Friday, March 23, 2012

Interview with Cara Marsi

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Cara Marsi. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Thank you for inviting me. I’m always happy to visit with you. I’m relaxing with a chocolate martini. What did you say? It’s not yet noon, too early to indulge. Oh, but it’s noon somewhere in the world.

I understand you have a new release out called “A Catered Romance”. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

“A Catered Romance” is the first book I ever sold. It was originally published by Avalon Books under the title “A Catered Affair.” It’s a reunion/redemption story. I love reunion/redemption themes and incorporate them in all my books and short stories. “A Catered Romance” has many food references too. I got hungry a lot when I wrote it.

Here’s the blurb:

There's more than business brewing between two old high school flames...

Stubbornly self-reliant Mary Beth Kendrick needs financial backing to keep her catering business cooking. A looming corporate buyout forces her to accept help from Tom Sackett, the man who broke her heart and left her distrustful of men.

Unable to forget Mary Beth, Tom sets out to win her forgiveness. As he gets to know her again through their shared business interests, he realizes he wants more than forgiveness from her. He wants her in his life.

Grateful for Tom's support but unwilling to trust him, Mary Beth vows to keep their relationship strictly business. But his attentiveness, culminating in a night of passion, starts to melt her icy resolve and shows her the caring, sensitive man Tom has become.

Can Mary Beth learn to love and trust again? Will she and Tom open their hearts to a second chance at love?

“A Catered Romance” is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The original title, “A Catered Affair,” was a play on words. Catered affairs are events, usually fancy, that are catered. My heroine is a caterer and she and the hero have an affair. The book was written as sensual, but to sell to Avalon, I had to take out the sex, the alcohol consumption, and the cursing. Since the phrase Catered Affair is fairly common and not usually sexual, Avalon kept the title. I have the digital rights and just published the book myself on Amazon Kindle. Some online friends suggested I put romance in the title so it wouldn’t be mistaken for a cookbook. If you look at the original cover (on my website), it could be taken for a cookbook. I added a love scene, added a few curse words and some wine and champagne drinking, hired an artist to do a new cover, and voila! I had a new book.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have always been in love with love. I’m a sucker for a good romance. I grew up watching the romantic comedies from the Thirties and Forties that played on late night TV. I read YA romances as a teen and I was a big fan of the Judy Bolton mysteries, which contained a little romance. Judy was a girl detective like Nancy Drew. I didn’t much like Nancy because she was so perfect. Judy was more realistic and she grew up during the series and eventually married Peter, an FBI agent. I was in love with Peter.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I’m a little of both. I always do an outline or a working synopsis before I start a book. I know the beginning and the ending, but I need to plot out the story. And I do character sketches so I have a good in-depth knowledge of my characters. Then when I start writing, I never keep to the outline. My characters grow and go in a direction different from what I’d planned. I follow their lead.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

Not much research on any of my books since they’re contemporary and I set them near where I live or in places where I’ve traveled. The most research I’ve done was for my werewolf paranormal romance, “Cursed Mates.” It’s set in Maine, which I’ve visited, but I needed to research werewolf myths. “A Catered Romance” is set in my home town of Wilmington, Delaware. I like to cook, but I’m a pretty basic cook. I like to eat so I didn’t have any problems writing about food. I did go through a few cookbooks to get recipes I could mention in the book. And it was such fun using food analogies and metaphors.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

From something that happened to me in grade school. Tommy, a boy I was crazy about in seventh grade through high school, once said something hurtful about me in seventh grade. That hurt stayed with me for a lot of years. He was cute and rich, I was not. Hence, my hero in “A Catered Romance” was raised rich, my heroine was not. My hero is named Tom, and my heroine is named Mary Beth after my best friend growing up. I used my hurt feelings from the real Tommy’s rejection to get inside my heroine’s head. Writing this book was very cathartic for me. I changed the name of the private high school in the book, but it’s the school the real Tommy attended, and the school from which my son graduated years later.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Mary Beth because she’s worked really hard to raise herself out of poverty. Although she grew up poor, she went to the same prestigious high school as Tom, only she attended on a hardship grant and had to endure teasing by the affluent students. She has a lot of pride and has grown through the years, yet she still has some lingering wounds to work through from her high school days.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I do character sketches in longhand. I can think better in longhand. I write out my characters’ goals, what motivates them, to what lengths they will or won’t go to achieve those goals, and what scares them the most. I have to know my characters before I start writing.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Elizabeth Howard who wrote a series of YA historical romances which I loved when I was a teen. I once wrote her and said I wanted to be an author but I didn’t have a typewriter (this was in the dark ages before computers). She wrote back that I didn’t need a typewriter to be an author. For the past few years I’ve been collecting used copies of my favorites of her books. Others that have influenced me are: Jude Deveraux, Victoria Holt, Helen MacInnes, Rosemary Rogers, Katherine Woodiwiss, Anya Seton, Aola Vandergriff. There are just too many for me to mention them all.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

If I knew the answer to that I’d be a billionaire. There’s a saying about advertising: Only half works but no one knows which half.

What do we have to look forward next?

Within a month or two I’ll have a new release called “Storm of Desire,” a steamy romance about two people with a sexual history stranded together during a January nor’easter at the Delaware beach. They’re hot for each other and can’t keep their hands off each other, but they’ve got issues. Lots of issues. My editor has the book now. Once I’m through all the edits I’ll publish it.

Thanks, Cara!

And thank you again for having me.

To celebrate her book release, Cara is offering a free book of the winner’s choice of any of her books to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

Check my website for a list of my books. “A Catered Romance” isn’t listed yet, but all the others are.

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Cara Marsi likes to describe herself as a former corporate drone and cubicle dweller. Now that she’s no longer a slave to the corporate world, she can more fully indulge her love of romance. She likes to write about feisty, independent women and the hot guys who love them. She’s published in contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. In addition, she’s sold more than a dozen short stories to women’s magazines.

Cara and her husband like to travel, and she loves to write about the places they’ve visited. They share their home with a fat, black diva of a cat named Killer.

Please visit Cara’s website,, to learn more about her books and her life. And to see a picture of Killer all pumped up for Halloween.

Check out author’s website at


Anonymous said...

Good morning Cara. Thanks for joining us today. Your chocolate martini will be ready shortly, as soon as the cabana boy wakes up. A Catered Romance sounds delish. Having read the original version and loved it, I can't wait to see what changes you've added. And your cover is so much better. It's fun having more artistic input on covers when you reissue a book and being able to update things. Aside from what you've mentioned here, what were some other changes, or what did you cringe at that you couldn't wait to change? Enjoy your day with us. :)

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks for having me. When I went over the original version I cringed at some of the repetitive phrases. I eliminated them. I was glad to add more sensuality and some French kissing, which were no-no's in the original. And I finally got my characters into bed with each other. And I was happy to have them drink wine and not cider. Yes, I loved having input into the new cover and working with the cover artist.

Becky Sue Burkheart said...

I love how you weave real life events and places into your stories. I'm glad to see this new edition available on the kindle!

Patricia said...

Nice interview, Cara. I, too, write all my books in venues where I live or lived. It makes the story more real. I love the play on words for your catering series. Good luck with your books.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge Cara Marsi fan. Love all her books (and have them all so I don't need to be in the drawing). Her themes of love and redemption are so heartfelt.

Aileen Fish said...

I'm another Cara Marsi fan and loved this book as much as the others! I love hearing where authors get their ideas for stories!

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

I love this book and was so happy to see it in Kindle format. I love taking something - a setting, person, or memory - and turning it into a story, as you've done with A Catered Romance.

Cara Marsi said...

Thank you, Becky, Patti, Tess, Aileen and Sue. You ladies are the best.

Estella said...

I enjoy love and redemption stories.

Ginger Duran said...

Hi Cara,

I love redemption stories--it's one of the primary themes in my own writing.

I'm lucky to be in the Elements chapter with you! :)

Much success with all your books!

Cara Marsi said...

Estella and Ginger, thanks for posting. Waving to you, Ginger. Elements is a great group. I really like the redemption theme too, as you can tell.

bn100 said...

I enjoyed the interview and reading about how you came up with the title for the book. The title and book sound very good.


Cara Marsi said...

Thanks for posting, Estrella, Ginger and Bn100. I too love redemption stories as you know. Ginger, waving to you.