Jun 05 2012
Please join me this week in welcoming novelist Barbara Ellen Brink.
Thanks for the invite, Molly! I’ve lived in Minnesota for the past twenty-some years, but I grew up on the West coast where the deep freeze was actually an appliance and not the backyard. I have one husband, two adult children who don’t answer their cell phones, and two needy dogs who sleep by my desk and beg for almonds whenever they hear the snack drawer open.
I really enjoy a nice glass of wine and a good mystery. Something tells me I would love your Fredrickson winery novels. Can you tell us about them?
I came up with the idea for the winery novels when I was back visiting relatives in Washington State. What I remembered as desert or farmland had been turned into vineyards since the last time I was in that part of the country. Much like California, Washington now has a huge wine industry. I wondered what it would be like to run a place like that. The idea sort of fermented in my brain and I wrote Entangled.
My fictional Fredrickson winery is run by a native Minnesotan who inherited the place from her uncle. The first novel deals with repressed memories from Billie’s childhood and solving a twenty-year-old mystery. Billie Fredrickson is a bit sarcastic, much like her creator, and often uses humor to deal with rough situations. There is a little winemaking, a little romance, some family issues, and a lot of suspense to keep you turning pages.
Crushed continues the Fredrickson family saga with some new faces, an old enemy, and a kidnapping during harvest.
I have a third winery novel planned and hope to get it out by this fall.
You’ve written two Christian suspense novels. Please, tell us more about them.
Running Home and Alias Raven Black are both about women looking for a second chance in life. In Running Home, Ivy’s husband runs off with another woman and she soon finds out he’s been dealing with some very bad guys and is wanted by the FBI. Ivy moves back to her hometown to start over, but danger follows her when her husband leads everyone to believe she is hiding what he stole. It’s about second chances but also about finding the faith she’d lost along the way and learning to trust again.
Alias Raven Black follows bad girl Brenna from the last novel to working undercover for the FBI. Given the choice of prison time or playing nanny to the children of a mobster, she puts on her comfy shoes and settles in for the long haul. But conning a con man may be the death of her.
Split Sense is one of those books that felt like it was almost writing itself. A few years ago I was watching a medical mysteries segment on the early news that talked about people with Synesthesia. People related how they taste words or see musical notes as colors, etc. I took that idea, twisted it around a bit and ran with it.
The Grace Award is partly reader driven, so it was exciting to know that people really connected with the characters and loved the story. Here’s a quote from the judges that will give you a little insight into SS:
“At the risk of sounding cliché, one awesome read! This speculative thriller is full of action, intrigue and a touch of science fiction. The plot twists and turns as we follow the lives of fraternal twins – a brother and sister, each of whom has an unexplainable, seemingly supernatural, ‘gift’. Adopted separately as infants, neither knows of the other’s existence until fate brings them together to combat a complex web of deceit and subterfuge that centers around a pharmaceutical company that has been conducting secret experiments on humans. Ms. Brink draws the reader in almost immediately and the surprises keep coming, right up to the very end.”
I usually have very little outlining done on paper. I have a basic storyline in my head and I write down some plot points right at first. I’m more of a write by the seat of your pants girl.
I meet a lot of crazy characters every day. Some are so freakin’ nutty you’d think a writer had made them up. How do you develop your characters? Do they ever surprise you by doing things you thought were “out of character?”
Sometimes I use bits and pieces of people I’ve known or met along the way. I’ve been asked if my mother is the model for Billie’s crazy mom in Entangled, but although she does say a few things that I’ve heard from my own mom, she isn’t really like her.
In Running Home, Brenna was a secondary character and I didn’t think she was that important to the storyline, but then wham! She decided to take over scene after scene. So I ended up giving her a book of her own.
What parts of writing a novel do you like the best? Which parts do you like least?
I especially like starting a new novel with that burst of inspiration from a bud of an idea. I get about a hundred pages in and suddenly hit a brick wall. This is called the middle. I like the middle least of all. But after struggling through the dead zone, I come out the other end and storm to the finish line.
What advice would you give to aspiring novelists?
Probably the same advice I was given. Write, write, and write some more. Start with short stories and work up from there. Although, I have to warn you that the middle just gets longer and longer.
I hear that you make a point to exercise so that you can eat chocolate while you’re writing! I love chocolate. So, tell me: milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Favorite filling?
In a desperate desire to fulfill my craving, most any chocolate will do. But my favorite is dark chocolate orange crèmes from Abdallah, a local Minnesota company.
I know that you and your husband love to ride motorcycles. Please, tell us about your weekend adventures on your Kawasaki Ninjas.
My husband had our whole family riding motorcycles about ten years ago. We took our teens and went dirtbike riding on the state forest trails. It was a lot of fun but my chiropractor was getting paid way more than I could make to keep up. Now we mostly ride our street bikes and take trips here and there. A couple years ago we rode out to the Black Hills and saw the president heads up close and personal. Last year we rode down through Missouri and saw why they call it the show-me state. Those people are bored silly down there. They’re begging for entertainment. That’s why you always see great videos of tornadoes from that area. They stay outside to watch! We actually saw guys parked along the highway, sitting in lawn chairs watching cars go by! This past weekend we rode about 250 miles just to break our backsides in so we’d be ready for a long trip in the near future. You can’t pack much on a motorcycle so you have to pack smart: clothes, raincoats, toothbrush, and a big bottle of Aspercreme for my husband to massage into my back at the end of a long day. I may be middle-aged but I can still take the corners fast.
The world of publishing is changing so rapidly. It’s hard to keep up. Any thoughts about the ever-evolving landscape? Predictions?
Things are definitely changing. Self-pubbed books are now contending with traditional publishers and some are coming out on top. Either path is a hard road these days. Digital books have made reading cool again and I think a lot of younger people that weren’t reading are getting pulled back in by technology and then held there by great stories. Which is terrific for writers everywhere.
Social media, that ever-evolving beast, has changed the way we do everything. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?
I enjoy talking with people on Facebook and Twitter, etc. but it can definitely cut into my writing time. Apparently, my smart phone isn’t smart enough to write that next novel for me.
I’ve been forever called picky, but I maintain that we’re all picky creatures. What are you picky about?
I’m picky about: my clothes, television programming, the hot dish selection at church potlucks, who can touch my Ninja, the books I read…
Where can people find you in cyberspace?
I can be found all over these days. My books are available in ebook and paperback at most online stores.
Any parting words for the masses? Any shameless plugs?
Hope everyone has a great summer and time to read lots of books!
For those who want a book that pairs well with a nice bottle of wine, Entangled is Free on Kindle until June 14th.
And please do go and check out Split Sense. Download the sample and get caught up in Zander and Emma’s story. You won’t be disappointed.
Thank you so much for having me today, Molly. I enjoyed our chat. Let me know if you’re ever in Minnesota and I’ll give you a ride on my Ninja!