Wednesday, November 17, 2010

INTERVIEW: Ann Aguirre

Alright boys and girls, I know it's been awhile but would you believe I've gotten myself buried? Again? I've been working on my application for the teacher education program available at some Ontario universities. MAJOR headache. I've also finally finished the rough draft of the book I'm writing and have been reading three books at once, just because. But, now, at long last, I've another interview to share with everyone.

This time my guest is Ann Aguirre, author of the sci-fi series, Sirantha Jax, the UF series Corrine Solomon and, under the pseudonym "Ava Gray," she pens the paranormal romance (to put it loosely) series, Skin. PLUS, she also writes a paranormal apocalyptic action in collaboration with Carrie Lofty. And, yes, that IS a lot of series. O_O

So, now without further adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did Ann Aguirre break into the publishing world?

I signed with Laura Bradford in March of 2007. On April 11th, my husband's birthday, we pitched my romantic science fiction novel, Grimspace. We had an offer from Anne Sowards within a couple of weeks.

(2) Is writing a full-time job or have you got an alter-ego thing going on à la Clark Kent?
I write full time, and then some.

(3) Your first series, a sci-fi romance/adventure, deals with Sirantha Jax – a Jumper slash, um, rebel leader – as she adjusts to her new life in the aftermath of the world order’s shake-up. What inspirations led you to develop your mythology?
I love science fiction films and television, but from other women, I often heard the complaint that SF in books was too dry or technical for them to enjoy as much as movies and TV. So I set out to write a SF series for women. Now, the majority of my readers say, "I've never read SF before, but I love this." Music to my ears.

(4) Jax is puts a whole new spin on heroines – after all, she’s in outer space using her mind to navigate ships through some pretty bizarre short cuts. It’s pretty unique. How did your Jumpers come to be?
I sat down and started writing. Pretty cool, huh?

(5) Now, March. How would describe your hero?
Damaged, but determined to do the right thing. Devoted, dedicated, deliciously intense.

(6) The relationship between Jax and March has had its rocky moments but some how it all comes out seeming a lot more real because of it. Has it be hard setting the development of their relationship?

(7) Now, you’ve also got your Corine Solomon series which as Corine, a touch sensitive, getting pulled into some pretty intense situations on account of her unique talent. It’s pretty different from your Jax series; where did the idea come from?
I keep a bunch of slips of paper in a Buddha cookie jar. Whatever idea gets drawn by the idea money, that's the one I write next. (Not really. I wanted to write UF set in Mexico. Everything came out of that desire.)

(8) How does writing Corine and Chance compare to writing Jax and March? Is it very difficult shifting gears from one to the other?
No. I don't write them at the same time.

(9) And then there’s your alter-ego, Ava Gray. First question: why the pen name for the Skin books when Corine and Jax are both written under Ann Aguirre? What’s so different about the Skin series?
Ava Gray is romance with graphic sex. It's better to brand that separately, so I can write SFF and YA under my real name.

(10) And isn’t there a YA series – Razorland – in the works for next year? What’s the scoop there?
It's dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction. You can learn more here:

(11) Your next publication, Killbox, the fourth Jax novel, releases August 31. What can you tell us about this book?
I feel it's the best one so far. Heartbreaking, though. Learn more here:

(12) Now, in a perfect world where publishers bow to your every whim, how long do you plan on the Jax, Corine and Skin series being?
Jax wraps up in six books in 2012. Corine is open-ended, so I will write those as long as readers want them. The Skin series may well be complete now, though I don't rule out spin-offs set in the same universe, depending on how the rest of the releases do.

(13) Any other series cooking up in that apparently rather crowded imagination of yours?
Yes, always.

(14)And on that note, how do you manage all these series, pen names, and genres? How has your head not exploded?
Carefully? Plus, my head's full of hamsters who thrive on stress; they devour it like grated carrots.

(15)How exactly did you come up with your characters? Are any of them based on real people? Trade secret. If I told you, then everyone who read your blog could do it. I'm protecting my livelihood here.

No, no, they're not.

(16)What sort of research is done per book? Any particular texts you rely on? Could you break down your research process?
Depends on the subject matter and how much I already know about it. Every book is different. I use the internet a lot, but I also have friends and colleagues who know a lot about various areas. I have one friend who I ask about legal stuff, another about forensic procedures and another who specializes in computers. I'm not shy about asking questions, and I do try to get things right.

(17) Finally, some random questions about you:
a. What are your hobbies aside from writing? My release schedule doesn't leave me that much time for anything else, but books still top the list. Books, movies, music, shopping with my daughter, video games with my son, yoga. I don't know if that stuff counts as hobbies so much as my life, though.
b. Could you please describe your dream day? I get to sleep for twelve hours, and then read and watch movies for the other twelve with nobody wanting anything from me. Not even once.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes? Health for my family.
Happiness for my friends.
Plenty of work for me.
Thanks for having me.


And there you have it. Be sure to swing by Ann's website over here or over here for all the latest 411 on her past and future releases, not to mention whatever else may be going on over there. And also be sure to pick up her latest release, Killbox, no doubt available at bookseller near you. (Was that too much? I went to far into promo-land, didn't I? Oops.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

RELEASE: Nalini Singh's Play of Passion

In his position as Tracker for the SnowDancer pack, Drew Kincaid must rein in rogue changelings who've lost control of their animal halves- even if it means killing those who've gone too far. But nothing in his life has prepared him for the battle he must now wage-to win the heart of a woman who makes his body ignite...and who threatens to enslave his wolf.
This is the NINTH book in Nalini's Psy-Changeling series - the awesome story of a future world filled with psychics, shapeshifters and humans that's just reached its breaking point. You might remember Nalini from her interview on this blog a few months back. She is truly an amazing writer and her work is always worth the read so what are you waiting for? Get your butt out there and scoop it up - you won't regret it.

Also, as an extra perk, Bitten by Books is holding a contest that looks more than tempting. Check it out.

Friday, October 8, 2010

REVIEW: Bring on the Night by Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready's BRING ON THE NIGHT

Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin seems to finally have it all. A steady job at WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll. A loving relationship with the idiosyncratic but eternally hot DJ Shane McAllister. A vampire dog who never needs shots or a pooper-scooper. And after nine years, it looks as if she might actually finish her bachelor's degree!

But fate has other plans for Ciara. First she must fulfill her Faustian bargain with the Control, the paranormal paramilitary agency that does its best to keep vampires in line. Turns out the Control wants her for something other than her (nonexistent) ability to kick undead ass. Her anti-holy blood, perhaps?

Ciara's suspicions are confirmed when she's assigned to a special-ops division known as the Immanence Corps, run by the Control's oldest vampire and filled with humans who claim to have special powers. To a confirmed skeptic like Ciara, it sounds like a freak fest. But when a mysterious, fatal virus spreads through Sherwood—and corpses begin to rise from their graves—Ciara will not only get a crash course in zombie-killing, but will be forced to put her faith, and her life itself, in the hands of magic.


I have to admit that this book was not at all what I expected. I mean, wow, talk about your wild rides; just when you think you've got it figured out BAM! in goes the wrench and the whole thing gets tangled.

The story is set three years after the end of Bad to the Bone, the previous book, catching up to 2010. It picks up with a bunch of surprises. David, Ciara's friend and boss at the radio station, engaged to Ciara's bestest best friend ever, Lori. Ciara's is FINALLY just ONE class away from scoring her degree and graduating after like forever. Oh, and remember that pesky deal she made with the Control so that Shane, her vamp boyfriend, could keep in contact with his not-vamp family? Yeah, it's drawn time to pay up. Thus the second chapter picks up with Ciara's final day of training, orientation, initiation, whatever you want to call it.

She then proceeds to go home to Shane and her loyal Blood Hound (ha ha), Dexter, and OMG is there a twist right there. It's a perfect fairy tale moment. Naturally, such a happy, sunny, lovey dovey moment is followed by the Mutant Chicken Pox Virus From Hell breaking out, killing a friend and yep, it's a character you've met and likely already crushed on. About the time zombies start popping up like Pop Tarts, that's when the real twists start happening and it's not until you've gone completely pretzel that things just...explode.

It's intense. It's unbelievable. And the biggest SPLASH of all you just simply don't see coming.

And the most amazing thing of all? For the first time, there isn't a mad, Looney-Toon fanatical group that takes Ciara hostage.


Definitely a recommended read, hands down. So what are you waiting for. Go. Fetch. Read. Enjoy. You won't regret it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Ok my little boils and ghouls today I've got something extra special to dish out for y'all - something that a bit different than the usual author interviews. I was holding off until I had time to do some blog maintenance and now that I have...MUAHAHAHA! It is time! (Somehow that "It is time" line now sends my mind straight to images of a skinny baboon gesturing a lion towards a protruding rock formation with a stick. Huh.)

So, we all know authors. They write books. They blog. They do interviews. They have signings. After actors they're pretty much the most visible artists out there. And like any celebrity they've got people standing behind them, propping them up and making them look good.

Take Tracy Fritze for instance. She's assistant to MaryJanice Davidson, author of the Queen Betsy series who only last month was interviewed here and has graciously deigned to be interviewed herself. So, without further adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, you're an assistant to an author. What does that entail? Could you run through your typical day?
Well, I actually only work 12 hours a week (ok I am only paid to work 12 hours a week). Some days I go to MaryJanice’s home and work in the office there. Go through the mail, pay bills, and send out prizes or donations. Most of the time I actually work from home. I monitor her email, a Yahoo Group, Facebook, and keep her calendar for her. She is very flexible about when I actually work so you may see me on line at odd hours of the day!

(2)Do you do this part-time or full-time? If part-time, what's your alter-ego up to? Is it hard to balance?
Well, I pretty much answered this in #1 – part time. I also work as a Financial Secretary for my church and do all the office/financial work for my husband’s business. I am trying to start my own business selling bracelets that I make as well. Oh, and I have two kids! One just left for college and the other is in 10th grade. So I don’t really have time for an alter-ego!

(3) How exactly did you come by the job? Did you know MaryJanice previously?
I was actually looking for a job that fit the specific days I had available and found the job through a local temp agency. I actually had never heard of MaryJanice before this. I know, I know – makes her diehard fans a bit upset to hear that!

(4) How much interaction do you have with your boss? Is it in person or via phone/internet?
Quite a bit actually. Most of it is via email but when I am working at her house, she is just down the hall & I bug her all the time!

(5) Are there any anecdotes about the job you'd care to share?
Well the best one is in the forward of UNDEAD AND UNFINSISHED already! When I came to work and was locked out of MJ’s house. After pounding on the door, calling the house, and calling her cell, her elementary aged son opened the door in his underwear!

Apparently MJ was sick in bed. What MJ didn’t know was that I had just colored my hair that morning & turned myself into some sort of demonic pumpkin. My scalp was nearly bleeding from washing my hair about 20 times! Being locked out of her house was just icing on the cake. I had actually started to cry because I just couldn’t take it anymore!

(6) What are the best/worst parts of the job?
The best part for me is being able to work from home so much. I am actually quite an introvert! The worse part for me is when I get slammed with mean fan-mail. I tend to take the negative comments personally which is strange because I have nothing to do with writing the books!

(7) Finally, some random questions about you:
a. What are your hobbies aside from writing?
I am not a writer at all. I am a reader though! I have a goal to read 50 books this year ; I am on book 40 now with over 3 months to go! I also bead; I make bracelets that I sell to whomever will buy them! I just started selling them on a website that is for selling homemade products (
b. Could you please describe your dream day?
Ah….a dream day….wake up to a wonderful, homemade breakfast. Lounge around reading and checking email. After a luxurious shower, be presented with a sensible, yet delicious lunch. Spend the afternoon reading, beading, and watching movies. Cook dinner with my hubby. The evening would be spent doing things together as a family. Wait – this pretty much describes my days now (except I am cooking all these meals in real life!). I am very blessed.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes?
1. An unlimited number of wishes
2. & 3. Rather mute considering wish #1!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ANNOUNCEMENT: Jennifer Rardin

I'm not sure if you've heard or not by now, but last Monday (September 20th) Jennifer Rardin passed away. If you're a regular of my blog you may remember her interview here back in February; she was an amazing writer who gave the world the Jaz Parks series about an assistant to a vampire assassin for the CIA. When an artist dies, the loss is always that much greater for all that she could've done disappears with her. Whether it be a writer, a painter, an actor or a musician, their death robs the world of all that potential, all that imagination, and the world seems a little bit darker as a result.

Jennifer Rardin's death is no exception to this. She will be sorely missed. Please be aware that memorials may be made to the Riley’s Children’s Hospital. Jennifer's Jaz Parks series still has two forthcoming volumes: Bitten in Two, set for release on November 8, 2010, and a yet untitled book (coincidentally, originally intended as the series' end) due out next June.

(10) You’ve mentioned that the eighth book in the series is written as a possible ending for the series with the potential to continue further left open. So, what’s coming next once the door has closed on Jaz? And how about yourself – where do you see yourself five years from now?

I’ve just finished a YA urban fantasy called Shadowstruck which my agent is currently marketing. I’m hoping it will be picked up soon, because it’s actually the first in a two- or
three-book series, which would mean I’d have at least one more book to write to finish that story arc. Which is way cool and something I’m eager to continue.

I’m also prepared to write an amazing new urban fantasy series which, while quite unlike the Jaz Parks books, is still designed to make you laugh, gasp, and stay up until four a.m. just so you can see what happens next! Hopefully I’ll be able to begin writing that early this summer.

My habit is to write my main (paying) project during the day, and then to work on my sideline
project at night. Now that Shadowstruck is finished, I’ve begun writing a musical comedy for the stage. Broadway, here I come!

Five years from now? Hmmm. I’ll be staring down the big 50. At least one of my kids will be out of college. I definitely plan to be writing, hopefully better stuff than ever. On a laptop that walks—and talks—and makes pizza. That would be awesome.

(11) Finally, some random questions about you:
a. What are your hobbies aside from writing? Probably my second passion after writing is gardening. I also enjoy travel so much that if you said, “Hey, Jen, do you wanna go to the store with me?” I’d be out the door immediately. Yeah, I don’t have to go far. I just like to go. Hiking is a major pleasure, as is saying things that make my hubby’s eyebrows shoot right up into his
hairline. Which isn’t easy, because he has one of those military cuts. But I keep trying!
b. Could you please describe your dream day? First of all, this day must last for
forty-eight hours. Don’t know how you’re going to swing it, but there it is. So I get to sleep until noon, and yet still have tons of time to . . . write 3,500 words. . .run two miles . . . shower for forty-five minutes . . . have a delicious lunch with my girlfriends . . . spend the afternoon planting flowers . . . spend the evening playing cards with my kids . . . hop in the car and travel somewhere new and exciting with hubby.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes? Health, happiness, and long life for my children and their children. (That sounds like one, but I think it probably counts as three, or possibly four, but I’m assuming this is a generous genie.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

INTERVIEW: MaryJanice Davidson

Alright lady and gents, boils and ghouls, guess who's back from her vacation! And to kick off my triumphant return I have an interview to share with none other than Ms. MaryJanice Davidson. Did you know she invented the vampire chick lit genre? No joke. She's also no stranger to various best-seller lists and to top it all off, the chick can write some pretty darn fine books. Take her Undead series for example: one day Betsy Taylor is just your run-of-the-mill, shoe-obsessed, self-absorbed, bubbly secretary. Then she gets hit by an Aztec and wakes up your very-much-not-run-of-the-mill, shoe-obsessed, self-absorbed, bubbly vampire queen. How can that not be a great read?!

*cough, cough* Ok, my epic fan girl moment is done. I swear. And, now without adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did MaryJanice Davidson break into the publishing world?

Through bribery and desperation. Actually, I just kept submitting stories until I was buried under an avalanche of rejection slips. To all aspiring writers: do. Not. Quit. I collected over ten years of rejection slips before UNDEAD AND UNWED sold.

(2) Is writing a full-time job or have you got an alter-ego thing going on à la Clark Kent?

It's my full-time job. It's so absurd that they pay me to do one of the things I love best.

(3) At present, you have one on-going adult series, Vampire Queen Betsy, and a YA series , Jennifer Scales, you co-write with your husband. Vampire Betsy recently got a revamp and went to hardcover with its ninth book expected out this July.
Why the format/style change? Will it continue for all future Betsy books?

I was getting fan mail from 11 year old girls, which completely shocked me. It was something I hadn't foreseen when I was trying to get published. The cute, cartoon-ey covers were a huge factor in this. I'd get "Me and my BFF just luurrrrv Betsy because she's, like, the coolest and I saved up all my baby-sitting money to buy the new book!" and be torn. On the one hand, it's not my kid, and thus it's inappropriate to lecture them on appropriate reading. On the other, it's a kid! Reading about vampires having sex upside down in the deep end of the swimming pool! So the edgier covers not only reflected the adult content, it also helped my books stand out. When UNDEAD AND UNWED came out, Betsy was the only game in town. 6 years later, you have to elbow the hip cool paranormal heroines out of the way. So the marketing department made some changes.

(4) Betsy is as about as far as you get from your typical vampire. I mean, even for the vampires in the series she’s far from normal. How did your take on vampires come to be? How did your concept of a Vampire Queen come about?

I got tired of basically reading the same vamp romance over and over: the vamp was always some ancient English lord who skulked in alleys and bitched about being eternally young and eternally hung. I wanted to know where the plumber and secretary vampires were. Where was a vampire we could relate to? Someone who worried about paying the utility bill? I couldn't relate the the ancient rich European ones, but I could relate to Betsy.

(6) The relationship between Betsy and Sinclair has had its rocky moments (I mean, at one point, she hates him, she rapes him, she loves him...and that’s all in one book!) but some how it all comes out seeming a lot more real because of it. Has it be hard setting the development of their relationship?

No, I could always relate to both of them: Betsy for being reluctant yet drawn, and Sinclair for being enchanted yet ruthless. My husband and I dated for six years before we got married; I don't know much about whirlwind romances.

(7) UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED, the latest Betsy book, had quite the cliffhanger ending. Originally, you had made comments that UNDEAD AND UNWORTHY was the start of a trilogy within the series. When did you realize that 3 books just wouldn’t cut it?

UNDEAD AND UNWELCOME. I hadn't realized Antonia and Garrett were going to bite the big one until the book before UNWELCOME, and I realized I couldn't wrap things up in UNWELCOME.

(8) You’re contracted for two more Betsy books and posted on Facebook that you’d like your contract to be extended to include a total 5 forthcoming books. Will book 14 then be the last Betsy book?

I've got no plans to end the series anytime soon. That said, I did feel it was necessary to shake things up with this latest book. There were only so many shoe sales I could write about. ;-)

(9) In developing Betsy's character in the series, do you plot it all out prior to writing each book or are you winging it as you go?

Oh my God, you're adorable! Thinking there was a chance I had planned out any of this. You're so cute. ;-)

(10) So, Betsy gets hit by a car one night and wakes up a vampire. By that week’s end, it turns out she’s not just any vampire, she’s the long ago foretold Queen of vampires. How did you come up with the idea in for the series in the first place? Why go with what you did? And was there a lot of research involved?
That's the great thing about writing can make your own rules. Though I do occasionally get the "a real vampire wouldn't do that" e-mail, which never fails to crack me up.

(11) You’ve also got a werewolf series set in the same world which began as a series of short stories. What are the chances of these stories going the way of Sookie’s and being re-released all together?
Slim for now...I don't have the rights to at least 2 of the novellas, and the publisher sensibly has zero interest in selling them back to me. Which is of course her perogative; it's not like someone forced me to sign the contract at gunpoint.

(12) The next Betsy book, UNDEAD AND UNDETERMINED, comes out next July (which is just cruel and unusual) and picks up just half an hour after Undead and Unfinished ends. What else can you tell us about this book?
Betsy's got some work to do! And she's not at all happy when she finds out the truth behind the Book of the Dead. Also...


...the Marc Thing follows Laura and Betsy back to the present, and must be dealt with. Ditto she has to explain to her friends that they're now living in an altered timeline. "Yeah, when I left for Hell, Jess? You were the opposite of knocked up. I guess that would be knocked down. Anyway, you weren't pregnant. So this is weird and awkward for me. And possibly you."

(13) For the Jennifer Scales series, how exactly do you and your husband work out the co-writing process?
My husband outlines the entire book, chapter by chapter, and then we divide the chapters based on our strengths. I tend to take the dialogue heavy ones (e.g. a scene in the women's locker room) while Tony will take the description-heavy one (headed to Crescent Valley in the fall, or what the town looks like under the sickly huge of the dome).

(14) How hard is it for you to flip from one world to another? Is it very difficult switching back and forth between them?
Actually, I like it a lot. It keeps me from getting blocked...if I can't get Betsy out of a corner, I can head to Jennifer's world for a while, or vice versa.

(15) In terms of the writing process, what is the most difficult part for you? Is it starting? Writing certain scenes? Editing or chopping up parts? What about the easiest?
The entire secod half! By then the excitement of starting a new book is long gone, but I still gotta hit my word count. Argh.

(16) How long does it take you to go from idea to finished manuscript?
About 3 months.

(17) Have you plans for any other works outside of Betsy’s world, or at least Betsy’s POV? What’s coming next for you?
I've got UNDEAD AND UNDERMINED out next July, and RISE OF THE POISON MOON just came out. Next year I've got an anthology, UNDEAD AND UNDERWATER. And the next book in the ME MYSELF AND WHY SERIES. What can I say? I like to keep busy.

(18)Finally, some random questions about you: a. What are your hobbies aside from writing? Cooking and reading. I'm so boring!
b. Could you please describe your dream day? Waking up in the chocolate bath in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with an egg cream in one hand and a pound cake in the other. Also cable TV.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes? Not a chance! All my dreams have come true. Asking for more is just greedy. :-)


And there you have it. Be sure to swing by MaryJanice's website over here for all the latest 411 on her past and future releases, not to mention whatever else may be going on over there.

Oh! Almost forgot: I've got something new in the works for the blog so be sure to check in over the next few weeks as I have it unfold. It's going to be pretty great provided the pieces come together. Over and out, folks.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

INTERVIEW: Jocelynn Drake

This week's interview is with Jocelynn Drake who pens the Dark Days series, a masterful weaving of vampires, politics, war, and magic with just a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. This year sees the series having back-to-back releases with Pray for Dawn on June 29 and Wait for Dusk just yesterday on July 27. Now, without further adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did Jocelynn Drake break into the publishing world?

The same way that most people got a break in the publishing world: a great query letter and a lot of patience. Not long after I finished writing Nightwalker, I started sending out query letters to agents. They showed a lot of initial interest, but commented that the book was just not there yet. So, I kept trying until after two years, I queried a wonderful agent that was willing to take a chance on me. From there we tweaked Nightwalker and sent it out to editors. Within three weeks, we had a contract offer.

(2) Is writing a full-time job or have you got an alter-ego thing going on à la Clark Kent?

Sometimes writing feels like a full-time job because it does demand a lot of hours. However, I do still have a day job that I work part-time in the mornings to help pay the bills. During the day, I am a financial analyst that writes articles about the stock market and at night, I write about vampires.

(3) Your first series deals with Mira – a vampire with the unique ability to control fire – as her world teeters on the brink of a war between nightwalkers and their ancient enemies the naturi. What inspirations led you to develop your mythology?

I don’t know if there were any particular inspirations that led me down the road to creating the world of the Dark Days series beyond an overactive imagination and reading too many fantasy novels.

(4) Mira is not your average run-of-the-mill heroine; she’s pretty powerful and kickass, but as the story develops she’s revealed to be a lot more complicated than at first thought. How did Mira come to be exactly?

I’ve had Mira rattling around in my head for a long time. She is a tough, powerful creature, but her life and the circumstances that she’s survived have made her into what she is. She’s had a very dark past with losing family, and being betrayed by people that she’s trusted. This makes her a very complicated and volatile character to work with.
(5) Now, Danaus. How would describe your hero?

Danaus is a difficult character to get talking because he is very stoic and likes to hold things in. He clings hard to his beliefs because they are what give him direction and balance in a constantly shifting world. However, he is very loyal to those he sees as his comrades and he has a very deep sense of honor to him.

(6) The relationship between Mira and Danaus has this whole love-hate thing going on. Has it be hard setting the development of their relationship?

I have been very particular about the pacing of their growing relationship. These are two very old, stubborn creatures that started out on opposite sides of the battlefield. I couldn’t have them jumping into bed in the first or even the second book just because readers wanted that love affair. I needed the relationship to have a natural and cautious flow to it.

(7) How exactly did you come up with your characters? Are any of them based on real people?

My characters are not based on real people, but just my own wild imagination.
(8) How long, in a perfect world where your publisher gave you whatever you wanted, do you envision the Mira series being?

In a perfect world, I would like to finish the series in nine books to give me ample time to tie up some loose ends. However, it is looking more likely that the series will be finished in six.

(9) What about outside of Mira’s world; do you have any plans for non-Mira/Nightwalker books?

Yes, I am currently working on plans for other series within the urban fantasy genre, but they are still in the early planning stages.

(10) Your last publication, Pray for Dawn, just recently came out on June 29. What can you tell us about this book?

PRAY FOR DAWN is a book that takes a closer look a someone from Danaus’s past while bringing up the question of what a person would do to maintain and achieve their freedom.

(11) Rumor has it that this book shakes up the narration style, that Danaus’ POV is given a chance to shine. What brought about this change? Was it difficult to pull off?

PRAY FOR DAWN is actually told from Danaus’s POV instead of Mira’s because I think a lot of fans were beginning to wonder what was going on in the hunter’s head. It was also easier to show his struggle with his past by writing through his POV. It was not as difficult to write from his POV as I had expected and it was a nice break for me.

(12) Will there be more such narrator changes to come in future books, perhaps even beyond Mira and Danaus?

There is always the possibility, but Mira will always be the POV that I fall back on as the main storyteller.

(13) And now just yesterday Wait for Dusk hits the shelves on July 27. What can you tell us about this book?

WAIT FOR DUSK also tackles someone from Mira’s past as she struggles to bring order to the chaos that is claiming Budapest following the escape of the naturi. At the same time, Mira and her companions must escape the plotting of the members of the Coven if they hope to remain alive.

(14) And, ok, I’ve got to ask: what is up with, um, the new cover designs? (Specifically Wait for Dusk)

The art department went in a new direction with the covers in hopes of attracting more and different readers to the series. At the same time, the series has shifted gears slightly and the covers help to reflect that.

(15) What sort of research is done per book? Any particular texts you rely on? Could you break down your research process?

The only research that is completed for each book is specific to the location that I have the book set in. For PRAY FOR DAWN, the book is set in Savannah, Georgia so I went down to the city and explored it for a few days so that I could get a good feel for the setting where all the action would be taking place.

For WAIT FOR DUSK, the book is set mostly in Budapest, which meant a lot of online searches for interesting locations as well as different travel guides to help with maps, routes, neighborhood, as well as finding a hotel for Danaus and Mira to stay in.

(16) Finally, some random questions about you:
a. What are your hobbies aside from writing?
I play video games, go Geo-caching, and read.
b. Could you please describe your dream day?
A dream day would be getting up and slipping right into the story that I’m working on with no interruptions and no delays.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes?
I would wish for more time to write books, more time to read books, and a two week vacation in Fiji.

And there you have it folks. Be sure to check out the Dark Days series, especially its newest installments out this summer. You can also keep yourself up to date by visiting Jocelynn online here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

INTERVIEW: Molly Harper

Right, so I think I've cleared the back-log of interviews from before I had my tech-malfunction, and that means new interviews! That's right, boils and ghouls, I've got brand-spanking new interviews hot off the inbox, so buckle your seat belts and get prepare yourselves to be wowed!

First up this week is author Molly Harper who wrote the terrific and original vampire series about the newly-turned Jane Jameson and only just released a contemporary romance entitled, And One Last Thing... Now, without further adieu, enjoy!

1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did Molly Harper break into the publishing world?

I wrote NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS while working as a church secretary.

People seem to find that amusing.

I took the job at the church after leaving a reporting position with my hometown newspaper. For six years, I covered school board meetings, quilt shows, a man “losing” the fully grown bear he kept as a pet in his basement, and a guy who faked his death by shark attack in Florida and ended up tossing pies at a local pizzeria. I loved my job at the paper. I loved meeting new people every day and never knowing where I would end up. But somehow, the newsroom schedule and my husband’s police shifts did not equal "family friendly." One of us needed to take a normal job for the sake of our young daughter.

I took a secretarial position at the church, which left me with dependably free evenings for the first time in my adult life. We were living in "The Apartment of Lost Souls" while building our new home. This was the place where appliances and small electronics went to die. Every night, I would sit and wait for the washing machine to start smoking or the dishwasher to vomit soap on the floor. Then, there was the plague of frogs in the bathroom that put our daughter off potty-training for about six months. It was either write a book, or go slowly insane.

Being a huge fan of vampire movies and TV shows, I wondered, what would be the most humiliating way possible to be turned into a vampire- a story that a vampire would be embarrassed to share with their vampire buddies over a nice glass of Type O. Well, first, our poor heroine gets canned so her boss could replace her with someone who occasionally starts workplace fires. She drowns her sorrows at the local faux nostalgia-themed sports bar and during the commute home, she's mistaken for a deer and then shot by a drunk hunter. And then she wakes up as a vampire. And thus, Jane Jameson and the wacky denizens of Half-Moon Hollow were born.

It took me almost a year to complete and edit a draft of the book, which I planned as the first in a three-book series. I spent three months using to ruthlessly stalk potential literary agents. (There were a lot of lists involved, I don't want to re-live it.) I was gently rejected by at least half of them. I corresponded with some very nice, very patient people, but ultimately signed with the fabulous Stephany Evans of Fine Print Literary Management. Stephany was willing to take to the time to give me advice on how to improve my book before she even signed me. That meant a lot. And when she sold the series at auction to Pocket Books about a month later, it was obvious I'd made the right choice.

(2) Is writing a full-time job or have you got an alter-ego thing going on à la Clark Kent?
I am very much a Clark Kent. I work as an editorial assistant for a medical society. I write at night and on the weekends. Also, I wear glasses.

(3) Your first series deals with Jane Jameson – a fledgling vampire slash bibliophile – as she adjusts to her new life. What inspirations led you to develop your mythology?
I don’t know if I have a mythology per se. I tried to treat vampirism as a disease, a medical condition. And that sucked away a lot of superstitious rules like not being able to enter the home unless invited, fearing crosses and holy water. Other rules I needed to keep for plot purposes, i.e., being allergic to silver and sunlight. It was sort of a patchwork process.

(4) Jane is...a pretty unique take on the vampire heroine. I mean, with the exception of being locked into the nightlife and having a liquid-diet, her life is pretty normal. How did your take on vampires come to be?
I wanted my vampires to be regular Joes with everyday problems, who just happen to have fangs. I figured not every vampire is going to have a castle and a satin-lined cape to fall back on. I flatter myself in hoping that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an influence on the way I write vampires. What I loved about the show was that it explored all of these heavy, emotional topics, but through vampires and demons. Buffy finally sleeps with her boyfriend, only to have him lose his soul and go all evil. Buffy goes away to college and her roommate is a soul-sucking, annoying weirdo from another dimension. It showed that scifi/fantasy can be cool and scary, but still smart and emotionally relevant. I don’t know if my scope is quite that wide, but I’m working on it.

(5) Now, Gabriel. How would describe your hero Jane’s love interest?
Gabriel is an old-fashioned guy. He’s lived apart from the modern world for the most part, so it’s confusing for him to encounter a woman like Jane. She says exactly what she thinks, even if it would be better if she held her tongue. He finds that intriguing. But at the same time, she exasperates him with her stubbornness and her unwillingness to just let him step in and take care of her problems for her. He would do anything for Jane, which leads him into some fairly stupid decisions. Fortunately, he’s a good enough person to find a way to make up for them.

Oh, and did I mention he’s super-hot?

(6) The relationship between Jane and Gabriel has had its rocky moments but some how it all comes out seeming a lot more real because of it. Has it be hard setting the development of their relationship?
Yes, and no. I needed to maintain that conflict throughout several books, because who wants to read three books where the main character is in a happy, settled, schmoopy relationship? That would be annoying.

At the same time, I felt bad pitting Gabriel and Jane against each other. They are capable of hurting each other deeply, but they also work best when they’re together. Having Jane spend time away from Gabriel is like benching your best player. It all works out in the end, though.

(7) How exactly did you come up with your characters? Are any of them based on real people?
I’ve only based one character on a real person, and that’s my husband. He’s the inspiration for the yummy ex-cop neighbor in AND ONE LAST THING. Everybody else either came to me fully-formed, (Mr. Wainwright) or their personality traits are sort of a mishmash of what I needed for the plot.

(8) You’re now moving on to new projects, if your upcoming releases are anything to go by. Does this mean Jane’s story is over?
My agent has proposed a fourth Jane book to the publisher, but no decision has been made. I would be happy either way. As much as I love writing about Jane and the gang, I don’t want to push the series to the point where it loses its spark.

(9) Your most recent release, One Last Thing..., was lacking of vampires, werewolves, and all things that go bump. Why the change?
I was between books 2 and 3 in the Jane series. At that point, I’d been writing about vampires for a while and I wanted to do something a little different. My deadline for book 3 was a ways off and I was due to have our son at any moment. I had an idea for AND ONE LAST THING, and decided to spend my maternity leave working on it. It’s about a woman who finds out her husband is cheating, and uses his company mailing list to tell everyone they know what he’s been up to. She’s exiled from her little town and has to rebuild her life from there. She meets the aforementioned yummy ex-cop neighbor, wacky romance and half-naked hijinks ensue.

I finished the book in about two months. My son would sleep during the day. I would throw in a load of laundry and work on my manuscript, instead of, you know, sleeping, like a normal person. It’s the fastest I’ve ever written a book. I think because I didn’t have to be so careful about the vampire rules, and just write about interactions between characters.

(10) Do you plan on writing more contemporary romances?
I do have several more ideas for contemporaries, but I’ll always come back to paranormal romances. It’s where I’m most comfortable.

(11) Your next publication, How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf, won’t be coming out until February 22, 2011. This book is the start of a brand new series, obviously taking on werewolves instead of vamps. What can you tell us about this book?
Well, I think the cover blurb is safe to reveal, so here goes:

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it's unusual to find a naked guy with a bear-trap clamped to his ankle on your front porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham - who has been openly critical of Mo's ability to adapt to life up North - has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it's love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But he has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he's worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen. Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. But if he's not responsible, then who is? Life is complicated when a when you fall head over haunches in love.

(12) Is it set within the same world as Jane’s books? Are the werewolves the same sort as we saw in that series?

Let’s say the world is “adjacent” to Jane’s world. And yes, the werewolves are the same, with a more specific pack structure.

(13) The second book in that series, How to Talk to a Naked Werewolf, is due out just a month later on March 29, 2011. Have you any other releases scheduled for 2011?

I think the title has been changed to HOW TO FALL FOR A NAKED WEREWOLF. My title skills are weak, so they always seem to be in flux. At the moment, that is my last release for a while, but if you watch my web site and blog, I may be making an announcement soon.

(14) How many books do you envision the Naked Werewolf series to have? In a perfect world that is where the whims of the publisher wouldn’t matter.

Three. I’ve written about half of a third book, I’m just waiting for the publisher to decide whether they’re interested in expanding the series to a trilogy.

(15)What sort of research is done per book? Any particular texts you rely on? Could you break down your research process?
Most of my research consists of Googling to make sure my pop culture references are spelled correctly.

(16) Finally, some random questions about you: a. What are your hobbies aside from writing? Hmmm. I remember having hobbies… I used to cross-stitch and decorate cakes. But I don’t have time for either, anymore. I make my kids’ birthday cakes when they let me.
b. Could you please describe your dream day? I wake up and the kids have already dressed themselves and eaten a well-balanced breakfast. (Quite an accomplishment for a 2-year-old and 5-year-old.) I drop them off at pre-school, where they practically vault out of the car, because they are so happy to be there. I zip on over to the day spa to get rubbed, scrubbed and pampered. At some point, Alexander Skarsgaard drops by to administer my footrub.

I get home around lunchtime to find that some wonderful soul has done all the laundry, put away the dishes and picked up lunch for me from my favorite Chinese restaurant. Pot-stickers in hand, I retire to my office, where I write until it’s time to go pick up the kids.

I come home to find my loving husband waiting for me, with dinner prepared. (To be fair, he normally does this anyway.) We have a meal that does not involve screaming, crying, food being flung on the floor, or my food getting cold because someone needs to be taken to the potty.

The kids are practically chomping at the bit to go to bed. I get to spend the evening watching Castle re-runs with my husband.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes? -That all of the calories in cheesecake magically evaporate.

-That I could live in a world where I’m a full-time writer.

-That the Jane Jameson books get adapted into a movie starring Jenna Fischer and James Marsden. (I used to want Gerard Butler to play Gabriel, but then he went and single-handedly murdered the romantic comedy with “The Ugly Truth.”)

Wait, should I have wished for world peace? DANG IT!

So, like it's mentioned above, Molly's next release, How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf, isn't until Feb, 2011, but in the mean time be sure to check out her backlist and pop on over to visit her website.

Monday, July 12, 2010

INTERVIEW: Nicole Peeler

So, this week author Nicole Peeler was kind enough to answer a couple of questions. Her Jane True series, which is whacky, humourous and, oh yeah, something magical, just recently saw its second book, Tracking the Tempest, released on July 1 and its third, Tempest's Legacy, will be coming out January 1, 2011. So, without further adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did Nicole Peeler break into the publishing world?

Human sacrifice? No, not really. I basically did what every writer does, only speeded up quite a bit. I had an idea for a book, wrote book, figured out how to query agents, queried agents, found an agent, and she sold it. Basically, the way you publish a novel is hard work and research, just like the process of writing a novel is hard work and research. Put in the effort, listen to the advice you're given (rather than assuming you're such a superstar people can't understand your genius), and keep getting back up when you're knocked down--that's how you become a published writer.

(2) Your current series, the Jane True series, is about a half-selkie living in a small town by the Ocean who one day gets thrown in head first into the magic world lying just behind the normal everyday one she’d been living in . At this point, there is only the first book released with the second due out July 1. Do you have a definite idea of where this series is going? Tied to this and “it depends on my publisher/sales” aside, have you an idea how long the series will be?

I am a total plotter/outliner. I would outline you if you sat still for me. So I have a very definite idea where this story is going, and I have exactly six books planned for Jane True. I'm a firm believe in capping series . . . I guess it's from reading Mercedes Lackey as a child. She's a great one for giving her readers a perfect story arc.

(3) In developing Jane's character in the series, do you plot it all out prior to writing each book or are you winging it as you go?

I never wing! Well, I rarely wing. I outline the whole book before I start, in non-specific terms, then I outline each chapter before I write it, filling in chapter elements in later parts of the book as I'm inspired by writing earlier scenes. I think it's a great way to finish a project on time, but I do have to remember I'm not a prisoner of my outline. I have to be responsive . . . sometimes characters do things I'm really not expecting them to do. My third book ends in a way I totally didn't plan on it ending. But it made sense, and it was unexpected, which made it perfect.

(4) Now, Jane’s love interest is this vampire named Ryu. How would you describe their relationship?

Jane and Ryu have fantastic sexual chemistry. Jane's very much an unapologetic hedonist, and so is Ryu. They both enjoy sex, they're both very sensual and they are both very fun people. That said, I don't know if Ryu and Jane are good for each, long term. I don't think even Jane and Ryu know that, yet. They're just getting to know one another, like in real life. When two parties start dating, they're each trying to suss the other out. My goal was to try to create characters who are alive in the sense that we're watching them live, not fulfill the destiny I have planned for them. We all do things that are good or important for us to do, at the time, even if they aren't some sort of final solution to our existence. Jane and Ryu are enjoying one another and seeing where things go, and I, for one, am enjoying watching them do so. :-)

(5) And the story itself? How did you come up with the idea in the first place? Why go with what you did?

I was inspired to write Tempest Rising after reading one of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse books. I'd never read a heroine that wasn't kick ass, and I thought, "I LOVE this idea." So I started to put together what kind of elements I'd need for my own non-kick ass heroine. I did want her to be magical, unlike Sookie, but, again, she couldn't start out fierce. Living in Scotland right on the Firth of Forth, and having been obsessed with Celtic myth as a child, the idea for a Selkie came to me pretty quickly. But then I realized that particular mythology had a lot of limitations . . . what do Selkies do, really, besides bask on rocks and seduce mortals? So then my brain leapt to one of the half-human children of a Selkie. Whenever I'd read Selkie myths I'd wondered about what happened to those children . . . then I realized it was my time to tell their story, they way I imagined it.

(6) There are a lot of faeries floating around your world – was there a lot of research involved? What sources do you use most?

My world isn't necessarily populated by faeries, but by the creatures of various mythologies throughout the world. I studied myth and religion throughout high school and college (I think being raised without religion, at all, made me very curious), so I already had a lot of background not only in folklore, religion, and mythology but also in theories regarding why humans invent these things. So many different people have tried to answer why it's so important to us to have these stories, and why so many of these stories are so similar in otherwise vastly divergent cultures. My book takes the approach that much urban fantasy does . . . we write stories about these creatures because we've seen them. For me, every mythology--from Mayan to Mesopotamian to an urban legend from Manhattan--is possible fodder.

(7) Is writing a full-time job for you? What’s a day-in-the-life-of-Nicole-Peeler like?

In my "real" career I'm an assistant professor at LSU in Shreveport. So my day-to-day life is quite hectic. A normal weekday sees me at the gym, then teaching, and working on book-related stuff whenever I can fit it in. I wouldn't trade my life for the world, but it's requires a lot of work and a lot of organization and prioritizing to be both Dr. Peeler, professor, and Nicole Peeler, author. Last year I really let Nikki Peeler, human being, take a back seat, so that's my goal for this year. Not only get everything done for both jobs, but carve out some "me" time. I'm doing pretty well, so far.

(8) In terms of the writing process, what is the most difficult part for you? Is it starting? Writing certain scenes? Editing or chopping up parts? What about the easiest?

I think editing is the hardest, in some ways. You want to publish the best material possible, and it's important to really engage with the editing process. But I don't get that sheer pleasure in just creating as I do when I'm writing the rough draft. That said, my rough draft is always rough, and there's real pleasure in turning that into a final product I'm really proud to have written. But while I'm editing, it can get a bit frustrating.

(9) How long does it take you to go from idea to finished manuscript?

If I didn't have to work the day job, I'd say I would have about a 4-6 month turn around on an MS form start to finish. with the day job, I'm working at about 6-8 months, roughly. Doing my Ph.D. really helped me learn to organize and execute a big project with efficiency. Personally, I doubt I could ever have become a writer without having done my doctoral work. I just couldn't start, let alone finish, anything.

(10) Have you plans for any other works outside of Jane’s world, or at least Jane’s POV? What’s coming next for you?

I do have big plans that are set in Jane's world but not in Jane's POV. They're characters you hear of in Book 2, and meet in Book 3. But we'll see what happens. Tempest Rising has to sell well before anything else happens.

(11) Finally, some random questions about you:
a. What are your hobbies aside from writing?
I belly dance, cook, read, and travel a lot.
b. Could you please describe your dream day?
Start with yoga or a bout with my friend and trainer, Dawn, at Fitness World here in Shreveport. Then I'd go get a massage. Then I'd do some good work (I'm not really happy if I haven't gotten some work done), and then I'd go for dinner and drinks with friends.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes?
I'd love a lighter teaching load, but other than that, I'm happy.

You can find the first two Jane True books, Tempest Rising and Tracking the Tempest, in stores now and for further 411 on what's to come check out Nicole online here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

INTERVIEW: Jenna Black

Alright boils and ghouls, here be my first interview since the Unfortunate MIA Period of 2010. The author is Jenna Black, who to date has two adult and one young adult series published, comprising almost a dozen books with more on the way. These books have everything, from vampires to demon possessions to fairies, so there's no chance you won't find something to love. So, without further adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did Jenna Black break into the publishing world?

With great difficulty! I wrote seriously, trying to get published, for about sixteen years before I finally sold WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT, my "first" novel. Actually, that first novel was the 18th I'd written. I came close many times before that with many other books, but I was never quite able to break in. But I kept writing, kept trying, and kept submitting. Being a writer was my dream, and I refused to give up on that dream even when it seemed it was impossible to achieve, which it did many times during those frustrating years of rejection after rejection.

(2) Right now you’ve got three series, one urban fantasy, one paranormal and one young adult. The urban fantasy series features Morgan Kingsley, a demon exorcist who one day finds out she’s hosting the rightful king of the demons. So far four books have been published and a fifth, The Devil’s Playground, is due out in late March. Will this be the last book in the series?

Yes, that's the final book, although there will be at least one more Morgan Kingsley short story, coming out in an anthology sometime next year.

(3) Will there be more instalments in your paranormal series, the Guardians of the Night?

No, that series is finished.

(4) In May your first young adult book, Glimmerglass, will be coming out. What can you tell us about this new series?

The series is about a teen girl named Dana Hathaway, who gets fed up with her alcoholic single mother and runs away from home to find her Fae father in Avalon, the only place in the world where the ordinary world and the world of Faerie intersect. She's hoping to find something more like a normal life, but she gets way more than she bargained for. It turns out she's a Faeriewalker, a rare individual who can travel freely both in the mortal world and in Faerie. She can also bring magic into the mortal world and technology into Faerie. There are a lot of people--including her father--who see her as a potential pawn in a deadly game of Fae politics, and her life is about as far from normal as it's possible to get.

(5) Returning to the Morgan Kingsley series, in developing Morgan's character in the series, do you plot it all out prior to writing each book or are you winging it as you go?

I generally have an idea of where the story starts and where it's going to end. All the stuff in the middle--and the actual details of what's going to happen at the end--doesn't come into focus until I'm elbow-deep in the writing.

(6) Morgan’s world puts a new spin on demon possessions - How did you come up with the idea in the first place? Why go with what you did? And was there a lot of research involved? What sources do you use most?

I wanted my heroine to be involved in a deep-seated, emotional conflict that was too complicated to be resolved within the course of a single book, a conflict that could sustain tension throughout the course of the series. That's why I created a possessed exorcist, but I made Lugh into a good guy because that increased the complexity of the conflict. If Lugh were a villain--depicted more like a traditional demon--then Morgan would just want him gone. The fact that she likes him and wants him to win the fight for the throne adds another layer of complexity to their relationship. Because I completely made up the mythology for my series, only barely touching on the existing mythology about demons, I didn't have to do any substantive research. I generally hate doing research anyway, so I try to steer myself away from projects that would require too much of it. I like to use existing mythology as just a jumping off point, which is true in my other series as well.

(7) Is writing a full-time job for you? What’s a day-in-the-life-of-Jenna-Black like?

Yes, I write full time. I quit my day job right before the economy tanked. (Good timing, huh?) I'm still glad I went full time--I couldn't realistically keep writing two series while working a full time job. Not without burning myself out, that is. A day-in-the-life generally starts with me checking email over coffee, clad in my PJs. I do activities that require minimal brain power while I'm waiting to fully wake up, then I start writing. I usually write in sessions of about one hour at a time. (This varies wildly depending on where I am in the book, and how sure I feel about what happens next.) After an hour or so, I break to do something else, usually more email correspondence, or Twitter chattering, or website maintenance. (It's amazing how many tasks an author must do that have nothing to do with actually writing a book.) I'll then go back for another writing session, and I'll repeat this procedure throughout the day, usually stopping around 5:00 PM. If I'm doing editing, revising, or proofreading, I often do this after my regular work hours, preserving my "prime time" for the most creatively draining work. I do this seven days a week, and almost never take a full day off. I was never a workaholic until I became a full-time writer, but I have to be now or I wouldn't be able to keep up.

(8) In terms of the writing process, what is the most difficult part for you? Is it starting? Writing certain scenes? Editing or chopping up parts? What about the easiest?

The easiest part for me is writing the big climactic scene(s) at the end of the book. By the time I get there, I'm very comfortable that I know how the plot is going to work, I'm totally immersed in all the characters' heads, so I know what they'll do in any given situation, and I've got a good picture in my own head of all the action that's to come. I often have marathon writing sessions when I get to this part, because the momentum carries me right through my supposed break times.

The hardest part varies from book to book. Sometimes, it's the beginning, because I'm just getting to know certain characters and things aren't so clear in my mind yet. Usually, it will come later in the book. There's usually a place where I have big holes in my plan. For example, I might write in my synopsis something like "And then she escapes from the dungeon." That's enough information for a synopsis, but when I find that scene looming on the horizon, I've got to figure out *how* she escapes from the dungeon, and the logistic sometimes leave me stymied for a while.

(9) How long does it take you to go from idea to finished manuscript?

That varies wildly, and it depends on your definition of the word "finished." To get from an idea to a finished first draft probably takes me around three months on average. With me, there's very little delay between getting an idea and starting to write. If I'm excited about something, I feel the need to start writing right away. I don't think I'd have the patience to write anything where I had to do extensive research before I began writing. The drive to write is capricious, and when the desire is burning in me, I have to take advantage of the surge of energy and excitement it gives me. I'll have peaks and valleys during that three-month writing process--times when the words are being forced out one by one and it's all I can do to keep my butt in the chair, and times when I'm so absorbed I forget to eat.

It's much harder for me to say how long it takes before I have a real, finished manuscript, because there's so much stopping and starting along the way. I have to put the manuscript aside for a while to give myself some distance, then I go back and edit. Then I turn it into my editor, and it can take months before I get feedback. Once I get the feedback, I have to go back and revise some more, and then turn it in again and wait for my editor to read it. So from the idea first dawning to the novel actually being in its finished state can easily take a year, even if much of that time is waiting time for me.

(10) What’s coming next for you outside of the Morgan Kingsley and Faeriewalker worlds? Are you planning a new adult series?

I will actually have a new adult urban fantasy series starting in 2011. Unfortunately, it's still Top Secret, and I'm not at liberty to share any details.

(11) Finally, some random questions about you:

a. What are your hobbies aside from writing?

I love ballroom dancing. I take lessons a couple times a week.

b. Could you please describe your dream day?

My dream day is any day when the writing is really flowing. There is no feeling quite like that, when the ideas o are flowing, and I can hardly type fast enough to keep up with them. Those are the days that make all the insecurities and aggravations of being a writer completely worth it.

c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes?
It's hard to answer this question and not sound like a cliche. Let's just say that I wouldn't wish for anything for myself. While my life is far from perfect, I am living my dream and am more than satisfied with what I have. I'd probably wish for world peace, a cure for cancer, and an end to hunger, or something unimaginative like that. Unless I suspected it was one of those genies who gave you wishes that always backfired--then I'd make really small wishes that couldn't possibly hurt anyone.


Jenna's first young adult book, Glimmerglass, hit the shelves in May and for further 411 on what's to come check out Jenna online here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Phoenix Time! / Paranormal Love

So, finally, I can once again resurrect my blog thanks to my parents buying me a new laptop as a graduation present. And that means I will finally be able to post the backlog of interviews I've got horded away which are way overdue to be seeing the light of day. (And I apologize to the authors who generously took the time to answer my questions for taking so long to post them - I haven't forgotten and I swear they'll be going up soon.)

Now, despite the backlog, I've decided this first Resurrection post will not be an interview but instead will deal with something else, something that, truth be told, has been on my mind for some time now. It first sprung up when (or should that be "while"?) I was discussing Yasmine Galenorn's Otherworld series with a friend. Specifically, we were talking about one of the characters' love lives and he called her a whore. I disagreed, but he just couldn't see my point of view (but he’s a bit of a blockhead when it comes to opinions, so that’s hardly surprising), and the whole thing got me thinking.

Paranormal romance in general strives to take the fantastical and fit it to more mundane parameters. The basic formula of a couple meeting and gradually falling in love tends to be preserved, often as a secondary plot to some larger, driving adventure/mystery plot. The couple, however, are rarely your typical, run of the mill humans. Vampires, werewolves, witches, fairies, demons or shapeshifters - these books spin the wheel on the Big List of Supernatural Entities and takes their pick, combining the magic with the mundane and taking it for one hell of a ride. For example, Larissa Ione recently tweeted that a reader had accused her of creating “unrealistic expectations of love.” Considering Ione’s Demonica series is about a hospital catering to demonic patients and focuses on the incubi brothers that run it finding their mates (which so far have included a half-demon, a werewolf, an immortal treasure hunter and an angel), I can see how the reader could see the romances as being unrealistic. Gods know I was crushed to realize there would be no leather-clad incubi walking up to me in cafes to whisk me off for some sexcapades. But, at the same time, these characters were facing obstacles such as opposing ideologies, past betrayals, and difficult choices – things I’m sure no real life couple would ever have to face. *cough, cough* This blend of the believable with the extraordinary is exactly what paranormal romance is all about.

Interestingly, it's not Those That Go Bump that had my friend's feathers ruffled - in fact his problem had nothing at all to do with the fantasy component. Nope, it was all about the romance side of the equation. In Galenorn's series, the three half-fae D'Artigo sisters, who rotate the role of narrator book to book, are fighting to prevent a demon army, led by the big baddie Shadow Wing, from invading the human world while simultaneously entertaining love lives worthy of any soap opera. Camille, the eldest sister, is a Moon witch. At the start of the series, she is bound through an ancient ritual to a Svartan (think dark elf) named Trillian and later marries a youkai fox demon named Morio and a silver dragon called Smoky when Trillian goes missing. Consequently, Camille has sex regularly with all three men and not always just one at a time. This is where my friend had the problem; he saw Camille as a whore for having multiple partners. This is completely and utterly ridiculous; she’s not a whore. Sure, she has multiple lovers, but then she is half-fae and there is precedence for such in the culture. But even by human-standards, she doesn't fit the definition. She is not sneaking around or hiding; all three of her men are aware of each other and all three have consented to the relationship knowing exactly what parameters it had, a relationship which, btw, is most decidedly not open. Camille is loyal and faithful (ditto her men); the only difference between hers and the typical romantic tale is that the exclusivity is stretched to encompass three lovers instead of just one.

In my opinion, reading is supposed to be all about escape. I read fantasy because it is what I wish the world could truly be like; all that magic and potential has its appeal. The presence of vampires and shifters and witches (oh, my) in what otherwise would have been pretty mundane situations helps t0 perpetuate the idea that the extraordinary isn't so far the ordinary. Now, me, I only care that everyone's happy. Gay, straight, bi, married, unmarried, monogamous, polygamous- whatever - so long as no one's being hurt and everyone's happy I don't see why it's anyone else's business. (It's the reason I never understood why the Law cares to outlaw polygamy.) That Galenorn's series has characters that aren't strait and monogamous is an original and rather refreshing change. Although it's hardly the first variation on that theme.

Similarly, Keri Arthur wrote of werewolves who kept their love lives very open until finding their soul mate in her Riley Jensen series. Jenna Black's Morgan Kingsley series had homosexual partners, possessed by homosexual demons, who led to some pretty intense S&M scenes. Wen Spencer wrote of elves, the majority of whom viewed marriage as a political alliance and had bodyguards who doubled as lovers. Jill Myles has a series about a succubus who has two lovers: a fallen angel (who is awake only during the day) and a vampire (who, you guessed it, is only awake at night) and I'm really hoping that, give or take some modifications, the relationship/set-up/arrangement/whatever perseveres to series' end.

And then there's the other side of the coin: the Enforced One True Love types. These are the characters who, upon finding their One, have any choice for future break-ups removed. Eileen Wilks has Lily Yu, a touch-sensitive, being Lupi prince, Rule Turner's Chosen: a mate selected for him by the Goddess who first created the werewolves. Considered a gift, the bond is unpredictable, sometimes swapping magical traits back and forth between Lily and Rule, other times snapping taut and preventing them from getting too far from each other. In Christine Warren's Other series, wolves know their mates by scent and, sooner or later, give in to their urges and mark their females, whether the female is prepared or not. Kresley Cole has a whole host of similar pairings, such as the werewolves who know their mates as the one who calms their beasts or the vampires know their Brides as the one who reanimates their hearts...and other organs. The Dragonlords of Joanne Bertin's imagination are creatures who, once upon a time, saw a dragon soul and a human soul fuse and they break into two dragon/human pairings that can take centuries to find each other again.

Personally, I'm all for the happy middle ground. This can take one of three forms. First, there are those who willing choose to remove the choice to leave. Sharon Ashwood's witch Holly, for instance, makes the decision to take the vampire Alessandro her Chosen, allowing him, among other things, to feed off their shared passion instead of blood. A willing blood exchange between a vampire and his lover in Alexandra Ivy's world, for another example, consecrates a mating and causes a mark warning off other vampires to appear on the female's arm and a sort of psychic connection to open up between the couple. Second, there's the "my inner beast concurs" scenario. Patricia Briggs' werewolves can be like this: the human-side choices a mate and the wolf eventually accepts the choice, however the inverse is also possible. Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld have something similar occur when they meet their intendeds; cursed to host such demons symbolizing such things as Violence, Death and Promiscuity, these demons tend to be calmed by the females and strengthen their hosts' feelings of attraction. Finally, the third form is the classic boy-meets-girl-falls-in-love-HEA-ensues set-up we all know and love. Ilona Andrews' Kate and Curran, Linda Wisdom's Jazz and Nick, Michelle Rowen's Sarah and Thierry and Molly Harper's Jane and Gabriel all follow this example.

Which leaves me with just one more things to comment on: love triangles. Personally, I hate them, especially in series that just keep going and going. I hate waiting for the decision, and I hate it even more when my favourite isn't the pick. S.J. Day has this with her Marked series where Eve must choose between Cain and Abel and Lisa Shearin has this with her Raine being caught between Mychael and Tam.

The only thing worse are those characters (like Charlaine Harri's Sookie, and Karen Chance's Cassie) who can't make ANY decision and just seem to be stuck in a romance limbo. With yummy potential interests RIGHT THERE - this is not only frustrating, it's just plain cruel.