Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Author Intervew, Excerpt & Giveaway - Starcrossed by Carla Caruso



by Carla Caruso



Fledgling romance author Simona Gemella is hoping the rugged wilderness of South Australia's Kangaroo Island will help reignite her creative spark after her husband walked out on her (calling her a workaholic and filing for divorce). 

She's joined her best friend, Nessie, on a health and wellness retreat at a mysterious old manor on the island, run by an astrology guru. 

Though Simona's sworn off men, she can't help being distracted by a darkly dangerous man with a scorpion tattoo - Denham Cobalt - who's also staying at the manor. Then strange things start to happen, including uncanny accidents and even a possible murder.

It all culminates at a masquerade party on the night of a total lunar eclipse. Will Simona survive - with her heart intact?



Simona woke with a start, her heart pounding. A dream featuring dark-eyed strangers and clawing scorpions had been interrupted by the sound of footsteps. Real ones. Growing closer. Not far from her bed. She could have sworn it. Although, the pitch black revealed nothing. 

The noise had seemed to come more from the right side of the room, behind the wardrobe. Almost inside the wall. Which was ridiculous. She turned her head, peering into the darkness. 3:08 glowed in fluorescent green digits on the alarm clock radio. 

Grasping the covers under her chin, Simona lay still, waiting for more, her ears pricked. Three glow-in-the-dark star stickers shone down from the ceiling. She imagined a travelling mum sticking them there to soothe their child, remind them of home. Unfortunately Simona needed more than that to placate her. 

Aside from the occasional breathy snort from Nessie, though, silence reigned. Her friend had finally hit the pillow after kicking on to play pool with some backpacker. She had called Simona a stick-in-the-mud earth sign for leaving the pub early. Nessie always had a knack for making her feel dull. 

Simona strained her ears. Still nothing. Her writer’s imagination had obviously conjured up the footsteps. Pity, as she had found it hard to get to sleep in the first place. Phone in her possession again, she had been kept up, mulling over a three-star Goodreads review from a writers’ group pal. Yup, three measly stars. Friends were meant to give you five stars, or four at least to look realistic. It was an unofficial rule. 

But her supposed mate, who had hidden behind a code name (undone by the profile pic of her pet dog), hadn’t been so generous. She had written: I fell in love with the rugged hero and the unique story. The only shame was that some of the more intriguing plotlines weren’t further explored, sacrificed for the romance aspect of the book … 

Um, it was a romance novel, hence, the emphasis on that particular component. Really. Of course, any criticism only hurt because she feared it was true: she was her own worst critic. 

Then, just as Simona was drifting off, Nessie had crashed home, flicking on the lamp so that she could put on her so-called ‘lucid dreaming’ sleep mask. Another bizarre Nessie-style item. This one, she reckoned, helped encourage creative thinking. Though what Nessie needed it for, Simona didn’t know. Dreaming up more crazy holiday ideas? If anyone required it, it was Simona with her severe case of writer’s block.

And now? Now she was imagining things that went bump in the night. 

Why oh why had she been fooled into believing going on holiday with a friend would be fun? It never was. She would have had more luck with inspiration striking at home. Where the internet was never far from her fingertips, and her thoughts weren’t clouded by no-good men. 

Willing sleep to come soon, Simona unearthed an arm from beneath the doona and stretched to tap the bedside table three times. For luck — in case she wasn’t crazy and someone really was lurking about. Touching wood was a vice of hers. Nessie would probably say it had something to do with her being an earth sign and needing to be close to Nature. Really it just meant she was a tad OCD. Besides, the footsteps she’d heard before probably were just in her head — a symbol of her fear of being walked out on again.


Talking with author Carla Caruso!

What is your writing environment? 

I write in the home office I share with my photographer husband at the back of our house. It looks onto our grassy (and toy-littered) backyard – I have two-year-old twin boys! - and is shaded by a mandarin tree. I can’t tell you how many laptops I’ve bought and sold over the years. I just always prefer to type away at my desk, on my PC. Laptops require too much charging and lugging around (for me anyway). I wish I could be one of those writers who could pound the keyboard at a picturesque café, but I just can’t. Tucked away at home, I can also wear my comfiest trackies while typing (though don’t tell anyone!).

Who is your perfect hero/heroine and why?

I often have little crushes on the heroes that feature in my books! Denham Cobalt in my current novel, Starcrossed – which mashes up contemporary romance, suspense and magical realism – is your typical dark, brooding hero. With a scorpion neck-tattoo to boot! I imagine him looking a bit rugged like the actor, Tom Hardy… The heroine, Simona Gemella, has some similarities to me – a romance author, brunette, and Capricorn – hence, Denham and I could have a connection ;)

What authors have caught your interest lately and why? 

I’ve been a bit late getting into Liane Moriarty’s work, but now I’m a devotee. I loved the Aussie’s international bestseller, Big Little Lies. I’ve also since read her debut, Three Wishes. (It’s about triplet sisters and I was interested as I have twin boys.) I’ve also recently got on The Girl on the Train, ahem, train. That book was so addictive, but made me feel slightly crazed like the protagonist while reading it! At any rate, it got me through the flights from Adelaide to Melbourne and back for the Romance Writers of Australia conference recently...

What type of book have you always wanted to write?

I’d love to try my hand at a young-adult yarn. I’ve had an idea for such a story brewing inside my head for a while. It’s just finding the time to put it down on paper. It involves fraternal twin sisters (one cool, one dorky), cats, a mystery, and a beach holiday! Piqued your interest? ;)

Top 3 things on your bucket list? 

1. To have a book of mine made into a movie (like any starry-eyed, hopeful author!) 2. To also try my hand at writing a script for a TV miniseries I’ve had brewing inside my head – involving a colorful family fighting over an inheritance. 3. To visit the Big Apple – can you believe this Aussie girl has never been?

How did you get the idea for this particular novel? 

My love of star signs! I always read my daily horoscopes from, and regularly check what’s in the skies for my sign in the magazines. Starcrossed surrounds four girls who go on a cosmic retreat on South Australia’s rugged Kangaroo Island… and strange things start to happen!

What is your favorite scene in your new release? 

Oh, the romantic scenes are always kind of touching and emotional to write! I can confirm Denham and Simona have an intimate moment… but who’s to say whether the love will last? Writing the darker suspense bits was also fun. I used to read Point Thriller books as a teen, and the suspense scenes in Starcrossed have a similar vibe, with cliffhanger endings and spine-chilling moments (I hope).

What are you working on now and when can we expect it to be available?

I’ve been blogging about the research for my recently-finished manuscript at The Un-Italian Wife, Despite coming from a long line of ‘domestic goddesses’, I can't cook to save my life. So I've been writing a novel, inspired by my Italian ancestry and market gardening heritage, and learning to cook and be 'more Italian' along with the heroine in my novel. The main character, Nella Martini, has just inherited her late grandma’s market garden and wants to sell up ASAP and fulfill her dream of buying a city fashion boutique. But a handsome neighbor and other life challenges impede her plans… I’m hoping the book will be out early next year, fingers crossed!

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Jogging (while listening to podcasts), fashion/window shopping, reading, watching trashy TV shows and (more intelligent) docos, and hanging out with my family and friends. My two-year-old twin boys, Alessio and Sebastian, keep me pretty busy in between. You can see a pic of the cuties here:

What is one interesting fact about you that readers don’t know? 

Um, in a former life I was a magazine and newspaper journalist. (See my freelancing site here: I’ve done everything from reporting for a daily newspaper’s gossip column to styling fashion shoots for a weekly magazine. I’ve gotten a lot of freebies through working in the media and been able to attend a ton of VIP parties. I was even sent to Italy (from Australia) to cover a jewellery fair four times. These days, though, I’m more of a homebody as a work-at-home mum. And I have to say, I prefer it at this stage in my life. Writing about glamorous stuff is still fun – I just draw on past experiences!

AUTHOR Bio and Links: 

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. Visit



Carla will be awarding an eCopy of Starcrossed to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.  Follow the tour HERE