Canna Medici is a hedonistic young woman who flees her home and an abusive relationship in Italy, and finds herself in a new life in London. She becomes the new assistant of Virtuosi, a small opera group who are about to embark on a tour of ten of Europe’s greatest opera houses. When Canna soon becomes romantically involved with English tenor Dane Porter, trouble comes in the form of fellow Virtuosi singer Claudio Ramos Ibáñez, the dark, brooding Spanish baritone. Canna and Claudio have crossed paths once before with vicious consequences, and each are desperate for the truth to remain hidden.
As Claudio becomes more and more entangled in Canna’s violent and addictive secrets, Dane is forced to re-evaluate his life – his morals and stereotypes are going to be tested in order to accept her dark past. Canna continues to pursue pleasure at any cost, exploiting the weaknesses of those around her in an effort to hide her demons. All of the men and women in Virtuosi are going to be hurt by Canna’s narcissism unless she can overcome her inner torment.
Canna is night and Dane is day, and while the night wants to forget, another night is calling to her in a form very close to home, and love holds on too tight…
Praise for ‘Night Wants to Forget’
” ‘La Bella Figura’, the beautiful outward appearance, that’s the world Canna is coming from. Every character in this novel has something to hide, and their secrets are uncovered step by step. Behind the facade of success, wealth, power and beauty are people full of errors, secrets and passions, who have to fight for happiness in life with all their might.”
“Nights, in a strange way is a breath of fresh air. Not your typical story….. It is complicated and intricate, exploring some pretty deep waters (no pun intended).”
“Every story has good guy and a bad guy (or girl). Good defeats bad. Here is the drug addict bad girl as the lead instead of the background character, and her side kick the lying, cheating guy who covers her tracks.”
“The characterisation of each and every one of the principles in Nights is nothing less than amazing. They have depth, they are believable, they evoke our emotions, not just once, but on a regular basis, and they are like all of us – imperfect and trying to get along in life.”
“Canna, aka The Creature. The good and the evil in one. Night and day trapped in one broken shell. I can’t get enough. Fairytales are nice, but did you ever notice that they all have monsters in them somewhere? Canna IS the monster!”
“The reader will hate Canna. Then love. And hate again. And he won’t put down the book for one second until he has finished reading. To read if Canna finally manages to love and accept love is absolutely fascinating.”
“This is one of the best books I have read in many years. I can’t express how much I enjoyed it and the characters which jumped off the pages and into my life. They will never be forgotten. Nor will the story.”
“Quoth Claudio…..Nevermore. Never more Canna. You can’t fool me, Nevermore. And yet, you fool Dane. But I’m here, to constantly remind you that you can’t have him, and the tapping at the door cannot be answered.”
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Hello! After gathering up all the questions submitted for the ‘Nights’ Q&A, here are the answers from the very busy author. Similar questions were put together to blanket answer as many as possible
Did you have in mind right from the beginning to publish a book with “Nights”? And if not, what was the reason to think about it?
No! Absolutely not. When the idea of Nights first came to me, I thought of it as a small, 250 page story that I would write. It was basically a break from the other book I was writing, a complete change from the painful and serious work I was doing with another set of characters. As soon as I started to write Canna, it started growing (in writing, it initially came to 1100 pages). About only 30 pages in, Canna told me she was a drug addict. I already knew she liked to cut herself, but it changed everything. About 200 pages in, I could really feel the unusual situation between Canna and Claudio, which was so dark, compared to her relationship with Dane. It was then that I thought Canna could be a published piece of work. I set out with only a few guidelines for the story – a fountain, cups of tea and a funeral. What came around that still amazes me. Those who were kind enough to be reading while I wrote were being sucked into the story, not seeing where I was leading them. It made me realise there was a place for someone like Canna. A friend of mine told me to publish Nights ahead of my other work, which is my labour of love. I am so glad I took your advice, J.
How does it practically work to publish a book? Do you have to hand in a manuscript or a summary of your story? Or the whole story? And how did you find a publisher?
I am no expert, however I know you need to hand in a full manuscript, so it can be read in its entirety if it is your first book. To find a publisher you need to have an agent. Publishers rarely even pick up a manuscript from an author, it gets thrown in the ‘slush’ pile with the millions of other novels and forgotten forever. For me, living in a country with a tiny market, I contacted an agent who sells manuscripts overseas only. Also I don’t my book in every store, I want it sold online, and on e-readers. The traditional book is dying and authors need to adapt with the changing market.
An agent should not cost anything, they make money from selling your manuscript. You could also self-publish (or ‘indie publish’) your book, which means you retain the rights to your story, which you lose with a publisher. It really depends on what you want from your book. It’s really up to the author. I was lucky, talking with another author who publishes in the States, he was more than happy to talk me through my manuscripts. He and I are similar styles, so it was dream to talk with him.
Which has been the most surprising reaction you received while posting your story?
There were several surprises. While posting the online Canna version, there were three main things. First was its popularity. As the story became more serious, more people came in to read. Emotions in my readers became more heightened. I was amazed at the level of feedback I received, I essentially couldn’t keep up with the comments. People were moving outside their comfort zones to support a drug addict. How emotional people become while reading was a surprise. The whole experience really got away on me.
Another thing I found surprising was the way that people from different countries reacted differently. I found the UK/Europe readers to be very forgiving of the storyline, very open to whatever I threw at them. I found the New Zealand and Australian readers to not ever be surprised at what when on. The South American readers loved the drama level. The Asian readers were often uncomfortable with Canna being so independent. The North Americans were the ones who regularly got angry at me. They didn’t understand Canna, they didn’t approve of my writing, particularly on abortion and euthanasia. These are all generalisations of course, there were some who didn’t follow the trend.
Another thing that surprised me is the people who cannot tell the line between reality and fiction. I am not Canna, yet people would treat me like I am. Does what I write show a side of me personally? I believe so. I am a realist. I don’t hope for the best, I do the work necessary to obtain the best on my own. It seems that some people who are uncomfortable with Canna, or fail to understand her, take it out on me personally, even good friends. I have had people shy away from me on the basis I understand someone like Canna and they don’t. That hurt, but at least I know the truth I suppose.
Some writers say that they are sometimes in love with their characters. Do you know that feeling, too?
I love my characters. I love them like they are real. I know them, every inch. Every emotion they had, I had to feel on their behalf. In Nights, they are three main characters. Canna, I understand will always defend. She never did anything I wouldn’t do or say myself, and I always backed her up. I would never run her down, calling her ridiculous or anything for any mistake that she made. If I don’t believe her, who will? As for the male characters, Dane and Claudio, I love them too. I can see why Canna loved Dane, his nature was so open and he is adorable, easy to love. Claudio is very dark, very thoughtful, and I love that. Everyone needs to feel like there is someone in world who understand them, and Claudio is that man for Canna, and I love him for it. Claudio re-wrote the rules on what a platonic relationship means. I would want him as my friend in real life, no matter the mistakes he makes.
What inspires you more while writing: listening to special music, which matches the scene, or looking constantly at pictures of your protagonists?
Music inspires me all the time. I am playing a song right now, Fuerte by Vittorio Grigolo, which inspired me to write another book I am working on to release in 2013. I hear things and I am taken to a place with my characters. I don’t have a wide musical taste. You may find the odd song outside of my usual genres, but I am into opera, musicals, and the occasional crossover artists (though I am not a big fan). I am also into heavy dance/techno music, that helps me write. Picture of the protagonists sometimes helps, but not that often. In my mind I can’t really ‘see’ characters, it’s like a fuzzy dream. That is why you don’t find me describing their appearances or clothing often. To me its unnecessary detail.
Why Canna? Why make a character that is so easy to hate?
Canna came to me with a very strong personality. She puts up with no shit, know what she wants, and will do anything to get it. My first aim of Canna was to see if people could like someone who is so unlikeable. Canna is like a cactus. You don’t touch her. After a while she became known as the creature, as if she was not a real human. There was always someone in there, she is just very tough. I gave her a number of unlikable traits and hoped people who accept her anyway, and they did. I wanted to see people siding with the secretive person with not a lot going for her and it happened. That is when I knew I was on to something with her.
What do you read in your own time?
I don’t have a lot of time! I rarely read fiction, in fact, looking at my bookshelf which is buckling under the weight of books, the only fiction writer I can see is Paulo Coelho, and that is barely fiction. In fact he is very truthful and autobiographical in the shape of fictional characters. For the last two years I have been consumed with research on Spain and the Spanish civil war for next year’s release, and I am surrounded on war books. I find them amazing. Anything on Spain comes to my desk and stays here.
Do you consider yourself an author, a writer, or a novelist?
By definition, a writer is someone who writes and is unpublished. So technically I am an author now. I could be called a novelist I suppose, although I also write non-fiction online on Spain. Because of that role with a group of contributors, I am technically not in the fiction genre, so not a novelist. I personally don’t think my work fits in that category. To be honest, I don’t really think about what I should be labelled.
Do you write alone, or with assistants?
I always write alone, but do a great deal of research. For my Spanish stories, I have people in Spain sending me information they find while working on their own books. I also interview people so I can be as realistic as possible. Because part of my next book is biographical, I had to interview the family of the woman involved, and for Canna I had to spend time with drug addicts, self-harmers and bipolar sufferers. Does any of this count as being assisted? I write everything myself, based on what I learn.
Why did you decide to be a writer?
I write to empty my mind of the voices I can hear. To me the people I hear are very real. I can feel them, and see them. I realise that sounds crazy! These people need a home, and it’s on the page. I have a style that likes to challenge predictability, catering for those who are sick of unrealistic perfection.
How do you write Canna so passionately? Most characters in other books don’t have the depth she has.
Thank you! I love Canna, and I do my best to write her. Is she me? To a degree, yes. Personal ideals of the author can make it to the page. I could never write a drama queen, because I am someone who rolls with the punches, like Canna. I won’t write traits I don’t like. The life Canna has had is based on a number of real life events put together, that is why they are believable. I wouldn’t write something that isn’t possible, or has never occurred.
What is your favourite thing about Canna?
Her smile is my favourite thing. There is nothing genuine or endearing to it. It is a sly smile that comes over her face, an always smug grin. Her eyes have a distinct look when she smiles, there is a look of satisfaction in them. Canna is greedy and selfish and you can see it on her face. If Nights was a Bond movie, she would be the ultimate villain.
Is this book autobiographical?
My most common question! I am not a drug addict, and never have been. I am against drugs of any kind. However I don’t look down on those who use drugs, and I would never judge anyone in Canna’s situation. Illegal drugs I am also against, but I think people are too quick to judge instead of listen to the person in question, and people close their minds too easily. I know addiction and depression, and it’s not a case of ‘snap out of it’. Being addicted to something is a lifelong problem.
How did you write about drugs with such knowledge?
I have the opportunity to observe the effect so morphine on the body, the way it changes personalities, and the way it deals with pain. I hate that I have this opportunity, in fact it makes me want to hurt myself in the agony of it, but I need an outlet for what I have witnessed. I have also spend a lot of time chatting with people who use morphine and methadone by choice to understand why they do it. I was very careful to explain the symptoms the medication creates and its withdrawal effects, without making them the main point of the story. To Canna, what she was dealing with was part of her normal life.
Self-harm is an ugly subject, almost taboo. For cutters like myself, I am so happy to see one as a main character. How do you understand why she does it?
Just from personal observation, self-harm and a certain level of depression are closely linked. I think the desire to hurt yourself increases as the pain your life takes you over. Its born out of a desire to control and to take the focus away emotionally, by causing physical pain. It’s like the scars of the injury are an outward sign of the deeper level of pain. A cry for help? No, I don’t think so, certainly not all the time. It’s a deeply personal subject, and there no answer to the question of why for everyone who hurts themselves.
I can feel the pain of one of the male characters so intently. It’s like an ache in my chest. How do you do it?
I write. I write and write and write, knowing at some point I will find the conversation of the emotion that explain what he is going through. Everyone has been hurt by love and anyone who has had a relationship break down knows how bad it is. To find that what you thought you had and you knew never existed in reality is a tough realisation to make. When I wrote it, I could feel the weight of responsibility on all the characters involved, and hopefully that comes across to readers too.
How do you decide on character names?
Character names are very tough for me! The names find their way to me, not the other way around. One day I was working and suddenly the name ‘Dane’ popped in my head. After that I couldn’t change it, it fit well for him. Claudio was similar, I had an image in my mind of another Claudio I know and he fit the look of the character perfectly. After that, only Claudio would do. Canna was a name that is special to me, and as soon as the character first came to mind, her name was immediately Canna. She needed something different but not unusual. I don’t like books (or shows for that matter) that have characters with unusual names. It is unnecessary detail and it adds nothing to the story. A name should not fit by being ‘unique’ in place of being practical. Of course, also when picking a name, the nationality of the characters is a factor. The characters were eight men and women from seven nations, and I needed to keep that in mind, as nearly all of them were from nations that keep to traditional regional names.
Where did you get the title from? How important is the title?
Title is very important. A book sells on first impression, so a good title will stick with you. Every year, there is a competition to pick the best new book title, and there are some great ones. I heard the expression Night Wants To Forget in a poem by Fredrico Garcia Lorca, and it worked for me since I had been writing night and day for several months in the storyline. It matched perfectly.
Did you design the cover artwork?
I had two artists do the cover based on what I asked for. They came up with some terrible covers to begin with and I said I wanted simple. The piano on the cover is for Canna, something beautiful that becomes ugly over time. The knife, well, you will have to read to figure out where that fits in.
What was the inspiration? How did you find Canna? Did she come to you?
I had the idea for a couple, who ended up how they did after going through a specific event (I won’t share the details and ruin it), and then the bones of who Canna was started to come to me. As I wrote and wrote, I became bolder with what Canna was capable of.
Do you ever feel like your characters are real people?
Treating them like they are real is the number one rule. If you don’t think they are real no one else will either.
Any tips for writers you could share?
Never have one project going at a time. I have three at a time, that way I always feel like I am neglecting something, which inspires to work more. I aim to write five pages per day – three pages worthy of publishing. Anyone who writes knows that can be hard some days, some days a breeze.
Don’t worry if some people don’t ‘get’ your work. That is their problem. And defend your work, it’s yours, you have peeked behind the curtain, you know it best.
Don’t get caught up in your characters thoughts. The prose gets boring fast and readers will start to skip parts. What seems to happen is that a character goes over something in their mind, and then deals with the situation. In effect your readers are getting the same information twice. Also, long overly-cosy or indulgent conversations turn people off. Not everything needs to be included. Less really is more.
With every paragraph you write, ask yourself – what it is for? Filler is so unnecessary. If it doesn’t move the story forward, delete it. Once an issue has been dealt with, don’t dig it up later again in a story. Never move the tale backwards. If the story doesn’t keep moving then your readers will get bored. Don’t indulge yourself in details. No one cares on the finer details of the weather, or the outfits, or what’s on the dinner table. If readers cared about finer details they could look at their own lives, but in a book they are looking for some action or drama. Be extra careful with detail, it is the downfall of many new authors, I have been told. They use description to try and prove themselves, going to lengthy detail to describe a scene, which is not the point. Let the reader decide how the sun feels on the character’s skin.
That is the best thing about writing – the imagination of the reader. You can give the essential details, and their minds do the rest, however they want it to. They will feel what you have written without having everything explained to them if you have written it well. There is no greater tool than the imagination.
So what are you doing now?
Now that Nights is safely done, I am finishing Blood in the Valencian Soil, a story on Spanish civil war graves and their effect on 21st century Spain. I feel privileged to write it. I am also working on another story, a war story for release in 2013.
– Caroline Angus Baker