If you don’t know who Marta Acosta is by now, you are about to find out about the Latina Author of the Casa Dracula novels. With her fourth novel in the series Haunted Honeymoon, due out in October, these hilarious and romantic books will take you on an adventure that no other vampire books can live up to. Diminishing the stereotypical vampire, Marta’s words leave you laughing your butt off. But don’t just take my word for it, throw on a turtle neck (if your paranoid like me) and indulge in these blood-sucking books. Filled with Latino culture, Marta Acosa’s portrayal of these character’s make you feel as though you have known them for years. Sombreros, fiestas, and vampires with estylo? Find out where Marta came up with the inspiration to write such excellent novels.
What inspired you to write Happy Hour at Casa Dracula?
I was watching some sci-fi movie and became annoyed at the clichés (like silver lycra jumpsuits) and the lack of racial and ethnic diversity. It made me think of other genres and their clichés, so I decided to spoof vamps as rich, suave, 500-year old Eurotypes. If they’re all that and a pint of O-negative, wouldn’t they be terrible snobs? Of course, they would. How would they treat a poor, but bright and fun chica? They’d probably assume she was a tacky frivolous gold-digger.
Do you share any similarities to the main character in your book, Milagro de los Santos?
Well, we’re both Latinas who studied creative writing at Fancy Universities (F.U.). She’s a part-time gardener and I enjoy gardening. However, I come from a large, close family, and Milagro is really isolated in the world. She’s cheerful, slightly delusional, and brave, while I am down-to-earth, cynical, and rather scaredy-cattish.
Lots of young women, including many Latinas, do identify with Milagro as a smart, funny, sexy, and affectionate chica who is more common in real life than in fiction. Milagro is delighted that she looks like other Latinas; she fantasizes that they’re secretly related to her. I always planned on letting her discover cousins, but I never got around to it.
What made you decide to expand on your first book and write two more books (Midnight Brunch, and The Bride of Casa Dracula) about Milagro and the alluring vampires?
I wrote the first book as a stand-alone. It didn’t even occur to me that it could be a series. My editor really liked Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, however, and asked me to write the next books. . .Haunted Honeymoon, the fourth in the series, will be published in October and concludes the series. I’m completely attached to Milagro and her pals. I know the things she’d say and do, and I’m going to miss her terribly.
Do you believe in vampires?
I hardly even believe in myself, so I’m not going to believe in vampires! I’m about the most skeptical person around.
Would it be too personal of a question to ask you if you were a vampire?
No, but it would be a really silly questions. However, as Milagro and her friend Nancy say, “Life without silliness is not worth living.” I think being a vampire would be awful. First, you’d be dead. Second, you’d be cold. Third, if people seem really boring now, imagine how boring they’ll seem after a few hundred years. Fourth, I get depressed when I don’t have sunshine. I mope and whine and when the sun comes out, I’m happy again.
You said that your books were not normally on Latino reading lists. As surprised as I am, why do you think that is?
Latinos are rewarded for writing stories that conform to the stereotypes, even the well-meaning liberal stereotypes, which reflect a rather patriarchal condescension. So you get the gang banger stories, the immigrant stories, the oppressed welfare mother stories, the noble peasant with religious visions stories. . . Write a book about surviving your oppression, and you will be praised and published. Write a comedy-of-manners with social satire and vampires and you will be ignored in the hopes that you will please please just go away so everyone can claps hands and sing Las Mañanitas together. (Milagro claims that if you sing it three times in a row you can drive anyone insane.)
I’m excited to read more of your books! What can we expect in your new book Haunted Honeymoon, due to be released October of this year?
While I didn’t conceive of a series, I’ve tried to write each book well enough so that it can be read alone, yet adds to the series arc. The first book is really about Milagro finding a loving family. The second is about her adjustment to being a vampire, or vampirish, because Milagro dreams of being “a normal human chica.” The third one is about her finding out how much she is willing to compromise to be accepted by others. In book four, Milagro comes to discover her real purpose in life and also realizes whom she truly loves. I put her through a lot of difficulties and hardship in the earlier books and I gave her the happy ending she’s earned.
If you were not a writer, what would you be?
I would like to be an electrician because it’s a good job, it can’t be exported to another country, and I could change my lighting fixtures whenever I wanted to. I am hopeless at anything that requires discipline and precision, though. If you eliminate all the jobs I can’t do or would totally screw up, you’re left with writing.
What genre of books are you often caught reading?
I’m more particular about the quality of writing than genre, and there are great books in every category. I like 19th century novels, mysteries, sci-fi, gardening books, chick lit, essays, historical novels, suspense, urban fantasies. . . I tend to prefer books with at least some humor.
Do you have any crazy hobbies?
It really depends on how you define “crazy.” If you mean, obsessed, then I’m pretty sure I’ve been viewed as a crazy antique rose gardener ( with varieties over 100 years old), and I’d put money on it that some people see me as a crazy dog owner. I’m a crazy mother and wife, which are time-consuming, and I spend a crazy amount of time on my blog, Vampire Wire. I collect vintage silk scarves, Norwegian enamel jewelry, and blue-green pottery.
What advice can you give to aspiring writers?
It sounds obvious, but learn proper grammar and punctuation. You must know the rules before you decide to break them, and readers don’t want to have to puzzle out your meaning. Read every day and write every day. It doesn’t matter what you write, because the act of writing anything improves your skills. Be willing to accept and learn from criticism, but don’t lose your own sense of self.
The internet has thousands of sites with great advice. Your favorite writers may have suggestions about the business on their websites. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice because most writers are very happy to help others. After all, we know how hard it is to get started and we’re sympathetic. There’s no time limit on becoming a writer. Your experiences will enrich your understanding of the world and your writing.
Also, everyone gets rejected and most writers get rejected multiple times. Those who are published are those who didn’t give up.
Okay, you get the last word:
I hope that readers will be interested in my funny, romantic books. . . with vampires. No, they don’t fit neatly into a category, but neither do most of us. Natalie, thanks so much for having me as your guest!