Please help me welcome an author friend, Marilyn Baron, with an interview and her new release: Stumble Stones: A Novel
- Where did you get the idea for Stumble Stones: A Novel? The idea for the book was sparked when my former next door neighbor who moved to Stuttgart, Germany, e-mailed me and told me about some stumble stones that were placed in front of his house. Stumble Stones is a real project. German artist Gunter Demnig has placed five thousand of these brass plaques—known as Stolpersteine or “stumble stones,” cobblestone-sized Holocaust memorial stones—in Berlin and some fifty thousand of them in eighteen countries in Europe. Every letter on every plaque is hand carved by the artist or one of his apprentices. Every plaque contains a name, the year of birth, the date the victim was deported, and the place and date of death. They are located in the last known home of the person or persons who lived in a house before they were taken. Sometimes the stones are placed where the victim worked or studied. There is often a ceremony including music, poetry and flowers at the placement. No one I’ve talked to about stumble stones has heard of this unique Holocaust memorial project, but once they find out about it, they are fascinated. In my book, the hero witnesses a stumble stones ceremony in front of his house and finds a cache of diamonds from WWII during a remodeling project and sets out to find out who they belonged to.
- Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)? I’ve written romantic suspense before and it’s one of my favorite genres to write. This story is set in contemporary Europe and WW II Europe. It involves Nazis, art theft and the Holocaust. Those themes almost ensured it had to be a mystery/thriller.
- Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc., you’d like to share? Yes, most chapters in the heroine’s point of view start out with a soap opera script. The heroine is obsessed with Polly Winthrop, the character she writes for As the Planet Spins and her life often mirrors that of her alter ego.
- What is the most difficult thing about writing a book? Finishing it.
- What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular? Judging the right balance between dark and light—the darkness of the Holocaust women’s stories and the comedic elements of a contemporary romance between the rabbi’s daughter and a German-American hedge fund manager in Berlin, who cross the great religious divide and cultural prejudice to be together. I want readers to contemplate the horror of the Holocaust and at the same time be satisfied because of the hopeful ending.
- Are there any tricks or habits you use when creating a story? I have to come up with a title and the names of the characters before I start a book. Sometimes, listening to the music of the period where the book is set is helpful to get in the mood to write.
- What book have you read that you wish you would have written? The Outlander series.
- Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and how do you like it? I’m a public relations consultant and I write and edit newsletters, annual reports, brochures, ads, etc. I really enjoy what I do because I love to write.
- What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do? I love to watch soap operas. My grandmother got me hooked and now I watch (or record to watch later) two shows: The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. That’s where I learned to write dialogue and why I made my heroine in Stumble Stones a soap opera writer.
- What’s your favorite book of all time and why? That’s a difficult question because there are so many great books and I’m an avid reader. But one of my favorites is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak because it’s written from the POV of death and the voice was amazing. My favorite childhood book is Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder because that book inspired me to become a writer.
- If you could change something about one of your books that’s already released, what would it be? I would make Stumble Stones: A Novel longer.
- What genre have you never written that you’d like to write? I’ve written in a variety of genres, including women’s fiction, romantic thrillers/suspense/mystery, historical and paranormal. So about the only one left is Young Adult.
** GIVEAWAY: Readers should leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Marilyn’s romantic suspense Landlocked and a Stumble Stones logo notebook. The question they have to answer from Stumble Stones is “What is the name of the Berlin suburb where Alexander lives?”
Teaser: Stumble Stones is multilayered, dark and humorous Romancing the Stone-style suspense novel about a cache of priceless diamonds hidden in World War II that sparks a hasty wedding on the high seas and a dangerous chase through Europe that holds the key to an unsolved mystery and a promise of lost love.
Hallelujah Weiss, a writer for the steamy sudser As the Planet Spins, gets a second chance at love when she flees to Italy to get over her recent divorce, courtesy of her cheating ex-husband’s credit card. A woman scorned, Hallelujah has sworn off men and is determined to reinvent herself. The new Hallelujah is eager to live life on the edge, more like Polly Winthrop, a character she writes and idolizes.
Lonely Berlin hedge fund manager Alexander Stone, a number cruncher who puts his faith in numerical data, still believes in destiny, despite the fact his fiancée just dumped him. Always a man with a plan, Alexander did not plan on Hallelujah.
After a chance encounter on a flight to Rome, the unlikely pair faces danger when they team up to return to their rightful owner a stash of WW II vintage jewels.
Life was better in Business Class, especially when your cheating ex-husband was paying for it. Hallelujah couldn’t wait until Lloyd got the bill—for the airline ticket, the set of top-of-the-line TUMI luggage, the fashionable, Italian-worthy wardrobe, a two-week stay at a first-class hotel in Florence, an expensive day of pampering at the hotel spa, dinner in the city’s finest restaurant, and front row seats to the Il Volo concert. It’s not like Lloyd Evans couldn’t afford it. It would hardly make a dent in the bastard’s bank account.
Her short-term plan was to spend as much of Lloyd’s money as she could before his skanky secretary/fiancée Olivia Brewster got her greedy little hands on it. Polly would be proud of me.
But she wasn’t Polly. Polly lived life on the wild side, and she had a vindictive streak. Hallie Evans was practical. She believed in playing it safe and paying her own way. But she deserved this final fling. She had scraped together the last of her savings, and she would use those funds when Lloyd’s credit card was tapped out. Then she would go back to the single life and the single paycheck and try not to dwell on how much her ex had hurt and humiliated her. But right now, Polly was in the pilot’s seat. And, from now on, Hallie was determined to live life on the edge, just like Polly.
Settling into her roomy Magnifica seat, she signaled the Alitalia flight attendant for another amaretto sour before the plane took off. Getting properly sloshed mid-air was a strategic and recent addendum to the plan. Oh, and part of her plan was to swear off men.
Bio Marilyn Baron
Marilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres, from humorous coming-of-middle age women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. Stumble Stones will be her 11th novel published with The Wild Rose Press. She’s also published five short stories with TWB Press and self-published three books, including a musical about Alzheimer’s called Memory Lane. AmazonEncore republished her book Sixth Sense on September 15, 2015. She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel With Strong Romantic Elements and Paranormal//Fantasy Romance. She is a Georgia Romance Writers (GRW) Maggie Award winner, a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and GRW and winner of the GRW 2009 Chapter Service Award. A public relations consultant in Atlanta, Marilyn graduated with a BS in Journalism and a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. She worked in Public Relations for AT&T in Atlanta for 13 years before starting her own PR firm. She serves on the 2015 and 2016 Roswell Reads Steering Committee. She was selected as a featured author in the 2015 Atlanta Authors Series. She presented on two panels at the AJC-Decatur Book Festival (the largest independent book festival in the country) on September 6, 2015. She was a 2016 Nominee for the 52nd Georgia Author of the Year Awards (books published in 2015) in two categories—Detective/Mystery for Landlocked and Romance for The Widows’ Gallery. She’s a member of two book clubs. Read more about Marilyn at www.marilynbaron.com.
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