IAN. Today author Robbi Sommers Bryant talks about her book The Beautiful Evil and her writing publishing journey. First her Bio.
Robbi's published works include 3 novels, 5 short story collections and 1 book of poetry. Her work has been published in magazines including Readers Digest, Redbook, Cupido and Penthouse. Her writing is also included in several anthologies and books of poetry. A magazine article Robbi wrote was published as an excellent example in an academic textbook, How to Write an Essay. These were all published under the name, Robbi Sommers. One of her articles was optioned twice for The Movie Of The Week. Robbi was a guest on The Jane Pitney show, was called by Phil Donohue's show and Montel Williams' show regarding this article.
After the sudden death of her 21-year-old son in the late 1990’s, Robbi’s passion and creative flame extinguished. She stopped writing until this year, when she wrote a short story for a bookstore contest and won second prize. Another story, "How I Got Engaged," was printed in the local newspapers.
Robbi has recently retired as a dental hygienist. She has also worked as a licensed esthetician and a certified massage therapist. Once a disco dance teacher and tarot card reader/teacher, Robbi has dabbled in many of life's experiences. She is married and is the mother of three sons. Justin 1976-1997, Brian and Nick (twins, age 28.)
The Beautiful Evil, a novel, is her first major work since her son passed.
IAN: Tell us about The Beautiful Evil.
RSB: Loosely based on the mythology of Pandora’s Box, “The Beautiful Evil,” takes readers through the tumultuous consequences of one woman’s journey into a dark, personal hell in the pursuit of passion, hope and redemption. Written for fans of psychological thrillers and noir fiction lovers, The Beautiful Evil takes in the life of Constance Sartone Jacobson.
Scarred by the death of her father at a young age,
Her adult life, however, proves to be just as passionless and controlled. She becomes a cynical homemaker, even having pretend pregnancies and miscarriages in order to please her husband.
The Beautiful Evil seeks to offer readers a captivating psychological thriller that will keep them questioning reality until the final ultimate act.
IAN. How long did it take to write the book?
RSB. Approx 1-2 years
IAN. What inspired you to write the book?
RSB. I love to write, love mythology and love dark characters. Pandora kept urging me to write her story...
IAN. Talk about the writing process. Do you write at night or in the morning?
RSB. I write from 5 a.m. to 7 pm. I occasionally get up for lunch, grab a chewed shoe from my puppy's mouth. Antagonized about my chewed shoe. Creates angst. Return to desk and produce a dark story.
IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?
RSB. I wing the first draft. As the characters find their voices, they begin to lead the way.
IAN. How is your book different from others in your genre?
RSB. The main character's outlook on life. She is an emotionally void and bereft woman in her early thirties whose quirky nature, unstable emotions and erratic actions create an intriguing, albeit, unreliable narrator.
IAN. Is your book published in print, e-book or both?
RSB. Once released, end of June, it will be both in print and an ebook.
IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
RSB. The desire to buy my next book. LOL
IAN. When the book is release were will it be available?
RSB. Amazon, Kindle, my website: www.robbibryant.com
IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
RSB. My next book is not a sequel. It's a stand alone about shift-changers.
IAN. Any other links or info you'd like to share?
RSB. www.robbibryant.com, www.robbibryant.blogspot.com
The Beautiful Evil
Approx 225 pages
A lonely person trapped and encumbered by self-loathing, I was terrified. With Daddy gone and Sam's cold edge, I felt like a ladybug with a broken wing. Vulnerable, I lived in fear of predators—and they were everywhere. Even the idea of it exhausted me.
When the old woman held the vase for me to see, I reached with trembling hands. The vase was a sign that anything was possible. It was up to me to take the first step.
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“Kalὃn κακό.” The lid over the sour eye drooped as she pulled the vase close to her chest.
Oh God, now what? Any second, some unpredictable incident could ruin things: Madeline could appear and take the vase from me. As illogical as that was, I worried, nonetheless.
I pulled out my wallet and flashed my credit card in her face. “Here.”
“Kalòn kakòn.” Her eye began to weep and she wiped it.
“Beautiful evil.” She shook her soiled finger in my face.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I snapped back.
“You not so smart, eh?” The guttural sound of her laugh was hideous.
“Et vous êtes une sorcière laide,” I said viciously. When someone pushed me too far, I enjoyed being spiteful, especially in French. And she was an ugly old witch.
The woman shrugged and turned away. Not heading for the cash register, she scuffled toward the curtained doorway across the room. Except for the sound of her dead foot on the linoleum floor, the room fell silent.
What was her game? Was my desperation that obvious? Was this a ploy to raise the price? No point bargaining. I'd lost every argument in high school debate class.
“I’ll take it, whatever the price, okay?”
Had she understood the French? Is that why she turned away?
The woman shook her head and disappeared behind the curtain.
“Wait,” I called to her.
What was this? Did she want me to plead? To concede that yes, it was up to her whether I got the vase?
Why are my treasures always taken from me?
I despised her. I clenched my teeth and tightened my fists until my nails dug into my palms. I approached the curtained doorway, but my reflection in a nearby mirror stopped me in my tracks. For a split second, I thought I saw Rose wink at me. I was mistaken.
“It’s a lovely vase. It is. I’m sorry if I appeared rude,” I called to the woman. “I don’t know what came over me.”
My words must have moved her because she came back through the curtain. Her good eye had a scorching intensity; the droopy eye had begun to crust.
“It’s just that I want that vase. In an odd way, I feel like it’s already mine.” I retied my sash, glanced erratically around the store. “I’m sure you’ve had that happen to you, when you saw something that you felt an intense connection to and had to have it, no matter what.”
As if we now had a secret to share, the woman crossed back to me and stepped in close. Her face was inches from mine. Her offensive perfume mingled with the ghastly smell of cigarettes, a nauseating mix. My impulse was to back away but I held my ground.
She said something, her voice a whisper, and then offered a fleeting smile.
“Excuse me? I didn’t—”
“I said sorrow.” The foul odor of her breath hung between us. “We would often be sorrowed if our wishes were gratified.” She dabbed the dead eye. “Aesop.” As though she had rehearsed this line hundreds of times, her broken English momentarily disappeared, yet her thick accent remained.
She shook her head but said nothing more, leaving those last words to linger in the stifling room. As if nothing out of the ordinary had transpired, she smiled a dreadful smile and headed for the register.
The vase was terra cotta and glossy black-ware. Mythological scenes decorated its circumference. A surreal thrill shot through me. Did this vase contain a message from Daddy?
The lid was securely bound to the vase with a gold cord that slipped through small loops along the rim. “How does this open?” I asked, reaching for the vase.
The witch slapped my hand away. It took everything in my power not to hit her back. She was worthless. She was nothing and she deserved a fist in the face. I raised my arm to strike her.
“Don’t be fool,” she snorted, grabbing the credit card from my unclenched hand. “Eight hundred-fifty, no tax, eh.” She was goading me. She had to be.
“Eight hundred and fifty? You're amusing when you want to be,” I said sarcastically.
The old cow glared at me. “No tax. I give deal. Good deal, old vase.”
“I haven’t even held the vase. You can't expect—”
“No touch vase, eh. Buy first.”
“But that’s ridiculous!”
“Whatever the price, eh? You change mind. Okay. Fine.” She crunched the Visa slip into a small ball and tossed it into an overfilled wastebasket and turned to walk away.
“No, please wait—” I grabbed the slip from the trash and tried ironing it with my hand.
The woman glared at me. “You want it, no?”
I felt like I was ten. I wanted to stamp my feet. Have a tantrum. Tears threatened to overflow. Instead, I concentrated on concealing my weaknesses.
I don’t have to feel this. I don’t have to feel anything, I silently repeated until I had control.
The woman snatched the receipt and finished the transaction in a huff. “We go to back, eh. I have evil eye charm to protect.. Seventy dollars.”
Still clutching the vase, she headed toward the back room.
“Enough! I'll take the vase now.”
“Eh? No, not yet. You need—”
“Yes. Now!" I blurted, and in a reckless move, grabbed the vase.
She tightened her grasp. “No.”
I wrestled with her, prying the vase out of her hands and shoving her backward. As she fell, I snatched my Visa and the receipt and ran.
She was meaningless and I was in the right.
Robbi Sommers Bryant @ IAN