Encinitas woman achieves dream of writing romance novels

Claire Marti
(Laura Bravo Mertz)

It took her decades and a lot of twists and turns in her life, but Claire Marti is finally doing what she dreamed of as a little girl - writing romance novels.

“Writing novels was always my dream. It’s what I always wanted to do. It’s very exciting to be doing it,” said Marti, an Encinitas resident, and author of the forthcoming romance novel, “Nobody Else But You,” which is set on a fictional horse ranch in Rancho Santa Fe.

The book is scheduled for publication Sept. 4, and is available for pre-order through Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. Two more volumes of the series, called Pacific Vista Ranch, are slated for release in October and November. The books also will be available at Julie’s Beach, 1440 Camino Del Mar in downtown Del Mar. Marti will also be signing books at Julie’s Beach on Sept. 5 during the Taste of Del Mar event.

Previously, Marti published a series of three romance novels set in Laguna Beach.

The new series focuses on the McNeill family, which has its roots in Hollywood, but moved to Rancho Santa Fe for its peace and quiet after a family tragedy. The father, a former film director, has three daughters, and each of the first three books in the series will focus on the life of one of the three sisters.

Marti said her book is an “enemies to lovers story,” as the two main characters — horse breeding manager Samantha McNeill and stuntman Holt Ericsson — can’t stand each other at first. But after Ericsson convinces Samantha’s father to allow a Western film to be shot at the family’s ranch, things heat up between the two main characters.

The seeds of the idea for the series were planted when Marti, who also gives private yoga lessons, began working for clients in Rancho Santa Fe, and spent time among the area’s horses, trails and scenic vistas. She was fascinated to learn that her client’s daughter worked in the male-dominated field of horse breeding, and she arranged for a tour of the breeding facility in Bonsall.

Rancho Santa Fe, she said, “is like Bel Air or the Hamptons, but everyone has a little ranch.” With its rolling topography, private estates, and down-to-earth residents, she said, “It’s a little world unto itself.”

The cover of “Nobody Else But You”
(Laura Bravo Mertz

From a child writing stories, Marti took a circuitous route to her career as a novelist. She grew up on the East Coast, near Washington, D.C., and studied English literature at the University of Virginia. She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris for a year, soaking up the language and culture while taking classes in English and French literature.

She earned a law degree at the University of San Diego and practiced law for several years, before going on to sell legal software and run a nonprofit animal shelter. Taking a break from the corporate world, she began teaching and writing about yoga, but when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at age 40, she decided to pursue her first love, writing.

Her first writing project was turning a blog she wrote during her cancer treatment into a memoir, and since then she has focused on romance novels, cutting back on teaching yoga classes.

Marti will soon celebrate 10 years of being cancer free, and she credits her diagnosis with a renewed focus on writing, telling herself, “There’s no more time to mess around. If you’re going to do it, do it now. It definitely helped me hone in on that.”

Along with her new romance series, Marti has also completed a standalone novel, “Forever Paris,” about a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer. Like Marti, the character decides to work in some travel around her chemo treatments to give herself something to look forward to. Marti said she tapped into the emotions from her own cancer battle to tell her protagonist’s story in the novel, and that there are both similarities and differences between herself and the character.

Like Marti, the character also must put her career on hold while undergoing cancer treatment.

“I used a lot of those experiences to give that element of reality to (the story),” she said.

Marti said she is currently seeking a publisher for her Paris novel.

When she’s not writing or teaching yoga, Marti said she enjoys reading and spending time with her husband and friends, and she continues to travel. This fall, the couple will travel to Italy for both business and pleasure, as Marti will teach at a yoga retreat in Tuscany.

For more information, visit www.clairemarti.com.