It’s always fun to get to know new authors, and today I’m chatting with Barbara Brett. She is also sharing her latest release. And, after the interview, you’ll find a question Barbara would like you to answer! 🙂
(Barbara is going to be away for part of the day, but will respond to comments later this afternoon)
- Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I am one of those increasingly rare breeds—a native New Yorker. I was born in Manhattan, grew up mostly in the Bronx, then married and moved to Brooklyn. Our two children, Jennifer and Steven, were born and raised here. We have also had two cats along the way: Odysseus, sweet and loving, followed by Rocky, who lived up to his name as a tough guy with a big heart. Having sampled the other four boroughs (I lived briefly in Queens as a child, and we frequently visit family on Staten Island), I wouldn’t trade Brooklyn for any of them. We have Prospect Park with its terrific zoo; Brooklyn Botanic Garden with its glorious cherry trees; the Brooklyn Museum, famous for one of the best collections of American art in the world; a great public library three blocks away; and the magnificent Atlantic Ocean within walking distance. What better place could there possibly be for my husband and me to spend our happily-ever-after?
- Where did you get the idea for SIZZLE?
Like many writers, my primary interests are books, art, music, and nature. The world of finance had always been a mystery to me, and I was happy to let it remain so. But one day after reading yet another front-page report of a ruthless corporate takeover battle, I decided that I had to learn more about the financial world. I began reading the business section of The New York Times and books about finance. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. What if, I asked myself, a beautiful, brilliant woman decided to take on these Wall Street vultures and fight them for a particularly juicy corporate plum, maybe the most profitable and glamorous magazine in the world? How would she do it? What kind of life would she lead? What exotic places would she visit in pursuit of her goal? What treacherous traps would her opponents set for her? How would she escape them? Could she escape them? And so SIZZLE was born. I hope that your reading about the dazzling Marietta Wylford and her perilous pursuit of corporate power will be as exciting and delicious as my writing about it was.
- What do you want readers to come away with after they read SIZZLE?
Most of all, I want readers to have had a good time. I want them to enjoy experiencing New York City’s most glamorous places, from multi-million-dollar penthouse apartments to exotic five-star restaurants. I want them to feel that they, too, were warmed by the golden rays of the sun on the French Riviera, inhaled the fragrant blossoms of the floating flower markets on Amsterdam’s unique canals, felt the breeze on their cheeks as they strolled the Champs-Elysée and the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. I want them to have felt the excitement and suspense of the perilous battle for the corporate prize. And I want them to shudder along with Marietta when she discovers the dangerous and horrendous secret buried deep in Harrison Kendricks’s past.
- What actors would you like in the main roles if your book were made into a movie?
This is a tough question because there are so many great actors out there. I think I’d like to see Cate Blanchett as Marietta. She would have to dye her hair red, but that may well be its natural color. Cate is beautiful and brilliant, and I think she could bring the ambitious Marietta to life with all of her dreams, fears and complexities. Leonardo DiCaprio would ideal for the role of the smooth and mysterious corporate raider, Harrison Kendricks. Though handsome, he’ll look threatening in the tinted glasses that he will have to wear. Rooney Mara would be perfect for Melanie Danielle, Marietta’s reticent but brilliant and loyal lawyer-assistant. Bryan Cranston, could definitely be Harlan Wylford, Marietta’s adoring husband. And Richard Madden would be perfect for Craig Campbell, the actor who is and will always be the true love of Marietta’s life. SIZZLE is filled with many more intriguing characters, and I think readers will have fun playing casting director after they have finished the book.
- Do you collect anything?
When I was a child, I was fascinated by, and really believed in, fairies and pixies. I loved fairy tales and made up my own, usually encouraged by friends. We used to have great fun acting out the stories. As I grew up and outgrew the stories, I began collecting fairies and pixies. They now gaze down on me from shadow boxes and the tops of bookcases. A group of them sit on my desk and cheer me on as I work. They never fail to make me smile. I think the child in me still half-believes in them. I’m convinced that I have a real pixie in my home. After all, who else could be responsible for hiding my eyeglasses and whisking away the earring I remove when I’m talking on the phone—and then leaving it to turn up two days later in some unexpected place?
- What is your favorite book of all time and why?
For someone who loves reading as much as I do, it’s really difficult to narrow it down to one favorite book. I suppose if someone held a gun to my head and I really had to come up with an answer, I’d choose William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. I know that by today’s standards it’s long and rambling, but Thackeray’s satirical take on Victorian life is delicious and his characters are unforgettable. It also has one of my favorite quotes, Becky Sharpe saying, “I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand [pounds] a year.” That seems to sum up the whole premise of Victorian society (and perhaps even contemporary society) in fifteen words. Translation: “Money makes the world go round.” Today’s authors can learn so much from the old masters.
- What is your favorite childhood book?
This question is much easier. I have many favorites, but Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince tops them all. It is a beautiful story, intended for adults as well as (perhaps even more than) for children, and the older I get, the more I cherish it. From its poignant dedication, “…To Leon Werth when he was a little boy,” to its heart-wrenching ending, it takes the reader on a beautiful journey of discovery. It is the story of an aviator, lost in the desert, who meets a little boy who has journeyed to Earth from a far-off asteroid. The little prince tells the aviator about the strange people he has met on the planets he has stopped at along the way. None of these people are strange to us, though, with their vanity and intolerant views, and, along with the aviator and the little prince, we learn something important about ourselves with each visit. The little prince yearns to return to his asteroid to care for the rose he loves, and, in the end, through sweet, painful sacrifice, he makes the journey, and takes our hearts with him. This book, too, has one of my favorite quotes, something a wise fox tells the little prince: “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is not visible to the eyes.”
- If you were stranded on a desert island and you could have three inanimate objects, what would they be?
Only three? This is a tough one! I’m not a very practical person, but if I’m going to be stranded on a desert island, I had better let the practical me take over. In that case, I think that the first object I would pack should be a Dummies book titled, HOW TO BUILD A RAFT WHEN STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND. Next, I’d pack a flashlight, so that I could read the book at night. I’m assuming my island would have plenty of rocks lying around so that I could rub two together to make a fire to keep me warm and to cook the fish I’d have to catch with a stick I’d sharpen. Uh-oh. How do I sharpen the stick? Okay, I’ll read the manual by the fire I make with the rocks. That means I can eliminate the flashlight. So now I have two more things I can bring. One of them will have to be a Swiss Army Knife so that I can sharpen the stick and clean the fish. Now for the last object. It will have to be something to keep me from going crazy out there all by myself, and we all know what that would be—a book. But what book? I’m pretty much all thumbs, so it’s going to take me quite a while to build that raft. Maybe years. It would have to be along, interesting book. One I wouldn’t be able to memorize. I think I’ll opt for a big, unabridged dictionary. What better companion for an author? We’re all addicted to words!
LOL, Barbara. I enjoyed your answers. Leonardo DiCaprio would make a handsome ANYTHING. 🙂 I love your theory about pixies. That does explain a lot. Very clever, your book on how to build a raft…who wouldn’t want that? Thanks for joining me today!
Thanks so much for interviewing me, Alicia. This was great fun! I’d love to know what your blog readers would take to a desert island. Of course, I hope that some of them would pack a copy of SIZZLE!
She’s the most beautiful and ruthless CEO in the nation. He’s the most dangerous corporate raider in the world. Neither has ever lost a battle in the boardroom—or the bedroom. Now they’re warring for America’s biggest publishing prize.
SIZZLE—a novel of breathtaking power and ambition, set against the jet-setting world of Manhattan’s elite!
“[A] battle fraught with…the dirtiest of tricks…the stuff that destroys marriages, people, lives…. Sizzle through the summer with Sizzle.”—The Salem News
Harrison Kendricks sat down on the other end of the settee and raised his glass. “Cheers.”
“Cheers,” Marietta returned, and sipped her drink.
Though Kendricks had a reputation for never mincing words and getting down to business immediately, he seemed in no rush to broach the subject. Through the first drink and then the second, they spoke instead in generalities—their shared interest in gardens, antiques, the theater. Since he had suggested the meeting, Marietta was determined that he be the one to initiate any discussion of a buyout or compromise. She would let him say his piece, then drop her bombshell.
At first, she thought he was avoiding the subject because he wanted to disarm her. But as their conversation progressed, she realized that he had more than business on his mind. Though the tinted glasses veiled his eyes, they did not hide them, and she was aware how often his gaze traveled over her. It was like a visual caress. Harrison Kendricks wanted her. It was possible, of course, that it was all part of his plan—that, with his gigantic ego, he thought that one kiss and she’d be eating out of his hand. But even if that had been his primary purpose, it was obvious he now wanted to satisfy a great deal more than corporate desires. Besides, what difference did his motivation make? She wanted him too. She had never made love with such a dangerous man.
She was aware that Kendricks, probably for the first time in his life, was faced with a problem in deciding what approach to take. For she had to be as unique to him as he was to her. She would have to find a way to help him. That gave her one more advantage.
Talk of the theater led Kendricks to make some unflattering observations about American musicals and music. “No one today seems to know what music is all about,” he said.
“Except perhaps you?” Marietta asked.
He smiled. “There are a few others, I admit.”
She nodded toward the piano. “Do you play?”
“Yes. Rather well, in fact. Schumann is my favorite. Does that surprise you?”
“Nothing anyone does—whether admirable or despicable—ever surprises me.”
“So you’re an absolute cynic.”
“Not a cynic—a realist. I see things as they are. For example, I’m very much aware that you would like to get me into bed.”
“Really?” he said, raising an eyebrow.
“Don’t play coy. It’s out of character.”
“All right. I’ll admit that I find the idea of making love to you rather attractive.”
“And I find it rather attractive too. So I wonder why, busy people that we are, we’re sitting here wasting each other’s time sipping drinks and chatting. Why don’t we simply go up to your bedroom?” she said, rising.
“You’re an extraordinary woman.”
“If I weren’t, you wouldn’t be so interested in taking me to bed, would you?”
He followed close behind her as she walked across the room. When she paused at the big double doors, he reached around her and opened them, probably the first time in his life that he had performed such a courtesy for a woman other than his mother. Smiling to herself, she passed through them, then preceded him up the winding marble staircase.
Neither spoke, but words were unnecessary. They were two of a kind, creatures who had fashioned themselves in the image of their own wants and needs. They understood each other as no other person on earth could….
Barbara Brett’s love of reading led her to a life devoted to books—as an editor, publisher and author. She began as a proofreader, then moved up to become editor of True Romance and True Confessions. Later, she became vice president and publisher of Avalon Books, which published fiction for the library market. After that, she started her own company, which published inspirational non-fiction. She is delighted that many of the authors she developed over the years have moved up to best-sellerdom.
In addition to editing and publishing, Barbara was also writing novels. She is the author of Between Two Eternities, Love After Hours, and, with her husband, Hy Brett, the mystery Promises to Keep. Recently she closed her publishing company so that she could devote herself completely to her own writing. She is delighted to see Sizzle published, and she promises to follow it with many more exciting books.
Barbara and Hy live in Brooklyn. When they aren’t writing, they enjoy reading, taking long walks to see the Atlantic Ocean, and treating visiting family and friends to Brooklyn pizza and bagels, which, everyone agrees, are the best in the world.
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