Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell - Review and Author Interview

Welcome to Reading It All's stop on The Memory of Roses tour presented by Sizzling PR.

Title: The Memory of Roses
Author: Blair McDowell
Publisher: Rebel Ink Press LLC

Synopsis: When renowned archaeologist Ian McQuaid dies, he leaves his daughter, Brit, a villa on the Greek island of Corfu. The only thing Ian asks is that Brit deliver a package to a woman he once loved there. The problem is Brit knew nothing about either the villa or the love affair. She thought her parents had been happily married all these years.

After a disastrous love affair of her own, Brit finally admits to herself that she's desperately unhappy. At thirty two and left with more questions about her life than answers, Brit has a dawning sense that to live her own life free of shadows, she must trace the path of her father's past. 

Brit's journey takes her from San Francisco to Athens, to the villa on Corfu, and finally to Venice, where she discovers a truth long hidden that holds the power to destroy lives. During the course of her odyssey Brit meets Andreas Leandros, a young Greek archaeologist, and while uncovering the secrets of her father's past, she discovers her own future.

My Thoughts: I just love a good romance. I am so happy that I was given the chance to review The Memory of Roses. It would fall into that category of a great romance. The story line was so wonderful, the setting was gorgeous, and the characters were so amazing. 

Brit was wonderful to read about. She has lost faith in love and trust, and watching her find it again was something I loved most about this book. I love when a character grows during a story, and Brit truly did. Blair McDowell did such a perfect job of telling Brit's story. 

Andreas, well he just sounds amazing, like every woman's prince charming or, in this case, Greek god. He is so caring and (mostly) patient with Brit. I think I fell in love with him just a little. 

I loved that Ian and Maria's story was represented so beautifully! At first I wondered if we would ever get the entire story but then McDowell started telling it, and it was so heartbreaking. I felt horrible for all the pain and loss that they both suffered over the years. 

Greece sounds so beautiful. McDowell painted one of the most gorgeous settings in this book. I am dying to go there now. The island of Corfu and the villa sound just breathtaking. 

I would recommend this book to any person looking for a good romance. It was a very touching story. I plan to see what else Blair McDowell has to offer. If this book is anything to go on I have a feeling that she will fast become a new favorite.


I am happy to have had the chance to interview Blair McDowell, and learn a little more about her and her books.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live between my two homes, one in the Caribbean on an island that is the setting for my novel, Delighting In Your Company, and the other on Canada’s scenic west coast where I run a Bed and Breakfast for six months of the year. I’m a retired university professor. During my previous life I wrote professional books, six of them, all still widely used, but in retirement I returned to my first love, writing fiction.

What do you do when you are not writing?
Swim. Read.Cook. I love all three. It is a life-long ambition to swim in every major body or water that is swimmable. I’m about half way through.

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
My first professional book was sold to a major New York publisher on the basis of an outline and three chapters. I thought it would be like that when I started writing fiction. Was I ever in for a surprise! It took two years to sell The Memory of Roses. Problem was it isn’t genre. It doesn’t fit. Thank God for Elizabeth Carr and Rebel Ink, a Boutique publisher into originality.

How did you choose the genre you write in?
So far I’ve written three novels, each in a different genre. I don’t want my imagination put in braces.

Where do you get your ideas?
Most often it’s a setting that grabs me. Greece, Italy, The Caribbean, Canada’s gorgeous and rugged west coast. The setting always suggests characters, and the characters suggest plot.

How did you come up with your characters?
The characters are figments of my fertile imagination. They suggest themselves. I don’t really “come up with them.”

Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Never. What I experience, in common with many other writers, I suspect, is too damn many interruptions.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I choose setting first. Then I do character studies in great detail. Then I write the plot out in synopsis form. At this point the characters may change a bit. Only then do I write the first line of my book.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I shall interpret your word challenges to mean frustration. There was lots of that. The lowest point came when an agent said he really liked my first three chapters, would I please send him the rest. I did and waited on tenterhooks for three months. My parcel was returned unopened with the word “deceased” stamped across it.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?
I turn much more quickly to e-book publishers. They are the future of publishing. Perhaps the future of literacy.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write in your book and why?
My favorite section of The Memory of Roses is the love story between Ian McQuaid, my heroine’s father, and the young Italian artist who unexpectedly enters his life on the Greek island of Corfu, Maria Calbrese.  

How did you come up with the title?
Roses are a connective thread from the first pages to the last in The Memory of Roses. The title was a natural.

What project are you working on now?
I’ve just finished the last pages of Sonata, a mystery romance set in Vancouver and on the Sunshine Coast. The story of an improbable love affair between an international concert artist and a Vancouver cop.

Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Delighting In Your Company, a paranormal Romance with time travel, set in the Caribbean, will be released by Rebel Ink in e-book format on April 17th and in paperback on May 30th.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
I’ve had a house in the tropics for 40 years. In that time I’ve heard endless stories and legends about Jumbies (the walking dead) and Obeah, the religion brought to the Caribbean from Africa by the slaves. What could have been more natural in such a setting than a 21st Century heroine who falls in love with a man who died two hundred years ago?

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Writers write. And then they send out what they’ve written to publishers and agents. They don’t get depressed at rejections. They just go to the next five editors and agents on their list. If what they write is good, it will find the right place eventually. The NY Times bestseller list is full of authors who initially had trouble finding a publisher.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Please buy my books. I’m not sure how much longer Revenue Canada is going to let me claim writing deductions if you don’t!

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
The Once and Future King by Theodore White. The story of King Arthur, Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. Gorgeous writing.

What is the last book you read?
I’m wading my way through Andrea Calmilleri’s series of 19 books, translated from the Italian, featuring Sicilian detective, Salvo Montalbano. The characters are wonderful and the setting can’t be beat.

Who would be in your dream cast for your book?
For the Memory of Roses. Odd you should ask. A film editor friend of mine asked the same question after reading the book.
Ian McQuaid, Sean Connery twenty years ago.
Andreas Leandros, Maybe Rufas Sewell although he too would need to be younger. And Andreas in the book’s a blue-eyed blond. Do you have any idea how FEW actors are blue-eyed blonds?
Brit and Maria, the two female leads? I haven’t come up with anyone well known for either. The lead female in Shadows in the Sun, whose name escapes me comes the closest to Maria. The lead in Under the Tuscan Sun, could do Brit effectively.

Do you have a song picked out that you feel represents your book?
Not really, although I heard a lot of traditional Greek café music when we on the Greek island of Hydra that would be perfect. Unusual stringed instruments, interesting melodies, Unusual rhythms and harmonies.

What is your favorite quote?
Telos Kalo, Ola Kala
Greek for “all’s well that ends well”

Is there an author who you would love to meet?
The poet John Donne. But since he’s dead these several hundred years, I hope not to meet him soon.

Short answer
Vanilla or Chocolate
favorite color
dogs or cats
tea or coffee
coffee, providing it’s Italian or Greek, and strong
night owl or early bird
Definitely early bird
Coke or Pepsi
Ugh!! wine
Facebook or Twitter
shoes or sandals
Bare feet

Thank you so much for stopping by and answering all of my questions Blair.

You can purchase your own own copy of The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell from: Amazon / Nook / All Romance / Ebookstrand

To learn more about The Memory of Roses and Blair McDowell you can visit: Website / Facebook

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