Thursday, December 8, 2011

Author interview and a giveaway: Marilyn Brant

A big wonderful welcome to the lovely and talented Marilyn Brant!  Today we're celebrating her most recent release, A Summer in Europe, with an interview.  It's the perfect book for a holiday gift, or for the cold winter months, since it will transport you to Europe for a while.

And what's more, Marilyn has generously offered to do a giveaway for one lucky commenter!  Just leave a comment on the bottom of this blog post and you're automatically entered to win a Summer in Europe t-shirt and luggage tag!  US and Canada entries only, please.

So, leave a comment and enter to win!  Winner will be announced on December 15th.

But now let's get to the good stuff.  Let's hear from Marilyn!

1. What's your new book about?

First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to visit, Brenda! My new novel is called A SUMMER IN EUROPE. It's a story about a woman named Gwendolyn Reese who's given a five-week-long European trip for her 30th birthday as a gift from her eccentric aunt (and the wild senior citizens in her aunt's Sudoku and Mahjongg club...). At first she's hesitant to leave the familiar behind for the summer, but she chooses to go. As a result, a new world of experience opens up to her, and she finds she has to really examine her life and the direction it's going based on what she learns abroad.

2. Which scene in the novel did you love writing and why?

I got to travel through Europe with Gwen for this book... So, for me, there were a great many scenes I loved writing because it was like returning to some of my favorite cities in the world every time I'd sit down at the computer. One scene I especially enjoyed, though, was when Gwen is in Paris and there's an argument between the two British brothers on the tour. They're all right below the Eiffel Tower when the disagreement breaks out, so it was fun to play with those images of sunlight and shadow just beneath this major landmark. It was exciting, too, because Gwen and one of the brothers return to that scene later in the day and their perspectives have shifted, so it was interesting to show how they had changed and how the setting had as well. (For travel lovers, I'm blogging about different European cities mentioned in the book this month, too, and the "trip itinerary" is listed on my website:, if anyone would like to journey along. :)

3. Did you know the ending of this novel before you started? Do you usually know, or is it a mystery?

Yes, I knew what the ending of this book would be from page one. There were some narrative twists that appeared as I was writing the story that I hadn’t expected at all—things that seemed right for the characters only once I’d gotten to know them a bit better. But as far as big-picture plotting, I wrote my outline for A SUMMER IN EUROPE before I began drafting, complete with all the major turning points. For me, it just works better to have a basic structure laid out, so I do that for all my novels first. I find I have to be able to visualize where the story is headed—both the highs and the lows of the characters’ emotional changes as well as the rising action of the plot development. But these types of outlines are never overly detailed. They’re usually just 15 - 20 sentences, with each one highlighting something important in the story arc. More like an x-ray than a photograph. So, believe me, there's still a LOT I get to discover about the characters and their lives along the way!
4. What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
This has absolutely nothing to do with writing (which is, perhaps, why it’ll be surprising), but I was a member of a touring dance group in college and spent six weeks dancing through Europe the summer I was 19. We performed at festivals in France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy, and I met some absolutely fascinating people. That experience solidified both my love of travel and my lifelong adoration of the jitterbug. It also greatly aided in my appreciation of European men...LOL. And, of course, a handful of details and short scene or two in my new book were inspired by a few random incidents from that dance tour.

4. On your website you mention that you’ve traveled to 30 countries. Do you have a favorite? Which country, and why? 

Ooooh, this is a tough question. I've always found wonderful places and met fascinating people when I've traveled. I was an exchange student in Australia when I was in high school, and there's just nothing like snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef or holding a koala in your arms... And I took a class in England on the subject my literary idol, Jane Austen, so between that and the amazing theater and the unbelievably delicious Cadbury bars (I'm all about exploring the foreign chocolate), that country is really high on my list, too. But if I could only pick one, I think it would have to be Italy. For me, there is nothing like the magic I found in the city of Venice. I loved it and could barely tear myself away. But I also really enjoyed other parts of the country like Florence (seeing The David and eating gelato there!!) and Rome (getting to visit the "Mouth of Truth" oracle as well as the Colosseum and the Vatican). The "Walk of Love" in the Cinque Terre region along the Riviera coast was so memorable, the Island of Capri was breathtaking and the northern lake district, particularly Lake Como, was stunning, too. Sigh. I start daydreaming of Italy, especially on cold days in December!

What about all of you? What places do you tend to daydream about visiting someday or going back to see? I'd love to know... Wishing Brenda and all of you a very happy holiday season!!


A Novel Review- Laura Kay said...

I don't have a particular spot I want to travel too, I just love to travel. I want to see everything...well I guess everything warm ;)

Great interview! I would love be transported to Europe while reading Marilyn's new book!

gina said...

I have never been out of the country however I feel I have been everywhere with my reading! Would love to travel around Europe

debbie h said...

Great interview, greater novel.


Nicole Basaraba said...

Ireland was my dream destination and I recently got to visit the country. Although, I only saw a few cities for a few hours each, I can't wait to go back and see all the other places I've been dreaming about.

All your talk about Italy makes me want to fork over the cash and just go. :)

Candy M said...

I've never been to Europe, but I would love to. I guess for now I'll just have to do my traveling in your book! I'm looking forward to reading this one!

Marilyn Brant said...

Brenda, thank you again for inviting me over!!

Laura, thanks ;). I, too, love anywhere warm...I've been daydreaming of tropical places ever since the leaves started falling, LOL.

Gina, isn't that the best?! I *love* the way reading transports us...

Deb, hug!! Thank you, as always ;). xo

Nicole, I saw some of your lovely Ireland photos on your blog! Sounded like a great trip. And, though I'm very biased (!!), I think Italy is worth every penny.

Candy, thanks so much!! It's incredibly nice of you to visit me here :).

Liz said...

Greece is my husband's natal country, so we've visited there, and I would love to return soon--particularly as winter is definitely here. But I must admit it can be cold in Greece about now, so daydreams will suffice for the time being. Seated at a cafe on the esplanade along the waterfront. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Travel makes me smile! :)

Great interview!

--Ann Montclair

Edie Ramer said...

I've never been to Europe, and I do want to go there sometime. I'd also love to go to Australia. I could visit my critique partner!

And now I'm hungry for some delicious and refreshing gelato.

Marilyn Brant said...

Liz, I'm sighing and daydreaming right along with you! Ahhhh, Greece...looking out into the gorgeous blues of the sea...beautiful!

Ann, me too!! Thank you.

Edie, for you to go to Australia and get to see Michelle, too, would be a treat for both of you! I'm smiling imagining that lovely reunion ;). As for gelato, I'm am *always* hungry for it, no matter how cold it is outside!

Amy said...

There are so many countries and places I want to travel too. Europe is definitely high on my list. Australia is up there too. I love snorkeling and I understand they have beautiful reefs.
Great interview, would love to win.
Thanks for the giveaway

amyrbromberg (at) gmail (dot) com

Marilyn Brant said...

Ack! I just left a comment and it didn't go through... Hopefully, this time ;).

Just wanted to say thank you, Amy!! I remember your having said before that you loved snorkeling. I know you'd have a blast in Australia!

Cozy in Texas said...

What a delightful interview. I can't wait to read the book.

Marilyn Brant said...

Thanks so much, Ann! Thrilled that you enjoyed the interview and I've got my fingers crossed that you'll like the story, too ;).

Jeryl M. said...

Sounds like a good book. I'd like to read it.

Marilyn Brant said...

Jeryl, thank you very much!! I hope you'll enjoy it :).

Anjana Vasan said...

Excited to read your book!

Marilyn Brant said...

Thanks so much for saying so, Anjana!!

Dolly said...

Thanks for the interview; I've been reading about this book all over the place - now I need to read the book!!

Marilyn Brant said...

Awww, Dolly, thank you!! :)