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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Author Interview: Christi Barth


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Christi Barth, whose newest release Act Like We're In Love is now available from Eternal Press.

The original title of Act Like We're In Love was Love Duet.

"It didn’t sound sexy and fun enough, and by about chapter ten I realized I had to go back to the idea well," Christie told me. "Once I started re-thinking it, the title came to me very quickly, and I had to pat myself on the back for coming up with a title that practically wrote the back cover blurb for me!"

I asked her to tell us a little bit about the book.

"Close your eyes, and imagine the curtain opening on Act Like We’re In Love….When two people make beautiful music together onstage, can their love survive once the curtain falls?"

Linnea Larson is appalled when a Hollywood hunk is hired to star opposite her at her family's theatre. Known for playing a superhero onscreen, and a super stud offscreen, doesn’t convinces her he has what it takes to share her stage. Due to a pact with her best friend, she never dates actors.

Despite his fame, fortune and an endless string of women, Luke is dissatisfied with his picture perfect life. He escapes to his theatrical roots to find wary cast mates, a best friend convinced the show will ruin Luke's career, and an adorable costar who refuses to date him. Far from Hollywood’s spotlights, can he find happiness in the footlights of a tiny Theatre?

Despite Luke dragging her into his paparazzi nightmare, Linnea can't deny his irresistible charm. Their fling has a guaranteed expiration date. Why risk the inevitable heartbreak? Their job is to act like they're in love, but will they decide it's worth the leap to fall in love for real?
Christi definitely has the background for this particular book. She spent years performing in musicals, singing about love and giving people a happy ever after in every performance. It was exciting for her to be able to share her love of theater with the world through this latest book.

Some of her favorite shows include Guys & Dolls, Phantom, and The Most Happy Fella, but Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers holds a special place in her heart, because it's the show where she met and first starred opposite the love of her life. He also showed her, very early in the dating process, that he could tie a cherry stem with his tongue.

"I’m a lucky girl," she assured me.

Christi started writing very early—spending the summer when she was 13 knocking out 60 pages of what she says, "must've been a truly horrible historical romance."

She was a bookworm and wasn’t allowed to watch much television, so writing gave her something to do over vacation.

"Then I discovered I couldn’t stop – the ideas just kept swirling around in my head," she explained. "Three years ago I finally mustered the motivation to finish my book, and now I’m about 54,000 words into my fourth."

Her favorite of her books?

"Whatever I am currently writing. This may change, but right now I feel as if I am still growing as a writer by leaps and bounds. When I look at my previous books, all I can think is how much better I could write them now, so I’m only content with my WIP."

She told me probably shouldn't admit it, being a romance author, but the hardest part of writing her books is always the love scenes.

"They are brutal to craft. You can only say he stroked such and such body part so many times, so many ways. The actual writing becomes very clinical and leaches all the sexiness out of it for me. I can grit my teeth through makeout scenes, but when it comes to full blown sex, my requirements are a single white Russian (nope, no other drink will do) and Pink Martini on the cd player."

Coming up with titles is another part that's difficult for her, calling the process "blood, sweat, and tears."

"My first book I titled Missing, which I found a way to work beautifully into the last sentence – it was a work of literary art, if I do say so myself. Then my publisher nixed it, and I spent an entire week coming up with titles that sounded like bad soap operas (Palmetto Passion, Sizzling Secrets, Magnolias & Murder). I couldn’t understand how I was able to churn out 96,000 words of a novel, and not be able to come up with a 2-3 word title. We settled on Carolina Heat."

She told me that she usually starts out with a one sentence idea for a plot.

"Then I immediately worry how to stretch it into 95,000 words!" she said. "I find I can’t plot very well until I have character names – I don’t have to know much about them, but I do get quite a bit of their personality from their names. After that, the plot and characterization roll out together."

Because of her years as an actress, Christi shared with me that her creative juices kick into high gear after 6 PM.

"I do my plotting during the day," she said, "well, whenever the ideas strike, which is often either when I’m at the gym or the symphony, oddly enough. But the bulk of my writing takes place between sunset and midnight."

So, it's not surprising she considers herself a night person.

"I’m not one of those people that can’t execute a full sentence without caffeine or anything, but I don’t enjoy mornings at all," she told me. "Except for when I get to wake up and read in bed for about two hours. To me, even sunsets are far more beautiful and dramatic than sunrises. And the food – appetizers, dinner, cocktails – wayyyy better than boring breakfast."

On a more personal note, I asked Christi to tell us about any strange handwriting habits she had.

"How about the fact I can type 95 words per minute? I actually can’t write my novels in longhand; feels like the pen can’t keep up with the words coming out of my brain. I guess my only strange handwriting habit would be that I hate pencils. Commit to what you write down!"

Christi is a firm believer that almost everything in her life, good and bad, happened in order to get her to the wonderful life she enjoys today with her husband, but did admit, "Two years ago I had chicken pox (which is a different, much more serious and horrible disease as an adult) – and I would happily erase that time in my life in a heartbeat."

The first time Christi cried during a move was when she was twelve and saw E.T.

"The most recent was the traumatic experience of watching a DVD of Up – might be a cartoon, but I fell to pieces twice in that movie. It was emotional torture!" she confessed.

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

"Two key pieces of advice leap to mind. Treat writing as a job. Set yourself weekly goals, and carve out time that is sacred and untouchable. The other big piece of advice would be to join a critique group. This is important for all writers, but especially invaluable for new writers, who simply aren’t aware of some conventions (such as no head hopping), and might not realize that going an entire page without a dialogue tag isn’t a good idea."
You can keep up with Christi on her blog, http://www.christibarth.com/blog.html

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