Monday, August 2, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH PAM RIPLING/ANNE CARTER

Enjoying the Waves welcomes author of romantic women's and young adult fiction, Pam Ripling/Anne Carter.






Amy Winslow isn't looking for a mystery; she doesn't even like secrets. In fact, secrets have nearly destroyed her life. So, when a terrible accident forces her to take control of her brother's mysterious California lighthouse, Amy finds herself immersed in its shocking past and uncertain future. Enchanted by the mystery, she refuses to rest until she finds out who died in the aging white beacon, and why. Case McKenna hasn't quite reconciled his own painful history when he sails his crippled boat into Newburg Harbor, intending to stay only long enough to make repairs. His plans change when he becomes entangled with a local couple intent on restoring a long-shuttered lighthouse. Despite an overwhelming urge to flee, Case follows intrigue and passion, as he, too, finds himself drawn in by Point Surrender...
After being the backdrop for 1948's critically acclaimed tragic romance, Cape Seduction, Northern California's Dragon Rock Lighthouse sat shuttered and abandoned for decades—and it also happened to be the last place up-and-coming Hollywood starlet Darla Foster was seen alive. When photojournalist Rebecca Burke locks horns with Los Angeles attorney Matt Farralone while trying to gain access to the derelict off-shore beacon, she encounters the spirit of the sassy, once-promising Oscar-hopeful Foster, and uncovers a 60-year-old secret that sets her world on end.


Pam, my readers and I are thrilled that you've agreed to join us. I am personally psyched that one of my high school classmates, author of Point Surrender and Cape Seduction has taken time out of her busy schedule to chat.

Susan, I am never too busy to talk about books! Thank you for inviting me to your blog. As my favorite Starship captain would say, "Engage!"

Then let's get started. You write under the names Pam Ripling and Anne Carter. What prompted your decision to use two different names? And which genre came about first?

My first publishing credits came from a short story and a poem, both written under my “regular” name. When I ventured into full-length fiction, my novel was a romance and I thought it a romantic notion to have a pen name. I chose Anne because it’s my middle name and Carter is my maiden name. This was all well and good until I started writing middle grade books. I worried that my younger readers might go looking for more books and end up with my adult-oriented romances. So I used Pam Ripling for the kid stuff. All that planning went out the window this year when I was published in the Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles mystery anthology MURDER IN LA LA LAND– as Pam Ripling. It was a last minute decision.

Interesting. Now that you've published an adult mystery using Pam Ripling will you continue to use Anne Carter? And do you prefer one genre to the other?

Yes. The story for MURDER (“Just Like Jay”) is a departure, not at all a romantic story. What I am conflicted about is my middle grade works. I know many authors who write in more than one genre, and quite successfully by all appearances. I have a difficult time with marketing to adult women and grade school kids simultaneously with two separate personas. Both can be full-time jobs. I really liked delving into the crime fiction, and would be more likely to head that direction than to develop much more in children’s lit. But the romantic stuff will continue to be penned by Anne.
Crime and romance.

Two of my favorites. Pam, you and I went to high school together, and I have to wonder for all your young adult readers and the new writers out there, was there anything or anyone specific from high school that you would say was a major influence on you?

In 8th grade, I took a class in Creative Writing. My teacher was Mrs. Murray. I hadn’t really written before then, but something about the class intrigued me so there I was. She taught us a lot about story structure, characterization, setting...the usuals. She encouraged me. My favorite teacher in high school was Mr. Barry Lamare. His passion for writing and literature was a huge influence on me. In fact, our whole English Department was great—although I’ll admit to consulting Cliff Notes a few times during World Lit...

Haha, that's funny. Your secret is safe with me. But speaking of 8th graders and Creative Writing, here's another question for the new and young writers. What are some of the biggest challenges you've had to face as a writer and how did or do you overcome them?

Competition is probably one of the biggest challenges any serious writer faces. When I first decided I wanted to be published, I went the New York route. And the agent route. My first book, STARCROSSED HEARTS, was a contemporary romance about a love triangle between a girl, a movie star and a TV actor. I was told no one in NY would look at an entertainment industry story. Snubbed and burned, I turned to small presses, many of which will look at un-agented work. Still, there is tremendous competition for contracts.

My biggest personal challenge is time. Not many writers have the luxury of not needing income from other sources, myself included. Plus, I tend to be an over-doer with regard to other aspects of my life. So finding time to write, being able to discipline one’s self to sit down and get the words onto paper is definitely a skill.

You seem to have done very well with mastering that skill. I understand that Cape Seduction is part of a three-part series of romantic, paranormal lighthouse mysteries. What motivated you or inspired these stories?

I have always been interested in lighthouses. I visit them, photograph them, collect them. There is something really wonderful about climbing the tower, going out on the gallery, looking out over the sea. There is a lot of romance surrounding the history of lightkeeping, too. Mystery, drama, isolation, fierce dedication, danger... so many words to describe it. It was only a matter of time before I realized I needed to set some stories in and around lighthouses. They represent different things to different people; some equate them with beacons of hope—a light shining in the darkness. Others see them as protection, towers guarding the shore and keeping it protected. Many find them eerie, citing the loneliness, the danger, the madness that sometimes pervades. It takes a very different kind of person to run a lighthouse or to survive the challenge of just living in one.

I never realized how fascinating lighthouses could be. I understand the ones in your books are based on real towers along the California coast. Which ones and how did you decide which lighthouses to use in your stories?

Point Surrender, the lighthouse that figures prominently in the book by the same name, is entirely fictional, created out of several different lighthouses I’ve visited. Visually, I imagined it to look just like Heceta Head in Oregon (used on the cover), although my fictional beacon actually sits somewhere between Big Sur and San Francisco, California. Dragon Rock Lighthouse, however, around which Cape Seduction is told, was inspired by St. George Reef Lighthouse off the coast of Crescent City, California. Being a lighthouse nut, I have read a lot of material on West Coast lights, and when I came across St. George I was like, “Wow. How spooky that would be, inside this creaky, cold, damp relic, surrounded by miles of angry seas. What a perfect place to set a mystery!” This particular lightstation has quite a history, too—the most expensive ever built, the most dangerous, most inhospitable locale, etc. I took some creative license, of course, and gave it a fictional name to keep things right.

Ooooh building suspense. St. George Reef Lighthouse certainly looks spooky. Did you actually travel up the West Coast to research your lighthouse series?

Yes. I’ve actually been to Crescent City twice. But I’ve not had the pleasure of actually setting foot inside St. George. There are a very limited number of helicopter flights out there per year, and just getting to Crescent City from So Cal is a challenge in itself. But one day I will get there. So, I had to rely on other forms of research. There is a fabulous book about the history of the lighthouse, SENTINEL OF THE SEAS, by Dennis M. Powers. I devoured it, then contacted Mr. Powers for more info. He referred me to retired Coast Guardsman John Gibbons, now of Colorado, who spent a lot of time as a keeper back in the early 1950’s. John, or “Gibby” as he’s known, was delightfully forthcoming with facts and lore. Both of these awesome gentlemen were tremendously helpful.

In Cape Seduction, I read that you based your character, Darla, on a famous actress from the early days of Hollywood and film. Who is that and do you often use famous people as inspiration?

Well, I did have a vision in my mind of how Darla should look, and when I saw an old photo of the talented Ms. Alice White, I recognized her as Darla Foster. Alice was from an earlier era than Darla, but I pictured Darla as the type of girl who wanted to emulate a star from the 1930’s. It all worked, for me!

Can give us any information on the third book in the series?

People have asked me why my two earlier books both take place in Nor Cal when I live in So Cal. So... plans are for the third book to be set in Los Angeles. There is an incredible lighthouse in Los Angeles Harbor, called “Angel’s Gate” by most people. It sits at the end of a rocky, 2 mile breakwater and is not open to the public. It’s about to undergo $1.8 million in restoration, so I’m hoping I can get involved somehow. Like Cape Seduction, the new book will have ties to the 1940’s. Many people don’t know that during WWII, the West Coast was targeted by Japanese subs, and the lighthouses were commandeered by the U.S. military. So...

Your short story “Just Like Jay” is published in the Sisters in Crime/LA anthology MURDER IN LA-LA LAND. Was this a one-time venture into short stories, or do you plan to write more?

I definitely want to get back to short stories. They are a labor of love, and command discipline – they force an author to learn how to cut the fat and tighten up every sentence. My publisher Echelon Press, LLC, loves short fiction, and has set up an imprint for them, so I expect to be submitting some manuscripts eventually.

Can you tell us what’s up next for both Pam Ripling and Anne Carter?

As discussed, I’m just starting on ANGEL’S GATE. I have some backlist titles I’ll be re-releasing for Kindle, nook, and other e-readers. I have another completed manuscript that’s “steeping” right now, a very contemporary romance, if you will, about a gay man and a straight woman whose lives become deeply entwined over a period of twelve years. I need to make a decision about my middle-grade works, because I’ve been unable to market them adequately while working on my grown-up stuff.

Is there anything else you'd like to share that we didn't cover?

Readers can find me in all the usual places, plus my own website/blog at http://beaconstreetbooks.com. I recently set up a second blog at http://legendarylighthouses.blogspot.com/where I can talk exclusively about lighthouses, lighthouse lore, photography, travel, etc.

My blog tour will launch on Monday, August 30, 2010 with an interview conducted by author Sean Hayden. That same day, I’ll be blogging at The Romance Studio. The entire two week schedule will be up soon at my website, but I’ll be back here blogging on September 1st!

Thank you Pam. This has been very fascinating and informative.

Thank you, Susan, for a wonderfully inspiring interview!

Pam/Anne

2 comments:

  1. I haven't forgotten this. Still coming up with a drabble. You know how disorganized I am. ;)

    ReplyDelete

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