The idea for GODDESS OF LOVE came from my longtime Berkley editor, Christine Zika. She said, “Hey, how about the next one being about Venus coming to Tulsa and doing a make-over for a likeable dork?” I was all, “Okey-dokey.” Then she added, “Make it funny and HOT HOT HOT!” And that’s exactly what I did. Venus is hilarious, and the book is so hot I made my own self blush…
All of your adult novels venture into fantasy, paranormal, myth. What draws you to this genre?
I’m a big fan of the old adage “write the book you’d want to read” and my favorite reads have long been books that have at least a touch of the paranormal in them. I love the additional layer of excitement and possibility magic adds to a plot. It makes for excellent escapism and entertainment.
In addition to fantasy, romance plays a big role in your novels. Are you a romantic at heart?
That’s a funny question! I call myself a closet romantic. I know I come off as so strong and independent that it would seem like I would be untouched by little romantic gestures, but that’s just not true. When a man gets to know me, he finds out quickly that I go totally mushy when confronted by chivalrous, romantic behavior.
Though fantasy and romance are paramount in your works, are there any themes that you find yourself coming back to in your novels?
Absolutely – the theme of rebirth (as in souls being reborn) reoccurs in my writing, and I also like to delve into the thematic question of what it is that truly loves – the soul or the body. I supposed both things are soul themes, which makes sense because I’m intrigued by the magic of the human spirit.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to publication. How long did it take you to find your agent and receive your first book deal?
Aspiring authors hate me after I tell this story, but here goes: I started working on the manuscript of my first book, GODDESS BY MISTAKE, in late 1999. In the spring of 2000 I decided to take an undergrad creative writing class through OSU-Tulsa because the instructor, Teresa Miller, had an amazing reputation as a teacher. (I graduated from college in 1993 and had been working on my masters.) By the time I’d completed that semester I’d also completed the manuscript that would become GODDESS BY MISTAKE. Teresa introduced me to the owner of a small, local press. Within a month he bought the manuscript. When it was released in August of 2001, GbM thoroughly shocked me by garnering a 4 ½ star top pick review in RT, and then finaling in the Prism, Holt Medallion, Laurel Wreath, and the National Readers Choice Award. It eventually won three of those 4 awards. About that time Sharon Sala appeared on Teresa’s regional television show, Writing Out Loud. After the interview Teresa was telling her about me and Sharon said, “Sounds like she needs a good agent.” Tess agreed and Sharon immediately recommended that I contact her agent, the fabulous Meredith Bernstein. Meredith took me on and within literally 4 days she had an offer from Berkley for the GODDESS BY MISTAKE trilogy. But don’t think everything went that smoothly from then on. The small press refused to sell back my rights to GODDESS BY MISTAKE, summarily killing that trilogy. I thought agent and editor would dump me, but my Berkley editor, Christine Zika, simply asked what else I had up my writing sleeve. We had an excellent brainstorming session and my Goddess Summoning Series was born. From there LUNA picked me up (even though it took almost 5 years to get the rights to GbM back), and eventually St. Martin’s and Nocturne, too. Busy…busy…busy…
Do you have a standard process to your writing?
Are you an outliner or a jump-right-in writer?I like to jump right in, but I sell my books on proposal, so that’s like an outline. I hate writing each proposal, but I have found that they make the writing of the actual manuscript move more easily.
What’s your favorite thing about GODDESS OF LOVE?
Venus! Example: she teaches a de-stressing class to Tulsa Firefighters about how to bring a woman to orgasm – complete with vagina diagrams. Plus, I really enjoyed “researching” the martinis Venus drank at my favorite Tulsa restaurant, Lola’s at the Bowery. Work work work work work…
I know that you have ventured into writing young adult novels. I had the PLEASURE of reading your first YA and co-authored novel, MARKED. I absolutely loved it. What made you think about going into this direction?
Two years ago at the RWA National in Reno my agent, Meredith Bernstein, and I were having drinks (as per usual). She said that she had an idea for a series and she was giving it to me. Then she said the three magic words: vampyre finishing school. I immediately thought YA, which I’d been interested in writing since I read the HAWKSONG series by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. So I jumped on it! I wrote the proposal and the first three chapters of the first book. Both Berkley and St. Martin’s wanted the series, and St. Martin’s won. (And I’m so glad you liked MARKED!)
You wrote MARKED and are working on the series with your daughter, Kristin. Tell us about that writing partnership – how do you two share the responsibility of churning out a great book?
Writing this YA series with Kristin has been a blast! We work together very well (especially because I can beat her). It works like this: we brainstorm together and get a handle on where the book is going, and then I start writing. As I finish chunks of the ms, I send them to Kristin. Then Kristin goes through it, adding, subtracting, rewriting, changing. Then she sends it back to me and I go through it again for continuity. Often as I write I leave blocks of text out and ask her to fill in thoughts and analogies. Oh, and I’ve learned to listen to her opinion (the child is actually right sometimes!), especially when she says I’m using too much description and too little dialogue, and making our 16-year-old heroine, Zoey, sound like “a 46 year old disgruntled school teacher.”
Now that you have moved into YA, do you think you might venture into other genres?
Well, I already write in the fantasy, paranormal romance (which includes sci-fi in my second Nocturne series), and YA genres. I have an idea for a women’s fiction novel that my agent is excited about but that I don’t have time to write right now, and I’d love to branch out into horror, too. Oh, and erotica – that would be fun to write.
As a published author, what advice might you offer to writers hoping to get published?
Writer’s write. Period. There’s no magic pill or magic muse. You just have to put your butt in the chair and get to work. The romantic fantasies about the job are bullshit. It’s just a job. A good job that can be very fulfilling, but still a job that’s basically a lot of hard work.
What are you currently working on?
Right now Kristin and I are almost finished with the third YA book, CHOSEN. It’ll be out early 2008, and you will NOT believe what’s happening in it…