Hey everyone! Today I am excited to introduce author Gillian Felix to my blog. She just released the third book in her Family Portrait series, and it’s quite good.
Without further interruptions by my, here is a quick synopsis of her book, my brief interview with her, and a couple of her thoughts on the book’s background. I will follow up with my review of it.
Synopsis for Bastard’s Brew
When L’Wren’s ex-boyfriend Jeff suddenly disappears, she turns to Kevin to help her find him. With one phone call, Kevin makes sure that Jeff stays hidden and that L’Wren’s heart is broken, leaving the door open for Kevin to pursue her. But Kevin is not as free as L’Wren thinks; she is in the dark about his affair with her stepmother, Savi. Savi constantly reminds Kevin of his devious ways and uses their secret to keep him as her toyfriend.
“You don’t deserve to be loved, and you don’t deserve to be happy. You and I are the same … we’re broken inside. Everything we touch, we destroy. We don’t get happily ever after … we don’t get to ride off into the sunset. You know who gets that? L’Wren … she gets it, she gets the guy, and she deserves a decent guy.”- Savi
Kevin desires to be the man that L’Wren deserves, but before he can assume the role of white knight, he brews one last plan to get rid of Savi for good. Will L’Wren, the innocent victim in their twisted game, become a casualty?
Kevin may have sold his body to the devil in stilettos, but he’d be damned if he let her have his heart.
Matt Young: Bastard’s Brew is the third book in the Family Portrait series. What are the benefits of writing a series of linked books?
Gillian Felix: It gives the audience time to grow with the characters. If people like the characters it builds up a following and it creates an audience for the other novels in the series.
MY: What are the negatives?
GF: Actually finishing the entire series after the audience and I have fallen in love with the characters. I am soooo not looking forward to that. I know I’d miss the characters in my novels terribly.
MY: Let’s dig a little deeper into the “why” of what you do. Why do you write?
GF: I write because I absolutely LOVE it. If I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it.
MY: When did you start?
GF: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I’ve always loved writing. Oh, actually I do remember I had stopped writing for about 3 years. I was working for Disney doing graphic design and script supervising, I was travelling a lot. That was another thing I enjoyed, so I focused my energy on being the best script supervisor I could be, and learning as much as I could about graphics design.
MY: What is it about your characters that has you bringing them back for a third book?
GF: The series was based on a television series I’d written. The first book is actually the pilot I converted to a novel. I have 36 episodes written and as long as readers like the stories, I’ll continue until the end of the series.
MY: Is there a strong emotional connection between you and any of them?
GF: Oh yes! I think with a character/plot driven series like mine I have to be. I hurt with them, I laugh with them, I live with them, I argue with them, sounds crazy but aren’t all authors or artists a bit crazy?
MY: The new book is a complex web of characters and hidden motives, yet it pulls together beautifully. Was this book tougher to write than the others in the series?
GF: In a way it was, because of the situations the characters were in I really had to ‘go there’ emotionally. Every book I write I dig a little deeper and hope to make it better than the previous. I progress the main characters with each book.
MY: Last one! What are you reading right now?
GF: Right now I am reading Ash to Steel by my wonderful friend Karen-Anne Stewart. I’m not much into romance novels but I like Karen-Anne’s work.
Gillian’s Guest Post
Food … the variety of life
I am fascinated by different cultures and their relationship with food. In Iceland for example, one of their delicacies is rotten shark meat called Hákarl. We’re not just talking 2 days past the expiry date here… we’re talking about burying the shark for 6-12 weeks, then letting it dry for another couple of months until it forms a brown crust. Note folks this is not an Hors d’oeuvre for the faint-hearted. Famed international food lover Anthony Bourdain described it as the single worst tasting thing he has ever eaten (and he’s eaten everything). The locals usually wash Hákarl down with a glass of cognac. Who could blame them?
East Indian verses West Indian Cuisine
I was fortunate to grow up in the West Indies where food labeled ‘exotic’ in the US was part of our everyday diet. I took it for granted back then. West Indians are people from the Caribbean and East Indians are people from Pakistan, Asia, etc. So naturally their cooking style is different due to what is available on their continent. The thing we have in common is that we season everything. Seasonings consist of curry, turmeric, different spices, shadow benny, thyme that sort of thing.
In the Family Portrait series I wanted to give the characters an international flavor, so I made the matriarch of the family Brazilian. Since food is a part of the characters bonding ritual as a family, naturally mama Banovic opened up her kid’s palette to international cuisine at an early age. In Bastard’s Brew, eldest son Kevin uses what his mama thought him in the kitchen to get the girl.
“See, brother, that’s how you impress a woman. You cook them something exotic. The farther the continent, the more impressed she’ll be.” – Kevin
Kevin proceeds to make chicken korma over basmati to impress his love interest. Korma has the flavor of ground coriander, cumin and spices. It can be made with yogurt as a base sauce incorporated with the juice from the meat.
A nice desert to go with this meal would have been gulab jamun. To Kevin’s dismay he points out to his brother that he couldn’t find gulab jamun at Gelson’s. Gulab Jamun is a sweet, amazingly delicious dessert. You can find the recipe here. I can still taste it to this day.
In Bastard’s Brew I sent the Banovic parents to Europe giving the kids more opportunity for mischief and mayhem, and they delivered. Kevin is left in charge of his siblings and his frenemies are surprised that he can cook. The first introduction we have of Kevin’s culinary skills, he is making cassava dumpling stew. My mom made this for my birthday last year and all I can say is
BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER! I loved it so much I did a post on my website about it. Check it out here: http://www.plaintalkbm.com/cassava-dumpling-stew/
A Quick Review by Matt
This isn’t the type of book I usually read, but it looked interesting so I decided to accept Gillian’s invitation and read it. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. It reminded me at first of a soap opera, until I was able to get a feel for the characters. (Not that I’m a huge soap opera viewer, but I have seen them in the past…) This book was very different once I got past that point. The characters were much more realistic, less caricature-like, and very driven by their own background and desires. It was refreshing and made me very aware of the fact that there are many good books out there that I haven’t even considered reading yet.
Like I said, I don’t read things like this often, but after reading this one, I went out and got the others in the series, too.
Here are some links where you can learn more: