Friday, 29 April 2011

Welcome Marta Acosta!

As our final guest of honour at the Comedy Party, I'm delighted to welcome back Marta Acosta, author of the fun and witty Casa Dracula novels. Welcome, Marta!

Mayhem Ensues by Marta Acosta

I studied Literature (with a capital L), so naturally I feel guilty about writing romantic comedies.  After all, serious writers write serious stories about serious subjects – the more miserable and hopeless, the more highly regarded.  Sometimes I daydream about writing a masterpiece about miserable, hopeless people.  It will have tortured metaphors and hundreds of pages of unnecessary detail so agonizing that readers will know it’s good – just like medicine that tastes like horrible. I’d be able to tell my snooty intellectual friends that I’m working on this Important Book, and they would be totally impressed and invite me to speak at their book clubs.

Instead, when people ask me what I write, I mumble, “Comedies, um, set in San Francisco, er, young woman, clever, contemporary, vampires, lots of hijinks, mayhem ensues…Oh, are those grilled prawns on the buffet?”

My agent told me that I should never use the term “romantic comedy” to describe my books. “It’s the kiss of death,” she said.  Which is interesting because the manager of my local bookstore told me about an author who wanted them to stock her $75 book about the history of tractors in Pennsylvania – I would have thought that was the kiss of death. 

Writing comedy means that in the 21st Century you use expressions like “hijinks” and “mayhem ensues.” Sometimes you say “rollicking good time.”  It means that characters misunderstand one another with chaotic results. It means readers say, “Oh, no, she didn’t!” when your heroine totally did.  In comedy, people make mistakes, but instead of giving up, they pick themselves up and carry on.

In comedy, mayhem ensues!  I love that phrase.  If you were writing an essay on my work, you’d notice that there are often fancy parties that go tragically awry.  I don’t know what this “fancy party going tragically awry” theme means in my fiction, or in my life, but I digress.

So why am I writing romantic comedies instead of trying to write Serious Literature? Because good medicine may taste bad, but laughter is the best medicine and it always tastes wonderful.


Haunted Honemoon by Marta Acosta (Book 4 of the Casa Dracula series)

THERE'S MORE THAN HER HEART AT STAKE. . . .

As the only human to survive vampire infection, Milagro de Los Santos has become quite a celebrity among the blood-drinking elite. Too bad the perks of her condition—increased strength, super-fast healing—don't pay her condo fees. There are other complications too. She's feeling guilty about her fling with enigmatic Vampire Council member Ian Ducharme, and pining for her ex-fiancĂ©, Dr. Oswald Grant . . . the fabulous man whose kiss changed her life. It's when Milagro—irked by Ian's attentions to his neighbor—travels to London and enjoys a sexy flirtation of her own, that the blood really hits the fan.

Suddenly, those around her are dying gruesome deaths and Milagro's being interrogated. Who would kill to set her up as a murder suspect? Milagro just wants to turn back the clock and have another chance to make things right, but no sooner has she escaped to Oswald's ranch than an accident obliterates her memory. Will the murderer come after her now? And will amnesia spark a romantic do-over with Oswald—or will she make all the same mistakes before she ever gets to say ""I do""?

Love to Blood You, Baby

It was a marvelously sunny April day and I took a minute to admire the dignified bumblebees hovering like stripy zeppelins over the lavender hedge, and inhale the scent of freesia and narcissus before I packed my gardening gear into the back of my small green pickup. Since no one was around, I tossed a thirty-five-gallon bin of green recycling into the truck bed without my usual pretense of effort.

The garden had once been formal and restrained, with perfectly trimmed boxwood hedges; the sort of landscape my father, who had a landscaping company, installed. I'd transformed it into a place bursting with color and texture by adding interesting plant varieties and flowering shrubs.

As I swept the debris from the path, my brown dog, Rosemary, tap-danced by my side, and I told him, "We'll go in a minute. Thank you for your patience."

I leaned on the handle of my broom and looked up to see Gigi Barton, my client and friend, coming toward me. The heiress to the Barton tissue fortune ("It's not worth sneezing at if it isn't Barton's!") was dressed in a bold geometric print wrap dress over skinny pants and heels with a dozen tiny buckles. She worked the path like a runway and held out one arm to display a small silver package.

"Milagro, are you talking to that dog?"

"Yes, I am. The majority of pet owners talk to their pets. Did I tell you that I'm freelancing for Paws to Reflect, a newsletter for canine companions?" I had a degree in creative writing from a Fancy University (F.U.), but I hadn't been able to sell any of my fiction.

"You have the oddest ways of amusing yourself," Gigi said, "but the garden looks gorgeous. I love the urns."
The magnificent terra-cotta urns contained hundreds of deep purple and lemon yellow tulips, pansies, and freesias. "Thanks. I layered the bulbs, so you'll get a long succession of bloom."

"Wonderful!" She held the silver package toward me and said, "Would you give this to Lord Ian? I finally had the chance to have the mug shot framed from my arrest at our scavenger hunt last summer."

Gigi ran in the same circles as my boyfriend/lover/whatever, Ian Ducharme, who had one of those suspect European titles. Of course, I thought all titles were suspect unless they were on the covers of books.

I pulled off my grimy goatskin gloves and took the package. "I'm sure you look stunning."

She laughed. "I've learned a thing or two about getting a good mug shot over the years. The trick is to soften the lights with a scarf and have the photographer work with you. A girl like you shouldn't have any problem doing that. Just flash a little tit … or, in your case, a lot."

"Thanks for the tip, but I'm not planning on getting arrested anytime soon."

"That's what's fun about arrests, so spontaneous!" she said. "Oh, and tell Lord Ian that I'm taking his advice and looking into a summer house in Lviv."

"Where's Lviv?"

"Oh, it's the new Warsaw, Milagro. Everyone knows that."

"I'll pass along the message. See you soon, Gigi."

"Ciao, sweetie," she said, and returned to her house.

I finished sweeping, put away the broom, and then my dog and I got in the truck. I started the engine, cranked up the music, and considered my options. I hadn't planned on driving to see Ian, but the heat of the day had made me amorous, and I knew he was returning from one of his mysterious trips.

I'd never been able to stay away from him even when I was engaged to Oswald Grant, a much more admirable man, a good man, a principled man.

I joined in the traffic speeding out of the City and across the bridge, enjoying the sight of the rich orange cables and spires contrasting against the glimmering silver-green water and the azure sky.

On days like this, it was easy to convince myself that all was well with the world. I was grateful that I could not only endure the sunlight but enjoy it. There were few benefits of being the only hybrid (vampire-normal/whatever) alive, and this was one of the most important.

Once over the bridge, I took a boulevard that led to low hills and then exited onto a street that wound through expensive neighborhoods, each more wooded and exclusive than the last. I hated showing up anywhere empty-handed, so I stopped at the posh market in town.

Everyone here had that trust-fund look of studied casualness as they parked luxury cars with bike racks, drank organic soy chai lattes, and jogged in gear designed by NASA scientists.

My mutt barked at a dog walker with a trio of pewter gray Weimaraners.

"I agree," I said. "But it's rude to say so aloud."

I left Rosemary in the truck and went inside the market, conscious of my dirty jeans, sweaty T-shirt, and work boots. You'd think I'd get over my discomfort in these places, but I always felt like the scholarship girl who didn't fit in anywhere.

The difference now was that I wanted others to see me as an ordinary chica, instead of what I'd become.
It was warm enough to grill tonight. I tried not to look obvious as I lingered by the butcher counter, before picking out two strip steaks dripping with glossy garnet juices. As the butcher wrapped the meat, I caught a reflection of myself in the mirror behind the counter.

Strands of long black hair had come loose from my ponytail and my damp T-shirt clung to my bounteous chi-chis. When I wiped at smudges of dirt by my eyes, I smeared my mascara.

I bought a bottle of pinot noir, radicchio, two baskets of blackberries, sourdough bread, and a Nylabone for Rosemary. While I was waiting for my turn at checkout, I picked up a copy of the latest Vogue and flipped through it.

I stopped at a page with an ethereally beautiful blonde modeling boots and little else. Her name was Ilena, and I'd met her when she was with Ian. She'd called me a "pretty chubby little pickle," and I was fairly sure she meant "pretty chubby," not "pretty and chubby." Either way, the insult still rankled. I shoved the magazine back in the rack.

Once in my truck, I gave the chew toy to my dog, who let it drop to the seat.

"Don't be like that. I'll share my steak with you later."

I drove on a series of twisting lanes up a wooded hill. Most of the houses were hidden from the street. At the apex of one turn, I made a sharp right into the driveway of a belligerently modern house. The real estate agent had called this ugly arrangement of turquoise and peach blocks a West Coast Tuscan, but I thought of it as a California Crapsman.

There were no other car here, meaning that my boyfriend/lover/whatever hadn't returned yet.

When I opened the car door, Rosemary leaped out and ran around to the back of the house. I grabbed the groceries and Gigi's gift and followed my dog to the backyard, a plateau of grass with a small oval pool and a fantastic view of the wooded hills beyond. It was private here and serene, so long as I kept my gaze averted from the house.

I left the packages in the shade of a patio umbrella and stripped off my clothes. When I dived into the pool, Rosemary jumped in, too. I swam a few laps, enjoying the weightless sensation, and then I got out and looked for a stick to throw for my dog.

I spotted one of Rosemary's tennis balls in the shrubbery border. When I bent to pick it up, I heard, "Ah, a glorious full moon in broad daylight."

I grabbed the ball, jumped, and turned.

My boyfriend/lover/whatever, Ian Ducharme, let out a sexy, rumbly laugh. He was wearing an ivory long-sleeved shirt and navy slacks. His deep brown eyes glinted in the shadow of the Panama hat that was tipped forward to shield his face from the sun.

He had dark curly hair, an aquiline nose, hooded eyes, and a Cheshire Cat grin. He wasn't tall and he wasn't markedly good-looking, but he had charisma, which came from the Greek kharisma, meaning "gift," and that charisma made me distrust my attraction to him.

I said, "Don't do that!"

"Do what? I was merely admiring the sumptuous vista." Ian and his crafty sister, Cornelia, had been hauled around their family's properties when they were young, and they spoke English with a Continental accent: some words had a clipped British pronunciation and others were rolled luxuriously.

"Don't sneak up on me like that. I'm going to sew tiny bells onto all your clothes so that I can hear you coming." I threw the tennis ball in the pool and Rosemary paddled after it.

"Aren't you going to welcome me back?" Ian took a step toward me, and I suddenly felt both shy and thrilled.

I walked in the other direction, putting the pool between us. "I don't want to muss your clothes. You dress so flawlessly that I'm abandoning all efforts to keep up with you. I'm going to stay naked from now on."

"A laudable policy."

Ian moved toward me, but I kept stepping away. Despite all the times we'd been together, he could still make me feel wary; and, yet, I trusted him implicitly, inexplicably. I trembled with anticipation.

I said, "I only came here to deliver a package from Gigi. It's on the table. It's a framed mug shot."

"How thoughtful. I'd like to have a photo of you now, my raven-haired Venus rising from the waters."

"I bet you would."

He feinted a move left and I took a step right.

"Hellooo!" came a woman's voice.

As I looked to see who was calling, Ian moved swiftly to me and grabbed my wrist. I yanked hard, trying to throw him off balance, but I was distracted by the woman who appeared around the side of the house.

She was a pretty honey blonde with hair below her shoulders and a golden tan. She had the look of the wealthy women here, from her neatly arched brows to her narrow nose to her perfectly polished toenails in chic sandals. She wore a gauzy sleeveless shift and her arms and long legs were toned. She seemed to be about thirty, but it was hard to tell.

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything," she said cheerfully.

"Not at all," Ian said with a smile as he let go of my wrist.

It's amazing how accurate those dreams of being naked are: you think that if you act normal, no one will notice. I held my hands demurely in front of my hoo-ha.


For more on Marta's books, visit her website: http://www.martaacosta.com/.
And her fab blog, Vampire Wire.

Today, Marta is offering one of her signed books (winner'c choice) to one lucky commenter who answers the question: What would you do if discovered naked in your garden by your neighbour? Brazen it out? Run screaming into the house? Marta's contest will close at midnight tonight and her winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread. Please note that entry to this contest is limited to US residents.

26 comments:

  1. Lol...great question...I would probably run screaming into the house because we really have nothing for me to hide behind in the yard and there is no way I could brazen it out...lol

    junegirl63(at)gmail(dot)com

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  2. Oh man that was a hilarious excerpt. I am afraid I would run screaming and cursing into the house. We have a pretty open backyard *L*

    skpetal at hotmail dot com

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  3. I have a confession to make...I am that naked neighbor, I don't like tan lines & I don't like tanning booths. My backyard is fair game. If my neighbors caught me, I'd wave, make a little small talk and eventually wander back into the house laughing hysterically the entire way!

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  4. Cackling away here... :)

    Marie

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  5. Oh my! I would def run screaming and then wonder why the hell I was outside naked in the first place!

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  6. Hi, everyone! I finally tricked the Internets to letting me connect this morning.

    -Maria, running naked screaming is really one of the classics.
    -Jean, I'm glad to see that you have a clear head in an emergency.
    -Jenn, I bet you're popular in among the guys in your neighborhood.
    -Elena, Milagro is a bit of an exhibitionist, so we can count on her behavior to be, well, a little naughty.

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  7. Hope everyone notes I've now clarified the contest at the end of Marta's post :).

    Hi Marta! I have to tell you I love the hoo-ha :). Never heard it called that before. I love Milagro - how much of you is in her?

    Marie

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  8. Hi, Marie, hoo-ha is common parlance here in California. (Isn't it?)

    People always want to think that writers are their protagonists. Okay, yeah, I was a party girl. Yeah, I lived in San Francisco. But Milagro's really my fictional best friend. She's got the qualities of many of my favorite characters. She's got the cheerful looniness of P.G. Wodehouse characters, the heartbreak of Jane Eyre, the wit (or half of it) of some of Jane Austen's characters...she's got Bridget Jones's love of frivolity and desire for love.

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  9. Hoo-ha is def the correct lingo here in CA!

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  10. Thank you, Jenn, for the linguistic expertise! I am also using "coochi" in my next story, as well as "lady parts."

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  11. lol, love this question! It just put a smile on my face and you have me thinking crazy scenarios :) First off, I have to say I have yet to read your books, but they sound really good. I love an author who can make me laugh out loud, my kids may think I'm crazy or the lady sitting next to me in the doctors office when I have one of those moments, but when life get's too serious it's one of those moments that I'm craving. Now for your question. Now, after having three kids I would most likely run screaming for cover, back before I had kids I would probably brave it out and pretend I was sleep walking and be none to concerned :) I don't have that self confidence I use to :) Now, what was I doing naked in the garden in the first place???? Hmmmmm, hopefully I would have a yummy fantasy man who lured me out there then I would just shove him in front of me and let my neighbor see his goods instead of mine :)

    june111(at)att(dot)net

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  12. I would probably embarrass myself more by bending over to try and find something to cover myself up with, haha ;-) Then I would run screaming into the house.

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  13. Hi, Jolene! I hope you'll get a chance to read my books -- people always say they make them laugh out loud. Yes, it can be embarrassing to crack up in public and have people staring at you! Been there, done that so many times.

    Chelsea, you know how to make a bad situation worse!

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  14. If I didn't die of embarrassment first I would run screaming cuss words and crying into the house. I'm pretty sure who ever got me would be running and screaming the other way. Probably screaming something about being blind.

    sstrode@scrtc.com

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  15. Ha! Sherry, you made me laugh out loud.

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  16. Love the interview! I'm a huge fan Marta!

    Hey if I'm naked in the privacy of my own house and you discover me then you must be wanting to catch a glimpse!!! While I'm not one to roam around naked outside I don't think I'd run screaming...I'd probably throw a towel on and graciously make an exit!

    romancingthedarkside@gmail.com

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  17. How I react would probably be dependent on how I found myself naked in the backyard in the first place. Assumming it was some type of weird thing that got me out there, I would be heading back into the house rather quickly. No screaming but maybe a fast "hi there" on my way in. None of my neighbours speak good English so I wouldn't be trying to explain what happened.

    a.charol at yahoo dot ca

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  18. Now to see if this let's me post (has anyone else had blogspot errors all day?)


    Me, I'd brazen it out. What better opportunity is there? Invite the neighbor (especially if he is single and cute) over to join you, whether it's to garden, or for a frosty glass to cool off with on a HOT (ahem, this is Texas, it's always Hot) day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being the naked neighbor. The easiest way to draw attention to your nakedness is to acknowledge it. If you pretend you are not naked, and act like nothing is amiss, it tends to throw people off guard. Besides, you never know what could happen later...

    As always a pleasure Marie, and Thank you for that wonderful insight into your new book Marta, I must search out your books, they sound very intriguing.


    Christiana (Hauntedangel@att.net

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  19. What fab answers! If you were alone, with nowhere to hide. you wouldn't have a lot of choice, I suppose. I was thinking, in Milagro's postion, I'd probbaly hide behind Ian. But Milagro has more class than me and merely hides her hoo-ha. See, I can speak Californian now too :).

    Marta, thanks for joining the party and being a great guest of honour once more!

    I'll be back in a few minutes with Marta's winner...

    Marie

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  20. And the winner is...

    Jenn3128!

    Congratulations, Jenn, you lucky thing! Please email me (Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com) with your postal address and your choice of book.

    Marie

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  21. Oh my, I lost all track of time yesterday. Congratulations Jenn!!!

    Great post.

    Here in the eastern part of Germany there is a whole naked culture with many lakes having an area for those sun worshippers to hang out in full view of everyone. It is not unusual to walk around a lake and stumble upon an area where everyone, from babies to grandparents are lolling around naked...hehe!!

    Valerie
    in Germany

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  22. Here's to nature, Valerie :). I have to say, there isn't a great deal of temptation in Scotland to venture outisde naked. Mostly we don't go anywhere without our coats on :).

    Marie

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  23. -Lori, I admire your calm grace and thanks for the kind words!
    -Carol, your neighbors might just think it's a weird American thing.
    =Christiana, ah, you have Milagro's confident attitude -- here's wishing you cute neighbors. (Me, I have fond memories of some hot Irish painters with fabulous accents who worked in our neighborhood.)
    -Marie, thanks so much for having me here. Congratulations, Jenn!

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  24. I would probably say, please don't let me interrupt and politely walk away and go get my clothes back on.
    I would be so embarrassed on the inside but I wouldn't let them see that on the outside. A girls got to have some self respect. I would hold my head high and turn and give them the moon as I walked by. Bringing more attention to myself by running and screaming would be more embarrassing.

    Teresa K.
    tcwgrlup41@yahoo.com

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  25. I came back on this morning and seriously you gals are killing me this morning! I'll e-mail you in a minute Marie! Big thank you to Marta, she is awesome!

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  26. Nice vision, Teresa :).

    Jenn, I agree! Got your email, thanks!

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