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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Author Pam Carter Ripling aka Anne Carter

I'm so pleased to have author Pam Carter Ripling on my blog today. She's the author of several romantic-suspense novels (written as Anne Carter) as well as Young Adult books. She also writes non-fiction, freelances, and is the owner of Valdata Services, Inc, a trust accounting firm. You can read all about Pam and take a peek at her blog here.

I just finished reading "Cape Seduction", and it was good on so many levels. While on assignment in Northern California,  professional photographer Rebecca Burke thinks she sees a woman in red on the steps of a deserted lighthouse. She's determined to travel the treacherous waters to check things out for herself.  The anonymous owner is impossible to reach except through Los Angeles attorney, Matt Farralone, so Rebecca fibs her way out to the island to have a look around.  The discovery of an abandoned crib only peaks her interest, and she delves into the history with an eye toward clearing up unanswered questions.

As the mystery unfolds, the story flashes back to the 1940's, and we watch as the original drama unfolds alongside Rebecca's investigation. Starlet Darla Foster was last seen alive at the lighthouse where she starred in her first film. Coincedence? Or something more sinister? It was difficult to say which storyline captured my interest more, but the startling conclusion brings both ends together in a in a way that resolves both stories and satisfies the reader.

We’re casting your latest book for a movie. Who do you envision in the lead?
Since CAPE SEDUCTION takes place in two different eras and has two sets of characters, it has a variety of roles. Sometimes a particular actor will strike me as having a number of matching characteristics, and in this case the actor was Matthew McConaughey who filled out the role of present-day hero Matt Farralone (name was coincidental). Most interesting, to me, was my role model for Darla Foster, the heroine from the past. She was actually inspired by real-life 1920s actress Alice White, whose face appears on the cover. Playing her on film would probably  be Reese Witherspoon.  

Lighthouses. They feature in your romantic suspense books. Which comes first? The lighthouse or the story?
Good question! For POINT SURRENDER, the story came first, as the lighthouse is fictional. I did have a specific lighthouse in mind, but that sort of formed afterward. CAPE SEDUCTION, however, was written specifically about a very real lighthouse—inspired by and written about St. George Reef Lighthouse near Crescent City, California.

Pam, I want to know more about lighthouses--if they are publicly or privately owned, what they are being used for now, if there are still active ones off the California coast, if there are web sites and resources for people interested, and if they can visit and tour these lighthouses. What do you look for in a lighthouse for inspiration--the history, the architecture etc.?
Jackie, it’s estimated that there are about 680 lighthouses left in the U.S., of which around 600 are still operated by the U.S. Coast Guard. The rest are privately owned. Some of these are still operated and considered “active aids to navigation,” while others are private residences, bed & breakfasts, museums and landmarks. California has around thirty-six lighthouses at this time, protecting its 840 miles of coastline.
I visit as many as I can when I travel. There is nothing quite like the feel of climbing that winding staircase, hearing the echo in a cylindrical tower, peering out at the ocean once you’re at the top. You can almost hear voices from the past murmuring. Most inspiring for me is the architecture, the setting, and yes, sometimes the history. I’ve already chosen Angel’s Gate as the location for my third lighthouse mystery. This lighthouse, also known as Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse, is another offshore beacon, and is completely unique in design.
Those interested in lighthouses can find a wealth of information online. One of my favorite sites is LighthouseFriends.com. These wonderful people have tons of useful information, including history, directions and accessibility to lighthouses all over the U.S.
Some of your books take place in or at least flash back to the past. How much research does this involve?
Glad you asked. Research is one of my favorite activities when writing a book. For CAPE SEDUCTION, I had a myriad of subjects to research. First, the late 1940’s era; the slang, clothing, pop culture. How much would Darla pay to see a movie? What would she wear? What was the airplane like she took to Northern California, and was there even an airport where she was going? More, if the characters smoke cigarettes, which would smoke the elite brand, and what was it called? For the lighthouse scenes, I had the good fortune to meet and interview a retired Coast Guardsman who’d actually lived at St. George. His recollections were invaluable.

Paper books haven’t disappeared, but ebook sales are growing. How does this affect you as a writer? For example, the writing process, how you work your appearances, etc.
I have always been a big proponent of ebooks, so I’m happy about the increase in sales. It affects me as a writer in the way I market. There used to be a bigger divide between ebook readers and those who prefer paper books. That gap is narrowing as people get more used to reading electronically. It’s not so much an “either, or” situation anymore. This is a good thing for writers who have had to divide their marketing energies and resources to cater to both types.
As for personal appearances, that’s an evolving animal. At a signing or a book fair, we are selling an intangible that people can’t hold in their hands. We are, essentially, asking them to take an active role, seek out the book online—if they can remember it—and buy/download it there. Over the years, some authors/publishers have tried selling ebooks on diskettes, CDs and DVDs, but to my knowledge it hasn’t been particularly successful.
Many authors have success with book clubs and even include questions on their web pages or in the books for these clubs to consider. What’s one question you’d like to ask readers to consider while reading your books?
Honestly, it’s something I’ve never thought about. On the fly, I think I’d want readers to be aware of the lighthouse-as-character aspect. What role does the lighthouse play? If the lighthouse has a personality, is it benign, helpful, safe, or is it antagonistic, dangerous, etc. The answer, of course, might lie with the POV of the character experiencing the lighthouse.
Social Media is such a big deal now. How much time do you spend on it, and what platform works for you?
I tried several at first, on the advice of my publisher. Like many, I use Facebook to stay in touch with fans as well as family, friends and fellow authors. I enjoy participating in Goodreads, both as an author and a reader. As for how much time I spend, it varies. Overall, I think people in general spend way too much time on social media. All one has to do is ignore it for a few days to discover how much of life passes by while sitting at the keyboard. There is a healthy medium that many exceed.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
Getting books into the hands of readers. It’s a resounding issue. There is tremendous competition for the public’s attention and their dwindling disposable cash. We, as authors and publishers, spend a lot of time thinking up innovative ways to market books.
You write under two names. Why? And could you explain the differences in the books? And has it been confusing for readers at all?
My first romance novel was written 20 years ago. At the time, it was a very different and scary thing for me, but also exciting. Most romance authors I knew of had pseudonyms, so I thought I should, too. When I was finally published, my father had just passed away, and it meant something to me to use his (my maiden) name as a kind of homage. Hence, Carter.
After I’d written a few romances, I wrote a middle grade mystery. It seemed inappropriate to have both genres under the Carter name, since theoretically the younger readers could mistake one of my more “mature audience” books for another middle grade. It hasn’t caused any confusion that I know of.
Tell us what’s next for you?
As mentioned, I’m already at work on the next lighthouse book. I plan to offer more lecture dates in 2012, as I find more and more people are interested in lighthouses and literature. I enjoy the festival circuit and will likely turn up at the Ventura Author Festival and L.A. Times Festival of Books, where I participate with a group of mystery authors we call “Murder We Wrote.”
Thanks, Jackie, as always, for a stimulating and interesting interview!

4 comments:

  1. It's so nice to see Pam get out among the cyber-peeps! I loved Cape Seduction and can't wait for another lighthouse mystery. Wish I could be with you in Ventura.

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  2. Thank you so much for being on today, Pam. I saw that commenters stuck to FB today. (Maybe I should copy and paste, but I think that would violate something.)

    I look forward to your talk at B&N. As soon as it's scheduled, make an announcement, please!

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  3. Thank you, Jackie! You know I'll be pulling out the bullhorn when I get on the B&N calendar!

    Pam

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