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Author: Laura Parker Castoro Title: LOVE ON THE LINE Web site: www.lauracastoro.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Disilgold private use only)
Disilgold: What can you tell the Disilgold community about yourself that will explain why Disilgold has sought you for a perSOULnalized interview?
Laura Castoro:I am a best-selling, award-winning writer with 29 years of publishing experience with major publishing house in the U.S. and 14 countries abroad. I have had published 39 books in that time, 38 of then novels and one co-authored non-fiction Young Adult book about careers in the computers industry.Iíve published historical romances, category romance, and single title contemporary romances as LAURA PARKER.Iíve also published westerns, romantic suspense, and sagas.More recently Iíve been writing mainstream fiction as LAURA CASTORO.Iíve also written magazine articles, published a short story with ďGood HousekeepingĒ and written book reviews for newspapers.Iíve published with Dell, Warner, Pocketbooks, Berkley, Simon and Schuster, Kensington, Avon, Red Dress Ink, MIRA, Silhouette, and Harlequin, and most recently HarperCollins/Avon A.I could say Iíve done a lot, seen a lot, publishing-wise, and Iím still writing!
Disilgold: What is your latest book about?
Laura Castoro:Itís titled: LOVE ON THE LINE Feb.09 HarperCollins/Avon A.It is the story of a fair-skinned black woman THEADORA MORGAN and her biracial daughter JESSE MORGAN.Thea, a widow, is about to marry her first love Reverend Xavier Thornton, a wealthy former pro-athlete and charismatic black minister.Thea quickly discovers that happily-ever-after is difficult to manage when Xavier takes a pulpit in a small town in Arkansas while she tries to keep her high-powered career in Dallas, Texas.Sheís not the traditional ministerís wife and Xavierís congregation isnít the least bit happy about that, or with her.Meanwhile daughter Jesse is off to college.She is on her own for the first time, and trying to figure out who she is without the ties of family and friends.She discovers that: No baggage doesnít equal no problems.Her biracial identity begins as both a burden and a secret. Then she discovers that there is always someone willing to think the worst of you, taken at face value, no matter what.Mother and daughter grow in their relationship, as well as learn how to cope with their new lives.
Disilgold: How long did it take you to complete your book?
Laura Castoro:About five months.I had the advantage of having written about these characters before in CROSSING THE LINE, Berkley, 2002.I didnít have to create them from scratch.And yet that made it even more important that the new reader know some their back story and still give my long-time fans a fresh take on Thea, Xavier, and Jesse.
Disilgold: What were the happiest moments you have experienced while writing your latest book?
Laura Castoro:Thatís easy.Getting to work with familiar characters.One of the most difficult things for me as a writer is to let go of characters Iíve spent months, occasionally a year or more, thinking about, worrying about, and trying to sort out their lives.They become like really good friends.When the book is over, itís like they moved away and you canít even email or phone them to find out how they are doing.LOVE ON THE LINE gave me a chance to reconnect, and thatís special.
Disilgold: Describe your writing style?
Laura Castoro:I write in the morning.I began writing when I had two children in diapers and one in kindergarten.I sold my 1st book about the time the youngest went to kindergarten. So, Iíd get them up and off the school and go to work.Iíve been very lucky to be a full-time writer, with a spousal endowment for the dry times!I work during the day, often still in my pjs.Some days, when the work is going well or Iím under the gun on a deadline, I work all afternoon into the evening. But Iíve learned I canít spell my name, let alone be creative after 10 PM.
Disilgold: How did you develop your writing style?
Laura Castoro:By writing.Iíve never taken a college creative writing class or anything like that.I was majoring in micro-biology when I began writing.But I have always been a voracious reader.I love to read all kinds of things; books, magazines, newspapers, etc. My vocabulary came from reading.My style came from writing, figuring out by trial and error the best way to say what I wanted to say.And then working out how I could make the reader feel what I wanted them to feel.Novels are about emotion. You canít think writing.Choosing words makes you decide how a character sounds, looks, and so forth.I have different style for historical novels than contemporary ones.A Latino character will speak differently than a white one, or an old lady from a six year old boy.I try very hard to listen to the rhythm of what I write.The style is what develops out of trying to get it right.
Disilgold: Do you have a favorite author of all time or someone who inspired you to achieve your goals as a writer?
Du Maurier wrote beautiful sentences, as does Mary Stewart.The mood of their stories always comes off the page and puts the reader right in the middle of their stories.I learned a lot about suspense and style from reading them.
This from an article I published several years ago:
ďSabatini's heroes observe life lessons that I believe in -- That in order to be happy in this world; you must seek to be worthy of it. Otherwise, you are doomed to misery even if your heart's desire is achieve.
ďMr. Yerby's affect on my writing came from more than his rousing stories. As an African -American man writing in the '40s and '50s, what some have the audacity to call "White" stories, his work provided many positive lessons for a writer. (1) I did not have to live what I wrote about. (2) One's heritage didn't give one the corner on the market for writing certain kinds of stories. (3) Everyone must go to the same place for his or her knowledge of history--the library. (4) As for the quality of storytelling, that depends solely on the imagination and creativity of the writer.
ďIn other words: I COULD LEARN WHAT I NEEDED IN ORDER TO WRITE ABOUT ANYTHING THAT INTERESTS ME.Ē
Disilgold: Where do you see yourself as a writer ten years from now?
Laura Castoro:After 29 years of being published, to still be publishing work ten years from now that the public wants to read would be my ideal.Do I want to win a Pulitzer, see my work make into a film or TV show, and/or have a $1,000,000 bestseller? You bet!But thatís not what makes me write.Iím a storyteller.I want to share and entertain.And if I can continue to make a living doing that, Iíll have lived a very fortunate life.
Disilgold: What marketing tips can you provide to new authors?
Laura Castoro:Write, write, write!And never stop trying to do better.I sweat every book every time.
Donít fall in love with your first efforts and either get stuck polishing it forever, or waiting for the first thing to sell before you write more.Sometimes the 10th book sells.Would you not write 1-9 if someone guaranteed you 10 would sell?
Read, read, read!Read a lot of different things.Know whatís on the bestseller list even if you donít like everything there.You should know what is selling and why.Whatís popular changes so even if you arenít writing the most popular thing you might try to incorporate some aspect of the popular trend into your own work.
Be sure youíre proud of what youíve written before you step out.If you say things like, ďI just put something down to see what you thoughtí it will not impress anyone.
Network and know that you, the writer, will have to do a lot of your own promotion, no matter who publishes your work.I spend a lot of time and some money, sometimes a lot of money! on promotion when a new work comes out.Be sure youíve researched your market.Help the publisher help you. Donít ask for the moon, but let them know how doing this or that could sell books.
Know who your audience is, but donít be afraid to step beyond that.Limiting your market limits sales.Iíll talk to any group, organization, conference, club or class about my work.I try to find a connection, no matter how unusual.
Disilgold: What other projects are you working on?
Laura Castoro:I just finished a novella for an anthology called ďCougar TalesĒ due out in May or June.Stay tuned for more info.And Iím working on a proposal for another novel.
Disilgold: What are your top ten favorite books right now?
Laura Castoro:Oh, such questions.Hereís what Iím reading or just read:
1.The Audacity of Hope Ė Barack Obama
2.Same Kind of Different as Me Ė Ron Hall & Denver Moore
3.The Last Lecture Ė Randy Pausch
4.The Comfort of A Muddy Saturday -- Alexander McCall Smith
5.Cosmopolitanism Ė Kwame Anthony Appiah
6.Bring on the Blessings Ė Beverly Jenkins
7.Devil in the White City Ė Erik Larson
8.Zorro Ė Isabel Allende
9.I Feel Bad About My Neck -- Nora Ephron
10.Anything Tony Morrison, Sandra Kitt and Francis Ray
Disilgold: When do you write and for how long?
Laura Castoro:In the morning, after brushing teeth and coffee.3-4 hrs.If itís going well and I donít want to stop I wonít.If Iím still staring into space after 2 hrs, I find something else to do.But Iíll come back in the afternoon.
Disilgold: Do you have a favorite location for writing?
Laura Castoro:I have an office in my home and my computer.But recently, in trying to make the deadline on the novella I wrote during a 12-day trip at Christmas. From my Jan 8 2009 blog entry:ďI said sure, packed up my laptop and with my hubby put 1200 plus miles on the Lexus between Dec 23-Jan 3. And I wrote: in the car, in my daughterís dining room, in my sonís breakfast room, in my sister-in-lawís office and my brotherís man cave.Ē
I have also become a believer in writersí retreats.I dedicated my book ďA NEW LU, Red Dress Ink 2005, to The Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, AR.This is where I wrote 50% of that book.Itís a beautiful solitary retreat where no phones ring, no TV, no radio or music (except with earphones.)No disturbances.Meals cooked and available every day.It really is an ideal place to write.
Disilgold: What method did you use to write or organize your book?
Laura Castoro:I use a computer.I keep notes on any scrap of paper I can find.My family learned early not to toss anything I had written on. I keep folders of articles and things I cut out of mags and so forth.But Iím not much of a filer.I like to pull together two events or ideas, or situations that have nothing to do with one another and create something unexpected.Iím not very organized but I know where everything is!
Disilgold: What three words best describe your writing style?
Laura Castoro:Unexpected, positive, lyrical
Disilgold: What other hobbies do you pursue when you aren't writing?
Laura Castoro:I love to cook gourmet meals, things I havenít made before.I love to travel.Like most kinds of music, reading, going to the theater, creating things Ė I make Christmas gifts for friends. Oh, movies, and foreign films.And Iíve become addicted to a couple of video games!
Disilgold: Are there any hidden jewels or talents that you possess that many of your readers may not know?
Laura Castoro:Huh!I make my own curtains, pillows.I made my daughter-in-lawís wedding dress, and my daughterís prom dresses.Lately Iím making beaded and jeweled serving pieces.
Disilgold: Where can folks buy your latest book?
Laura Castoro:As of Feb 4th in all major bookstores and outlets, Wal-Mart, and online.
Disilgold: Where can folks meet you?
Laura Castoro:Iíll be doing signings and interviews, especially in the AR, LA and TX area.I also teach creative writing and have a couple of classes coming up this spring.Check my website for dates and locations. And I do talk to book clubs via phone or internet. And I speak at conferences.If interested in a book club chat or want me as a speaker, contact me at www.lauracastoro.com or email@example.comI love to hear from fans.
Disilgold: What have been some of your toughest obstacles as a writer?
Laura Castoro:Staying fresh.I donít like to repeat myself, even with the same characters.I want to write stories Iím not reading.
Dry spells where I just canít seem to get an idea together.2008 was a dry year for me.No book written.Yet Iíve already written a complete novella this year Ė 3 weeks Ė so 2009 feels like a really productive one.
Trusting that the creative spirit will return.
Disilgold: This section of our interview requires brief responses. Are you ready to" Get PerSOULnal" Interview?
The "Get PerSOULnal" Interview
Disilgold: What time do you awake normally every morning?
Laura Castoro:6:30 a.m., unless itís really cold and rainy.Then when the daylight gets to me.
Disilgold: What is your writing fuel in the morning?
Laura Castoro:Coffee, lots of it, with milk.
Disilgold: What early morning rituals have you followed for many years?
Laura Castoro:I learned to write before getting dressed. Teeth, coffee, write! Once I dress I make the bed, clean up, and etc. I learned to put the writing first early.
Disilgold: What are your favorite foods to snack on while writing?
Laura Castoro:Nuts and dried fruit.Peanut butter and apple slices.
Disilgold: Do you watch television or listen to the radio when you're writing, and if so, what do you watch or listen too mostly?
Laura Castoro:Canít write with TV.I love to have music on but it has to be instrumental: jazz, easy listening, classical. If it has lyrics, Iím singing not writing!
Disilgold: What is your favorite book of all time?
Laura Castoro:Couldnít choose.But one that has stuck with me this past year: THE TIME OF OUR SINGING by Richard Powers.Stunning, powerful!
Disilgold: What is your favorite magazine of all time?
Laura Castoro:Iím not that loyal to one magazine.But I subscribe to and read a lot of them regularly, everything from Essence to National Geographic to Time to More.
Disilgold: Do you have an exercise regimen to suggest for busy writers?
Laura Castoro:I walk 2-4 miles a day.Outside, at 6:30 or as soon as the sun is on the horizon.Walking clears my head, lets me think about the story Iím going to write that day.
Disilgold: What is your everyday outfit?
Laura Castoro:To write in?Pjs or loungingclothing.If Iím not decent I canít rush out the door to do something.I have to stay home and write! This is my writerís trick to keep me from procrastinating.
Disilgold: What is your pet peeve?
Laura Castoro:Computer crashes.Itís the only time I ever want to do damage to an inanimate object!Toss it out the window.
In people? Deceitfulness: deliberately saying one thing but doing something else.
Disilgold: If you could inspire a child, what would you say?
Laura Castoro:Dream big.Work (study) hard.If you donít get what you think you want, something better will come along because youíre prepared for it.Stay open to the blessings.
Disilgold: What is your favorite motto?
Laura Castoro:Donít have one.It changes.Something inspires me for a time.I like to be open to the next idea.
Disilgold: What is your favorite time to put your writing pen down and rest?
Laura Castoro:Just after having written THE END. Champagne everybody!
Disilgold: Have you traveled anywhere besides your hometown and if so, where?
Laura Castoro:Iíve been a lot of places in the U.S.Lived in TX, NJ and CT.Visited Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, England, France, Belgium, Italy, and Australia.Lots more places on my wish list.
Disilgold: Where is your dream vacation?
Laura Castoro:Somewhere cool in the summer, I love Breckenridge, CO in the summer and Sag Harbor, NY in the autumn.
Disilgold: What do you particularly like about the literary world today?
Laura Castoro:It has never been more diverse, culturally, socially, age and sex-wise Ė meaning men and women writers.When I first sold in 1980, if you werenít writing romance it was very hard to get published, as a woman.When I wrote westerns Ď82-Ď83 I was told they might be published under a manís name.They werenít, but itís hard to find my name on those covers!Now women writers top the lists of most book sales.
Disilgold: If you could leave one word of advice to people in general, what would it be?
Laura Castoro:Pat yourselves on the back.We are moving forward with a new president and a new outlook.
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