Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"The Brightest Star in the Sky" is in paperback and we're doing a HUGE giveaway!

**Giveaway is now over**

We are huge fans of Marian Keyes. She is the reason we bonded over chick lit in the first place! Therefore, we are excited to share with you that her latest novel "The Brightest Star in the Sky" was released in paperback yesterday and thanks to Louise Braverman of Penguin Books, we have TEN copies to give to some lucky readers in the US!

Here is a summary of the novel:
What could the occupants of 66 Star Street have in common that would attract the undivided attention of a sharp-witted and intuitive otherworldly spirit? On the ground floor are newlyweds Maeve and Matt, struggling to overcome a traumatic incident that has threatened their storybook romance, while two flights up lives Katie, a hard-working PR manager for a struggling music label. A refreshing update on Bridget Jones, she’s just turned 40 and, although her social calendar is booked solid and she’s snagged an impressive, wealthy man, she questions her life’s purpose. Meanwhile Lydia, a snarky young cab-driver who lives on the middle floor with two Polish roommates who alternately fear and lust after her, must deal with her mother’s failing health. Jemima, an older psychic, is cohabitating peaceably with her dog Grunge, and seems the most attune to the spirit’s presence. As the spirit narrates, Jemima’s peaceful existence is sent into upheaval with the arrival of her handsome adopted son Fionn, in town to film a gardening show. Fionn promptly commandeers her apartment as a home base for his enthusiastic and determined courtship of every woman he encounters—Maeve and Katie first among them. Though to date, the residents have done little more than say hello in the hall, a series of events soon unfold that challenge the group and ultimately, force them to bond together to lend a neighborly hand.

THE BRIGHTEST STAR IN THE SKY is a refreshing, funny, heart-warming drama with a compelling and vast cast of authentically rendered characters that will charm and delight all who meet them. Keyes, whose earthy novels have made her an international phenomenon, delivers another satisfying story that charms with its wit and surprises with its depth.

While we haven't yet had the pleasure of chatting directly with Ms. Keyes, Penguin Books did get to interview her and we wanted to share some of what they discussed.

Q: You are a mega international bestselling author with over 22 million books in print. How do you feel about your American audience? While the book is set in Ireland, it transcends continents and could be any metropolitan city, from New York, to LA to Atlanta. In what ways do you think readers everywhere can relate to your characters and stories?

I love my American audience—they’re so passionate and enthusiastic—and think they really “get’ me. In one way, I think they love the specific “Irishness” of my work; there are so many Americans of Irish descent that I find they enjoy that link to their heritage. In that regard, I think the warmth and humor and sense of family is what they enjoy the most. However, on the other hand, the stories I tell are universal and transcend nationhood. The odd thing was that I used to think that I was unique, that no-one had the feelings and thoughts and emotions that I had. Nevertheless, I took a big risk and invested Claire, the character in my first novel Watermelon, with many of my ‘unique’ features—and discovered that I wasn’t so unique after all. In fact, being so honest struck a huge chord with readers and they found it hugely comforting to discover that they weren’t the only person, for example, to feel jealous when their best friend lost 10 pounds. So, almost by accident, I discovered that human beings are pretty much the same the world over.

Q: The Irish are known for their great story telling abilities. Where do you see yourself in this tradition?

In one way, I feel part of an age-old tradition that goes back generations—my mother is a hugely gifted storyteller, with an innate sense of narrative arc, how to play out a plot etc. And she came from a remote part of Ireland where storytelling was the only form of entertainment (no electricity meant no TV!) However, in another way, I feel very much part of the new Ireland, particularly an Ireland where women have come of age and finally found their voice, where we feel that our lives matter and are interesting. I feel very lucky to be the age I am and am very grateful to 2 other writers in particular who paved the way—Edna O’Brien and Maeve Binchy.

Q: Each character of the book has a distinctly different personality and life, yet they all come together so well. How did you come up with these characters? Are there shades of anyone you know in real life?

Characterization is very very important to me as a writer. I explore emotional landscapes and that can only be done effectively if the characters are believable and likeable. So I put a huge amount of work into creating my characters. However, I would never “lift” an entire person from real life and put them in a novel, I think that would be a terrible abuse of power. But long before I was a writer, I was always fascinated by people, by the gap between the self we present to the outside world and our “real” self. So I think on a subconscious level, I’m constantly taking notes when I’m with people. I think I seek out what makes each person unique and it all goes into a database in my head so that when I’m ready to start work on a new character, I have hundreds of different characteristics to call on. But it’s definitely a case of trial and error, building a character—I give them a trait, it doesn’t work, I remove the trait and try another one…

Q: Though the novel can be lighthearted and funny, you also deal with some difficult issue—depression, alcoholism, and worse. Where does this serious side come from? How do you weave it so well into your story?

It definitely comes from me. I’ve suffered from depression and alcoholism (I’ve been in recovery for some time) in my life, yet I’ve always used humor as a survival mechanism, so it’s a natural extension for that personal duality to leak into my work. Also, I always want to write a story with substance, but that can be painful—both to read and to write. So, after a spell of writing about the dark stuff, it becomes automatic to move to the light.

Q: You have had an interesting life: you were a lawyer, among other things first. When did you decide to become a writer and why? What is your writing regimen like?

I call myself an “accidental novelist.” I didn’t start writing until I was 30 (at the time it felt ancient, now it seems terribly young) —I didn’t even know I wanted to write and it was desperation that triggered the desire. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a recovering alcoholic. At the age of 30 I was in the throes of active alcoholism and had constant thoughts of suicide. I felt entirely hopeless. My life was becoming smaller and smaller and I could see no way out. One afternoon I read a short story in a magazine and it was fun and quirky and a voice inside me said, “I’d like to do that.” There and then I wrote my first short story. In retrospect, I think it was an attempt to hold onto myself, to stop myself from disappearing entirely. 4 months later, I ended up in rehab and when I came out, sober, writing was still waiting for me. At the time I had a full-time job, which I gave up after 3 years. Now I’m a full-time writer and—to my initial disappointment—writing is pretty much Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.

Now we want to share with you our top three favorite characters from Ms. Keyes' novels.

Melissa A:
1. Lucy Sullivan ("Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married"): She's like a Bridget Jones in some ways and is very fun and lovable, while also being able to admit her weaknesses. I could see myself hanging out with her.

2. Helen Walsh ("Watermelon" and the other Walsh sister novels): She's the only Walsh sister who doesn't have her own novel and I hope that she will get that someday. She's crazy and hilarious and I could see her getting herself into and out of some scrapes were she to be the star of her own novel.

3. Lydia ("The Brightest Star..."). I love how tough she is, but also how her vulnerability shines through. She is the most fascinating character from this novel, even though the rest also have interesting stories. Lydia just stands out from the crowd.

Melissa P:
1. Helen Walsh: She is a riot and everything she says or does either offends someone or gets her into trouble!

2. Rachel Walsh: She is so out of touch with reality and I literally laughed the whole way through "Rachel's Holiday".

3. Hands down, Mrs. Walsh (a.k.a. "Mum"). She's hilarious. Everything out of her mouth cracks me up!

How to win "The Brightest Star in the Sky": Tell us who your favorite character is from a Marian Keyes novel and why. If you have never read a Marian Keyes novel, then tell us instead which one you'd want to read first. Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you.

US only. No PO Boxes. Ends August 1st at midnight EST.


Laura Kay said...

I'd love to win! I've read a couple of her books and loved them! Claire Walsh from Watermelon has to be my fave! I can't imagine how do you come back from having your husband walk out on you while you've JUST had his baby!

Laura Kay

Julie P. said...

How to even pick a favorite character. It seems like I most adore the character in the book that I'm reading at the time. She has created so many terrific characters, but I'd have to say the entire Walsh family -- is that okay? They are a great mix of personalities and always make me laugh. Even in the difficult times, their humor shines through.


holdenj said...

The only Keyes novels I've read yet is Watermelon. Claire's story was tough, but I loved her family, they were characters for sure! Would love to win Brightest Star, it looks wonderful.

Michelle from Sew Shellz said...

I'd love to win a copy. I've never read one of her books so I would start with this one since it sounds so interesting. Thanks for the chance :) mzanfardino(at)nc.rr(dot)com

mep said...

Huge fan of Marian Keyes. I think I've read every book except The Brightest Star so fingers crossed! I love the interaction between the Walsh sisters in their novels, but I agree that Helen is the funniest and would LOVE to see a Helen-centric book. I really enjoyed reading the Q&A.


Anonymous said...

I have never read any of Marian's novels. I read her short story in Girl's Night In. If I were to read a book I would choose Watermelon to start off.


jenceyg msn com

Gayle LIN said...

I haven't read any of her books and would start with this one. Maybe I'll be lucky ... again.

BRN2SHOP9 said...

I have never read Ms. Key's books before. The Brightest Star in the Sky sounds great!

E said...

I've never read any yet, but I've been meaning to read Watermelon! (or this one if I won it!)

snitz76 {at} gmail {dot} com

Felicia said...

I haven't read any Marian Keyes yet, but I'd love to. I've heard lots of good reviews. Which one would I like to start with? I'll be happy with any you recommend.

felicialso @gmail. com

Tiffany Drew said...

I haven't had the pleasure of reading any of Marian's books yet :( I'd love to start with The Brightest Star in the Sky though, especially with all the comments about how great her books are. I think it's time I find out!


Amy said...

I loved both Claire Walsh from Watermelon and Lucy from Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married. I personally have never been to a fortune teller and don't see myself going to one in the near future. I like, Lucy, would be totally freaked (and laugh at the same time), if a fortune teller told me that I was going to be married, when I didn't even have a boyfriend. And in regards to Claire Walsh, from Watermelon, I can't fathom what it would be like to give birth to your baby, and the next thing you know, your husband walks in and tells you he's leaving. In less than a second your whole world comes crashing down. And of all times, right after you give birth.

Rea's Book Reviews said...

I have always hesitated when it has come to picking her books up maybe this is the push I need to be a true Keyes fan!!xx

Lisa said...

Oh, I'm a MEGA HUGE Marain Keyes fan! My fav, hands down will have to be Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married (fav heroine is of course the lovable Lucy), followed closely by Last Chance Saloon.
My email addy is callcentergal88 at gmail dot com.
Viva la Marian Keyes!!!

Vilma L. said...

I love Mariam's books.
Gemma from The Other Side of the Story is my fave. In one chapter i loved her and could completely relate to her and then the next chapter I hated her and thought she was out of her mind. Needless to say I couldn't put the book down.

Vilma L. said...

I love Mariam's books.
Gemma from The Other Side of the Story is my fave. In one chapter i loved her and could completely relate to her and then the next chapter I hated her and thought she was out of her mind. Needless to say I couldn't put the book down.

Jeryl M. said...

I have never read any of her books but I'd like to read Lucy Sullivan is getting married.

Teresa said...

Someone recently reviewed Watermelon and I thought it sounded interesting.

Please count me in!

teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com

Nina said...

I hear so many wonderful things about Marian Keyes, but have not yet gotten to read one of her books! I hear people speak to dreamily over Watermelon, that I'd for sure pick that one up if I stumbled across it!

Georgina said...

My favorite character is Maggie in Angels because I really felt for her tha whole way through the novel. I like how she manages to move from finding out her marriage is over to rebuilding her life

susana said...

I have readen it. And what I can say is that it is wonderful... I loved it.
Good luck!!! I best wishes for all of you...

Krystal Lynn said...

I really want to read her book, The Other Side of the Story. I like the premise and it seems like everyone else who read and reviewed it thought it was great. =)


msamy said...

I've never read a Keyes' novel, but after reading both the interview and the answers posted by chicklit's own, I'm so intrigued that I'm not quite sure where to start. I definitely want to meet these famous Walsh sisters, so I suppose Watermelon would be the obvious place...the beginning, so to speak...and the new book sounds absolutely fascinating, as well!! At this point, I'm fairly sure I'll get around to reading them all...can't wait, and hope to start by winning a gifted copy!!

Amy Lawer

Jennifer said...

my favorite character has to be Claire from Watermelon, her strength is just awesome. But I also love Momma Walsh.

Pam Herstein said...

While I loved all of her books, I guess I would have to say I loved Jojo, Lily & Gemma from "The Other Side of the Story." You see, my daughter was in the hospital having brain surgery. The best way for me to escape the fear, worry & the drudgery of spending a month in the hospital with her was to read. And one of the books I devoured was "The Other Side of the Story." I loved how the womens' lives intersected, even though they didn't realize it. And like all of Marian Keyes' characters, they were strong, yet vulnerable. I guess I was feeling the same way.

Pam Herstein

Qandthebooks said...

I'd never read a Marian Keyes novel, but I'd love to read Sushi for Beginners!


Linda Kish said...

I haven't read any but I'd love to read Cracks in My Foundation: Bags, Trips, Make-up Tips, Charity, Glory, and the Darker Side of the Story. Why? How could you go wrong with a title like that?

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

karenk said...

would love to read this novel...i haven't had the opportunity to read any of marian's novels...yet :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Jane said...

I have never read one of her books! Love getting new authors to put on my "must read" list!


Anita Yancey said...

I haven't read any of Marian Keyes books. But I would love to read Watermelon first. The Brightest Star in the Sky sounds really good too. Please enter me. Thanks!


Megan @ Book Brats said...

I've never read a Marian Keyes novel, but I think I would love to read Sushi for Beginners. I actually have it on my shelf to read now, LOL! Thanks for the giveaway!

bookbrats at gmail dot com

Research Paper said...

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion.

Colleen Turner said...

I haven't read any of her novels yet, but after reading the various synopsis I think I would most like to start with either The Brightest Star in the Sky or The Other Side of the Story!

Margie said...

I have never read anything by this author. After checking out her books on Amazon, I think I'd like to read The Other Side of the Story. Noticed this one got very good reviews.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

♡♥♬ Raven In A Blue Room ♬♥♡ said...

new to her books. I think Rachel's Holiday seems like a good read since I can relate to her in some ways

Thank you for hosting this giveaway

pumuckler {at} gmail {dot} com

Terra57 said...

I have never read one of her books but have been recommended them by nurses at our local hospital after I had a short visit there recently. I really love funny so I guess I would be open to whatever book might come my way. There is nothing like a little chuckle to make one feel better. BTW, great interview.

terraontop57 at yahoo dot com

Nancye said...

I haven't read any Marian Keyes books yet. I would love to read "Anybody Out There" Thanks for the giveaway!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Susan O'Bryant said...

I would like to read "Watermelon" for my first Marian Keyes novel. I like to start out with an author's first novel; it seems to give a good feel of their foundation and what's really important to them. That comes out in their writing and that's enjoyable to me!

susanaudrey33 at gmail dot com