Flashback Friday – Jeaniene Frost
I’ve been so lucky in my life to not only meet amazing people, but question them and learn from them. I’ve been able to amass a pretty large catalogue of interviews because of their generosity, and they have really helped me get my foot in many different doors. So first, to all the people who have been gracious enough to give me their time and patience, thank you!
I’ve created the Flashback Friday series to show these interviews and reviews. They’ve been locked away in my archives but now it’s time to share them. I hope you enjoy this look back on the articles that got me started and introduced me to some of my best friends. Enjoy!
One of the most important professional influences in my life is a woman named Jeaniene Frost. She is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the Night Huntress series and the Night Huntress World novels. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to nineteen different countries! Her books are violent, entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny and oh so sexy. (Her newest book, Once Burned, which releases June 26, is very much the same.)
And Jeaniene herself is kind, warm-hearted, laugh-out-loud funny, and oh so sexy too. 🙂 She was, in fact, one of the very first people I interviewed way back in 2008, when we were both starting out. Since then, I like to think we’ve developed a pretty awesome friendship. She’s mentored me many times when it comes to the publishing side of the book business and answered tons of long, rambling emails from me. She’s talked me down from quite a few ledges. But more than that, and I’m not sure if she even knows this, she’s been so integral to my writing. Whenever I’m having a bad day at my computer, whenever the words won’t come, when it feels like I’m writing the crappiest book on the planet and all I want to do is give up, I go back to Jeaniene’s books. I reread Eternal Kiss of Darkness. I reread Halfway to the Grave. And I’m reminded again why I do this. I’m motivated again to keep on doing this. Because books have power. Because I love amazing stories. And I can’t think of more amazing stories than Jeaniene’s.
Which is also why I cannot think of a better inaugural Flashback Friday post than the interview I did so long ago with Ms. Frost. I’m taking it from my archives and, for the first time in a long time, posting it once more for the whole wide world to see. Enjoy!
Interview – 3-24-2008
1. Torchwood and the Tudors. Two of my FAVORITE shows. And yes, I also got interested in Torchwood after I saw James Marsters kissing John Barrowman. (I also like John Barrowman too, he has a great voice.) And I watch the Tudors for the period of the time and Henry Cavill. That being said, how much of what you watch and what you listen to impacts what and how you write?
First, Henry Cavill. YUM. Whoever says history isn’t hot never watched him on The Tudors. But back to talking about writing. I’d say what I watch has had a big impact on my writing. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved horror movies. The premise of most horror movies I saw back then was that underneath everyday life, there was something more sinister and deadly, yet certain people rose to the occasion and became heroes. The difference was vampire movies. I loved them, but my biggest complaint was that in most of them, the vampire died at the end. That didn’t seem fair to me – though it did perplex my parents, who kept wondering why I always rooted for the bad guy when it came to vampires, ha ha. Then came Love At First Bite, which was a movie that had the vampire getting the girl and defeating the inspector at the end. Is it any wonder that was one of my all-time favorite vamp movies when I was young?
Later, television shows like The X Files, Millennium, and Buffy showcased the paranormal in ways that were addictive to me. They were similar in that the average person wasn’t aware of the supernatural elements around them, but a select few who fought against it were. I’m sure that, combined with wanting to show vampires as more than evil creatures who get staked in the end, contributed to the world I created in my novels.
2. Now, on your super informative, uber-intelligent, extremely funny blog www.frost-light.livejournal.com, you talked about everything from writing to publishing (two totally different things) to subjectivity and creativity. Everything on your blog is relevant. How much has your blog impacted your writing? Do you think you’d have the fan base you have now if it weren’t for the blog?
Writing and publishing are two totally different things. I could go on about that for hours, but I’ll stay on track. Having a blog has been a real experience for me. I’m naturally an introvert, and I had to be brow-beaten by my friend to even start blogging. Now, of course, I’m glad she forced me to, because I’ve met so many great people through my blog. It can feel like having an extended family at times.
As for how my blog has affected my fan base, I honestly don’t know. The percentage of people who’ve found my book browsing through a store does far outweigh the number of people who heard about me through my blog, but I’m not blogging just to increase sales. I’m doing it to stay in touch with readers, writers, booksellers, other authors, etc. Their experiences enrich mine, and let me know that while writing can feel very solitary at times, I’m not alone in this.
3. When your book gets published, the words you’ve written are now definitive ones. You can’t go back and change them. Are you happy with the finished product? Do you feel satisfied with the work, or do you see flaws you wish you could change?
I ALWAYS want to go back and change things. It’s a good thing there’s a revision cutoff date, or I’d never stop tinkering with my books and they wouldn’t make it to a book store. I have a hard time re-reading my stories once I can’t change them anymore, because I keep seeing ways I could have done something better, clearer, etc. That’s when I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that there are no perfect books, just best attempts, and to focus on making my next story as good as I can.
4. You’ve had a tremendous amount of success with your first book. It went on to become a NYT and USA Today best seller. Was it everything you dreamed it would be?
No. That’s because I didn’t even dare to dream of hitting those lists with my first book. To tell you the truth, there’s a part of me that still can’t believe it. I’m afraid if I think about it too long, I’ll wake up and realize none of it happened after all.
5. Jeaniene, your book, Halfway to the Grave, is clever, surprising, and the ending is just one of the best I’ve read in a long time. It really inspired me to want to write more. Do you ever get inspired when you read a great book? And conversely, do you ever get jealous when you read a great book? I know that I got very jealous when I read the Twilight Series. (But it motivated me too!)
Oh yes, I get inspired by reading. Some books take me away to where I glance up and am slightly surprised to still be sitting on my couch instead of being wherever they’re set. I love to read, and a well-written story inspires me to dig deeper into my own characters, worldbuilding, setting, emotions, or plot.
I have been envious of other writer’s style. Melissa Marr, for example, writes with such lyrical beauty and compelling presence. I wish I could write that way, but my style is more snarky and sexy with a side of ass-kicking. For the classics, I’m a Shakespeare fan. If you’re watchful, you’ll see the occasional Bard quote crop up in my books.
6. The covers of both of your books are hot. Very sexy. Was there a humongous sigh of relief when you saw them?
Was there ever! As an author, I’d heard horror stories about covers gone bad, and I was on pins and needles waiting to see what I’d get. Obviously, I should have relaxed, because my cover artist, Tom Egner, is a genius. I love my covers. I know they’ve sold a lot of books for me.
7. On your website, www.jeanienefrost.com, you can see that you’ve written for an anthology? How did that come about? I imagine writing for an anthology is very different from writing a single title. Can you explain the process?
I’m doing two anthologies, actually. The first one, Weddings from Hell, came about because my editor called my agent and said, “Hey, Harper is doing a new anthology, does Jeaniene want to write a story for it?” and I said, “Hell yes!” It was the first short story I’d ever written (I tend to ramble, can’t you tell?) so it was a big change of pace for me. Plus, with anthologies, there’s a theme to follow. So, all the stories in it had to be based around a paranormal wedding gone wild. It was both fun and challenging to write within a specific set of parameters.
The second anthology, untitled as of yet, started as a chat with Melissa Marr when we were saying how it would be fun to be in a book together. Then we mentioned it to another friend, author Vicki Pettersson, who also thought it sounded fun. Then Melissa presented it to our agent Rachel Vater. Fast-forward to Rachel pitching the anthology to Diana Gill at Eos. Diana liked the idea and also recommended new author Jocelynn Drake for it (who I predict will be another breakout debut author). Then Kim Harrison agreed to headline it. I almost fainted with delight when the deal finalized, because not only do I get to be in a book with my friends, but also with Kim, one of my favorite urban fantasy authors.
8. Let’s talk about RT Convention. You weren’t going to go, but now, thank goodness, you are. What changed your mind?
I’d heard great things about it, and their lineup this year with so many of my favorite authors made it too hard to resist. I’m beyond excited at the prospect of meeting some of the authors whose books inspired me to write. There could be gushing and many pleas for pictures and autographs from me to them.
9. Finally, Jeaniene, one of the things I loved that you did with Bones, one of your main characters in the Grave Series and the reason why I personally love your book so much, is that you made him funny and sarcastic. I loved how you made him say, “I thought I saw a pussy cat” to Cat. That just cracked me up. Bones is the most well-rounded vampire I’ve ever read. Anyway, so often, especially in paranormal romance, the men are just so dark and dramatic. But Bones is a flirt. He’s still kick ass and a killer, but he has a great accent and is somewhat dreamy. Was that a conscious effort, to not make Bones so brooding? Or did his character just happen organically?
Don’t get me wrong, I love brooding vampires. In fact, when I first had the idea for Bones, I pictured him as a much darker character. But he refused to cooperate with my vision of him, lol. First, yes, Bones saying the “I thought I saw a pussy cat” line to Cat. I didn’t plan that. Then, Bones taunting Cat by calling her Kitten – and refusing to call her anything else. I was 3/4 done with Halfway to the Grave when I looked back and realized Bones had picked his name for Cat, so I may as well stop trying to fight it. Plus, Cat’s initial gloomy, resentful attitude toward Bones made him tease her constantly, because Bones knew she was all wrong about vampires and her “curse” of a heritage, so he often threw her stereotypes back in her face in amusing ways. Even though Bones is an undead hit man, out of the two of them, Cat is the more brooding character, which is a bit backward from the usual heroine and vampire hero, I guess.
And in case I sound like I have a bad case of schizophrenia, let me explain what I mean when I say Bones chose to be a certain way. Yes, I’m the author and I create my characters. But there are times when my fingers fly over the keyboard because things just feel right, and there are times when it feels like superglue is stuck to the keys. When I tried to make Bones’ personality darker and more angst-filled, I hit a wall writing him. When I ignored what *I* thought he should be like, and let the devilish sense of humor that was banging in my head out onto the page with him, his scenes flowed. That’s about as close as I can come to explaining what I mean when I say a character wants to do this, or refuses to do that.
Okay, Jeaniene, that’s it!! Thanks again for taking the time out. I couldn’t decide on one vein of thought for the questions, so sorry if they’re all over the place!!
Thanks so much,Bethany. It’s been fun!