Christine Presents ~ Sotto Voce by Erin Finnegan
Please welcome Erin Finnegan author of Sotto Voce.
Erin will be awarding a Multi-format Sotto Voce eBook to 10 randomly drawn winners and a Grand Prize of a $25 B&N gift card will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner, all via rafflecopter during the tour. A $25 B&N gift card will be awarded to a randomly drawn host.
Use the rafflecopter code below to enter.
by Erin Finnegan
- Who or what inspired you to start writing? Sotto Voce is my first novel, but I’ve been writing professionally since I graduated college. (Let’s just call it a “long, long time ago”.) I started my career as a newspaper reporter, a career that can be the source for great lessons about the importance of research as well as writing every day and not succumbing to writer’s block. As for fiction, I was inspired to finally hash out ideas I’d been carrying around in my head after I got my first introduction to fan communities. I initially came to that world with a lot of biases against fan fiction, but when I saw some of the great writing and storytelling coming out of that community, I decided to give it a try.
- How did you come up with the idea for your book? I’d love to say that I mined some deep thoughts to develop Sotto Voce, but the fact of the matter is I was inspired by a hot guy driving an old, topless International Scout truck. I had been working in my vineyard and needed to make a supply trip to my local garden center when I saw an absolutely stunning man driving one of these old, iconic trucks. I couldn’t get the thought of him out of my head the rest of the day. The next thing I knew, I was drawing up a character outline of Greg Kennedy, the artisan vintner and owner of Rhapsody wines.
- What expertise do you bring to your writing? I’ve spent a career in news and media relations, and it has influenced my writing and writing habits. I tend to write tight—I don’t throw around a lot of superfluous verbiage. That’s a direct influence of writing for newspapers, where you only have so many column inches available to tell your story.
- As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans? I have just begun research on my second novel, but there is a lot on my plate at the moment, so I don’t anticipate finishing a manuscript until late 2015.
- If you could be one of your characters, who would it be and why? It would be tempting to say Greg, living that bucolic life in his quiet corner of Sonoma County. But Greg has his issues, and until he finds love leads a lonely life. It would also be tempting to say Brooke, a powerful woman spearheading a successful magazine. But Brooke also leads an isolated life, and isn’t particularly grounded. It’s a couple of the secondary characters—Diego and Patty— that I’d most like to be, because both are true to themselves and have a strong sense of their place in the world.
- Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder your writing? While I don’t belong to a formal critique group, I developed the original draft of Sotto Voce in the fan community, and there are great advantages to doing so. You can get immediate feedback, and work within a supportive community of writers who are incredibly receptive to sharing their thoughts, feedback and insights. I first entered the world of fan works with biases based on stereotypes and about fan fiction. Once I recognized both the deep pool of talented writers in the fan community and the opportunities that world offered for ideas and constructive feedback, I embraced it.
- Do you outline your books or just start start writing? I spend a lot of time outlining before (and while) I write. That doesn’t mean that I format every detail before I start writing, but I like to have a sense of where the story is going and what my characters are about before I really dive in. And once I have that opening finished, I generally move straight to the ending, so I have it at least drafted the entire time I’m writing. I like to see the finish line.
- Do you have any hobbies and does that knowledge you’ve gained from these carry over to your characters or the plot of your book? Sotto Voce is a reflection of parts of my life. I own a small, private vineyard and produce Syrah and Zinfandel. So the knowledge and skills I’ve had to develop for winemaking—and that’s a continuing process—are a part of the foundation of the book. My 100-vine vineyard is a far cry from the commercial winemaking depicted in Sotto Voce, but the principles remain the same.
- Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your book? I’ve just begun research on my next novel. Without giving too much away, it will be set in an obscure corner of the world of sports and feature Southern California’s diverse cultural climate. Also, Lycra.
- Anything else you might want to add? I’ve had so many comments from readers who have been inspired to take wine appreciation classes or even pursue winery jobs after reading Sotto Voce, it’s just overwhelming. But I think it’s also important to remind readers that this is a work of fiction, that Napa also has its share of small wineries and Sonoma is home to major wineries that rival the biggest wine operations of Napa. While the vibe is different between the two valleys, they are both significant global producers of wine.
New York-based wine critic Thomas Baldwin can make or break careers with his column for Taste Magazine. But when his publisher orders him to spend a year profiling rising stars of California’s wine country and organizing a competition between the big name wineries of Napa and the smaller artisan wineries of Sonoma, his world gets turned upside-down by an enigmatic young winemaker who puts art before business.
Sotto Voce is the story of love and wine, and how both require patience, passion, an acceptance of change—and an understanding that sometimes, you have to let nature take its course.
Kennedy took the glasses, rinsed them and the wine thief, and then moved on to another tank. Repeating the procedure, a velvety red wine was deposited into the glasses.
“Mezzo, the Zinfandel.”
“I’m sensing a trend here,” Tom said. “Rhapsody Wines? Allegrezza? Mezzo?”
“Mm. Yes,” Kennedy responded, sounding truly uninterested in the conversation.
“Is there a reason for the choice of each name for the particular wine?” Tom asked.
“If you can’t tell, then I haven’t done my job very well.”
Tom again checked the color, the legs, the nose, then sipped at the rich, lively Zin.
“It has the brightness of fruit, without the feeling that I’m eating a bowl of jam—which is happening altogether too often lately.”
Kennedy smirked—the closest thing to a smile since they met, Tom thought.
“Let’s see. The Roussanne? Allegrezza. It’s bright, cheerful, like a bouquet of spring flowers.”
The winemaker’s head might have been turned, but Tom could still see the slightest smile slip across his lips.
“I’ll have to take a stab that Mezzo is your in-between wine. Not bright and summery like the Roussanne, but there’s something else you’re making that’s darker, richer—something with deeper tannins. So the Zinfandel is Mezzo.”
“And it’s lovely,” Tom said.
“Thank you. Syrah’s next.”
“And it is?”
The thief slipped samples of a dark, sinfully lush wine into the glasses. The color looked like it belonged on the runway, like haute couture. It clung to the glass like silk cut on the bias. A swirl, a dip of the nose—Tom closed his eyes.
“Blackberry, pepper and… something else, almost smoky, with a hint of sweet, like… maple?”
He took a sip, held it on his tongue. He sensed Kennedy’s eyes on him.
Kennedy dipped his head as the corners of his mouth rose, revealing dimpled cheeks.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and editor. She was born and raised in Southern California, where she lives with two sheep dogs and grows, ferments and drinks Syrah and Zinfandel in the foothills outside Los Angeles.
Sotto Voce is her first novel.
Connect with Erin at erin-finnegan.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/ErinGoFinnegan, on Goodreads at Goodreads.com/ErinFinnegan and on Twitter at @eringo
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