Sunday, November 23, 2014
Interview of Author Petie McCarty
Latest Book: No Going Back -- Print release March 2014; E-book release April 2013
Video Link: Author Video, not a book trailer
Petie spent a large part of her career working as a biologist at Walt Disney World -- "The Most Magical Place on Earth" -- where she enjoyed working in the land of fairy tales by day and creating her own romantic fairy tales by night. She eventually said good-bye to her "day" job in order to write her stories full-time.
Petie is a member of Romance Writers of America, and she shares homes in Tennessee and Florida with her horticulturist husband, a spoiled-rotten English Springer spaniel addicted to pimento-stuffed green olives, and a noisy Nanday conure named Sassy who made a cameo appearance in Angel to the Rescue.
Thank you for allowing me to spend time today with your Romance Books 4 Us readers! I'm Petie McCarty, and I write contemporary romances tinged with action-adventure, suspense, or paranormal elements.
Q: How many stories are swirling around in your head? Do you keep a mental list, a computer file, or a spiral notebook filled with the ideas?
A: My story ideas fall into one of the three groups: 1) New Ideas/General -- which could be anything from a contemporary to a western; 2) Mystery Angel Romances -- a series of love stories each with an angel hidden in the plot waiting for readers to figure out who; two already published -- No Going Back and Angel to the Rescue -- with a third scheduled for April 2015; and 3) Cinderella Romances… Fall in love with the fairy tale all over again -- each story has a different time and locale and its own Cinderella, Prince Charming, and a Wicked Step-In-The-Way to ruin things; stories with endless possibilities.
New story ideas go onto a sheet of paper and get tucked into one of the three folders, and all three folders are chubby and waiting. I have plenty to do.
Q: Your novel is being made into a TV series/movie. Who’s in your dream cast?
A: This is an easy pick for my novel, Everglades. When I wrote the hero and heroine, I saw Ardeth Bay -- the Medjai chieftain from The Mummy movie -- for Skye Landers, and for the heroine Kayli Heddon, I saw Kate Hudson, fiery with plenty of humor.
Q: Have you ever used an incident from your real life into one of your books?
A: So far I have only tucked real life incidents into my novel Everglades. I'm an aquatic biologist by profession and education, and I spent two years of my career surveying Florida lakes, streams, and wetlands by airboat. So when I sent my heroine into the Everglades on an airboat safari, I dove into my memory trove for ideas. Everything that happens to Kayli on her safari -- the midge storm, swimming with a gator, snake encounters, the leeches, the heart-stopping airboat maneuvers -- happened to me at some time in my career. Everything, that is, except getting stranded overnight with a sexy airboat guide.
Q: Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
A: This question is the perfect follow-up to the last question. My favorite character is Skye Landers, the hero in Everglades. Through the years of conducting aquatic plant surveys in Florida waterways, I never had the fun of going with a "hunky" airboat driver, so in Everglades, I decided to create my own. And what fun that was! Who did I see when I wrote Skye Landers you might ask? I saw Ardeth Bay, the Medjai chieftain from the movie, The Mummy. So sexy. Oded Fehr is the actual actor's name, and I have a picture of him posted in my web site photo gallery at http://www.petiemccarty.com/
Q: Covers. Ever get one you wish you could change?
A: Yes, I did. I wish I could change the cover for Catch of the Day. No people appear in the picture, and the cover doesn't show the depth of the story's excitement and suspense. Catch of the Day is my absolute favorite of all the books I've written thus far, for I fell in love with all the characters in my story. So much so they all felt real, even to me.
Q: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
A: Rather than hide parts or all of my personality in my characters, I stole the feel of individual emotions and their cumulative impacts: jealousy, fear, anger, tenderness, panic, etc. I also tried to match opposing combos, i.e. the worst personality to handle a particular plot situation. Like teaming a female prissy-pants in a suspense plot, where she's guaranteed to get "down and dirty" and also guaranteed to flounder. Or put a tough, take-charge woman in a girly, frilly plot situation. Taking characters out of their comfort zone and dumping them out of their element in an opposing plot device only ratchets up the angst level for character and reader alike.
Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: A large part of the excitement that goes with being an author is the ability to create characters for your story and to make them do what you want -- or in some cases, do what they want. Another joy is the right to name your characters. As for my characters, a few first or last names were given as a special nod to family members or friends. Kayli Heddon in Everglades was named after my niece Kayli who was born while I was writing the story. Rachel Kelly and Jill Henry from Angel to the Rescue were named for my first-born and second-born nieces.
The majority of my characters select their own names. Now, lest you think I have gone off the deep end, allow me to explain. When I write, I see movies running in my head. I also see characters -- my hero, heroine, villain et al -- in these movies. As each character makes their debut in the story, he or she arrives with physical traits that bring a name to my mind. I can't really explain it any better than that. It's like when you see a guy walking down the street, and he looks like a Fred to you, or a Jack or a Percy. I see characters in my scenes like that. The heroine in my WIP is Corinna Rigatero, who goes by the nickname of Cory. When she was born in my imagination, she only needed to be Italian to fit into the story. When I saw her the very first time -- silky brown hair, tomboyish, determined, courageous -- I saw a Cory. How did I pick her last name? Rigatero was Italian and fun to say. Sometimes it's as simple as that.
Q: What genre would you like to try writing that you haven’t yet tried?
A: Westerns have held my fancy since childhood. I grew up watching Roy Rogers, Rowdy Yates from Rawhide, Trampas from The Virginian, and of course, the Bonanza boys. Hard as it may be to believe, John Wayne is still my favorite all-time movie star. There will never be another big-screen actor quite like him. So, yes, I would love to write a western. Now, I just have to figure out how to worm an angel or a Cinderella into the story.
Q: Give one advice tip to an aspiring author.
A: Here is the one tip that kept me going as a newbie writer and helped me get published: Never give up. The advice originally comes from the great Stephen King who said, "The only difference between a published writer and an unpublished writer is the published writer never gave up."
Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: With every story I write, I get what I call "climax block." Now doesn't that sound scary? The story reaches the big climactic scene at the end of the book, and I can't seem to get the scene onto the page. I know what must happen and even which characters should participate, but I can't seem to get the action sequences to appear on the page. Therein lies my panic. My "climax block" can hold me back for as much as a week or two before the initial action sequence in the climax finally starts to run like a movie in my head. Thankfully, the movie has always shown up, but the shreds of panic always reside in the background waiting for the next climactic sequence.
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Favorite holiday is Christmas -- hands down. I love to buy and give Christmas gifts, and I adore the Christmas lights -- anybody's lights. Two outstanding places to visit during the Christmas season for spectacular light displays are Calloway Gardens for their Fantasy in Lights show in Pine Mountain, Georgia and also downtown Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Both are awesome. And of course, there is always the spectacular light displays in the Walt Disney World theme parks, but I'm used to those -- like the lights at my home -- since I worked there for so many years.
Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: The first surprise is I'm a preacher's kid -- there were seven of us -- and lest you mention preacher's kids are the worst, I'll counter by saying we learned everything we know from the deacon's kids.
The second surprise is that I spent most of my career working as a biologist for the Walt Disney World Resort until I left this year to write full-time. There is no better company in America to work for than the Walt Disney Company. If you have kids graduating high school, go online and find out about their wonderful college program.
Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be a zookeeper -- never wavered in my determination. I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology, which wasn't all bad since I ended up as an aquatic biologist and was able to use most of what I learned, especially the invertebrate zoology and limnology. I was hip deep --okay neck deep -- in my career before I gave the first thought to writing.
Q: Favorite food.
A: Ice cream novelties -- you know… ice cream sandwiches, drumsticks (to die for), fudgesicles, Snicker bars. I could go on and on.
Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: My first date with my darling husband/lifelong sweetheart would probably be my happiest memory, or maybe the funniest. I'd made it to the ripe old age of twenty-six without ever having been to a Chinese restaurant, and so that's where he decided to take me for our very first date. We were seated at a table for four, and my cutie patootie ordered for us -- three courses, starting with soup.
Once we had finished the soup, my sweetheart said, "Now we have to change seats." I gaped at him, wide-eyed, and he added, "So the waiter can get the settings ready for the next course." Well, it was our first date, and I did think he was adorable cute, and I did want to impress him, so we got up and moved. The waitress returned and just stared at us -- like we were crazy. Our little seat shift was repeated once again after the egg rolls were delivered and consumed, and when the waitress returned with our entrees, she finally protested, "Why you move? Stop that."
My sweetheart started laughing, and I knew I'd been had, but he was adorable so I didn't care. In fact, I married him because he made me laugh all the time -- among other things. *wink* And he still pulls tricks on me whenever he can get away with it.
Q: Favorite drink.
A: Caramel Apple Martinis at Ruby Tuesday -- more dessert than drink by far, and you'll want to lick the caramel trails from your glass.
Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Since I live in Florida, it would have to be chilly winter nights, which we almost never get here. A good reason why we are relocating to our second home in Tennessee.
Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: Top thing is to visit the Scottish Highlands. I love the Outlander series and any and all Highland romances, especially Monica McCarty's Highland Guard series, her Spec Ops in kilts. (No relation, darn it.)
Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: I'd like to fly like Superman. Think of the places you could visit in a day.
Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Desert Breeze Publishing: http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com/mccarty-petie/
Kellen Brand's inheritance turns out to be a whopper -- one dilapidated farm in West Virginia and one guardian angel! Since Kellen is convinced no sane woman would choose to live in Riverside, she vows to sell her farm and quick.
Her handsome and reclusive neighbor Luke Kenyon must block the farm sale or risk exposure of his family's secrets. While Kellen has located one potential buyer, she faces a town full of objectors. Someone is trying to frighten her off, and Luke is forced to step in and rescue her more than once.
Unfortunately, Kellen can't seem to stay out of trouble. She stumbles onto a clandestine hazardous-waste-dumping operation next to her farm, and she prays Luke has one more rescue up his sleeve. It's her only hope of staying alive.
Unless her mother really did leave her a guardian angel…
Without warning, a gunshot sounded, and the bullet ricocheted off a tree about twenty feet away. The Appaloosa jerked hard at the gunshot and then reared. The reins ripped from Kellen's grasp. She grabbed the saddle horn with both hands and concentrated only on staying in the saddle. The frightened Appaloosa reared a second time and bolted for open ground. Kellen could do little more than hang on for dear life.
Two leaping strides and the Appaloosa surged to a full gallop, streaking for the grassy hills. Thundering hooves sounded behind them, and Luke shouted for Kellen to stop. She was helpless, too scared to even glance back at him. The reins trailed beneath the Appaloosa's pounding hooves as the mare continued her panicked race to nowhere. If the mare's feet tangled in the dragging reins, they would both go down.
A fallen tree appeared directly in the mare's path, and Kellen let loose a scream as the sure-footed horse gamely cleared the tree trunk like a thoroughbred jumper. Kellen slipped to the right side of the saddle when the mare landed, and they galloped on across the open field, one leg still straddling the saddle and the other leg dangling precariously between the matched pairs of pounding hooves. She heaved her leg up tight as she could to the mare's belly and prayed it didn't get tangled with the horse's legs, but her muscles weakened with every stride and bounce she sustained. And still the Appaloosa galloped, sheer adrenaline keeping the mare out in front of Luke's mighty stallion.
Bred for endurance, the mare focused on putting as much distance between her and the gunshot as possible; the powerful hooves pounded across the open pasture. Kellen's arms and legs ached, and she didn't know how much longer she could maintain her balance. If she slipped off the mare, she would be trampled to death the second she hit the ground.
As the thought flashed through her brain, the Appaloosa hit a gully and waggled her stride enough to send Kellen further off-kilter. Her knuckles turned white from the pressure of her death grip on the saddle horn, and her legs had nothing left to give. She prayed that if she slipped further, she could muster hidden strength to push off and roll away from the thundering hooves.
The mare aimed for a small copse of trees perched on the side of a hill, and a fresh wave of terror slammed through Kellen. Low hanging limbs would tear her from the horse. Suddenly, Luke appeared alongside. His long arm snaked around her waist and yanked her from the panicked Appaloosa. He slowed Windsor with each stride until he could pull the stallion to a stop and gently lower Kellen to the ground. Her legs gave way the second her feet touched solid ground, and she crumpled to the grass in a heap.
Before she could take a full breath, two strong arms lifted her up, and Luke pulled her tight to his chest. She could feel his heart pounding out its rhythm, as Windsor's hooves had moments before. A single sob erupted when she tried to draw a breath, and she clung to him with what little strength she had left. Her muscles quivered, and she didn't care. For once in her life, she didn't want to be tough. She just wanted this big, strong man to hold on tight.
Long moments passed. She felt him pull away, and a wave of disappointment rushed over her. She looked up at him, and he took her face in his hands and gently brushed his lips against hers, as though asking permission. Whether it was her close call with death or the way Luke had looked when he said her mother was wonderful -- Kellen didn't know and didn't care -- she threw her arms tight around his neck and pressed her lips to his. His muscles flexed hard and crushed her to his chest. His fingers threaded into her curls and then closed into a fist to hold tight.
She grew light-headed, and yet he kissed her as though he would never stop. His mouth tasted and searched hers, first gently and then passionately and then gently yet again, keeping her off-balance. This sometime-frightening, sometime-charismatic man seduced desires from deep within her soul where she kept them under lock and key. She knew she should pull away, but she couldn't -- wouldn't. She felt his muscles flex beneath her hands, and a ripple of excitement sent fresh waves of giddying hunger rifling up her spine.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Nothing other than a big thank you to the Romance Books 4 Us reviewers and readers for allowing me to spend time with you today.