Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Warm Welcome to Zoe McCarthy

Is there a story behind your book Calculated Risk?

Most certainly. I wanted to write a story in which at least one character was an actuary. (Actuaries evaluate the financial risk of insurance companies.) Before the profession grew, actuaries received the bad reputation of being weird. Well, in many cases that’s true in behavior, dress, and social skills. I’m allowed to say that because both my husband and I are retired actuaries. We, along with hero Nick, are in the sixty percent who aren’t very weird. Nick is analytical, private, and doesn’t like being wrong. Because I write romances between extreme opposites, I had to go with the job of a marketing rep for social, vibrant, and expressive Cisney. As the rare creative, expressive, analytical, introverted actuary, I was able to get into Cisney’s head and into the head of Nick, the guy who had to deal with her.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?

Editing. I’m an edit addict. I have to set up rules, such as I’m allowed to edit no more than the last scene I wrote the day before. Most people can probably identify with taking a break and getting sidetracked and involved in an activity. Their breaks can last an hour. That’s what happens when I stop writing and eye the last several fat paragraphs, each begging to be whittled down to a few tight sentences. I’m hoping as I continue to hone my craft, I’ll leave my writing alone until “The End.”

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy reading many genres, but I especially enjoy witty romances with sassy or droll heroines. Much to my husbands’ chagrin at bedtime, I laugh through Jenny B. Jones’s adult and young adult books. Reading her books gave me permission to use my dormant writer’s voice. Check out her Just Between You and Me, So Not Happening (YA), and In Between (YA). I also loved the heroine in Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

You mean, like when I was twenty and accepted a ride in a taxi with a drunk American stranger in his fifties in Bangkok, Thailand? Oh, that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, and lived unscathed to mention. Let’s see… How about when I was ten and my sister, two friends, and I walked on ice to the middle of a lake in Norfolk, VA, and all fell through? No, that was just dumb. Quirky…quirky. Did you notice my cover? At the recent ACFW writers conference’s come-as-your-character dinner, I dressed up like Cisney with yellow stickies plastered all over my suit and hair. People didn’t remember my name, but the next day, they said, “You’re the one who had adhesive notes stuck to her outfit.” So, the quirky part is, I’m going to wear my Cisney costume to my upcoming book signing and to my launch party.

What is your strangest habit?

Eating what I call Potpourri. I like to have a yummy collection of tidbits of different foods for lunch and dinner. One lunch might be a bowl of dry Froot Loops, peanuts, Craisins, and dark-chocolate covered pomegranate nuggets. One dinner might be cheese and pepperoni cut in “appetizer” chunks along with bing cherries and chips. No candy bars for me at the movies. I have popcorn and Sno-Caps, or some other candy that comes in morsels. Of course, I eat one piece at a time, savoring it. I used this habit for Cisney when Nick, his sister, and his cousins take her to the traditional movie on Thanksgiving evening.

What place have you enjoyed living in most and why?

I grew up on the move. From age seven to ten during the rise of Papa Doc, I lived on a mountain looking down on Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Even though I experienced the excitement later of being evacuated from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and of living in Thailand during the Vietnam War, exotic Haiti was my favorite place. It was a lush place at that time. But now, I love living on a hill in the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking out at the mountains and down on a valley. From my writing office, I watch sheep and cattle graze, farmers plow and grow corn, and seasonal pumpkins and Christmas trees grow.

Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?

I like northern Italy. The first time we were in Rome during a Footsteps of Paul cruise, I was reading Francine Rivers’s Voices in the Wind. I’d read about some monument the characters walked by, and then I’d see it. I’d read about Christians mauled by lions in the Coliseum, and then I’d stroll around the Coliseum, looking down into the compartments where the lions were kept. Later in Ephesus, our tour guide shared so much of what Francine Rivers described in Voices in the Wind. At an ACFW conference not long after the cruise, I approached Francine after she gave the keynote speech. I told her we must have had the same guide in Ephesus. She said she’d never been to Ephesus. Now that’s a woman who can research.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?  

Yes. The spiritual themes center on women learning that God always works things for their best interest, and so it’s time to give up control to Him. Because her father has a strong opinion of the type of man Cisney should marry, she panics when she loses the guy of her father’s choice. She thinks she has to find another man like him. God uses the man Nick is to help her see things from God’s perspective.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I recently finished another contemporary romance. Here’s what it’s about. After running out of her inheritance, as embittered young woman crawls home to Daddy. But Daddy has conditions. Like caddy for him on the PGA seniors’ tour. There she meets a caddy who can read the warp and woof of putting greens and has promise of becoming a PGA player. He’s a perfect match for the girl who loves golf, except he’s content to be her best buddy, and she hates his sleazebag father who stole her father’s golf scholarship.

To purchase Zoe's book:

Zoe McCarthy is giving away a copy of Calculated Risk.  The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Caryl Kane said...

Thank you for the interesting interview with Zoe! Calculated Risk sounds like a wonderful read.


Linda Yezak said...

Love your quirky stories, but you're eating habits? Talk about Quirky!!!

Good interview!

Sally Shupe said...

Loved this interview! Zoe, I love your strangest habit. I need to go get some morseled food now lol. It is so much fun getting to know you. Can't wait to see you in your sticky suit! Calculated Risk is a great book! Don't enter me in the giveaway. I have already read and enjoyed Calculated Risk. I struggle with seeing things from God's perspective. Thanks for the great interview!

Zoe M. McCarthy said...

I love my potpourri, but I do eat regularly too. Maybe that's why Cisney and I like sticky notes because they're like morsels of paper. Hmm

Deanna Stevens said...

I loved hearing your answer to Quirky thing done :) & the sticky notes still LOL ... you've had some interesting experiences. Would love to read your book :) dkstevensne AT outlook DOTCom

Angela Holland said...

I think this book looks like fun, thank you for sharing it and the interview, very interesting. Thank you for the chance to win.

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Marcia Lahti said...

My favorite Zoe M. McCarthy interview so far. Have you considered writing a story set during the Cuban Crisis?

Patricia Bradley said...

Interesting food choices. :-) I don't know how I missed you at ACFW! Sounds like a great book!

Connie Cousins said...

I enjoyed your interview. The book promises to be fun.

Zoe M. McCarthy said...

Thank you for the encouragement, everyone. I'm looking forward to sending one of you Calculated Risk!

Unknown said...

I truly enjoyed this interview, Zoe! You sound like such a fun person! How exciting to have lived in such exotic places. I lived in Iceland for five years; that's about as exotic as I ever will be, I'm sure! lol! Thank you for the fun interview, the giveaway and the chance to win!
Kelly Y
kelly *at* dkcountryarts *dot* com

Zoe M. McCarthy said...

Kelly, iceland is pretty exotic, all right. I've thought that would be a neat place to go. I've mostly lived in the tropics although my dad was stationed in Juneau, Alaska. I remember bundling up in August when we visited them.

Heather S said...

I loved reading the interview! Now I really want to read Calculated Risk. Thanks for the chance to win it!

professionalbookworm418 (at) gmail (dot) com

LoRee Peery said...

Great interview, your life has certainly been interesting, Zoe. I'd love to win a print copy.

Zoe M. McCarthy said...

Thanks, Heather and LoRee. Yes, my young life was rather different. Maybe I'll write a book someday. :0)

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