I am happy to introduce to you Christi Barth who stops by BLI today to celebrate the recent release of her third novel Cruising Toward Love. I discovered Christi this year when I stumbled upon Act Like We’re In Love and fell for the story, the characters and Christi’s writing. (You can read my review of Act Like We’re in Love here.) So please give her a warm welcome and if you like your contemporary romances to be equally funny, witty and steamy, you are at the right place! 😉
Christi: PLOTTER! I do an overview of the entire book, and then I have to outline every chapter. I have beautiful power point charts and everything. Can’t work without them. And after years as an actress, my creative juices only kick into high gear after 6 pm. I do my plotting during the day – well, whenever the ideas strike, which is often either when I’m at the gym or the symphony, oddly enough. But the bulk of my writing takes place between sunset and midnight.
Stella: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Christi: A reader picks up a book on vacation, or maybe on a work trip, stuck in airports (not that there’s anything wrong w/that – all types of reading are good!). A true book lover literally can’t get through the day without reading something. They pre-order auto buy authors months in advance. Often they show up to work with dark circles under their eyes because they just had to squeeze in one more chapter…sound familiar?
Stella: I know you are here to celebrate the release of your latest release Cruising Toward Love (congratulations!), but before we get there, can we please talk about your previous book Act Like We’re In Love since I loooved it so much? 🙂 Can you tell a few words about it to readers who haven’t read my gushing review of it yet?
Christi: Thanks so much for gushing! Here’s the quick scoop: Linnea Larson is appalled when a Hollywood hunk is hired to star opposite her at her family’s theatre. His reputation for playing a superhero on screen and a super stud off screen doesn’t convince her he’s got what it takes to share her stage.
Luke Powell has fame, fortune, and an endless string of women, but is dissatisfied with his picture perfect life. Far From Hollywood’s spotlights, can he find happiness in the footlights of a tiny theatre? Their job is to act like they’re in love, but will they decide it’s worth the leap to fall in love for real?
Stella: Was there a scene or a character you particularly enjoyed writing? (or to the contrary that writing was quite hard but the end result made it all worthwhile?)
Christi: If I end up promoting a hundred books, my answer to this question will ALWAYS be the same. Love scenes are brutal to craft. You can only say he stroked such and such body part so many times, so many ways. The actual writing becomes very clinical and leaches all the sexiness out of it for me. I can grit my teeth through makeout scenes, but when it comes to full blown sex, my requirements are a single white Russian (nope, no other drink will do) and Pink Martini on the cd player. I’m already dreading the one in my WIP, and it is at least six chapters away.
Stella: Can you tell us what we can expect of your latest release and third novel Cruising Toward Love?
Christi: Two characters who are scarred by their shared past, and who were so much in love they hadn’t found a way to move on in ten years. To say that groveling must occur is a massive understatement! The secondary characters, while there for comic effect, have a touching story grappling with big issues like PTSD. CTL floats you to romantic ports of call and will make you laugh out loud multiple times. Oh, and I promise there is plenty of steamy, sexy goodness as well – how does a makeout scene in a hot tub strike you?
Stella: In Cruising Toward Love you foray a bit into the romantic suspense genre, why did you decide to include some chills in your contemporary romance?
Christi: My first book Carolina Heat was a romantic suspense so I had some experience. On the other hand, I also knew that adding a bit of suspense makes the writing MUCH more difficult. But when I thought about two people stuck on a ship for a week, it seemed like I had no choice but to introduce another plot element to keep the readers interested. It did wear my brain out, so I made sure the next book I wrote had no suspense elements whatsoever. You’d think I’d remember the toil and angst, but my current WIP has a huge paranormal suspense plot. Guess I’m a sucker for punishment!
Stella: You always have such well fleshed out secondary characters (both Callie and Ingrid were such uniquely quirky and entertaining characters), that it is almost hard to tell whether they are main characters or not, you spend so much time and detail on shaping them. Is it a conscientious decision to have 2 couples in the centre of the story, or when you start writing these supporting heroes/heroines they simply won’t let you leave them on the outskirts and demand their fare share of the story?
Christi: My first book Carolina Heat was a huge learning curve. I knew nothing about writing and the thought of churning out even 50,000 words required for a category seemed impossible. In order to pad the word count, I panicked and added a secondary love story. It more than worked – that book clocked in at 98,000 words. In my viewpoint, the more love & lust you can smush into a book, the better! So yes, I plot their romantic arc just as carefully as the main hero/heroine.
Stella: I would assume from reading your bio that you drew from you’re your own stage experience for Act Like We’re in Love, was it the same with Cruising Toward Love? Have you been on a Caribbean cruise, have you participated in a treasure hunt? Did you visit those exotic locations you so vividly describe?
Christi: My first cruise gave me the inspiration to write the book – it struck me as a magically romantic location. A few years later I started writing, then coincidentally, ended up on another cruise. For ease of research, I moved all the locations to that cruise’s itinerary, as they were fresh in my mind (shout out to the Celebrity Solstice and its amazing ship!). As a treat for your readers, here is a picture I took in San Juan of a garitas, which features prominently in a scene in CTL. The scavenger hunt is completely my own creation – so I hope all enjoy it!
Stella: In Cruising Toward Love you have a military medic hero who returns from Afghanistan, what kind of research did you do make his character believable and three dimensional?
Christi: Probably not as much as I should have – any errors you may spot are mine. The biggest piece of research fell in my lap at a picnic. A friend who used to be in the Army cut me off when I started talking about the hero’s gun. She made it quite clear that soldiers always refer to it as their weapon. Huge save for which I’m quite grateful! Really, the only other thing I researched were Army bases, so I could figure out where he’d been stationed for the last ten years.
Stella: Can you summarize Act Like We’re in Love and Cruising Toward Love for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?
Christi: Wow – a tough one! ALWIL: A peek behind the curtain at love in a theatre. CTL: Can an unxplnd breakup & 10 yrs of ©ache b cured by the romance-&endless buffets- of a tropical cruise?
Stella: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read Cruising Toward Love?
#1: because it will transport you on a vicarious tropical vacation.
#2: for the aforementioned painful-to-write yet incredibly steamy love scenes.
#3: because it is a funny, sexy and touching romance that will make your day better. I promise.
Stella: What shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?
Christi: This summer I finished the first book in a Chicago wedding planning trilogy, Planning for Love. In the harsh spotlight of reality television, a romance-a-holic wedding planner tries to snare the anti-Cupid. Currently I’m deep in a paranormal romance on the Jersey Shore, full of sex demons and ghosts.
Stella: Can you share with us some little secret trivia, something that not many people know about you?
Christi: Gosh, I don’t hide much! Something that seems very disconnected from my writing life is that I’ve been in the Junior League for ten years. This year is my third stint on the Board. They just don’t mention my lava-hot love scenes in the newsletter….