I've condensed the interview into a readable format that won't take up half your afternoon: the speakers are in bold, and the questions I ask are bolded too, so you can follow it more easily. I promise there are no spoilers, only tidbits that I hope will intrigue you to pick up the series (so that you, too, can get to The Thing That Happens and freak out with me, hehe). And be sure to stick around at the end for a unique giveaway opportunity!
Interview with Jeri Smith-Ready
Steph Su: Hi Jeri, and welcome to Steph Su Reads!
Jeri Smith-Ready: Hi, Steph! So...what did you think of the Thing That Happens?
JSR: LOL. I had it planned from the very beginning, since about 20 minutes after I had the idea for the series. It's why there are 5 books planned.
SS: Along those lines then, will The Thing That Happens affect the love triangle?
JSR: You mean with David, Ciara, and Shane? That's pretty much over. She's got enough to deal with in LET IT BLEED to worry about David. I think I've played that storyline/tension out as much as it'll stand. Plus, there are plenty of other guys to feel weird about besides him. ;-)
It's funny, in each book, the love triangle was much more prominent (and she was much closer to David) in the first drafts than in the final versions. Part of me really wanted to explore those possibilities (Ciara and David), but I always realized that it wasn't right. Besides, I could NEVER hurt Shane that way. I tried, and it made me literally nauseous, so I knew that was my body/psyche telling me it was wrong.
SS: Do you have a favorite vamp DJ by any chance?
JSR: oooh, VERY tough question. I assume you mean besides Shane?
SS: Yes. Otherwise it would be too easy. :)
turning tales" (which can be found on my website) has made me grow closer to each of them. But if I were told, you can write one novel about one of the other 5 DJs, it would probably be...Jim. I think Jim had some VERY interesting adventures w/his coven back in the 70s.
SS: Yes, Jim! Did he turn out as you expected/planned?
JSR: Jim is much darker than I originally imagined the hippie vampire would be. I think he's not a real hippie--he just liked the trappings of it so he could get sex and drugs. He's more into the dark psychedelic stuff. The Doors, some of the British Invasion, etc. Jim's arc, as you can begin to see in BOTN, is particularly dark, and a little bit sad. He's going insane.
SS: Any other tiny little things you might be able to share about the rest of the series?
JSR: Sure! In LET IT BLEED we get to meet some more of Ciara's Traveler cousins. She learns more about what her anti-holy blood means. And another ghost from her past shows up, just to make things interesting. In LIB she's really reaching for redemption--but since she's Ciara, she does it in a rather twisted way. ;-) Oh, and she goes to therapy!
JSR: I like to keep my urban fantasies as realistic and as grounded in the human experience as possible. So I think about those things, how vampires would really survive in our society. My SHADE editor pointed out that it's the little things like music and clothes and food choices that help the reader swallow really big impossible things like ghosts or vampires.
SS: I remember writing in my SHADE review that I loved how you were able to do the same thorough world-building for both your YA and adult audiences without anything lost in the process. But were some things different, though, in writing SHADE than the WVMP series?
JSR: In SHADE, the world-building is much more intense, because the whole society knows about ghosts, even those who can't see them. It's probably my most science fictional book to date. I need to think about how that reality would affect every aspect of society, but always be careful not to overwhelm readers with anything that isn't relevant to the characters. A 16-year-old girl just wouldn't care about, I don't know, how ghosts affect monetary policy or whatever.
But w/each successive book, it can get more complex, until one's brain really, really hurts. Right now I'm editing SHIFT and trying to figure out, OK, how big is this phenomenon? How big does it need to be?
SS: How do you manage to keep track of all the world-building?
JSR: I pretty much keep it in my head. I take notes when I'm doing research. But I always reread the novels and keep them close at hand when writing the sequels. Because I might think I included a world-building detail, but it actually got cut out in edits. I'm still waiting for someone to write the Companion Books to my novels, LOL!
JSR: The playlists come out of the story itself, songs that are mentioned in the text, although after doing a full "soundtrack" for SHADE, I added a few songs to the BRING ON THE NIGHT playlist to flesh it out, to areas of the books that didn't have music but definitely needed musical comment.
For the chapter titles, I keep a document with a list of songs, categorized by decade. I note which ones I've used in previous books. Sometimes I'll be listening to the radio and go, "THAT would be a great chapter title." But the chapter titles are the very last thing I add to the books.
SS: I'm very impressed at your range of music. Are they from your personal collection, or do you have to go out there to find a song that best fits the moment in the book?
JSR: Hee. Often they are from my own personal collection. They might even be from the music I was listening to when I wrote the book. For instance, during BOTN I listened to The Verve and A Place to Bury Strangers, so they both made it in. I find "BitterSweet Symphony" to be a really uplifting song (though bittersweet, ha), so it made a good final tune for Shane to play for Ciara at the end. Here's the link for the playlists: http://jerismithready.com/books/wicked-game/music/
JSR: The song, actually. I always loved that song, and thought at one point I'd name my kid that. But I realized it would be mean, because outside of Ireland everyone would mispronounce it. But the moment I thought of the series, I said, Oh, and her name will be Ciara. And everyone will mispronounce it.
Oh, and can I just say that I added to the playlist a beautiful song to one particular scene in BOTN: "The Book of Love" by the Magnetic Fields. It is 100% unsentimental, just like Ciara, and yet it always makes me cry. I couldn't come up with actual lyrics for Shane to play for Ciara.
SS: lol, that was my second question: if you had come up with the tune and lyrics for Shane's song for Ciara.
That's a lie. I'm totally intimidated.
I do think that "The Book of Love," while it doesn't follow the thematic description of Shane's proposal song in the book, really reflects their relationship well.
JSR: Yes. For those wanting a li'l more WVMP (or at least the vampires), I have a short story in the ETERNAL: MORE LOVE STORIES WITH BITE anthology coming out in December. It's a collection of YA vamp stories and mine features one of Ciara's young Traveler cousins, trying to escape the future her stepdaddy is trying to impose on her. The character, Cass, will appear in LET IT BLEED, so the story is a bit of a lead-in to that, though it definitely can be read on its own or not at all.
SS: Well, thank you SO much for doing this! I can't wait to share it with others. :)
Well, if that wasn't fun, I don't know what is. Thank you, Jeri, for stopping by! Now, because I love this series so much, one lucky winner is going to get a set of all three WVMP books currently out--AND, since I'm going to see Jeri Smith-Ready at the PAYA Festival next weekend, I'll get them signed!
Wicked Game, Bad to the Bone, or Bring on the Night. (The reviews are spoiler-free, promise!) I am the judge of whether something is relevant or not, so a comment like, "Wow, this sure sounds interesting, I'm going to check it out, thanks!" won't cut it: tell me why you're interested in it. Also leave an email address so I can contact you.
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This giveaway is open internationally and ends Friday, September 3, 2010. Good luck!