Thursday, April 24, 2008

Interrogate the Author: Jeaniene Frost

I am very happy to announce that the glorious, newly risen star of Urban Fantasy, Jeaniene Frost has given consent to participate in a simple Q&A. I am also happu to announce that this author has recently won the Romatic Times Readers Choice with her debut novel "Halfway to the Grave". You can find my review of that book HERE, before I started my seperate blog. Now let's get this interview going!

1. Hello, Jeaniene. I’m so thrilled to be having you here on my humble place on the Internet as one of the first test subject in my upcoming series of interviews. I really appreciate the time to answer my rambling questions. How are you feeling?

Hi Harry, and thanks again for taking the time to interview me. Things are good! I’m getting pre-release jitters as time winds down until ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE comes out, but everyone tells me that’s normal.

2. Of course it is, until you shake your hands so violently that you won’t need a mixer to make whipped cream anymore. So as we all know, writers usually get this bang on the head by an invisible epiphany and suddenly from ordinary human beings we all get the strange notion to start creative writing. When did your epiphany bang you and how did that happen? I mean it could have been either a novel or an actual hit in the heat. Details are usually wanted here.

Oh, it was a bona-fide Moment, and I remember it clearly. It was January 4th , 2004, and I was sitting at my computer browsing Viggo Mortensen’s actor profile (I’d LOVED Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, and that was shortly after it came out.) Anyway, I was looking at Viggo’s biography and saw that he was an actor, painter, poet, publisher, photographer, and political activist. *pause* It was then that I had the crystal clear thought of, “Jeaniene, you are wasting your life.” As far as my dream of being an author went, in any event. Also, this happened shortly before I turned thirty, so I’m sure that looming milestone played a part in my epiphany as well.

After that day, I began writing. First it was poetry – which I love, but am terrible at – and then the idea for Halfway to the Grave hit me in a dream. It was so vivid, I completed my first of the story in about three months.

3. Viggo Mortensen is hot and compared to him almost everyone waste their lives. By the way you are not the only one, who got their publishable idea through a dream (I am hinting towards Vicki and her stiletto scene). I think I should start dreaming more. Anyways you have a really beautiful name, Jeaniene (you can thank me for the compliment later), and I did some research (quirk of mine). It seems that it comes from the Hebrew Jeanine, which means “god is gracious”. Did you know that and more importantly do you feel gracious?

First, thanks for the compliment – though really, my mother gets the credit J. No, I hadn’t heard of the Hebrew meaning behind Jeanine, but let me say loud and long that God has been very gracious to me. To me, the meaning behind my name shouldn’t be an endorsement of my personality, but a declaration of how much I thank God for the things I have, and not just writing-wise.

4. Wow, that is an interesting thought. Since I started the interesting topics with names, how about you shed some light on your heroine Catherine. According to my sources, her name means “pure”. Now how much of that overlaps with her character and how did you end up with that name? I have a hunch that is has something to do with her nickname Cat, which is very feline-y, but I want to hear it straight from the author’s mouth.

Actually, you can blame Sidney Sheldon. THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT is one of my favorite novels, and the heroine’s name in that was Catherine. When I was brainstorming a name for my heroine, that novel flashed in my mind, and I knew Catherine was the name for my heroine, too. The nickname Cat came later, because I figured she wouldn’t give her real name to her vampire targets, so a shortening of Catherine to Cat seemed natural. And it fit her personality, too, which made me happy as an author.

5. Happy coincidences is what make life so much easier, but I will blame Sidney anyways, since I wanted for once a character to be named Juanita. I side tracked again. So I read your novel and noticed something strange. Catherine is actually a half-vampire (nerdy me knows that some mythologies call them dampyrs). Usually when it comes to vampire related fiction, we have a vampire and a human, representing both words. How did you come to the interesting idea to combine the incompatible?

As I mentioned earlier, the idea came to me in a dream. In my dream, [spoiler warning for those who haven’t read Halfway to the Grave!] I saw two people arguing. Somehow I knew the girl was a half-vampire, the guy was a full vampire, and they were arguing because he was pissed that she'd left him years before. The story of what led up to that point in their lives became Halfway to the Grave. Now, the argument I'd glimpsed in my dream takes place in the second book in the series, One Foot in the Grave

6. The dream again, huh? Well they do tend to work in mysterious ways. So here comes my favorite. Why vampires? They seem to be pretty popular nowadays and we can all blame Buffy for that, but I bet you have some deeper reason. Answers like just because are not available.

Okay, I won’t use the word “because”, but it’s always been vampires for me. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved vampires. I remember watching the many variations on Dracula as a kid, and thinking each time that it was perfectly reasonable for Dracula to go to the lengths he did in order to get Lucy, and why did Van Helsing have to keep picking on him? As you can imagine, this made my parents very nervous about my warped perspective in rooting for the movie’s villain versus the hero, lol.

7. You gotta admit Van Helsing was hot. I can forgive him for that. So your second installment for the Night Huntress series is soon to hit the bookstores and enslave many UF fans all around the US. Can you give a little bit of inkling about what we are to be expecting? More importantly, will Cat be doing stunts in stilettos like we see her wear on the cover? What happens with Bones? Will we see more blood? Oh, tell me!

You know I can’t tell you too much about ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE, or I’d spoiler things. I can say there’s a scene where Cat has to take on vampires wearing heels and a bridesmaid dress – ladies, can you imagine anything worse? – and Bones is definitely in the book. Some things from Cat’s past will also be brought to light, and a reader will get to meet several new characters, human and inhuman. Will there be blood? Um, yeah. Cat’s still hunting vampires, so that’s inevitable. I’ve also had early reviewers comment that ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE has more humor – and a hotter sex scene – than the first book. So we’ll see if readers agree once it releases.

8. Okay, I want an ARC asap. That bridesmaid dress scene is damn delicious. Speaking of stilettos, would you like to be able to do kick ass stunts with stakes and throwing knives like your character? Does the same answer apply if you had to wear stilettos?

Anyone who knows me will know why I burst out laughing reading that. The very IDEA of me trying to do stunts in comfortable sneakers, let alone heels, is enough to make me sprain something. I am a klutz. No, really, I mean I can trip while standing still (I’m not lying, people have seen it). I have no desire to do the things Cat does, and especially for the reasons she does them, which is, she’ll be killed if she doesn’t. I’d much rather go out to dinner and a movie than go vampire hunting at bars like she does. No way. And instead of throwing knives, I’m happy doing the occasional target practice with a gun.

9. I know what you mean. Been there, stuck there, can’t get out of there. As far as I can tell about you, you are the kind of people that don’t plan to stay a one hit wonder with the whole series thing and all. By the way, how many books do you plan your series to be and what do you plan to do once you are done with that?

Well, as with most authors, the number of books I plan in the series is directly related to how many a publisher is willing to buy. Right now, the total bought for the Night Huntress series stands at five. If that’s all I get, I’ll wrap up Cat and Bones’s story within those five books. I’d never leave a reader dangling because I wrote an incomplete ending without another contracted book to resolve things in.

However, if the Contract Faery came and waved a wand saying I could have as many books sold in this series as I wanted, I’d do eight books in Cat’s point of view, and then about four of five in side characters points of view that wrapped up their stories, as well as an overall plot arc for the series. That’s my dream, but don’t get me wrong: having five books guaranteed is more than I ever thought I’d get when I started querying, so I have no complaints however things work out.

As far as what I’d like to do when this series is over – or still ongoing – I want to write more, of course. Writing isn’t something I’m doing to tide me over for now. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I hope to have a long career doing it.

10. I will contact the damn Faery and see what I can do. Bazookas do make people and faeries more agreeable to suggestions. But now imagine the time your series will end. Do you have something hidden up your sleeve? I bet that bag of supernatural and sexy monsters has to be full to the brim.

I have several story ideas up my sleeve. Some I’ve started writing, others are still growing in my head. They’re all with supernatural creatures, though. I can’t seem to do normal J.

11. Normal is so outdated. I am glad you do the weird thing. So I hear you live in Florida. Isn’t it weird that a person in love with creatures of the night lives in a pretty sunny place? It seems like an oxymoron for me. Share how that happened.

I moved to Florida with my parents when I was ten. Then at sixteen, I started dating the man I’d eventually marry, and we’ve stayed here ever since. I have plans to leave Florida, because I was born up north, and I miss seasons and snow like I can’t even tell you. So in the next couple years, I’m anticipating a move to North Carolina.

12. Go, run to North Carolina and buy a spooky mansion. Writing is hard, but it has its own benefits. Since your seem to be becoming very green and tangible, can you tell me whether those benefits have given you financial freedom or are you still with the shackles of a daytime job. What exactly is your secret identity, when you are not the fabulous UF author?

I still have to work outside writing to support the bills. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but writing is not a get-rich-quick sort of scheme (I can imagine other authors laughing in agreement). It’s truly something you do for love, not for goals of living a cushy lifestyle supported by just your keyboard. Now, if you’re very lucky, you can eventually earn a living writing. Sometimes the uber-lucky earn a damn good living writing. But odds are, if you’re a full-time writer, you’re making less money than you’d make at just about any other middle-class job. And you’re making it slowllllyyyyyy. Writers get paid twice a year in royalties, unless they sell new books. *grin* Imagine hearing you’d only get paid twice a year if you were on a job interview? You’d have to really love that job to take it, because the truth is, there are quicker, easier, and less stressful ways to make as much as, if not more, money than the average writer does.

13. I hear such things. There was the time I thought every published author made as much as Stephen King did and after that I realized that um, there are a lot more authors out there and that is impossible. Here is the next question. If you could pick a land, where you want your novels to make a grand entrance, which one would you choose? *points towards to Bulgaria, estranged in Eastern Europe.* And would you like to see Catherine show off on the big movie screen someday?

Well, Germany bought translation rights for HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE and ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE, so they will be making their debuts there. I don’t have a particular favorite country in mind. Any place that likes paranormal novels is where I’d be happy to see my books show up in.

Re-movies. I get asked this a lot from fans, and it still kind of surprises me. I didn’t write my books with the dream of seeing them in film one day – I wrote them with the dream of seeing them in print one day. I have no burning desire to see my books in film. For one, I’m not sure they’d translate well into film. So much of Cat’s character growth is done internally, through her thought process as the novels progress, and that wouldn’t be easy to show in film. Plus, there’s the whole fear that what might appear in a film would be nothing like my books/characters (*cough, BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE, cough*).

14. Ugh, Blood and Chocolate. ::shudders:: I can point towards Earthsea too, but that may be just a bit too much. Now for a grand finale. How did you feel, knowing that you were interviewed by a teen, who speaks English as a second language?

I had no idea of either until I read your question. And then I immediately jumped to Livejournal to read your profile and see if you were pulling my leg. Since you’re not, let me say WOW, you are extremely articulate and sophisticated for an eighteen-year old (at least, from what I remember as a teen). Hearing that English is your second language makes me even more impressed. I took four years of Spanish in high school, and yet still, I no hablo. So, hat’s off to you for hitting the ground running when it comes to style and prose! Throw in some pig-headedness and masochism, and you’re well on your way to being a professional author J.

I wanted a little grand finale, if you catch my drift and do some testing for a trademark question. I startled you now didn’t I with my little shocker of a question. A smart reply for your answer is now unavailable, but a very thankful one is in store. Thank you for the kind words and I really wanted to end the interview with a bang. At least for you. So that you don’t get bored. I like to look after my interrogation objects… interviewees I mean and maybe get a chance to do this again sometime later. Thank you once more and maybe someday we will see on a conference.

Now be sure to check out the lovely Miss Frost's:
Site: Jeaniene Frost, Author of the Night Huntress series
Blog over at LiveJournal
"Halfway to the Grave" is available at Amazon
"One Foot in the Grave", the second installment, has been just released.


Christine said...

Great interview, Harry. I, too, am impressed on how articulate your Q&A is for an 18 year old whose first language isn't even English! Very well done. :)

Jeaniene, I'm excited to hear that you're at least contracted for five Night Huntress books. More than five would be fantastic as I'd love to read some stories from the perspective of some of the other characters in this world. Like Tate, for example?

SIDE NOTE TO HARRY: I see you have Truancy by Isamu Fukui on your reading list. I attended a panel discussion at NY Comic Con this past weekend in which Isamu participated. He is another impressively articulate teen. I'll look forward to your thoughts on his novel.

daydream said...

Thank you, Christine! Every comment counts, when a person starts a blog like this. I am sure to pop up at yours soon enough!

What can I say, I gotta steal the show somehow and attract attention. ;)

I will get to Truancy sooner than my TBR schedule says. The following books are all read fast. All thanks to getting the book goes to Graeme, who has been so generous.

Jeaniene Frost said...

Hi Christine,

I'd love to do a book in Tate's POV, and Spade's, and a couple other people. I'm keeping my fingers crossed :)

Harry, thanks again for the great interview!

Chris, The Book Swede said...

Really good interview, Harry :) I have to admit I haven't heard of Jeaniene, so I will definitely check her out! I've blogrolled you, by the way.

And I'll drop you an email soon, too...

daydream said...

Thanks a lot! I am soon to put up on my links and you will be futured as well. I already have you on my personal one.

Jeaniene is great in the Urban Fantasy scene.

Christine said...

Yikes! How did I not immediately think of Spade?!?! Yes, I would very much like a book (or two...) from his POV.

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