My wonderful writer colleague, Barbara Alfaro, has "tagged" me in her blog post with a challenge: I must interview myself about my own new book. Since I spend a good deal of time in general talking to myself (although rarely about myself), I'll take up the challenge and ask myself the very same questions that Barbara has answered, keeping mind that Nine Romantic Stories is a story collection, and its stories are quite different from one another.
1. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE BOOK?
The title is Nine Romantic Stories -- and it's an intentional reference to J.D. Salinger's "Nine Stories." When I first starting writing short fiction (only a few years ago), I said to myself, if I can write 9 good stories, I'll know that I'm a writer, and that this isn't a hobby. Salinger is still one of my favorite short story authors.
2. WHERE DO YOU GET THE IDEAS FOR YOUR STORIES?
Stories and magic are everywhere. I hear conversations or snatches of them, I read articles-- and my mind starts making up a narrative. I try to imagine what happened to people whom I've known and lost touch with. And of course other writers influence stories. Some random character in a larger novel might become the heroine in my stories. It's the way my mind works. I can't help it.
3. WHAT'S THE GENRE FOR THE BOOK?
I go back and forth on genre since the stories themselves go from funny to magical realism. On the one hand, it's romantic, but it's hardly Harlequin-style or steamy. It's Romance with a capital R, and it's literary fiction as well.
4. IF YOU HAD TO PICK ACTORS TO PLAY THE LEAD IN ONE OF YOUR STORIES, WHOM WOULD YOU PICK?
All of my stories are quite different from one another. There's one funny story, though, Victor's Proposal that's written almost entirely in dialogue. I'd love to hear Emma Thompson read those lines.
5. HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BOOK IN ONE SENTENCE?
Actually, I'd steal what an Amazon Review said: "Delicious stories for the discriminating romantic." But on a more prosaic level, Nine Stories brings together Carla Sarett's previously published stories with some brand new ones, all intended to charm and entertain.
6. HOW WILL YOUR BOOK BE PUBLISHED OR WILL YOU BE HANDLING IT YOURSELF?
Most of the stories in the collection were previously published. This collection, which is relatively short, is self-published. Right now, I'm thinking of this as a Kindle-only publication, but plan could change. This is more or less an experiment in finding my audience.
7. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT?
I constantly edit and revise stories so it might take a year or two before I am truly happy with one. The story, "Mandolinata" changed several times before it was published in The Greensilk Journal-- and yet, in preparing the book, I found some stylistic quirks that bothered me. I spent a few months trying to decide which stories were truly "romantic" -- it's not as easy as you'd think!
8. WHAT OTHER BOOKS WITHIN YOUR GENRE ARE SIMILAR TO YOURS?
That depends on the story. I think "Bonny Lass" for example has shades of Salinger, in female-form, while other stories, like "A Strange Courtship" and "A Short Visit" are influenced by the great Yiddish writers. But every writer considers herself an original, that's the nature of writing.
9. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?
My mother's death was the catalyst for my writing fiction. She loved fiction and story-telling, and when she wasn't around, I began writing stories that I felt she might have enjoyed. She appears in many of the stories -- for example, she is Mrs. Gold in "A Strange Courtship." When I'm finished with a story, my first thought, would my mother have liked it? As for direct writer influences, I'd have to say, Kipling's early stories are my model.
10. WHAT ABOUT YOUR BOOK WILL PIQUE THE READER'S INTEREST?
Every serious writer hopes that it's the writing itself that piques the interest -- but I do feel that there's an audience for truly romantic material, not filled with cheap sex or profanity or ugliness. I think many educated woman (like me) want sophistication, wit and old-fashioned well-crafted stories. I hope that they'll find Nine Romantic Stories and enjoy it.
Other fab authors that might want to tell the world about Their Next Big Thing?
Here are links to some authors who are always up to something new: