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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Interview of Author BonSue Brandvik

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author BonSue Brandvik.

Latest Book: Pearls: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, Book One
Buy Link: For paperback and Kindle:

The e-book version is also available from:
Smashwords, Barnes & Nobel Nook, Apple iPad/iPhone, Kobo Reader, Sony Reader.

When I left my home in St. Louis MO to become a wife and mom at the age of seventeen, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about life.

Five years later, following my divorce, I decided a little more education couldn’t hurt. While working at a string of “interesting” jobs (ranging from selling cookware door to door, to cocktail waitressing in a strip club) I managed to earn my college degree, marry the true love of my life, and raise a fine daughter. In time, I developed a lucrative career in the field of Human Resources.

Then I quit my job and became a writer.

My next education began shortly after I mailed the rough draft of a partially-completed novel manuscript to several agents in New York. At the time, I thought the agent of my choosing would assign an editor to work by my side as I finished writing the story. Then she would proofread the manuscript, publish my novel, and schedule my television interviews and book signings. Ah, yes...

So here I am a few years later, having learned how to plot, edit (over and over again), critique and publish my novel. Now I’m learning how to market my work, while also trying to save a historic hotel from demolition. No kidding.

The setting for my series is the historic and haunted Belleview Biltmore Resort, in Belleair, Florida. It was built in 1896, and is the largest wooden hotel in the world (820,000 square feet.) While I was busy writing Pearls: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, the resort was closed and gutted, in preparation for a complete renovation. It was scheduled to reopen in 2012, just in time for my book launching. But then the real estate market collapsed, the owners defaulted on their mortgage, and the property was sold in lieu of foreclosure. Developers purchased the property in 2011 with the intention of demolishing the hotel and building180 town homes in its place. Along with preservationists and worldwide fans of the hotel, I am fighting to stop the demolition, while searching for investors to complete the planned hotel renovation.

When I’m not busy with preservation/activist projects or marketing activities, I can be found working on the second book in my series, Ripples: Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, tending to our flower and vegetable gardens, caring for our koi pond, taking pictures, running around in my little Fiat named ‘Button’, or reading a book.

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: World building. Maybe it’s because, as a Leo, I like making all the rules. Seriously, it’s a blast to let my imagination run wild and then write as if I know the answers to mysteries, like “What really happens when you die?” or “What if the walls really could talk?”

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you?Why?
A: Sex scenes. I tend to worry about what my friends and relatives will think of me when they read my bodice-ripping segments. It doesn’t stop me from writing them, though (wink, wink!)

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Margaret Plant, one of the two spirits that connects with my heroine, Honor. She always seems to know the dirty little secrets people are trying to hide, and she uses her influence to help other women improve their lives.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroines? Tell us about your heroine.
A: Amy Acker or Jennifer Love Hewitt. Honor Macklin is pretty and smart, but has lost her self-confidence after years of being married to guy who tells her she’s neither. She lost her father in a car accident when she was a child and the story begins shortly after she loses her mother the same way. When she begins interacting with the spirits at the Belleview Biltmore, it’s fun to watch her reevaluate her life and begin to take risks to get what she wants.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroes? Tell us about your hero.
A: Ben Affleck. Josh Lancing is a great guy who is not living the life he once imagined, but he’s trying to be a good father to his four-year-old son. He is smitten with Honor right away, but neither of them lives in Florida, and he’s positive long-distance relationships never work out.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: Heavens no! But they do all look amazingly like people I know and/or movie stars.

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing?
A: I try not to, but sometimes jelly beans and/or pumpkin seeds are just plain necessary.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: Photography. There’s just something about capturing a moment in time that no one will ever experience in the exact same way as I am at the moment I press the shutter button.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: An oldie (1970s), but goodie: “Time and Again” by Jack Finney, a time travel romance, which was later the basis for the screenplay and movie, “Somewhere in Time”, staring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Publisher’s page:
Facebook: BonSue Brandvik, Author
Twitter: BonSueB

Software developer Honor Macklin believes she’s equal business partners with her philandering ex-husband, but when family responsibilities take her to Florida, she discovers her ex may have cheated her in more ways than one. Spirits at the Belleview Biltmore hotel try to help Honor by invading her dreams to share memories from the life of Darcy Loughman, a young Victorian woman with big problems of her own. When the two worlds collide, Honor and her new lover, Josh, along with his clairvoyant four-year-old son, try to figure out how Honor can use lessons from the past to change her destiny.

The setting for this novel is the famous and currently endangered historic Belleview Biltmore Resort in Belleair, FL. The hotel was built in 1896 by one of Florida’s founding fathers, Henry B. Plant. The author is working with preservationists, hoping to find investors willing to save the wonderful, 820,000 sq. ft. hotel from demolition. For additional information, please visit: and/or

[Previous: After overhearing her ex-husband/business partner discuss her lack of bedroom prowess with one of their clients, Honor Macklin made a hasty decision to fly to Florida, to complete her responsibilities as executor for her late mother’s estate. She is staying at the Belleview Biltmore hotel while sorting out the remainder of her mother’s possessions. At the bottom of a deep cabinet in her mother’s kitchen, Honor found an old journal, which she brought back to the hotel.]

Chapter 4
...As she began to drift off to sleep, Honor became aware of a chill in the air and she heard voices coming from… coming from where? The hallway? Her suite? She tried to focus on the conversation.

“She has the journal. It’s time for her to know everything,” a woman’s voice said.

Honor rose from her bed to investigate and was amazed to find two women sitting in her parlor, clothed in full Victorian dress. Then it slowly began to sink in. They weren’t exactly what you would call solid.

Chapter 5
“Who… what…” stammered Honor, startled almost beyond words.

“Good evening, darlin’,” the larger of the two women greeted her. “I’m Margaret and this is…well, this is Darcy. We see you’ve found her journal, gone from sight these many years.”

Margaret turned to face the thin, older woman. “It’s time, Darcy. You know it’s the right thing to do.”

“But what if she doesn’t understand?” The older woman looked worried. Her anguished eyes locked on Honor.

“She comes from good stock. She’ll understand,” the plump
woman replied.

Suddenly, Honor found herself inexplicably fading from her hotel room, into a fog. She floated through the mist, enjoying the sensation. When the fog lifted, she was sitting at a cast-iron garden table with a cool breeze caressing her face.

She felt dizzy and a bit sick to her stomach, as if she had just stepped off a roller coaster. Desperately, she tried to orient herself to her new situation by focusing on a pink hibiscus bush nearby. She heard someone call out from a nearby path.

“A grand afternoon to you, Madam Darcy.”

Honor turned toward the voice and saw the heavyset woman who had called herself Margaret, waving at Darcy, who was seated across from Honor at the garden table.
Honor’s mouth hung open as she gazed beyond the courtyard to the original Belleview Hotel. She felt Darcy’s eyes upon her, pulling her attention back across the table. Darcy spoke as though they were still in Honor’s hotel room, seemingly unaware their location had changed, or that she appeared to be several decades younger than she had been only moments ago.

Darcy offered no explanation for the changes. “You must understand. I grew up in a world very different than the one I found when my husband brought me to this place,” she said, waving her hand in the general direction of the garden. “My father was an honorable man, but he was not blessed with a keen business sense and his dire financial situation caused his health to fail.” Darcy took deep breath, as if the words revived painful memories.

“My mother bore no sons to help support our family, so by the time I reached womanhood, my family’s name had become its most valued asset. I was forced to put away any thoughts I may have possessed about spending a glorious debut season in New York and face the reality that my marital prospects were quite poor. With no dowry, I was no longer viewed as a suitable match for young gentlemen of good breeding and wealth.”

After another long pause, Darcy continued, her voice a flat monotone. “And so I was given in marriage to Reginald Loughman in my fourteenth year. Reginald was thirty five years my senior.”

Darcy flinched, as if remembering the feel of the old man’s wrinkled touch on her tender, young body. After a moment, she lifted her chin. “My parents tried their best to secure my future, but…” She shook her head.

“I was Reginald’s third wife, he having been sorrowfully widowed twice before. He had already sired and raised his heirs; so thankfully, he didn’t come to my bed very often. My wifely duties were mostly confined to providing my husband with social companionship and running his household,” she murmured.

Without warning, the fog returned and Honor fell away from the garden.

"After reading Pearls, the heartwarming debut of the Spirits of Belleview Biltmore series, I can't wait for the second book. BonSue Brandvik deftly spins a tale that is part historical romance and part ghost story, which ultimately teaches a very compelling lesson about the strength of love and sisterhood."-- Cara Lockwood, USA Today bestselling author of I Do (But I Don't).

Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes. If anyone is interested in helping save the historic Belleview Biltmore Resort from demolition, please consider forwarding my website and a bit about our mission to anyone you believe is like-minded. And of course, buying a copy of my book would be appreciated, too!


Paris said...


Great interview! I never realized how much being a Leo influenced my love of world building but it makes so much sense now:)

Good luck with the book and your fight for the Belleview Biltmore!

Adele Dubois said...

Thanks for sharing with us, BonSue. I enjoyed your interview and excerpt. Best wishes for much success in your writing and preservationist work.


jean hart stewart said...

I enjoyed learning about you, BonSue, Best of luck in your career and saving that wonderful old hotel...

BonSue Brandvik said...

Paris - Always nice to hear from another Leo! Thanks for stopping by!

Thomas Weston said...

A terrific read...highly recommended. Thomas Weston

Cara Marsi said...

I really enjoyed your interview. You've done some interesting things. I hope you save the hotel. It sounds like wonderful building. I love ghost stories. Your book is on my to buy list. Good luck.

Mary Braus Justus said...

BonSue, I am so excited to read the first book in what I hope will be a long series. I would give nearly anything to tour hotel, even in it's present condition. I hope your passion and hard work pay off and this treasure is saved. I wish you the very best in your endeavors. Sincerely, Mary Braus Justus (dymphnasis online)

Rayleg said...

All good and great information on the beautiful historic hotel

Kristi Kasper said...

The book was great and I can't wait for the next one! I wish BonSue all the luck in the world saving that beautiful hotel.

Linda Morris said...

Good book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Being local myself, it was fun to have the characters visit familiar business'. Waiting for next book.

Colleen (Shibley Smiles) said...

You are an amazing, strong, and talented woman. I love that you followed your heart and have published a book. Honestly considering my taste in books and television shows this is right up my ally.

If it is or comes out in audio book form let me know. Unfortunately the art of actually "reading" a book will have to wait until my attention is not on three growing children.

Great interview!

Aithne said...

Congrats! BonSue. It's great to see Pearls published. So...when will we see the next installment? vbg

~ Aithne

BonSue Brandvik said...

Thanks for the good wishes for my book and for the Belleview Biltmore, everyone!

Colleen - I'm planning an audio version in the near future for all you people who are too busy to read a 'real' book! You are by no means alone in that group. Ha!

Also for those who asked about the next book in the series, "Ripples" should be out within the next year. I admire authors who can produce a great novel in less time, but have come to accept that I am not one of them!

BonSue Brandvik said...

Cara & Mary - Thanks for your interest! I look forward to hearing from you once you have finished reading "Pearls"

Dory said...

Great Interview! I bought your book, but I haven't read it yet. I will, I promise. I wish you the best of luck in your future writing career and saving the hotel. I hope all is well.

dave g said...

Bon Sue,
your efforts to save this amazing hotel are noble and true.
i appreciate your fortitude.
Dave Goldman

Judy Stewart said...

I bought and read "Pearls" already, and enjoyed it tremendously. I like the idea that the book may help preserve the hotel where the spirits live. Interesting to read the interview with the author.

Lynn B. said...

While reading Pearls, Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore, I thought time and time again how surprised I was that this was your first novel. Such skill in introducing characters and personalities and knowledge of the hotel made me feel as if I were right there. I can't wait for Ripples to be published. Congratulations and best wishes to you as you continue your efforts to save the Belleview Biltmore Hotel and continue to publish your "Spirits of the Belleview Biltmore" novels.

Anonymous said...

I don't normally like to read romance novels, but not only did I read this one, I bought two extra copies to give to a couple of friends. I hope this is made into a movie.

BonSue Brandvik said...

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to check out my interview and leave a comment, and especially to Marianne at Romance Books R Us for providing me with this marvelous opportunity.

If anyone has any questions or would like to exchange links, please don't hesitate to contact me on my website (which is just about to get a big overhaul)

Now back to work on writing the next book in this series!

leann said...

As a new Lori Foster reader, which book or series should I start? Looking forward to reading your books. a fan in VA

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