Interview and Contest with Viviane Brentanos

Jen: Please help us welcome Viviane Brentanos to Romancing the Book.  Viviane, will you please share a short bio with us?

Viviane: Oh dear, I always shiver when folk ask me for a short bio. I have led such a complicated life. The official bio can be found on my web site and up at my publisher’s site but allow me to add a few details about moi. Yes, I admit it; I am a control freak. I am a perfectionist when it comes to certain things {as my writing} but laid back about others.

I am British born but I know reside on the glorious Greek island of Corfu. Although Greece is in the throes of a difficult recession, I cannot imagine living any place else.

I believe I am a loyal friend although I can be sarcastic and intolerant of any form of prejudice. I adore music of all genres, although I have to confess to being a keen heavy metal fan. Something about the power of an electric guitar sets my juices flowing. I am also an official Glee and Gaga little monster. I know people think me immature. So be it. I do not believe getting married and having kids has to mean giving up your ’soul’. I am very much my own person.

I am an avid movie fan, my favourite actor being the divine Mr. Russell Crowe. I love to cook. My mother is French so it is a given, I suppose. I am a staunch defender of animal and human rights, as my agent, Sir Maximus Rabbitus will testify. I signed with him when thousands wouldn’t.

Jen: Tell us about Cold, Cold Heart and where is can be purchased.

Viviane: Cold, Cold Heart was first published in 2007 through The Wild Rose Press as Letting Go and I am pleased to have been given the chance to re-publish it with MuseItHot Publishing. I have revamped it and brought it up to date for 2011. Initially it will be in digital but then go to print.

The idea for Cold came to me in a dream. Can you believe a dream in which starred Eminem? {I know – sad}Basically the story is…. single mum fighting to support her son amidst hostile interference from her ex and his family. Enter Daniel Haines – mega famous star of the music industry who, for some reason, wants to be part of Rachel’s life. It is a tale of how psychological bullying can destroy one person’s self-esteem and how it needs the love of another to restore it. If there is a message in this tale it is that bullies eventually get their comeuppance and true love is all about sacrifice.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Viviane: Oh goodness, I think I began to write before I could walk – in my head, at least. I have always been an avid reader and my imagination was fed by the wonderful adventure tales created by the great Enid Blyton. Her world became my adventure playground and it was a logical progression that I soon wanted to pen and create my own worlds. Of course, by the time I hit puberty and became immersed in the wonderful world of po music and boys, my internal scenarios became all about love. I wrote my first romance at age thirteen and it starred me and Donny Osmond. I had a solid fan base in my classmates. They lapped up each chapter as it came hot off the press. My English teacher was no so impressed and I found myself hauled in from of the headmistress for writing inappropriate scenes. Well, she asked to read it….

As I mentioned before, my first published novel was Letting Go and I then went on to have two further novels published with Red Rose Publishing {Dreamweek and Fragile Dreams} until I was fortunate enough to happen upon the wonderful new and innovative house of MuseItUp and MuseItHot Publishing. My single title novel, Written in Stone was accepted into the wonderful stable of Muse authors. What I love most about being a Muser is the support the founder, Lea Schizas, provided for all her authors plus I like being with a publisher who does not publish only romance.

Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?

Viviane: I suppose one could say writing is in my blood. My elder brother is a freelance journalist and newsreader who often writes for the BBC. My father who, sadly, recently passed away penned an autobiographical account of his life as a soldier and officer in the British army. Oh how I wish I knew then what I know now. Unfortunately, he fell prey to the greedy claws of a vanity publisher who went out of business and he saw no return on his hard work. One day, I would love to get my hands on his original manuscript and see if I can find a legitimate publisher for him and his memory.

Jen: Do you have a writing routine?

Viviane: I wish. Well, I suppose I do, in a way – if you mean making sure I consume a good strong coffee before I check my emails and try not to be lured by the frivolity but oft-educational Facebook. I usually begin my writing day by reading through what I put down on PC the night before. Sometimes I will write some blogs or answer any promo questions I may have or work on edits I may have for imminent releases. It all depends on my mood. As for the actual writing part, this is done during the summer months, while I am work. I am employed seasonally as a receptionist in a hotel in Corfu. Between two pm and five, the reception is quiet as all guests are either sleeping or lounging by the pool or on the beach. {I do little of either, btw}.

I write long hand. I usually pen single titles of approximately 80-90 thousand words and I am in awe of those writers who seem to manage more than one novel a year. During the winter months, I will then transfer my first rough draft to pc and then the fun begins. This is the part I enjoy most: playing around with my tale, editing, tweaking.

Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?

Viviane: I am very fortunate in that I have an extremely retentive memory. I can recite almost a scene-by-scene account of a story I first penned in 1988 – even down to conversations. Ideas come to me, usually in a dream or when I lay in bed, waiting for the elusive sleep to take hold. I have a tendency to strike up conversations with my characters and engaging in dialogue helps imprint the words on my brain. Occasionally I have what I think is such a great exchange between characters that I will write it down on pieces of notepaper but usually everything if filed in my head.

Jen: What is it about the romance genre that appeals to you?

Viviane: I am never happy with the term romance genre. Life is romance. Every genre has some element of romance in it – even the most violent of tales. All of our life is geared up to finding someone we want to be our soulmate. Many find such an elusive creature. I believe, at times, I have too. Do I believe in happily ever after? My cynical nature says no. My romantic side so much wants to. I think this is why I always fall in love with my heroes. I can shape them how I want and, by stepping into my protagonist’s shoes, I can find true – dare I say – romance?

Jen: How do you pick character’s names?

Viviane: I love good solid, old-fashioned names. Daniel {Cold, Cold Heart}. James {Written in Stone}, Michael {Fragile Dreams}, David {Dreamweek}. I think these names reflect strong characters. I am not too fond of quirky modern names nor do I like the classic clichéd ‘hunk’ names like Chuck, Chad, Bud. You get the picture.

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?

Viviane: Mmm – good question. Strangely enough, I tend to identify with my guys rather than my gals – with the exception of the eighteen year old Rebecca Harding from my as yet unpubbed single title, A Private Place. She reminds me a lot of myself as a teenager. I thought I was the bees knees, walking around sixth form college with a copy of The Brothers Karamazov tucked under my arm. Rebecca is sarcastic, a staunch defender of animal rights, just like moi.

Jen: What five authors or people, past or present, have been important to your writing? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?

Viviane: Ok, here’s an interesting mix. I must begin with the afore-mentioned children’s author.

Enid Blyton. I loved, loved her tales of adventure and mystery and despite her being slammed for being politically incorrect by today’s weird and wonderful standards, I have to say, I don’t get that at all. In every one of her storied, there was always a code of honour. Bullies were chastised, racism was criticized so I can only say her critics were obviously not reading what I did.

Margaret Mitchell. I have to say pay tribute to her for penning what I believe to be the feistiest, most real female character of all time. Scarlett O’Hara: love her or hate her but you cannot ignore her. I have one thing to say to Miss Mitchell. Oh how I wish you had written a sequel.

Jilly Cooper – forget Bridget Jones. Miss Cooper, for me is the original chick-liter. Her quirky little tales of love and misadventure kept me most amused through my teens. I love her humour and caustic wit.

Gerald Durrell – famous naturalist and author of hilarious tales of family’s time on the Ionian island of Corfu. Mr. Durrell is the man responsible for bringing me to this gem of a Greek island. Sadly no longer with his, his name still lives on amongst the islanders. His witty tales of a young boy growing up with a bevy of eccentric family members caused me to nearly wet myself on many occasion. Funny, Funny, Funny.

Shakespeare. Need I say more? His beautiful poetry and prose speaks for itself. He is the master of all genres: historical, romance, comedy, intrigue, murder. You name it, he’s got it covered.

Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished this, is there something else you dream of doing?

Viviane: I want to play guitar with Angus Young from AC/DC. I would love to hang out with Lady Gaga and have a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory. I dream of one hot night with…..too many to list. Oh well, I suppose I will have to stick to writing about such nights.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Viviane: Well, I have an interview scheduled with Oprah next week, lunch with Kate and Wills the day after. I jest, of course. Next up for me is my end of June release and I am hoping folks will have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I have two manuscripts currently on the submission trail. Fingers crossed on those. I have some fresh ideas milling around for my 2011 w.i.p and I am toying with the idea of writing from first person pov. I would also love to dig out a saga I have lurking under my bed. I would love to publish an 80’s style epic blockbuster.

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Viviane: Here is a list of links where I and my books can be found. On my website, readers can find links to various reviews I have received and more info about me and my agent, Sir Maximus Rabbitus. Did I forget to mention him? He is darling and so cute to boot.!/pages/Viviane-Brentanos-Author-of-Womens-contemporary-Romantic-fiction/78109311746

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Viviane: Good one, this. I would love to ask – what do you really want to see in your romance?

Jen: Are we holding a contest during your promo?

Viviane: As a reward for being such good listeners whilst I have ranted, I would love to offer up a digital copy of one of what I like to call my ‘Greek’ novels, Dreamweek. Only restriction is the potential winner must be over eighteen. So, I had better pose a question and best response wins. If you had to whisk away to a Greek island with any man {or woman} of your choice, who would it be? Please, ladies{and gents}no husbands/boyfriends/etc. We know that is a given. Think naughty, here.

Jen:  You heard Viviane.  To enter the contest, tell us who your fantasy island date would be.  In your comment, leave your email address to finish your entry.  The winner of the contest will be chosen on Sunday, June 12.

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