Guest Author Interview – Marissa Campbell

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Title: Hot in Aruba: An Unabashedly Sexy Contemporary Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis: Vulnerability is Samantha Mackay’s kryptonite, and she keeps her emotions—and her men—at arm’s length. But when her good friend, Carlos Naldini, invites her on an all-expense-paid trip to Aruba, her resolve waivers.

Tired of being relegated to the friend zone, Carlos enacts his foolproof plan, inviting Samantha to join him in Aruba, hoping the trip to paradise will soften her reluctant heart.

Samantha agrees to Carlos’ proposal, giving him exactly ten days to prove he’s boyfriend material. After some wild Aruba nights and hot, sexy days, things appear to be progressing swimmingly, until Carlos’ ex-girlfriend arrives, exposing an intricate web of deception and betrayal. When news from home shatters Samantha’s hopes further, she leaves Aruba, giving up on her dreams of happily ever after. Devastated, Carlos is determined to do whatever it takes to bring Samantha back to Aruba and into his arms.

Secrets, lies, and heartbreak lurk in the shadows behind sunshiny days of sex on the beach, cocktails by the pool, laughter, and friends. It’s getting hot in Aruba—but the sparks might just consume them.

Marissa Campbell, Author

International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s International Guest Author is Marissa Campbell. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society and Romance Writers of America. Welcome to my blog, Marissa.

CH: Please tell us in two sentences why we should read this book.

MC: I tend to blend genres together in my writing, so if you think you might enjoy an unabashedly sexy contemporary romance with the depth and resonance of a memorable women’s fiction, then Hot in Aruba might be for you. I even managed to say all that in one sentence, lol.

CH: Your sexy book deals with the realities of life and love. So, how did you come up with the premise for this book?

MC: Hot in Aruba was inspired by a short story I wrote, called Italian Delicacy. I fell in love with these two characters and decided they had a bigger story to tell. I had just finished writing the second book in my historical romance series and knew I wanted to try my hand at a contemporary novel. I also wanted a location I knew and loved. Aruba was a great fit. It gave me a timeline to work with and an exotic location to set the story in.

CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this hot and sexy novel?

MC: For the first time writing a book, I didn’t have to do any extensive research. That was the captivating draw of writing a contemporary romance. While I wrote Avelynn and Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, book one and two in my historical fiction series set in 869 England and Wales, I was immersed in research. For my next book, I wanted a refreshing change. Fortunately, I had been to Aruba, so I could give a reasonable account of some of its features. For parts where I wanted to branch out beyond what I had experienced, I interviewed friends who had also been to the island to get an idea of where they stayed and what they did while on holiday there.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

MC: As mentioned, I like to blend genres, specifically looking to add or tweak elements I discover when reading. For example, I tend to gloss over some of the internal thoughts that are typical of the romance genre. Readers, of course, will know what Samantha and Carlos are thinking, but for me, in a typical romance there’s just too much repetition of why the two protagonists can’t be together. My style of writing doesn’t fit with that.

The other thing that I need when reading a book is some seriously sensuous heat. I love the depth of women’s fiction, or chick-lit if you will, but I find they typically shy away from sexy scenes. Most sex scenes are off the page, behind closed doors, or are short and sweet. I wanted to bring readers a truly memorable and emotionally resonant love story, with lots of character development, but I wanted to titillate with enough heat to satisfy the most discerning romance or erotica reader.

CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?

MC: I think emotions are universal. In order to write a compelling love story, an author needs to tap into the feelings we’ve all experienced and bring them to life on the page. Even if the situations I’m creating are new, I remember what it felt like to fall in love, to feel betrayed, to feel lost or alone. I bring that reflection to the scenes I create for my characters. Though, I will say the story of Catharine and Mr. Lewiston was based on my own grandparents and the love and life they shared together for 60 years.

CH: Which character was the hardest to write?

MC: I always find my lead protagonist, in this case, Samantha, the hardest to write. I tend to be a very deep methodical thinker, and my main characters are not prone to fantasy. They are practical, down to earth, and typically stubborn. This makes them a little closed when it comes to trying to understand what’s going on in their heads. They don’t make it easy for me. I have to remove a layer of insight one scene at a time until I know them like the back of my hand. Carlos and Mr. Lewiston for example were a breeze to write in comparison, lol.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

MC: I enjoyed spending time with Mr. Lewiston, Samantha’s mentor and only real father figure in her life. Because I based the love story of Mr. Lewiston and his wife, Catharine, on my own grandparents, it was like they were with me, as I wrote the novel. I cherished that.

CH: With secrets, lies, and heartbreak, is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

MC: They always say your personal style reflects themes and guiding principles. I never really thought about it until I finished writing Avelynn. It was only after reading a craft book about theme that I realized the novel had a strong theme, though I had interwoven it subconsciously. I’ve since come to realize that I do have key messages in my books and in a way, they guide my entire life: Follow your dreams; If you are passionate about something, it’s worth fighting for; Everyone deserves happiness; and Always know your worth.

CH: How long have you been writing? What attracted you to writing in the first place?

MC: According to my kindergarten reflection sheet, I was always going to grow up and be a writer. Who knew? Lol. I find it fascinating that at 5 years old, I had a sense of who I was. Of course, it took me another thirty years to truly embrace it, but I’ve spent my entire life writing in some capacity, whether penning articles for newspapers and local magazines, writing blog posts, or tinkering with stories that will never see the light of day. It took me a long time to own the title, Author, and to actually take a chance on writing novels.

As for what attracted me to writing in the first place, that’s a good question. I think I needed an outlet for a hyperactive mind. Most writers I know have minds that just won’t shut down, and at some point, you need to do something with all that clamor banging around in your head. I used to write poetry to help make sense of my emotions and feelings, but writing a novel allows you to experience someone else’s feelings, and someone else’s life. It lets you channel and focus your thoughts into something new, rather than constantly rehashing the same internal melodrama of your own life. It’s like an escape, like travelling to Aruba for a blissful vacation.

CH: What is your favorite romance book? And Why?

 MC: I’m a huge Outlander fan, an amazing historical romance series by Diana Gabaldon. I’m pretty sure everyone on the planet has read the books, but just in case you haven’t, you really should read the books. 😉  I fell in love with the main characters, Jamie and Claire, in the first book and continued to follow their adventures, savoring every moment they were on the page together. Not only does Diana do an incredible job of creating and then sustaining that romance through each book in the series, but she also writes wonderfully sensual love scenes. A trait I admire greatly.

In fact, I’d say Diana is my greatest inspiration as an author. It was because of my love for Outlander that I found the courage to write Avelynn, and I continue to be captivated by her words. I’ve had many authors move me with their stories, and each one has helped shape who I am as a writer. I learn something new with each book I read.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?

MC: When I was very young, I wrote wild tales of strange lands and knights and damsels. Then as a teenager, my thoughts turned dark and existential, and I explored my emotions and feelings through poetry. After that, I found myself starting a family, and in my spare time would write articles for parenting newspapers and local magazines. It wasn’t until I became a yoga instructor that I co-wrote my first book, exploring how to live life to the fullest. Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day was a labor of love, taking five years to complete, but when it was done, I had something meaningful to give to the world, and the satisfaction I took away from that, as well as the knowledge that I could in fact complete a book, despite the countless false starts sitting on floppy disks (yes, I’m dating myself, lol), was intoxicating. I wanted to do it again. Then, after one cold Outlanderless night, having just finished reading An Echo in the Bone, I decided to write my own historical romance to fill the void. Thus, the Avelynn series was born. My debut novel, Avelynn was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2015. The sequel, Avelynn: The Edge of Faith, I indie published in 2016. And, this year, 2017, I tried my hand at contemporary romance with Hot in Aruba. It’s certainly been a journey.

CH: What is your next writing project?

MC: Fans of Avelynn would want me to say book three in the series, and while that’s somewhere on the horizon, I have been toying with an LGBTQ romance story, which may be my next venture. However, this past September I returned to college full-time. So, my writing has taken a bit of a hiatus, and studying has taken over.

CH: How to Find Marissa Campbell:

CH: Can you tell my audience where the book is sold?

MC: Hot in Aruba is available through all the regular channels: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Chapters, etc. The eBook will be available strictly through Amazon for the time being. I may expand the distribution down the road, but I’m giving Kindle exclusivity a try.

CH: Any Closing Remarks?

MC: I’m incredibly proud of Hot in Aruba. I took a chance and blurred the genre lines, but I think readers will appreciate the effort. I’m excited to see what everyone thinks! Thanks, Cheryl.

CH: Thank you so much, Marissa Campbell, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Marissa Campbell and Cheryl Holloway.

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