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Marta Acosta is the author of the Casa Dracula paranormal romance series. Haunted Honeymoon (Casa Dracula book 4) was officially released by Simon & Schuster/Galler on October 4th. A former regular contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle, she has degrees in creative writing and literature from Stanford. Under the name Grace Coopersmith, she has a book titled, Nancy’s Theory of Style, which was published on May 2010. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. Her books have been named BookSense Picks, Catalina Magazine Humor Book of the Year, and Fresh Fiction Fresh Picks.

Wonderful to have you here, Marta. Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your latest book, Haunted Honeymoon. What inspired you to write it?

Haunted Honeymoon is the conclusion of my romantic, sexy, funny Casa Dracula series. Each book has been a part of my eccentric heroine Milagro’s growing up. In Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, Milagro finds a home and family with a pack of snooty, but decent vampires. In the second book, Midnight Brunch, she’s able to work on her writing and stretch herself as someone who solves big problems. In the third book, she faces unknown enemies, plans a wedding, and tries to figure out what she really wants. When she asks her sometimes lover why he didn’t help her fend off an enemy, he says, “You don’t need help. You’re the heroine.”

Milagro is a freak-magnet and no matter what she does or where she goes, lunatics and extremists are drawn to her. Frankly, she likes nutty people, parties, flirting, and rushing into situations.

However, Milagro has many regrets and she’s insecure enough to want another chance to do things right. So Haunted Honeymoon explores why Milagro is the way she is and whether it’s possible to have a do-over with a fabulous man.

Are you a full-time writer or do you have another job?

I’m a full-time writer. Writing and the business of writing – blogging, answering mail, doing Q&As, events, etc. – take up all my time and I usually don’t take days off, even weekends.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

Stream-of-consciousness is fine for writing a first-novel, but not a great way to sustain a writing career. I liken it to building one elaborate room of a house, the bathroom for example, with all sorts of luxury features and then trying to build a house around the one room. A lot of people think plotting is dull, and I always find it really hard to do, but if you set the framework of a book, the interior will be much more sound. You can always change things, but I think having an overall plot lets you develop more complex storylines.

How long did it take you to write the book?

Good question. I don’t know. I wrote the synopsis and a chapter, submitted it to my editor, waited, got approved, then did a first draft and submitted it. While I’m waiting, I’m working on other projects. The book goes back and forth between my editor, the copyeditor, and myself. All in all, it takes at least a year, if not longer.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I suffered from writer’s block when I was younger. Things changed with my freelancing jobs. I found that writing was much easier when I got a paycheck for turning in a story. Whenever I do feel stymied, I force myself to keep going. I can always go back and rewrite, but the very process of writing gives me ideas.

What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

I daydream. I consider it part of my job. If I wake up in the middle of the night, which I always do, I think about my stories and what I can do with them. I used to find taking walks with my old dog very helpful, but now I have two crazy dogs and I have to pay attention to them when I take them out in the mornings.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

I did the query route for an agent. I don’t even remember how long that took. When I finally got one, she wanted me hire an editor to help me rewrite my novel. The editor didn’t have a sense of humor, took out all my funny stuff, and I had to put it back in. Many months went by while editors looked at my book. Finally an editor was interested and there was a one-day mini-auction of my first novel. It was pretty exciting.

The advice I’d offer is: be prepared to be turned down a lot. It’s so easy to get discouraged. If the rejections keep mentioning the same problem with your manuscript, then maybe you should fix the problem. Don’t be so in blindly in love with your book that you can’t think of ways to improve it.

Do you think a critique group is essential for a writer?

Not at all. I don’t have one. Some people love groups, and others don’t. If you don’t like being in a group, for heaven’s sake, don’t force yourself to join one.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

I’ve got too many to maintain!

Marta Acosta Website: www.martaacosta.com

Grace Coopersmith Website: www.gracecoopersmith.com

Vampire Wire Blog: www.vampwire.blogspot.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/MartaAcosta

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Marta-Acosta/615530904

Do you have another novel on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

I’m currently working on two projects, a young adult gothic with a ghostly theme and a romantic comedy set in San Francisco. Both are just in the initial stages, but I hope one will find a home!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

Thanks for having me here, Mayra! I hope that your readers will check out my latest Casa Dracula novel, especially those who’ve been following the series. I think it will offer them a real emotional reward, just as Milagro finally steps into her proper role in life and with the fabulous man she truly loves.

Thanks, Marta!

–Latino Books Examiner Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. Her latest book is, How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event. Check out her website at www.MayraCalvani.com.

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happyHappy Hour at Casa Dracula
By Marta Acosta
Pocket Star
1416531602
Vampire/Chick-Lit

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

With a title like that, you know a book has got to be darkly humorous. In this the first book in the Casa Dracula series, Latino author Marta Acosta introduces us to her opinionated, feisty yet delightfully naïve heroine, Milagro de los Santos, and her new breed of friendly vampires.

Told in first person from Milagro’s point of view, our tale begins as our heroine attends a book party in honor of her arrogant, snob ex-boyfriend Sebastian. It is there that she meets a mysteriously handsome stranger by the name of Oswald. Sparks go off almost immediately. Later that night, in his hotel room, they accidentally kiss and exchange blood… an event that has serious consequences for Milagro, who soon begins feeling sick. Transformed into her new nature, she is persuaded to move into a grand estate—Casa Dracula—inhabited by a group of rich, eccentric vampires who insist they must take care of her until she is well and fully understands her new ‘illness’.

At the same time, the estate and its vampires are in danger of annihilation by a secret group of vampire hunters who dream of destroying them. Interlaced with this are Milagro’s various relationships with the different members of Casa Dracula.

Happy Hour at Casa Dracula
is an entertaining, upbeat, sassy novel driven forth by one very individualistic heroine. I’d say the strength of this novel, more than the plot and the rest of the characters, is the heroine. Yes, Milagro is sometimes witty and her sharp humor will make you laugh out, but there’s also a naïve, scatterbrained, ‘lost’ quality about her that is quite endearing and that probably has to do with her awful relationship with her mother, who has never in her life understood her and who is mentioned offhanded throughout the story. In a way, she roams the world like a little waif, trying to find her true home among her various romantic relationships. No doubt Milagro will frustrate many of her female readers; I know I felt like shaking her at times, but this is part of who she is and these flaws make her more genuine as a character.

The sexy scenes are handled with taste and there’s really very little graphicness at all in the book. This is a fun book to enjoy on those long summer afternoons. If you like humor, vampires, and a sprinkled of Latino flavor, I’d recommend you give this one a try.

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Hi all,

I was recently interviewed by NY Times Bestselling author Marta Acosta on her popular blog, Vampire Wire.

The link is http://www.vampirewire.blogspot.com

I’ll be giving away two free copies to two lucky winners who leave a comment.

Thanks in advance! It’s nice to be the interviewee once in a while 🙂

Best,
Mayra

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Marta Acosta is the author of the successful, darkly humorous Casa Dracula series, featuring smart, sexy, Hispanic heroine Milagro, an outsider in the world of vampires. Marta also keeps a blog, Vampire Wire, offering the latest news about paranormal and urban fantasy books.

Thanks for this interview, Marta. It's a pleasure having you here today to talk about your books. Tell us about your Casa Dracula novels and your inspiration for this series.

My Casa Dracula books follow the adventures of a smart, funny, sexy young woman, Milagro, who becomes infected by a condition some would call vampirism. She’s an outsider in a family of vampires and has to deal with their secretive and dangerous world and their enemies. Milagro always attract lunatics and extremists, so new problems continually arise. She has eccentric methods of resolving them, as well as a tendency to get distracted by parties, degenerates, and her own curiosity.

She’s continually in conflict with the powerful Vampire Council, who would be pretty happy if she disappeared forever.

I was inspired to write this story when I was watching a sci-fi movie with a bunch of guys running around in lycra jumpsuits. In the future, I’m pretty sure everyone will be wearing t-shirts, jeans, and flip-flops, not gray uniforms. Anyway, I was thinking about the clichés of some genre stories, and I decided to spoof them.

What compelled you to use vampires in your stories?

I’ve always been a fan of paranormal stories that have a strong humorous component as well as a quasi-scientific explanation for oddities – like the great seasons of “The X-Files.” But I don’t like angsty, whiney vampires, especially the rich ones. I think rich, sophisticated vampires would probably be pretty pleased with themselves, so I came up with my snobby, accomplished vamps.

What is it about vampires? Why do you think they're such die-hard, fascinating fiends?

Many people find the combination of blood, sex, and eternal life to be very exciting. As part of my research for a young adult gothic, I read vampire poems and stories that go back hundreds of years – and they’re still really marvelously creepy.

“The Vampire,” from 1748 by Heinrich August Ossenfelder, expresses the dark seductive theme that is still carried out in today’s vampire stories.

And as softly thou art sleeping
To thee shall I come creeping
And thy life's blood drain away.
And so shalt thou be trembling
For thus shall I be kissing
And death's threshold thou' it be crossing
With fear, in my cold arms.
And last shall I thee question
Compared to such instruction
What are a mother's charms?

There’s an amazing range of vampire fiction now: graphic books and manga; comics; horror novels; historical novels; paranormal romance; sci-fi interpretations; comedies; and urban fantasy. So no matter what your take on vampires, whether you like them horrifying and undead or urbane and charming, you can find it.

Do you do special book signings for Halloween? Have you ever dressed as a vampire to promote your books?

Last year I participated in a special Halloween reading with other authors, which was really fun because the master of ceremonies was dressed and talked like a pirate. Who doesn’t love pirates and pirate talk? I don’t know if I’ll be doing anything for Halloween this year. I’ve been too busy trying to meet my next deadline to think about it. I’m practically under house arrest.

What don't you like about the horror genre these days?

I don’t like it when a horrible, ugly thing happens just to advance the plot, without any reason, but that’s not exclusive to horror. It’s common in thrillers, crime fiction, mysteries, and literary fiction. There’s a technique I call Gratuitous Child Endangerment. It always gets an emotional reaction, but it’s cheap and easy to do.

What I do like in horror these days is all the interesting cross-genre writing – so we’re seeing horror elements in literary fiction, or sci-fi elements in paranormal stories. Then there’s steampunk, which is sort of a historical cyperpunk, and there’s a steampunk horror subgenre.

Nathan Barker of Kayleighbug Books told me that he checks through romance books because so many good horror novels are being sold as romances.

My own novels are shelved in general fiction, because they’re primarily comedies. With vampires. And romantic entanglements. And other paranormal characters. And cocktail parties. And murder attempts. I’ve given up trying to figure out what to call them.

What is the scariest book you've ever read? Scariest movie?

I made the mistake of reading William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist when I was young. It scarred me for life.

In terms of film, I really like John Carpenter movies, which have a great combination of horror, humor, and fast-paced action. I think The Thing is really under appreciated. Carpenter’s now filming L.A. Gothic, an anthology of five horror stories.

I can’t wait to see Let the Right One In, a Swedish vampire flick that is getting worldwide raves.

I think the single scariest exchange in a movie is in the classic The Haunting (1963), which has a twisted psycho-sexual subtext. The lights go out in a house and there’s shaking and terrible things happening, and then it all stops and the lights come back on. One character says, “I’m glad you were holding my hand.” The other character says, “But I was across the room.” You don’t see anything – it’s all suggestion.

What are your plans for this Halloween?

We have family birthdays on Halloween and November 1, so there are usually family celebrations. I’d like to try to make it to some of the Dias de Los Muertos (Days of the Dead) events in San Francisco.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

If they like humor and paranormal stories, please read my novels! Those interested in paranormal and urban fantasy fiction can visit my blog, Vampire Wire, and I’m always happy to get emails from readers.

Thanks for the interview, Mayra!

Interview by Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her paranormal books include Embraced by the Shadows (romantic horror/vampire) and Dark Lullaby (atmospheric horror). She is also the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.

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