Today’s Guest is Viviane Brentanos – A fellow Brit who is lucky enough to life on the gorgeous Greek island of Corfu.
Hello, good evening and welcome from sunny Corfu and a huge thank you for Marc for allowing me the opportunity to rant and ramble. Before I rant, a little about myself…
I was born in Reading UK in 1958. My father is English and my mother is French although there is a strong vein of Spanish on my maternal grandmother’s side. I was educated at various schools before completing Sixth Form College at St Peter’s Huntingdon. I somehow managed to collect A levels in English, French and History and I subsequently won a place at Sheffield University where I decided to read Classical Civilization. Once there, however, I decided that I had had enough of the academic life; I found the student mentality rather false and having been brought up in student circles, rather boring. Much to my mother’s horror, I gave up my studies and went to London to begin a course as a Canine Beautician.
In 1984, my first husband and I parted ways amicably and I decided to visit the Ionian island of Corfu to celebrate my new freedom. It proved to be a life-changing decision. I still remember to this day, sitting in a café-bar, overlooking the crystal clear azure sea and saying to my friend. “I never want to leave here”. And here I still am.
Before you all sigh and say…ah, Shirley Valentine, it wasn’t like that. I came to my beautiful Greek island in 1984 to work.
I am often asked why I don’t write about my life on Corfu. I think people are laboring under the misconception I live in eternal paradise; a life of endless sun, sea, sand and cocktails on the veranda. I hate to shatter any illusions, but it isn’t quite like that.
Thing is, most of the girls who came out here, ended up marrying a Greek and, subsequently, marrying into the Greek way of life. We work, we cook, and we worry over rent, taxes. We bring up our kids, we suffer and stress over their exams, (you wouldn’t believe how tough the education system is here) and their future. Not very glamorous, is it, and most certainly not the stuff of romances. Sorry, ladies. Greek men drop their smelly underwear everywhere also. Not one Gerry Butler 300 to be found.
But – and it’s an important but – what we have here in Corfu is a glorious sense of freedom, the freedom to breath in good clean, sea air. The freedom to state what is on our mind without fear of the politically correct police jumping all over us, freedom for our kids to walk the streets of Corfu town safe, happy and secure. Greece is more than a country. It’s a state of mind. A nation of passion, love and exuberance, a country to holds on and is proud of his history and traditions. No – it isn’t quite paradise. There is so much that needs fixing. We are in the midst of an economic crisis but the Greeks have heart and solidarity second to none.
And let’s not forget the stunning beauty of my enchanted island. Even after 26 years, it still takes my breath away. Actually, I am beginning to think the Greek tourist board should pay me.
So… my writing. After all, that’s why I am here. I have been writing romance since my early teens, mostly for my own satisfaction and for my friends but now I really want to work at it. Writing has become my passion. I have always been a “Romantic”, often accused of not living in the real world but who wants to do that? I like to call my work Romance with a quirky, humorous Brit twist and I am always striving to make my characters real, characters we can all relate to. I am fortunate to have two novels published: Letting Go – The Wild Rose Press, Dreamweek – Red Rose Publishing and a further two under contract but more about them in a minute.
Back to my earlier point. While I have no desire to write about the life and times of an ex-Brit on Corfu, my island has provided me with so much of my inspiration: stunning visuals by the bucket full. Dreamweek and Fragile Dreams are both set on the imaginary island of Kuros. Why didn’t I just use Corfu? Simply because I wanted poetic license.
What I have done is draw on my experiences as a travel rep to provide many of the comic anecdotes in Dreamweek. Fragile Dreams is a little darker in tone. It touches on the subject of mental cruelty (a subject I also touch on in Letting Go) and the culture clash that I am sorry to say is much present in some of the Anglo/ Greco marriages I know of. I am not even sure if cruelty is the right word. Cruelty implies intent. More often than not, it is a simple case of lack of education and inherent intolerance. The irony of it all is that the young Greek women would never put up with the bull I know too many of my Brit counter-parts have to deal with. Why do they do it? I truly believe too many young girls were running from something back home. Too many sacrificed personal freedom for a big house, nice clothes and healthy bank-balance. Sad but true. Heavy stuff for a romance? Maybe but while a good healthy dose of glamour is injected into my tales, I like to balance it with a refreshing, ice-cold bucket of reality. I digress again.
Dreamweek is currently on release through Red Rose Publishing in digital form. I am hoping to see it in print soon. Fragile Dreams, its sister, has a release date set for September 16. 2010.
And if this is not enough to keep my little promo legs a running, I am delighted to announce my single title contemporary, Written in Stone, is contracted to the new and very exciting publisher, MuseItUp Publishing under their MuseItHot division. Written in Stone is one tale not set on a Greek island but it is a tale dear to my heart. The theme is simple. We must learn not to place people in convention’s tightly packaged boxes. Love is more than about sexual orientation. It should be and can be about the joining of minds and soul.