Thursday, March 11, 2010

Interview with Cara Mia Author Denise Verrico

Q: How long have you been a writer?

A: I’ve been writing since high school. I used to write comedy sketches and song parodies with my best friend. I started seriously in my thirties. My background is in theatre and my first successful efforts were plays. I have one original, Attempting Fate produced, and one adaptation, Bachae Y2K. Cara Mia is my first novel. My second in the series, Twilight of the Gods will be out later this year.

Q: Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created? One that is especially close to your heart?

A: It would have to be Kurt Eisen, my heroine Mia’s lover. He is in both Cara Mia and Twilight of the Gods. As a teenager, he lost his entire family in the Holocaust and was a prisoner in Dachau , where an SS officer sexually abused him. He’s a very complex individual, and innately decent at heart. I like my vampires to have real human motivations for their actions. Kurt’s dislike for injustice leads him to become the leader of a revolution. He’s not all sweetness and light, even though he looks rather angelic, but he does what is right where the downtrodden of his vampire society are concerned. Mia and Kurt’s love affair is bittersweet. Both are in their seventies, and somewhat world-weary when they finally get together.

Q: Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

A: I generally sit down around seven pm, and write until eleven, unless I’m off work. Then it’s an all day affair between errands and family functions.

Q: Do you need to be in a specific place or atmosphere before the words flow? Do you have a ritual that you do before sitting down to write?

A: I kind of crouch on my sofa with my laptop. My son says I look like the character L from the anime Death Note. It’s the unruly dark hair and maniacal look, I suppose. I usually have the TV on to VH-1 classic. David Bowie and Freddie Mercury are always inspiring to me.

Q: What is the strangest source of inspiration you’ve had? Maybe something weird that ended up in one of your books or short stories.

A: Gosh, that’s a tough one. I guess the weirdest would be the creation of Mia. I was reading an awful lot of Anne Rice fourteen years ago, and I had a dream about a young woman vampire. I heard that Stephanie Meyer had a dream about her character, Edward. I hope my dream can be as successful. Elijah’s Wood’s eyes inspired Kurt’s. I watched a lot of Lord of the Rings on DVD.

Q: If you could offer one tidbit of information for new writers, what would it be?

A: Join a critique group. I’m so happy that I’ve been in one for my second and third books. I’ve learned so much from other writers, and it’s free editing advice. Read books on writing. Read everything and anything on all subjects. Read in your genre and outside. Get those words down. Start marketing them, or entering contests. Don’t fiddle for fourteen years like I did. Dare to be different. If you like a genre, take it to a new place, using your unique perspective. Wow, that was more than a tidbit.

Q: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

A: I do some marketing work, teach acting, and substitute teach. Currently, I’m working long term as a one-on-one aide to a lovely child with special needs. She is a real inspiration. I absolutely love her.

Q: Name one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you.

A: I’m a coaster fanatic. My husband, son and I go on whirlwind four-day trips to amusement parks. Four states, four days, thirty odd roller coasters. We live in Ohio now, and we have a lot of top coasters here.

Q: Do you have a favorite book or a favorite author?

A: I love Mary Renault, Robert Graves, Amy Tan, Jane Austin, Harper Lee and of course, Anne Rice. My favorite books of all time are To Kill a Mockingbird and I Claudius. My favorite vampire book is Interview with a Vampire.

Q: Could you tell us about your current work in progress?

A: I’m going through critique with my writer’s group on Fearful Symmetry, the third book in the Immortyl Revolution series. The beginnings of the revolution are told from the POV of a close observer who serves the ruling class. His name is Cedric MacKinnon. He’s an irreverent, Scottish, nineteen-year-old, Immortyl temple artist, and courtesan. It takes place mostly in India at the court of the chief elder. Cedric is a devotee of the Immortyl cult of Kali, and becomes a pawn in the chief elder’s intrigues. It’s my sexiest book yet. Book four, Ratopia, will bring Mia, Kurt and Cedric together in NY. I’m working on these concurrently.

Q:What are some of your hobbies besides writing?

A: I keep exotic birds. I have a Timneh African Grey Parrot, three cockatiels and three budgies. I love to cook and garden. Love those coasters!

Q: If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you spend the money on?

A: I’d do things for my family. I’d help kids and animals in need. I’d buy books for libraries. Then I would travel the world, and learn all I could about other cultures. I’d volunteer for the World Parrot Trust in South America . I’d go to see the Olympics in London . Oh, and I’d eat lobster--a lot.

Q: Which household chore do you abhor and

A: Cleaning. It eats up valuable time.

Q: What’s your favorite comfort food? Your favorite drink?

A: I love anything Chinese. Red wine is always good.

Q: Do you have a food that you absolutely will not even taste one little tiny bit of?

A: Bugs. I love the show Bizarre Foods, but insects and arachnids are where I draw the line. My Dad was Italian and I grew up eating all kinds of different things, like tripe and squid. I love my calamari.

Q: What started your love affair with the paranormal?

A: The TV series, Dark Shadows. For you younger folks, it was a paranormal soap opera on when I was a kid in the sixties and seventies. Barnabas Collins, played by Jonathan Frid, was really one of the first vampire heroes. One of my friends during the eighties was Mr.Frid’s personal assistant, and I got to visit the actor’s apartment on Gramercy park in NYC to see him preview his one man Shakespearean show. He is a lovely gentleman. Last I read, he’d gone back to live in Canada . As a tribute to him, I have Mia living at one point on Gramercy Park .

Q: In closing, tell us a bit about your latest release. Feel free to share an excerpt.

A: Cara Mia, Book One of the Immortyl Revolution is a vampire story with a sci fi component. My vampires are biological beings with no “magical” powers, but they do have enhanced physical abilities and immune systems. Mia and Kurt rebel against their Immortyl masters, and give the secret of immortality to science.

This excerpt is from chapter two, and is Kurt’s first appearance. Mia and Kurt have been duped and imprisoned in the biotech lab that promised them shelter from their enemies. Neuroscientist, Joe Ansari has been assigned to work with them. At this point the story is told from Joe’s POV. Later on in the book, when Mia tells her tale to Joe it becomes her first person POV.

The male looked up, but said nothing as Joe entered. A narrow beam of light from the lamp next to his chair carved his fine-boned face into an ivory mask. Large, haunted blue eyes regarded Joe impassively. His shape was that of a very young man but one undernourished. He sat upright, dressed in blue jeans, a soft button down shirt and sneakers, tawny blond curls neatly clipped and combed. Long delicate fingers held a book.

Eerily silent, obviously shunning the fluorescent lights as Mia did, but in contrast to the way she paced like a caged animal about the perimeters of her cell, he sat in solemn stillness, a condemned man waiting for the hangman. Yet to Joe eyes, he was comfortingly alien, unlike Mia who was alarmingly human and female.

It was three days since he’d spoken. When anyone approached, he just fixed an icy blue stare, and they’d back off in terror. A basin of water containing a plastic bag filled with blood sat in the sliding panel beside the door. Nausea gripped Joe momentarily, surprising him. He’d seen surgery performed on the brains of living people. Why did this bother him so much?

Joe cleared his throat. “Good evening, I’m Doctor Ansari. I’ve brought a letter from Mia. I’m not sure how you prefer to be addressed.”

The vampire’s eyes blinked once as he replied softly in a boyish voice, his English slightly accented, “You may call me Kurt.”

“Very well then…Kurt. How are you getting on?”

The vampire looked at him warily. Sudden tension flared between them. Kurt tugged at the left sleeve of his shirt then smoothed it down with his fingers. “Mia attacked a staff member. I heard screaming and shouting.”

“Yes, the psychiatrist.”

Kurt shook his head. “What have they done to her?”

“She was restrained and sedated until she calmed down.”

“You’re the neuroscientist. I’ve read your work.” Kurt smoothed his hand again over his shirtsleeve. “I suppose it’s pointless to ask when we’ll be re-united.”

“Dr. Loy assures me it should be soon. You read scientific journals?”

The vampire’s wary expression didn’t change, nor did he answer the question put to him. “You’re authorized to carry communication between us?”

“No,” Joe admitted. “But I’m assigned to work with Mia until Dr. Rider is replaced.”

Kurt’s unearthly eyes ran over Joe again, searching. Joe was very uncomfortable.

“Aside from neurological studies, I’ve been assigned to begin a behavioral profile based on anecdotal data. So far she hasn’t cooperated. I’m hoping to gain her trust so she will.”

“To this end you’ve gone against your superior?”

Kurt tugged again at his shirt cuff. Interesting, Joe observed, a nervous gesture, hiding something, yet calling attention to it at the same time.

Joe continued, “I don’t agree with Lydia . It stinks you’ve been separated without your consent. I’ll do all I can to help you both. I’ve been authorized to obtain anything you need…personal items.”

Kurt’s disturbing eyes lowered to his book again. “I arranged for the rental of a piano.”
This surprised Joe. “Piano?”

The vampire’s voice tensed. “Yes, a piano. Also, I require my notebook computer. It’s pointless to try to access anything. I made sure of that. I want it back.”

Well, he could be an arrogant little cuss.

“Give me a list. I’ll see to it personally.”

Kurt looked up again with his probing gaze, and moistened his lower lip with his tongue as Joe pretended to make notes on his clipboard. “Come by tomorrow night for my reply. No one but Mia must see it. Understand? Look at me, Doctor, when I address you.”

Joe wasn’t about to cross either of them. He looked Kurt warily in the eye.

The vampire’s expression softened. “I’d like to arrange for flowers for Mia—a single red rose for each night we’re apart. Make sure it’s perfect and accompanies my letter.”

Was the monster a romantic?

Kurt took a small leather notebook and pen from his shirt pocket. He quickly jotted down some items, and tore the list out crisply, handing it to Joe with the assurance of one used to giving orders. “These are the items I require. Please don’t deviate from the list.” He replaced the notebook in his pocket. His pale face suddenly clenched. “Go—I don’t wish to be disturbed.”

Joe didn’t waste any time exiting. Taking a last quick look as the observation door closed between them, he saw Kurt take up the basin containing the bag of blood in his hands, and stare at it in disgust. Sensing Joe staring, he scowled before snapping off the lights.

Denise has offered one lucky reader a chance to win a signed copy of Cara Mia.

Would you like to be that lucky winner?

Then just leave a comment on this post with your email contact info.

US Shipping

Contest Closes Tuesday March 16 Midnight EST

Winner Announced on Wednesday March 17

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rita said...

Sounds wonderful!

cindyrella64 said...

This book sounds awesome and the cover is gorgeous!

Enter me please!...I'm a follower!

sherry said...

I think this sounds like a great book please count me in.

elizabeth said...

Awesome interview! Sounds like a great book!


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tetewa said...

I'd like to be included, count me in!

van_pham said...

would love to win this book, sounds great.

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Virginia C said...

Hello, Denise! Congratulations on "Cara Mia"! I was so delighted by your interview and the closeness you enjoy with your family. I am a huge "Dark Shadows" fan!!! Barnabas!!! Do you remember Josette's theme and her little music box? My grandmother and I watched "Dark Shadows" together every day when I came home from school. She bought me a reproduction copy of Josette's music box which plays that unforgettable tune. It didn't come right away when she ordered it, and the company insisted that it had been mailed. Many months later, it just showed up one day! The music box had its own mystery! Your book sounds wonderful and I love the butterfly cover : )

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Rosie said...

Sounds like a great book. Can't wait to read it!!!

Estella said...

I am looking forward to reading this.

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Denise Verrico said...

What great comments! Virginia I do remember the music and the music box. Was that the one that played when the ghost Quentin appeared? I was only six or seven then, but I rushed home every day to watch the show. I also saw all of the movies. By the way, my web site is and you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook at my Immortyl Revolution fan page.

Linda Henderson said...

I would love to read your book.

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angie said...

I follow your blog and I follow you on twitter @bangersis. I tweeted
My email is bangersis(at)msn(dot)com

Virginia C said...

Hi, Denise! I loved the musical score for "Dark Shadows". I have the original soundtrack album. The opening theme played over the crashing waves was spooky and memorable. Josette's theme from her little music box, was sweet, delicate and tinkley. Quentin's theme, "Shadows of the Night", was more sweeping and romantic. It was a melancholy waltz! My favorite thing of all about "Dark Shadows" was Barnabas' black onyx ring. All they had to show was his hand wearing that ring!!!

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

JAD said...

Wow. This sounds really interesting! Kudos Denise for adding the SF elements. I'm sure to love that! :)

Please enter me in the contest, I'm a new follower, linked you and blogged about the interview here:

Thanks; keep up the great work!

Pauline B Jones said...

I'm a day late, but it was a great interview. Congrats on the release!

booklover0226 said...

OH, yes, this is a must read for me!

I'm a blog follower.
I'm a Twitter follower (as bl0226).
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Denise Verrico said...

Thanks for all of the nice comments! getting back to Dark shadows, I seem to remember Barnabas carrying a wolf's head cane. It's been so many years since I watched the show. I probably remember Quentin's theme because it was played on the radio a lot. Can you get the show on DVD?
I'll have to look it up. My husband scored me the entire Buffy collection on e-Bay.

halukacy said...

Sounds great!

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