Day 3: Interview with Barbara Brink

Jen: Today our guest is Barbara Brink. Barbara, will you please share a short bio with us?
Barbara: I’m a freelance writer and novelist, supported financially by a loving husband who just happens to have a much better paying job.

Entangled (then called, “Time in a Bottle”), was selected as a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association 2006 contest and my suspense novel, “Sense of Danger,” was a finalist in 2007. I’ve had many of my short stories and articles published in various magazines and periodicals.

I grew up on a small farm in Washington State, but now live in the mean “burbs” of Minnesota with my husband and our mixed mutts, Rugby & Willow. With our kids now pushed out of the nest and encouraged to fly, I spend much time writing, motorcycling with my husband in the summer, and hiking through snow with the dogs in the winter.

Jen: Tell us about Entangled and where it’s available.
Barbara: 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 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 her return to the winery after an absence of twenty years opens up more than the reading of her uncle’s will. Childhood memories, long-buried, begin to surface, prompting more questions than anyone is able or willing to answer.

A late night prowler, a break-in at the winery, and an unearthed box of shocking photographs is someone’s way of pulling the Welcome mat out from under Billie’s feet, but it only makes her dig her heels in deeper.

More secrets lie buried beneath Fredrickson Winery’s innocent facade and Billie intends to get to the root. In her search for the truth, Billie unintentionally lays bare painful secrets in her mother’s past as well. Can she live with the consequences of full disclosure?

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.

Entangled was just released as an ebook through Smashwords in August. It is available at Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony Reader, Apple, and Diesel online stores. It will soon be available in paperback sometime in December.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Barbara: I loved books at an early age and began making up my own stories as well; stories that usually involved crazy monsters, talking animals, or magical worlds. As a teen I think my stories morphed into sappy romances. But I didn’t seriously pursue writing as a career until about eleven years ago. My kids were young teenagers by then and didn’t need me in the same way anymore, so I decided to write the novel that was begging to get out. That led to another and another and so on. If you’re a writer, the yearning to write doesn’t stop after one story. For me, it’s kind of like eating potato chips.

The first time I was accepted for publication was in a literary magazine called, THEMA. I was so excited my short story was going to be published in their next issue that I called everyone I knew, but later I found that my publishing career was on hold, indefinitely. The publisher was based in a suburb of New Orleans where a well-known storm called, Katrina, blew through. THEMA’s printing equipment and everything was swamped and it was at least six months before they were up and running again. So, despite feeling bad for all the people affected by the storm, I felt a tad sorry for myself as well. But eventually my story was published in a very nice paperback issue and I bought extra copies to give to friends and family.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Barbara: Suspenseful, Humorous, Unexpected

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Barbara: I try to write in the mornings and afternoons when the house is quiet and there are no interruptions. I get my email, blogging, and other things out of the way first and then settle in to work on my current book. I usually have a very sketchy story plan in my head and just start writing. I’m not much of an outline person, but I do use a whiteboard to keep track of names, timelines, etc.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Barbara: I was visiting relatives in Washington State and noticed how wineries and vineyards 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 operate a place like that. I also wanted to deal with repressed memories. I spent much of my childhood in Washington but my memories aren’t so good. 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.

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 and a few interesting winery websites.

Jen: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Barbara: It depends on the novel I’m writing. I wrote a time travel story that wouldn’t get out of my head until the day I typed “the end.” I would get stuck in a scene and that night I would dream the solution and where to go from there. It was crazy! Other times I’ve wished I would dream about my characters, but never do. Entangled was a thoroughly satisfying story to write. I easily got into Billie’s head and saw things through her eyes. She materialized into a real person for me more easily than any I’ve written before.

Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Barbara: Entangled is women’s fiction/mystery with a side of romance. I like to write in most genres but I enjoy writing suspense/thrillers most. I probably will stay away from Sci-fi/Fantasy, because making up strange worlds where everyone dresses in grey vinyl robes with swords on their backs, travel in giant mind-moving bubbles, and have names like Kwderqus or Pnessixr is too hard for me to imagine.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?
Barbara: I was recently inspired by Belva Plain’s personal story. She didn’t start writing until her children were raised and she was a grandmother. Her first book was published when she was 59. She wrote over twenty novels and most of them were on the New York Times Best Seller list. She just died in October at the age of 95 after completing one last novel, a sequel to Evergreen–her first published book.

Coming into the writing game a bit late myself, I hope that I will have as much stamina, perseverance, and imagination as Belva did.

Jen: If Entangled was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the main characters?
Barbara: I think Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah on the TV series Chuck) would make a great Billie. And Billie’s mother would most definitely have to be played by Sela Ward. I imagine Billie’s love interest as being someone like Paul Walker or Simon Baker—a blonde, blue-eyed hunk.

Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished that goal, is there anything else you dream of doing?
Barbara: Yes. I think it might be nice to get on the New York Times bestseller list.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Barbara: In my free time I go out with friends, ride motorcycles, read other people’s books, go to the movies, walk the dogs, and hang out with my husband—just like a “regular” person.

Jen: What’s next for you?
Barbara: I’ve thought of writing a memoir but I don’t know if I’ve lived as full of a life as Justin Bieber and therefore would have nothing to write about that would interest the You Tube generation. So, I’ll just continue to write suspense and live vicariously through my characters. I’m currently working on another novel set at the Fredrickson Winery, and I am looking for an agent to represent me for a suspense/thriller I finished this past year.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Barbara: Webpage:
Author Page:

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Barbara: I would like to ask your readers to take a chance on a new author and go download the FREE sample of Entangled. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it and get entangled in the mystery. And if you don’t, you’re just not the readers I imagine you to be.

Jen: Are we holding a contest?
Barbara: I’m giving away a free download of Entangled to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment & include your email to be entered in the drawing. Don’t worry—ebooks come in many different formats. If you have a blackberry, iphone, PC, Mac, or ebook reader, you will be able to find the right one for you. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, December 5.