Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Interview - Marta Acosta

Darque Reviews welcomes Marta Acosta!

Hi Ms. Acosta, thanks so much for sharing this time with Darque Reviews!
We’re excited to learn more about you and your work.

To begin, can you tell us how you found yourself on the path to becoming an author? Was writing a profession that you chose, or did it choose you?

MA: I've always written, and I think writers don't really have a choice. It's what we do. We scribble in class, we send notes to friends, we write letters, and we dream up stories. Now the tough part was finding a way to get paid for writing. It's not as if you leave college with a degree in creative writing and walk right into a well-paid job as a novelist. My jobs usually had a writing component. While writing a press release isn't the same as writing fiction, business writing is still writing. I also wrote for fun, silly things to amuse myself and my friends, and I write freelance columns and articles.

My first attempt at a novel was a dark thriller. Editors liked it but said that it was too dark and "unmarketable." A few years later, I came up with the idea for a comic novel with vampires. I'd always written humor, so I don't know why I didn't think of writing a funny novel earlier. I probably didn't think it counted as "serious" writing.

You have a great series being published by Pocket Books. Can you tell us a bit about Happy Hour at Casa Dracula and Midnight Brunch?

MA: I say that these books are basically: vampires, margaritas, mayhem. Milagro de Los Santos is a young woman who lacks a decent income, real direction in life, and a worthwhile relationship, but she's funny, sexy, good-natured, and she's got a degree from a Fancy University (F.U.). After an encounter with an attractive man named Oswald, she becomes very ill and begins craving raw meat. She's kidnapped by an extremist group and then rescued by Oswald's family. The family has a genetic autosomal condition that makes them susceptible to sunlight. Oh, they also drink animal blood, and many people would call them vampires. The books cover Milagro's adventures with these people, their allies, and their enemies. Milagro is a "freak magnet," so she's always attracting eccentric new acquaintances.

What are you working on now? What can readers look forward to this coming year?

MA: I've just handed in the manuscript for the third book in the series, The Bride of Casa Dracula, which will be released in September 2008. Happy Hour at Casa Dracula comes out in mass market paperback in 2008. Right now I'm working on a gothic novel for young adults. It's dark (yeah, I've gone back to that), and the heroine is an orphan who is accepted into an elite, but mysterious all-girls prep school. I like stories about outsiders who must figure out how to live in society without compromising too much of their own identity.

Milagro de Los Santos has such a unique name, one with great meaning. Can you tell us how you came up with it, and how her story developed?

MA: I was trying to think of a silly name that had some significance, and "miracle of the saints" fit those requirements. Milagro manages to survive every situation and people are always telling her, "I thought you'd be dead!" She must also endure endless jokes about her name.

How many novels do you have planned for the Casa Dracula series?

MA: Oh, I'm totally flexible on this. I wrote the first novel as a single-title, and my editor liked the characters so much, she asked for two more. I'd be happy writing them as long as readers are happy reading them. I'm so fond of many of the characters that I have a problem limiting them so they don't clutter up the plot.

It was such a pleasant surprise to find that there is so much humor in your writing. Had you set out to write that way, or did your characters lead you in that direction?

MA: The comic situation came before the characters: what if you threw a poor, but smart and sexy young Latina in with a bunch of snobby, rich vampires? I wanted to spoof angsty vampires who spend 200 years longing for one woman. Please. Like a guy would wait that long. As some great philosopher once wrote, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

The snarky grandmother, Edna, came to me fully-formed. I always know just what Edna will say. Milagro is a different story. I'm cynical, but she's not. Many times, I return to a scene and re-write Milagro's reaction so that it is something unexpected, yet true to her character. Her optimism sometimes comes out as cluelessness, but young people (and not so young people) are often clueless. I didn't want a heroine who was always right, yawn, and always good. I wanted someone who made mistakes, acted impusively, and had a prediliction to have fun.

Do you set aside a specific time for your writing each day?

MA: I keep to a fairly dull and regular schedule, sitting down at my computer in the morning and working until late afternoon. If I've got a deadline, I'll work around the clock. Unlike a regular job, you never really leave your writing. It's always there.

What genre do you enjoy reading when time allows? Do you have any favorite authors?

MA: I'll read anything, and I let my mood determine my reading. Sometimes I want a really twisted British mystery and sometimes I want an urbane comedy of manners. I may pick up a sci-fi novel, or a big, ole historical novel. I frequently turn to humor. A visit to the bookstore takes me forever because I'll wander into a dozen sections.

My favorite writers are all dead: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Henry James, Evelyn Waugh, Mark Twain, and P.G. Wodehouse.

I have to mention your Vampire Wire blog! You keep us updated on the hottest books, movies and T.V. in the paranormal genre. Can you tell us how that began?

MA: I have a great time on Vampire Wire, and thanks for mentioning it! Although I've always been a fan of paranormal entertainment, I never considered myself a "vampire novelist" -- but that's the label I get. So in order to reach out to other paranormal entertainment fans, I came up with the idea of a "one-stop shop" for links to reviews, interviews, and news about paranormal fiction, movies, and television shows. One of my favorite things about the site is that I get to promote other writers and bloggers.

When you find yourself with some free time, what do enjoy doing?

MA: I spend time with my family and friends, read, go to movies, and I'm a zealous gardener. I often write gardening articles, and I'm always at the speciality nurseries, talking with professionals, and spending too much money on plants. My dog passed away last week, but my mornings were always spent at the local dog park, walking by the bay while he dashed through the fields. I'll get another dog soon.

Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to share with readers or aspiring writers?

MA: To my readers, I'd like to say thanks for all the support! It's so encouraging to receive an email from someone who's enjoyed my books. To writers, my advice is not to get discouraged or impatient.

It’s always a pleasure Marta, thanks so much for joining us and sharing your time!

MA: Thanks, Kimberly, for having me! Darque Reviews is one of my favorite blogs and I'm amazed at all your reviews.

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

Please visit Marta Acosta’s web residence here:

You can stop by her blog here:

Don’t forget to check out Vampire Wire here:

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