Friday, June 18, 2010

Interview with Jeaniene Frost

In March I got the chance to interview Jeaniene Frost in connection with the release of First Drop of Crimson, the first novel in her Night Huntress spin-off series. Jeaniene is a very busy lady, but she kindly agreed to answer some questions from a few of my friends and myself.

The interview is for the blog I run for the book store I work at - I asked Jeaniene if I could post it on my own blog and she said yes. YAY!


The Interview
Thank you so much Jeaniene for taking the time to do this. As you know the interview is for the blog I run for the bookstore where I work, I was wondering if you would allow me to post it on my own blog as well? The store's blog is in Danish, but most of my friends (all HUGE NH fans) are from the States, Canada, Australia and the UK. They would very much like to read the interview.
"Sure, go ahead and post it to your blog as well."

Okay, let me get the first question out of the way. You've been into vampires since you were a child, but how did you come up with the idea for the NH books?
"I’ve always had detailed, vivid dreams. I used to write them down when I was a child and make up little stories about them. As I got older, I thought it would be fun to write a book about one of my dreams, but I’m a procrastinator, so that didn’t happen. Then a few months before I turned thirty, I had this dream about a half vampire woman arguing with a Master vampire male about why she had left him years before. In the dream, I knew the female half vampire still loved the male vampire, and he loved her and had been looking for her, but she thought it could never work between them. Wondering who those people were, how vampires existed in this world – let alone how a half vampire came about – and how they’d gotten to that place, led to me writing Halfway to the Grave. The funny thing is that HTTG didn’t even contain the original argument that inspired the book. That takes place in the second novel, One Foot in the Grave. I’d started out with the goal to tell this couple’s story, but found out that their story was a series instead of just one book."
You've said that you had most of First Drop of Crimson written, in you mind, before your first book was even published, and that Randy would die an untimely death. But, when did it occur to you that FDOC

would be Spade and Denise's story? Did it all click into place with At Grave’s End?
"No, I knew well before At Grave’s End. As you said, I always knew Randy wasn’t going to make it, but back when I was writing the second book, every scene Denise and Spade had together really clicked. So much that I had to take them out because they deviated from the plot of One Foot in the Grave. Also, there was an original third book before At Grave’s End that got completely trunked, and Spade and Denise had even more scenes in that which just cemented their story in my mind. So by the time I wrote At Grave’s End – which was right around the time I sold Halfway to the Grave - I was already chomping at the bit to tell Denise and Spade’s story.
In fact, right after I turned in revisions on my first book to my editor, I started to tell her all about wanting to write a spin-off book with Spade and Denise – a character my editor hadn’t even read about because Denise doesn’t show up until book two of the series. My editor very kindly pointed out that it was great I’d thought through these details on side characters, but until we saw how the first two books in the Night Huntress series sold (which was all my publisher had purchased at the time of this conversation), we couldn’t begin to talk about more books in the series, let alone a spin off book featuring Spade and Denise."
Since you'd already written FDOC in your mind, was there anything about the novel that surprised you while you were finishing it?
"Yes, the ending. When I started the book, I wasn’t sure which choice Denise would make. This goes back to knowing only about half of what will happen when I begin a story. But as I was writing First Drop and got to really dig into Denise’s character, her choice became clear based on what I discovered about her. I knew Denise was strong starting out, but she didn’t know how strong she was, so by default, neither did I. You could say she surprised both of us."
Will we see a book about Ian, and his back-story?
"It amuses me how many fans Ian now has. Previous to First Drop of Crimson, readers were pretty solid on their opinion of not liking Ian. Now, “when will there be an Ian book?!” is a question I’m hearing a lot. I do have ideas for a story on Ian, but I don’t know if or when I’d be able to give him his own book. It is something I’d like to do one day, though. We’ll see how contracts work out in the future."
I’ve heard you have an ending for Cat and Bones story after the next 3 books -- should the fans be worried about that? Will it be a happy ending?
"I’ve always promised readers that at the end of the series, Cat and Bones will be together. Granted, I’ve refused to outline what their circumstances will be, but that’s because I don’t want to spoiler things. I know the direction I’m taking the series and what outcome the books are leading to, so to readers I say, there is a plan. It does seem like it might take more than three books to wrap things up, though. I had a conversation with my editor a couple months ago telling her the series ending and what has to happen before it, and sort of realized through that chat that it’s probably more plot than three books can contain. So it may take another book or two after number seven to complete Cat and Bones’s entire story arc."
What can you tell us about Eternal Kiss of Darkness that we haven't heard yet?
"Hmm. The back cover description and first chapter are up on my website here (http://jeanienefrost.com/night-huntress-world-books/eternal-kiss-of-darkness/ ), plus the book trailer and first 20% of the novel will be available for viewing in the beginning of July. I can say that Eternal Kiss was one of my favourite books to write. I really loved peeling back the layers on Mencheres to show readers what he’s like on the inside. Mencheres is so unfathomable in the series, hiding what he’s thinking most of the time, that I think readers will be surprised by what they see inside his head.
And when I grow up – heh – I wish I could be like Kira. She’s so strong emotionally, even when the chips are down, which they are through most of this book because it pits Mencheres against an enemy even older than he is. Eternal Kiss of Darkness is a very sexy novel, but it also shows a new layer to the vampire world that I don’t think readers have seen before. Oh, and what might not be common knowledge is that it’s my critique partner and my fan site moderator’s favourite book out of everything I’ve written, which was neat to hear."
What is your writing process like? Could you perhaps give an example of what a typical day of writing is like for you?
"Before I start a book, I need a detailed picture of my hero/heroine/villain in my head, and I’m not just referring to their looks. I mean their background, what sort of culture they came from, past mistakes, family life, etc. Then I move on to writing an outline that usually consists of less than half the events that will take place in the book. Most subplots, side characters, twists and scenes come to me as I write, not before I write. Beginnings are always the hardest for me. My progress at the beginning of a novel could be anywhere from 500 – 1000 words a day, with progress at the last third of the book between 2000 – 3000 words a day. All throughout writing the book, I think about my characters, working out new scenes and twists in my head. An average novel takes me two to three months working thirty hours a week on just writing new words, yet during those weeks, I probably spend twice that amount of time thinking about the book and characters.
Then there's research. If you’re setting a novel in current times, you need to know details about the city, country, and area your story is taking place in. Eternal Kiss of Darkness has my heroine, Kira, living in Chicago. I must've spent eight to nine hours just looking up neighborhoods that would fit her finances, what transit line she would ride to get to work, the exact alley where she first met Mencheres...all for maybe five sentences of description in the book. Add in research on various other locations (and my characters tend to travel instead of stay in one place) any references to historical people, and I probably spend several hours a week doing research in addition to writing new words. All that's in addition to the borderline-obsessive mulling about my characters or rewriting when inspiration strikes and I decide to change something.
I do want to stress that this is just *my* process. Writing is not one-size-fits-all. You try different things until you find what works best for you, but there is no single Right Way."
Any tips you'd like to share with blossoming new authors?
"I’m asked this so many times that I made a blog post titled Everything Jeaniene Knows about Getting Published. It’s a long post, so to save space, here’s the link: http://jeanienefrost.com/2010/05/advice-for-writers-or-everything-jeaniene-knows-about-getting-published/
It literally is all the advice I could give to writers about craft and the writing business from starting a novel to dealing with publishing contracts to how much a writer usually gets paid."
I promised my above mentioned friends, that I would ask you how you feel about fanfiction. It's an ever growing phenomenon; a lot of fanfiction writers have been approached by publishing houses and asked to submit original works of fiction.
How do you feel about fanfiction as a genre?
"I’m very flattered that people connect with my characters / world enough to write their own stories about them. For legal and ethical reasons, I can’t read any fanfiction of my series, but I certainly don’t mind it being written.
I would say that my position on fanfiction would change if someone was trying to sell fanfiction related to my series, or anyone else’s. If fanfiction is done for free entertainment purposes, then people can have at it with my blessing. But if someone tried to sell works related to my world and characters, or another author’s world/characters, I would not be okay with that.
Regarding-“a lot of fanfiction writers have been approached by publishing houses and asked to submit original works of fiction.”
If a writer is looking to get a publishing contract, I wouldn’t advise just writing fanfiction and hoping a publishing house will find you that way. Editors and publishing houses have few slots and many, many applicants. Being discovered by a publisher solely through fanfiction might have happened a few times in the past, but probably 98% of publishing contracts come after a writer has submitted new, original work to an agent or publisher. Publishing is a highly competitive business. Writers need to put themselves out there through multiple submissions instead of assuming a publisher will come to them if they write fanfiction. Sure, lighting can strike, but why make your already hard odds even tougher if you’re serious about wanting a writing career?"

Jeaniene's next book in the Night Huntress spin-off series Eternal Kiss of Darkness will be released at the end of next month.

I give First Drop of Crimson



4 comments:

said...
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said...

AWESOME interview Green! I am even more excited now to read FDOC (which comes out on my Bday *squees*).

And we apparently have her blessing for fan fic! I'm SO thrilled you asked that question. :)

Thanks!

Kristin

LanYap said...

Great job interviewing JF! I love our accessible she is to her readers and fans!

L-Silverio said...

Thanks for posting this here for us! It was a fantastic interview :)

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