Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blog Tour: Lost in the Light by Mary Castillo

Follow the tour HERE

Author Bio:

Mary Castillo can remember the exact moment when her destiny to write smart, sexy stories for women began. (And no, it was not the day this photo was taken!) Her Grandma Margie gave her a copy of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (banned in 14 states and then when it was made into a movie starring Linda Darnell, condemned by the Hays Office, which controlled decency in movies) and said, "If you have any questions about what they're doing in that book, just ask me!"

While Forever Amber is hardly a book for a high school freshman (frankly the heroine makes Scarlett a model of propriety and modesty in comparison), Mary was fascinated by a character that seized life with no apologies ... and looked doing it.

After a few minor distractions (poor dating choices and pre-med studies), Mary committed herself to writing on February 10, 1994 and then sold her debut to Harper Collins Avon A in 2004. Hot Tamara was selected by Cosmopolitan magazine as the Red Hot Read of April 2005. The book wasn't banned but Grandma was proud!

A lifelong professional writer, including a stint as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times Community News (second best job in the world), Mary is the proud author of three novels (SwitchcraftIn Between Men and Hot Tamara) and three novellas featured in the anthologies, Orange County NoirNames I Call My Sister andFriday Night Chicas. Her latest book, a paranormal that goes back and forth between modern day and Prohibition, Lost in the Light is now available.

Latina magazine called Mary "an author to look out for" and selected In Between Men and Names I Call My Sister for the Top 10 Summers Reads in July 2009. OC Metro magazine named Mary one of the hottest 25 people in the O.C. (the first but certainly not the last time her hotness has been publicly confirmed). She has also been profiled in Orange County Register, Coast, The Arizona Republic and San Diego Union Tribune.

Mary grew up in a haunted house in National City, CA. She cries every time she sees the movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Casablanca, and feels that Joan Collins is by far the preeminent TV villain (which is why Joan plays such an pivotal role in the novel, In Between Men).

A graduate of USC, Mary lives in The O.C. with her family.

Also, she may have a mild addiction to Pinterest.

Connect with Mary!


No one remembers…

One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again.

Now, Detective Dori Orihuela helplessly witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.

Settling into a 120 year-old Edwardian mansion, Dori restores her dream home while recovering from a bullet wound and waiting to go back on duty.

But then one afternoon, Vicente materializes out of Dori's butler's pantry and asks her to find a woman named Anna. Dori wonders if she's not only about to lose her badge, but also her sanity.

Dori and Vicente's unlikely friendship takes us back to the waning days of Prohibition in San Diego and the Westside barrio of National City, California. Mary Castillo's latest novel, featuring the wild Orihuela family that first delighted readers in Names I Call My Sister, weaves romance, history and mystery into a humorous, touching and unforgettable story.

Idly wondering what to pick from the meals Grammy had prepared for her, Dori plugged her key into the lock. Her heart gave a painful jolt when she looked up into the face of a man. He stared at her from the other side of the wavy glass window of the Dutch door.
His dark eyes narrowed. In one motion, Dori dropped her bag, stepped back and reached for her weapon. But she only felt the bandage under her shirt where her Smith and Wesson should've been. She swayed in momentary confusion and then remembered she'd locked it away. When she looked back up into the window, he was gone.
Dori stood there with her pulse kicking against her neck. He couldn't duck faster than the blink of an eye, nor was the window shade moving in the wake of a sudden movement. It hadn't been that long since she'd been with a man that she'd start making one up as Grammy had repeatedly warned. Warning pricked at her nerves. She pulled up alongside the edge of the door and peeked into her dark kitchen. She strained her ears, listening for movement in the house. Against her better judgment, she reached over and turned the key.
She pushed the door open and the smell of cologne stopped her short of walking inside. Dori instinctively rocked her weight onto the balls of her feet, her muscles tensing for a fight. Night crept across the yard behind her.
As a cop, she'd been in much scarier situations than this. But back then, Dori had a gun at her hip and a radio for back-up. Unlike real bad guys, figments of her imagination couldn’t send her to the hospital. Dori told herself to go out to her car and call the cavalry.
Instead, Dori propped the door open with an old brick. This was her house damn it and it might feel good to kick some ass.
Dori made her way through the gloomy kitchen and flipped on the light switch. The fluorescents flickered to life and their hum filled the silence. She crossed the kitchen and then poked her head through the door leading into the butler's pantry. The air held still, as if the house held its breath.
She crept across the floor, scanned the dining room and then reached in to turn on the dining room chandelier, which thankfully had survived the architectural rape and pillage of the 1970s. His shadow moved across the wall in the hallway. Fear shot up her spine.
"I'm armed," she called out, backing into the kitchen for a knife. Her Mossberg was upstairs in the safe. Then she remembered the knives were still packed in a box. She had a spork from her and Grammy's KFC lunch earlier today.
"Walk out the front door and you won't get hurt," she ordered, clutching the spork in her hand as she tiptoed back to the dining room. Her voice echoed.
She pressed the light button and the hall lights switched on. "Go out the front door."
The hall was clear. With her back pressed to the wall, Dori held her breath as she waited for an answer or a creak of a floorboard that would give away his position. She should go for the Mossberg. But she peeked into the front parlor, the room that had suffered the most damage in the house. Something slammed against the front door and the lights snapped off.

Lost in the Light is an emotional story that leaves you wanting more.  You take a journey through time and dimensions and meet some amazing characters along the way.  Lost in Light is an original and truly enjoyable read.  I was really drawn into this book and found it flowed well and maintained my interest due to the compelling story, well developed characters and mysterious elements.  4 stars.

My seven year-old son started first grade at a new school last month. As I've befriended the parents, the question always comes up: what do you do? As an author there are many smart-aleck replies: oh, I kill people with chains. Travel back to Prohibition. Have sex with hot sexy men who aren't my husband.

Okay, my real answer is that I'm a writer. The next question guaranteed to pop up is where I come up with my stories. My pat answer, which requires very little explanation, is oh here and there.

Now I know this will sound crazy, but here is how the whole inspiration thing works with me: I have a recurring dream where I go to this town that looks like Monterey and San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. All of the characters from every story I've ever written (and probably ever will write) lives in this town. Depending on the story that I'm working on, at some time from the moment I start a book till I finish it, I go back to this town and visit one of the characters.

When I'm having the dream, there's a part of me that thinks oh goody, I get to see what these characters are really thinking. In the case of Lost in the Light, Dori wanted very little to do with me, especially once I decided that she had been shot in the line of duty. I'd catch glimpses of her and even went to her house that is in the book.

But a year later, I had a second dream where this pretty young girl in a white dress walked alongside me through the town. At first I thought she was an escort or something, until much later when I gave Vicente, the ghost such an extensive part in the story. I realized she was in that dream trying to get my attention.

Anna Vazquez is the woman that he loved and died to protect. Initially she was an extremely passive character. We weren't getting along. She wasn't opening up and the story ground to a halt. It wasn't until I was waiting in line at the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland when I realized who Anna was. Do you remember Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones walks into Marion Ravenwood's bar? She's won a drinking contest and cleared everyone out. Caught up in a private moment, she looks over and sees Indy step out of the shadows. She smiles and says, "Indiana Jones. I always knew some day you'd come walking back through my door." Just when he puts on that charming rogue's smile, she gets him with a right hook.

When I realized Anna was more like Marion, Vicente's flashbacks took on this vibrant energy. I won't say more because I hate spoilers and I'm not a spoilsport! But I will say that we writers are like sponges. Everything and everyone we encounter feeds our work. We just don't always know when we'll use it, or how. But when we do, it can be magic.

Q.  What inspires your writing?
Strangely for Lost in the Light it was not my personal experiences growing up in a haunted house. The inspiration for Dori's story came from a moment when I was a "rookie" in the Laguna Beach Police Department's Citizens Academy. There had been an officer-involved shooting a few months earlier that I had also covered for the local newspaper. One night, the officer who had shot and killed an armed robber, returned to active duty and to our Citizen's Academy. The police chief commended him for his bravery and when everyone stood up to applaud his bravery, the officer bowed his head. The expression on his face – regret, humility and relief to be alive - has stayed with me ever since. So when the idea was kicking around in my head, I connected Dori Orihuela from a novella I had published in Names I Call My Sister with this moment I had witnessed.

Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?
As an author, through each character, I walk in someone else's shoes. The research, especially interviewing and getting to hear people's stories, open up my world. Writing itself is a solitary experience and yet, it can take one to different places.

Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
The toughest part is releasing the stories to readers and letting go of my characters. It's very bittersweet because towards the end of a book, I get a bit attached to my characters and the world they live in. Strangely when I begin to feel sentimental about the whole is also when I realize the book is nearing completion. I had a very tough time letting go of Dori and so she will be getting more books.

Q.  If you could not be author, what would you do/be?
I'm a writer through and through so I'd be writing whether it was published or not.

Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
Mary Mary Quite Contrary. I like to keep people on their toes and I rarely follow directions!

Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
Oh man, does it have to be one? My favorite book of all time is Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. She can easily shape shift into her characters' voices and uncover their absurdities to ruthlessly exploit them. Her writing is sly; she can make you laugh and then make you cry by reaching in and touching your emotional vulnerabilities.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?
The easiest part of my book to write is the end. When I begin a book I know two things: the beginning and the end. Those two parts of the book undergo very little change. I do a lot of character work before starting a book and withLost in the Light, I knew Dori Orihuela pretty well. My challenge with her in this story was to really cut her down and then build her back up.

Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?
The middle of the book is the hardest part to write. All the stuff that happens between the beginning and the end is a raunchy, sweaty, bloody mosh pit. I used to beat myself up for being a "bad writer" and took all kinds of classes and read many books to improve what I thought was a weakness. But then I learned with the short story I wrote for Orange County Noir that this perceived "weakness" was my strength. My process is like mining. With each draft I go deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. By taking the time to really challenge and find the worst possible situations to put my characters into makes a better second act.

Q.  Which character from ANY book are you most like?
Lucy Hatch from The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch by Marsha Moyer. She is a very thoughtful and cautious woman and yet, six weeks after her husband dies, she falls for the town bad boy. In my writing career, I've cautiously played by the rules and yet also gleefully broken them.

Q. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your book cover(s)?
I designed this cover myself! I knew I wanted to show Dori and Vicente; the present and the past. I then did an inventory of my favorite books – A Northern LightThe Second Coming of Lucy HatchThe Winter Sea, etc. - and I realized they all have women on the covers. So with some keyword searching on iStock Photos, I found the images you now see. The moment I found the photos of the young woman, chills raced up my arms because she looked so much like how Dori appears in my mind. I've compiled images for books two and three. Now I just have to write them!

 Q.  What is your favorite season?
Fall is my favorite season. I deliberately started writing, and set the beginning of Lost in the Light, in October. In California, the month of October gifts us with Haas avocadoes and lemons as well as the lavender flowers of the jacaranda trees. Our days can be warm from the sun, but with a biting wind that comes just before twilight. The sunlight turns sharper and more golden. I love a warm cup of tea between my hands and a newly knit scarf around my neck. For my family, October is the month when we decorate our house for Halloween and then go apple picking in Julian or Oak Glen and on the Big Night, we do trick-or-treaters proud with a cemetery in our front yard.

Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.
At my first, and so far, only RWA Literacy Signing, a reader ran up to me with copies of all my books. She then slammed them on the table and out of breath, asked me to sign them. So I did while she took photos of me like she was the paparazzi! It reinforced my mission, so to speak, as a writer which is to connect with readers; to bring joy and a sense of camaraderie. The moment was a little strange but also humbling because when someone goes out of their way to leave work, drive to a huge hotel, pay for parking and then wait in a long line outside a ballroom carrying all of my books, I realized that what I do affects real people. I've never forgotten that.

Q.  Are you working on something new?
Yes, I'm "renovating" a novel that I've been working on for the past five years! The Ballad of Aracely Calderon is about the oldest daughter of the world's most famous mariachi singer. She turned her back on her family heritage, Mariachi Calderon, after suffering her father's emotional abuse. But when he dies, Aracely is shocked when he bequeaths the Calderon violin, which has been passed from the first son to the first son for generations, to her with the stipulation that she take over Mariachi Calderon.

Let me tell you, this story has seen its share of revisions and rejections! Now I'm going back to the original draft and adding a storyline about a mysterious woman who saved the Calderon violin during the Mexican Revolution.

By the way, The other day I had a real crisis about this aspect of the storyline because the Revolution has been written about by some pretty amazing authors, so you know, how could little old me have something unique to say? And then while I was jogging, I realized all of those images we have of the Revolution – Pancho Villa, Zapata, the federales and the soldiers in their haurches – are all about the men. What about the women who fought, lost their husbands and fed their kids? This break-through was the kick in the pants I needed and I'm almost done writing this new material that I'll be weaving into the book.

So in a few months, The Ballad of Aracely Calderon will finally see the light of day.

Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
If you're an old friend, I hope you enjoy your time with Dori Orihuela and her crazy family. If we haven't met, so to speak, I hope you enjoy the excerpt.

1 comment:

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