Author Spotlight: Carla Caruso
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
Journalism! I always wanted to be a novelist but it seemed more like a fairy-tale than something that would ever happen in real life. So I went the journalism route, moving from the city to work at a country newspaper to begin with, then working at a daily News Ltd newspaper in Adelaide as a gossip columnist and fashion editor, and later as a features writer and fashion stylist for (the now defunct) Sydney magazine Nine to Five. Later still, I freelanced for various publications including Shop Til You Drop and Woman’s Day.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
I’d written quite a few crummy manuscripts over the years, but I got more serious about it in 2010 when I went full-time as a freelance journalist. Working from home gave me more flexibility with my work schedule. I was published in late 2012 with a manuscript I’d started writing in Sydney (called Cityglitter), which I originally ‘shelved’ halfway through. Back in Adelaide, about a year later, I found it in a PC folder when I was cleaning up my computer and realised it wasn’t half as bad as I remembered.
Tell us a little more about A Pretty Mess:
A Pretty Mess is the first installment in a rom-com mystery series involving a neat-freak professional organiser – Celeste Pretty – who gets caught up in messy mysteries with a hunky builder (Lenny Muscat). Her first client is a health and fitness guru along the lines of Lorna Jane and Michelle Bridges, named Natalia Samphire – except, unlike the other lasses, Natalia isn’t quite what she seems! Expect a lot of green juices, protein balls, and goji berries in the mix!
In A Pretty Mess, we meet Celeste Pretty a self-confessed neat freak whose job just happens to be a professional organiser and de-clutterer! I’m very keen to know, what or who inspired this character?
My mum – hello Carmela! – is a total neat-freak Virgo. When I say our family home always looked like a magazine spread (and still does), I’m not exaggerating. My mum mops the floor every day, the trinkets are arranged just so like a home-wares store, and her garden is ultra-manicured. We weren’t allowed to wear our shoes in the house as kids or leave anything lying around! I try my best to be as neat as Mum, but I’m not quite there. My dad’s also a builder, like the hero, Lenny, but I swear the series is not about my parents as that would just be plain weird with it being romantically inclined!
Fortunately for the reader, Celeste’s path to romance isn’t quite as orderly as her professional persona, which leads me to the sexy builder, Lenny Muscat… What was the biggest challenge in writing Celeste and Lenny’s romance?
To be honest, I had a lot of fun with this pair, so no real difficulties. Which is why I’m up to Book 3 in the series, which stars the pair, too – although, it also features the budding romance between another lass (Celeste’s nemesis, Imogen Karmel) and her love interest, just to keep things interesting.
What one character trait will most endear Celeste and Lenny to readers?
I think with Celeste it’ll be her relatability. She gets nervous and finds herself in embarrassing situations and all the rest of it. She’s definitely not perfect! With Lenny, I reckon readers will like that he is quite a loyal, protective and reliable sort of bod deep down, despite his playboy persona.
One thing you’d like readers to know about the romance genre… it’s harder to write than people imagine!
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Designing (costume) jewellery. (I did that for a short time as a youngster!)
Biggest accomplishment to date:
Having my beach read, Catch of the Day, in paperback at all the big stores nationwide. (It’s about a glam magazine journalist who gets ‘banished’ to a small coastal town following an office misdemeanour.) Oh, and having my twin boys with my lovely hubby, James 😉
What’s next for you? I’m finishing Book 3 in the Astonvale series, then I’ve got my heart set on doing a two-book series involving twin brothers (my boys are one-year-old), a market garden (my dad grew up on one), and a bit of a love triangle! There will also be some handed-down Italian recipes and stepping back in time in the mix.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
Toddler Taming by Christopher Green (as I said before, I have one-year-old twin boys!)
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Get serious about the fiction thing sooner, join writing groups etc – it is possible to achieve your goal of publication!
What do you find easiest to write? And, the hardest?
Easiest to write for me are the funny bits, especially when one-liners are flying around between friends or there’s a nemesis gate-crashing their way into a scene. The hardest for me are the love scenes. I’m more humorously-minded, so having to think more seriously and emotionally for a love scene requires a bit more ‘digging deep’ on my part. And I so want to get it all right to satisfy the reader!
Favourite travel experience?
Cortina d’Ampezzo – a ritzy ski town in Italy! I went there while covering a jewellery fair as a freelance journalist and the view of snow-capped mountains from my hotel window was seriously like something you’d see on a postcard.
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: Become a New York Times bestseller 😉
Milk, dark or white chocolate? Milk
Red, white, bubbly? Red
Salty or sweet? Salty (hello antipasto and salt-and-vinegar chips! Can you tell I’m Italian?)
Beach or mountains? Beach
Give or receive? Receive!
About the Author:
Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin lads Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. A Pretty Mess is her fifth novel.
A Pretty Mess
Sometimes, to come clean, you’ve got to get your hands dirty…
Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people’s homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale.
But things get messy at Natalia’s mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there’s Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste’s usually organised brain.
When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed? This is the first in the Astonvale series.
For AusRomToday readers, here’s a sneak peek of the cover of the second book in the Astonvale series, Pretty Shore, plus one of my novella, Unlucky for Some – about an ultra-superstitious heroine, who’s put to the test – out November!