Ah, my holiday weekend begins. This may be the last thing I do today that could count as "work," other than maybe checking e-mail. I've got a whole weekend of goofing off planned. I think I'm going to see Stardust again today because it makes me happy, and then tonight I'm making fajitas and marathoning Doctor Who. The rest of the weekend will be "Chick flicks and chick lit" with a Jane Austen theme. Unless I change my mind, which has been known to happen. I tend to get these whims.
I kind of started the Jane Austen thing yesterday when I saw Becoming Jane. Sadly, I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. The people who wrote it weren't quite Jane Austen-caliber, so the characters didn't really work for me. I didn't like the main love interest, in spite of the fact that I utterly adore the actor, because he seemed to be a bad cross between Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility. I guess the main reason I didn't like him is that he pretty much verbatim said and did one of my HUGE pet peeves -- the routine where a guy assumes that a woman is too innocent/sheltered/unworldly and needs her horizons broadened, and, of course, he's the guy to do it for her. I HATE it when men do that to me. I'm sorry, honey, but sex with you or even innuendo-laden conversation with you is not going to make me a better writer, and if that is what it takes, then I guess I'll languish on the mid-list (you'd be surprised by the number of men who take that approach with me. Yes, I'm quite literally a church choirgirl -- though on hiatus at the moment -- but I really don't need anyone to "help" me "broaden my horizons" and that attitude is an instant turn-off). Meanwhile, the guy who was supposed to be Mr. Wrong came across as quite sweet, and I couldn't help but feel like he would have been good for her if she'd given him half a chance and bothered to get to know him. And I don't want to think of Jane Austen as the kind of woman who'd go chasing off after the bad boy (after being dim enough to fall for his act) while ignoring the nice guy right under her nose. Yeah, I know they were limited somewhat by the facts, so they couldn't have a woman who never married actually end up with someone, but as I understand it, the facts were really quite vague, so they didn't have to portray the dynamic in quite that way.
The previews were only marginally better with this film, in that they were the "highbrow feel-good" movies, where all sorts of sad, horrible things happen, only to work out in the end. Sort of. However, I feel somewhat better about the state of the world from the previews I saw the other day after seeing one of those movies reviewed. Our local film critic said something to the effect of "pretentious piffle larded onto malicious mayhem," so I guess my assessment of those films was at least shared by one person who might be in a position to know.
And now, to kick off my holiday weekend, we've got another Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Entry, It's Not About the Accent by Caridad Ferrer.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE ACCENT traces the bold transformation of Caroline Darcy, a college-bound beige-blonde born and bred in small town Hampshire, Ohio, into “Carolina,” a half-Cuban aspiring actress, with striking Havana Brown hair, a caliente wardrobe, a taste for platanos, and a hunger for adventure. Carolina has no problem dressing, dancing, and talking the part, down to her effortlessly rolled rrrs – even though she’s only one-eighth Cuban. She owes her attraction to her exotic heritage and her yearning for something… different to Elisa Maribel Teresa de La Natividad Sevilla y Tabares – her Nana Ellie, the great-grandmother she loved, dearly and fiercely, and lost when she was thirteen. Carolina vividly remembers Nana Ellie’s romantic stories of her encounters with everything from the Eiffel Tower to Russian nobility. And she regrets missing the chance to unravel the facts from the fantastic tales – and learn more about her Nana’s mysterious, scandalous past.
The story opens at the beginning of Caroline’s Latina rebirth and undergrad career at the University of Southern Ohio for the summer session. To her thrill and amazement, her Cuban act works like a charm on the opposite sex. Faster than her first beer buzz, Caroline finds herself becoming more popular and getting increasingly intimate with Erik, a smooth-talking frat guy with gorgeous baby blues. The only male on campus who doesn’t fall for Carolina’s Latina allure is Peter, the full-blooded son of Cuban immigrants, who hails from Miami. Despite the danger of being exposed as a fraud, Caroline is drawn to this quiet, serious student – on a strictly friendship basis. But when Carolina gets in over her head and on the edge of a dangerous situation, Peter is the one who comes to her rescue. What’s more, he accepts her for who she is – and leads her on a real adventure to discover the truth about Nana Ellie and the very wealthy family she left behind in Cuba. What Caroline discovers about her ancestors – including one unknown living relative – is more exciting than she ever could have imagined.
Now, the interview:
What inspired you to write this book?
I needed to come up with a concept for a second novel and I’ve always been fascinated by how in this country, so many young women (with ethnic backgrounds in particular) go to such great lengths to change their appearance— changing their hair color, their eye color. I thought it might be fun to take that premise and turn it on its ear a bit, with a character who sees herself as very bland and boring, trying to make herself more “exotic" and exciting and using that as a springboard for adventure.
Describe your creative process.
Generally, I'll have a synopsis that I'll work from, then usually, about halfway through, I'll sit down at write down a chapter by chapter outline-- sometimes just bullet points, sometimes a little more detailed, to make sure I'm hitting all the major points I intend to cover. I'm very linear, so I do write from beginning to end, but I also do revise as I go along-- I guess all things considered, I'm a blended writer.
Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
I have to have an ample supply of Mega M&Ms. :-) In the mornings, it's all about coffee, after mid-morning it's either Diet Coke or iced tea (if it's summer) or hot tea (during what passes for winter in North Florida). First thing in the morning, I usually check email and websites, while my brain wakes up, then I'll check what I last wrote on the manuscript, make any changes or notes that I want to follow up on and then get to work. If it's a day where the ideas don't flow, I'll do research or anything that might get creative juices fired up.
And regardless of what I'm doing, I'm always listening to music--- I always have a soundtrack or two for each manuscript and that's another tool I use to get in the mood (I'm sort of Pavlovian that way) or I'll just listen to favorites if I'm going the research route.
How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
Well, Caroline starts out as an aspiring actress, and acting was something I was very into, from a very early age. It gave way, somewhat to music, but it's always been one of my artistic loves, musical theatre, in particular. The other things that Caro and I have in common are our love of history and of cooking. Oh, and anyone familiar with NE Ohio, might recognize my fictional town of Hampshire as being very similar to Hudson, where I lived for five years.
Chocolate: dark or milk?
Dark. Seriously dark. The stuff from overseas that I have to go to World Market to find or resort to ordering online.
What are you working on now?
Another young adult project—a contemporary reinterpretation of Bizet’s Carmen. I’m extremely excited by this project, since I’ve always loved that story, and it’s very exciting to have the opportunity to reinvent it for a new era and new audience. I go back into my music background for that one, but also dabble in dance and sports and so far, it’s just been a blast. That will be coming out from Dial in early 2009.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
Just that this is a very special story to me and I'm very glad that it's finally out in the world!
For more info, visit Caridad's web site. Or, you can buy it from Amazon.