Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marta Acosta Interview + Giveaway

Marta Acosta, author of the Casa Dracula series, has been kind enough to stop by Reading with Tequila to answer some questions.

Marta Acosta received a degree in English literature and creative writing from Stanford University. She is a regular contributor to The San Francisco Chronicle and the Contra Costa Newspapers. Her debut novel, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, was a Book Sense Pick.

Reading with Tequila: Your website, Vampire Wire, is the go-to place for news about vampires in pop culture. With three Casa Dracula books out and a fourth coming soon, how do you find the time to be so connected?

Marta: I don’t! It’s a constant struggle to balance my life, writing, and the blog. I started Vampire Wire as a way to promote my books, but it’s taken on a life of its own. The fact is that I really enjoy the silliness at Vampire Wire and the way it allows me to connect with readers and other writers. I also hope that once people become familiar with my particular sense of humor, they may “get” the humor of my books.

RWT: I immediately picked up Happy Hour at Casa Dracula when I saw the awesome title. Is there any story behind how you came up with it?

Marta: My original title was Bite Me, which my former editor thought was “too vulgar.” I said, “Bart Simpson has been saying it for ages. How can anything Bart does be vulgar?” I know – totally befuddling. We went through several hundred ideas before settling on Happy Hour at Casa Dracula.

I’m only a little bitter when I see other books titled Bite Me.

RWT: The Casa Dracula series seems as much about search for family and finding your place in the world as about Milagro’s funny escapades. Was that your plan when you started writing the series?

Marta: I’m so glad you noticed that! Throughout the novels, Milagro’s too aware of being a misfit. She’s searching for love, a family, and a home. In the first book, Milagro’s relationship with Edna, the vampire grandmother, is just as important as her relationship with Oswald. She craves a maternal figure in her life.

Initially, Milagro thinks that she’ll be complete when she’s in love with someone who loves her back. But it’s not that simple. Milagro’s journey takes her from being a lost and aimless young woman to being someone who forges a family for herself. Once she’s there, she realizes that she still doesn’t fit in.

How much should Milagro compromise in order to be fully accepted? How much those who care for her ask her to compromise?

RWT: Do you and Milagro have a lot in common? Would you get along?

Marta: Milagro and I have a few things in common like a love for books, for humor, for fun. We’re both Latinas and we both garden. The similarities stop about there, because I’m part of a very traditional family and close to my parents and siblings. I’m much more cynical. I adore Milagro – which makes sense since I created her using traits that I loved in my favorite fictional characters. Her reactions to things are often the very opposite of my own reactions: she’ll take delight in something that would annoy the heck out of me. I’d love to hang out with her – and that’s something a lot of readers tell me.

RWT: What has been your most memorable fan encounter so far?

Marta: I’ve had a few, but I have to say that I was really amused by the teenager who plagiarized a few paragraphs from Happy Hour at Casa Dracula to use as her personal description on MySpace. I emailed her and said, “This sounds awfully familiar.” She apologized and said, “But I AM Milagro!” I told her she could keep the description posted.

I had another fan tell me that she writes books like those that Milagro describes writing. And the good news is that my fan got an agent, so I hope we’ll see her books find a publisher soon.

RWT: Are there any authors that you would name as influences? Any books you would put on a must-read list?

Marta: Oh, my strongest influences are Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Evelyn Waugh, Charlotte Bronte, and P.G. Wodehouse. Oh, and Henry James. Twain and Wodehouse are masters of the absurd; Austen’s books are well-structured comedies-of-manners; Bronte knows how to tug at heartstrings without resorting to pathos; and James is a master of ambiguity and characters who are self-deceptive. They all use humor to some degree.

I don’t tell people that they must read any book, because this is so subjective. For example, my husband only reads non-fiction, so I’d never recommend a Scott Spencer novel to him. I’m happy to recommend books when I know someone well enough to know what she would appreciate.

RWT: What are you doing when you aren’t writing? Do you have any non-vampire related hobbies?

Marta: I don’t have any vampire related hobbies! What would they be anyway? Going bowling at midnight wearing fake fangs?

Writing takes up all my time. I spend time with family and friends, go out to the shoreline with my dogs every day, garden, watch indie films, etc. When I can, I take brief trips to my friends’ wine country ranch, the inspiration for Casa Dracula. Occasionally I attempt to take up some craft, but I’m very haphazard about my efforts.

RWT: You’re trapped on a deserted island with one pop culture vampire. He (or she) will have to feed off of you every night. Which vampire would make this a fantasy come true and which would make this a nightmare?

Marta: Oh, my, it all sounds pretty nightmarish. Louis de Pointe du Lac would whine. Spike would great fun until he did something horrible. Bill Compton is too morose and conflicted. Edward Cullen would be a control-freak and fixated on teenage girls. Henry Fitzroy would be the best of the bunch. He’s clever, talented, intelligent, interesting, and very pretty. We could probably figure out a way to get off the island before we drove ourselves crazy with irritation. I like Henry too much to want to stake him.

About the Book

THERE’S MORE THAN HER HEART AT STAKE. . . .As the only human to survive vampire infection, Milagro de Los Santos has become quite a celebrity among the blood-drinking elite. Too bad the perks of her condition—increased strength, super-fast healing—don’t pay her condo fees. There are other complications too. She’s feeling guilty about her fling with enigmatic Vampire Council member Ian Ducharme, and pining for her ex-fiancé, Dr. Oswald Grant . . . the fabulous man whose kiss changed her life. It’s when Milagro—irked by Ian’s attentions to his neighbor—travels to London and enjoys a sexy flirtation of her own, that the blood really hits the fan. Suddenly, those around her are dying gruesome deaths and Milagro’s being interrogated. Who would kill to set her up as a murder suspect? Milagro just wants to turn back the clock and have another chance to make things right, but no sooner has she escaped to Oswald’s ranch than an accident obliterates her memory. Will the murderer come after her now? And will amnesia spark a romantic do-over with Oswald—or will she make all the same mistakes before she ever gets to say "I do"?

Giveaway

Marta has offered to giveaway one copy of Haunted Honeymoon, or any of the earlier books in the series, to one lucky reader! A second winner will receive some postcards, bookmarks and a Slinky Jr. just like the one Marta keeps on her desk! 

To enter, leave a comment for Marta. Be sure to include your email address in case you win. Oh, and tell me the name of the vampire you'd like to be trapped on a island with.

US/Canada only.
Entry deadline: Monday, October 11, 2010 at 11:59pm

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