Interview With Author Rebecca Rosenberg

# Please introduce yourself and your book, CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS!

I’m Rebecca Rosenberg, lavender farmer, champagne geek and historical novelist. I live on a lavender farm in Sonoma, California in the midst of vineyards. I am a champagne historian, tour guide, and champagne cocktail creator for Breathless Wines, and became obsessed with all things champagne!

# What is/are the real-life story behind CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS?

When I first visited the champagne region of France, I discovered Veuve Clicquot (Widow Clicquot). In the early 1800s, this twenty-five-year-old widow, battled pandemics, mental illness, laws that forbidding women to own a business, fifteen years of Napoleon’s wars to rule Europe, and Napoleon himself, in order to forge her champagne empire! Today, Veuve Clicquot champagne is on of the leading champagne companies in the world!

# What inspired your creativity?

When I decided her story needed to be told, I explored her town, her winery, where she grew the grapes. I met with an historian who showed me everything they know about Barbe-Nicole Clicquot. I was hooked, and each detail I discovered helped me create her personality and the people in her world- the mentally ill husband, the mother she did not get along with, her father who had mixed loyalties to Napoleon and the exiled French King. So much fun to create their lives on the page!

# How do you deal with creative block?

I have a method I call free write. If I do not know exactly what I want to write in a scene, I let myself write freely, without judgment, and see what comes out. In that way, I inhabit the character’s mind and what she wants. It works!

# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?

I think it must be clear what the protagonist wants in each scene, or the scene has no meaning. It is also helpful to know what the other characters want, in conflict with what the protagonist wants. Every scene is an argument between characters, spoken or unspoken.

# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?

I wanted the cover to portray the soul of the book. In the case of CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS, I chose an artistic rendering of a young woman riding an exploding cork! Unconventional, yes! I had another cover of a woman of the era, toasting with champagne, but it did not capture the ecstasy of Veuve Clicquot when she finally won the opportunity to conquer the world with her champagne.

# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?

I focus on the percent of 5 and 4 star reviews. Not the occasional, “I did not like this book.” CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS will appeal to those interested in true historical fiction and wine making. But, not everyone. On Amazon, CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS has a 4.7 star rating. I’ll take it and be grateful!

# How has your creation process improved over time?

I have learned the importance of structure and pacing in a novel. In the current novel I am writing, Madame Pommery, about the next CHAMPAGNE WIDOW, I see I spent too much time in the first decade, and need to tighten it up to keep momentum going.

Also, in the second draft, I must slow down to write descriptions of where the protagonist is and what details she sees and what they mean to her, what they say about her, and what she wants.

# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?

I completed my first novel at 140,000 words and the agent wanted 85,000. I proceeded to cut 60,000 words and the agent said I lost the excitement I had before. Oh my goodness. I learned to write 100,000 words and cut on the subsequent rounds.

# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?

I have an important story to tell, and I am telling it to my best friend, the reader. Both are important. I want the reader to feel and understand the protagonist, and what makes her do the things she does, and the lessons she learns along the way.

# What role do emotions play in creativity?

There is an emotion present in the protagonist in every scene. Sometimes she does not even understand it is there. It stirs her to say and do things. My characters have emotions, but they often do not succumb to them. There is a scene in CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS, where she really loves and wants to marry her salesman, but she will lose the winery if she does. Conflicting emotions are the most powerful kind, I think.

# Do you have any creativity tricks?

Not sure it qualifies as a trick, but I love to include aspects of life that relate to the character, such as cultural, political and economic events. These aspects become the background for the plot and dialogue, and I feel adds a richness and realness to the story.

# What are your plans for future books?

I am writing the second CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS now, about Madame Pommery. A completely different story about a 40 year old widow with an infant. When she learns she must support her family, she picks something entirely unknown to her, making champagne! Her goal is to build the most beautiful champagne house in the world, so she builds a castle on top of the city dump! Exciting!

# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself.

I live on a lavender farm in Sonoma Valley. I play mahjong (a Chinese tiles game) with friends every Tuesday afternoon. I write at 4 am by candlelight because it is quiet and I can embody my heroine!

I would love to invite readers to sign up for my mailing list for notice of upcoming novels.

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