Good morning, Diana…Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I am originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, and now live on beautiful Cape Cod with my husband and two tabby cats, Milo and Lucky.
Where did you get the idea for ELIZA JUMEL BURR, VICE QUEEN OF THE UNITED STATES?
When I was researching Alexander Hamilton for my biographical novel about him and his mistress Maria Reynolds, the nation’s first public sex scandal, I read some books about his political rival Aaron Burr. Through him, I learned about his last wife, Eliza. She fascinated me—she grew up dirt poor and with her wits and street smarts, invested in real estate and became New York City’s richest woman. I had to write about her.
Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?
I recently began writing biographical novels with few or no fictional characters. My other books always featured a fictional hero/heroine, and included some historical figures, but I truly enjoy writing about real people who shook up history as the main characters. Because I stick as closely to the historical record as possible, I don’t need to make much up!
What was the most difficult thing about writing this book?
There aren’t many biographies of Eliza out there, and I didn’t have much in the way of sources to consult. Also, the story covers her life from her teen years to her 50’s, so I needed to add a few subplots—including two murders of young women that actually occurred. Eliza helped solve these murders (not in real life, but in the story).
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?
My husband Chris and I own a construction cost estimating business, CostPro, Inc., based in Boston. We’re celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary in March. I am Director of Marketing, and since I’m outgoing, I enjoy meeting people, networking, and bringing in the work that we do.
What’s your favorite book of all time and why? What’s your favorite childhood book?
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII WITH NOTES BY HIS FOOL WILL SOMERS by Margaret George. She writes in such vivid detail, she brings you back to Henry’s time with her lush descriptions. Since I’m a huge Tudorphile, I enjoyed it all the more. It was great for research on my novel about Henry VIII.
My favorite childhood book is FRIENDLY GABLES by Hilda Von Stockum. I read it in 5th grade, found it in the library several years ago and re-read it, enjoying it just as much.
What do you want readers to come away with after they read ELIZA JUMEL BURR?
That she’s an unforgettable historical figure who never became a household word, but I hope she inspires women to realize that they can succeed in whatever they work hard at and never give up on.
What is your favorite quote?
“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo
If you could spend time with a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? (PG-13 please 🙂
I’ve always wanted to meet Richard III. I’d talk to him about his life leading up to becoming king, and how he feels about inheriting the throne from his brother Edward. I’d like to meet him over High Tea in York, England.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Now they are about real people, but several of my earlier characters, especially Vita, the heroine of my 1894 New York romance FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, is based on my great-grandmother, who had 4 kids and was a successful businesswoman, small-time bootlegger and local politician.
Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
My idol at the time, Ray Davies of the Kinks. I was editor of a music magazine in Houston, I got a backstage pass to one of their concerts, and got to meet him backstage. He posed for a photo with me, was so gracious and polite, and it was a huge thrill to meet him.
Providence, Rhode Island, 1775: At the glorious moment of the American nation’s birth, little Betsy Bowen is born into grinding poverty.
She is raised in a brothel, indentured as a servant, and when her widowed mother is jailed, she toils at backbreaking labor in a workhouse. Like all new Americans, the indomitable Betsy is driven by dreams—of security, of status, of wealth….
But most of all she dreams of being reunited with her father – none other than George Washington, a founding father of the United States of America and the nation’s first president. Sharp wits, good humour and a thirst for education help single-minded Betsy reinvent herself, and as Eliza Capet she pursues her quests. She is determined to create her own property empire, conquer the social elite, and above all, to win her dear father’s acknowledgment.
She also craves love – true romantic love. Though she happily marries French wine merchant Stephen Jumel and makes them both fabulously wealthy, her heart belongs to lawyer, aspiring president, and former Revolutionary War Colonel Aaron Burr.
July 11, 1804, a day I’ll never forget, a Wednesday, I rose early from fitful sleep. Two of my servants huddled in the kitchen, murmuring instead of cooking. They held the newspaper wide open.
When I walked in, they froze as if turned to stone, and held the paper out to me.
“What is it?” Without fresh coffee I was half-awake. But seeing the paper, I trembled. My mouth dried up. “Oh, no …” I hid my eyes with my hands, I couldn’t bear to look.
“M-Miss Eliza …” Mary stammered. “Vice President Burr shot General Hamilton in a duel.”
Too weak to stand, I grabbed a chair and sank into it. “He … shot Hamilton?” My head spun, dizzy with relief. But I still didn’t know about Aaron. “Is he all right? The vice president?”
“We don’t know, ma’am. It just says General Hamilton was mortally wounded.”
Without another word, I ran down the hall, threw open the front door, not closing it behind me, and raced to Gold Street in the gathering morning heat. Humidity soaked my clothes. I mopped sweat from my face.
I banged on his door. No answer. “Aaron, open the door, it’s me, please, we need to talk!” I banged again. Echoes answered me. I stepped back and squinted into the sunlight, shading my eyes to see the upper windows. Nothing stirred. The house was shut tight. He’d fled. But where? When would I see my beloved again?
Hamilton died the next day, and the city fell to its knees in mourning. It was even more pronounced than when Papa passed – because Hamilton was one of New York’s own.
Public grief over Hamilton paled beside the anger at Aaron. As I approached Trinity Church for the funeral, Gertrude’s father Gouverneur Morris greeted me. “I’m to deliver the eulogy. But indignation mounts to a frenzy already,” he cautioned me, eyeing the mob.
The tolling church bells and muffled drumbeats echoed through the sweltering city air. I thought of every place Aaron could be. I knew he hadn’t meant for this to happen. It was a tragic twist of fate. I also knew Aaron’s political career was over. He’d never be president.
“Oh, Aaron,” I wailed, “Where are you, my love?”
My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my books and short stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Paris, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, Washington D.C. and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. My husband Chris and I own CostPro, an engineering firm based in Boston. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano, devour books of any genre, and spend as much time as possible living the dream on my beloved Cape Cod.
Please help me welcome today’s guest, my author friend Diana Rubino, with a fascinating look at her latest release…
FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET Now on Audio with the soothing voice of narrator Nina Price
Read About FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET and how Vita Found Love and Success Against All Odds
It’s 1894 on New York’s Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. Vita goes from sweatshop laborer to respected bank clerk to reformer, helping elect a mayor to beat the Tammany machine. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita’s father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. As Vita and Tom work together against time and prejudice to clear her brother and father of a murder they didn’t commit, they know their love can survive poverty, hatred, and corruption. Vita is based on my great grandmother, Josephine Calabrese, “Josie Red” who left grade school to become a self-made businesswoman and politician, wife and mother.
As Vita gathered her soap and towel, Madame Branchard tapped on her door. “You have a gentleman caller, Vita. A policeman.”
“Tom?” His name lingered on her lips as she repeated it. She dropped her things and crossed the room.
“No, hon, not him. Another policeman. Theodore something, I think he said.”
No. There can’t be anything wrong. “Thanks,” she whispered, nudging Madame Branchard aside. She descended the steps, gripping the banister to support her wobbly legs. Stay calm! she warned herself. But of course it was no use; staying calm just wasn’t her nature.
“Theodore something” stood before the closed parlor door. He’s a policeman? Tall and hefty, a bold pink shirt peeking out of a buttoned waistcoat and fitted jacket, he looked way out of place against the dainty patterned wallpaper.
He removed his hat. “Miss Caputo.” He strained to keep his voice soft as he held out a piece of paper. “I’m police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.”
“Yes?” Her voice shook.
“I have a summons for you, Miss Caputo.” He held it out to her. But she stood rooted to that spot.
He stepped closer and she took it from him, unfolding it with icy fingers. Why would she be served with a summons? Was someone arresting her now for something she didn’t do?
A shot of anger tore through her at this system, at everything she wanted to change. She flipped it open and saw the word “Summons” in fancy script at the top. Her eyes widened with each sentence as she read. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
I hereby order Miss Vita Caputo to enter into holy matrimony with Mr. Thomas McGlory immediately following service of this summons.
How FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET Was Born
New York City’s history always fascinated me—how it became the most powerful hub in the world from a sprawling wilderness in exchange for $24 with Native Americans by the Dutch in 1626.
Growing up in Jersey City, I could see the Statue of Liberty from our living room window if I leaned way over (luckily I didn’t lean too far over). As a child model, I spent many an afternoon on job interviews and modeling assignments in the city, and got hooked on Nedick’s, a fast food chain whose orange drinks were every kid’s dream. Even better than the vanilla egg creams. We never drove to the city—we either took the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) train (‘the tube’ in those days) or the bus through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
My great grandmother, Josephine Arnone, “Josie Red” to her friends, because of her abundant head of red hair, was way ahead of her time. Born in 1895 (but it could’ve been sooner, as she was known to lie about her age), she left grade school, became a successful businesswoman and a Jersey City committewoman, as well as a wife and mother of four. She owned apartment buildings, parking garages, a summer home, did a bit of Prohibition-era bootlegging, small-time loan-sharking, and paid cash for everything. When I began outlining From Here to Fourteenth Street, I modeled my heroine, Vita Caputo, after her. Although the story is set in New York the year before Grandma was born, I was able to bring Vita to life by calling on the family legends and stories, all word of mouth, for she never kept a journal.
Vita’s hero Tom McGlory isn’t based on any real person, but I did a lot of reading about Metropolitan Policemen and made sure he was the complete opposite! He’s trustworthy and would never take a bribe or graft. I always liked the name McGlory—then, years after the book first came out, I remembered that was the name of my first car mechanic—Ronnie McGlory.
I completed the book in 1995, and my then-publisher, Domhan Books, published it under the title I Love You Because. The Wild Rose Press picked it up after I gave it many revisions and overhauls. My editor Nan Swanson did a fabulous job making the prose sparkle.
Changing the Title
When I proposed the story to Wild Rose, I wanted to change the title, since it went through so many revisions. I wanted to express Vita’s desire to escape the Lower East Side and move farther uptown. I considered Crossing 14th Street, but it sounded too much like Crossing Delancey. After a few more hits and misses, the title hit me—as all really fitting titles do.
A Bit of Background—What Was 1894 New York City Like?
The Metropolitan Police was a hellhole of corruption, and nearly every cop, from the greenest rookie to the Chief himself, was a dynamic part of what made the wheels of this great machine called New York turn.
The department was in cahoots with the politicians, all the way up to the mayor’s office. Whoever wasn’t connected enough to become a politician became a cop in this city. They were paid off in pocket-bulging wads of cash to look the other way when it came to building codes, gambling, prostitution, every element it took to keep this machine gleaming and efficient. They oiled the machine and kept it running with split-second precision. The ordinary hardworking, slave-wage earning citizen didn’t have a chance around here. Tom McGlory and his father were two of a kind, and two of a sprinkling of cops who were cops for the right reasons. They left him alone because he was a very private person; he didn’t have any close friends, he confided in no one. He could’ve made a pocket full of rocks as a stoolie, more than he could by jumping in the fire with the rest of them, but he couldn’t enjoy spending it if he’d made it that way. They knew it and grudgingly respected him for it. He was here for one reason–his family was here. If they went, he went. As long as they needed him, here he was. Da would stop grieving for his wife when he stopped breathing. Since Tom knew he was the greatest gift she gave Da, he would never let his father down.
Meet Vita: An Interview With Vita Caputo, Heroine of FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET
Vita, we know you and Tom overcame astronomical odds to stay together. It’s like Romeo and Juliet. I can imagine how torn you felt when you wanted to be with Tom, but didn’t want to defy your father. Tell us, what was your family and homelife like when all this was going on?
Well, I loved my father and brothers more than anything, and didn’t want to defy them. Yet at the same time, I felt they weren’t respecting my wishes. I was in love with Tom, and they hated him for two reasons, which to me, were irrational—he’s Irish and he’s a cop. But you have to understand their underlying reasons—cops always gave Italian immigrants a hard time on the Lower East Side. They didn’t give Italians a fair shake. Many of them were bullied, arrested for crimes they didn’t commit—and of course if you know my story, you know that the police framed Papa and my brother for the murder of Tom’s cousin, also a cop. I can understand their hatred of the police force for this heinous act. But not the entire police force is corrupt. Teddy Roosevelt, the Commish, certainly wasn’t, and Tom certainly isn’t. But when you face this hatred and injustice every day, it’s easy to be bitter. Our homelife, before I met Tom, was the usual Italian household—we struggled to make ends meet and didn’t have much, but I always made sure we had more than enough to eat, and to share with those who had less. I went without new clothes, shoes, coats, to buy groceries so we wouldn’t go hungry. We argued over petty things—like who left the stove on—but we always made up in the end. We were very affectionate, and gave each other a lot of hugs and kisses. We sometimes felt the world was against us—and at times it was.
What did your childhood home look like?
Did you ever see the classic Jackie Gleason sitcom The Honeymooners? They had a walk-up flat in Brooklyn. Well, ours was on Mott Street in Manhattan, but our flat looked much like that—it was called a ‘railroad flat’ because all the rooms were in a row—kitchen sitting room, bedrooms in back. We shared a toilet on the landing. But compared to other Mott Street tenements, we had it made—we had indoor plumbing. No bathtub, but a sink with running water. We didn’t have to go to a backyard privy. The bedroom was partitioned off by a curtain that I’d made—one side was mine, the other side my brother’s. Papa and his wife Rosalia had another bedroom to themselves.
What is your greatest dream?
To be a Senator or Congresswoman, but I’m happy enough as a committeewoman for now.
What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
I wish I could be calmer and slow down. I do too much—run the household because I refuse to hire help, raise our 3 kids, work and invest our savings. I follow the stock market and purchase stocks that have long-term growth potential. What’s stopping me is my drive to get ahead.
Who was your first love?
Tom, of course. My father tried to throw me together with ‘a nice Italian boy’ Roberto Riccadonna whose family owned a music store and was ‘well off’ – but he was arrogant and controlling. He threatened me when I told him I wasn’t interested in him. He and Tom got into fisticuffs when I found Roberto under my boardinghouse window singing “O Sole Mio” with a mandolin. He had a nice voice, but Tom was hardly impressed.
What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
When Papa and my brother Butchie were arrested for the murder of Tom’s cousin Mike. It tore me into pieces, because Tom didn’t want to believe Papa and Butchie were the killers, but evidence pointed to them. We made it our quest to find the real killer, and we did. It created a huge rift in our relationship of course, but we overcame that as we got through all the other hardships and prejudices that tried to keep us apart.
What was your first job?
I started out as a sweatshop worker sewing ‘shirtwaists’ (blouses), and now I’m a committeewoman, with a view to being New York City’s first female mayor.
What’s your level of schooling?
I left school at 16 to go to work in a lampshade factory.
Where were you born?
Sassano, Italy, near Naples.
Where do you live now?
Greenwich Village, in a brownstone on East 14th Street.
Do you have a favorite pet?
They’re all favorites, two mongrel pups, Charlie and Shirley, two cats Romeo and Juliet, and assorted goldfish whose names we can’t keep up with!
What’s your favorite place to visit?
Coney Island, to sit on the beach, frolic in the ocean, eat those delicious hot dogs and fried dough, and stroll the boardwalk!
What’s your most important goal?
To see my three children become successful, respectable citizens. Doing all right so far—my daughter Assunta (Susan) owns a clothing store, my son Virgilio (Billy) writes Broadway musicals and my youngest Teresa (Tessie) wants to be a baby doctor.
What’s your worst fear or nightmare?
That the stock market will crash again or some other disaster will plunge us back into poverty.
What’s your favorite food?
My homemade lasagna with my grandmother’s sauce recipe (it’s a secret)
Are you wealthy, poor, or somewhere in between?
We’re finally members of the solid middle class.
What’s your secret desire or fantasy?
To sing in one of my son’s musicals.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d buy my own airplane and give the rest to charity.
A Review From Romantic Times:
Immigrant Vita Caputo escapes New York’s Italian ghetto and secures a job in a Wall Street bank, along with a room in a Greenwich Village boarding house, thanks to Irish police officer Tom McGlory. With her new beginning, Vita even joins the Industrial reform movement.
Tom is an honest cop, with little interest in women until he meets Vita. When Tom’s cousin is murdered and Vita’s father and brother are arrested for the crime, the two team up to investigate and soon discover that they are falling in love.
Vita and Tom face economic problems, prejudice, and cultural differences. Ms. Rubino’s research is obvious.—Kathe Robin
From Rhapsody Magazine:
FROM HERE TO 14th STREET by Diana Rubino is all that and then some. Everything about this book is what writing should be–original and wonderfully executed. Bravo!—Karen L. Williams
From Book Nook Romance Reviews:
Diana Rubino has done a masterful job of researching the life of Italian and Irish immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York, its society and politics and crime. She paints a vivid picture of the degradation immigrants of Italian descent suffered, particularly at the hands of the earlier Irish immigrants they succeeded. Barred from all but the most menial jobs, forced to live crammed into the worst slums, she makes it easy for the reader to understand why many of them turned to a life of crime and violence. Not only can the reader see what Vita and Tom see, they can smell it, hear it, and taste it.
Vita is a delightful heroine, as full of vivid life as the city she lives in. Stubborn, determined to escape the ghetto in which she lives and make something of herself, she never loses her commitment to and love for her family. That very devotion, however, threatens her growing relationship with Tom, since the Irish and Italians are the Capulets and Montagues of 19th century Manhattan. Although she cannot help falling deeply in love with him, she knows that her father and brothers will never permit her to spend her life with him. And, in a departure from the usual super-masculine hero, Tom is a sensitive, secret poet as well as a cop.
If you like vivid characters and a book that carries you effortlessly back to an earlier time, FROM HERE TO 14th STREET is a good choice. –Elizabeth Burton
at 97 Orchard Street, once an actual tenement. They have tours describing life as it was back then, with each floor of the building decorated (if you want to call it ‘decorated’) to depict each time period when immigrants lived there.
I read a lot of books to research this story. One book I remember reading as a kid is How The Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, a photographer and reformer of the time. The photos in his 1901 book vividly illustrate the poverty and deprivation of the times, for adults and children alike.
My passion for history and travel has taken me to every locale of my stories, set in Medieval and Renaissance England, Egypt, the Mediterranean, colonial Virginia, New England, and New York. My urban fantasy romance, FAKIN’ IT, won a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America, the Richard III Society and the Aaron Burr Association. I live on Cape Cod with my husband Chris. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre. Visit me at www.dianarubino.com, www.DianaRubinoAuthor.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/DianaRubinoAuthor, and on Twitter @DianaLRubino.
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.