You’ve had an illustrious career writing mysteries. While all of your stories have elements of romance and sex, MAGNOLIA, your newest release, is by far the most erotic. Why the shift?
CGA: Yes, definitely the subject matter of Magnolia is a departure from my mystery novels. Sex has not been at the forefront of the story in my previous nine books, although it has been at the periphery. I wanted to try something different, see if I could write credible sex scenes, and, me being me, I got carried away as usual and pushed some boundaries by going a bit overboard.
We’ve recently seen a flurry of erotica books breaking publishing records and setting new trends. What sets MAGNOLIA apart from the rest?
GCA: I wrote the first draft of Magnolia over four years ago, before the erotica books that are making headlines came to light, so I was not influenced at all by then. I believe the story of Magnolia as a person, is a fuller one than just the sex scenes. She is very much a woman in control who makes her own decisions, and does not rely on men to help her achieve her goals. Of course, she profits financially by her relationships with men, but, even so, she is in control.
How did you feel writing the sex scenes in MAGNOLIA?
CGA: As far as writing the sex scenes, at first I was a bit reluctant to make them as vivid as I ultimately did‐ after all, I have three daughters and at the back of my mind I kept thinking about their reactions. However, as the book progressed, I became more comfortable with the world of erotica, although at times, I was taken aback at it.
You write about strongwilled, independent female characters – from Lupe Solano to Magnolia. Is there a part of them in you? Are they based on people you know?
CGA: Maybe it is because I come from what is very much a matriarchal background, I’ve always been interested in strong women, in both real and fictional life‐ how they live, what they think, what motivates them‐ that I write about them. I enjoy writing about women who exert control over their lives, and once they make a decision, they stick with it and live with the consequences of those decisions without complaining or making apologies.
You have been a licensed private investigator for the past 25 years. How does that help in your research for your books?
CGA: Having been a private investigator for so many years has been invaluable training for conducting research for the books. During that time I’ve developed a kind of sixth sense as to which path to follow when on the search for specific information, a skill that has saved me countless hours from going in the wrong direction. Interviewing individuals as part of an investigation is an integral part of pretty much any case I have worked as a private investigator, so I’ve used those same methods when doing the same for background for the books.
Where did you get the inspiration for your work? What’s the strangest source of inspiration you’ve found for a story?
CGA: My inspiration for my work comes from daily living. I live in Miami, a city that has a lock on weirdness, so I never lack for ideas for my books. If anything, I have so many ideas that I can’t write them all up. I’d love to write up some of the cases I worked as a private investigator‐ those are definitely the strangest situations I’ve found myself in but, I’m bound by confidentiality, so I’m prevented from doing so by law.
What is something about you that would surprise your readers?
CGA: Readers would be surprised to learn that, given my well‐known complete and total lack of skills in the kitchen, I love to bake cakes. I make a mean rum lemon cake, one that has so much booze in it that I get high as I’m making it. It’s great, really.
If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?
CGA: If I could trade places with one of my characters, it would be with Lourdes Solano, Lupe’s older sister who is a nun. I think it would be wonderful to be holy for even just an hour. Lourdes is a nun, one who takes her vows seriously, but she’s a really fun person, fun and girly.
Can you offer advice to new writers?
CGA: My advice to new writers is to just stick with it. Writing is not easy, it takes discipline; it is a lonely occupation. Not every day will be a good one; remind yourself as to why you are doing it. Don’t think about writing a best seller, just power through putting in the hours every day. It may be trite to say, but practice really does make perfect.