October 3, 2013

A Summer of Love by Michela O'Brien {Featured Book & Author Interview}

Successful artist Jonah Briggs is a man who has made mistakes. Aged just eighteen, he was sent to prison for two years, leaving his family shattered and his first love, Sally, to wait for his return.

But at eighteen, two years seem like a lifetime, and some promises are hard to keep.

When Jonah reappears in her life, Sally finds herself torn between him and Ewan, the young Cornish farmer she has married, divided between loyalty and passion, duty and love.

Over the course of almost two decades, through meetings and partings, secrets and revelations, and two momentous summers, Jonah will have to confront his past and heal old wounds, while Sally will face the consequences of her choices – whether to follow her conscience or her heart.


Published by Crooked Cat Publishing
Release Date: January 20, 2013
Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Book Excerpt

The beach in the summer was lively and colorful, filled with people in holiday mood, but Jonah much preferred it out of the tourist season, when it was deserted and melancholic. He lit a cigarette and looked over at the tangle of bodies, windshields, towels, surf boards, buckets and spades scattered on the sand. There was something more attractive about the sad, darker side of things, he considered. Happiness seemed to leave him cold.

He leaned against the bonnet of his car, feeling agitated like a schoolboy on his first date. Sally was late.

He hadn’t been too sure how seriously she had taken his invitation, though they had quickly exchanged phone numbers just in case, and he’d been surprised when she had called him the following day to let him know that Ewan had left for Springfield Hospital with his sister.

“We could go for that lunch tomorrow, if you’re still up for it.”

And so here he was, waiting in the car park by the beach, feeling oddly nervous.

He had come to the conclusion that time had finally washed his feelings away, like the waves erased footprints and sandcastles from the beach, and Sally was no more than a memory.

Only she wasn’t.

If he had any sense, he would leave for London right now, go back to Sophie and his life, but the summer air and its perfume, and the Cornish light that he had so often tried to reproduce in his paintings, had messed with his senses and he just could not bring himself to go.

He always had that pull, he remembered, that desire to escape and that longing to stay. Deep down, he had carried a piece of that place with him. He could find it in almost each painting, in the twisted, visionary landscapes he created. They were surreal versions of familiar images; the beach, the cliffs, the meadows he had played in, the narrow lanes he had walked, the coastline, the tides and the waves.

He threw his gaze far, to the horizon, like many times before when he was a boy dreaming of a future that had never materialised. So absorbed in his thoughts, he didn’t realise Sally had joined him until her voice made him jump.

“Sorry I’m late.”

He stared at her, soaking up her natural beauty, carelessly bundled in sailor jumper and jeans. “No worries.”

The Interview

Thanks so much for stopping by the Authors' Cafe today, Michela. I'm very excited to host you and your book, A Summer of Love! Okay, I see you've got your favorite beverage, so let's get right to the interview.

At what point in your life did you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer, since I started writing my first stories when I was about six. But it was only about ten years ago that I decided to take concrete steps towards achieving my goal. It took some time to learn how to craft a novel and finding a publisher, but got there in the end. I’ve now published two novels, both with independent publisher Crooked Cat Publishing, Playing On Cotton Clouds and A Summer of Love.

Which of your characters is most like you?

Probably Sally. Always trying to do the right thing and please everyone. Like me, she’s a dreamer.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which character from Summer of Love would you want with you?

Oh, that’s easy! Jonah. He’s just lovely.

Where do you write?

Mainly at my kitchen table.

Do you have any “rituals” you go through before you write?

Not really. I normally start by re-reading the last pages I wrote to get back into the story and take it from there.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) of Summer of Love to write and why?

There are many moments of the story I love, some of which I can’t reveal without giving away some of the twists in the book. One of my favourite scenes is when Jonah and Sally meet again for the first time after ten years apart. It’s a very emotional moment. They both still have feelings for each other, but try to hide them.


How did you come up with the title?

I started writing a story that takes place in summer 1988 – the so called Second Summer of Love. Although the events of that story are now only told in retrospect in the book, they have an impact on the characters’ fate during two subsequent summers, ten and then twenty years later.

What would YOU like your readers to know about this book or you in general?

The book is about choices, living with the consequences of mistakes or trying to fix them. It’s about loyalty and forgiveness, family ties and love.

What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Read.

Do you have a favorite author?

I tend to have favourite books rather than favourite authors.

What is your favorite quote?

One I read in a comic book: “Once past, memories and dreams are the same thing.”

I LOVE that quote! What genre of books do you read for pleasure?

Contemporary and historical fiction, family sagas, stories that cover all ranges of human emotions. I tend to prefer drama to comedy, but I do enjoy a good chuckle at times.

What’s the most amusing thing that’s ever happened to you?

I can get hysterical about really trivial things. I used to have fits of laughter with my brother and sister. We still do. When we start we just keep setting each other off and can’t stop.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

If I’m not writing or reading, I’m listening to music. Or buying music. Or going to see people playing music. I’m a total music nut. I love my vinyls. I made sure I had a record player when I bought my stereo. I like watching movies, sit-coms and documentaries. I spend an unhealthy amount of time on social networks, but I also enjoy socializing the old fashion way, going out, meeting people and having fun.

If all TV shows were real, what show (all time) would you most like to live in?

Friends. 


Random-Ness

Party dress or blue jeans? Mostly blue jeans.

Plotter or Panster? Fifty-fifty.

Print or e-Book? Print but e-Book for convenience.

Coastal walks or extreme sports? Walks.

Cookies or cupcakes? Cookies

Super hero or super villain? Hero, but not “super.”

If I had a free afternoon I’d . . . meet some friends for a chat.

Peanut Butter: Crunchy, Creamy, or I hate peanut butter and am addicted to Nutella. Nutella rules!

You suddenly realize you live in a haunted house. Do you:

  1. Run screaming for the door.
  2. Bravely go to a church, load up on holy water and try to get rid of the ghost.
  3. Set up ghost hunting equipment to capture phenomenon.
  4. Call in the Ghost Adventures crew so that you can ogle the lead guy Zac’s amazingly stiff hair when you’re not ogling his….physical attributes.
  5. Deny you have a ghost and just let it scare the bejesus out of your visitors.
Probably #5. I’d have a good rapport with my ghost.

Could you tell us five random facts about yourself?

  1. I was born in Italy and grew up in what’s regarded as the China Town of Milan.
  2. I believe in astrology and ghosts.
  3. I collect ducks. Ornaments, pictures, fridge magnet, tea cosies… anything in a shape of a duck. Would love a real one as a pet!
  4. I dislike anything with more than four legs. Except for ladybugs. 
  5. My three desert island tracks would be: (a) Waterfall by The Stone Roses; (b) There She Goes by The La’s; and (c) Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths
Awesome interview - Thanks so much for stopping by to visit today, Michela!

About Michela O'Brien

Michela O'Brien was born in Milan, Italy, in . . . well, let's say some time in the last third of the 20th century. In Milan she grew up, studied, worked as a teacher, made friends and wrote, commending thoughts to page, imagining plots and characters, recording events in her life, noting observations about the world: stories, diaries, letters... In an era before personal computers, internet, blogs and social networks, it was pen and paper and she still carries a notebook and a pencil with her to sketch ideas on the spot.

She moved to England in 1994 and lives at the edge of the beautiful National Park of the New Forest with her husband and two sons.

Her greatest inspiration are ordinary people and real life stories and her novels and short stories centre on themes of friendship, love, coming of age and self discovery, human emotions and experiences everyone can relate to.

She has written two novels: Playing On Cotton Clouds (2012) and A Summer of Love (2013), both published by Crooked Cat Publishing

Michela is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.
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8 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for having me, Florence! It was a pleasure and a lot of fun doing the interview :)

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    1. Excellent interview, Michela and Authors' Cafe. I enjoyed learning a little more about you!

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    2. Thanks for stopping by to chat, Michela - It was fun!!!

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  2. Great interview, Florence & Michela. Nice to know you read comic books, Michela (I have a fair collection myself). I can't see me getting invited here, though - party dress or blue jeans? Phew, there are still some questions I've set up for my interview that you haven't tackled. Phew!

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  3. Great interview, ladies! And Michela, I hate to make you jealous, but I have three ducks. If you get one, be warned: they're stinky. Cute enough to make up for that, though. :)

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    1. Thanks, Kristen! As my son would say, "I'm well jealous"!
      I'll get one, eventually! :)

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    2. Nice to see you here again Kristen - Thanks for visiting!!!

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