Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Interview: Author Marta Acosta (& a Giveaway of Haunted Honeymoon!)

Join me today in welcoming author Marta Acosta to the Preternatura blog!

In late September, Marta Acosta’s Haunted Honeymoon debuted, the last in her popular Casa Dracula series. It’s a vampire “Comedy of Manners” featuring Milagro de Los Santos, a human with vampiric abilities, her “boyfriend-lover-whatever” Ian, and ex-fiance Oswald. Marta, who also writes under the name Grace Coopersmith (her non-paranormal women’s fiction book, Nancy’s Theory of Style, came out last May), joins us today to talk about the Casa Dracula series, writing in general, and where she thinks paranormal fiction could be headed.

Marta’s also been gracious enough to offer a giveaway of Haunted Honeymoon. Details at the end!

Q: Tell us about Milagro de Los Santos, and how she came to be.
            I tossed my favorite character traits into a blender and hit the “frappe” button. I’m very fond of well-intentioned, bright and funny young women who are somewhat self-delusional. They make mistakes because they’re still more trusting than cynical or because they just have some nutty notion about life. So that explains Milagro’s attitude.
            I wrote the first book as a comedy-of-manners, so social class is important. In this sort of comedy, there’s generally some impoverished girl who is stuck with snobs and has romantic mishaps. So that explains the shenanigans.
            I wanted to create an empathetic character who represented all the smart, amusing, and warm-hearted Latinas out there.
            With Milagro, the whole is more than the sum of her parts and readers always tell me how “real” she seems. When they tell me they think of her as a friend and would like to hang out with her, I’m quite delighted.

Q: Haunted Honeymoon is supposed to be the last in the Casa Dracula series—will we see Milagro or Ian or any of the other characters again?
            Ian shows up in my next book, a YA gothic I’m writing for Tor Books, and I imagine Milagro will reappear somewhere. She’s busy on her honeymoon now, though, so I’m letting her enjoy herself.  I didn’t plan to write a series, just a stand-alone novel, and I’ve been lucky to spend time with Milagro and her friends for several years now. I was a little surprised to feel…mournful when I was done with the series.  It took me some time to get caught up in another project.
            Nancy Carrington-Chambers, Milagro’s best friend from her Fancy University (F.U.), is featured in the romantic comedy, Nancy’s Theory of Style, under my pen-name Grace Coopersmith.

Q: One of the things I love about Casa Dracula is the humor. Did you set out to write it funny from the beginning?
            Yes, I’m a pretty amusing chick. Or annoying, one of those words that starts with “a” and is three-syllables. It could be anarchic or aardvarkish or abusive, but I digress.
            I love writing humor, particularly satire, but it’s not all I like to write. The first novel I wrote was seen as “too dark” and “unmarketable.” An editor told my agent, “If she ever writes anything conventional, I’d love to see it.” I don’t know why I thought that a vampire comedy-of-manners was “conventional.” Actually, I didn’t. I wrote the first book to amuse myself. Or to aggravate myself – it’s one of those “a” words that’s three-syllables.

Q: Today’s urban fantasy market and paranormal romance markets are dark and seems to be growing darker—does your crystal ball tell you there will eventually be a backlash into lighter UF and PNR?
            I don’t think so. Personally, I prefer darker stories with humor. The books that seem to be doing well know are urban fantasy with a dystopian theme. However, I don’t think apocalyptic stories will ever really catch on, because how often do you want to read a completely hopeless story? Also, zombies may be vicious, but they’re essentially boring. You’ve seen one mob riot and eat brains, you’ve seen them all. We won’t even speak of their dancing, which is pretty much limited to doing the Cabbage Patch.

Q: Can you talk a bit about Marta Acosta vs. Grace Coopersmith? What does Marta do that Grace would NEVER do? Do the two of you ever talk?
            Grace and I are very friendly, but afterward we say, “Can you believe she said that? Can you believe she was dressed like that? Well, at least she laughed at my jokes and brought a decent bottle of wine.” Grace would not be wearing her old Clark’s muckers, jeans, and a ratty sweater. She would have gotten a haircut last month. She answers her emails in a timely manner and doesn’t use four-letter words.

Q: Which comes first for you, the worldbuilding or the characters?
            A plot comes first. What if…  For Haunted Honeymoon, it was “What if Milagro got another chance at love with Oswald? Would she make the same mistakes or do things differently?” For my young adult novel, it was “What if a poor girl got invited to an exclusive school and found out there were dark secrets?”
            Then I think of the characters, and I’m constantly trying to develop the characters, even the secondary ones. I think of the predictable behavior/speech and I try to think of alternatives. I mean, I see an angry dog charging and I cringe and look for cover, but one of my friends used to lean forward and shout “Sit!” at the dog. (Which works by the way, if you do it with enough confidence.) Make the behavior and dialogue true to the character.

Q: I’m always fascinated by opening sentences. The first sentence of Haunted Honeymoon is: “The next time a sex toy sales consultant offered to teach me how to unlock handcuffs with a paper clip, I would accept.” Was that the original opening?
            I think it was probably the first sentence of the next chapter: “It was a marvelously sunny April day and I took a minute to admire the dignified bumblebees hovering like stripy zeppelins over the lavender hedge, and inhale the scent of freesia and narcissus before I packed my gardening gear into the back of my small green pickup.” That’s a nice sentence, but not as attention-getting. First sentences usually come to me unbidden and I know that’s how I have to start the book.

Q: What’s next for you?
            I have a short story, “Wolfish in Sheep’s Clothing,” in The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance, which is being released today (January 4, 2011). I’d never written a romance before and I don’t write short stories generally, so this was a challenge, but a fun one. It’s fairly steamy and has a happy ending.
            I’m doing a revision on my young adult gothic, The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove, for Tor. It will be published in January 2012, probably with a less cumbersome title. It’s about a foster girl who is invited to an exclusive all-girls academy. It seems too good to be true and it is. The heroine, Jane, must decide just what she’s willing to sacrifice for the security she’s never had.
            I’m also working on an adult gothic that’s set in both the present and 1850 in California. It’s a tangled story about greed, idealism, lust, love, and crime. I’m having a great time writing both of these stories. They are more serious and darker tales and I hope my readers will enjoy them even without much humor.
            Suzanne, thanks so much for having me here! I’m so excited that we’ll both have books out with Tor!

Thanks, Marta (me too!). So, wanna win a copy of Haunted Honeymoon? Just leave a comment, and you know the drill. One entry for comment, another for blog follow, a third for a Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and a fourth for a Tweet or Retweet. Be sure to include your email.


33 comments:

  1. Wow, it's nice to know you better, Marta! Your stories sound interesting.

    Best of luck with your writing!!

    lynnrush@cox.net

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  2. As a world renowned opening line critic (what, you haven't heard of me? oh.), I have to go with the sex toy line over the bumblebees.

    And good for you for being a genre hopper!

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  3. Great interview and I think I have yet another author to add to my TBR pile. I love a bit of humor to lighten the dark. Thanks for sharing your stories with us!

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  4. I read the earlier books in this series but haven't read Haunted honeymoon yet.

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  5. Hi, Suzanne, thanks for having me on Preternatura! Now that we're both writing books for Tor, we should start a club. You work on the bylaws and I'll come up with a secret handshake.

    -Lynn, hope you'll have a chance to read my books! You can find them in libraries and I've got a few free reads listed on my Vampire Wire blog.
    -Teri Ann, I'm honored! Yes, I saw your speech at the World Federation of First Line Experts Annual Conference and I was riveted by your interpretation of "It was a dark and stormy night..."
    -Rachel, I was just watching a little of Joss Whedon's Firefly yesterday, and I always love his use of humor in grim situations.
    -Sandy, good luck! You've got to find out what happens to Milagro and I hope, when you do, you're happy with the conclusion.

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  6. I love the cover...
    Thanks to Suzanne for doing a great job of introducing new authors to me... My must read is so over loaded with great books I need to take a year off and do nothing but read... But I love it...
    Marta, I look forward to reading your book... Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with us..

    Kelly M
    crazyforbooks@comcast.net

    +1 follow blog (Kelly M)
    +1 follow twitter (@kelAmU)
    +1 RT
    http://twitter.com/#!/kelAmU

    Thanks again Suzanne... Hope you aren't sick of seeing me.. :D

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  7. I've been looking forward to this one, can't wait! tWarner419@aol.com

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  8. -Kelly, I'm so happy with the cover, which was designed by Elena Dudina. One of these days, I'll post the original cover that my publisher showed me, which nearly had me frothing and convulsing with outrage.
    -Tetewa, if you don't win it, well, it's not for want of trying and you and I will have to figure something out. But don't tell anyone I told you so!

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  9. Nothing puts me in a good mood like reading the smart wit of Ms. Acosta! I finished the third in the series of Milagro novels and am hoping to start on Honeymoon soon -- win or buy, it's definitely on my list. Thanks for your intelligent humor, Marta, and thanks Suzanne for having her here today!

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  10. I so want that book! I just received her bookmarks in the mail. I've heard this series is a great read. The adult gothic she mentioned sounds really good too. I like having series reads then I switch up to light and funny. good change but I always stick to paranormal =) Count me in please!
    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follow as Tanyaw1224
    +1 twitter follow as @Tanya1224
    +1 tweeted at http://twitter.com/Tanya1224/status/22395865800904704
    Tanyaw1224(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  11. O wow, my blog today was about paranormal romances and how I've never read one. Lots of friends dropped by to suggest books for me to read but so many are "dark" and I love what you said about dystopian, perfect description of my feelings on so many of them.
    But your series? Right up my alley and I'm thinking another author friend who doesn't read paranormals will love them too.
    I smiled all the way through your interview;snarky. I could def. share a bottle of wine with you :) For now, I'm running out to get my copies of Casa Dracula series.
    Oh, and I teach creative writing to some teens here in Savannah; we're starting a blog for them to review books so I'm going to to "nudge" them toward The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove when the time comes; heck, it sounds like I'd like it too!
    Great post, so glad I stopped by today and found a new author to add to my list of faves!

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  12. What a great interview. I love the cover.

    blog and twitter follower

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  13. Great interview. I love paranormal works. I will have to check out your series. Milagro sounds like a hoot of a character.

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  14. -Nicole, nice to see you here! Yes, Haunted Honeymoon is a must if you've read the other Casa Dracula books.
    -Hi, Tanya, you have no idea how long it takes to create bookmarks, because I try to fit all the blurbs and graphics on a small space! If you don't win here, you can check if your library has a copy.
    -Rachel, if I ever get to Savannah, I'll take you up on that bottle of wine. Good luck on your teen readers blog! I actually have a lot of teens reading my Casa Dracula books and some of the local schools have them in their libraries, which is swell.
    -Nicole, I love the cover, too, and was really happy with the blue/black color scheme.

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  15. Hi :)
    Another excellent interview!
    Thank you to Marta for the excellent responses.
    All the best,
    RKCharron

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  16. Loved the interview!!!

    +1 - new follower
    +1 for following on twitter (heatwave316)


    heatwave96(at)hotmail.com

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  17. I enjoyed the interview. I have the other books in the series.Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book.
    +1 follower
    +1 tweeted http://twitter.com/elaing8/status/22465721573314560

    elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

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  18. I love the first sentence of your book! Thanks for the insightful interview!

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

    blog follower
    Twitter follower - @tessaa99

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  19. Sounds like my kind of book. Thanks so much for the giveaway!
    maddiemb (at) comcast (dot) net

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  20. I follow your blog publicly via Google Friend Connect.
    maddiemb (at) comcast (dot) net

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  21. I follow you on Twitter (@shala_darkstone).
    maddiemb (at) comcast (dot) net

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  22. Here's my tweet - http://twitter.com/#!/shala_darkstone/status/22615323215659010
    maddiemb (at) comcast (dot) net

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  23. http://twitter.com/#!/alterlisa/status/22890653637672960

    (\___/)
    (='.'=)
    (")_(")

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
    http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com

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  24. I follow on GFC.
    (\___/)
    (='.'=)
    (")_(")

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
    http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com

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  25. I follow you on Twitter (@alterlisa
    (\___/)
    (='.'=)
    (")_(")

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
    http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com

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  26. I hate to see the series end, hope the characters pop in from time to time in other books.
    (\___/)
    (='.'=)
    (")_(")

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com
    http://lisaslovesbooksofcourse.blogspot.com

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  27. -Hi, Ron, nice to have you visit Suzanne's most excellent blog!
    -Heatwave, good luck!
    -Elaine, I appreciate your effort in trying to get this book. The series needs this conclusion, and I hope you'll be happy with Milagro's choices.
    -Meredith, I was quite pleased when the San Francisco Chronicle quoted the first line in a feature on first lines.
    -Shaila, it's a humor-driven series, so if you like satire, you'll enjoy it. But there's also romantic entanglements and some action.
    -Lisa, Ian pops up in my next book, a YA gothic that will be out next year. I'd like to bring Milagro and Edna back for some hijinks.

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  28. Great interview!
    Follower via GFC and twitter
    Tweeted:http://twitter.com/#!/mybookishways/status/23060103800299520

    4pts

    Kristin@MyBookishWays

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  29. Sounds like it will be a good read.

    +1 - blog follower
    +1 - twitter follower (@lyssad87)

    E-mail: lyssad87@gmail.com

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  30. I have been wanting this book forever!

    twitter follower @greatmasteryoda
    blog follower cathie veres
    tweeted http://twitter.com/greatmasteryoda/status/23235912246759424

    lovemybabysquid@yahoo.com

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  31. The book book has been on my TBR list for quite a while!

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower
    +1 twitter follower @darlyn5
    +1 twitted http://twitter.com/darlyn5/status/23268332853530626

    darlyn225 at gmail dot com

    thanks!

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  32. I just finished the first book and I loved it! Can't wait to read the rest of them.

    +1 Blog follower
    +1 Twitter follower: (@Sparima)

    spav05(at)gmail(dot)com

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