Marta Acosta was kind enough to stop by and take a break from finishing up her 4th Casa Dracula book (due out in 2010) to answer a few questions and give away of any one of her books. See below for all the giveaway details.
Marta Acosta lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was a feral reader, roaming the stacks of the public library. She received a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Stanford University and has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Contra Costa Times, and Spaces Magazine. Marta lives with her husband and son and their crazy dog. An avid gardener, she likes independent films, funny novels, loud music and lively conversations. She’s always happy to hear from readers, even the ones who point out typos.
The Bride of Casa Dracula is available now:
Book Description: Milagro de los Santos is having serious problems planning her wedding to fabulous Oswald Grant, M.D. Her future in-laws loathe her, her dog just died, and Oswald’s family has a genetic anomaly that makes them crave blood. Then her extravagant best friend hijacks the role of wedding coordinator, and the secretive Vampire Council assigns conniving Cornelia Ducharme to guide the couple through the ancient vampire marriage rituals. To top it all off, Milagro’s career is on the skids. She’s reduced to ghostwriting the memoirs of a loony little man who claims to be a shapeshifter. And why does Cornelia’s decadent, way too attractive brother, Ian, always show up whenever Milagro is away from Oswald? When a series of accidents interferes with wedding plans, Oswald worries that Milagro is cracking under the pressure. Is she just paranoid, or is a hidden enemy trying to make sure Milagro doesn’t wed the undead?
ATUF: The Bride of Casa Dracula is the third book in your Casa Dracula series. For others like me who are new to this series, can we jump right in with this book?
MA: I definitely try to make each novel stand on its own, so, yes, you can read The Bride of Casa Dracula without reading the others first. But I’ve also tried to make each novel a step forward in my characters’ development. I think The Bride is funnier and more moving if you know the back story. I also like to think that I’ve developed as a novelist, so the structure improves with each novel.
ATUF: You said in an interview at Patricia’s Vampire Notes that, “’ve never been fond of the vampire as romantic hero. Because they’re dead and cold and scary old. So I came up with vampires who have an attitude and a genetic “condition.” Can you explain that unique mythology?
MA: Humans have always been suspicious of those who are different, which is why left-handed people were stigmatized in many cultures. The word “sinister” comes from the Latin for left, because lefties were seen to be evil. (Let’s not even get into red-heads.)
So I thought, what if people with an abnormal genetic condition were feared and hated? They might try to hide within the dominant culture, yet have their own organizations, society, and laws.
Family would be more important to these people as protection and because they could be themselves without fear. There would also be old alliances, bitter political rivalries, and disagreements on whether they should come out, intermarry, etc. Over time, they would have amassed money, power, and enemies.
I asked a friend of mine, a very brainy doctor, for conditions that could explain sensitivity to light and a craving for blood. He was good enough to provide me with the medical mumbo-jumbo.
ATUF: You also said in that interview that, “real fans of paranormal romance are disappointed if they buy my books wanting romance conventions. People who don’t like romance won’t pick up my books because of the covers.” Let’s set the record straight: what exactly can we expect from your books?
MA: My first book, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, is a comedy-of-manners with vampires. So there are lots of romantic entanglements, mishaps and misunderstandings, excitement, funny banter, and a quirky, likeable heroine.
The books have developed in tone as the series has progressed. The second, Midnight Brunch, is more of a romantic comedy with adventure, and the third begins to shift into urban fantasy. The fourth might be classified as urban fantasy.
ATUF: You cite Jane Austen as one of your literary heroes and said the the Casa Dracula novels are an homage to her comedies. What do you think she would make of your books?
MA: Jane Austen had quite an appreciation of the silly, a real fondness for eccentric secondary characters, and she valued characters who put ethical behavior ahead of personal desires. She also loved clever banter and romantic stories. I hope she’d be very entertained by my novels.
ATUF: How many books do you have planned for the Casa Dracula series?
MA: You’re presuming that I plan anything. I wrote the first as a stand-alone novel, and it didn’t even occur to me that it could be a series, until my editor asked for a second Casa Dracula novel. I’ve taken the books one at a time.
The fourth may be the last, or just half-way through the series. I have no idea. I’m just happy to be writing.
ATUF: Nancy’s Theory of Style (a romantic comedy due out June 2010) is a spinoff of your Casa Dracula series. What made you decide to give Milagro’s friend her own book?
MA: Nancy is one of those characters who just came to me, and I had tremendous fun writing scenes with her. When my editor suggested that I write a novel based on Nancy, I said, “Yes!” Nancy’s such a control freak that I enjoyed putting her in situations that she can’t control. Like Milagro, Nancy is good at heart and she definitely deserved a better guy than the wealthy toad she was with.
I love writing the dialogue between Nancy and Milagro, because they’ve developed their own loony cross-talk. You can tell they “get” one another. Milagro has funny scenes with her friend in Nancy’s Theory of Style.
ATUF: I know you’re a big fan of the TV show Supernatural. What other shows do you love?
MA: I’ve always watched a lot of comedy and British television. I think the throwaway lines in “Psych” are very funny, and I love the mean, dark humor of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” On BBC, sci-fi/fantasy shows are among my faves: “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood,” “Being Human,” and “Life on Mars.”
ATUF: When I was researching for this interview, I discovered that, like me, Spike (from TV’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel) is your favorite fictional vampire. Do you have a least favorite?
ATUF: Think you’ll ever jump ship and give us a werewolf series?
MA: Hey, I already jumped ship from regular fiction to write vampires. I do have a shifter in The Bride of Casa Dracula. I don’t quite understand the fascination with werewolves, per se, but I think the desire to transform into another creature is a universal one.
ATUF: What are some of your favorite urban fantasy books?
MA: I like Charlaine Harris’s writing, both her mysteries and her Southern Vampire books, because she’s first and foremost a good writer. She could be writing advertising copy and it would be interesting.
My taste in urban fantasy is primarily television and movies, not fiction. I’ve always loved watching shows where an ordinary character must draw upon unknown reserves to battle against supernatural forces – and I want humor to be part of the mix.
I have a problem reading urban fantasy and vampire books because I know too much about the publishing business end of things, and I can’t get detached enough to become lost in the story. When I read a book, I don’t want to think about anything but the book.
ATUF: What are some of your favorite books outside your genres?
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Middlemarch by George Elliot
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Washington Square by Henry James
The Wooster and Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse
Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain
ATUF: If you could turn your Casa Dracula books into a movie, what would your dream cast be?
MA: My books are actually with a few actresses now, but they haven’t been optioned yet, so I’d rather not say. I do imagine the characters in my mind, but I don’t base them on anyone real or famous. It’s just my imagination.
ATUF: You haven’t released the title for the 4th Casa Dracula novel yet, Any chance its The Child of Casa Dracula?
MA: The answer is: not a chance. I think Milagro needs to figure out her own life before she gets pregnant. When Book Four ends, Milagro has made important decisions, realized who she really wants to marry, and discovered amazing things. I was thinking of Return to Casa Dracula as the title, but that’s not very catchy.
I envy those writers who have the really clever titles that play upon a concept, but those can get worn out by the time the authors hit the end of the series, they’re just phoning in some bad pun. You know, W is for WTF.
Thanks, Abigail, for having me as a guest on your blog!