Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Author Interview: Rebecca Bryan, Author of The Sand Bar

Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Rebecca Bryan, author of The Sand Bar!

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews Rebecca!

How long have you been a writer?

Officially, I have been writing for about four years, but when I was young I wrote short stories that I would read aloud to my parents - so I guess I could say I've been writing my whole life. In fact, a few months ago I was reading from my journal I kept as a kid and found two separate entries where I mentioned how I wished to be a writer some day. It confirmed this secret desire I have long had. 

Do you have a "day job," or is being an author your career?

My "day job" is being a wife and mother to five busy, active, and wonderful children. Did you hear that kids? I think you're wonderful. I also dabble in acting here and there and recently wrote a short screenplay that I starred in and directed.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

I'd say Anne Shirley or rather Lucy M. Montgomery was my inspiration to become a writer. I loved the Anne of Green Gables series and adored Anne like a real best friend. So much, that I began writing my own love letters to my own pretend Gilbert. My sister would find them and then threaten to read them at my wedding someday. I was sort of obsessed (maybe I shouldn't admit these things). Then I grew up and started a family and secretly wished I could write, but I just didn't have time and couldn't get past the first page. One day, I had the idea for a scene in a story and I started writing it long hand in a tablet. I haven't been able to stop since. I've since purchased a computer - much easier on the hands! By the way, my sister didn't read the letters at my wedding, but she did present them in a box to my new husband, who wondered what kind of woman he had just married. Yes, sisters can be embarrassing like that.

Please give a brief description / storyline about The Sand Bar.

The Sand Bar is a story about a girl named Marlo, who returns home after a bitter divorce to care for her sick father. Life gets complicated when she runs into an old boyfriend, Brandon, who is in a loveless marriage and Marlo's left wondering if she is to blame. A mysterious old woman offers her the opportunity to travel in time. Marlo accepts the offer, but doesn't get the do-over she is expecting and finds herself, not in the past, but in the future, married to Brandon and living the life she ran away from 8 years earlier. Worse, she discovers Brandon's wife mysteriously died the night she reconnected with Brandon. With the help of her old classmate Luke, now a handsome police officer, she must solve the mystery and return to the present to save those she loves. 

What was the inspiration for this story?

While visiting my hometown of St. Anthony, Idaho, I went for a run along a trail that follows the Snake River. On the run, I imagined how different my life would have been had I never left home. Then I had this crazy thought, "What if I woke up one day, living in one of these houses, married to an old high school flame? How would I respond to that?" It was like I was discovering how beautiful my hometown was and I wanted to capture that in a story. And thus, The Sand Bar was born. 

How did it feel to have your first book published?

It is obviously very exciting and satisfying to know that people are reading my story and actually enjoying it. One of my biggest compliments is hearing that the reader couldn't put it down. To me that is success.

Do you write books for a specific genre?

I mainly write women's fiction with a romance tilt, though there have been many men who have enjoyed the book.

What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

I love every type of genre. I love historical fiction and would have to say, These Is My Words, is my favorite. I also loved Kathryn Stockett's The Help, and I devoured the entire Twilight series. Another favorite of all time is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. So I guess you could say I love a compelling story no matter what the genre.

Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?

I generally write at the kitchen table in front of a large picture window, but I can't sit still too long so sometimes I write in front of the fireplace, or at my desk or on the sofa. But I usually end up back in the kitchen. Could it have something to do with the close proximity to the pantry? No comment.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

It usually begins with a thought or a question I ask myself. I suppose you could say I'm a daydreamer. But those questions or ideas are only the beginning. For example, in a story I'm writing now, I wanted to use the idea of a man fulfilling his community service by participating in a play as my starting point. As I began to write, the story took several twists that I hadn't anticipated and I ended up with a very different novel then when I had started. 

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I wish I had a strict work schedule, but with five kids there isn't anything very strict about my life. I come and go like a fleeting butterfly, here a little, there a little. However, since my youngest started kindergarten this year, I have tried to get in a couple of strong hours in the early afternoon when she is gone. The problem comes when I am deep in the story and really on fire and the kids all show up and I'm not ready for them yet. "Just a minute, guys. I need to finish this chapter," I beg them. That is the hard part.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

Hmmm ... let me think. I do enjoy singing, playing the piano and acting. I also love to hike and spend time with my family, but mostly I love to write.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

Find little snippets of time to write. Little chunks here and there add up to chapters, and chapters add up to finished novels and finished novels add up to published novels.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

I love to entertain people. The most gratifying feeling of all is when people tell me what they think about the story long after they've finished the last page. I don't expect to change the world, but I do hope to make you laugh, cry, fall in love again, escape to a faraway place or at least far enough away that you forget about the dishes in the sink and the laundry in the basket for a few hours.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

Facebook, Twitter, and on my blog:

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely from your imagination?

I don't know how any author can keep aspects of real life from creeping into their stories. While the characters are purely fictional, I do sneak in bits and pieces of my life - like the father's robe in the story matches one my dad wore when I was growing up - and the old Dodge that Marlo passes when she first gets pulled over by her old classmate, Luke, matches an old orange Dodge my family owned at one time. It's fun to see if people can find the props from real life placed in the scenes like props in a movie.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit with us?

My next novel titled, Escaping Bubble Land is about a girl named Cass who uses alcohol to hide the guilt she feels for the death of her younger brother Cooper. After getting clean she returns home to her farm in Wyoming and meets up with her childhood secret crush James, who is working her parents' farm for the summer before he heads off to medical school. This story is about her journey of recovery, forgiveness, and her desire to win James over, if it's not too late. It is definitely more of a romance and was a ton of fun to write! It should be available to readers by next fall. 

Thank you Rebecca for allowing me the opportunity to interview you on Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and for taking the time to share some things about you and your writing career with us!

About The Author:

Lover of books and movies and all things that leave me feeling better about this world we live in. I have five kids and a great husband who put up with all my zany ideas. I write women's fiction/romance and have recently dipped my toes into acting again after many, many years. Besides singing, hula hooping, and chopping onions, I also enjoy zumba-ing with all the other moms who think they can dance and baking things   I should not partake in. My latest adventure is self-publishing. It should be exciting.


BUY THE BOOK: The Sand Bar

Book Description: The Sand Bar

With nothing to show for the last eight years but a dusty diploma, a failed marriage, a lot of emotional baggage - Gucci, thank you - and a really great collection of designer shoes, Marlo Leavitt has come home again.

With her marriage annulled and her emotions in tatters, Marlo returns to her hometown of St. Anthony, Idaho, to care for her sick father and get back on her feet. She runs into Brandon, the boyfriend whose heart she broke before she left town, and finds him unhappy in his marriage and his life. Marlo fears she has not only ruined her own chance for happiness, but that of a man she once loved. When she meets an old woman who offers her a chance to make things right by going back in time, Marlo feels she has nothing to lose. She accepts the elixir and soon finds herself not in the past, but two years in the future, married to Brandon and living the life she had always dreaded: stuck in a tiny town with a toddler she doesn't know or love.

Things get more complicated when she begins to suspect that Brandon had a part in his first wife's mysterious death. With the help of handsome Luke Dawson, an old classmate and now a police officer, Marlo must solve the mystery of what really happened the night she took the elixir, and fix her broken relationships before she can return to the present and truly have a second chance at happiness.

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