November 29, 2011

Spotlight On...Alyson Reuben

The winner of a copy of Alyson's A Beautiful Cage is Velda Brotherton!
Congratulations, Velda! Look for an email from Alyson.

Please help me welcome fellow TWRP author Alyson Reuben to the keyboard today. Alyson is here to talk about her fabulous debut book, A Beautiful Cage. And make sure you leave her a comment/answer her question at the end of the interview for your chance to WIN a copy of her book!

Welcome Alyson, what surprised you the most when you became a published?

What surprised me most is how, after reading just the first three chapters, my editor Nan emailed me, saying she was almost positive she wanted to give me a contract. I was absolutely stunned. So much so that I actually forwarded her email to my critique partner asking her if I was reading it wrong. She kicked my butt into reality and told me to rush the rest of the story to Nan pronto! lol Guess I've heard too many stories about the process taking forever.

Tell us about A Beautiful Cage.

Wanted by the Gestapo, Rebecca Bloomberg is on the run for her life. Sheltering in the home of a reporter who writes absurd lies for a Nazi propaganda newspaper is hardly an ideal solution. Irresistibly drawn to the man, she dares not trust him, until she discovers his journalist position is a mask for involvement in an anti-Nazi resistance ring.

Gustav Von Furst has done all he can to perfect his mask. Neither his family nor his close friends know the truth. Hiding a Jewish girl is the most foolish risk, yet there is something about her that makes him want to protect her.

Eager to forget the outside world, Rebecca and Gustav are caught up in a private world of forbidden passion—until unexpected danger lands on their doorstep and they’re faced with a decision that will change everything. Will love demand a sacrifice too great to give?


Splaying his hands across her bottom and midback, he pinned her tight.

She froze, motionless, staring up into his shadowed face, into eyes that glittered in the low light. How did he manage to look both irritated and roguish at the same time?

“Let me go, I—” But the words were smothered in her mouth as his lips plunged down over hers. She pushed at him, but he was unmovable. And with each passing second his lips ravished hers, she grew weaker, reserves fading. Even while she thumped his shoulders with her fists, her traitorous mouth opened wide for him.

At what point had she started losing control of her life? Was it when she lost her family? Lost James? When she was assaulted in the alley? Or when it was decided she must stay inside the von Furst home?

Well, there were some things she could still control. And this was one of them. With that resolve, she shot up on tiptoe, angling to bite his lips, digging her fingers into his back. She was going to take control of this kiss, dammit, whether Gustav liked it or not.

Fantastic excerpt, Alyson. I need to move A Beautiful Cage up my TBR list! What is the most emotional scene you had to write in this piece?

Oh wow... there were so many volcanic scenes in A Beautiful Cage! I was on an emotional rollercoaster while writing it! The wads of Kleenexs in my trashcan proved it.

I'm very careful with historical details, making sure I weave them into the story so they don't read textbook style. For all the other scenes I rely on gut intuition. This wasn't hard to do with A Beautiful Cage because I've studied WWII extensively and read about the terrible situations that happened in Europe before and during the war. During the Holocaust, it wasn't uncommon for people to lose their entire family, just like Rebecca did. So, in the story, there is a lot of loss. But it's balanced by some humor and a lot of exciting, soul-stirring romance!

The parts that made me cry the most were in Rebecca's backstory, when she was telling what happened to her family and fiance. Gustav made me cry a few times too, especially when he told Rebecca how he felt about certain issues. Also, the very end of the story made me cry. In fact, the last few paragraphs totally surprised me. I don't want to say why because of spoilers, but I will say there was a bonus element I hadn't planned. And when the final sentence was finished I sat back and stared at it through blurry eyes and asked myself, where did that come from?

The parts that made me laugh the most involved Gustav's grandmother Bertie. She was so much fun to write!

I love those moments when you sit back and ask yourself where something came from. How did you start writing?

I realized my dream to become an author in second grade. My elementary school had a visiting children's author who shared his book and talked a little about the writing process. Something inside me clicked. I learned to read when I was four, and I practically lived and breathed books, so writing just seemed to come natural. From there on out I was always writing stories in my notebooks. And I was lucky to have teachers who encouraged me. They often asked me to read my papers to the class outloud. Nothing will boost a child like encouraging them to share their gift with others.

Of course, I didn't get serious about publication until I became an adult. Even then, I had to practice, practice, practice. And I'm still practicing, constantly trying to sharpen and hone my skills!

What are three things you wish you’d known before you began your writing career?

Three things? Hmm. Well, (1) I've always known writing is time-consuming, but I think publishing really brings home the fact! (2) I had no idea so much promotional work would be involved. And (3) I wish someone had told me how valuable a critique partner is, because I would've found one years ago.

I agree 100% on the value of a good critique partner. What’s next for you?

I have two books in the works. I'm nearly finished with Castles We Build, a story set in the 1920's, born from an idea stewing on the backburner for nearly ten years. Julia finds herself entangled in a terrible web, when, after remarrying a wealthy industrialist, her first husband returns from a WWI prison camp. Very different, and also very emotional. Also, I'm working on A Beautiful Cage's sequel, A Beautiful Tempest, about Rebecca's American cousin (Anna) and a soldier (Holden) she meets in Italy.

They both sound wonderful! Where can we find you on the web?

My author links:


Buy links:
Barnes and Noble:
The Wild Rose Press:

Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

We were talking about which emotional scenes were hardest to write in A Beautiful Cage, and I confessed that I'm pretty much a sap for tears. My question for readers: When reading a romance (or any other story), which kind of emotional themes make you break out the Kleenexs? What is the most tear-jerking book (or just a scene) you've ever read?


Sarah Grimm said...

Alyson, so happy to have you as a guest today. Wishing you much success with A Beautiful Cage!

Amy said...

Awesome post and excerpt. AS for the part that makes me cry, it's usually the 'this is gonna change things forever between us'in the black moment and I worry it's too big a change for the characters to withstand.

Alyson Reuben said...

Good morning, Sarah! Thanks for having me as your guest today. Looking forward to answering comments and questions!

Alyson Reuben said...

Hi, Amie! Thanks for the compliment! About the 'this is gonna change things forever between us' moment — I totally agree. That's a critical (and often very emotional) turning point for characters.

Nancy Jardine Author said...

Hello ladies. What makes me emotional varies from book to book. Sometimes in a contemporary it's little things like maybe if there's been a bit of self-denial then WHAM- it's all different. With historicals it often placing myself in their situation if it's a time of 'trial' or 'danger' for the heroine, or even as simple as a 'kind word' from the hero! I'm often a big 'sap' at the silliest of moments.Best of luck to you, Alyson!

P.L. Parker said...

I would really love to read A Beautiful Cage. Did my senior thesis on the Nazi movement. Book is definitely on my TBR list.

Alison Henderson said...

Hi, Alyson! A Beautiful Cage is such a wonderful and unconventional story; I hope you're having great success with it. I LOVE the sound of both your WIP's. The scene that always reduces me to tears is from Judith McNaught's Paradise when the heroine tells the hero about the stillborn birth of their baby years before.

Jenna McClure said...

Wonderful post and excerpt! I'd have to say the most emotional scenes for me are when either the hero or heroine has that "Oh s**t" moment when they realize they messed up the relationship and now they have to do whatever it takes to win back the love of their life. I'm a sucker for those.
Best of luck with sales!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great interview. The excerpt grabbed me. I'm so emotional I cry over beauty and sadness both. Let someone sing a beautiful song, or a beautiful passage in a good book. I'm a mess. All my friends know I'll tear up at the slightest emotional word. Hope you have great success with this book. It's time stories about WW II became popular.

Katherine said...

I really enjoyed A Beautiful Cage and am so glad you're writing a sequel. Any type of fiction that I connect with on an emotional level can bring me to tears. I cried through nearly the entire movie of The Secret Life of Bees. I went with my niece and she couldn't believe I cried and I couldn't believe she didn't.

Alyson Reuben said...

Thanks, Nancy! Yeah, I think it varies from book to book, too. And I agree — sometimes it's the simplest moments that can have the biggest impact on our emotions.

Alyson Reuben said...

You did a thesis on the Nazi movement, P.L.? Bet that was tough. It's certainly a controversial subject. I really hope you get to read ABC soon, and love it!

Alyson Reuben said...

Alison, the loss of a baby or child is sure to make me cry too!!

Thank you for your compliment! I'm trying to write like a speed demon to get my WIPs finished.

Alyson Reuben said...

Ha, Jenna, me too! Those scrambling-to-figure-out-how-to-right-a-wrong scenes can be super intense and sob-worthy! Thanks for stopping by!

Alyson Reuben said...

Hi, Velda! You're not alone — I've cried over beautiful things too. The birth of babies. An unselfish moment of giving. Even a touching, poetical line of a book.

Thank you! And I agree 100% about it being time WWII stories become popular!;)

Alyson Reuben said...

Aw, thanks, Katherine! It's always fabulous to hear someone mention reading and enjoying Gustav and Rebecca's story. You're right — feeling some kind of connection to the story is crucial. If you can relate to the characters, even in the smallest way, it makes a huge difference.

Karen C said...

A Beautiful Cage sounds very interesting; need to add to the TBR list. I enjoyed the interview and I'm curious about what inspired you to write this particular story.

I don't think there's any one thing in a story that will make me cry. It could be a particular situation or it could be the ending. And it doesn't have to be a sad ending, it could be that it's just the end.

I cried at the ending of Happily Ever After because it was the last book in The Bride Quartet and I knew there would be any more of these wonderful stories.

Elle J Rossi said...

Oh! I'm late to the party, but I do love to be fashionable! As I've already read A Beautiful Cage, I can say--from my heart--that this book is in my top five faves of all time. I'm a crier, though I seldom cry when reading. This story had me sobbing. So real, so true, so tragically beautiful with a sense of hope streaming throughout. And, yes, Alyson, Bertie is the BEST! We all need a dozen people like her in our lives.

I'm looking forward to the next installment!

Alyson Reuben said...

Thanks, Karen! Where did I get the idea for A Beautiful Cage? After studying about the war (my interest in it goes back to my childhood), Rebecca and Gustav's story started coming to me in bits and pieces. I rewrote it several times before getting it right.

I know what you mean about feeling sad when a book ends. I've felt that way about lots of books I've read. The characters become your friends. Parting with them is sad. But the good thing is, we can always reread their story! :)

Alyson Reuben said...

Hey, Elle, nothing wrong with being late. I've been known to be late a time or two... okay, maybe a lot. At any rate, welcome to the party!

Bertie is a favorite of mine too. She just took a life of her own in the story. I swear ABC's characters are real people. They breathe air every time someone reads their story.

Thanks for your support, Sista!