Sunday, February 7, 2010

[Interview] Jill Myles author of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi

Who: Jill Myles

Bio: Jill Myles has been an incurable romantic since childhood. She reads all the ‘naughty parts’ of books first, looks for a dirty joke in just about everything, and thinks to this day that the Little House on the Prairie books should have been steamier.

After devouring hundreds of paperback romances, mythology books, and archaeological tomes, she decided to write a few books of her own – stories with a wild adventure, sharp banter, and lots of super-sexy situations. She prefers her heroes alpha and half-dressed, her heroines witty, and she loves nothing more than watching them overcome adversity to fall into bed together.

She wasn’t born with a pen in her hand, like most writers. Jill did stick the occasional crayon up her nose, but she eventually grew out of that.

Mostly.

Work: The Succubus Diaries,

Why: I read 'Gentlemen Prefer Succubi' and needless to say, I wondered what kind of person wrote such funny and dirty books. My inquisitive nature demanded and audience with the author and an audience I got. Here is the result.

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Jill, thank you for agreeing to this interview. After finishing “Gentlemen Prefer Succubi” I had the undeniable urge to meet up with the author with devilish sense of humor and have a small chat. Let’s get started already. What got you into the blood filled arena we refer to as modern publishing and for how long have you hacked away at the keyboard before seeing your name under a naked man’s chest?

Like most writers, I loved to write as a teenager, but it was relegated to fanfiction scribblings in handwritten journals. It wasn't until 2002 or so that I found myself bored and watching a movie. The movie ended in a terrible fashion and it irritated me - I wanted a different ending! So I sat down and started to write my own story, with the ending I wanted. Took me forever to figure out how to finish a novel, and then even longer to figure out how to make it not suck. From there, it was the natural progression of finding an agent, agent found me an editor, editor wanted my book. :)

And what valuable lessons have you learned from your long journey, which you may share with struggling, young writers?

Don't give up, even when the feedback feels like a punch in the gut. Always listen and look for ways to improve your writing. And trust your gut - you know what kind of story you're trying to tell more than anyone else.

“Gentlemen Prefer Succubi” exudes naughty and suggestive humor. I find it hard to believe that it has been conceived the woman I see in those author photos on your website. So tell me, do you speak like a sexed-up sitcom character in real life or does this genius hilarity manifests exclusively in your writing?

I'm very demure, what are you talking about? Ha. Seriously - I love crass humor and one-liners. One of my favorite movies? Borat (and that should tell you everything you need to know about me). I'm not sex obsessed in real life, but I am humor-obsessed. I'm lucky I picked sex to write about instead of say, toilet humor, or else my parents would probably never talk to me.

Jackie Brighton is one hilarious character to follow, but I want to know, how you came up with the complicated concoction that vampire bite, fallen angel sex and a frustrated woman would equal a hot succubus? I give you a 10.0 for the concept and the fresh new angle to still enjoy well exploited tropes.

I started out with the nerd-turned-hot-succubus and worked backward from there. How did she get turned into a succubus? And I knew once she met the fallen angel, that he'd turned her. Of course, if all it took was a bit of lovin' to turn a woman into a succubus, then there would be succubi everywhere. So I knew there had to be some sort of second factor, and since the angel-lovin' was tied to the Serim curse, it seemed natural to tie the other factor to the vampire bloodlust.

And if that sounds really confusing, I swear it all made sense in my head.

Jackie is not that combative. Usually, heroines in this genre have kick-ass abilities. They break bones, fire guns and burn people, but Jackie’s most dangerous weapon so far may be bleeding her victims to death via hickies. Can we expect destructive surprises from her as a succubus?

No, Jackie sucks as a fighter (no pun intended!) and that was deliberate on my part. I want her to be bad at fighting. To me, she would lose that level of realism and credibility if she turned into a ninja badass overnight. Plus, there's no real reason (if you stop and think about it) that a succubus in my world would need super-strength or fighting skills, so they don't come with the employee package. For every 'gift' I gave my succubi, I tried to give them a disadvantage too, because I wanted to maintain that level of tension and realism.

If anything, I think we'll see Jackie experimenting with her morality a bit more. Your average woman wouldn't make a bargain with a demon, for example, but Jackie is learning that the supernatural world comes in all shades of gray, and that the good guys are just as manipulative as the bad guys. We'll see her learning to swim with the sharks.

In terms of genre tradition you break an unwritten dogma. The feisty loud-mouthed female has to fall in love with dangerous male from supernatural origins. You push the envelope with a threesome between a fallen angel, a vampire and a succubus. It’s new, exotic, daring and a bit daring at that as well. It’s a gold mine for plot ideas, character development and drama, but did you intentionally want something as wild and even a bit provoking as having two men agree to share one woman?

I wanted Jackie's relationship with both men to be based on practicality. Despite the big hair and crazy outfits and strange friends, Jackie is at heart a very practical character. And to her, it doesn't make sense to declare everlasting love and fidelity to a man you met only a few days ago. Eternity is a looooooooooooong time. We see more of this in book 2 and book 3. Can you even be a romantic when you're a succubus, or do you have to retain your practicality? It was fun to try and infuse a different mentality in the common romance trope. Which is not to say that I don't love that trope - I DO! - but it didn't fit in my book.

So this means that the threesome won’t last forever on an emotional level, right?

To a certain extent (without giving anything away!) but you have the woman in the relationship who's perfectly content with what she has and two parties that aren't. Something's bound to change.

Since you said that you are sex obsessed in your writing, did you ever feel tempted to try and write an actual threesome between the three in those times during the day, when both Zane and Noah?

Hey now, I said *humor* obsessed! And I'm not ruling out a threesome. There's definitely a window of opportunity.

Your debut relies heavily on erotica, which is fine by me, but I have been curious about the state of paranormal romance. From what recent books I have read, the sex scenes are getting bolder and frequent. With your book and the succubus angle you have, it is justifiable, but can you tell to an outsider like me, whether a line between the romance and the pure erotica exists and whether the romance writers feel pressured to be edgier when it comes to sex [in order to get more readers], thus getting closer to crossing that line?

It's funny that you mention erotica - my editor actually wanted to originally publish book 1 as erotica (which was fine with me). I was a little concerned because my book also has a very large adventure plot and I wasn't sure if that was typical in erotica. So I was really happy when we decided to take some of the sex out (yes, some of the sex was taken OUT) and publish it as a paranormal romance. I've read pure erotica, and I didn't feel my book was necessarily a good match for that - pure erotica deals on the relationship between two (or however many) characters and exploring the boundaries of their relationship with lots of sex. Which makes for a perfectly awesome plot, but my book was about exploring a new supernatural world that just happened to have a lot of sex.

I'm not sure if romance writers feel pressured to be edgier, but I think as a genre, romance is becoming more and more open to pushing the envelope. Twenty years ago, tiny, very clean Regency romances were very popular and sex was kind of vague in the story. Readers would have freaked out to see a menage book on the shelves. Now, no one bats an eye, and I think the fact that books are becoming sexier is a reflection of the audience being a lot more open to hitting the genre boundaries, instead of staying in the middle.

And with attitude towards sex always shifting towards acceptance, do you think that one day PNR would transform into full blown erotica without no one batting an eye?

No, I don't think so. There are all levels of heat in paranormal romance, and I think there's something for every reader. The Sookie Stackhouse books are (for the most part) very clean. The Riley Jensen books are not. Same genre. But I think one of the important hallmarks of paranormal romance is that the reader wants that sense of adventure and the paranormal/magical, so plot is just as important in paranormal romance.

Was it easy to take scenes out and did you instantly know which innuendos to delete and which to leave in the end?

I left the ones that felt the most natural in the manuscript. Anything that felt forced into the manuscript with a jackhammer, I took out of the book. As the author, though, I do find it hard to cut because you get attached to everything.

While I am on the sex [gee, I wonder why that is], do you have a certain taboo that would never consider writing, even if it fitted the story?

No, I think if it fit in the story, I'd give it a shot. But then again, I don't think I'm going to have a storyline that comes up that will require something like golden showers.

From “Gentlemen Prefer Succubi” we learn the world has a diverse paranormal flora. What other species have you prepared for us? And yes, you can be as vague and mysterious as you like, but give already adoring fans a bite.

I like to think of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi as the starting point of the story. We have the basics, and from there we spiral outward from the starting point. Jackie will learn about more stuff as we go through the stories, but it's all going to fit in the strict guidelines of my worldbuilding. No fairies, for example. As for teasers...in the 2nd book, Jackie meets her first demon. And in the 3rd, she meets a nephilim.

It would seem that these days, angels have gained popularity and are the next big thing in fiction land. As an insider can you confirm this shift towards angels? Also, what humanoid supernatural race would you like to see gain popularity?

There's definitely a shift towards angels, I think, because it follows along the lines of "Supernatural badass hero". Readers( and publishers!) like what I call "Same but different". So everyone gets tired of vampires, but likes vampire books - demons were the next natural step, and they became huge. Then when readers are tired of vampires AND demons, but want something along those lines...boom, angels.

As for me, I am THRILLED THRILLED THRILLED that angels have gained popularity, because those are my favorite paranormal creature. One of my favorites is Meljean Brook, because she writes an angel series that is amazing. As for what I'd like to see become popular? I'm pretty happy with the current angel trend. Maybe valkyries? I've always had a major geeky love for Norse Mythology.

Humor is mighty hard to get right. Unlike drama, where there are universal tearjerker tricks and techniques, humor is individual and demands hard work in order to charm an audience. Do you have a strategy or a certain method to ensure that a scene is fine, because even if you have an innate ability to be funny, I bet that there is a science behind getting it right?

There's no science! I lob the jokes in on the first draft, and if I cringe in a re-read, it comes out of the book. Sometimes something seems like a good idea at the time...and later on, you realize it is not. My editor also has a pretty good radar on these things, so when she crosses out a joke that I love, it's usually because it falls too far over the line.

As for the humor itself, I try to follow along the lines of what I consider funny. I don't find fart jokes funny (but sex jokes are okay!) and I'm not a huge fan of wacky, banana-peel antics, so you won't see a lot of those. I do love situational, awkward humor, so that's what I migrate toward more than anything else.

Okay, so we established that there is no science behind humor [regretfully], but what about pitfalls. There are countless examples, when humor goes horribly, horribly wrong or at least the writer trying to sound humorous by using sarcasm, irony, black humor etc. etc., but without success. Where does the witty sarcasm becomes boring and unpleasant [an accusation that has been made about Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance]?

That's the thing with humor - it's so subjective! What I find grating and ear-bleedingly bad, someone else enjoys like crazy. So I think you just have to write what appeals to you and cross your fingers. I think my books are funny - my husband doesn't find them funny. Subjective. :)

Anyway, you are a debut author, so how is the reception in these economically troubled waters and what can we expect from you?

I won't know how the books are doing for months yet, but my publisher has been AMAZING and they've gotten the books in just about every store known to mankind, so that is terrific. It was a real head-trip to see my books in Wal-Mart! I've gotten a ton of fan-mail too, and I love reading those. It makes me feel like I'm reaching someone, even on the days that my Amazon ranking is laughably bad.

As for what to expect from me - at least two more books in 2011! I have a couple of projects in the pipeline, but I can't talk about them until something materializes.

Thank you for joining me on my blog. It was a pleasure to have you. Any last words to readers?

Thanks for letting me drop by! And to the readers - thank you for giving succubi a chance. :)

4 comments:

RKCharron said...

Hi :)
Thank you for the excellent interview with Jill Myles and thank you to Jill for taking the time to share here. I liked the indepth responses and insight into the romance/erotica genres as well as into Jill & her writing. I'm glad there'll be more books coming out in 2011!
All the best,
RKCharron

Harry Markov said...

Glad to have been of service, RK. I love doing interviews and Jill is a good start for February, plus she is a dream interviewee. Always brings her answers on time.

Hagelrat said...

These books look so much fun. Great interview angels.

Harry Markov said...

Thank you and they are tons and tons of fun.

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