PART 4: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

 

Here we are again, part 4 of the Luminous Colours of Dusk Q+A. here are all your questions about writing –

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve had storylines going around in my head for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until 2009 when I finished my university studies that I decided to sit down and try fiction. It took about another 18 months before I decided to publish a novel. If you want to do something, just do it!

Where do the your ideas come from?

My warped mind! For my Canna Medici series, the people and their scenarios are all totally fictional. Once I start writing, it all comes to me. For my series based Valencia, there is so much more work to be done – interviews with people in Spain, were in Spain, fought in the war, along with natural disasters, current news events, all come together and work around a group of characters I put together myself. Each type works well, though writing about Spain is important to me, as is its accuracy, and using real timelines of Valencia’s history with fictional characters is so much fun. Whereas with Canna, it’s all made up and my imagination can run wild.

If I knew, maybe I could make it stop.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Each of my five published books have taken different times to developed. Night Wants to Forget took 18 months. Violent Daylight was eight months from first word to publication. Luminous Colours of Dusk only took six months in total, but the schedule has been brutal. Blood in the Valencian Soil was a tough one, I spent ten months working on it, tossed the entire lot and wrote something else, then started again and it took a year for the finished product to be released. Vengeance in the Valencian Water took six months of writing time, and another two months to edit. My next two books have eight months each allocated to them.

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

I proofread and edit, and I have also have others do it as well, different people for different series. I can’t thank those people enough for all their help. Being edited can be really hard, so sticking with an editor/proofreader can be tough and you need to trust them. The first person who helped me with Night Wants to Forget was terrible. The book was a disaster. I would like to pretend the first edition doesn’t exist.

Do you think that the cover art is important?

I think so. You can make your own cover art, or get someone on fiverr to whip something up, but first impressions are really important. My personal preference is for a photograph, or a ‘real-life shot, as opposed to a plain cover or designed/drawn covers. For all the books in the Canna Medici series, I had an artist work on the books, so that they followed a theme and had the same fonts and designs used. The artwork was secured by the designer and she took care of everything for me from the United states. The Secrets of Spain series has a simpler design, and all photographic backgrounds are taken from the Valencia area, specific to the storyline. Having them all designed in the same style helps match as a set. Cheap-looking cover art can suggest a poor quality story, so why sell yourself short?

Do you write every day or as and when you can?

I plan my life, my family, my work and then working writing around it all. I aim for 3-4 chapters per week, slipped in where I have free time. If I don’t feel like writing, I just give up. I can skip weeks of writing and then spend two weeks catching up, and the work is always completed. Trying to keep to a strict timeline only stresses me out. With my last book, I fell nearly a month behind, so the next month meant I wrote a chapter nearly every day. It’s not a schedule I would recommend.

 Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

When I write, I write a chapter from start to finish, regardless of how many words it needs to be. My chapters can run from 2,500 to 4,500 words, depending on the book, and I always finish a chapter when I get started. Obviously, some planning is required to achieve this.

For example, Luminous Colours of Dusk is 155,000 words long. That’s not a 200 page chit-chat. Maybe I should write shorter books. I can’t guarantee that I will ever master the art of the 70,000 word book. In fact, I already know I won’t, I have some epic sagas planned.

Do you get a lot of support when writing?

I always have my lovely twitter followers to push me on when things get rough. For my Spanish wiring, the #wabas group, Writers and Bloggers about Spain, are always helpful, with tips, encouragement, promotions, editing, whatever I need, someone can appear and help. I’m a lucky woman.

Do you get writers block?

I usually start with a huge burst of enthusiasm with every book, then get to the middle, worry that I’m not getting to the point fast enough, spin in circles for a month or so, then kill off loads of people and end the story. It’s less writer’s block and more mass confusion about where I’m going. I write a list of what each chapter has to achieve, and then just ignore my own advice. If I just got to work, my problems would probably solve themselves.

What are the highlights and lowlights of writing?

I’m one of those people who don’t like birthdays. They are normal days, but you expect more, and then get let down (at least I do, anyway). Book release day is much the same. There should be excitement, but instead it’s mostly just relief the work is over. It should be a highlight and it isn’t. You may see an increase my use of exclamation points in an attempt to make the day a highlight. Likewise, small moments can make themselves into highlights, like coming up with a plot twists. The day I figured out the plot-twist connection between Luna Montgomery and María Medina in Blood in the Valencian Soil (won’t share – spoiler), I literally jumped for joy in public. Probably looked mental.

Is being edited/ editing other hard?

I sulk after every chapter of edited work comes back o me. Then I see why changes have been made and I move on… to sulk after getting the next email. Editing others can be hard too, because I don’t want to hurt their feelings, but don’t them suffering with typos or mix-ups either. It’s okay to hate editing and/or criticism – just don’t get the two confused.

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Phew, that is all the answers given. Part 5 of the Q&A will be chapter one of Luminous Colours of Dusk, free to read. Also there is a free promo on for Night Wants to Forget and Violent Daylight, go HERE for details.

Click here to read PART 3: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A – All about Spain

Click here to read PART 2: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A – all about me

Click here to read PART 1: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A – all about Canna

thanks to writingmemes.tumblr.com

PART 3: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

When I put out the call for questions ahead of my Luminous Colours of Dusk book release, inevitably there would be questions about Spain and my books based there. So, here is a Q&A section dedicated to my Secrets of Spain series.

Why write about books based in Spain?

That is a good question. I’m a New Zealander, a baby country with a small but interesting history. To write the story of my family coming out to this pioneering nation from Scotland and Ireland would make a great tale. But when I moved to Spain, the place spoke to me, as it has spoken to so many foreigners over time. I feel a personal connection to the struggles of the country, and the history and politics speaks to me better than my home country. (Though, since it’s election time in New Zealand, I’m pretty outspoken at the moment). You can find a 1001 books based in Madrid, Barcelona, or anywhere in southern Spain, but Valencia sits outside the spotlight. You only have to visit the city to understand how unique it is, and to me, the perfect setting to write books. The history of the place gives so many exciting possibilities.

Why write about the Spanish civil war?

There is no war like the Spanish civil war. There was no one side versus another, rather factions coming together, struggling against the enemy and one another. Nothing is as vicious as a civil war, yet other nations weighed in, while some stayed on the sidelines with their own agendas. Volunteers came to fight and changed the course of the war. While one side defeated the other, and evil won the war, some believe the outcome was a good one. There were no winners in Spain, and the wounds are not fully healed. The multiple facets are what drives my interest.

Out of your Spanish books, who is your favorite character?

Tough question! Luna Montgomery was the first character I ever created, but she has a great supporting cast in Blood in the Valencian Soil and Vengeance in the Valencian Water. I have always enjoyed writing Paco Beltrán, patriarch of the Beltrán Morales bullfighting family. He played a good role in both books, and has a big space in the third book, Death in the Valencian Dust. As evil as he was, I enjoyed also writing José Morales. His transformation from conflicted young officer to evil Francoist was a joy to undertake. I know a lot of people found him hard to stomach, but some really liked him. Scarlett Montgomery was a great character for me, as she was based on a real life New Zealand nurse who defied her country and went to the civil war.

How much research do you do for your Spain-based books?

I lost count of the hours spent researching years ago. I never stop researching – everyday conversations with Spain lovers help me. Even tiny comments can come in handy for minor details. I can often sit down and need a basic piece of info for a chapter and spend all day reading, long forgetting the original point I needed. One day I sat down at my desk at just after 9am, needed a detail on where a bus stop was in 1957, and then my alarm rang to stop writing at 2.45. Somehow, the whole day had disappeared. I never know where I will find helpful information. Between all the books and websites I use, I can be buried in info, much like my desk is. I can’t actually see my desk under all the stuff I have piled up ahead of my next book on Valencia.

I am lucky to be part of #wabas – Writers and Bloggers about Spain. The members are kind enough to let me be part of their group and I can absorb all kinds of information from them, so thanks!

What will the next Luna Montgomery book be about?

(I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible for readers still on books one and two)

Death in the Valencian Dust is another double timeline story, split between 1975 and 2014. At the end of the second book, Cayetano Beltrán asks his uncle Jaime about the time he went to prison in Valencia in 1975. It is centred around the time when Franco dies and King Juan Carlos takes over, and the upheaval Jaime goes through thanks to some dodgy dealings in Valencia. The 2014 timeline sees Cayetano at age 45, facing retirement from bullfighting, while Luna’s life is going in a very different direction. Cayetano is struggling with Luna’s rising career and ambitions while the sun sets on all he has ever known. The Beltrán Morales family has undergone a major upheaval since we saw them in 2010 (cant tell yet!), and in the shadow of King Juan Carlos retiring, they reflect on their family and the loss of all the traditional Spanish ideals they have previously enjoyed.

Have you ever had the desire for Luna Montgomery and Darren James to become a couple?

Pro-cyclist Darren James will be in the third book very prominently, and still rubbing Cayetano Beltrán up the wrong way. The men will find common ground with the changes in their lives and careers, but they are an uneasy alliance with Luna endlessly caught in the middle. Have I had the desire to have Luna and Darren as a couple? Yeah, I have thought about it. There is a lot of logic in a pairing like them. The third book isn’t out yet…

How do you feel about reviews of the series? Do you seek out reviews?

I’m not really comfortable with asking for book reviews. I am pretty happy with the reviews I have received, and get nice little messages via twitter regularly from people who are reading. I write a niche subject so it is easy to get lost in the crush of millions of books to read. I am meticulous with my planning of the series, and that satisfies me personally.

Of all the people you have killed in the series, which was the hardest?

SPOILER ALERT – you may want to skip this bit if you are not finished the books

I have always felt bad about killing Alejandro Beltrán. To me, it was an awful way to die and I feel sorry for writing it. Cayetano Ortega was a tough character to kill as well. In fact, everyone from the first book in the 1939 timeline met a sad end.

Do you have a book planned, away from the Secrets of Spain series?

I do, my long suffering novel based in Spanish civil war slowly continues to grow in size. The book starts in Barcelona 1937 and progresses throughout much of the war, based mostly among the fighting of Madrid, Barcelona and Teruel (and surrounding areas). That will be released after Death in the Valencian Dust, with all new characters from me. The characters are fictional, based on real accounts, and set to the real timeline and outcomes of the war itself.

Do you use social media much for book promotion?

It was be impossible to work without social media, though I have placed a ban on using it on my computer, or I never get any work done. I have broken my bad social media habits. In saying that, you can always catch up with me. Twitter is my preferred medium, much more than Facebook. You can find me –

Website: here obviously carolineangusbaker.com

Facebook: Caroline Angus Baker (subscribe, since I make many public posts)

Twitter: Writer_Caroline

Pinterest: WriterCaroline

Tumblr: Duende Lover

Google+ : Caroline Angus Baker

Book Links:

US – Caroline Angus Baker

UK  – Caroline Angus Baker

New Zealand (paperback only) Caroline Angus Baker 

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Part 4 is all the questions about writing, and Part 5 is the first chapter of Luminous Colours of Dusk. Also, there will be a free promotion on Night Wants to Forget and Violent Daylight. Details will in Part 4.

Click here for Part 1 – all about Canna Medici – PART 1: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

Click here for Part 2 – all about me – PART 2: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

PART 1: ‘Luminous Colours of Dusk’ Author Q+A

luminouscoloursofdusk

Eighteen months have passed since Canna Medici’s second near-death experience. Her new life has taken shape in the Corsican seaside town of Bonifacio, married to her soul-mate, Spanish baritone Claudio Ramos Ibáñez. With a successful boatyard to run, Canna doesn’t realise that her meddlesome friend, Abigail Troublé, is keen to move on from the death of her husband with a certain opera star…

One piece of the couple’s perfect life is missing. Claudio’s young son, Casamiro, still lives in London with his mother, Veena. As Canna and Claudio’s belated wedding ceremony looms, Claudio learns that life may give him a way to keep Casamiro on a more permanent basis, but custody will come at a great cost…

When Canna and Claudio are forced to spend more time in London, Claudio’s colleagues from Virtuosi, the now-broken famous opera quartet, want him to return and take his place as a superstar. With life in the spotlight and a custody battle, Claudio is too distracted to realise the danger of Canna’s mysterious Italian visitor…

It’s time for Canna to lay the ghosts of her murderous and drug-addicted past to rest, once and for all, but life crumbles when a surprise arrival shakes her happiness to the core…

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Hello and welcome to the first part of the Q+A about my new book. I have split it into five parts so it isn’t one long bore of a post (I hate posts that drag on and on, regardless of the content). Part 5 will be the first chapter of the book, which will be released on Kindle and in paperback on August 29.

Thanks for the questions I received here, on Twitter and Facebook. It’s not too late to add a question. I have added questions together and mashed similar questions into one to answer as many as I can. Part 1 will focus mainly on the upcoming book, with separate blogs on me, my other works and writing. I realise many people are still on book one and two, so I am going to make this as spoiler-free as possible, which could be a challenge. Let’s start with something easy –

1) What is Luminous Colours of Dusk (LCOD) all about? What can we expect from Canna for the third time?

LCOD is the third visit to Canna-land, to see if Canna Medici can make good on all the promises she made at the end of Violent Daylight – to gain control of her bipolar, kick her addictions and her dealings with her Italian crime family, and attempt to become less Contessa di Caraceni and more Mrs Catherine Ramos. From the very beginning of Night Wants to Forget, Canna was suffering the trauma of a hit-and-run accident and her subsequent drug addiction, and her ever-looming bipolar disorder, which she refused to acknowledge. Canna has suffered many up and downs, got herself in situations that were dangerous, deadly to some, she committed a shitload of crimes, and at the end of the second book, failed in her attempts to keep her impulsive behaviour under control, and almost died again. LCOD starts eighteen months after the final scenes in Sydney in Violent Daylight, and shows Canna making changes. Her life is now based in Bonifacio, southern Corsica, and things have been travelling along a very different path, but it’s easy to see the cut-throat mannerisms so many readers love are all still inside Canna. Now juggling what Canna finds most irritating – normal life – but when a serious illness and a request from the Italian Caraceni crime family come along, Canna realises maybe she is capable of more than she ever thought. The effect it will have on her new husband, Claudio Ramos, will be the most profound change of all.

2) Will Canna ever make good on her threat to kill Dane Porter? Will Claudio and Dane reconcile? Will opera quartet Virtuosi get back together?

There is an even 50/50 split with tenor Dane Porter – half love him and half hate him. Claudio refers to Dane as the idiot man-child now. Canna has a stable life – home, husband, career, therapy, friends – and anyone who messes with her carefully balanced sobriety will be on the receiving end of a vicious rage. As for Claudio, he has bigger things to worry about than Dane. You get so see much more of Virtuosi than in Violent Daylight when Canna was busy in Milan. Each relationship within the Virtuosi Eight will suffer a huge shift, and not all members will still be there at the end.

3) Have you ever wanted to soften Canna? Do you feel as if Canna is not good enough for Claudio? Do you ever wish Canna and Claudio remained platonic? What if Claudio’s wife Veena had never gotten pregnant? Is Claudio too forgiving?

Soften Canna? Never. There are enough soft characters in the world, Canna Medici could never be one of them. Canna isn’t going to change – and why should she? She’s brash, no question, and she is stronger than many people like their female characters. Here is fiction about women with more bite and honesty. As for being platonic, it was great while Canna and Claudio were sidekicks, but they were like two sharks circling one another most of the time. Neither of them ever wanted a platonic relationship. Claudio is very forgiving of Canna’s behaviour, which can both aid her poor choices and sometimes help her too. If he was tougher on Canna, chances are they both would be dead by now. Claudio’s wife, Veena Valadez, getting pregnant was planned from the beginning, and the dynamic shaped the future. I couldn’t imagine them without the interruption of Casamiro being born. Had Veena not become pregnant, I’m not sure the third book could even exist.

4 ) What is the hardest part of writing about Canna? Do you regret anything Canna has done? 

Canna hates children, and it’s weird to write. I have four sons and they are my life. Canna is child-free and barren. It has helped define her as a woman, and she sees no future in parenting. Canna decided that motherhood wouldn’t fit into her career when she was young, then married early into the Caraceni crime family and decided never to be bound to them by blood. Her mindset became so permanent that motherhood seems too foreign now. She talks about Claudio’s son as an irritation, why do people breed? Is that thing clean and changed? The noise machine stole my seat. Canna sees baby Casamiro as the barrier to true happiness. Canna is who she is because of her life and her actions. She is whimsical and violent, cunning and confused. She makes mistakes, people die, reality bites – she is like everyone else. Canna doesn’t have regrets and neither do I.

5 ) Will Canna really ever change? Have you ever wanted to kill Canna? Does anyone believe Canna can stop her addictions?

Kill Canna? Hell yes! In the first draft of Night Wants to Forget, Canna was shot by Giuseppe Savelli’s daughter, and Claudio drowned himself at Erik’s wedding when he found out Canna was dead. Obviously, had I followed that path, there wouldn’t be three books. I have thought of hitting Canna with another car, a drug overdose, suicide, good old-fashioned mob hit… she tends to wiggle out of anything I throw at her. As for changing, it depends on what you see as a change. If you want her to stop swearing or getting in fist fights, then no, she won’t change. If you want her to stop hurting herself, you are with me, because I want her to stop that too. Addictions never go away, and you can see that in Canna, but honesty is the first stage in stepping back from the cliff of disaster. She is a constant work in progress. Canna’s severe depression cannot be cured, only managed.

6 ) What locations do we get to visit in LCOD?

Canna and Claudio live in Bonifacio in a home that have rebuilt, but spend a lot time back on Pembridge Crescent in London, where it all began for them. They spend quite a bit of time in Dubrovnik, and visit Prague, Milan, Zurich, Cartagena (yes!) and Madrid. Once again, London holds the pain, Madrid holds the big surprises, Milan the drama.

7 ) Who inspired the characters? Are there any real-life people written into the stories? Is Canna based on yourself?

I am not Canna Medici. Though, between her money and lifestyle, I wouldn’t be adverse to being her sometimes. There is no one person who inspires me to write Canna, she is totally in my imagination. She can fire up an idea at any time, though I can’t get through an episode of The Sopranos or The Borgias without having a Canna idea. Who the characters all started out as have totally changed now. As time passed, they got deeper, and their choices and characteristics became clear to me. The main female characters – Lea Jacobs, Holly Stafford and Rebecca Myer are all fictional, and I don’t really worry about them too much. They exist to counteract Canna, three different women at different life stages who all accept Canna. Each woman is influenced by Canna, not the other way around. As for Claudio, he is a mixture of men put together. I don’t like everything he says and does, and I’m not always a fan of the strong silent type. But I enjoy writing a less than perfect person. Dane is always been a big kid, and now that he is forty, it’s wearing thin. Henri is a genuinely nice guy, although a little too soft in my opinion, and Erik is that guy in your social circle who you like and hate in equal measure. It’s the totally different voice in them that is important. They started as stereotypes that molded into real people.

8) Who would play Canna and the others in a movie?

French actress Eva Green would be Canna! Clearly there would need to be work for the tattoos and scars, but I think Eva is perfect (and can pull off Canna’s blonde crime family days too)

Photos via Pinterest with links back to original sources

For Claudio I would like Javier Bardem because he is just plain fabulous. As for the rest, I am open to suggestions. If they needed singers to perform the on-stage parts of the books, please get Vittorio Grigolo to play Claudio’s voice! (I know he isn’t a baritone, but let’s not be too picky)

9 ) Are all the main cast back for LCOD? Are there new faces?

LCOD is a mix of old and new. As I said, all of Virtuosi are back, but not all will stay. (Spoiler alert) Henri and Lea have had a baby. Veena Valadez gets to feature far more in the third book, giving readers a chance to see that character developed far better. There is a new addition of a man named Micheletto Alighieri, an Italian who works for Canna, and Rian Crawley, a New Zealander that wants to go into business with her. LCOD also has the introduction of Gabriele Savelli, the young son of murdered Giorgio Savelli, who has family scores to settle with Canna. The character of Abigail Troublé, who managed to squeeze her huge presence into Violent Daylight makes more appearances, and I would love to hear feedback about her.

10 ) Will there be a fourth Canna book? Do you need to read Night Wants to Forget and Violent Daylight before LCOD?

I don’t have any plans at the moment for a fourth book. Finish LCOD and tell me if there needs to be a fourth book. Is the story finished? Could there be more? I can think of new ideas, but I won’t be working on them straight away. I would only write a fourth book if I thought it was solid enough to stand up with the first three. I don’t want to ruin Canna Medici.

You don’t need to read the other books first, but you may be missing out a lot of background detail. The storyline stands alone and there is enough detail to get you through, but without knowing Canna’s struggle in Night Wants to Forget and the murders and secrets of Violent Daylight, some behaviour may not made perfect sense. Still, you could read this book first. When LCOD is released there will be a free promo on the first two books, so you have no need to miss out on anything.

Up next… odd questions asked about me in Part 2.