Currently a Field Producer on HGTV’s House Hunters, Celia Bonaduce has covered a lot of ground in TV programming. Her credits include field-producing ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to writing for many of Nickelodeon’s animated series, including Hey, Arnold and Chalkzone. An avid reader, entering the world of books has always been a lifelong ambition. Kensington eBooks’s The Merchant of Venice Beach, first in The Venice Beach Romances, was just published on August 1st.
Time to chat with Celia!
What is your latest book and is your recent book part of a series?
I’ve written a series of contemporary romances called The Venice Beach Romance books. The first, The Merchant of Venice Beach, was published by Kensington eBooks on August 1st. The second, A Comedy of Erinn, will hit cyberspace on September 19th. A third book is still in the works.
How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?
I was raised by writers – my mother and father were both TV comedy writers and they had different opinions about whether a character was allowed to “lead his or her own life.” My mom thought “yes” but my dad was adamant that you had to take control or some rogue character would run off with your storyline. For years, I did it my father’s way, but then realized I was really missing out on where the characters might go if left to their own devices. So, I started giving them some leeway. Mother knows best.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it?
I do think it’s very important to have a solid beginning, middle and end before you start actually writing. That’s not to say that the ending can’t change, but you need to be going somewhere. It’s like driving. If you are going to San Francisco from Los Angeles, you need to at least know you’re going north and about how long it will take. You can make adjustments as you go, but you still hope to end up at the Golden Gate Bridge – unless your trip reveals you might be happier in Seattle.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?
I am a compulsive editor. I edit every morning before I move forward. By the time I am finished, I have very little rewriting to do…except for THOUSANDS of copy-editing mistakes.
Can you tell us about your road to publication?
My road to publication was long. I really wanted to go the traditional route, since many of my self-published friends seem to hit a wall at some point. I knew nobody in the publishing world, so I found a list of agents online and, one by one, sent them my sample pages. It took me three years to get an agent and one year to find a publisher.
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
I research as avoidance. Since I write contemporary romance and the books take place in my hometown of Santa Monica and our southern neighbor, Venice Beach, I didn’t really need to do a ton of research. But the books center around a funky teashop – so I did a ton of research on teas. At one point, the teashop gets remodeled, and I researched construction and design. I love to just start poking around the internet.
When I decided to write a book about a woman who falls in love with her no-good dance instructor (The Merchant of Venice Beach), I decided I should take dance lessons since I had no idea what that world was like. I became obsessed with dance and danced four days a week! When I started traveling for House Hunters, I had to cut back and I really miss the rush of Salsa, Swing and Tango!
Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?
I have a group of trusted readers and I wait until I have a first draft. Growing up with writing parents, it used to drive me crazy when my dad would tell me page by page what he had written and then he’d present me with the completed script for critique. I already knew the entire plot, so couldn’t really evaluate it. My father passed away many years ago but my mom continues to be my prize “evaluator.” I try hard not to tell her what I’ve written every day.
We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?
One thing about having a big House publish your book is that they design your covers and they might not have been what you had in mind. Because my book revolves around a teashop, I pictured a cover sort of like Crooked Moon or Fried Green Tomatoes, so I was shocked when Kensington presented me with this super sexy cover! We discussed it and they said that they were sure their audiences would respond to the cover they designed. They are a very successful company and I figured, “Well, you’re the experts.”
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?
I imagine all writers suffer from writer’s block at one time or another. I actually went to a hypnotist and it worked! I highly recommend it!
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I travel for a living, and see a different city every other week on House Hunters. I always try to imagine myself living other places, and while I fancy that I could be happy living in Italy, England or some parts of the USA, when I come home to Santa Monica, California, I know I am where I should be. I love it here.
What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?
I am a very loyal friend and try to stay in touch with people. But my schedule in not conducive to friendship. I’m on the road a ton, so, the trait I look for in a friend is PATIENCE.
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I would love to play the piano and speak Italian fluently. (I know those are two skills and they are both learnable, so it is maddening that I haven’t done either.)
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I am a very good seamstress and got my first producer-job at HGTV because I could sew, not because I could produce.
If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?
A sewing room, because I make a HUGE mess when I’m making a full-sized quilt (which I do whenever I can). Also, since I don’t play the piano, I don’t need a music room.
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