I am massively, massively excited to welcome one of my favourite authors to my blog today. It’s only the AMAZING Robert Bryndza, author of the fantastic Coco Pinchard series & Lost in Crazy Town. Robert’s taking Coco’s fabulous novella, A Very Coco Christmas, on a blog tour this week and I’m delighted to be kicking off the tour with an interview with Robert. I’ll be reviewing the novella later on today & don’t forget to enter the giveaway below. (If you haven’t got your copy of A Very Coco Christmas then click here to see what you’re missing.) For now, it’s over to Robert as he talks Christmas in Slovakia, what it’s like writing from a female perspective, and if we’ll be reading more about Coco in the future (*crosses everything*)…
Hi Robert, a huge, warm welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! I’m thrilled to have you on the site, thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Thank you Holly, it’s great to be here, I really love Bookaholic Confessions! My name is Robert Bryndza, and I’m a British born writer living in Slovakia with my husband Ján. I started to write novels a few years ago and I’ve been lucky enough to ride the wave of self-publishing on Amazon. In summer 2012 I uploaded my romantic comedy The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard, and after a slow start, word of mouth began to spread and readers started contacting me saying how much they loved the book. Since then I’ve written two more Coco novels, Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding, Coco Pinchard, The Consequences of Love and Sex and the novella, A Very Coco Christmas. To date the Coco Pinchard series has had 250,000 downloads, which means I’ve been able to write full time – a dream come true.
Can you tell us a bit about the fantastic novella that is A Very Coco Christmas?
A Very Coco Christmas is all about that first time you return home for Christmas with a new boyfriend who you know your family will hate! This happens to Coco, who meets Daniel Pinchard during her first term away at Aberystwyth University. He is bit of a bad boy from the wrong side of the river. When Coco returns to London to spend Christmas with her parents, they don’t approve, going as far as trying to set her up with a chap called Kenneth who they think is far more appropriate. Coco refuses and sparks begin to fly!
The novella is set in 1985, and there is a great deal of nostalgia for when Christmas was a lot simpler and less commercial. We also see Coco’s disastrous first meeting with Ethel, her future mother-in-law. It’s a cosy funny novella with snow, romance, and a Christmas lunch involving an escaped live turkey!
As you know I absolutely love Coco Pinchard and her series of fabulous books. What inspired you to create Coco? Is she based on anyone you know?
Back in 2007, when the first iPhones were released, I was on a train to work one morning when I noticed just how many people were sending emails. I wondered what they were saying, who they were talking to. This led to an idea about a woman whose marriage is on the rocks, and she starts to use her iPhone as a confessional, emailing her friends with what is happening. This idea became the basis for the first Coco Pinchard book. Coco isn’t based on one person, I think she’s someone we can all identify with.
Is it difficult writing books from a female character’s perspective?
I think it’s difficult to create any character when you first start with an idea for a book. Whether they are male or female. I get asked often how I can write from a female perspective, and one thing I think I have going for me is that I’m gay! In my experience I have a unique relationship with my female friends. I think some women feel they have to be a certain way with guys, there is a terrible pressure to look good, conform to a certain way of behaving etc. Sometimes their female friends can be quite competitive too. I think a gay guy/girl friendship can be very honest – there is no pressure to be anything but themselves, and I think that through these friendships I have learned a lot about how women think.
Do you have any plans to write any more books in the Coco Pinchard series? I would love to find out how life is treating Coco, Adam and Little Adam? (And Rosencrantz…and Ethel…)
Yes absolutely! At the end of Coco Pinchard, The Consequences of Love and Sex Coco moved to live in the country, and I’d love to explore how they are getting on, living on the farm running their microbrewery and bringing up Little Adam. I am going to wait a little while until I write the next one though, as Little Adam needs to be a bit older. He needs to be at school, so Coco has some time to get herself into mad situations during the school run! Also Ethel is the gift that keeps on giving – I love her, and there is plenty more to come.
Do you have a favourite character from any of your books?
Coco is my favourite. I love her take on the world we are living in right now, and how she finds herself in these crazy situations. I think on the one hand this a golden age of technology and innovation, and on the other the world has gone rather mad. I think Coco makes us realise we are all stumbling through life, and it’s okay to make a mess of things.
I’m really looking forward to reading the book that you’ve written with Ján Bryndza , Lost in Crazytown. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Lost In Crazytown is a completely different novel to the Coco Pinchard series, and came from my experiences working as a writer in Los Angeles. I’d kept a diary during our time there and Ján suggested we should turn it into a book. A publisher in Slovakia got interested in the idea, so it was published here first, and then a year later in English (Ján is also the Slovak language translator for all my books, which are published here in Slovakia).
Lost In Crazytown is a very dark satire about a young guy who comes to Hollywood and through a chance meeting, gets a job working as a personal assistant to a movie star. Her career is on the rocks and he finds himself caught up in the crazy world she inhabits living in the Hollywood Hills!
Now, let’s talk Christmas! What’s your favourite thing about the festive season?
I love sledging in the snow, and cosy nights by the fire with mulled wine!
How does Christmas in Slovakia differ from Christmas in the UK?
Christmas in Slovakia is lovely. There’s plenty of snow for the above sledging. Christmas Day is celebrated on Dec 24th, which is great because we end up celebrating both and have two Christmas days in a row! Every town and village has its own Christmas markets, serving hot food and mulled wine. Christmas lunch is quite different – a bit healthier with fish and salad – and there are some lovely traditions. Money is placed under the tablecloth for wealth, walnuts are thrown into the four corners of the room for prosperity, and an empty place is laid at the table for a stranger who may be in need.
Another difference in Slovakia is Mikulaš Day (Father Christmas Day), which falls on the 6th December. Kids leave out their shoes by the door, and then if they’ve been good Mikulaš magically fills the shoes with fruit and chocolate. If they’ve been bad they get coal! So because Father Christmas comes on the 6th, it’s then it’s up to Jesus to bring the presents on Christmas Day, which must be must harder for the poor chap to do on his own, with no reindeer or Lapland distribution centre staffed by hundreds of elves.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re up to at the moment?
I am writing a romantic comedy with a completely new set of characters. I’m hoping to have it ready by early next year.
Click the link to win a signed copy of A Very Coco Christmas, a limited edition Coco Christmas mug filled with chocolate sprouts, and a £25/$25 Amazon gift voucher via a Rafflecopter giveaway
A MASSIVE thank you to Robert for answering my questions and for letting me be part of the blog tour for A Very Coco Christmas. ♥
Robert Bryndza was born in the UK and lived in America and Canada before settling in Slovakia with his Slovak husband Ján. His debut novel The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard became an Amazon bestseller and two sequels have followed, Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding and Coco Pinchard, The Consequences of Love and Sex. A Very Coco Christmas, is a delightful introductory novella to the Coco Pinchard series. When he’s not writing Rob is learning Slovak, trying to train two crazy dogs, or watching Grand Designs – all in the hope that he’ll be able to understand his mother-in-law, build his dream house, and get the dogs to listen.