To celebrate the Wicked Game giveaway, author Jeri Smith-Ready was kind enough to pop by and answer a few questions for me. Take a look at her great answers! And then, scroll down to Monday's blog entry and leave a comment so you can potentially win a signed copy of her book Wicked Game! Hurry, the contest closes on Saturday at midnight Eastern Standard Time.
1. What first inspired you to write a novel?
Caffeine! No, really. I went to a coffee house one night in 1995 where a friend’s band was playing. The music was too loud for conversation, so with a double espresso coursing through my brain, I came up with this funny scene about a guy sitting in a coffee bar in the middle of nowhere when a mysterious, exotically beautiful woman walks in.
I stayed up until 4am that night (lots of caffeine, remember?) writing the first five pages. It took me a few weeks to find a plot, but it took only a few minutes to find the addictive thrill of creating a world and a set of characters I wanted to spend time with. I was hooked forever.
(I did finish that novel fifteen months later, and it was excellent practice, which is to say you will never see it and never should.)
2. Do you see any particular character traits that are similar between you and your main character Ciara?
I wish! I’d love to have half of Ciara’s con artist’s ability to think on her feet. Also, I’m a terrible liar (unless I’m lying about that). I can’t pretend to be cool or glamorous or sophisticated or whatever else the situation calls for. I can pretty much only be myself.
But Ciara and I both love dogs, and we harbor a mad weakness for guys with guitars.
3. What drew you to writing about vampires at a radio station?
I was driving down the road and—okay, cutting to the chase? I had an idea for characters who were stuck in different eras, represented by the music from those times. We all know people who are stuck in the sixties, or the eighties, people who feel that nothing worthwhile was created after they turned thirty. I believe that the moment we stop changing and learning to love new experiences, the moment we start living in the past and rejecting the present, is the moment we start to die.
Vampires were the obvious choice to represent this phenomenon, since they’re the only paranormal creature who dies and then goes on living. So I didn’t set out to write a vampire novel, but rather, they fit the story I wanted to tell.
4. Of all the books that you’ve had published, which is your favorite and why?
Definitely WICKED GAME, maybe partly because I wrote it on spec (i.e., did not have a publishing contract for it ahead of time), so for a long time it was all mine with no outside expectations. I had a blast developing this idea of a bunch of obsessive-compulsive vamps stuck in various time periods.
Also, Ciara’s personality forms the spirit of the novel. Since she’s a basically happy person (with few moral qualms), I was a happy person writing it. I never wanted a book to sell as badly as this one. Sometimes I still pinch myself when I look at the cover!
I think there’s also a certain innocence and magic about that first book in any series. It’s a lot like falling in love.
5. Which was the hardest book to write?
Craftwise, the hardest was probably VOICE OF CROW, because it was my first attempt at writing multiple points-of-view (I used four in that book). It also dealt with some thorny issues like post-traumatic stress, disability, sexual assault, etc., and I wanted very much to do justice to what the characters were going through.
From a personal standpoint, BAD TO THE BONE was the hardest. I wrote the first draft after my cat/best friend died, and did the rewrite when my dog was suffering from a back injury, the pain from which we had trouble controlling (she eventually had surgery and made a great recovery). Despite all the angst surrounding its creation, BAD TO THE BONE probably has the most humor of all. Comedy is a wonderful solace and defense mechanism.
I wonder if there’s something about second books in a series that makes them inherently hellish. I used to worry that it was because I was easily bored and commitment-phobic (something Ciara and I have in common!). I worried that I would have to stop writing series. But then Book 3 in each series was much easier, so there goes that theory. Whew!
6. List 5 words that describe your main character.
One of these traits Ciara doesn’t even know she has until the end of WICKED GAME.