C.A. Belmond is the author of the "Rather" series (A RATHER LOVELY INHERITANCE, A RATHER CURIOUS ENGAGEMENT, A RATHER CHARMING INVITATION), and today she's here to answer a few of my questions and offer up quite the excellent of contests.
In your opinion what are the top three reasons why people should consider picking up the “Rather” series the next time they see it in stores or online?
Here’s what my readers from all around the world tell me about why they love the “Rather” novels:
1) People totally identify with my main character, Penny Nichols. They say, “I would react exactly the
way she does in each situation” and they love her “take” on every place she visits and every person she
2) Penny and Jeremy are a couple who truly like each other’s company. They bicker, they banter, they
sometimes drive each other crazy, but you know that underneath it all, they love being with each other.
3) In addition to the great locales, there’s always a bit of history and mystery in each book. Penny
narrates in the first-person voice, so readers say, “Wow, I feel like I was right there on a fantastic trip
with a good, trusted friend who gives you a private tour of the best cultural hot-spots in Europe!”
Penny is smart, but modest; idealistic, but sensible; she has wry, funny insights about people but she’s never cynical or judgmental. Penny gets her inspiration from 1930s movies, and she refuses to believe that there’s nothing more to modern life than dog-eat-dog. She’s determined to carve out an authentic, unique, elegant life for herself. I wouldn’t give her any advice at all, except to tell her to stay true to herself.
What’s you favorite aspect of writing the “Rather” series?
I love doing the research for my “Rather” novels because it means travelling to all these great locations. I also get deep pleasure from the quiet daily act of writing. And, I just love hearing from my readers,
because they come from many different places, different ages, different walks of life, yet it’s like a secret club of really wonderful people.
If the “Rather” series had a theme song what would it be?
There’s a wonderful Noel Coward song called, “A Room With A View”, about how he’d like to go off with the one he loves and just watch the world go by. Also, there’s a great Beatles song called “I Feel Fine”.
My first trip to the South of France was when I was awarded a writers’ residency. Then I returned to France, England and Italy for film festivals and other work projects. And all the while I kept thinking about writing about a sort of modern-day Henry James heroine, you know, an American girl on her first trip to Europe.
How do you come up with your character’s names? Is it something that comes to you easily or do you go through many before deciding on the perfect one?
I came up with Penny’s name when I was trying to describe her hair color. I thought her hair must be the color of a penny, but just to make sure, I went to my coin purse. “Yep, that’s it,” I told myself. And
right there in my palm, next to the penny, was a nickel. That’s how I got Penny Nichols. As for the other characters, I use a very old book of names that tells you their origin and meanings. Something inside me just knows when I’ve found the right one.
If you could live in any book for one, which book would you choose? Why?
Wow, how do you choose between Antibes and Rome in the first book, Lake Como and Corsica in the second; and a château near the perfume fields of Grasse or a chalet in Lake Geneva in the third book? But wherever Penny and Jeremy roam, in every book they always come home to two spots: their
townhouse in London where they work, and their villa on the French Riviera where they go to relax. So if I had to pick just one spot, I’d take the Riviera. Of all the places in the world, that’s where I feel most at home.
I often get my inspiration when I’m in the water, either the bathtub, or swimming. Maybe I’m part mermaid? Second, I love music, perhaps because I had some dance training. Third, I started out writing for television and film, which perhaps is why people tell me that they love the scene in A RATHER LOVELY INHERITANCE where Penny is working on a movie shoot.
What’s next for you book wise?
I am writing a fourth book in the “Rather” series, which will be released in September 2011. Also, I am co-authoring a stand-alone historical/suspense novel with my husband. So, stay tuned!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
People often ask me what inspired me to write these “Rather” novels, and while there are many reasons, in the end it all comes down to this: Just like my readers, I, too, wanted to open a book and discover a secret world, a timeless place that you’ve never seen before, yet you knew in your heart that it must exist somewhere. So, if you’re a seeker, then, welcome to the club!
Thanks, C.A.! To find out more about C.A. and her books head on over to http://www.cabelmond.com/.
Now for the giveaway part...
C.A. has offered up a copy of each of the novels in the "Rather" series (A RATHER LOVELY INHERITANCE, A RATHER CURIOUS ENGAGEMENT, A RATHER CHARMING INVITATION) and a "Rather" T shirt that includes all three of the "Rather" books' covers. There will be a winner for each prize, and have no fear if you haven't read this series before, C.A. told me it's easy to pick up what's going on from any of the books.
Here's the summaries for each book: