Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Author Interview: Francesca Prescott

Current Read: Sweet Spot by Susan Mallery





Please welcome today's featured author, Francesca Prescott!

Welcome to Armchair Heroines, Francesca! Tell us about your debut release, “Mucho Caliente!”

Hello, Tiffany! Thank you so much for having me on Armchair Heroines. “Mucho Caliente!” is an effervescent, shamelessly romantic, feel-good comedy about a recently divorced, thirty-seven year old woman who falls in love with a world-famous Latino pop star. Take “How Stella got her Groove Back”, add a touch of “Notting Hill”, a pinch of “Shirley Valentine,” a backdrop and atmosphere reminiscent of “Mamma Mia – The Movie” and you’ll have an idea of its funky flavor! It is a colorful, vivid, giggle of a book, set on the island of Ibiza, Spain. It is a story about daring to believe in yourself and to have faith in other people when you’ve been burned. It is about attempting to take control of your life even though you’re terrified of making mistakes, and about taking chances while remaining true to yourself. It is about the angst of falling in love with a (very famous!) younger man. But it’s also about the wonderful friendships between women that are often laced with a touch of rivalry. I’m also very pleased to report that “Mucho Caliente!” is currently ranked Number One on BookStrand’s Mainstream Bestselling E-book chart. It is available in print from Amazon.com as well as Barnes and Noble.com. It’s an uplifting, entertaining read; perfect for the holiday season!
Are there things about your characters to which you could easily relate? Things to which you had difficulty relating?

Well, this morning I can definitely relate to Gemma being attracted to starting a new life in Ibiza, if only for climatic reasons. It’s arctic outside! As much as I love living here, I could do without the long, cold, grey winters we get in Switzerland. I’ve always had a thing for islands in the sun; the book I’m working on now is also largely set on an island; a Greek one this time. I’d love to wake up to a bright blue sky a little more often, and the sea on my doorstep would certainly be a big plus. Can you imagine being able to spend most of the year in flip-fops? Or barefoot? Heaven!

Seriously now, when Gemma decides to start her life afresh, one aspect of her journey I can really relate to is her desire to become financially independent. I’m not sure she had to go so far as to dismiss her husband’s divorce settlement; she’s certainly a brave girl! I admire the fact that, despite her insecurities, Gemma goes as far as to risk losing Latino superstar Emilio Caliente because of her determination to stand on her own two feet. She knows that self-respect is the foundation of any lasting relationship and I agree with her wholeheartedly.

I also think the way in which Gemma interacts with her girlfriends, Celeste and Laura, is similar to the way I behave with some of my closest girlfriends. While writing the book, I enjoyed delving into that unique, heartwarming “girlie” camaraderie. It seems to me that women are far more spontaneously supportive towards one another than men. And although we meet new people, make new friends all the time, few friendships truly last a lifetime, weathering separations and misunderstandings, withstanding the vast spectrum of unpleasant emotions that creep up on us despite our best intentions. Like anybody else, Gemma isn’t immune to being zapped by the ugly stick. She struggles with insecurities that sometimes translate into jealousy and selfishness, but at least she’s aware of it.

A character I can’t relate to at all? Emilio’s manager! She is one nasty piece of work! Bad to the bone!

What are you working on now?
I’m rewriting a romantic saga, “Turn Left at the Ocean”, which is set in England, California, Sicily and the island of Ithaca in Greece. It’s about a multicultural family struggling to transcend life’s tougher curve balls through love and hard work, as well as by focusing on the silver lining that life invariably has hidden somewhere up its sleeve. It’s a big-hearted, optimistic story, and writing it has been a humbling, emotional experience. I’m also letting loose by writing short, humorous pieces for various webzines and blogs, as well as sketching out a sequel to “Mucho Caliente!”. 2008 has been breathlessly busy, yet I’ve found the publishing process extremely stimulating. I’ve learnt a lot, met loads of interesting new people, pushed my creative boundaries, gained in confidence and generally had a lot of fun.

Congratulations! Do you do anything in particular to prepare for writing? Light candles, listen to specific music, wear a favorite piece of clothing?

I tend to burn a lot of incense. I love the strong, pungent smell of an Indian incense called Nag Champa. On days when my creative juices are particularly bunged up, sometimes all it takes is a whiff of Nag Champa to get them flowing again. There have been desperate days when the entire neighborhood has reeked of Nag Champa! Unfortunately, I’ve recently been told that it’s not very healthy, so I’m trying to cut down. I also tend to drink way too much coffee.

Music has always played an important role in my writing routine; what I play depends on what I’m working on. For example, when I was writing “Mucho Caliente!” I spent days on end listening to electro-lounge type compilations, to Flamenco, and to mainstream Latino artists such as Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz and Enrique Iglesias.

For “Turn Left at the Ocean,” if I’m involved in a scene set in California, I’ll listen to tracks from The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Sarah Lachlan, Alison Krauss or Keith Urban. For island scenes, I’ll get into a Greek groove by playing musicians such as Giorgos Dalaras and Angelique Ioanatos. It’s like…musical teleportation! As for a favorite piece of clothing, I love to wrap myself in a seriously threadbare, off-white, old cashmere shawl. It’s my creative security blanket and I don’t know what I’ll do when it falls apart.

I love the visual your answer creates: you in a smoky, incense-filled room, wrapped in your loved shawl, drinking coffee and jamming out! :0) Is there a book or author on your bookshelf you keep returning to? Why?

You should see the state of my dictionaries! Other than those, the books I return to tend to be “how-to” books, or books offering some sort of comfort or “spiritual” guidance. In moments of great creative insecurity, I’ve often picked up Julia Cameron’s books: The Artists Way, The Vein of Gold, or Walking in this World. I find them blissfully comforting. I also love all the little quotes Julia Cameron adds to the sidebars of her pages, such as this gem from Victor Hugo: “A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil”. Isn’t that beautiful?

When it comes to fiction, there are definitely authors I’ll seek out time and again: Anita Shreve for her lyrical talent, Bill Bryson for his comic genius, Elizabeth Berg for the depth of her characters.

If you had to choose a soundtrack for your life, what would it be?

Oh dear…I love this question and could spend hours compiling one of those box set CD collections! My childhood was an oddball mix of The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, as well as classical composers such as Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Léo Délibes. I did ballet as a child, spending loads of time prancing around the living room in a homemade tutu and pink slippers. My adolescence was a mix of Abba, Supertramp, The Eagles, Blondie, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Roxy Music, Elton John, Bread (the ultimate make-out music!), Jackson Browne, KC and the Sunshine Band, Gerry Rafferty, The Police. My early twenties were a little pseudo-tortured: part of me wanted to be dark, edgy and mysterious in the spirit of bands like The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen. Meanwhile, my shiny, happy side loved bouncing around to Madonna, Michael Jackson, Banarama, A Flock of Seagulls and…Kajagoogoo! By my mid-twenties I was big on Duran Duran, Peter Gabriel, Terence Trent D’Arby and George Michael. During my thirties, I got into Bryan Adams, Phil Collins (who lives in a village nearby!), Backstreet Boys, Take That and Ricky Martin. Nowadays, my I-Tunes library features a giant medley of all of the above, and much, much more! Right now, as I type, Ricky Martin is singing one of his great Spanish hits, Vuelve. Do I have a soft spot for him? Hmmm! Gosh, I hope I haven’t rambled too much! Mention music and I get carried away…

Absolutely not - rambling is encouraged here! I love music, too. Why do you think I asked that question!? :0)

I’ve really enjoyed this interview, Tiffany. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I sincerely hope that the person who wins a print copy of “Mucho Caliente!” will enjoy reading it. There is a lot more information about me on my website at www.francescaprescott.com. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with feedback and any further questions.

May your lives be filled with peace, love, light and… laughter!

xx Francesca

So, you heard her, gals! One lucky commenter wins a copy of "Mucho Caliente!". Check out Francesca's website (she's also a "rock star", did you know?). Also Mucho just got a great review! You can check it out here.

30 comments:

Helen Hardt said...

Hey ladies -- How Stella Got her Groove Back and Mamma Mia? Sounds like a winner to me! Congratulations on the release!

Helen

Francesca Prescott said...

Thank you Helen! I certainly had a blast writing it!

xx Francesca

ddurance said...

Hi Francesca! With that introduction to your book, how could anyone not want to read it? It sounds like so much fun. LOL

What a nice soundtrack to your life, lots of oldies but very goodies.

Deidre

lastnerve said...

Please don't count this as an entry as I already have this wonderful book and I most definately want someone else to be able to enjoy it as much as I did. This will definately be a book that I will read over and over again. That was a great interview Francesca! I can't wait to read the book that you are rewriting and I most certainly am looking forward to the sequelS to Mucho! Congratulations on your present and future success!
Val

April Vine said...

Hi Tiffany and Francesca
Excellent interview, everything about it says Mucho Caliente will be a book I won’t forget reading.
PS.I love Indian incense too, but I’ve also cut down somewhat for the same reason.

Francesca Prescott said...

Hello Deidre! It's snowing on my little Swiss village this morning so no swaning around barefoot for me today! Actually, I like it when it snows, it's so pretty...
Thanks for your heartwarming comment :) It was nice to wake up to this morning!
xx Francesca

Francesca Prescott said...

Miss Val! You are such a sweetie; you don't know what it means to me when you say you'll be reading "Mucho Caliente!" over and over. It is a happy book - even now, when I think of little snippets of it, I can't help chuckling! I'm one of those daft people who laughs at their own jokes...:)

Thanks again,
xx Cesca

Francesca Prescott said...

Hello April, thank you! About the incense, I'm burning some this morning, not because I'm having a "moment of creative doubt" but because the entire house smells of last night's grilled lamb chops...I've opened the windows, but since it's snowing outside, I need a little help from India!
xx Francesca

Tiffany James said...

Hi, Helen!

I totally agree. :0)

Thanks for stopping by.

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Deidre,

Great to see you! And you are sooo right. I love Francesca's excitement and her blurb had me scrambling to get started on Mucho.

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Val,

Thanks for stopping by Armchair Heroines. Francesca is lucky to have a reader like you. Isn't it great when you find a book that speaks to you so strongly?!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Hi, April!

Thanks for joining us. Glad to hear you enjoyed the interview!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Francesca,

Mmmm, grilled lamb. You are a woman of many talents!

I'll bet the snow looks absolutely gorgeous.

Thanks for being here with us!

Tiffany

Lindsay Townsend said...

Fun and fascinating interview, Francesca! Hi Tiffany! Great questions, as always!
Congratulations to both of you!

And if I don't have chance to say it anywhere else - HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!!

Jami Davenport said...

Francesca, Great interview. Your book is a sure winner. I love it!!!

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Tiffany,

We're experiencing flighty, temperamental snow here today. It can't decide whether to stick or not...

Thanks so much for the interview!

xx Francesca

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Jami,

Thank you, sweetie! I'm looking forward to buying "The Gift Horse" when it comes out. It's a great book, just like "The Dance" and "Who's been Sleeping in my Bed"!

xx Francesca

Lee Silver said...

What a fun interview, Francesca :) Congratulations on Mucho Caliente topping the chart as BookStrand's #1 Mainstream Bestseller!

Lee

Lee Silver
"Romance with a Twist"
THE TWIST, BookStrand #1 Bestseller
www.LeeSilver.org

Savanna Kougar said...

Francesca, what a wonderful uplifting and fun interview! And congrats on being Mainstream #1!!!

Francesca Prescott said...

Hello Lee! Thanks for coming to see me!

xx Francesca

Francesca Prescott said...

Hello Savanna, I'm glad you enjoyed my interview. Tiffany asked great questions, so it was easy :)

Thanks for coming over here!

xx Francesca

robynl said...

who can not want to read this book after reading the interview and what the book is about.

Francesca Prescott said...

Thank you Robyn! Gosh, I hope everyone does enjoys it if they do read it!!! Yikes! But I doubt anyone will really hate it, so I guess I'm ok!

xx Francesca

BethRe said...

Your books sounds refreshing

Tiffany James said...

Hi, Lindsay,

Great to *see* you! Glad you enjoyed the picking of Francesca's brain.

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Jami,

Thanks for joining us. Glad you enjoyed the interview!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Lee,

Good to see you. Itsn't that amazing news about Mucho!?

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Savanna,

So glad to hear you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for joining us.

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Robyn,

Doesn't Francesca do a wonderful job of explaining her book? I love her excitement!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Beth,

Thanks for joining us! I think refreshing is a perfect word to describe Francesca's book!

Tiffany