Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Guest Blogger: Marta Acosta

The winner of Marta's book is: ren! Congrats, ren. Send me your mailing info and I'll pass it along. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Many thanks to Lynda for having me as a guest! Lynda gave me my first interview three novels ago, and I’ve always appreciated her “First Sale” feature.

The first heavy rain of the season was pounding down, and I turned on the television and found a movie I haven’t seen in years, Peter Weir’s “The Last Wave.” An Australian lawyer, David Burton (Richard Chamberlain), begins having strange dreams when he is assigned to defend an aborigine, played by David Gulpilil, on a murder charge. While David tries to discover the truth about the murder, frogs and mud rain down on Sydney in a series of fierce storms.

David discovers that he is not the normal, conventional man he thought he was and the world is not what he thought it was. Most people only see one reality, but a few rare others, including David, see “dream time.” In a haunting scene, a shaman tells David, “A dream is a shadow of a real thing.”

“The Last Wave” is a beautifully crafted, eerie film that is all the more unsettling because it builds steadily to the apocalyptic ending.

The idea that the world has secrets and parallel realities has always captivated me, which is why I am a fan of paranormal fiction, film, and television. I’ve always been intrigued by stories of ordinary people who discover that the world is not what it seems. What happens to a teenage cheerleader when she learns that she’s a vampire slayer? How should a reporter react when he interviews someone claiming to be a vampire? What will a computer geek do if he learns that his world is only an illusion created by a matrix?

These stories have inherent conflicts as the main characters confront their initial skepticism (vampires, ghosts, werewolves -- you’re kidding, right?), and then have to face dangerous situations without assistance from the usual sources. “Hello, officer, I’d like to report a brain-eating zombie who is stalking me. Yes, I can hold.”

While I love creepier supernatural thrillers, I have a passion for stories that find humor in these situations and for characters who use humor as a way to cope with incredible dilemmas. My favorite characters come face-to-face with danger and cannot resist the urge to say something snarky, generally making a bad situation worse.

The heroine of my Casa Dracula series, Milagro de Los Santos, is very reluctant to give up the belief that she’s a normal human girl -- because “normal” means that you don’t have to have blood-sucking extremists trying to serve you on the dinner menu. In Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, Milagro is accidentally infected with a strange “condition” and must hide out with a nest of snooty blood-drinkers who resent her presence. The next book in the series, Midnight Brunch, follows Milagro’s adventures as she tries to learn more about this secretive and powerful clan. In The Bride of Casa Dracula, Milagro is the victim of mysterious “accidents” as she prepares to walk down the aisle with her vampire fiancé. Throughout it all, she maintains her sense of humor and manages to find parties and attractive guys.

In many ways, Milagro is regular. She’s like many young women who are heading out on their own without a real map to follow. She wants love, but how much is she willing to compromise her own spirit? She’d like a terrific career, yet can’t quite get it together. She’s drawn to glamorous people, but she can still have a great time at a biker bar or burger joint (so long as that burger is extra rare).

Milagro’s uses her wits, her wiles, and her network of eccentric pals to survive various attempts on her life and on those of her new vampire pals. No, my books aren’t as atmospheric as an apocalyptic film with didgeridoo music, but I do hope they provide some laughs and show that when the situation demands even an ordinary girl can do extraordinary things.

What kind of character do you like more -- an ordinary character (like Xander, a hapless nerd) or one who has extraordinary abilities (like Buffy)?

Visit Marta at her website: and her blog,

Marta is giving away a copy of Happy Hour at Casa Dracula to one person leaving a comment here. The winner will be selected Friday evening.


Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Welcome to Paranormality, Marta! It's great to have you here.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An ordinary character.

6:32 AM  
Blogger LadyVampire2u said...

Hi Marta. Great post! As to your question, I could not make a definite decision. I am all for other-worldly, super natural characters but I like the down to earth normal people too. Nerds or what have you. The truth is, the deciding factor of who I like in a book has more to do on the way an author portrays her character in the novel. At least in my opinion.

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like when characters have just a slight edge over others, maybe a few abilities and then they use their wits.

I also don't mind the completely supernatural ones, so long as it makes sense why the 'normals' around them can fit in.


7:55 AM  
Blogger Rebekah E. said...

That is a hard question. Speaking of the Buffy show, I really love xanders character. He is a nerd that can never seem to get things right, but tries so hard that it makes him intriguing. But I also like the supernatural character. In the end I kinda of go for the goofy one with an odd sense of humor be him nerdy or supernatural. Thanks for the great post

10:29 AM  
Blogger Marta said...

Hi, everyone! Lynda, thanks for having me here.

Quiltingreader, I always like watching an ordinary person struggle with an unusual situation.

LadyVamp, good to see you here! You're right, of course, espec. when I think of KMCalear's comment. I also enjoy characters who have a bit of clairvoyance -- not enough to really help them, but enough to give them clues.

Rebekah, my heart really went out to Xander when his relationship with Anya was crushed. And I loved his courage and faith while facing Evil Willow and bringing her back from her raging grief.

12:28 PM  
Blogger ren said...

i like the normals, myself. i like the idea of a character who has to overcome the "problem" of being normal in order to find some sort of common ground...or uncommon, for that matter. and while i love how normal xander starts out, i really love early willow and her exploration of wiccan and her journey away from "normal".

so i guess what i am trying to say is, i like when a character starts out normal and then overcomes normality. heh.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a combination of characters make it interesting. I mean if one seem to have all the super powers then how does the a normal person fit in? When the two of them work together then it makes for a more interesting combination.

2:46 PM  
Blogger wildflower said...

This sounds very intriguing! I have been looking for something new to read.

I love characters whose mouths get away from them. I prefer characters that are more "real", but it totally depends on the book and how the character is written.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Marta thanks for the blog it was extremely interesting. I have thought about this and I do believe i like the extraordinary talents and supernatural hubhub. I live with normal everyday and when I read I like the extras.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Marta said...

Ren, I liked Willow's journey, too, and the way she was tempted by the dark powers. The episode where she loses her lover is heart-rending.

Kelly, I agree. I'm watching "Supernatural" these days, interested in the way that Dean is trying to deal with Sam's powers and how that changes the brothers' dynamics.

Wildflower, hi, you should like my heroine, Milagro, who always has a wisecrack. It's a form of rebellion and identity.

Sarabelle, thanks for your comment. I like those characters who do have powers, like Sookie in the Southern Vampire books, but yearn for the safety of normalness, too.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Thanks for the interview, Marta!

I have to say that I like the ordinary/average person better. There is so much more area for growth.

Thanks again!

8:02 AM  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

I like both the ordinary character and the supernatural ones.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Kimberly B. said...

That's a terrific question, and I've been really intrigued by your books. What I really like is when there is a symbiotic relationship between ordinary people and the ones with powers. Right now I'm reading Rob Thurman's Cal and Niko Leandros books, and one of the things I really like about them is the fact that Niko, the older brother, is a perfectly normal human (as far as I know) who is constantly getting his half-supernatural brother Cal out of scrapes. He may be mortal, but he's super competent: well-read and excellent at martial arts. He also has had to work hard for these skills, which I find refreshing.
I read paranormal fiction because I fantasize about being the person with the magical powers (although so far "magical origins" might be a better term for Cal), but it's also nice when an ordinary person can make a solid contribution. It sends a good message, I think.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Asylumgirl said...

For pure comic fun, someone like Xander, but for the ultimate in cool, somebody with powers like Buffy. Overall, I have to go with the supernatural powers.

deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

2:01 PM  
Blogger Marta said...

Hi, Katie, thanks for dropping by! Crystal, good to see you here.

Kimberly, sounds a little like the dynamic in "Supernatural" now that Sam's powers are developing.

Ddurance, Xander was funny, but not always. Sometimes you saw him struggling to contribute something when he was just a regular guy. Perhaps it's that interior conflict that makes the characters really interesting -- like Buffy trying to reconcile her responsibilities with her desire to lead a carefree teenage life.

4:43 PM  
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