedtime. --Elizabeth Darrach, BellaOnline

*STARRED REVIEW* Very few romance writers create characters as well developed and realistic as Bretton's. Her books pull you in and don't let you leave until the last word is read.  --Shelley Mosley, Booklist

About the Author:

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world. Her works have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer's Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.







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2 comments:

Barbara Bretton said...

Very happy to be here!

bn100 said...

This sounds intriguing

 
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