Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cara Lockwood Interview

The FNC is thrilled to present an interview with Cara Lockwood. Cara is the USA Today bestselling author of I Do (But I Don't), I Did (But I Wouldn't Now), and the Bard Academy Series.

Read on to discover Cara's dream school, her life as a lit nerd, her connections to MTV and Lifetime, which books she'd take to a deserted island and bringing romantic bad boys back to life.

1. What was your creation process for the Bard Academy series? Meaning, what was the original nugget that inspired the books – the character, the academy, the teachers, Heathcliff…? How did it develop/evolve from there?

My agent was the one who suggested I try writing young adult books. In high school, I was what you would call a “lit nerd” – I loved reading, especially the classics. English was my favorite class by far. I started thinking about what would I have liked to read as a teen, and that’s where I came up with the idea of Bard Academy. It might have some spooky elements, but all in all, it’s my dream school.

I really liked the idea of giving Heathcliff a second chance. I know he turns into quite a villain in Wuthering Heights, but I always thought he could’ve been redeemed. He has some very good qualities, too, like being incredibly loyal and tough. That makes him a pretty good action hero, I thought.

Miranda – the narrator – came naturally to me. She’s got a lot of attitude, which I like. And she’s not afraid to tell things how she sees them. I was not at all like her when I was younger, but I would’ve liked to be. She speaks her mind.

2. How do you feel about bringing famous authors and literary characters to life --- doing them justice? Who is your favorite to write?

Heathcliff is my favorite. He’s kind of like the ultimate strong and silent type. Second to him is Ernest Hemingway. He had a great sense of humor when he lived and a lust for life. He would’ve been fun to know, I think.

As for doing classic characters and their authors justice, I’m sure I fail miserably! But I do my best.

3. When in the process did you realize there would be more than one book? How did you outline the series, and did that affect the plot of the first book?

Well, from the outset, I knew there would be at least two books. My contract with MTV Books asked for two from the start. In that way, I knew I didn’t have to tie everything up neatly with the first book. Knowing you have a second makes things a little easier because you know you don’t have to end every storyline.

I didn’t know I’d have a third book, but I hoped I would. I really pushed for it so we could revisit the Heathcliff-Miranda-Ryan love triangle. At the end of the second book, Miranda finds herself on the outs with both of them. I couldn’t let her end up single! It just seemed wrong.

4. What were the most difficult and best parts of building the world of Bard Academy?

The most difficult part was trying to create an authentic high school setting and real characters. I’m pretty far from being a teenager, and I didn’t want to come across as an adult trying to pretend I was a teenager. I wanted a story that would resonate with younger readers. I asked the opinions of some younger cousins to help me keep it realistic. As for the best part, I would say that it’s a lot more fun writing about being a teenager than actually being one.

5. How did you make Miranda a likeable character when we met her in a sticky situation?

That was a tough line to walk. She had to do something bad enough that her parents would be justified in sending her to a reform school, but not bad enough that readers wouldn’t relate to her. I decided that if her biggest bad deed – wrecking her Dad’s car – was done because she was trying to do something selfless like help her sister, then she would be a little more sympathetic. Plus, with her divorced parents largely absorbed in their own problems, Miranda had to parent both her sister and herself. If she acted out, it was understandable.

6. What do you see as your greatest strength and your greatest weakness as a writer?

Hmmmm. That’s a tough one! I think I can probably answer weakness first. I tend to let myself rush to finish a book. Of course, “let” is one way of putting it – and “crunching under deadline” is another way. I often procrastinate, though, which means that I’m often sprinting to the finish. This doesn’t give me as much time to write carefully in those last chapters.

As far as my greatest strength, I suppose it’s my sense of humor. At least, that’s what my agent tells me. Of course, she’s biased.

7. Briefly detail your journey to publication after finishing your first book. (Finding an agent, an editor, promoting the book, etc.)

My first book was “I Do (But I Don’t)” and I sent out about a hundred query letters to agents. Most of them were soundly ignored. I only wish I had hundreds of rejection letters. Rejection letters are better than silence. A rejection letter at least means somebody bothered to read your letter!

But, I was lucky enough to get about five agents who wanted to read a few chapters, and of those two wanted to read the whole thing, and those two asked to represent me. A year later, my agent sold “I Do” to Simon Schuster and a year and a half after that it was finally published. The best advice my agent gave me was “don’t quit your day job yet” back when I signed that first contract. I was ready to march into my boss’s office. But I was lucky I didn’t. It was another year before I saw the first royalty check!

8. You also have an adult supernatural series Every Demon Has His Day. Can you tell us a little bit about this series? How did writing an adult series compare to writing YA?

Every Demon Has His Day was a fun book to write. It’s your not-so-typical Girl meets Demon story, where our heroine discovers she’s the Chosen One who must prevent the conception of the Antichrist. Her only helpers are the ghost of her useless almost-ex husband and a talking French Bulldog in a pink sweater. There’s also the wily and hunky ex, Sheriff Nathan Garrett, who doesn’t believe in anything supernatural, but does believe our heroine might be implicated in the murder of her almost-ex husband.

There are very similar challenges in writing adult books versus YA. You have to develop interesting characters and plots for both. I think the biggest difference is voice. But both adult and teen audiences want stories that resonate.

9. Your novel I Do (But I Don’t) was made into a lifetime movie. Can you talk about that experience?

It was really a fantastic experience. They did a great job adapting the story. I spent a very fun weekend on set, where I met Denise Richards and Dean Cain, who were both very nice. It was a very surreal experience, because they had director’s chairs with my character names on them (Lauren Crandell and Nick Corona). It was like I’d see my own characters walk over and sit down.

10. Which authors have inspired you the most?

I have so many authors I admire. Stephanie Meyer and Sarah Dressen are my favorite YA writers. I love the humor of Sophie Kinsella, Jen Lancaster and David Sedaris. Christopher Moore, Judith Merkle Riley and Charlaine Harris are probably my favorite supernatural writers. But my all-time favorite is probably Jane Austen.

11. You are stranded on a deserted island for five years. What five books would you want with you?

Oh, this is so hard! Pride and Prejudice (without the zombies), Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, Tale of Two Cities (told you I was a lit nerd!), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (only because I’m reading it now and I have to get to the end!), and I should probably break the rules and have a sixth book on how to survive on a deserted island, because I am hopeless when it comes to fishing, building huts or growing fruit.

12. And lastly, you are a USA Today best selling author, with a lifetime movie, multiple books, series and YA and adult fans. Basically, you are> awesome. What else do you want to accomplish?

Wow! Well, if my little girls both learn to say “please” and “thank you” that would be a great accomplishment. Other than that, I would just like to continue to write. Oh, and probably make it to the New York Times bestseller list. Or is that too greedy? Okay, I’ll just stick with the “please” and “thank-yous.”

Thank you so much Cara for stopping by and talking to the FNC!!!

To learn more about Cara check out her website

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Cara! And I loved learning that you're a Christopher Moore fan - he's one of my favorites!


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