Thursday, May 1, 2008

Interview - Jeri Smith-Ready

Darque Reviews welcomes Jeri Smith-Ready!

Hi Jeri, thanks so much for sharing your time with Darque Reviews! We’re looking forward to getting to know you and your writing a bit better.

Wicked Game is scheduled to release on May 13th, 2008 by Pocket Books. Can you give readers an idea of what they’ll find between the covers of your upcoming release?

JSR: WICKED GAME is a dark, fun, and sexy urban fantasy about a con artist trying to save a vampire radio station from corporate takeover. It’s loaded with music, spiked with horror, and has more than a touch of romance.

Ciara is an ex con trying to live a straight life, the vampires are DJs forever tied to the eras in which they were turned. Which of these ideas came first, and how did the other follow?

JSR: I was driving to work flipping the dial and came to a classic rock station playing “Bad Company” by the band of the same name. I thought, Hmm, “Bad Company” would be a perfect title for a paranormal book with a shady main character.

By the time I got to work, I had a fully formed idea for the vampire DJs stuck in time and a heroine with a criminal past. (The punch line is that even though it all began with “Bad Company,” the publisher ultimately asked me to change the title.)

It was a few more weeks before I figured out Ciara’s criminal background. Con artists tend to be the most charming crooks (who doesn’t love Redford and Newman in The Sting, or Sawyer from Lost?). It also lets Ciara sympathize with the vampires, because she’s a predator, too.

Will this be a stand-alone story, or can readers expect to see more of Ciara Griffin in the future?

JSR: At least one more book (tentatively titled Bad to the Bone) will appear next spring. Like any new series, its continuation largely depends on reader enthusiasm. (hint, hint—if you like the book, tell all your friends!)

Can you tell us about your previous books?

JSR: I also have a romantic fantasy series with Luna Books. The ASPECT OF CROW trilogy (Reviewers Choice Winner and Rita nominee EYES OF CROW, 2006; VOICE OF CROW, 2007; and THE REAWAKENED, November 2008) takes place in a world where everyone has magic bestowed by their Guardian Spirit Animal. The heroine has the Aspect of Crow, which deals with the powers of death. The character’s world is threatened with destruction by an outside force called the “Descendants,” who lack magic but are more technologically advanced—both due to their alienation from nature.

My first urban fantasy was REQUIEM FOR THE DEVIL (2001), which takes place in modern-day Washington, DC. Lucifer is masquerading as a political consultant (not much of a fantasy, I know). He falls in love, and it changes who he is, how he does his job, and even his destiny.

Which of your characters are you most attached to, and why?

JSR: I would have to say Shane, the hero of WICKED GAME. Ciara is probably my favorite, but she’s completely irrepressible. She could survive anything through strength of will alone. But Shane has that darkness lurking inside, waiting to consume him. The music gives him a reason to live, which makes saving the radio station an even more urgent matter for Ciara, as she comes to care about him.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

JSR: Definitely the first draft. It feels like sculpting air. Once I have a rough draft down, no matter how crap-alicious, I can work to make it better. But that initial creation of the story is torment.

What are you working on now? What can readers look forward to next?

JSR: I’m in the middle of the second draft (yay!) of WICKED GAME’s sequel, BAD TO THE BONE (to appear in spring 2009). I’m also putting the final touches on THE REAWAKENED, the third book in the Aspect of Crow trilogy. That will be released this November. Once those two projects are turned in, I’ll finish a proposal for a young adult urban fantasy series.

Which genre do you enjoy reading? Who are some of your favorite authors?

JSR: I tend to read widely rather than deeply. Want a dark confession? I’m not much of a series fan—I tend to read the first in a series, then no more, no matter how much I enjoyed it. I’m whatever the opposite of an addictive personality is. I’m pretty sure I’d be the world’s first casual crack smoker.

The short list of authors I’ve read 2+ books by include Rachel Vincent, PC Cast, Caprice Crane, Madeleine L’Engle, Charles de Lint, John Irving, Neil Gaiman, C.E. Murphy, James Morrow, Catherine Asaro, and Jana Oliver. And of course the Harry Potter books, but I read them all straight through in a month, which was the only way to hold my attention.

Music was a big part of Wicked Game. Do you always listen to it while you write?

JSR: Usually. It helps me focus amid the background noise of my home. It also keeps me awake, which I find to be really useful when writing.

As to how music affects the actual creation process, the rhythm and mood can drive me through the scene, lending it an extra edge. And of course, when writing a scene that contains music, as often happens in WICKED GAME, I need to hear the song to describe it, so that a reader who’s not familiar with the tune can get a feel for it. If Shane is playing a song on the guitar, I try to find a YouTube video of someone performing it so I can describe how it looks as well as how it sounds.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers or aspiring authors before we say goodbye?

JSR: To readers: support the authors and series you love by buying their books new and spreading the word. These days, it’s the only way to make sure they stick around.

To aspiring authors: If I had treated my writing with the same amount of professionalism *before* I had a contract as I did afterward, I probably would have been published years sooner. So if you’re serious about it, don’t cram it into the corners of time you manage to find each day. Make it a priority and fit the rest of your life around *it*. Yes, even if it means giving up television.

Thanks so much for spending time with us. The best of luck with Wicked Game!

JSR: Thanks for having me, Kimberly. I really enjoy your site!

Kimberly Swan, Darque Reviews

You can visit Jeri Smith-Ready at her website, here:

You can visit her blog, here:

You can preorder Wicked Game, here:
Amazon – Wicked Game


Anonymous said...

I knew I liked you and your books but even more now! You give a great interview as well as do a great interview! And your a Sawyer fan! Yes! He is so the bad boy! :)
Wishing you many sells and can't wait to get my copy!

(from myspace)

Harry Markov said...

Oh, I am so interested now to read your work. Especially the Aspect of the Crow. Some wicked ideas you have, Jeri.

Kimberley, thank you for the treat. It was a very interesting interview.

Kimberly Swan said...

Thanks for stopping by! Ms. Smith-Ready is a talented author and she made interviewing her a breeze. :)