Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Interview with Libby Mercer

Yes, well, Libby's interview is up earlier than our usual Friday slot this week, as we are both participating in the Girly Book Blog Hop from 17th-21st, so I wanted to keep the blog free. Don't forget to tune in for that, on Thursday, when I will have a very special post for you, as well as links to all the other amazing blogs, giveaways and articles.

Anyway, Libby kindly agreed to be grilled by my good self, so here goes!

When I was reading Unmasking Maya at the start and was tweeting about it on Twitter, I kept forgetting the title and calling it Discovering Maya and Uncovering Maya. Clearly this was a Freudian thing, to do with what is revealed about her past later. Was Unmasking Maya always the title, or did you have a few which you batted around? If it was always the title, what other title could you have given it and why?

How interesting about Discovering Maya and Uncovering Maya. Actually this book was sans-title until the very last minute. For some reason, the only thing I could think of was But Robots Can’t Cuddle, and that was stuck in my mind for quite some time, but I knew it was way too flippant for this story. A couple of weeks before I needed to start sending out emails to reviewers, I got some help with brainstorming, narrowed it down and then called in the big guns – posted the contenders on my blog and asked anyone and everyone to weigh in. The clear winner was Masquerading as Maya, but one of my author friends who had also been one of my readers said that Unmasking Maya was more accurate. She was right and I finally had a title!
 Unmasking Maya is classed as a Romance and length-wise that is definitely the case, but to me it seemed more like a sweet chicklit, which worked better for me, as I don’t read Romance.  What should we expect from you in the future and how does UM differ in genre, from your first novel, Fashioning A Romance (which I downloaded at Christmas, as you know, but haven’t had time to read yet!)
Technically it’s a chick lit/romance hybrid, or at least that’s what I’ve been calling it. Fashioning a Romance was the same kind of hybrid, but it tended a bit more towards romance because I wrote it in third person, alternating between the hero and heroine’s POVs. That’s also how my third novel, The Karmic Connection, is structured (to be released this spring) and so is my fourth novel, which is not yet finished. After I release KC and possibly my current project – depending on how long it takes me to finish – I plan to release my two completed chick lit novels. They’re very different from my chick lit/romance hybrids and I plan to release them under my real name – Anna Garner. So I’ll need to come up with a good strategy to do so. Lots to think about!
 I love the idea of Fashion meets IT. Uber-fashion conscious people meets geekdom. I believe you’ve worked in Fashion, but have you worked with any geeks and/or had any geeky jobs? I worked in IT for years, so I could easily relate to the geeks, but equally knew that nothing is ever as black and white!
Nope. The closest I’ve come to working in IT is when I worked the telephone switchboard at various temp jobs I’ve held. My mom worked in IT though – she actually started working for IBM way back in 1966. When I was a teenager and she’d talk about things at work, any mention of the UNIX guys would get a giggle out of me. UNIX is apparently some kind of operating system, but whenever she mentioned the guys who worked on the system, I’d be envisioning eunuchs.

 I loved the rapport between the geek girl and Maya.  Did you model the geek girl on anyone?
Aww thanks, Sooz! Actually, no. I don’t think I know anyone like her in real life. I did want her to be Asian American (which I hope is clear from her name – Lin) because San Francisco has such a huge Asian American community, but none of my Asian American friends are anything like her.

 Do you envisage there being a sequel to Unmasking Maya or writing any more books set in San Francisco?
I hadn’t considered the possibility of a sequel until one of my reviewers remarked on how much she liked Inez, Maya’s agent, and how much she would love to read a book centred around her. I’m thinking about that, but I do have so many things going on right now, it probably wouldn’t happen for at least another year or two. As far as more books set in San Francisco, though, I can pretty much guarantee those! My current work in progress is set in San Francisco (briefly) but I know this city will feature as the location for future books too.
 The way Derek stepped in and was there for Maya at a critical, emotional moment for her, was a major turning point. Where else do you think he stuck up for her?
LOL. Is this a trick question? I’m not sure that he did stick up for her elsewhere in the book. Certainly not in the same sense. He says some nice words about her at the installation’s unveiling , but that’s not really the same thing. I’m a bit stumped.
 Both Maya and Derek are a bit dim on the ‘does he/she fancy me’ stakes, which of course, makes it all the more compelling for us as readers to watch. What clues did you include to show the readers their feelings?
I knew Maya’s clues would be pretty obvious to readers – the tingles she gets from his touch, the fact that she’s so focused on how he looks, what he says, what he does. With Derek, I wanted it to be a bit more of a mystery. But on a couple of different occasions, when he explains why he has issues with Maya being in his office building after hours, he slips and explains that he’s only trying to protect himself. Then he quickly amends and clarifies – protect his company. I intended for this to be a clue that this guy, underneath his high tech armour, is just as vulnerable as the rest of us.
 You kept Maya’s two secrets very well hidden until the end. Did you know from the start what they would be and exactly how and when you would reveal them to the reader?
Not at all. When I started writing this story, I knew I wanted it to be a love story between an techie guy and an artsy girl, and I had the opening scene pretty much figured out, but that was it. It wasn’t until I was working on the second chapter that I knew I wanted Maya (and Derek) to have all of these secrets.
What would you say were the main obstacles Maya and Derek had? (apart from him being a geek!)
Maya’s fear is probably the largest obstacle to overcome. She’s been burned in the past and is determined not to let that happen again. (Derek’s not the only one with protective armour here.) This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the fear, but letting go of the past is another obstacle for both of them. Also, I think the fact that they’ve both got such strong personalities and both have a hard time backing down is a challenge for them too.  

There is a lot of humour in the book, which again is why I think it feels more chicklit than romance.  What was your favourite funny scene?
That would have to be the company picnic, hands down. I had so much fun writing that chapter!

Fun stuff

Always my first question - everyone knows I am Rupert Penry Jones daft, but who is your RPJ? Hehe. I didn’t know you were Rupert Penry Jones daft. I don’t really have one celebrity who I’ve got the hots for, but I’ve always kind of had a bit of a thing for Ricky Martin. Tragic, I know.

Crime or hospital dramas on TV?
Crime drama

Movies or TV?

Japanese or Mexican food?
Mexican. Hey, I’m a California girl.

Choral music or rock music?
Rock music.

Favourite chicklit movie or novel?
Very tough question! I don’t have a favourite. It depends on my mood, but I’ll share one of my faves: How to Lose a Husband and Gain a Life by Bernadette Strachan

 Favourite romantic moment of all time in the movies?
I’m not sure what this says about me – given what happens afterwards – but I’d have to go with the scene towards the very end of Like Water For Chocolate when Pedro and Tita finally, finally get together.

Is your hero, Derek, what you would look for in a man?
Hell yeah! He’s confident, sexy and insanely intelligent. Pretty much my ideal. And I’ve always had a thing for geeky guys.

Cakes or biscuits?
Love them both, but I’d have to go with cakes.

Scotland or Ireland?
Scotland, of course! Although I must point out that I’ve never been to Ireland whereas I’ve been to Scotland on a few different occasions.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Sooz!
You can follow Libby via the links below
Twitter - @LibbyMercer1

And if you don't have your copy yet of Unmasking Maya, get it here  (UK) (US) 
and Libby's first novel, Fashioning A Romance (UK) (US)
Tune in tomorrow for the start of the Girly Book Blog Hop!


  1. Thanks ladies, a lovely interview - brightened a cold morning. Good luck with the book, Libby! It sounds fun.

  2. Aw, thank you so much, Carol! Your comment brightened my chilly afternoon. Thanks for posting. :-)

  3. Darling interview!
    :) Unmasking Maya was a fave of mine to read.

    And Ireland or Scotland is a current dilemma of mine as I am planning a vacation...