We are pleased to have as our guest this week Cara Lockwood, the USA Today bestselling author of ten novels, including I Do (But I Don’t), which was made into a Lifetime Original Movie starring Denise Richards and Dean Cain. She’s also written the Bard Academy series for young adults, about a haunted boarding school where literary characters come to life.
Cara’s new project, the e-serial Follow Me (St. Martin’s Press), is out this fall:
Beautiful college student Calypso “Cal” Morgan’s semester abroad had quickly become a steamy summer romance on the gorgeous Greek Isle of Naxos until the morning she wakes, after a night of hard partying, to find her new boyfriend, Daniel, in bed with her wild roommate Gia. But far worse than that, he’s completely covered in her blood. Unable to remember what happened and unwilling to leave each other, Cal and Daniel flee with police detective Nico Theseus close on their heels.
Cara has offered to send one lucky commenter a book of their choosing from her previous ten novels—more details at the end of this post!
Welcome, Cara, and thanks for answering our questions!
How did you come to write your first novel? How long did it take, and how did you fit the writing time into your life?
I wrote my first novel, I DO (BUT I DON’T) in about a year. Finding time to write was always a problem. I’d taken a job as a newspaper reporter out of college with this idea that I’d write fiction “in my free time,” except that working for a mid-sized daily, I HAD no free time. I was working seventy-hour weeks and weekends, too. Eventually, I quit that job and got a strictly nine-to-five one, where I could quietly work on my novel on my lunch hour (and sometimes even while waiting for assignments). It’s amazing how much a Word document looks like…well, work!
You started out in what might be called “chick lit,” and now you’re writing young adult, and—what’s this?—a thriller? Tell us about your journey from one genre to another, and what you like about writing for such a broad audience.
I like the challenge of writing new stories for new audiences. I spent the first half of my career writing chick-lit, but eventually found I’d said all I wanted to say there. Writing for young adults was new and I enjoyed the challenge.
My latest, FOLLOW ME, is a New Adult thriller. New Adult is the trendy thing in publishing, basically a tad more mature content than Young Adult. Basically, my novel is like the HBO show Girls, only with more murders and less awkward nudity.
Your latest works are what you’re calling “e-serials.” Tell us about them, and why you’re publishing them as serials.
It’s really a pretty cool throwback to the Charles Dickens era, when novels used to come out in pieces, much like TV series do. With the e-book revolution here to stay, everyone is trying to figure out how best to use the new e-readers, and e-serials is one of these experiments.
One of your books was made into a Lifetime movie. What was it like to see your book on screen? Was there a change you wish they hadn’t made?
It was surreal. I visited the set in Montreal and felt a lot like Nicholas Cage in Adaptation, where he wanders around the set playing Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter, but nobody knows who he is because he’s the writer. I got that a lot from the crew on set. Like: Who are you? Why are you here again? The funniest thing was that they had director’s chairs labeled with my characters’ names on them, instead of the actors’, so I’d see a chair that said Lauren, and think, my character, the person I created in my own head, is just going to walk out here and sit down with a cup of coffee. Beyond strange.
I did sign over creative direction to them, and I have to say, they did a great job overall. There was one scene where Lauren and Nick were out on a date that somehow ended up in an oddly placed carnival in the meadow (a scene that never happened in the book because why would a carousel be in a field?), but otherwise, they did a great job. I think screenwriters have one of the hardest jobs in the world. They had to boil down about fifty of my backstory pages into three minutes of opening credits. My hat’s off to them.
Do you have any advice for first-time authors as their books near publication?
Don’t be afraid to brag. Tell everybody you know about the book that’s coming out, even if the grocery store clerk hears about it twice, and all your Facebook friends threaten to unfriend you.
What about advice for someone struggling to get started?
Just write a little bit, every day, even if you’re sure it’s your worst work ever. Editing crappy writing tomorrow always trumps staring down a blank page.
Readers, what’s your favorite book-to-movie adaptation? If you’re a writer, have you already cast your story? Who plays the lead?
GIVEAWAY! Comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 17, and you’ll be entered to win one of Cara’s books of your choice—you can browse and pick one here. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. We’ll choose and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
Cara Lockwood was born in Dallas and grew up in Mesquite, Texas. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and worked for several years as a newspaper journalist for the Austin American-Statesman. She lives in Chicago with her two daughters.