Thursday, February 7, 2008

Interview with author, Anne Carter/Pam Ripling

Welcome, Anne

I must admit, I'm a sucker for ghost stories. Your "Lighthouse" books, Point Surrender, and WIP, Cape Seduction have ghostly elements. Have you always been intrigued by ghosts? Will you share a little of both stories?

To answer the first question, no, I haven’t had any particular interest in ghosts before. But lighthouses have always held a special place, and if you study them, you’ll find many of them are considered “haunted.” Lighthouses themselves are thought of as romantic, spiritual, isolated, dramatic. Adding in a paranormal element makes them the perfect setting for a romantic mystery.

Point Surrender is a romantic mystery with paranormal elements. While reluctantly working on the restoration of an abandoned lighthouse for her injured brother, Amy Winslow finds the journal of the last keeper, dead some forty years. Marine veterinarian Case McKenna, helping at the lighthouse while on vacation, isn't so sure the contents of the journal should be made public, but Amy is bound and determined to find out just what happened to the keeper and his missing family. Complicating matters are the secrets both Amy and Case harbor, baggage from their pasts they cannot completely shed. Helping to solve the mystery is a benign ghost or two...

In 1949, up-and-coming starlet Darla Foster goes missing after the release of Cape Seduction, a tragic romance filmed in a California lighthouse. Now, sixty years later, the long abandoned lighthouse is causing trouble for its present-day owners. Has the sexy, eccentric actress returned to avenge her stolen life?

For those who may not be familiar with the lighthouses in your books, are they real? How did you do your research? Meet any interesting real-life characters along the way?

Funny you should ask! Point Surrender is based (physically) on Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon, which is pictured on the cover. However, the lighthouse in the story is located—fictionally—on the California coast near Big Sur.

For Cape Seduction (which is still in progress, mind you), I chose St. George Reef Lighthouse for my setting because of its peculiarities; it’s 6 miles off the coast of extreme Northern California, completely water-locked. Having always been a lighthouse fan, I had a lot of knowledge from which to draw while writing about these stoic guardians. Toward the end of writing Point Surrender, I had the good fortune of being able to stay in a real Washington State lighthouse for a few days while I finished the manuscript. Talk about inspiring!

I recently made contact with a real-life Coast Guard lighthouse keeper, who served 39 months on St. George Reef back in the early 50’s. Since my story takes place partially in 1949, he was able to describe for me the interior of the lighthouse as it would have been for my characters. He also sent me snapshots taken back then. This spring, I hope to take a helicopter ride out to St. George myself. Now that’s what I call fun research!

In your bio you mention being greatly influenced by Hollywood. Tell us about some of the stars you've met and gotten autographs from over the years. Did someone inspire a particular character in one of your books or stories?

I have never actually been an autograph hound, but have (as an adolescent) hung around the gates at the studios for a smile, a wave or just a glimpse of stars as they came and went. And yes, all of my “heroes” have been inspired by entertainers. (Don’t laugh) Paul Newman, Kevin Costner, Richard Dean Anderson, Viggo Mortenson, Ben Affleck, and Matt McConaughey have all made appearances. In Cape Seduction, Douglas Fairbanks makes a great yesteryear hero.

Do you outline? Any special rituals? What's the first thing you do when approaching a new project?

I have outlined, and not outlined. Two things I must do are character lists and timelines. I tend to have more than a few characters, and keeping their names and stories straight is a challenge. When I approach a new project, I just start writing. Fortunately for me, my sister works with me on everything – she is the first reader of each chapter and tells me if I’m off base or made any major faux pas.

Most would categorize you as a romance writer, but Locker Shock is your entry into the young adult genre. What made you decide to write this story?

Locker Shock! was originally written when my oldest son, now 25, was in middle school (or junior high school, in some areas.) This is a story about a 7th grader who finds a gun in his school locker, and must figure out who put it there—while trying not to rat out his friends. It was inspired by all the talk of weapons in school. My own boys wouldn’t know what to do with such a device, and I began to wonder how it would feel to them if they came across a gun at school. Locker Shock! debuts this month, and is written under my “other” name, Pam Ripling.

You're one of the contributing authors in the anthology, The Heat of the Moment, a compilation of twenty short stories with one common theme, fire; published by Echelon Press. Proceeds from the sale of this book will offer aid to those heroes who fought the terrible wild fires in California this past summer, through the "Fire Safe Council of San Diego County." How satisfying has it been to be involved in this project, especially since you're a Southern California native.

This was actually a lot of fun. Writing short stories is a whole ‘nuther animal from novel-length fiction, and forces one to condense their story into a finite space. In addition, it was fun to re-visit some characters I hadn’t conversed with in awhile. Angel of the Morning concerns the “stars” of StarCrossed Hearts, my first published novel. Having this book benefit California fire victims was the icing on the cake.

In addition to that, with every book sold, contributing author, Alyssa Montgomery, and you, are making a donation to the Santa Clarita, CA, Heads Up Therapy On Horseback. Can you tell us why you chose this equestrian center?

Heads Up has been helping disadvantaged and disabled children for nearly 22 years. When the firestorm swept through their ranch, they lost all but their 12 horses. Now, they have relocated to a new ranch, and the owners of which have graciously offered to host them for the coming year. However, governmental red tape—to the tune of $7000 in use permits—is preventing them from re-opening at the moment. Alyssa and I are hoping to raise $500 to help their cause.

You're also a photographer and an award-winning cover artist. If you had to make a choice, would you choose writing, photography, or graphic art?

Hard decision, but writing would come first. All it takes is a pencil and paper. The imagination is always there.

Can you share something funny about yourself that your readers might not know?

Something that happened quite recently comes to mind. Not outright funny, but mildly amusing… As authors, we must seek promotion whenever we can. Two weeks ago I was called on a Friday night and offered a guest spot on a one-hour radio program the next morning, in conjunction with the fund-raiser for Heads Up Therapy on Horseback. Although petrified, I agreed to do it. The radio people were very nice and said it would be easy and fun. So I agreed to do it. Little did I know, the radio program was “Along the Trail” – a program for equestrians and horse lovers. The punch line? Horses scare the heck out of me! Sigh…such a fraud.

Please let us know how and where we can get more information on your writing, Anne.

Best place to find out about me and what‘s happening is my website.
Beacon Street Books ; also, MySpace

And I always encourage readers to subscribe to my on-line newsletter by writing me at

Thanks, so much, for blogging with me today.

Thank YOU, Mary, for a stimulating and fun interview! ~Anne


WriterKat said...

Nice interview! Thanks for introducing me to these books. I am intrigued!

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks for stopping by, WriterKat. Pam/Anne is a very versatile writer. Unfortunately, she's having some web problems so you may not be able to access her webpage. I'll let everyone know when it's up and running again.

Sorry for my late response. I've been out of town for 10 days!

ChristineEldin said...

I'm also intrigued! I wonder if/when anyone will have the courage to write about guns in the middle schools. (not me!) But what a sad and timely topic.

Thanks for sharing this information!

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks, Chris. Guns are a timely topic. These hideous "incidents" seem to breed more and more tragedy. For all who say they have a "right to carry an automatic weapon for hunting and protection," I wonder how countries like G. Britain keep their murder rates so astonishingly low WITH gun control. I hate to think we'll be stuck with this "cowboy mentality" forever.