I’m thrilled to share this interview with you today! Isn’t February the perfect month for us to talk about a lovely romance novel and meet it’s wonderful author? Why yes it is the perfect month!

Today I have an interview with author, Elena Mikalsen. Elena is the author of the newly released book, Wrapped in the Stars. We collaborated on a gorgeous scented candle inspired by one of the main characters, Rebecca. This candle has such wonderful fragrance and it’s the perfect accompaniment to this story.

Here’s the snippet about Wrapped in the Stars from Amazon.com:

Struggling with guilt over her sister’s death and the stress of her medical residency, Maya Radelis runs away to Scotland. A robin seems to lead her to an antique shop, where she finds a century-old engagement ring. But what is the ring’s history? She follows the slim paper trail, wondering if it is only coincidence that her dreams reveal the story of a Swiss woman physician who wore the ring during World War I.

In Paris she meets fellow New Yorker David Fischer, a lawyer with family in Switzerland as well as America. He helps Maya follow the memories stored in the ring as they lead her around Europe. The attraction between David and Maya grows, and when they discover a connection between the ring and David’s family, they learn, bit by bit, more about the ring’s earlier owner. Will Maya’s own life have the same tragedy of lost love?

Now let’s meet, Elena….


Thank you so much for making time to chat with us today, Elena. Congratulations on having your book-birthday yesterday!

I loved Wrapped in the Stars. Please share with us what inspired this story.

I got the idea for Wrapped in the Stars when I was in Edinburgh with my family about 4 years ago. I stood in front of an antique shop on the Royal Mile and noticed the display held beautiful rings. I absolutely love antique shopping and thought a ring would be a great item to have. And then I shuddered as a thought occurred to me. What if I buy an antique jewelry item and it has memories of its owner attached to it? This idea of memories transferring from people to objects wouldn’t leave me alone.

Then I started looking for a great story of a woman to go with a ring that would be found in an antique shop. The story came to me quickly but in a sad way. My grandmother, Zoya, passed away and left me a diary filled with pages of family history. One of the pages discussed early life of my great-grandfather, Mark. As a Jew, he was denied entry to Ukrainian universities and had to travel to Switzerland in order to study in medical school. He spent years studying in Switzerland and then returned during the Russian Revolution. I thought—what if Mark met a woman in Switzerland and she was the greatest love of his life?

There are two main characters and two story lines in the book. Did one present itself first? Did you always know there would be two connected stories to tell?

Yes, there are Maya ( a woman in present time) and Rebecca (a woman in the past). I have always loved dual-timeline stories. I am a huge fan of Susanna Kearsley’s novels and have read them all about a dozen times. Maya presented herself first. I thought of her being lost in Edinburgh and then finding her way to an antique shop and buying a ring. Then I wondered why would she be lost? What would be her story? Then I had to wonder about what kind of story would be trapped in an antique engagement ring? And why would it want to live there forever? That’s how Rebecca was born.

Rebecca, the character who inspired the candle we collaborated on, is a strong independent woman in a time when that was frowned upon. She really goes against her mother! What kind of research did you do to learn about female physicians (Rebecca’s ultimate profession) in Switzerland during WWI?

I read many biographies and autobiographies of women physicians who lived and worked during Rebecca’s time. It was fascinating and I got carried away reading these women’s stories. I even read a medical textbook written during Rebecca’s time.

Speaking of research, did you get to go to Switzerland (or any of the other locations in the book)? Your descriptions of certain locations are so realistic!

I went to Scotland and Paris. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to Switzerland, but I spent countless hours on YouTube watching videos of Bern and Lake Thun (another location in the book). I also walked the streets with Google maps and found antique maps that I printed out to make sure the street names were correct. I really felt like I’ve been there. I had pictures of the locations all over my walls.

In your non-writing life you are a psychologist. How did you get started writing fiction and how much time do you get to write your novels while balancing the rest of your life (family & career)?

I have been writing short stories since I was a teenager. But, when I became a psychologist, my nonfiction writing really took over. About 5-6 years ago, however, I began reading fiction nonstop and I just couldn’t get the nagging idea of wanting to write my own novel out of my head. So, I began looking for the right story. It presented itself 5 years ago and here we are!

I was visiting your website and I noticed you have to other Works in Progress (WIP). Are you working on both right now?

I am working on 2 novels which are very different and I love switching back and forth. I am about half done with Be Brave, which is a women’s fiction/psychological suspense novel. Then, when I was on vacation in Rome last summer, I began to write a romance novel set in Italy. It’s told from the point of view of the man and the woman and it’s very light and romantic and I enjoy taking a break from the heavy suspense writing to work on this one. I don’t have a title for it yet, but it’s about a third done.

While I was on your site, I noticed you had Pinterest boards for your WIP – some dream casting! Did you have any actors in mind when writing Wrapped in the Stars?

I think Emmy Rossum looks like a perfect Maya to me and I see Jessica Brown Findlay as Rebecca. Maybe Skylar Austin as David? Jake Gyllenhaal as Edward. I have a high standard for Mark. Theo James maybe?

Thank you again for sharing some of your time with us. I encourage everyone to grab a copy of Wrapped in the Stars and the Rebecca candle to go along with their read!

Rebecca

inspired by the book Wrapped in the Stars by Elena Mikalsen
A tender fragrance of rose, geranium, apricot, orchid and cool air

What I loved about Wrapped in the Stars:

I loved the historical aspect of this story. The dreams Maya has that tell us the story of Rebecca and Mark are vivid and pull the reader in. I absolutely loved the magical, fate driven romance of each main character. I liked so much more, but everything is a spoiler! So I’ll stop there and tell you to get your own copy of this lovely book!

- Nalana @ Book Scents

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