Carla will be awarding an eCopy of Starcrossed to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.
Tell us about yourself: I’m an Aussie romantic comedy author (and sometimes write books with a dash of ‘cosy mystery’). I’m also a jogger, fashion and R&B lover, horoscope junkie, mum of two-year-old twin boys, sometimes journalist, wife, and a cat person. Creativity is what I live for!
What was your first book? My debut novel was Cityglitter (Penguin). I wrote it as a sort of ‘girly’ answer to Twilight when that book happened to be all the rage. Cityglitter is about a gorgeous half-fairy living a glamorous life in the big city, who does the one thing she swore she’d never do: fall in love with a human. Find out more here:https://www.penguin.com.au/products/9781742536552/cityglitter-destiny-romance ;)
Describe your first break. My luck has only ever been through the slush pile! Penguin in Australia has a thing called the ‘Monthly Catch’, where aspiring writers sans agents can try their luck emailing in a manuscript on a particular day. I nearly fell off my chair when an editor emailed me, saying they were interested in my story but wondered if I could ‘up’ the romance quotient and resubmit. I did, and the rest is history. This chick-lit author became a romance writer! (I had the same kind of success later with HarperCollins, too.)
What is your favorite genre to read? To write? My fave to read is still chick-lit, or women’s fiction. Books by writers like Sophie Kinsella, Maggie Alderson and Zoe Foster are my ‘comfort reads’. I know the writing style, I know roughly what I’m going to get plot-wise… it’s like pulling on a pair of comfy bed socks every time I dive into the pages. I love writing funny, cosy sorts of yarns, too, with a quirky cast of family and friends – and I often try to weave in some sort of mystery or secret that needs airing. My current novel, Starcrossed, is a bit darker and more somber than my usual fare, though, I should warn!
Are happy endings are must in your stories? Yes, I write romances, so – tick, tick – you can expect a happy ending. Even if it doesn’t pan out exactly as you thought!
What makes a protagonist interesting? Imperfections, flaws! Who wants to read about a cookie-cutter heroine who is perfect at everything she does, always lands on her feet, and has impossibly shiny hair (or such a hero, for that matter)? Not me! I want to read about ‘real’ characters, who don’t always do the right thing (even when they know they should).
What is the best thing about being a writer? Just being inspired by life 24/7 and being able to channel that into your writing! For example, I picked up a library book today and the previous borrower had left their receipt in it. It had the guy’s name and the other books they’d borrowed, and I just started having a little fantasy in my head, wondering what if a guy dropped the book on the way out of the library and a girl picked it up, found the receipt and fell in love with who she thought he was from his reading list. She works out the courage to ask him out on a date, prepping herself with all the topics she thinks he’ll be interested in, then finds out it actually wasn’t his library receipt, but the previous borrower’s… As you can see, you can just play around with your imagination like a big kid as a writer.
As well, I like to use writing as ‘therapy’ – when something bad/embarrassing happens to me, I turn it into a funny scene in a book and it instantly makes me feel better.
What is the worst thing? How long manuscripts take to write! I have so many ideas floating around in my head and not much patience, and yet I have to project months/years down the track for a book’s deadline. My background’s in journalism and I’m used to writing an article (or more) a day, then being onto another topic the day after. I also now juggle writing with being a stay-at-home mum to twin boys and can only write when they have a two-hour nap each day, so, yes, it’s a very slow process!
Pantser or plotter? I’m somewhere in between! I do a really loose outline of the book first. So it will be the main dot-points of what’s going to happen per chapter – like, seriously, a line per point! Then I kind of tinker with the characters and their conflicts, and just get going. Different scenes will come to me as I write, and am inspired by life.
Writing out a really detailed plot first would ‘kill’ it for me creatively. I like finding the magic along the way. But everyone’s approach is different and there’s nothing wrong with that! Oh, and I keep a mini notepad in my handbag, which I’m always scrawling notes in – from manuscript tweaks to future scene ideas. I’m always plotting in a way.
What do you see the direction of your future writing taking? What can we expect next? Give us a little taste.Actually, I’ve been blogging about my research for a recently-finished manuscript, with the working title, Tomato Season, at my site, The Un-Italian Wife (www.theunitalianwife.com).
Despite coming from a long line of ‘domestic goddesses’, I can't cook to save my life. So I've been writing a novel, inspired by my Italian ancestry and market gardening heritage, and learning to cook and be 'more Italian' along with the heroine in my novel. The main character, Nella Martini, has just inherited her late grandma’s market garden and wants to sell up ASAP and fulfill her dream of buying a city fashion boutique. But a handsome neighbor and other life challenges impede her plans…
Just for fun…
Cat or dog person? Cats! I have a Maine Coon cat from the animal shelter called Luca who’s a real dude J He just meowed for me to open the home office door spookily!
Favorite food? I’m a savory girl, so gosh, probably something like tuna mornay or ravioli. I’ve recently turned pescatarian (seafood-eating vego), so I probably would have said roast otherwise!!
Favorite book? Tossup between The Un-domestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella and Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree (to appease my inner child)
Favorite movie? I used to say Grease as a kid, but rom-coms like Sweet Home Alabama and Four Holidays do it for me, too – hard one to pick! Oh, and oldies but goodies like Big. I really can’t choose…
Favorite holiday destination? Monaco! Though I’m still yet to visit the US, which I’m dying to do. J
Would you rather be the princess or the villain? Why? Princess! Hello tiaras, balls, pretty frocks, no need to work, assistants … and handsome princes!
Who has more fun – orcs or hobbits? Oh dear, I don’t even know what an orc is! My hubby is a big fan of the Lord of the Rings, so he would probably laugh at me right now, but fantasy film plots tend to go over my head. I was brought up on rom-coms, TV sitcoms, and the odd documentary! J I’ll say ‘hobbits’ just because I’ve heard of them… sorry Ring fans
by Carla Caruso
Fledgling romance author Simona Gemella is hoping the rugged wilderness of South Australia's Kangaroo Island will help reignite her creative spark after her husband walked out on her (calling her a workaholic and filing for divorce).
She's joined her best friend, Nessie, on a health and wellness retreat at a mysterious old manor on the island, run by an astrology guru.
Though Simona's sworn off men, she can't help being distracted by a darkly dangerous man with a scorpion tattoo - Denham Cobalt - who's also staying at the manor. Then strange things start to happen, including uncanny accidents and even a possible murder.
It all culminates at a masquerade party on the night of a total lunar eclipse. Will Simona survive - with her heart intact?
Simona woke with a start, her heart pounding. A dream featuring dark-eyed strangers and clawing scorpions had been interrupted by the sound of footsteps. Real ones. Growing closer. Not far from her bed. She could have sworn it. Although, the pitch black revealed nothing.
The noise had seemed to come more from the right side of the room, behind the wardrobe. Almost inside the wall. Which was ridiculous. She turned her head, peering into the darkness. 3:08 glowed in fluorescent green digits on the alarm clock radio.
Grasping the covers under her chin, Simona lay still, waiting for more, her ears pricked. Three glow-in-the-dark star stickers shone down from the ceiling. She imagined a travelling mum sticking them there to soothe their child, remind them of home. Unfortunately Simona needed more than that to placate her.
Aside from the occasional breathy snort from Nessie, though, silence reigned. Her friend had finally hit the pillow after kicking on to play pool with some backpacker. She had called Simona a stick-in-the-mud earth sign for leaving the pub early. Nessie always had a knack for making her feel dull.
Simona strained her ears. Still nothing. Her writer’s imagination had obviously conjured up the footsteps. Pity, as she had found it hard to get to sleep in the first place. Phone in her possession again, she had been kept up, mulling over a three-star Goodreads review from a writers’ group pal. Yup, three measly stars. Friends were meant to give you five stars, or four at least to look realistic. It was an unofficial rule.
But her supposed mate, who had hidden behind a code name (undone by the profile pic of her pet dog), hadn’t been so generous. She had written: I fell in love with the rugged hero and the unique story. The only shame was that some of the more intriguing plotlines weren’t further explored, sacrificed for the romance aspect of the book …
Um, it was a romance novel, hence, the emphasis on that particular component. Really. Of course, any criticism only hurt because she feared it was true: she was her own worst critic.
Then, just as Simona was drifting off, Nessie had crashed home, flicking on the lamp so that she could put on her so-called ‘lucid dreaming’ sleep mask. Another bizarre Nessie-style item. This one, she reckoned, helped encourage creative thinking. Though what Nessie needed it for, Simona didn’t know. Dreaming up more crazy holiday ideas? If anyone required it, it was Simona with her severe case of writer’s block.
And now? Now she was imagining things that went bump in the night.
Why oh why had she been fooled into believing going on holiday with a friend would be fun? It never was. She would have had more luck with inspiration striking at home. Where the internet was never far from her fingertips, and her thoughts weren’t clouded by no-good men.
Willing sleep to come soon, Simona unearthed an arm from beneath the doona and stretched to tap the bedside table three times. For luck — in case she wasn’t crazy and someone really was lurking about. Touching wood was a vice of hers. Nessie would probably say it had something to do with her being an earth sign and needing to be close to Nature. Really it just meant she was a tad OCD. Besides, the footsteps she’d heard before probably were just in her head — a symbol of her fear of being walked out on again.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only 'escaped' for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide's daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman's Day and Shop Til You Drop.
These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. Visit www.carlacaruso.com.au.
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Star-crossed-Carla-Caruso-ebook/dp/B00XTG48KU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1438109170&sr=8-1&keywords=starcrossed+Carla+Caruso&pebp=1438109194844&perid=1ANFG1TJ42J9JQC2XG34