Note from Tez: This interview was conducted a while ago. In the spirit of weekend reading, enjoy it now.
Meet Marta Acosta, author of the vampire comedy novels Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, Midnight Brunch and the upcoming The Bride of Casa Dracula (Simon & Schuster: July 4th 2006, April 4th 2007 and September 16th 2008 respectively). Let’s learn…
Happy Hour at Casa Dracula
What’s a girl to do when she’s hidden away at the home of snobby vampires and her ex-boyfriend wants to drive a stake through her heart?
Milagro de los Santos can’t find her place in the world or a man to go with it. All the men she meets are like beach reads–fun, but superficial–and she worries that she is only a beach read, too. Then one night, at a book party for her pretentious ex-boyfriend, she meets an oddly attractive man. After she is bitten while kissing him, she falls ill and is squirrelled away to his family’s estate to recover. Vampires don’t exist in this day and age, or do they? As Milagro falls in love with a fabulously inappropriate man, she finds herself caught between a family who has accepted her as one of their own and a shady organisation that refuses to let the undead live and love in peace.
Hip, funny Milagro de los Santos thinks she’s finally found love and a home at the California ranch of fabulous Oswald Grant and his urbane relatives, who have a rare genetic disorder that some call vampirism. But Milagro is bewildered when she’s excluded from an ancient and mysterious midnight ceremony whose participants include Oswald’s unfriendly parents, a creepy family elder, and Milagro’s ex-lover, the powerful and decadent Ian Ducharme. What skeletons are the vampires hiding in their designer closets?
When Milagro’s life is threatened by a rogue family member, she flees to the desert to hide. Instead of solitude, she encounters an egomaniacal actor, a partying heiress, a sly tabloid reporter, and a lavish spa full of dark secrets–all of which might help her find a way home.
Tez Miller: Milagro De Los Santos attended Fancy University. You just wanted to use the F.U. initials, aye? 😉
Marta Acosta: Yes, you are absolutely right! I was inspired to come up with a silly name by The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Those familiar with this illustrious cartoon may recall that Bullwinkle Moose had attended Whatsamatta U.
Same with CACA, right? It makes good sense, because the organisation seems like a load of… 😉
True. I’ve always enjoyed used acronyms in humorous writing. I came up with the acronym first and worked backward to get Corporate Americans for the Conservation of America. I was also thinking of organisations in this country which have names that completely misrepresent their true purpose, like the Clean Skies Initiative, which actually seeks to weaken environmental law.
I’ve never heard of Clean Skies, but…dude, they’re evil! Now, the first novel in the series is Happy Hour at Casa Dracula. The second is Midnight Brunch. The upcoming third is The Bride of Casa Dracula. Was the second going to be Midnight Brunch at Casa Dracula, but someone chewed you out for too many words in the title? 😉
My title for the first book was Bite Me, but my editor said it was “too vulgar.” I couldn’t come up with a title for the second book, though. I finally thought of Midnight Brunch at Casa Dracula, which was shortened to Midnight Brunch, which was fine with me. Unfortunately, readers assumed it’s a cookbook. If you search for brunch cookbooks on the Amazon website, it shows up. And readers didn’t realise the book was a sequel. The mass market edition will have the longer name.
Bite Me only sounds vulgar if you have a smutty mind (which I do *cough*) 😉 Cookbook? As far as I know vampires only comsume people’s blood, and they’re not quite cannibals, but feel free to correct my ignorance. Speaking of my shoddy brain, my memory’s extremely terrible, so you’ll have to correct me where appropriate. In the first novel, Mil writes “political fantasy” (my term, not yours) fiction, in which paranormal people are metaphors/symbols for contemporary screw-ups in the world. (At least according to my memory – which sucks). This sounds like fiction I’d really be interested in reading! 🙂 Have you written any fiction in the political fantasy genre, and will we the readers ever get to see it? (Please, please, please…)
Well, I wrote a political horror screenplay that had a lot of humorous elements. Does that count? I’m always vague about Milagro’s actual talent. I like to think that she’s a good writer who writes stories that no one wants to read, these didactic horror stories that are political allegories. Yet, she’s absolutely confident that someday her work will be appreciated. I was thinking a little of Kurt Vonnegut’s character, Kilgore Trout, who is a terrible writer with great ideas. I wanted her to have the blithe unawareness of Bertie Wooster, P.G. Wodehouse’s marvelous character.
Ah, that kind of sounds like me: I can come up with decent ideas, but the execution is not so good. If Mil were real, she could rest assured that I’d want to read her works. Not that that counts for much in the real world, though 😉 Speaking of Mil, Latino characters don’t seem to be common in urban fantasy. There’s Mil, of course, and Mario Acevedo’s Felix Gomez (whose books I haven’t read but really want to). What other Latino characters in urban fantasy can you recommend to us?
My pal, Caridad Piñeiro, writes vampire books that fall into the suspense/romance category. I especially enjoy reading her stories for their New York settings and I love her Latino characters, who break the stereotypes.
Most of today’s urban fantasy fiction is set in the U.S. Do you have any plans to set stories in other countries? (Mexico would be a perfect setting for their Day of the Dead – at least I think it’s called that, but in Spanish; my memory really sucks.)
That’s a great idea. I’ve used Mexico and Dia de Los Muertos as a setting for other stories, but hadn’t thought of it for Milagro. I had thought of using London as a setting for Milagro. It’s my favourite city.
Here’s hoping stories featuring those will be available to the public soon 🙂 Name-dropping time! What authors do you count as close friends?
I don’t really hang out with other authors. I see them at events and we have email friendships. Nancy Levine, who lives near me and writes funny books about dogs, and I have discussed organising a group for writers who procrastinate about hobnobbing with one another. But we haven’t gotten around to doing it.
Zing! Are there any countries/languages you’d particularly like to be published in? (Hooray – your first novel has made it to Australia! 🙂 )
Both books are being published in Russia! I know…that totally rocks. It’s one of those things I never thought about when I was dreaming of selling my work. Of course I’d like my books to be published in all major languages. Even more I’d like my books to be published in really weird little funny places so I could mention it at cocktail parties.
Your name in Cyrillic – that sounds brilliant 🙂 Please be sure to show the Russian cover art when you receive it, please 🙂 And the most important question: for which urban fantasy author would you turn gay/straight for? 😉
Hmm, I never even think of authors that way. If there was an author who looked like Clive Owen, and I was a guy, I’d totally be all gay for him. However that would never happen because if an author looked like Clive Owen, he’d be an actor, not an author. Or say, he was an author. Then you’d have to listen to him yammer endlessly about his Craft, and his Art, and his Vision, and pretty soon, you’d be screaming, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” and you’d run off with the really hawt young dude who works at the deli and gives you an extra pickle in your sandwich because at least he’s not so self-centred.
The exception of the authors-not-worth-crushing-on rule would be authors named Hugh, who also act. Hugh Laurie and Hugh Grant fall into this category. I love Hugh Laurie from his days as Bertie Wooster in the Wooster & Jeeves series. Now that Laurie’s doing this cranky American role, I’m not so enchanted. Grant claims to be writing a novel.
Ah, you have a fetish for the English. You’re perfectly entitled to it, and you shan’t be judged 😉 Kind lass, thank you for your time.
Have a lovely day! 🙂