February 8, 2013

Writer Wrangler: Cristiane Serruya

Braine: First of all I want to thank you for entrusting me with your debut novel. I had a great time reading it. For those who haven't read or are familiar with the book, can you tell our Supies what Trust A New Beginning is about. Something that the blurb didn't say.

Cristiane Serruya: Trust: A New Beginning is a love story where, just as in real life, it doesn’t matter if you are rich and powerful, if you wear Channel or drive a Mercedes 722SL, bad things - and good - will happen to you. When tragedy strikes, it doesn't ask how much is in your bank account.

Yeah, money helps and rich people’s lives may seem easier, smoother, but sometimes it corrupts and it's not a beautiful thing to see. But it's fun to read... :)

Braine: It sure was fun! Your lead characters have rich storylines. Who are the blueprints behind these people?

Cristiane Serruya: Oh! This is top secret. :) Seriously, there is not one blueprint for each one of my characters. I have a lot of relatives, friends and people around me with interesting lives, just begging to be told. There’s a little bit of me in them as well, of course, and I can relate to all of them. People are so rich, they have so much to share that sometimes I wish my day had 48 hours for me to talk with them and then retell their experiences.

Braine: Great dodge! Sophia is a very strong woman. Aside from her self confidence, what is it about her and the story that readers will find the most relatable?

Cristiane Serruya: A special hint for your Supies: Sophia is not that lovely and nice woman the readers will meet in TRUST: A New Beginning

Braine: I knew it! She's too perfect!

Cristiane Serruya: Imagine a very boring person: A perfect wife and a very good, loving mother; an incredibly intelligent lawyer; a sexy, beautiful woman who doesn’t care about her beauty. And to top it, she does charity and pro bono. 

I could not relate to Sophia if she were just this.

Braine: Yeah, she's one of those people you'd love to hate. 

Cristiane Serruya: Sophia has imperfections. Oh, yeah! Many. I like characters that have imperfections, it shows that they are human. 

In TRUST: Betrayed, Sophia will show her true colors and the secret that haunts her is not a small one...

Braine: You said that the conceptualization of the story has been brewing in your mind for some time. How long have you been playing with the plot of TRUST from the first seed to the final word written? What inspired the story?

Cristiane Serruya: Well, in April 2009 I was bedridden with a terrible case of flu and such a bad headache that I had to have the curtains drawn all day. Since I couldn’t even read, I decided to tell myself a story. The seed was planted. 

Braine: That was one heck of a virus!

Cristiane Serruya: The story grew and took shape, but daily life kept me from writing it. I was very unsatisfied with the Brazilian justice system and that was affecting my own work as a lawyer. 

On February 28th, 2011, a friend of mine said I had such good stories to tell that I should write a book and that I would make many more people aware of the still brutal violence that was practiced against women and children (one of the main issues that I work with, and the subject of my university thesis). The next day, I started the trilogy.

Braine: Your daughter sounds like she gave you the big push to finally sit down and write the book. Did she say anything in particular that convinced you to put this alternate world you have been thinking and dreaming about in writing?

Cristiane Serruya: My daughter Raphaela and I have a lot in common and we are both addicted to reading. 

She was the first person I told I was thinking of writing a book. She looked at me for a whole minute, open mouthed. Recovered from the shock, she asked, “Who is going to read your book, Mommy?” LOL - Well, so much for encouragement and support. 

Ethan and I got depressed for a few days. But there’s nothing we love more than a challenge. 

After a few days, when she saw that my project was serious, she began to tell her friends that I was writing a story and kept coming into my office at home to see how I was doing. One day, when I was editing a scene with Sophia and Gabriela, she said I shouldn’t change it because it was ‘a-ma-zing’ and that I should publish the book.

Braine: Did you have a beta group? What was their reaction when they read TaNB aside from the usual compliments?

Cristiane Serruya: My beta group was very, very small. To tell you the truth, there are very few people in Brazil that like to read and that can read English well. I think they were kind of ashamed to comment. The only one that had no mercy on me was Raphaela. I wish I had more Raphaelas in my beta group. 

Braine: Raphaela sounds like a real great kid. Now there have been several reviews for TRUST. What's the most outrageous feedback you've ever got?

Cristiane Serruya: So far, people have been very kind. The only thing that outraged me was a reviewer who called Sophia ‘dumb-as-bricks’. Naïve? Yeah, she’s only twenty-five and lead a protected and pampered life. But to reduce her to stupidity, I thought was a bit narrow-minded. 

You can be the judge. But, in any case, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. 

Braine: I wouldn't call her stupid. You're right, naïve is the perfect adjective to describe her. Her intuition when it comes to men is off. Being a new author, do you feel tempted to take it to the next level and discuss a bad review with the reviewer? Is it challenging not to take negative feedback personal?

Cristiane Serruya: Don’t give me less than 3 stars and I’ll discuss all your points smiling. LOL.

Really, I do love to hear my readers’ feedback even if they didn’t like the book. 

Unanimity is boring. My book has strong stories mixed with romance and sex. It’s not for everyone. But I’d be glad to hear from a reader who didn’t like the book if they can be impartial/professional and tell me what they disliked and why. As I said before, negative criticism is very important . 

However, I have to confess, it is more than challenging! It’s like someone telling me I’m ugly and fat. I may be, but I don’t like to hear it… :)

Braine: I hope you approve of my review then... As a lawyer you've worked with women who are victims of violence and such. What was the most challenging aspect of dealing with emotionally wrenching cases like that?

Cristiane Serruya: Oh! Unfortunately, that’s the easiest of all of your questions.

The most difficult part of this work is that I get emotionally involved with the victims. It’s very hard - humanly impossible, I’d say - not to cry while a case is being told; to sleep after I hear the heartbreaking stories; and, the worst and saddest part of all, it's when the needy and deserved justice is not done…

Braine: I can only imagine the emotional toll. Your job is not for the soft hearted. Sophia is you in a way in terms of the educational background and being well travelled. Where is the most breathtaking place you've ever been to?

Cristiane Serruya: This is almost like asking me what my favorite book is. Let’s see...Hmmm… Can I make a list?

I love the sunsets in Venice; the sea at the seven mile beach in Grand Cayman; the coast line of the seventeen mile drive in Carmel, California; Autumn at the Chateau D’Esclimont, in the Loire Valley; Winter on the hills of Courchevel and Gaastd. Spring in the Highlands; And summer at Lopes Mendes beach in Angra dos Reis, my Brazilian paradise. 

Braine: Yes, the 17-mile in Carmel is exquisite! It's like being in different countries all at the same time.

Cristiane Serruya: I’m planning my next trip to Asia. Maybe I’ll accompany Sophia and Alistair on their honeymoon. :)

Braine: Wait! Honeymoon?! They're getting hitched?! At least she didn't end up with Ethan, I don't like him. Anyway, The next Summer Olympics will be in Rio. Are you excited? What event are you looking forward to?

Cristiane Serruya: NOOOO! I’m planning to flee or to hide. Rio is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, people here are friendly and warm, the weather in June is amazing - not too hot, not at all cold - so on and so forth. But, you know, I’m really scared of the mess it’s going to bring to the city.

If I could choose one event to watch, it would be the equestrian competition.

Braine: Are you working on book two now? How many pages do you think is it going to be? Can you share a teaser or your favorite line from it?

Cristiane Serruya: Right now, I’m editing book two, Trust: Betrayed and I’m finishing the third.

Trust: Betrayed is around 480 pages and it’s going to be released in April 2013. At the moment, I love it more than the first one. It’s full of revelations and flashbacks.

A tease, with spoilers, for your readers:

Trust: Betrayed
Cristiane Serruya

Chapter 10

London. Atwood House.

6.55 p.m.

“Okay, little girl,” Sophia clapped her hands at Gabriela who was comfortably seated on Alistair’s lap. “Time for bed. Now.”

“But, Mama-” 

“Don’t you but me. It’s seven o’clock. Time for you to go to bed.”

Gabriela pouted at her mother and then turned her head, looking at Alistair for help. He just smiled at her and motioned his head to Sophia. 

“Five minutes more, Mama, pleeeease.”

Sophia looked at her watch and sighed, “Okay. But only five.”

Gabriela beamed at her mother, “Thank you, Mama.” She turned to Alistair and asked, “Tell me another story, please?”

“A short one,” he said as Sophia sat on the sofa beside them and put Gabriela’s bare feet on her lap. 

Alistair smiled at Sophia, as he started the story, “Once upon a time, there was a prince. He was very tall, handsome and rich. But he didn’t have a princess-”

“What was his name?”

“Ronnoc Riatsila,” he promptly said and winked at Sophia.

“Ugh! What an ugly name.” Gabriela puckered her nose. “Are you sure he was a prince?” 

“Aye. I’m sure,” he smiled, delighted. “So. The prince was very much alone in his big, big castle. One day, he decided to hold a contest to find his bride. All the women in his kingdom would have to go.”

“Only the beautiful ones,” Gabriela said. “Princes can’t marry ugly princesses.”

“Very well. Only the beautiful ones.” His grin broadened as he put an arm over Sophia’s shoulder and pulled her closer. 

She sighed and nestled herself, happy as she hadn’t been for a very long time, listening to the story of the prince called Ronnoc Riatsila, thinking that she wanted his princess to be called Aihpos.

The City. The City of London Bank Headquarters. 

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

4.59 p.m.

“But can’t my driver just pick up the prescription?” Alistair paused as he listened to what Doctor Benjamin’s secretary told him over the phone. “Aye, of course. I’ll be there.” He hung up and rubbed a hand on his neck. What could be this urgent? It’s just a prescription. 

He left his office with a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Mayfair. Lodes’s Clinic.

5.47 p.m.

“Hello, Doctor Ben. How are you?” Alistair hugged the doctor and entered his office. “How are Aunt Elizabeth and Mark?”

“Everyone’s fine, son. Everyone’s fine,” Doctor Benjamin repeated as if to assure himself that what he said was true. He motioned for Alistair to sit on the sofa at the end of his office. 

Alistair frowned at the strange behavior but complied, sitting on the comfortable gray sofa and stretching his legs. He was tired. He’d been working like a mad man lately. “I haven’t seen Mark for a long time. He’s disappeared.”

Doctor Benjamin scratched his bald head and sat next to Alistair on the sofa. “You have been too busy to see your friends, Alistair Connor. Mark got married last week. We missed you at the wedding.”

“What?” Alistair sat up on the sofa. Mark was one of his best friends. “I didn’t get the invitation.”

“Heather did. She rang us and talked to Beth. It seems that you had a trip planned.”

“We did go away, but I would have postponed it if I had known that Mark was getting married. It wasn’t that important. We went to Saint Barth for the weekend to celebrate our anniversary which was in February.”

“Well, too late now, son.” Doctor Benjamin shrugged. “See that you don’t miss Johansson’s wedding in two weeks. His father told me that Heather has declined as well.”

What? Alistair’s mouth fell open. What’s going on?

“Did you receive the last results from Heather’s exams?” Doctor Benjamin continued.

Oh, damn. I forgot Heather’s exams. I don’t even know if she did them after the treatment. Alistair looked sheepishly at the older man and shook his head.

Doctor Benjamin’s face showed no surprise. “Well, then. Alistair Connor, I don’t want you to become nervous with what I’m going to tell you.”

“Too late for that, doctor Ben. I’ve been freaked out since our appointment in December.” Alistair almost laughed. But his doctor and friend had such a stern expression on his face that he knew this was not a moment for humor.

“My boy, I received the confirmation that the moxifloxacin was effective and that the bacteria has been eliminated. Nonetheless... It took too long to diagnose and the damage… Treatments are evolving and maybe in the future they can reverse what’s happened-”

“You’re scaring me, Doctor Ben,” Alistair shifted on the sofa and leaned toward the doctor to better look at his soft brown eyes. 

The doctor thinned his lips and looked away for an instant. 

When he looked back, his face showed a piercing sadness. “I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, Alistair Connor. I’ve known you all your life and I love you as if you were my own son.” He shook his bald head and a cold dreariness sifted through Alistair’s bones. “But the test results arrived this morning. I still had hope…” He inhaled deep, rested his hand over Alistair’s and blurted, “Son, I’m sorry, but the disease has made you infertile.”

Braine: WHAT?! 

Last book read: You won’t believe it, but I hadn’t read Jaid Black until some days ago. I couldn’t stop laughing with ‘Devilish Dot’.

Last song you listened to: Castle of Glass, by Linkin’ Park.

Last website you visited: Beside yours? The site of the Essex’s Museum for Latin American Contemporary Art,

Last movie you saw: Django by Quentin Tarantino.

Last thing you purchased: A René Caovila Swarosvki flat sandals.

Treat yourself to a copy

I live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with my husband and two daughters. I'm a lawyer, who specializes in cases of sexual abuse and violence against children and women. I also have a Masters in Business Law and a BA in Fine Arts.

I've always loved to read, write and listen to music. I lived and studied in England, France, Italy and Switzerland. Traveling is one of my passions - as is keeping fit and healthy.

After twenty-two years of practicing law, I decided to give writing a go. And - amazingly - it was just the piece that was missing in my life.

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1 comment:

  1. Wonderful interview Miss B and Ms S. It is a very dramatic cover...broken glass. I think I could include a few interesting people I know , shake them up and make them into characters.



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