Happy Labor Day, Reader Friends!
I hope you’re having a great, relaxing weekend!
Today I’m sharing an interview with Brandy Bruce! I needed a person to fill this spot in quickly, and she quickly responded. I’m so thankful because The last Summer is such a phenomenal read. Grab some tea (or coffee) and take a moment to chat with us.
About the Book
The Blurb: “For twenty-something Sara Witherspoon and her group of friends, a perfect Southern summer includes lake-house getaways, wedding planning, outdoor concerts, and a dash of romance. But for these seven friends who love each other like family, this year, summer rolls in with changes for everyone.
Sara’s longtime crush, Luke, has been her best friend for as long as she has been a part of the group. When Luke begins seriously dating another of their friends, Sara’s forced to deal with her hurt and jealousy, while outwardly try to support them both.
While Sara comes to terms with her own heart and her friends’ relationships, an unexpected handsome pilot from North Carolina and an old flame are thrown into the mix. Knowing her heart suddenly becomes much more complicated.
But as time unfolds and friendships begin to unravel, Sara and the others are presented with the reality of what a season of change does to old friendships and new love interests.
Does growing older mean growing apart?”
Toni: Thank you so much for joining me today. What can you tell us about your new novel, The Last Summer?
Brandy: It’s a novel that was a long time coming. The idea first came to me during my freshman year of college, and for some reason I kept going back to the story. Until, finally, The Last Summer came to be. It’s a story about friendship most of all. These characters are so connected to each other—but for all of us, we go through different seasons of life. We go through change. We’re pushed and pulled in different directions. And that’s what I’m exploring in this novel.
Toni: You did such a great job! I loved the friendships in this novel. The Title is The Last Summer, would you still recommend it for someone’s fall-themed TBR list?
Brandy: YES! The story begins during summer in Houston, Texas (smack dab where lots of the current flooding has been happening. Please pray for the people in Texas!), but moves into fall. Some of my favorite scenes happen during the fall months of the book. In the story, our main girl, Sara, takes a trip to North Carolina during October. Imagine touring a winery, surrounded by red and gold leaves fluttering in the breeze, the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance! I love Virginia and the Carolinas in the fall so that was extra fun for me to write. (While I’m originally from Houston, I lived in Virginia for five years and still have family there.) We also go through a wedding at Christmastime in the course of the story (also so fun for me to write!). I think readers will love the fall/winter portions so definitely keep it on that list!
Toni: That’s so amazing. I’m originally from San Antonio and now live in Virginia. My father and brother actually live in Houston (they’re fine). What made you want to be a writer?
Brandy: I love stories! And I have since childhood. I think I fell in love with stories way back when my mother would read to me. My mom loves to buy picture books (she continues this addiction when it comes to buying books for the grandkids!) and she’d buy picture books and read them to me and my sisters. As I grew up, going to the bookstore to get a new Babysitter’s Club or Sweet Valley High book became my favorite thing. Truly, going to the bookstore made me just so darn happy. After a while, I started writing my own sequels to the Babysitter’s Club books (the original fan fiction!) on spiral notebooks. When I was in the sixth grade, my best friend and I created our own fiction series (called The Hawaii Twins) and we’d alternate writing stories. And basically, this love of writing never stopped for me. I wrote stories all through high school, then through college, then I graduated with my English degree and became an editor for a publishing house and spent my days editing other people’s books (which was a dream come true for me). And all this time, even as I became a mother, I never stopped writing. It’s part of who I am.
Toni: Oh the good ol’ days of Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. They’re going to make SVH into a movie! (Que my teenage scream.) What are a few of your favorite books?
Brandy: So many! It’s impossible to narrow it down. For me, some books I love because they take me back to a certain time of life. Some books I love just because the story grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The Glenbrooke series by Robin Gunn is one of my all-time favorites. I felt like Robin wove romance and real-life together in a beautiful way in those stories. The Harry Potter series was and is magical and I was enthralled by every book. I loved The Hunger Games. The Shunning by Beverly Lewis. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. (I read a lot of genres!)
Toni: We have similar taste. Loved Harry Potter, The Hunger Games series, and The Shunning! And who doesn’t love Jane Austen? I’ll have to check ou the others. What’s one aspect of your writing that you hope connects with readers?
Brandy: Food! I love reading novels and watching movies in which food plays a role. Examples could be Sandra Byrd’s books or Hillary Manton Lodge’s books, the movies Julie and Julia, Tortilla Soup, or No Reservations come to mind. In my series The Romano Family Collection, food plays a major role. Every book includes a chef in some way and has scenes that involve certain dishes. In The Last Summer, one of the friends is a chef-in-training. He’s one of my favorite characters and I loved getting to sprinkle in scenes with food whenever he was around. One of my cousins always reads my books. Whenever he was reading The Romano Family Collection, he’d text me things like: Cuz, do you have a real recipe for this? Ha! I love that reaction. In The Last Summer, Sara goes to eat at The Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner (which, I’ve been told, flooded during the storm). My husband took me there for dinner while we were dating. I’m telling you—food matters to me!
Toni: Oh man, I love the food in Hillary Manton Lodge’s novel. I also added it in my Maple Run series. Another thing in common! What are you working on now?
Brandy: The follow-up book to The Last Summer! I recommend all readers hop over to my blog and sign up for my newsletter. Those subscribers will get a sneak peek at chapter one this fall.
Toni: *scurries away to signup.*
Brandy: Thank you for having me, Toni!
Toni: Thank you so much for stopping by! Readers, do you have any questions for Brandy?
About the Author
Brandy Bruce is a mom, a wife, a book editor, an author, and someone who really loves dessert. She’s the author of the novels Looks Like Love, The Romano Family Collection, and award-winning The Last Summer. Having worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade, Brandy currently works as a freelance book editor, when she’s not writing novels! Brandy, her husband, and their children make their home in the beautiful state of Colorado. She’s very active online and she loves to hear from readers. Sign up for Brandy’s newsletter via her blog!