Saturday 19 November 2011

Book Giveaway & Author Interview: Cruise Quarters by Cara & Ray Bertoia

Anyone who has read Cruise Quarters knows that it is filled with descriptions of wonderful foods from around the world.

The crew of the Regal Star resemble a mini United Nations, hiring people from all over the world. But unlike the UN, Regal Cruise's employees present a united front above decks as they attend to their passenger's every need. Below decks though, that is a different story.

Sarah Seldon is a croupier on the luxury liner. After many unhappy endings, and burnt out on shipboard romance, she is determined to forget about men and concentrate on becoming a casino manager. On land women face a dearth of GOOD men but on a ship giving up men would take willpower. The mostly male crew exists to serve her every need. Handsome Italian waiters bring her food, the Filipino steward cleans her room, English officers play poker with her and the Welsh plumber fixes her sink. She leads a cushy life, sleeping 'til noon, eating gourmet food, and the topper - she gets to wake up in beautiful new place everyday. All because she works in a casino, a place so bad it has SIN in the middle.

After college she took a summer job at Lake Tahoe in the casino business and became a member of the Church of Gambling. She has been in the gambling business long enough to know that in order for a gambler to be successful, they must have Lady Luck on their side. But a gambler also has to follow the rules of basic strategy. When love unexpectedly sneaks up on Sarah on the magical island of Mayreau, she wonders whether she could apply the rules of gambling to love? What if she could write Sarah Seldon's Basic Strategy of Love?
Book a cruise and travel with Sarah and the crew as they work, play, feast, and fall in and out of love, all while the ship sails around the globe, stopping at exotic ports of call. Along the way, from Venice to Barcelona sight-see in the Med, shop in St. Martin, take an eco-cruise down the Amazon, and feast in Glasgow. Let the crew tell you their own stories as they sit in the hallway in the wee hours of the morning. While the ship travels to new destinations, tired and tipsy they share tales of love and betrayal.

Buy at Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Germany | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Author Bio:

Cara & Ray Bertoia
On a summer break from her teaching job Cara took a summer job in Lake Tahoe and didn't leave for many years. Raymond was studying at City University in London when he saw an advert 'Train up To Be a Dealer, see the world'. He took that advice and worked as an inspector in casinos all over Europe, from Moscow to Greece. The couple met while working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. Raymond jumped ship to be with Cara and they married after a whirlwind romance. Their knowledge offers a rare insiders look at casino operations. 

 Author Interview with Cara:

Tell us a little bit about yourself, what inspired you to want to become a writer? 

Growing up in a straight laced Southern family, I was always fascinated with casinos. In my twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, I drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. My mother highly disapproved of my working in a casino, "a place so bad it has 'sin' in the middle." 

Tahoe was a beautiful place and casino jobs were the best ones to have, especially dealing. I worked at Caesars Palace for a few years but then I moved to the North Shore of the Lake. The place I worked at was an “old school” casino, it had been a rat pack hangout in the old days and even now autographed photos of movie stars still adorn the walls. The casino overlooked the lake and as I dealt I would look out at a beautiful view of the crystal blue water.  The border between Nevada and California runs down through the middle of the casino. 

The owner was a plumbing contractor from Fresno. The head of security was an ex-Mossad officer and every few weeks we would be strapped down and given lie detector tests. They let porn movies be filmed in the casino and there were rumours that he rigged the slot machines. I’m not sure if that was all true but he did manage to get his casino closed down by the Nevada gaming commission, no small feat. One day a sports agent with Hollywood connections played on my game and encouraged me to write down all my great casino stories. That was the day I became a writer, well my script got as far as HBO where it was eventually rejected but that didn’t matter to me. I was a writer.

Eventually, I succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a high-tech job in Boston. I also began working on my MFA in writing at Emerson. I wanted to write the first realistic novel about casino life from the perspective of an experienced table games dealer. I am always amazed that normal and sometimes quite intelligent players become absolutely clueless in the casino. They repeat superstitious nonsense and no amount of logic can change their position.
On a whim I submitted an article to The Boston Tab, about trying to find a rent control apartment. To my amazement they published it and I even received my first piece of fan mail. Spurred on by that success, the next week, after a few glasses of wine at lunch, I called the editor of the Brighton Allston Journal and told him I should write a humour column. 

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

My book is the first book written from the perspective of a female croupier, and it's funny.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? 

Throughout the years we have heard so many crazy things in the casino that just aren't true, so we wanted to do something about it. Right now my husband, Ray, and I are working on our new blog. It is called tablegamesconfessions.blogspot.com. We started it to promote our novel about casinos and cruise ships and now we have decided to see how far we can take it. Our blog teaches novices something about gambling and casino life. If any of your readers have any good gambling stories or just general questions please have them contact us at  Ray92262@yahoo.com

What sparked the idea for your novel?

I have always loved to travel. Ever since I was a little girl my favourite hobby was reading novels about faraway places, on a hot summer day I would be Mary Queen of Scots locked in the chilly London Tower. When I was in college I studied in Mexico for a semester and after that there was no holding me down. There is a German word for that feeling -- torschlusskpanik the fear of missing the boat. In my case, literally.

While in Boston I was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, I spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. I was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in Leningrad but on the downside I also watched glaciers melt at an alarming rate in Alaska, snorkelled to coral reefs killed by pollution in the Caribbean, and witnessed the devastation as the Amazon burned. It was the best education I could ever have had. Taking advantage of every opportunity to be a tour guide, I soaked in as much history as I could. 
Since I had studied writing at Emerson I knew that when I went to sea I would write about my experiences. Every night spent in the crew bar I chalked up to research. I learned so much about my fellow crewmembers that I just wanted to tell our tales. The fact that my novel turned into a love story surprised me most of all.
I left ships with a handsome Scotsman who became my husband. We moved to Palm Springs and got a job in the casino industry and it is here that we wrote our novel. It is based on our true story only the names have been changed to protect us!

Your favourite authors? 

My favourite author is Lionel Shriver. She also grew up in the South a few miles down the road from me but spends most of her time in the UK. She is a very cynical writer but also very funny my favourite book of hers is The Birthday Party. An intriguing story, actually two stories about choosing your path, neither is right or wrong they are both just different. 

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why? If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. With whom would it be?

Ray, my husband and co-author and I were discussing this question in the Jacuzzi the other night. We do all our best thinking there. I said that I wanted to be Anne Boleyn but hopefully not the week she was beheaded. Ray said that then he would be Henry. They were such fascinating people and the stories that surround them are so outrageous. Did Anne really sleep with her brother? You can read as much history as you like and I have, but unless you can actually become Anne you will never really know.
They would also be my choice to have dinner with. We went traipsing through Hampton Court last year in the coldest weather in decades and I could only imagine how warm and cozy that magnificent kitchen would have been like on the night of a feast, and with hundreds of people living in the castle every night was a feast. 

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would live on the ocean, but I am not sure where. Every day it changes, some days I think it will be in Spain and then sometimes my hometown of Charleston calls to me. I do know it would be in a wooden house on stilts with a huge glass window overlooking the sea. 

Favourite fictional character?

This is a really hard question; I don't think I have a favourite character. But I know that when I was a young girl the story of Anne Frank lived with me for years. Nowadays I tend to focus on the book I am currently reading.

What is the last book you read?

The last book I read was Wai-nani High Chiefess of Hawaii. I heard about the author from the travel site Tripatini. I loved her tale about Hawaii at the time of the first contact with Europeans. I even featured it in my blog thebesttravelnovels.blogspot.com

Great answers to my questions Cara! – Thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself: D – Jenny.

Some interesting links:

Giveaway Details- The Author is kindly giving away:

~ 1 Amazon E-book of Cruise Quarters (international)
~ 1 Paperback copy of Cruise Quarters (US & Canada Only)
~ Giveaway ends 27th November 2011
~ Fill in the form to enter 

+1 Optional Extra Entry:
For an extra entry to this giveaway leave a comment and your email  and
describe your perfect meal and the setting it would be in. For example Sarah dines on grilled lobster and crusty French bread in St. Maarteen. She is sitting in an outdoor restaurant overlooking a harbor filled with sailboats.


Oky said...

Oky lunchs on the traditional Javanese house without no walls, in the middle of the protected forest (Pendopo, red. Google it). Looking at A warm wind and the beautiful scenery. She enjoys the yellow rice and the Tumpeng (Google it!) :D

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