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.

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