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Marta Acosta Bibliography

Casa Dracula Series

Stand alone YA gothic (formerly know as The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove)

Writing as Grace Coopersmith: contemporary romance (no vampires!)

LoveVampires Interview With Marta Acosta

Marta Acosta PictureIt’s been three years since your first interview at Love Vampires – so what’s new with you?

Hi, Amanda!  I’ve been busy.  I’ve had two more books released, The Bride of Casa Dracula (Casa Dracula Book 3) and Nancy’s Theory of Style, under my fancy pen-name Grace Coopersmith.  My new book, Haunted Honeymoon, is out right now and I’ve just sold a YA to Tor.

When you wrote Happy Hour at Casa Dracula it was a one-off story but your publisher then wanted a series. Would you have planned the story arc differently or made any changes if you’d known when you started that it was going to run to a four book series?

My biggest challenge with the series is that people don’t know what to expect of them because they’re comedies-of-manners with a paranormal theme. If I had known I’d have a series, I would have written the books so they’d fit more comfortably in a category, probably urban fantasy.

When I wrote the second book, I didn’t know that there would be a third and when I wrote the third, I didn’t know if there would be a fourth.  So each book has been a challenge, trying to work on elements in the past and bring them forward. I put a lot of effort into structure; I echo themes, behaviour, and dialogue that have occurred before.  I try to make it look easy and delightful, like a fabulous dessert.

 Haunted Honeymoon, final part of the Casa Dracula series, is due out at the end of September 2010. Is this really the last readers will hear from the irrepressible Milagro?

When I typed the last sentence of Haunted Honeymoon, I was shocked to find myself crying.  In the years since I dreamt up Milagro, she’s become very dear to me. I was inspired by characters I loved. She’s had a lonely childhood like Jane Eyre. She wears her heart on her sleeve like Bridget Jones. She’s got a loopy optimism like Bertie Wooster’s. However, Milagro developed a distinct and unique personality.

A lot of readers tell me that they will miss Milagro, that she feels like a friend.  I don’t know if I can let her go entirely.  I would love to see her reappear with her sexy husband and they could solve a supernatural mystery while drinking cocktails and flirting wildly.

Your first book for young adults, The Shadow Girl of Birch Grove, has just been green-lighted for publication by TOR but prior to that you had a big struggle to get the book sold. In the end you took the unusual step of publishing the manuscript as a free read on Scribd. What’s the story behind this? Do you think Shadow Girl’s popularity on Scribd had an influence on getting the book accepted for publication?

Posting my manuscript on Scribd was my way of saying “I’ll take my ball and play somewhere else.”  The book had been rejected by several editors who told my agent “vampires are over.” And this was before the Twilight movies came out. I trusted in my book enough to know that readers would love it, too, so I offered it for free.  I think it got over 26,000 reads before I took it off the site.

My editor at Tor had the book before I posted it as a free read, but I think the popularity of the story may have helped the sale.  I’m really excited about going to Tor, a terrific publisher, and working with my new editor there.

Where is Shadow Girl now? Do you know yet what the publication date will be?

Shadow Girl will be published sometime in 2012 in hard cover, trade paperback, and mass market paperback. I’m waiting for my editor’s notes and then I’ll get back into the world of Birch Grove.

Shadow Girl, with its gothic overtones and staid heroine, is an altogether more serious book than your Casa Dracula romantic comedies – why the change in tone?

I have so much fun writing comedy and using a colloquial, self-mocking, slightly delusional voice, but I also like writing stark, grimmer fiction. Each voice comes naturally to me, rather like changing the way you speak when you talk to your professor friend or to a teenager or a best friend. That said, there are serious elements in my Casa Dracula books and I indulged in a little silliness (in the character of Mary Violet) in Shadow Girl.

Earlier this year saw the release of Nancy’s Theory of Style your first book under the Grace Coopersmith pen name. Why the different name? Do you plan to write more Grace Coopersmith books?

 Publishing the book under a pen-name seemed like a good idea at the time for a variety of reasons. The first was that I suspected that a lot of people wouldn’t pick up a book by me because they think I’m obsessed with vampires, or they assume I’m a romance writer, or they think I’m writing “ethnic” stories. The idea was that it would establish me as a writer of contemporary novels without those assumptions.

Nancy’s Theory of Style, which is pretty damn entertaining, is dying a too quick and undeserved death since only a few thousand books were printed.  If it’s not in bookstores, people can’t buy it. Don’t even get me started on the cover, which has a roll of toilet paper on it, because I just go into a blind rage.

I posted the draft of Nancy’s Theory of Style (with a different, eye-catching cover) as a free read at Scribd because I trust readers will love the story. In the first week, it had over 3,000 reads.  Will it help revive Nancy’s chic corpse?  I have no idea, but want the book to be read.

What are you currently working on?

After promoting Haunted Honeymoon, I’m going to focus on my historical gothic novel, which doesn’t yet have a title. It’s set in California in the 1850s and the 1990s and it’s very smutty and morally bankrupt. I’m really hoping it will get denounced as filth because I could use the publicity.

What new challenges did writing historical fiction bring to your work?

I’d have an easier time writing a story set in England, because I’ve studied British history and literature and there are so many resources. There isn’t nearly as much written about California in the 1850s. I think readers really get a thrill out of the nitty-gritty details of every day life. I’ll be contacting historians to get the scoop.

 In addition to writing books you are also an energetic blogger, using your Vampire Wire blog (essential reading for vampire fiction and urban fantasy fans!) to bring the latest genre news to the internet masses. What are the best parts of running a popular blog?

When I started Vampire Wire over three years ago, there weren’t any blogs quite like it, devoted to news about urban fantasy/paranormal. It was quite dry, just a list of links, and I intended for it to promote my books. I found out that readers wanted my commentary, so it’s become a fun place for me to chat. I love connecting with readers and I’ve learned a lot from them about what they like and don’t like.  As a writer, I’m thrilled to have a chance to “meet” people all over the country and the world who are passionate about books.

I’ve also had lots of authors visit my blog and made friends online with wonderful reviewers – like you!

What are the worst?

It’s really easy for a blog to suck away too much time and sometimes blogging feels like a chore. Then I take a day or two off. And, for as much as I’ve tried to promote my novels, a lot of Vampire Wire readers only know me as a blogger.  It could be worse: they could not know me at all.

The publishing industry currently seems to be in a state of flux with the internet and e-book readers looking like they’re going to do for the book publishing industry what MP3s and iPods have done to the music publishing industry. On the one-hand instant access to thousands of books seems like a dream come true for readers but as a professional writer what worries you about this digital revolution?

Electronic devices are work for me.  I love paper and ink and want to sit under a tree and read some hefty volume with deckle-edged pages.  Too many people think it’s okay to steal books.  Heck, my fans go on torrent forums and ask for copies of my books.  (They could just email me and I’d probably send them a book for free.) If there’s no money in writing, how will novelists keep working? I’m afraid we’ll see e-books with crappy advertising all over them.

 Is it a hard time to be a writer?

Bernie Vines, a character from Midnight Brunch, tells Milagro, “Everyone knows that writing isn’t work.”

It’s harder being a waitress, a mom, a teacher, or a store clerk.  Virtually every other job, except for CEO, is harder than being a writer. I consider myself lucky to be able to do what I do.  I come from the blue-collar world and I get really annoyed when writers whine about how difficult it is.

If you weren’t an author what would be your occupation?

I’d be sitting in some office doing some crummy low-level administrative job, wasting time online, and thinking of ways to entertain myself.  I’m usually able to convince co-workers to have daily singalongs with me and, no, I can’t carry a tune.

If you had to live the life of one of the characters in your books, who would you choose to be?

What an interesting question! I’m very fond of Bernie Vines, the crafty tabloid writer who’s also a high school English teacher. He collects first editions, hangs out at Lefty’s Happy Looky-Dat! Club, and fabricates stories about Elvis and alien abductions. He’s cynical, but always ready for a good time, and he can quote Ogden Nash and William Faulkner.

Amanda, thanks so much for having me here at Love Vampires!  This has long been one of my favourite sites.
26th September 2010

A big "Thank You" to Marta Acosta for taking part in the LoveVampires author interview. Find out more about the Casa Dracula books at Marta's website. Marta is also a dedicated blogger, her popular Vampire Wire blog follows the latest news about vampire and paranormal books, television shows and movies.

view Our May 2007 interview with Marta Acosta

Archived LoveVampires Interview with Marta Acosta - May 2007

Marta Acosta on Marta Acosta.

I live a painfully banal life in the San Francisco Bay Area with the husband, the spawn, and an increasingly senile, yet charming dog.   I’ve got a degree in creative writing, and I write freelance articles on a variety of subjects, including gardening, which is my obsession. I think people who talk about “garden sanctuaries” have someone who’s doing the actual gardening for them.  I have garden ordeals and lots of gardening injuries.

Marta Acosta on Happy Hour at Casa Dracula and Midnight Brunch

Happy Hour at Casa Dracula Cover PictureHappy Hour at Casa Dracula is the story of Milagro, a warm-hearted and warm-blooded girl with a degree from a Fancy University (F.U.) who has to hide out from a crazy ex-boyfriend with a family of snobby vampires.  Matters are complicated when Milagro falls for one of the vamps, Oswald Grant, even though she thinks he’s duplicitous slacker.  The vampires think she’s a tacky social climber.  Because Milagro is something of an outsider herself, she begins to identify with these blood-drinkers. 

Midnight Brunch continues Milagro’s adventures.  She’s living with Oswald, but learns that she’s still being excluded from family ceremonies.  In her efforts to discover more about vampire culture, she discovers the sinister Project for a New Vampire Century, led by the creepy Silas Madison.  After being attacked, she flees to the desert to hide, only to encounter a bunch of mysterious happenings at a lavish spa.

Both your books are firmly in the romantic comedy genre, why did you choose to add the paranormal elements and why pick vampires?

I added the vampires as a comic element.  I played on the current convention of vampires as being wealthy, sophisticated, and gorgeous.  It follows that they would also be terrific snobs.  In many romantic comedies, the lead character must overcome issues of class and wealth, so snooty, real-estate obsessed, career-oriented vampires suited my purpose. 

The vampires in Milagro’s world are suffering from a rare medical condition which gives them vampiric symptoms rather than being supernatural creatures of the night – how did you come up with the ideas and back story for this? And were you ever tempted to make the vampires more magical and give your books more of a fantasy feel?

While I love some supernatural stories and was a “The X-Files” and “Buffy” fan, I wanted to say something about the irrational fear and vilification of things outside our understanding.  I contacted a doctor friend and asked him to please come up with a medical justification for the symptoms.

To me Casa Dracula is a comedy of manners with almost a Jane Austen feel to the writing style.  Midnight Brunch has more of a mystery vibe going on and has a slightly different writing style.  Why the change?

Casa Dracula was my homage to those comedies, including novels by Jane Austen:  impoverished yet bright girl goes to a country house, deals with social conflicts, has misunderstandings, falls for one fellow, yet believes he’s unavailable, etc.  I wanted to create a heroine who had the traits I admire in characters I love.  I love humour and P.G. Wodehouse, too, and I wanted Milagro to be a little oblivious, the way that young people often are, and to make mistakes, yet be good-natured and optimistic.

The style changes because I wrote Casa Dracula as a one-off, and my publisher wanted a series.  I could have focused on the relationships – boy loses girl and boy gets back together with girl – or take another direction and move the action forward with a little mystery, new characters, and new locations.

Your books have many laugh out loud funny moments in them, is it hard to write comedy?

Generally it’s harder for me to remain serious than to be funny.  I’m no good at meetings because I get bored quickly and then say ridiculous things to amuse myself.  (I have tried telling my bosses that I have Attention Deficit Disorder, but they don’t believe me, probably because I’m laughing when I say it.)  As a writer, you get to go back and improve a passage, and I frequently write something with the intention of making it funnier later.  Occasionally I write something that I think is hilarious, but the humour eludes all others.  Then I’m faced with the difficult decision of deleting it or being self-indulgent.

How many books do you have planned for this series?

I don’t have any specific plans, but the idea of “more” sounds good to me.  I’m working on a third book now, and I’m leaving a few strings hanging in case my publishers want a fourth. 

Any clues about what Milagro will be up to next?

Milagro is now engaged, and she’s struggling to plan both a regular wedding and a vampire wedding.  Weddings are supposed to be delightful, but they’re really the biggest nightmare of all social occasions, fraught with crazy-making details and opportunities to simultaneously humiliate oneself and insult others.

Milagro also has to meet with the mysterious vampire council to lobby for her rights in their society.   On the career front, she’s ghost-writing the memoirs of a charming lunatic who’s clearly fabricating his life story.   Milagro is a freak-magnet, so it’s no surprise that things go wildly awry.

Which authors do you think have been most influential on your own writing style?

I asked my brother this question.  He said, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Evelyn Waugh, and P.G. Wodehouse.  He’s speaking of the entirety of my writing, not only the Casa Dracula novels.  Austen’s stories are timeless because they’re well-plotted with intriguing characters and intelligent, admirable heroines.  I’ve always admired Twain’s first-person, colloquial voice, dead-pan comic delivery and penchant for absurdity.  I was introduced to Waugh by a professor who told me, “You have a nasty sense of humour.  You would like Evelyn Waugh.”  I replied, “Who is she?”  Wodehouse is just a delight, raising silliness to an art.  Bertie Wooster is so loveable because he’s blissfully unaware of the world around him and cheerful.  I tried to add a touch of that to Milagro’s personality.

What book have you most enjoyed reading recently, and why?

Impossible question.  But I did just pick up a Sophie Kinsella novel and I expect to fully enjoy it.  I think Kinsella is a really amusing writer.

Who is your favourite fictional vampire?

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer PictureThat’s easy.  Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  He was sardonic, drove a terrific trashed Caddy, and despite his coolness, he was an underdog who always got screwed over. He had great one-liners, a dangerous edge, and fabulous cheekbones.

Many would-be authors never get their work as far as publication, how did it happen for you?

Most of my jobs included writing, I’d published columns in newspapers, and I’d also had a humour e-zine.  I wrote a concise, intriguing query letter, got an agent, and she sold my book in a two-book deal to Simon & Schuster.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Yes, first, finish your novel.  It sounds silly, but people write to me and tell me that they’ve almost completed one chapter and now they’re looking for an agent.  Second, persevere.  Everyone gets rejected, so don’t take it personally.  Third, listen to criticism, but don’t accept that all criticism is valid.   Fourth, read and learn from others who are better.

Do you have any other writing projects in the pipeline?

I’m busy working on my third Casa Dracula novel, but I’m also thinking about a young adult novel.  It would be a gothic set in an elite all-girls school.  It will be spooky and dark and involve a secret society, revenge, and an adherence to archaic rules of conduct.  In other words, “The Prime of Miss Brodie” but with virgin sacrifices between chemistry quizzes and assembly.
25th May 2007

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