By: Andrea Randall
Champagne Toast is Melissa Brown’s second self-published novel in FOUR MONTHS! Not only did I have the wonderful opportunity to beta-read for this book, but I jumped at the chance to interview here when the opportunity arose.
Andrea Randall (AR): Melissa! You wrote like a crazy person for Champagne Toast (CT), it seems. Did you feel like you were really in a groove during the first draft?
Melissa Brown (MB): Yeah, I wrote this book very quickly---in about seven weeks. I knew what I wanted to accomplish with the story, so I just had to get it out!
AR: Originally you had CT as a "Sequel" of sorts for Bouquet Toss (BT), but it's not, now. What went behind that decision.
MB: I really like the idea of writing interconnected "stand-alone" novels that have connections to one another. But, I also like the idea of someone picking up any of the books I write and reading it without any confusion. So, I want each book to stand on its own two feet. And, I can only hope that if they enjoy one book, they'll want to read another.
AR: When you were writing BT, did you know right away that Evan would have his own book?
MB: No, not at all. He was going to be in only one chapter of the book. My dear friend, Janna, was
reading the book as I was writing it and she emailed me after reading his chapter and said, "So, tell me more about Evan." As he became a more integral part of the story, the idea crossed my mind to give him a book of his own.
AR: How did you feel self-publishing this time around compared to BT? Were you more or less nervous about certain aspects? Did you feel more prepared for certain things?
MB: I felt so much more prepared this time. But, there are benefits and drawbacks to that. I knew what to expect: the good and the bad. I knew what should make me nervous this time around. But, I had also made more connections with others in the indie community, I also have a critique partner now who is a life-saver, and beta-readers who are awesome and opinionated. And that helped to make Champagne Toast stronger. I had also established relationships with blogs and was excited to have my first blog tour thanks to the marvelous Taryn Celucci of the blog "My Secret Romance."
AR: The biggest difference style-wise between BT and CT is the alternating points of view. How did you feel writing inside Evan and Kate's heads?
MB: I truly loved it. I had fun getting inside the brain of a guy---Evan was really fun to write, as was Kate. I can't wait to do a dual POV book again.
AR: What's your favorite line from Evan? Kate?
MB: Oh wow....this is tough. For Evan, I love when he is at his most vulnerable--that was so fun to write. So, one line that I love is, "You have me, Kate. I'm yours." He says it when he is frustrated and angry---and I picture him pulling at his hair and yelling this line in total exasperation. For Kate, it's in a pivotal scene so I can't reveal it----but, it's when she sticks up for herself during a fight and turns the tables on Evan....she says something that is very powerful to me. She's had enough and she lets him have it.
AR: What are your hopes for this book?
MB: I am really proud of this story and my hopes are for others to read it, enjoy it and recommend it to friends. I love when I hear people say that they couldn't put the book down. Those are some of my favorite words in the English language! I would like it to have lasting power---that would be the best possible outcome. For people to be reading it a few years from now. That'd be awesome!
AR: This book has a very different, racier, feel than BT. Was that your intention setting out, or did it manifest itself that way through the process?
MB: I didn't go into it knowing it would be steamier than Bouquet Toss, but the characters are different. They have such chemistry, they have such a spark that it had to be reflected in the story. Where Daphne's is a sweet love story, this one is a story about intense love and conflict. I felt like a little more steam was needed to convey their story properly.
AR: What more can we expect from you this year?
MB: Right now, I am working on a novel called "Picturing Perfect"--the prologue is at the end of "Champagne Toast"---it is about a young woman named Hadley who thinks she has her whole life planned out for her. But, in the words of one of my favorite musicians, John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." There is a character from Champagne Toast who will play a significant role in the story, which will connect the two books. I also have another novel planned for Hadley's best friend, which will take place immediately after "Picturing Perfect." I just thought of it yesterday, in fact!! I'm really excited about both of these stories.
Thank you, Melissa Brown!
Buy Champagne Toast here.
Check out Melissa Brown on Facebook here.