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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Author Interview: Cara Marsi


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Cara Marsi, whose latest releases are out this week: Cursed Mates was released yesterday from Noble Romance and Murder Mi Amore is coming out tomorrow from The Wild Rose Press.

I asked her to tell us a little about her new releases.

In Cursed Mates, Nick Radford is a reluctant werewolf who’s been fighting the Beast within for nearly 500 years. He’s never killed a human, but the Beast is gaining strength and Nick may not be able to ward off his inner demon much longer. Kyla Yaeger is an elite were-hunter with a scarred past. Her life’s mission is to slay the werewolves who slaughtered her parents. Her quest has brought her to Maine where she's been summoned to destroy the werewolf terrorizing the quaint little village of Heavensent. The last thing she needs is to get distracted by her mysterious--not to mention hunky--new neighbor Nick Radford.

Murder, Mi Amore is a romantic suspense about a young American, Lexie Cortese, who comes to Rome, Italy, to forget a hurtful breakup. The last thing she expects is to meet a sexy Interpol agent who suspects her of being part of a terrorist plot involving a stolen diamond. Suddenly thrust into a world of muggings, murder and kidnapping, Lexie doesn't know what to think or who to believe.

Dominic Brioni’s assignment is simple. Befriend the American and bring her to justice. Only Lexie seems like the most unlikely terrorist Dominic has ever met. Sweet, determined, and direct, she faces life with courage and fire, a fire that sparks his protective instincts and a longing for something more—something he allowed himself to hope for only once before. But that woman betrayed him, and his boss isn’t about to let him forget it. With his career on the line and Lexie in danger, will Dominic learn to trust his heart before they both get killed?

I asked Cara how she developed her plots and characters.

"I get a thought in my head. It could be something I read about or heard on the news. I also use snippets of things that have happened to me, especially past hurts and broken relationships. I love tortured heroes who find redemption through their love for my heroines. Redemption and second chances are themes that run through all my stories, whether full novels or short stories. When I'm developing a plot and characters, I think of the back story and how it impacts what my characters are doing now and how they handle problems and how they grow. I try to throw roadblocks at them and see how they get out of the messes I give them. I do character sketches of the hero, heroine and villain. It's important to know your characters, inside and out, to make your stories real. I use the same method on my short stories. Some of my plots aren't enough to sustain a full book, which is why I've begun writing short stories. Short or long, you must know your characters and they must grow during the story."

She told me, however, that no matter how well she gets to know her characters, when it comes to titles she was terrible.

One of her critique partners came up with the title Murder, Mi Amore. The original title was "A Diamond for the Kill," but her editor at The Wild Rose Press wanted something Italian in the title. Another critique partner came up with Cursed Mates. The original title of that one was "Love Came Howling," which a Harlequin editor said was "hokey."

"You know I had to change it after that!" she said.

When Cara was a teenager, she tried to write a romance about Old California, but never got beyond the second chapter. Then, even though she always wanted to be a writer, life got in the way.

"A friend and I were reading some Harlequin romances a while back. One day, we looked at each other and said, 'We could write these,'" she told me. "Hah! Writing a book that tugs at the emotions is a heck of a lot harder than we thought it was. It took me ten years of hard work and rejections to sell my first book to Avalon."

Cara was downsized from her job at the end of 2008, which gave her more time for writing, but she admitted she still doesn't have a real schedule.

"Some days I'm at the computer by 11:00 AM and writing till 4:00 PM. Other days, I'm doing chores in the morning and don't get on the computer till about 2:00 PM. I'll write till about 6:00 PM those days. I write 4-5 hours a day. Maybe I should be on more of a schedule, but I was on a schedule for decades when I worked. I can't do it anymore."

As far as her writing space, she said, "I wish I could say I'm writing from the terrace of my villa overlooking the Caribbean, but I'd be lying. At least my new writing space is a step up, literally and figuratively, from my first writing space in a corner of the dark, damp basement. About a year ago, my husband and I converted a first-floor bedroom into an office. My desk faces a window which overlooks the rose garden. In the summer and spring, it's very pretty. In the winter, not so much. The most exciting thing to happen out there was when I saw a fox bury a dead squirrel under one of the rose bushes. And a groundhog visits the rose garden once in a while."

When she's not writing, Cara loves to travel. Since 1998, she and her family have traveled to Arizona three times, Hawaii, California, Las Vegas twice, Australia for a multi-country family reunion, Canada, England, Italy, plus places close to where she lives like Washington, DC, and New York City.

"There're still plenty of places we want to visit," she said. "My husband and I tend to get lost a lot when we travel. I just bought a GPS so hopefully we won't get lost and won't have any more fights about getting lost."

"How many books have you written?" I asked. "Which is your favorite?"

"I've written five books, one novella, and twelve short stories. So far, three books, the novella and ten of the short stories have been published. I can't pick a favorite. I love them all, and I especially love my heroines and heroes. I have a soft spot for my very first manuscript, which hasn't sold. I've discovered short story writing. I've sold one story to New Love Stories Magazine, and nine and counting to the confession magazines."

On a personal note, Cara hates how she looks in pictures.

"I try to tell myself I really look better in person, but I know I'm lying," she told me.

The strangest thing she's ever eaten was on her trip to Australia, and it tastes like chicken—kangaroo.

"Please don't be angry at me for eating a cute kangaroo," she said. "It was on most menus at the restaurants we frequented."

Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Read what you want to write; write the stories you want to read; go to conferences and workshops to hone your craft and learn the business side of writing; never give up, even in the face of rejections and criticisms; learn from critiques of your work. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE AND NEVER GIVE UP."
You can keep up with Cara on her website, http://www.caramarsi.com

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