Today we have a rousing interview with Erin Finnegan, the author of Sotto Voce. This is a book about wine, relationships, and love. Enjoy!
1. Coffee, tea, or ... What's your vice? Red, red wine.
2. Favorite Movie? Alright, you've just discovered my Achilles' heel—naming my "favorite" anything. Let me narrow it to three of my favorites, movies I will always take time out for. First, a classic, one I can just about say all the lines along with the movie: Casablanca. Romance, romance and romance, set in an exotic and dangerous place with a hero who isn't quite and writing that you can never entirely get out of you head. Play it, Sam. Next, a comedy that punches all my buttons: Bull Durham. It's smart, sexy and shockingly close to a real depiction of life in A League ball. And yes, I recite The Speech. Finally, because I still cry, every time Tony dies: West Side Story. Is there a better musical? I think not.
3. Favorite color? On my walls, nutmeg. In my closet, shades of blue. In my glass, a rich, dark crimson.
4. Favorite book/author? Classics: Jane Austen. Any Jane Austen, really, though I have a huge spot in my heart for Mansfield Park, because for a woman in that era to have published that story, using her real name, was the kind of ballsy most people don't give Austen credit for. Among contemporary authors, a terrible toss-up between Tom Wolfe and Elmore Leonard. From the first time I read Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers in a college journalism class to the umpteenth time I read The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe is the kind of author I can't enough of. And Elmore Leonard, with sparkling wit and crisp dialogue, proved that an author could be equally good in two utterly unrelated genres. And finally, life-long influence: Dr. Seuss, especially Green Eggs and Ham. I know a band that performs it as a rap. And throws Pixie Sticks to the audience. Like I said, life-long influence.
5. How do you feel about bacon? Contrary to the image of all Southern Californians being kale-loving vegans, I am firmly in the pro-bacon camp.
The real questions...
Tell us about yourself.
Wine isn't just a vice for me. It's a lifestyle. I own a small vineyard where I produce Syrah and Zinfandel. I'm a native Southern California girl who has spent a professional lifetime in journalism and media relations, and a real lifetime playing and loving all kinds of music, devoting myself to the ups and downs of the Los Angeles Dodgers and spending far too much time trying to de-shed two very shaggy sheepdogs.
What's under your bed? Dust bunnies, and occasionally the cat.
What comes first, plot or characters? Give me a moment to waffle, because I think it's really a combination of the two. It's difficult for me to consider even breaking open a composition book (yes, I use those old school comp books to outline ideas) without having some sort of story in mind. But right on the heels of that first plot vehicle, I think it's important to consider the characters driving it.
Pantser, plotter or hybrid? Tell us about your writing process. I plot, I research, I structure—and then I often throw it all out and fly by the seat of my pants. But even if the outline isn't particularly detailed, I like to know where my story's going before I write it. And not long after I write the first words of a story, I write the very end, so I know exactly where my characters are going. I know people who can't imagine doing this, but for me, it's an absolute necessity.
Oddest thing on your desk? Odd is relative, isn't it? I mean, my office is decorated with dashboard hula dolls and some Dodger bobbleheads, which feels entirely normal to me. I think it's the remnants of old careers that feel odd now: the journalism and public relations awards that still sit on my bookshelf, and the proclamation by the California Legislature on my wall. Of course, that's not my desk, is it? So maybe I should just say my little wind-up robot toy, who helps distract me whenever I get stuck.
What's your most interesting writing quirk? I'm not sure I really have one, but I suspect it's the old habit I developed as a newspaper reporter of being able to write pretty much anywhere, and using whatever device necessary to take notes. Cocktail napkins are especially handy.
What's your favorite thing about the genre you write in? I love watching the evolution of LGBTQ romantic fiction to something that is not only embraced by readers of all kinds of backgrounds, but also as quality, well-written fiction. I get asked a lot why so many women write and read m/m romance. I think the answer's simple: because love is love, and this is just another take on it.
What's the hardest thing about being an author? I think for a lot of writers, the right answer to this is having to promote a book after you've written it. But for me, it's much more about another old journalism habit—procrastination. I think it comes from the adrenaline rush of deadlines—at least, that's what I've always told my editors. But the fact of the matter is the crunch of work is far more intense with a book than it is with a 1,000-word news story.
What's the easiest thing about being an author? Working in my pajamas, hands-down.
What do you wish someone had asked you for an interview question? Here's your chance to get the soap box! Surprisingly, no one has asked me about the relative merits of forced malolactic fermentation methodologies versus a dependence on naturally-occurring yeast strains in the production of Syrah.
Just kidding. I'd actually have loved it it someone had asked about the role of fan fiction in developing an original book, because that's a fascinating and relevant subject in this genre.
Before the prominence of 50 Shades—no matter what your take on the book itself—fan fiction was something that wasn't discussed much, at least openly, in publishing. Now, it's like a new gold rush for some major publishers to find the next EL James. What they're failing to recognize is that there are an enormous number of talented writers developing works of fiction within the fan community. It's a way to get instant feedback on a story concept, development or characterization, and it can be both a wild and supportive community in which to develop your work.
Tell us about your latest release! Sotto Voce is a story of love and wine, when Tom Baldwin, a critic from a New York-based magazine, is assigned to spend a year in California's wine country, setting up a competition to pit the big name wineries of Napa against small artisan winemakers of Sonoma. In order to succeed, Tom is going to need the help of handsome, enigmatic vintner Greg Kennedy, who has shut himself off from the world at a remote, bucolic winery. Greg may hold the keys to Tom's success, as well as his heart.
New York-based wine critic Thomas Baldwin can make or break careers with his column for Taste Magazine. But when his publisher orders him to spend a year profiling rising stars of California’s wine country and organizing a competition between the big name wineries of Napa and the smaller artisan wineries of Sonoma, his world gets turned upside-down by an enigmatic young winemaker who puts art before business.
Sotto Voce is the story of love and wine, and how both require patience, passion, an acceptance of change—and an understanding that sometimes, you have to let nature take its course.
Available at Amazon
About the Author...
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and editor. She was born and raised in Southern California, where she lives with two sheep dogs and grows, ferments and drinks Syrah and Zinfandel in the foothills outside Los Angeles.
Sotto Voce is her first novel.
Connect with Erin on the Web...
Twitter at @eringofinnegan.
Erin will be awarding a Multi-format Sotto Voce eBook to 10 randomly drawn winners and a Grand Prize of a $25 B&N gift card will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner, all via rafflecopter during the tour.