Wednesday, October 9, 2013

One on One with Author Carla Sarett of Nine Romantic Stories

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Nine Romantic Stories

Nine Romantic Stories brings together nine “well-crafted” and “original” tales of contemporary women seeking love. Most of the stories were published in literary magazines, and a few are brand new. From the mysteries of early love to online deceptions, Carla Sarett aims to capture the charm and wit of older Hollywood romance, but tinged with the metaphysical. This is romance-deconstructed, turned on its head, and approached with ironical distance and humor—with characters that “enter your daily life.”

In Sarett’s world, love often disappoints, but not without surprise. Characters move, often as not, away from one another: a physicist and violinist are bound, not by a kiss, but the memory of a dead boy; in a reverse take on Hitchcock’s Vertigo, a scorned art historian takes revenge by creating an online persona, and a chance encounter leaves a man looking for “a mirage in hot sand.” These are balanced with comic tales of marital friction and awkward wedding proposals and even more Internet dates gone awry. Plus, for readers who have enjoyed “Career Girl” and “Skinny Girl,” there is another installment of this woebegone heroine’s search for happiness.

Introduce yourself.
I’m a refugee from academia who’s worked in TV, film and market research-- and I started writing short fiction in 2010.  I’ve published my short fiction in over 20 literary magazines since 2011; and was recently featured as Featured Writer of the Month in Crack the Spine.  My flash fiction sampler Crazy Lovebirds:  Five Super-Short Stories appeared in 2013; and Nine Romantic Stories was published in 2012.

What do you want the reader to learn about the characters?
Well, all of my characters are very different or at least I hope that they are.   In Nine Romantic Stories, Beatrice in “A Strange Courtship” is quite mysterious, while Bella in “Bonny Lass” is rather the opposite.  But they’re both contemporary women faced with the choices that we face today.  I hope readers think about those choices, how they mold us.     

 What is the most important message you want the reader to learn?
I dislike fiction in which people (in particular, men) are presented as worthless and basically a downer.  So whereas I don’t consciously steer readers toward any one “lesson,” I want to instill a sense of wonder about people and how surprising life is.   

How will the reader be changed or moved from reading your work?
I want to charm my readers and, if I’m lucky, make them laugh.  I want to create a story that lingers afterward, in the way that old Hollywood movies stay with us.     

 What came first the characters or the idea? 
The story is primary. I think that’s true of most short story writers because character development is better handled in longer forms. 

What made you pursue a writing career? 
Hmm, good question.  I’d never wanted to write a short story in my entire life, so the feeling surprised me.  But I tend to shy away from analyzing myself.  Life takes us on journeys that we can’t anticipate. 

 How often do you write?
Everyday, as much as possible. 

 When you're not writing, what do you like to do?
I’m always listening to music-- in particular, Bach.  But I’m a cheerful person so I like doing whatever I’m doing, even dawdling. 

What are some of your favorite authors and books?
I’m a bookworm, and I can never read enough. Dickens, in particular Bleak House, is my all-time favorite. Willa Cather, especially The Professor’s House, Muriel Spark, Rudyard Kipling’s Plain Tales from the Hills, Wodehouse’s Bertie and Jeeves novels—I like the Yiddish writers, too, especially I.B. Singer. Among contemporary fiction writers: Deborah Eisenberg, Nancy Lemann, and Allegra Goodman.

 What inspires you to write?
I hear a snippet of a conversation, or a story on the news, a friend tells me something -- and I get an idea. There are so many stories floating in the universe that it’s hard to capture them all.

 How do you feed your muse?
Writers have to be careful not to take themselves too seriously.  I try to laugh at myself as much as possible.       

 What books are on your shelf to read?
On my to read list: Victoria Glendinning’s biography, Raffles, about the man who founded Singapore;  Ariel Sabar’s historical memoir, My Father’s Paradise; and more short stories of Guy de Maupassant.   I also have lots of literary magazines to catch up with!     

 What would be your best advice to aspiring writers?
Write often, take pride in what you write, and write for the joy of it.  Read constantly.

 With the publishing in industry constantly changing, what keeps you personally motivated to stay in the industry?
Oh, I’m not in the “industry.”  Agents and publishers are in the industry, and I’ll let them worry about the changes.  Writers will keep on writing, and we can adjust as we like.

What's next for you?
I’m writing a novel based on the character from “Career Girl” (published in Love Hurts), “Skinny Girl” (published in Red Fez) and “Bonny Lass” (in Nine Romantic Stories.)  I also have a memoir about my grandfather that will appear in Blue Lyra Review this fall.  And I do hope to start editing my second major story collection later this year.

How can readers get in contact with you?

Twitter: @cjsarett

My books:

Crazy Lovebirds:  Five Super Short Stories – a flash fiction comedy sampler.  It is free on Smashwords, so you might as well get it here.

Nine Romantic Stories.  Nine different stories of contemporary women seeking love.

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