Thursday, October 4, 2012

Q & A with Mary Castillo

Hello and welcome to Storm Goddess Book Reviews! Please give a warm welcome to Mary Castillo. I have Mary in the interview hot seat. Come on and learn about an author. If you would, please leave us a comment, letting us know you stopped by.

Hi Mary, and welcome to Storm Goddess Book Reviews & More. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Tell me about yourself, and your writing.
Hi, I'm Mary Castillo. I write contemporary paranormal fiction with historic elements. There's a bit of romance, both happily-ever-after and tragic.

How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
My books have been published by HarperCollins, St. Martin's Press, Akashic Books and now through my own imprint, Reina Books. I've grown from writing chick lit to romantic comedy and now to contemporary paranormal. Lost in the Light is my fourth novel. It spins off a chick lit novella published in Names I Call My Sister.

Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
Lost in the Light is the book I've always wanted to write but was too afraid to do so! But with a lot of introspection (and tea), I took on the challenge to write a story that didn't fit too neatly into a genre. I like novels that tell great stories with romance, mystery, drama and maybe a tragedy or two to keep me on my toes. There were moments while writingLost in the Light when, even as the author, the characters took me by surprise. Hopefully the same will happen to readers!

Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
I outline but I'm open to spontaneity. The outline is really helpful during the revision phase, which for me is quite arduous but also my favorite time with a story. I use it as a map and even if surprises come along, I can quickly go back to the outline, mark where I need to make changes in previous chapters and then keep plugging along.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

Right now, I'm writing new material and that is the first thing I tackle every morning. After a couple of hours banging away at that thing, I check into Facebook and Twitter to see who is doing what and with whom. Then in the afternoons I put on my public relations hat and work on client projects. I write new material on an AlphaSmart so I can't go back and tinker. It forces me to push on to the end. As long as I don't get hit by a bus, I'll go back and revise!

Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
The best book I've read this summer was Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. Her writing is funny, dark, creepy and just plain awesome! Right now I'm addicted to books by Susanna Kearsley, Deanna Raybourn, Charles Todd and Bella Andre.

What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
In the next year my goal is to publish The Ballad of Aracely Calderon and then get to the next Dori Orihuela novel. That's it.

Every day that I sit down and write, whether it’s a whooping 20 pages or two pages, I have achieved something. Jennifer Cruise once said in a speech, "[Authors] get to create something out of nothing. How awesome is that?" If I could go back to my young, aspiring writer years, I'd tell myself to pay attention to what I love and do best, which is to write. Everything else will work out in its own way.

If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
I want to be a Jedi! Or Wonder Woman. I can't decide but flying and kicking butt are high on the list.

If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
I would keep a Phoenix who would remind me that as long as I'm breathing, I can get up, dust myself off and do it again.

Tell us a little about your latest release.

Here's the back cover blurb:

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 Dori's 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.

Here's my personal take:
I love the movie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and I wanted to go back to Dori Orihuela and her family from Names I Call My Sister because she remained a bit of a mystery, and of all the characters I've written, she's the one people ask about! I've taken events and people from my own life. I grew up in a haunted house, so yes, I do believe life doesn't end when our bodies die. Dori's house is based on a mansion in my hometown that I used to drive by when I was a kid. (I still do when I visit my mom and dad.) Grammy Cena is my Aunt Irma, who passed away in September. When my mom read her the first chapter of the book, my Aunt Irma said, "I would never wear mango!" She died the next day and I'm really happy that she knew how much I loved and admired her by creating this character.

What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
My breath. Sorry, I know that sounds facetious but you know how it is when you get a cold and suddenly you wish for the day when you can breathe through your nose and sleep through the night? To me, the breath is everything. When it is coming in tight and painful, I know it is time to slow down and relax. When it comes in gently and smoothly, I'm in a good place. 

Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
With three amazing writers, I published Names I Call My Sister. It was so much fun. We were left to our own devices but it was fun collaborating on the theme and marketing ideas. I'd love to do it again.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
I would love to be the fly on the wall when Abraham Lincoln had a nervous breakdown in 1836. This was a man who was quite familiar with failure and yet, he always got right back up.

Failure is a good teacher. By stripping away the ego and all that make believe stuff, failure has revealed my strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately it has shown me that as long as I'm alive and breathing, I can do it again and probably better!

What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
I started knitting last October and haven't stopped since. My son and I grow a garden and we're going to try winter vegetables, which in Southern California may not be a huge challenge! We're also preparing for Halloween by painting calavera masks and planning the most effective ways to scare trick-or-treaters.

If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
If I were a well-financed producer, I would adapt Deanna Raybourn's Julia Grey series for Masterpiece Theatre. Of my own work, Lost in the Light or Switchcraft would be good candidates for movies. But making a movie is a feat unto itself and since I like to work alone, I'm happy to leave it up to the professionals!

What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
To sing

Favorite color?

Weather: Hot or cold?

Favorite place to read?
Under the Japanese maple in my backyard

Favorite meal
Enchiladas suizas with rice and beans

Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Coffee with pumpkin pie spice and warm milk.

If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
I would love to visit the Incan and Mayan sites in South America.


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 Dori's 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 Westside barrio of National City, California. Mary Castillo's latest novel, featuring the wild Orihuela family that first delighted readers in Names I Call My Sister, weaves romance, history and mystery into a humorous, touching and unforgettable story.

Review Rating: 4.5 LIGHTNING BOLTS

REVIEW:  Dori has just gone through life changes. What's more is when she buys an old house, there's going to be more changes than she could ever imagine.

Lost In The Light is an enchanting story that takes the reader from present to the past. Full of mystery, emotion, and a plot that keeps the readers on their toes, I couldn't peel my eyes away. I'm a sucker for stories with ghosts and that reflect on the past, finding ways to entwine them with today. The characters are so well written and easy to relate to. I was sucked right into the story.  Ms. Castillo, you've got a new fan. I can't wait for more! 

If you're a fan of a mixed genre book, try Lost in the Light. Very highly recommend it!

Author Bio:

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 ofForever 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 (SwitchcraftIn Between Men andHot Tamara) and three novellas featured in the anthologies, Orange County NoirNames I Call My Sisterand Friday 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.

Connect with Mary!

Buy the Book!

Barnes & Noble Nook:


  1. Good interview - I love when an author challenges themselves to go outside the genre they normally write in. Lost in the Light sounds like an interesting book - thanks for the review