Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Marta Acosta ~ Interview

It was an awesome opportunity for me to get to interview Marta Acosta, author of HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA and MIDNIGHT BRUNCH. Marta has offered a free copy of her book, MIDNIGHT BRUNCH to a lucky winner! For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment and you will be automatically entered! I will pick a lucky winner, deadline is July 30, 2007.

Your books are fresh, hip and seem to add a little flair to the vamp genre. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write them?

First, thanks for having me as your guest! It's a pleasure to be here.

I wanted to create a heroine who had the qualities I love in my favorite fictional characters, from Eliza Bennet to Bridget Jones. They're smart, funny, passionate, and a little flawed, but they have a solid core and they want to do the right thing. They take missteps, but they will usually choose to do what's right over what's selfish. They're the kind of women you'd want as a best friend. I love Jane Austen's comedies of manners and the way her characters negotiate social and economic class, ethical quandaries, and the desire for love.

So I started with the character of Milagro de los Santos and then I put her in a classic situation: she's an impoverished, yet bright, funny young woman is stuck out in a country home with a wealthy, sophisticated family. One of the current cliches of vampires is that they're rich and sophisticated. Take that one step further and you've got blood-drinking snobs. So I imagined a rich, sophisticated vampire family who thinks that Milagro is a tacky, gold-digger.

Where did the idea for your character, Milagro de los Santos come from?

As I mentioned above, I was inspired by Jane Austen's character, but I also love P.G. Wodehouse and his good-natured, clueless Bertie Wooster character. She's embarrassed by her name, which means "miracle of the saints," but she does have an amazing ability to survive any situation. Milagro's a little oblivious sometimes, as we all are, and that leads her to misinterpret things and get into more trouble. My sister-in-law, who's very smart, said, "If Milagro is so smart,why does she do stupid things sometimes?"

I said, "Haven't you ever known a smart person who made stupid mistakes?"

She took a long look at me before saying, "Yes."

Has the writing "gene" always been there for you?

Yes. I read obsessively, and I write compulsively. I don't care what I write -- emails, columns, ridiculous poems, stories, novels, so long as I write.

What's your typical day consist of?

I start the day early with a long walk with my dog. (My beloved old dog, Dr. Buddy Valentine, just died at age 15, and I recently adopted another rescue dog, Professor Baxter Dog.) While I'm walking, I plot out scenes. After that, I have coffee and read the newspapers, then I'm on the computer. I blog, catch up on news and emails, and eventually I get around to writing fiction. I've realized that it takes me a long time to settle into fiction writing, but I'm usually thinking about scenes and dialog all day long. At lunch, I'll go outside and do a little gardening. At about five, my dog reminds me that it's time for our evening walk, and I get off the computer. I cook dinner for my husband and son, and we eat together and chat. If I'm on a tight deadline, I'll work again in the evenings. I realize that I'm incredibly lucky to be able to stay home and write.

Do you have a publicity agent or marketing coordinator?

My publicity agent is Jessica Silvester at Simon & Schuster. We work together trying to get the word out about my books. It's an overwhelming task. I don't have a marketing coordinator.

What are your views on using these two venues to further a writer's career? Do you believe they are essential?

Having a publicist isn't essential, but it's extremely important. Some people are terrific self-promoters, but it takes time and a certain kind of personality. Even with a publicist, an author should be out there promoting her books, because publicists at publishing houses are very busy and working with many, many authors at once.

I noticed while at your website that you attend signings. Can you tell us your favorite memory from a signing?

I'm always happy to meet readers who've come a distance just to meet me. I've had great times at events with 300 people and events with five, where I can have a conversation with readers. But my husband and I still joke about the time a woman from our neighborhood came to a signing just to ask me if I'd sell her my ancient Honda.

You have received a huge amount of great reviews for your books....how does it feel to have Romantic Times quote your book HAPPY HOUR AT CASA DRACULA, "Hilarious...Acosta's heroine is fresh and sassy." ?

I love the positive reviews, of course! I consider myself a humorist, so when I get a comment like "hilarious," or "laugh out loud funny," or "hysterical," I feel that I've succeeded. I was surprised to get a blurb from a writer I love, Julia Spencer-Fleming, who called my book "stunning and darkly hilarious." I admire her so much as a writer, and I was honored that she'd read my novels.

Did you ever think you'd make it this far?

Yes, I did. You really have to believe that it's possible, or else you'll never survive the rejections and roadblocks. You have to be determined and trust in yourself to succeed as a writer. I'm sure there are great writers who never get published because they are intimidated by criticism. But if you don't try and try and try, you'll never know.

Would you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Practice your craft. So often I pick up a book and the sentence structure is clumsy, the imagery bad, the dialog cliche. A novel is not just a plot and characters, but craft. Read your stories aloud, because your ear will often detect problems. Learn from criticism, but don't let it depress you. Ignore those who want to discourage you, and persevere.

What are two things you wish you would have known about being an author beforehand?

I wish I had known that a good way to establish myself was to sell columns to newspapers. I'd suggest that any aspiring novelist send out work to papers, blogs, journals, even newsletters. Not only do you learn to write for an audience and meet a deadline, you also get feedback and clippings.

I also wish I'd known that I didn't have to write serious fiction to be a serious writer. I was writing fiction that was third-person, detached, grim. But my heart is in humorous writing and giving people some cheer.

Last, but certainly not least....What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm currently working on the third novel in my series. Milagro de los Santos once again walks right into trouble. It's not all her fault -- she is a freak magnet and strange people gravitate to her. She's planning her wedding to Oswald and dreading the thought of inviting her horrible mother Regina. Not only that, but the vampire council is making demands on her in exchange for full rights as one of them. Dangerously magnetic Ian Ducharme reappears in a bid for Milagro's attention, and she's got a writing job with a looney man who believes he can shape-shift.

Readers can keep up with Marta on her website, www.martaacosta.com, or at her blog, www.martaacosta.blogspot.com. She also has a blog that features news about paranormal books, movies, and television shows, www.vampirewire.blogspot.com. Marta can be contacted at marta@martaacosta.com, and she is always happy to hear from readers.


Anya said...

wow! awesome interview, Marta! wish you lots of success on this your latest book and definitely look forward to all of your future books!!

Marta said...

Thanks, Anya! Good to see you here, especially on the holiday. I am sneaking in a little writing on my third novel while my husband fires up the grill.

Hope you have a fab fourth!

JaneFan said...

What a wonderful and informative interview! Happy Hour is very high on my TO BE READ list. The Jane Austen connection is what sparked my interest at first, but after reading an excerpt I realized this book is going to be great in it's own right!

CrystalG said...

Great interview. :)

Kerry said...

Thank you for doing the interview. It's very enjoyable! I'm sure the books will be even more so! :D

Al the best with your writing, and enjoy the Summer too! xx