Novel Kicks Chats To: Carla Caruso

Carla Caruso - author picCarla Curuso lives in Adelaide and as well as being the author of Catch of the Day, Mommy Blogger and Unlucky for Some, she is also involved in the Adelaide Chick-Lit Book Club and the Life, Love & Laugh blog. Her novel, A Pretty Mess is available on Amazon and Pretty Famous will be available on 1st February 2015.

We chat with Carla about her novel, Sophie Kinsella and Gossip Girl.

Hello Carla, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us about your novel, A Pretty Mess, and how the idea originated?

Yes! A Pretty Mess is the first in my ‘Astonvale’ rom-com mystery series. (Following on from it is Pretty Shore and Pretty Famous.) It surrounds a neat-freak professional organiser – Celeste Pretty – who gets caught up in messy mysteries with a sexy builder (Lenny Muscat)! I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with professional organisers who de-clutter people’s homes and offices for a living. Maybe because my mum was such a clean-freak Virgo. We weren’t allowed to wear our shoes in the house and the family home always looked like a magazine spread, seriously


Can you tell us about your route to publication?

My background is in print journalism (newspapers and magazines), so I’ve always written for a living. But being a novelist is what I REALLY wanted to do since I was, like, five. I just took a while to get serious about it and actually send anything anywhere! I reckon it took about three years, when I went freelance as a journalist – working from home – that I focused more on the novel dream and properly did anything.

I joined writing groups, got busy writing, and one of the manuscripts I sent out, Cityglitter (about a half-fairy, living a glam life in the city, who falls in love with a human), got picked up from the ‘slush pile’ at Penguin. I sent it via their ‘Monthly Catch’ online call-out, in which un-agented writers can try submitting their work once a month. They were starting up a digital-first imprint, Destiny Romance, and asked if I could ‘up’ the romance in my book (it was more chick-litty then) and be part of that group. I’ve since had three ebooks out with them and two also came out in paperback.


Do you have any writing rituals?

I carry a mini notepad around everywhere! I’m a little obsessed with scrawling notes into it whenever an idea strikes or I hear something I think I could use down the track or I think of a tweak I want to make to my current WIP. So, each time I sit down to write, I type up these notes first or make the changes needed, then get started on the next scene. It’s probably a little time-consuming, but it helps me get into things rather than just a glaring, blank page staring back at me. And I like having thought through a scene first before actually hitting the keyboard! I also have one-year-old twin boys, so write whenever I can during their daytime nap or after they go to bed at 7pm!


A Pretty Mess by Carla CarusoOut of all the books you’ve read, which three have made the most impact and who is your favourite author?

Sophie Kinsella is my fave author, hands down! (Maggie Alderson is another writer I find a ‘comfort’ to read.) They’re the authors I’ll buy regardless of the blurb or cover. I know I’ll love whatever they pen!

As for the books… 1. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella – so much fun in one book! She really made me fall in love with chick-lit. A true inspiration. 2. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty. This was the first book that introduced me to this great Aussie author and now she’s gone on to become an international bestseller and has people scrambling to turn her books into movies! 3. Who’s Afraid of Mr Wolfe? by Hazel Osmond. I really need to read more by this author. I remember being addicted to reading this book when I was travelling overseas. Couldn’t put it down when I was meant to be sightseeing. The romance was so strong and Mr Wolfe was such an alpha! Some other books that have stuck with me (can’t stop me now, argh!)… The Fashion Pack by Marion Hume, Grace Grows by Shelle Sumners, and Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta. Check them out!


If you could step into any novel and live it for a day, which book would you pick and which character?

Gossip Girl. That was a book series, right? And I’ll be Serena van der Woodsen (played by Blake Lively)


Pretty Shore by Carla Caruso - out DecDo you plan your novels? How do you approach editing?

Yes, I’m a planner. Well, I’m in between a plotter and a pantser. Because I have key points/scenes for a book already in my head, then I do a sort of ‘connect the dots’ as I’m writing. I don’t think it’d be fun to know EVERYTHING about a book before you sit down to type. Half the fun is being inspired by life along the way and interspersing that into the novel. With editing these days, I find less is more. Having twin boys to wrangle, time is of the essence, so I only do one edit of my first draft these days. Then the publisher will get back to me with other edits/suggestions they have to also work on.


Who would you invite to a fantasy dinner party?

I’m going to go with my teenage heart-throbs just for fun! Mark Wahlberg, Johnathon Schaech, and Antonio Sabàto, Jr (and rewind the clock, so they’re still young and not married etc. ha!)


Who would you cast in a film version of your book?

For some reason, I imagine Celeste Pretty – the neat-freak professional organiser in my current series – with a face like Jennifer Flavin (Sylvester Stallone’s wife) and a honey-brown bob à la American Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Maybe CGI could put the two together haha?


Find Carla at and information about her latest works at

The Adelaide Chick-Lit Book Club is on Facebook and the Life, Love and Laughs blog can be found at


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Novel Kicks
About Novel Kicks/Laura...
Novel Kicks was founded in 2009 and is run by Laura who is currently living in Hampshire, and lives with husband, Chris and her cat, Buddy. She would love to be a writer. She’s trying to write the novel she thinks so much about. She’s loved reading and writing since ‘Creative Writing’ classes in primary school. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything she can get her hands on, she loves reading, dancing like a loon, and watching Project Runway and Ugly Betty (her two TV guilty pleasures.) She also has an obsession with chocolate and Jammie Dodgers.

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