I’ve known a few people with mirthful eyes. Their “windows to the soul” express joie de vivre as do the merry wrinkles that surround them. Though those with happy eyes have circumstances too, they choose to live with a bounce in every step. Being in their presence is to experience a mood-altering drug of joy. Their clever turns-of-phrase and jokes bring them as much pleasure in the telling as in the sharing.
Author Barbara Ellen Brink has mirthful eyes, and, lucky for her readers, that mirth is poured into the Fredrickson Winery series. Reading this three-book series made me smile. Her clever repartee between characters is funny and well-delivered and is used to great effect to counter-balance the romantic suspense genre for which she writes.
Book 1 Entangled, Book 2, Crushed and the finale, Book 3 Savor, all take place at fictional The Fredrickson Winery in Napa Valley, California
Her characters are much like the array of flavors I image Fredrickson’s wines would produce. Sabrina is bold yet with a delicacy found only in the well-aged. Margaret, is pleasantly earthy, and, shall we say, well-distributed but dense and concentrated. The Handel-Billie relationship is like a Cary Grant-Kate Hepburn blend of wine. Handel is smooth, rich, with hints of espresso eyes. Billie has an intense spiciness with a slight floral that develops into a softness the more one lingers.
As much as I would love to give you lines that defend my point that Brink has you chuckling as you read along, I will resist the urge. I’d rather you experience them as I did, with laugh-out-loud moments as you read.
Please welcome Barbara Ellen Brink as she talks about the Fredrickson Winery series.
JS: Where did you get the idea to write about a winery?
BEB: I was visiting relatives in Washington State a number of years back and noticed how wineries and vineyards had popped up across the countryside. I’d read lots of articles about how popular wine tasting rooms had become in numerous states and wondered what it would be like to own and operate a place like that. I also wanted to deal with repressed memories. I spent much of my childhood in Washington but my memories aren’t so good. Not that they’re repressed – just poor. I found that memories were often jogged by things like the smell of apricots ripening on a tree, tumbleweeds blowing in the wind, or the sound of frogs croaking in unison down by the creek. It set my mind spinning this story.
JS: How did you research these novels?
BEB: The research for The Fredrickson Winery series was very challenging. I immersed myself in the world of winemaking, watched videos, visited wineries, read books, articles and websites. I needed to learn about growing grapes, the different varietals grown in different regions, the wine-making process, the people employed at a winery/vineyard and the jobs they perform. All of that research was interesting, but a little intimidating. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes somewhere along the line, as I am in no way an expert in this field, but I did my best and I hope you will enjoy the fruit of my labor.
JS: If there is a message in your books, what would it be?
BEB: The message would definitely be about family ties. We often take family for granted. Sometimes they seem too close for comfort. Parents can be domineering, siblings can be nosy and bossy, but when hard times come and you have nowhere to turn, or especially when you have something to celebrate, family is always there. They are the ones you turn to. The ones you can rely on. The ones you feel safe to cry or rejoice with.
JS: Your characters all are quick-witted, which means you must be. Where did you develop your sense of humor?
Having two brothers for siblings, I had to either develop a sense of humor or turn into a serial killer. If you have brothers, you know they enjoy teasing their sisters mercilessly. I was the middle child and learned quickly that a sarcastic retort was much more useful than pummeling them with my fists.
JS: How many books are there in this series? Will there be more?
BEB: There are three books in the series. Entangled, Crushed, and Savor. I actually wrote Entangled as a stand-alone book, but changed my mind and wrote Crushed a year later, so I won’t say it’s not possible there could be another book. Somewhere down the line I may decide to revisit the Fredrickson Winery, but for now I think Savor has tied up all the loose ends.
JS: Where can people buy your books online and what do they cost?
BEB: All three books are available at most online bookstores.
Entangled is $2.99, Crushed is $3.99, Savor is $4.29
Apple iBookstore: http://ow.ly/p9SWg
Thanks, Barbara, for taking the time to visit with me here today. Cheers to a great read.
Julie Saffrin is the author of numerous published articles and essays. Her latest book, BlessBack: Thank Those Who Shaped Your Life, explores the power of gratitude and offers 120 creative ways to journey toward positive, lasting change.