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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#Interview Sotto Voce by Erin Finnegan @ErinGoFinnegan.

Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and editor. She was born and raised in Southern California, where she lives with two sheep dogs and grows, ferments and drinks Syrah and Zinfandel in the foothills outside Los Angeles. 

Sotto Voce is her first novel.

Connect with Erin at, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter.

What is your story's heat level? How do you approach the sex scenes?
That's honestly hard to say, because I never approach writing with a goal of having a certain "heat level". It is what it is, and it's there, when the characters are good and ready for it. I believe in build and in tension, and I think that's prominent in Sotto Voce. Greg and Tom fight it until they simply can't any more, and then the flood gates open.

How do you maintain activity as a writer when sitting at a desk all day?

I don't sit at a desk all day, so that makes it a lot easier, I guess. Work and writing go with me everywhere, whether it's in the barn or the vineyard, or while I'm working out. I've moved the treadmill into my office and installed a stand-up desk so I can work and move, and that's a great help. But I'm also an active person by nature, so I'll always make time for it. Then again, my favorite place to write is a big, overstuffed rocking chair.

What is it that you loved about the main characters in your story?
Tom and Greg are very different people, but they have certain similar character traits that I love, and I love matched together. They're both grounded, and feel very real to me. Even when Tom uses the pen name "Thomas" for his columns for the sake of stature, he knows and respects his roots. And Greg is viciously real, unwilling to become the person his family and upbringing insisted on. He found his passion, or passions, and stayed true to them. I love that in a person, and in these characters.

What do you feel is your strongest type of writing? Humor? Angst? Confrontation scenes? Action? Sex? Sensuality? Sweet Romance? And why?
I think my background in news has given me a solid foundation in pacing and brevity. In journalism, you rarely get an opportunity to over-write something, and I think that's a great foundation for fiction, as well. I try to say a lot in as few words as possible. That, and I can write a pretty decent fight scene. If there's make-up sex, well that's just a bonus.

Are you social media savvy? If so what do you suggest for others? If not, why not?
Who is to say if they are social media savvy, really? Do you base it on your numbers of followers, or likes? Or do you base it on the quality of the interaction? Personally, I think the latter is more important, or at least more satisfying. So I think that the key to a more satisfying and successful social media experience is interaction—whether it is making the effort to respond to any questions or reaching out to readers, authors and bloggers with questions and comments.

What are some things from your life or things you have observed that you've infused into your stories?

With Sotto Voce, quite a lot, largely because I am a winemaker and own a small vineyard, so the backdrop to this romance is definitely a part of my world. But step away from the winemaking and even the romance for a moment, and a big theme in the story is about the merits of an efficient, large scale business versus artisan craftsmanship. It's a subject I'm fascinated with, and that hits close to home on a lot of levels. And it's not a clear-cut story of good versus bad, because there is much that can be said in favor of, in this case, a big winery that knows how to make and market a product of consistently high quality from one year to the next. On the other hand, the passion and overall knowledge that goes in to the work of an artisan craftsman like Greg Kennedy in Sotto Voce just gives his work an extra layer of depth.

If you had an unlimited budget, where would you like to visit for story-related research?

Well, if I were still writing about wine, I'd have to say Bordeaux, or maybe Tuscany. On the other hand, I'd love to go back to the wine-growing regions in New Zealand, which I visited a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with.

But if I were to choose any place, with no reason based on what I'm currently working on, then I think a research excursion to Fiji is definitely in order.

Any fun facts about the research for your book?

Well, in order to write a love story set in the world of wine, you had better be ready to crack open a few bottles!

Sotto Voce was written all over the place, under conditions both good and bad. I wrote it on commuter trains and airplanes, and sitting alongside vineyards and in tasting rooms. And while the winery backdrop may seem like a natural, I think it put more pressure on me to try to get the vineyard and winemaking passages right. I made several trips to Napa and Sonoma while I worked on it, and every time, I'd notice something new that I tried to work into the book.

Finally, tell us a little about your newest release!

Sotto Voce is a story of love and wine, of artisan craftsmanship versus corporate efficiency and in the challenges faced when a hard-charging New York wine critic is reassigned to California wine country for a year, where he must organize a high profile competition between the big wines of Napa and the lesser-known craft vintages of neighboring Sonoma. But first, he must win the support of a handsome and enigmatic winemaker who may hold the keys to his success, and possibly his heart.

Buy it on Amazon.
He stood in the foyer for a few moments, taking in the scene, before being recognized by a drunken and jubilant Carmen.


She ran over to him, took him up in an unwieldy embrace and planted a sloppy kiss on his lips.

“You need a drink.”

“So it would seem,” he said, scanning the room.

Carmen gave him a sly smile. “Over there, Baldwin,” she said, angling him toward the far side of the room.

Tom navigated his way across the space, through the throng of boisterous and progressively drunker Sonomans. One handed him a drink. Several shook his hand.

A few hugged him.

In the far corner, smiling and relatively sober, stood Greg. He was talking to friends, but he focused his concentration on the dark-suited figure making its way across the room. He excused himself and took a step, maybe two, and stopped. Through it all, his eyes remained fixed on Tom’s.

Tom could see the rise and fall of Greg’s chest, and how his mouth opened slightly as if he needed to take in more air.

The room was a swirl of color and sound and light, an obstacle course of distractions, but Tom remained focused on one spot, one person, one objective. It felt like the longest twenty-five feet of his life. 

Erin will be awarding a Multi-format Sotto Voce eBook to 10 randomly drawn winners and a Grand Prize of a $25 B&N gift card will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner, all via rafflecopter during the tour.


  1. I'm always confused with heat level too...also...I wonder what happens if my family reads it!!


    1. Haha! My very senior dad read it and gave it a thumbs up—though he admitted, he skipped over some of "the saucy parts".

  2. Thank you so much for hosting!

  3. Great interview and congrats on the new release!

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