Tuesday, December 31, 2013


The road west would lead them to each other… Hilde Graham is an independent-spirited waitress living in the heart of early 1940s America. She is sure that she has found true love with a married man, defying convention to be with him. But WWII and a subsequent turbulent marriage challenge her ideals of love, and she is left alone to raise a small son. Determined to find a future free of past mistakes, she travels west on Route 66 to start a new life in postwar California as a single mother. Patrick West has known only defeat through the horrors of war, time in a German P.O.W. camp, and a failed union. His lonely life is revived when he meets Hilde. Each is uniquely capable of understanding the others’ heart as they fight for a second chance at love—but can they build the trust they need to mend their wounded hearts and find lasting happiness?


Authors Bio: Brittany Batong has been hearing and telling stories her whole life, most of them based in and around the Los Angeles area. She grew up in the idyllic coastal farm town of Ventura, California, dreaming of becoming a professional character animator. As a child, she spent countless adventures exploring Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region, where most of her extended family was based. She remembers her first experience tasting escargots as a truly religious one. As a teenager she nurtured interests in theatre, poetry, and the arts. At an early age, she developed respect for the sometimes hidden history that dwells underneath the modern facade of contemporary life. She spent four years at the internationally renowned California Institute of the Arts, studying the art of storytelling through hand-drawn animation, after which she...did nothing with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Instead, she continued to observe interesting people and see new story opportunities working for the Cities of Los Angeles and Santa Clarita. Brittany finds that the most interesting stories lie within the hearts of people who lead lives and work in environments that are seemingly ordinary. Ever in love with local history, she enjoys working and playing in Downtown Los Angeles and uncovering its sometimes less-than-evident treasures. She developed the idea for her first novel, "A Time Apart", in her mind for seven years before fully realizing it. She currently resides in Santa Clarita, California with her husband and two sons; and is grateful for this interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.




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He sits on the steps to the County Courthouse, a pink rubber ball in his hand. His chubby, four-year-old hands can make the ball bounce on the step below—that is not the problem. But to catch the ball before it bounces irretrievably down the steps—now that is another issue. He tried once and it rolled down onto the street, and Mr. Spence of the hardware supply store gave him a sound yelling after nearly running over the ball. Huey saw the tires of the truck barely miss the ball, 'cause he was right there in front of it when it almost happened. Then Mr. Howe didn't even say he was sorry for almost running over the ball. Grown-ups sure are funny sometimes.

Now he is unsure whether he should try again. Daddy always says you can't learn anything new unless you practice...but Mommy said to behave while she and Daddy are away; and he doesn't want anyone else to yell at him. These things always have a way of getting back to Mommy. Anyway, he wasn't supposed to leave Gramma's house at all. But he likes to explore, and figures as long as he doesn't do anything too bad, he'll be able to get back before anyone knows. He decides to keep the ball safely clutched in his hand while he instead tries to jump from step to step on just one foot. He's seen some of the older girls in town do it before, and he's pretty sure that even though he's younger he can do anything a stupid girl can do. With one hand holding the ball and the other holding his left leg behind him, he starts to give it a try. He makes it down the first eight steps successfully (counting all the way, 'cause Mommy taught him to count to ten already). But then he loses grip of his ball, and it throws him off balance as he tumbles to the bottom of the steps, right in front of Mrs. Muller and Mrs. Simpson. Mrs. Muller stumbles. “Hugo Brewer, you naughty little boy! You've nearly tripped me.” Mrs. Simpson is crouching down to help Huey. “Now, Clarissa, you're fine. We need to see if little Huey is okay...Why, Huey, you've scraped your chin!” Feeling jarred but not wanting to show that to crummy old Mrs. Muller, Huey holds in the tears that are starting to form and stands as tall as his 3-foot figure will allow, chin jutting forward and blond hair shining in the afternoon sun. “It's all right, Miss Simpson. I'm awful sorry about trippin'.” “Where on earth is your mother?” Mrs. Muller shakes her head. Huey scowls at his interrogator with icy blue eyes. “Gramma said they're here.” “Well, as if it wasn't bad enough that she's flouting at God's will, she leaves her young son outside to wreak havoc on the town!” Mrs. Simpson pulls at Mrs. Muller. “Clarissa, don't make a bad situation worse. I'm sure she had little choice, given her people are all the way in De Soto. It probably didn't seem right to have Mrs. Brewer look after him, given the occasion.” “What's a 'casion?” asks Huey inquisitively of Mrs. Simpson. Ignoring his question, Mrs. Muller pulls away Mrs. Simpson. “Come now, Nancy. We don't want to be mixed up in any of this business.” With an apologetic look, Mrs. Simpson follows her less sympathetic friend. Huey watches them go, until he realizes that now his ball is gone completely. Aw, nuts. It must have rolled down into the sewer from the gutter. Darn that old Mrs. Muller and her fussin'. No way Daddy's gonna get him a new one now. He tromps up the stairs and sinks once again onto the top step. There's gotta be some way to get into the sewer. He looks hopefully over at the manhole cover, and then over to the courthouse. Doggone it. Mommy is just now coming out of the courthouse. Huey frowns to himself—he has to get back to Gramma’s before Mommy finds him gone. It’s now or never. He makes a purposeful stride towards the manhole. He does not know that a pink ball is the second thing he will lose today. He does not know that, inside, his parents are finalizing the papers that will change his life forever. As he looks over at a nearby tree, devising a way to break off one of the branches in order that he may use it as a lever, he does not know that in two week’s time he will never again sit on these steps, never again get yelled at by Mr. Spence, never again have heads shaken at him in this small county seat. And he does not know that this is the last day he will ever spend with his father.


Tell us the story behind that cover!

Originally, the Purple Heart was the primary focus of the cover, with the two people facing each other in silhouette taking the place of George Washington's profile. But it came off cold and unappealing. I wanted to be careful if using an image of real people. It was important to me that the main characters looked like regular people, not polished models. I wanted there to be an honesty to it. My publisher Michael found this great website of stock photos with some period images, and this image really spoke to me. The man especially looked somewhat like I imagined the character. We purchased the rights to the image and superimposed it onto the modified Purple Heart, and then I played with it in Photoshop to make it look like an illustration. I'm really pleased with the result. There is a joy in that couple, which I think is important in conveying the overall idea of this story of two people relieved to find love as a second chance.

What can we learn from your main character?

I think a lot of Hilde's story is about overcoming the implications of decisions she made in the past. Sure, these decisions we make inform what we do moving on--but you shouldn't have to deny yourself happiness because of past mistakes. Society sometimes confuses us as to how we're supposed to rate our own successes in life and love; when really as women our lives are multi-faceted and anything but conventional. We play different (sometimes competing) roles, and make choices as a result. It takes a strong woman to do the thing that society frowns upon but that ultimately makes her stronger. I think this is a strength that she doesn't realize she has, and she has to be comfortable with herself before she can really be happy with someone else.

What has been your greatest compliment as an author, your worst criticism?

The greatest compliment on this novel was that my dad really felt moved by the story. It was based partially on his mother, and so that it moved him was a true validation of the work. The worst criticism I got was for my first book, A Time Apart. It was rejected by the all the conventional publishing houses I sent it to, and ultimately I self-published until Chances Press picked up the extended distribution. So I suppose everything ultimately happens for a reason.

What part of the story was the hardest to write, the beginning, the middle, the climax?

It was difficult to figure out how to resolve the issues between the couple, after they have a major falling out. It was my husband who really triggered the idea for the resolution centering around both of their relationships with the little boy. When you have children, you often find it is they who see the simple truth in a difficult situation.

Is your main character based on anyone in particular? Did you have a muse for this book?

I based the story partially on what I knew about my paternal grandmother, who came out to California with my dad when he was just 5 years old. What struck me, even though I do not have a similar life experience per se, was how much I related to her once I got inside her head, so to speak. How much I sympathize with women who have been challenged by a perceived failure at convention's expectations.

Fast Round Names of your pets

My cat, Jedi, and my dog, Rosemary (Rosie).

Favorite ice cream, color, book, and television show

Soft spot in my heart for Thrifty's Chocolate Malted Crunch. Blue. Jane Eyre. Once Upon A Time (current); Buffy (all-time).

Fame or Fortune

Neither leads to true happiness. But a little extra money wouldn't hurt.

Grapes or Raisins


Zombies, Vampires, or neither

Vamps, but the kind that eat people, not the kind that shimmer and whine.

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