I’m excited today to interview author Beth Carter about her new book, Sleeping with Elvis. Probably no one is more qualified to write this book that Beth herself. You’ll find out why when you read this interview. I’m not as big an Elvis Presley fan as Beth is, but the song Are You Lonesome Tonight? has to be the sexiest song ever.
Cara Bristol: What was the inspiration for Sleeping with Elvis?
Beth Carter: Honestly, it’s simple. My love for Elvis Presley inspired me. I was lucky enough to see the King perform in person two months before he, sadly, passed away. Since then, I’ve watched four different Elvis impersonators perform in Branson, Vegas, and Florida. As I watched the last entertainer perform two years ago, I admired how he took the job to heart and paid homage to the King. He seemed humbled by the responsibility to get Elvis’s persona right. During the performance, it clicked that I could make an Elvis impersonator my hero and also help keep the legend’s legacy alive. I was so excited I could hardly wait to begin writing the next day. I penned my novel while in Florida, so I was inspired by beaches, birds, shells, and boats. That’s why I chose my setting of fictional Key Lime Island, which is charming and themed with lime-green everything!
Cara Bristol: What made you such a big Elvis fan?
As a young girl, my mom was a huge fan of Elvis Presley. We watched every televised show and listened to his music. We’d crouch around our black and white television (foil-wrapped rabbit ears and all) and dance and kiss the screen (well, I did!) I’ve been a huge fan for decades and enjoy all of his songs from rock to gospel to blues. I have several of his CDs. My husband threw a surprise 50th birthday party for me and dressed as an Elvis impersonator! Then, my family found a Branson impersonator who also attended the event and sang to me. It was incredible.
Cara Bristol: Can you share a couple of paragraphs from Sleeping with Elvis where we see the hero impersonating the King?
There are many to choose since he goes through the fifties, sixties, and seventies during his show, but I’ll go with this quick excerpt:
As the lights lowered, a hush fell over the audience. The colossal red curtains opened to thunderous applause. Ty appeared wearing sexy, tight black leather pants and a matching black leather jacket. He strummed his guitar and a lock of hair fell over his forehead, as if a sign from the King himself. He crooned “Return to Sender,” “That’s All Right,” and “Fever.”
Pepper touched her forehead in mock fashion. He gave her a fever all right. She observed some feisty women in the front row who waved their arms and swayed to the music. When Ty announced he had leis to hand out toward the end of the show, cheers erupted. One busty brunette shouted, “I want to get lei-ed by Elvis.” Pepper shook her head. This will take some getting used to.
Cara Bristol: Is Sleeping with Elvis women’s fiction or would you consider it a romance? My novel is contemporary romance with elements of suspense and humor. I’m a genre straddler. J There are several dramatic boating adventures while at sea and on land. Also, Saylor, my hero’s cursing parrot, is a hoot and provides the comedy. Her timing is impeccable, and Ty’s manager seriously considers adding her to the show!
Cara Bristol: I’m fascinated by how other authors work. What kind of writing schedule do you have? Is writing your fulltime job? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Tell us how you whip up your stories.
I’m a pantser who occasionally wishes she were a plotter. But I do love how my characters continually surprise me, which I think makes for surprising readers as well. That said, since I’m writing sequels for both of my novels, if I were a plotter, my job would be much easier! I wish I were more disciplined. I go in huge spurts of several thousand words each day and then I’ll take a week or two off.
Also, I’m an afternoon writer. I tried writing in the morning but that doesn’t work for me. I am not a morning person whatsoever, so I’ll check email, social media, watch the news, and throw in some laundry before noon. That clears my head to write in the afternoon. And I write from a huge jumble of notes that always manages to morph into a novel.
Cara Bristol: Tell us a little about your life when you’re not writing?
Over the past few years, my husband and I have started splitting our time between my home-state of Missouri and sunny Florida. We both love boating, seafood, and beaches. By the way, his captain’s courses came in very handy when it was time to research boating and navigational terminology for SLEEPING WITH ELVIS.
I love to travel, bake, decorate, have drinks with friends, ride bikes, and shop! And a Starbucks skinny vanilla latte makes my day. I enjoy watching cooking shows, home improvement shows, The Voice, and of course, reading. My husband and I have been married for 15 years and have 10 grandkids!! My daughter has one son, and my two stepdaughters have nine children between them. They’re all adorable and there’s only one girl in the bunch!
Cara Bristol: Finally, can you share a favorite key lime recipe?
Well, my very favorite key lime anything is a Key Lime Martini with a graham cracker rim on the glass. The best one I ever tasted was in Las Vegas, believe it or not! But here’s a more traditional recipe:
KEY LIME CHEESECAKE
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened (I use reduced-fat cream cheese)
½ c Sugar or ¼ c Splenda mix
2 T. Fresh lime juice
1 tsp. Grated lime peel
½ tsp. Vanilla
1 Graham cracker pie crust
Optional: A drop of green food coloring and/or ¼ tsp coconut extract.
Mix cream cheese, sugar, lime juice, lime peel, and vanilla until blended with an electric mixer. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Pour into pie crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Cool and refrigerate for at least three hours. Garnish with grated limes or graham cracker crumbs. Serve alone or with raspberry, cherry, or strawberry pie filling.
Yield: 8 Servings
Your favorite Elvis song: Oh, GOSH. I love them all but especially “Kentucky Rain,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and “In The Ghetto.”
A place you’d like to visit: Alaska (for whale watching)
Your favorite dessert: Brownies
You have $100 and you have to spend it. What do you buy? Clothes. Wait. Jewelry. Maybe shoes…
If you could invite five famous people to dinner, who would it be?
- Elvis Presley – If I could bring him back, I’d just stare, drool, and ask him to sing to me!
- James Patterson – To see how he writes sooo many novels. I know he has co-authors but still.
- Melissa McCarthy – She’s my favorite actress and she’s hilarious.
- Hoda Kotb – I love her upbeat personality, how she overcame breast cancer, and would love to hear her stories from reporting and anchoring on Dateline and for the Today Show. Plus, she’s an author!
- Jay Leno because I love to laugh and miss him on television.
Sleeping with Elvia Blurb
Pepper Langley, an unemployed pre-school teacher with a fear of flying and boating, hopes a vacation to remote Key Lime Island will bolster her confidence and salvage her relationship with her rogue boyfriend. From tiny Nowhere, Arkansas, she scrimped all year to afford the lavish trip, but a deadly storm changes everything.
Gorgeous Elvis impersonator Ty Townsend flees to Key Lime Island between gigs. During this hiatus, he reevaluates his profession after twice forgetting the King’s lyrics. He craves the isle’s solitude—far away from social media haters—where he shares beach life with a cursing parrot. The last thing on his mind is a woman, especially one who isn’t supposed to be there.
Will their secrets tear them apart or will they find happiness on the sand and stage?
Beth Carter Bio
Award-winning novelist Beth Carter pens novels and children’s picture books. Her latest novel is SLEEPING WITH ELVIS, a contemporary romance, with elements of suspense and humor. Her debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, won the 2015 RONE award for best “Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit Novel,” as well as “Best Debut Author” by BTS Books. Her novelette, SANTA BABY, appears in the 2015 Christmas anthology, SIZZLE IN THE SNOW, alongside eight romance authors’ stories.
Carter’s three picture books include: SANTA’S SECRET, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? and THE MISSING KEY. Additionally, the author’s short stories and poems are published in four anthologies and four six-word memoir collections alongside famous authors and celebrities. A former bank vice president, Carter worked in marketing for 20 years in healthcare and banking. The author happily divides her time between her home state of Missouri and her adopted state of sunny Florida.
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