Monday, February 14, 2011

Featured Author: Viviane Brentanos

Stopping by the blog today is Viviane Brentanos, author of one of The One Hundred Romances Project's top-rated romance ebooks. Fragile Dreams has made it on our ever-growing list of what we here on the blog have devoted ourselves to unearthing: 100 of the best romantic ebook finds of 2011. So take a moment out of your Valentine's Day festivities to find out more about this wonderful romance author, here to promote her novel, Written in Stone!

Thanks for joining us on the blog, Viviane. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Wow, thank you for asking but this could take all day. My father is British {ex army officer}, my mother is French, my stepfather is pure Glaswegian and my husband is Greek. Oh did I mention my maternal grandmother was Spanish – except both she and my French grandfather met and lived in Algeria until 1962? And people ask why my kids are a little off the wall. Ah yes, I have two children, a metal head I-want- to- take- over- the- world son,  22 and diva daughter who is waiting for me to be rich and famous so she can go out and buy a Chanel bag. Ask them what nationality they are and your answer will be, Greek, of course. They are very loyal to their country.    

We all live happily ever after on this beautiful Greek island of Corfu. I arrived here in May 1984 and never left.  During the tourist season, I work as a hotel receptionist. Our year is always split into two; summer working full out but enjoying balmy hot weather, beaches, drinks out with friends in harbor font café-bars and then back to winter mode. Days of incessant torrential rains and damp but I suppose this is way Corfu is the greenest of all Greek isles.

Personal stuff about me? Well, I am a writer of contemporary romantic fiction but you know that or else I wouldn’t be here, lol. I love to read, I adore music of most genres but my absolute favourite singer-song writer is Darren Hayes of ex-Savage Garden fame. Saying that, I am a heavy metal freak. When I grow up, I want to be Angus Young from AC/DC – although I wouldn’t mind being Lady Gaga. 

I love to cook {hey – half French} but I am not a fan of silly Nouvelle Cuisine. I prefer good old-fashioned French village and Greek village style food.

I am a staunch defender of human and animal rights. I have always been involved with dogs. I copped out of University to take up a course in Dog- Grooming {incidentally my mother has never forgiven me. While I was in the UK, I use to show. Afghan Hounds. I still adore this breed with a passion but, unfortunately, I am unable to show here, in Corfu. Affies play a major role in my Novel, Written in Stone. I do have a beautiful Lion-Head rabbit called Rafa {after my other love Rafa Nadal}. Rafa is also my agent and he goes under the name of Maximus Rabbitus. I could go on and on but for more details, check out my website,  If I had to sum myself up in five words. They would be…. stubborn, loyal, sensitive, intolerant, sarcastic, cynical…oops , that’s six.

Let's talk about the story you're here to promote. Can you give us the basics?

Written in Stone is a single title contemporary romance available through MuseItHot Publishing, a new and exciting publisher that actually cares about its authors. The release date was February 1st 2011

What is Written in Stone about?

Mmm – what indeed. While Written does adhere to all the good romance rules, hea ending, angst, conflict, love all mixed up with tasteful sex, I believe it’s a tale with a difference. I wanted to focus more on the bonding of souls and kindred spirits as opposed to the physical. In my story, I challenge the reader to think out of the box and beyond society’s restraints. 

Of all my contracted works, Written in Stone holds a special place in my heart. It is inspired by a young man to whom I became very close two summers ago. Ours is a friendship that goes outside the box. It shouldn’t work but it does. We connected from day one. It is a purely platonic relationship but one of love and affection. 

Now here’s the weird part. Written in Stone was already finished BEFORE I met this guy. Déjà vu in reverse? It isn’t so much the tale is about him but rather my main character shares his essence, his thoughts, mannerisms, and way of expressing himself. Uncanny? I’ll say.  Here is a short blurb:

Dumped five days before her wedding, Cassandra Hall decides not to waste the honeymoon. She sets off to London. What was supposed to be her dream week turns into a nightmare time of introspect, self-doubt. Then she meets James, literally falling at his feet in an attempt to save his Afghan hound from colliding head on with the traffic.

James is witty, charming, too good-looking and also—not available. Despite this, Cassie is captivated by him. What follows is a week of fun, companionship and a bonding Cassie has never experienced.

James, sensing Cassie’s unhappiness, goes out of his way to make up for her jerk of a fiancι’s rejection. He is drawn to her vulnerability—something he finds disturbing, threatening to shatter all he thought he knew about himself. Cassie, he senses, is falling in love with him. He ought to back away but cannot. Cassie bravely makes her true feelings known and when he rejects her, he knows he has broken her heart. He is left confused, guilty because…James has a secret.

How long have you been writing? Have you been at this for a while, or is this a new journey?

I have been writing in my head since I could breathe, I think. As a child, I was always fantasizing. I was an avid reader, especially of the British children’s author, Enid Blyton and she inspired me to re-enact her adventures in my back yard. It was only a matter of time before I transferred thought to paper.

By age 13, the tomboy adventures were dumped for romance, usually inspired by my latest pop crush. I remember penning a mammoth six part saga and sending it off to Donny Osmond for his approval. It was a great story in which I became his girlfriend. What can I say? Over-active imagination. It would never have worked between us; I love coffee too much. 

Seriously, now.  I finally took the plunge in 2004 and set out to pen my first full –length novel. It ended up as a grand 170, 000 saga, rife with pov problems and passive voice and loads of back story. Needless to say, it is still looking for a home but I am revamping it. 2005 -my second round with Breast cancer and chemo but I didn’t let it deter me from my mission. I started on Letting Go {to be re-released June this year with Muse under new title Cold, Cold Heart}, another single title and I was fortunate enough for it to be picked up by Wild Rose Press. Since then, I have two novels released with Red Rose Publishing, Dreamweek and its sister, Fragile Dreams {very lovely review from you guys, thank you}. And, of course, Written in Stone. I am currently working on a single title, Past Undone.

In Fragile Dreams, your heroine, Ellie, is a breast cancer survivor. As revealed on your blog, you yourself are in full remission (a HUGE congratulations on that!). Can you share with us a little bit about how you approached that plot-point as a survivor? Were there personal reasons for exploring the topic? Purging? Celebration of life?  

Mmm...good question. I think what I was trying to get across with my character, Ellie, was how cancer sufferers often resent being treated like invalids. From a personal point of view, once over the shock of being told I had cancer, I just got my head down and got on with it. I tried not to dwell on the fact I may not survive. I also hated the folk telling me ..oh it doesn't matter about losing your hair, concentrate on getting well. A tad patronising, I think. All cancer sufferers want to get well but it would help if we didn't have to go around looking like Moby.

  Also with Ellie, I focused on the problems of self-image. Personally, first time around, I chose to have recontruction, a decision I later regretted and decided against for my second time. I am actually planning on having the implant removed. But that is the thing with Breast cancer, apart from the illness, you are left with the constant reminder. A simple thing like choosing a skimpy top, finding the right bikini; it can be irritating. Everyone thinks, once the battle is won, its all done and dusted. It never is. Long-time side effects can go on for years. It is an irritating reminder. The other pian is, of course, one cannot be simply ill like everyone else. As soon as I say I have a pain, a cough, a headache, everyone around me pales and says,...oh you must go and get checked out...don't take chances. As if I would..And the yearly tests. I hate all that.

What inspired you to write Written in Stone?

My inspiration came from – yes, you guessed it – more celebrity stalking. I was in London, having flown over to see my god, Darren, in concert. I had booked into a hotel in Notting Hill – as it happens where the great man lives. So there I was, sitting on a bench, fantasizing again. You know…the what is scenario. I imagined Darren walking his spaniel Wally in the park and Wally getting away. I, of course, would jump up to save the poor dog from a fate worse than certain tragedy and  - wham – Darren is forever in my debt – plus falling madly enough with me. And that was, basically, chapter one of Written. Of course, many other issues are addressed in the tale but that was my starting point. That is how most of my tales begin. My hero is always inspired by one of my crushes.

What tools have you used in your journey to improve your writing? 

I think, first and foremost, I have to thank my critique partner, Christine London {Shadows Steals the Light, reviewed by you}. Through our now five-year friendship, we have encouraged and grown with each other as writers. We share promo info, blog links, and review sites, anything that will help us on this rocky road to stardom.   Also, all the editors I have ever worked with, for sharing their insight and knowledge, helping me to improve but allowing me to hang on to my voice and style. For me, this is important. If I were made to write to order, as is the case with many genre pubs, I would give up. Lea, the boss of Muse understands the importance of allowing her authors to breathe.

How much of yourself is present in your writing? Do you look back and find that characters possess a little of your own self in them?

Of all my characters, Rebecca, from my unpublished mammoth offering probably resembles me most. Rebecca is very much me – as I was at sixteen, arrogant, opinionated but always championing right. As for my other female leads – while I cannot say they are me, obviously I have used a lot of my own life experiences in the plot. For example, Written in Stone, my dog world savvy, Fragile Dreams, my own experiences of breast cancer. And, of course, Dreamweek and Fragile are both set on the imaginary Greek island of Kuros, which is mirrored on Corfu. In both, I leaned heavily on my experiences of working in the tourist industry as a holiday rep. What I say is all the angst, the painful emotion – they are definitely from my backlog of heartache.

Tell us a little about you, the reader. What authors/genres do you love and why?

Oh dear, confession time. I am not an avid reader of romance. This could be because I devoured so many in my youth. I prefer contemporary fiction with romantic elements. I believe there is a difference. And, as with my own tales, I like the books I read to be true to life. I suppose, if I am honest, my favourite genre for pleasure is the psychological thriller, some horror, courtroom drams, forensic stuff, etc.

Who is your literary idol and why?

Oh, difficult. I love so many and for different reasons.
Jilly Cooper – the original, witty, intelligent chick lit author.
Ian Rankin – the creator of Inspector Rebus. I love this character. I love his style of writing; concise but taking you there in one line.
Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs, Stephen King {early stuff} I could go on and on. Ah Shakespeare for the sheer beauty of his words. Margaret Mitchell - Gone with the Wind – for creating the greatest heroine of all time. No one will ever top Scarlett.
Gerald  Durrell – famous naturalist who spent his childhood days on Corfu and wrote the most hilarious, beautiful tales of his life here. He made me want to come to this magical island.

Name one character in any book that you would like to share a cup of coffee with. What would you discuss?

Now, this is not fair. I want to have coffee with all of my boys. I am in love with every single hero I created. Oh this is naughty to make me choose. Ok – at a push, it would have to be James from Written in Stone. He makes me laugh. No – wait a minute. Max is so gorgeous but then what about David? He is so dry and witty. And, of course, darling Daniel, so sensitive…. Oh hell, can’t I take them all out for Gin and Tonic and the see where the chips fall? Tell you what, you read my books and you decide for me.  As to what we would discuss? That is easy. How I could pry them away from the heroine I created for them and thus keep them all to myself.

Where can we find out more about you and your writing? Share your links!

Thank you, Viviane, for taking the time to chat with us. Best of luck in your writing, and we look forward to hearing more from you!
Readers, check out Laura's glowing review of Viviane's novel, Fragile Dreams. And stay tuned for our forth-coming review of Written in Stone, as well! And as always, please support small-press and indie romance authors like Viviane who give us such amazing stories - stories that deserve to have a bright light shone on them.

Join us on Friday when we share a conversation with author Julia Rachel Barrett.


  1. Many thanks for having me here. You are a great.


  2. Oh I loved this interview Joey. VIV thank you for talking today. It seems I need to add this to my TBR stack :).

  3. lovely interview!!!
    you have to share your charaters, not to keep them only for you :)))
    good luck to you Viviane and also to all other writters, promoted here!!!!

  4. That was a very enjoyable interview. Thank you very much Viviane. Your life sounds very interesting indeed.

  5. Way to go, Viviane. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview, but more than that, I love it that you also liked King's earlier works like me.

  6. After how much I loved Fragile Dreams, I'm pretty excited to read Written in Stone (and the rest of your books too).

    Thanks for the interview :)

  7. Lots of information about you, the author and you, an actual person. What courage you possess to go through cancer and use that experience in your writing.
    With so many cultures to consider in your background, you have lots of personalities to incorporate in your books.

  8. Great interview. I enjoyed getting to know you better, Viviane.

  9. Thank you, all, for the lovely comments. Its nice to receive feedback and know I am appreciated.


  10. Well Viv you know how much I love you and your work. Thanks for the kudos and ditto that. You have been pivotal in keeping me honest and nose to grindstone--always improving our craft. How I wish Corfu were not half a world away from Los Angeles, but alas these places have made us who and what we are.

    I hope never to underestimate or patronize you, my strong friend. I admire you apart from all your challenges and respect you all the more for what you have done through your writing.

    Much success now and into the future--more!


    Christine London

  11. WOW! Such a great interview. Donny Osmond was my idol for quite some time. :)

  12. Really, Sassy? It must be something in the East Anglian air. I got a post card from him once.