Friday, October 19, 2012

Lost in the Light Blog Tour: guest post and excerpt

Reader Girls is hosting the Lost in the Light Blog Tour. Author Mary Castillo has written an engaging post on why she adores tragic romance and we have an excerpt from her latest novel. This tour is presented by CLP Blog Tours (Chick Lit Plus).

Lost in the Light (The Dori Orihuela Series) by Mary Castillo
Women's historical fiction*ebook, 236 pages*Published October 1st 2012 by Reina Books (first published September 25th 2012)
Purchase: Nook | Kindle | CreateSpace | Smashwords | Apple  

No one remembers…

One October morning in 1932, Vicente Sorolla entered the white house on the hill and was never seen again .

Now, Detective Dori Orihuela helplessly witnesses his brutal murder in her nightmares.

Settling into a 120 year-old Edwardian mansion, Dori restores her dream home while recovering from a bullet wound and waiting to go back on duty.

But then one afternoon, Vicente materializes out of her butler's pantry and asks her to find a woman named Anna. Dori wonders if she's not only about to lose her badge, but also her sanity.

Dori and Vicente's unlikely friendship takes us back to the waning days of Prohibition in San Diego and the dusty barrio of National City. Mary Castillo's new novel, featuring the wild Orihuela family that first delighted readers in Names I Call My Sister, weaves romance, history and a mystery into a humorous, touching and unforgettable story.

Hurts So Good: Why I Love Tragic Romance

Tragic love stories have a certain poignancy that resonate much deeper than the traditional happily-ever-after. A reader is left with disbelief – did he really just die!?!? – and a sense of urgency to seize love because life can swiftly turn the wrong direction.

It took a few tries for me to get it right with Lost in the Light. I tiptoed around the tragedy of Vicente Sorolla, who was viciously murdered in Dori's front parlor in 1932. Initially, he didn't even have a love interest. But then I realized there was a woman in his past. I even toyed with the idea of her time-traveling to a parallel universe but man, was that a mess! Finally I realized I had to do the unthinkable. Rather than go into details, I'll just say that I still get a bit misty reading the third act.

And yes, writing those pages was exhausting but so worth it!

Now one might think that a tragic romance is a huge gamble in publishing. But when you look at the all-time classic stories of star-crossed lovers, both in film and in books, they are often those which grace the best-sellers lists or are box office bonanzas (ever heard of that small arthouse film, Titanic?). Here are a few of my personal favorites that influenced my writing:

Shakespeare in Love: My husband is a very good sport. I refuse to go to the horror films that he loves. In fact, when one of his screenplays is produced, I'm not sure I'll be able to sit through the movie! Nonetheless, he's seen every Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and historical period drama/romance that I drag him to. In the case of Shakespeare in Love, he actually liked it because even though it was a historical romantic comedy, in the end, the lovers were forced to part. Tragic romances play with our expectations that at any moment, some knowledge will be revealed or someone will start running after the other and we'll sigh that they will be together till death do they part. But it's even more devious in a story like this one which is part comedy that makes sly jokes about modern Hollywood and riffs on Romeo and Ethel the Pirate King's Daughter, which evolves into Romeo and Juliet.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier: I can remember the exact moment when I realized Inman wasn't in the last chapter, if you know what I mean. Tears welled in my eyes, my throat clenched and I think I re-read the number of plates laid out at the table in the final chapter just in case he was alive. I happened to be on a flight to Monterey and not wanting to explain the depth of my pain and suffering to the guy sitting next to me, I stared out dark window, cursing that his life had been cut short just when he was reunited with his love.

Silent in the Grave and Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn: The first two books in her Lady Julie Grey series are not quite tragic. No one important dies. But the lovers, Lady Julia and Nicolas Brisbane, never quite overcome the obstacles in their path to true love. If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend you do so.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley: Let me just say that Susanna doesn’t fool around. She goes right for your heart and won't let go. So of course, I immediately ordered all of her available backlist after reading this story of past lives and lovers torn apart by war. Now here is where she's clever and I dare not say more, she pulls of a twist that is a bit controversial. But man was it effective because as I'm writing this, my throat is getting a bit tight.

An excerpt:
Idly wondering what to pick from the meals Grammy had prepared for her, Dori plugged her key into the lock. Her heart gave a painful jolt when she looked up into the face of a man. He stared at her from the other side of the wavy glass window of the Dutch door.

His dark eyes narrowed. In one motion, Dori dropped her bag, stepped back and reached for her weapon. But she only felt the bandage under her shirt where her Smith and Wesson should’ve been. She swayed in momentary confusion and then remembered she’d locked it away. When she looked back up into the window, he was gone.

Dori stood there with her pulse kicking against her neck. He couldn’t duck faster than the blink of an eye, nor was the window shade moving in the wake of a sudden movement. It hadn’t been that long since she’d been with a man that she’d start making one up as Grammy had repeatedly warned. Warning pricked at her nerves. She pulled up alongside the edge of the door and peeked into her dark kitchen. She strained her ears, listening for movement in the house. Against her better judgment, she reached over and turned the key.

She pushed the door open and the smell of cologne stopped her short of walking inside. Dori instinctively rocked her weight onto the balls of her feet, her muscles tensing for a fight. Night crept across the yard behind her.

As a cop, she’d been in much scarier situations than this. But back then, Dori had a gun at her hip and a radio for back-up. Unlike real bad guys, figments of her imagination couldn’t send her to the hospital. Dori told herself to go out to her car and call the cavalry.

Instead, Dori propped the door open with an old brick. This was her house damn it and it might feel good to kick some ass.

Dori made her way through the gloomy kitchen and flipped on the light switch. The fluorescents flickered to life and their hum filled the silence. She crossed the kitchen and then poked her head through the door leading into the butler’s pantry. The air held still, as if the house held its breath.

She crept across the floor, scanned the dining room and then reached in to turn on the dining room chandelier, which thankfully had survived the architectural rape and pillage of the 1970s. His shadow moved across the wall in the hallway. Fear shot up her spine.

“I’m armed,” she called out, backing into the kitchen for a knife. Her Mossberg was upstairs in the safe. Then she remembered the knives were still packed in a box. She had a spork from her and Grammy’s KFC lunch earlier today.

“Walk out the front door and you won’t get hurt,” she ordered, clutching the spork in her hand as she tiptoed back to the dining room. Her voice echoed.

She pressed the light button and the hall lights switched on. “Go out the front door.”

The hall was clear. With her back pressed to the wall, Dori held her breath as she waited for an answer or a creak of a floorboard that would give away his position. She should go for the Mossberg. But she peeked into the front parlor, the room that had suffered the most damage in the house. Something slammed against the front door and the lights snapped off.

About the author:
Connect with Mary!

Mary Castillo can remember the exact moment when her destiny to write smart, sexy stories for women began. (And no, it was not the day this photo was taken!) Her Grandma Margie gave her a copy of Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor (banned in 14 states and then when it was made into a movie starring Linda Darnell, condemned by the Hays Office, which controlled decency in movies) and said, "If you have any questions about what they're doing in that book, just ask me!"

While Forever Amber is hardly a book for a high school freshman (frankly the heroine makes Scarlett a model of propriety and modesty in comparison), Mary was fascinated by a character that seized life with no apologies ... and looked doing it.

After a few minor distractions (poor dating choices and pre-med studies), Mary committed herself to writing on February 10, 1994 and then sold her debut to Harper Collins Avon A in 2004. Hot Tamara was selected by Cosmopolitan magazine as the Red Hot Read of April 2005. The book wasn't banned but Grandma was proud!

A lifelong professional writer, including a stint as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times Community News (second best job in the world), Mary is the proud author of three novels (Switchcraft, In Between Men and Hot Tamara) and three novellas featured in the anthologies, Orange County Noir, Names I Call My Sister andFriday Night Chicas. Her latest book, a paranormal that goes back and forth between modern day and Prohibition, Lost in the Light is now available.

Latina magazine called Mary "an author to look out for" and selected In Between Men and Names I Call My Sister for the Top 10 Summers Reads in July 2009. OC Metro magazine named Mary one of the hottest 25 people in the O.C. (the first but certainly not the last time her hotness has been publicly confirmed). She has also been profiled in Orange County Register, Coast, The Arizona Republic and San Diego Union Tribune.

Mary grew up in a haunted house in National City, CA. She cries every time she sees the movies, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Casablanca, and feels that Joan Collins is by far the preeminent TV villain (which is why Joan plays such an pivotal role in the novel, In Between Men).

A graduate of USC, Mary lives in The O.C. with her family.

Also, she may have a mild addiction to Pinterest.

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