The Debutante Ball Welcomes Vicki Pettersson!

This is an exciting day for Deb Linda here at the Ball! Vicki is not only one of her favorite authors ever–she’s also a friend and fellow Books and Writers Forum alum. Being a precociously talented sort, she beat Linda to the punch by managing to complete a whole series (a freaking awesome one, too!) before Linda got her tail in gear and got her own, um, tale in gear.

If you haven’t heard of  her yet, Vicki Pettersson is the author of the Signs of the Zodiac series, urban fantasy set in her hometown of Las Vegas. She holds a BA in English, qualifying her for nothing, so she became a showgirl while learning how to write. Her new supernatural noir series, Celestial Blues, kicks off in less than two week, on June 12, with THE TAKEN.

About Vicki’s new series, straight from the former showgirl’s mouth: Like my first series, the Celestial Blues trilogy is also set in my glittering hometown, Las Vegas, but features a whole new world, mythos, and cast of characters. In THE TAKEN, an old-school PI who was murdered a half a century ago is now an angel who helps the soon-to-be-deceased into the afterlife. But he unexpectedly gets attached to nosy rockabilly reporter, Kit Craig, and they make a deal: he’ll help keep her alive in the present if she helps uncover who killed him fifty years earlier.

 

Best thing ever? Vicki will be giving away a copy of THE TAKEN to one lucky commenter, and the contest is open to everyone, including our international readers!

And now, on with the interview:

Talk about one book that made an impact on you.

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. It was the most ambitious, skilled, and imaginative first novel I’d ever read, and I found that so inspiring as a writer. At first I tried to write in that same vein, but eventually found my voice to be wildly different. But I loved hearing Gabaldon say that she didn’t worry about what genre she was writing, she just wrote what she wanted to her level best, and decided to figure out what it was later. I was able to apply that thought directly to my work and the result was a totally different urban fantasy than anything that was out there at the time. So I owe her a sincere debt of gratitude for that.

Where do you love to be?

My home in Vegas. It’s a cozy, serene space and I’m extremely creative there. I have a study with a proper desk and chair but I write mostly in my little kitchen nook. I can put my back to the wall and stare out over the rest of the house, so I’m tucked in but still see everything. It’s where I wrote the book that started my career – where I’m writing this – and where I plan to write many books to come.

What time of day do you love best?

I adore deep, early mornings before the house is awake and my world is stirring. I developed the habit of getting up early when my baby was born in order to get my writing in before motherhood consumed my morning, and I’ve held to it. Those mornings give my mind room to stretch in silence, and that sets me on the right path for the rest of the day.

Tell us a secret about the main character in your novel — something that’s not even in your book.

My dual protagonists in the Celestial Blues series were patterned on the on-screen dynamic between Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. My favorite of their movies is their first, Woman of the Year. When Tracy walks into her office and sees her straightening her stocking on her desk – wowza. Talk about chemistry. I fell a little in love with them both, but the image I ever kept in my mind while writing THE TAKEN was a true life story about the day Tracy/Hepburn first met. She was feeling quite tall next to him and apologized for her heels, saying she’d be more careful about what she wore when they did the movie. Spencer just stared at her, but their director said, “Don’t worry, Kate. He’ll cut you down to size.” And that’s the push/pull chemistry I tried to imbue my characters with as well. (An additional note of kismet: It was only after I’d named my gruff male PI Griffin Shaw – after G.B. Shaw – that I discovered the character Tracy played in that film also had the surname Shaw. I took this as a very auspicious sign. I think Spence and Kate would understand and approve of Grif and Kit.)

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

1) Make sure whatever you start writing is dynamic enough to hold your attention through to the finish. Because you must finish.

2) Also, don’t give away all your energy and best ideas on twitter streams and the internet. Hoard them. Spin them into something lasting. Use them. And do whatever you can to protect your mental space.

3) Finally, persevere. The learning curve on this job is harder than anyone expects, and that’s part of the reason self-pubbing is so attractive. But nobody’s ever honed their chops on the easy path. Write a story the gatekeepers will love, no matter how long it takes. Set yourself apart from the crowd by setting your standards high. It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. (To this day I’ve never written a beginning to a story that my editor hasn’t thrown out. But I nail it on the third or fourth try. Sometimes even the second. In any case, thank God I’m not trying to do it on my own.) Nobody’s as good as they wish to be, and nobody who does this job well does it alone. So gather the strongest, smartest tribe of people around you and do your level best every day.

 

Great answers, Vicki!

For those of you who’d like to learn more about Vicki and her fantastic books, she’s just a click away at the following spots: her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of The Taken! (Is this not the easiest contest ever?)

 

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27 thoughts on “The Debutante Ball Welcomes Vicki Pettersson!

  1. Thank you again for taking a spin around the dance floor, Vicki! You wear the tiara and gloves beautifully. 🙂

    I love — and totally agree with — your advice to aspiring writers. Especially #2, which I think is one a lot of new writers don’t consider.

    Cannot wait to hold THE TAKEN in my hot little hands! I’ve read the first two chapters via your website excerpt link, and I am totally hooked. Rockabilly on, girl!

    • Linda – you’re so sweet! Thank you for having me! You’ve a top notch outfit over here and I wish all the Debs the best success publishing has to offer. And I’m so very proud of you. You never quit – and I certainly never saw you falter – even though, as me, you had books you poured your heart into that never saw the light of day. That’s okay. They’re now a part of your success story. Congratulations, girl!

  2. Wow, anything even remotely modeled on Kate and Spencer sounds great! And..hmmmm… I’m kinda partial to the name Shaw, too:)

  3. Good morning, Vicki! Thanks so much for being here! I love meeting people who have inspired my fellow Debs–it’s very special to be a part of one another’s celebration!

    I love too that your characters are based on Tracy and Hepburn–a timeless couple with chemistry to spare!

    Your advice to writers is so spot-on–especially this idea of not giving away too much of yourself to social media–exactly! Such an important point.

    THE TAKEN sounds like a PERFECT summer read and I can’t wait to add it to my reading list. Wishing you all the very best!

    • Hi Erica – so good to “meet” you! Congrats on your debut year, and I’m glad even some of what I said rang true. I really believe in protecting the work at all costs. Tweets don’t touch readers, *good* stories touch readers.

      Best to you!

  4. Hi Vicki! Welcome to the Ball. I love your advice to writers and probably could use to abide by #2 more. Learning to turn off the chatter is a good thing to do as we are more saturated by social media.
    Thanks again for dancing with us and THE TAKEN looks great – love that cover, too!

  5. Good morning, Joanne (*Love* that name too!) – thank you for the welcome! Social media is hard. Writers use this interface to connect with readers, so the draw to engage is there – and so is the pressure from readers and publishers. I’m ever working on my discipline in this area too (Freedom for Mac helps!) so it’s always on my mind.

    And thanks re. the cover. I was actually able to be involved in the cover from the beginning on this series, and I couldn’t have asked for more (and wait til you see the second one … whew!).

    • Social Media really is a double-edged sword for writers, isn’t it. It’s a job just to balance, I’m finding. And that’s so great that you were able to be involved with your cover and oh, can’t wait to see the next one!

  6. I really enjoyed the Signs of the Zodiac series. Im really looking forward to picking up the Taken soon.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

    • Donnas – I’m sorry, I replied to you yesterday, but again, my tech skills failed me. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for reading Zodiac. Oddly, now that I have some mental distance from that series I’m wondering how I ever wrote it. Isn’t that odd? Anyway, I hope you enjoy THE TAKEN too!

      Jess – I’m writing this on yet another very early morning! I just love it (I’d love it more if I’d slept well, but you take what you can get, no?).

      Hey Theresa – I’m so glad you’re finding it enticing! I admire you holding out, too. I don’t have that kind of resolve. (I think I like to be a little bit tortured.) I’m going to write the Thrillerfest peeps and get the low-low on the group signing. Otherwise, try to organize a coffee clatch or something for my NY area readers. (Which sounds way more fun anyway!)

      Molly – from one early bird to another, thank you for commenting. It’s always good to “meet” another like-minded soul.

      Beth! Blast from the past – SO good to see you! I tell you, it’s gotten infinitely harder to protect my mind. I can tick off seven different social media sites that I “should” be involved in (and have accounts with) — and that from the top of my head. I’d say try to pick two that your comfortable with, augment with a quarterly (Ha!) newsletter, and call it a day. Or a life. Because that’s what you’re missing if you try to do everything. But you clearly already know that. (REALLY so nice to see you.)

      Ev, it’s wonderful to see you too! WotY is just wonderful. I didn’t “get” what their chemistry was all about until I saw that. And thank you re. THE TAKEN. It was wonderful to play in a whole new world – and with new characters – after six (seven?) years with a series.

      Cathy, thank you so much! It’s so nice to hear there’s still love being given to Jo & Co./Zodiac. I poured my heart into that series, and took it as far as I could. I miss her a bit, too (though I think she’s still utterly sick of me!). Anyway, I hope THE TAKEN speaks to you as well.

      Helen, it’s so funny you say that. That dress has gotten more positive comments that anything else … about ANY of my covers! One reader has even sewn a dress just like it — I can’t wait to see the finished product! (Psst. The second book has a gorgeous dress too. I went from a crossbow (in my first series) to silk sashes!) If you’re happen to be in Vegas on June 21, I’ll be at the Clark County Library. It’s a gorgeous venue (for a v. urban library, that is) and my last tour stop — plus I’m always more relaxed in my home crowd — so it should be fun, if you can make it.

      Wendi, I learned that rule, too. My editor employs it, and even though I know she’s doing it, it still works. (Or I’m easy, I dunno.) But thank you — I really do want to try to help. At the end of the day (forgive the overused phrase), whether talking to readers or other writers, it’s all about connection.

      Thank you, Debs, for having me!

  7. Hi Vicki!
    I’m with you, I LOVE the early mornings. There’s something so peaceful about it and having the whole day in front of you. Love it. Thanks for the chance to win, I’m excited to read The Taken!

    ~Jess

  8. Hey Vick!
    Every little tidbit I get about The Taken just makes me want it more. I’m refraining from reading the online chapters. I want it all at once! And just maybe, if I get my ducks in a row, I’ll stalk you at Thrillerfest and get you to sign it for me. My VPeep shirt needs a refresher signature too. I wear it too much.

  9. I totally agree about early mornings. Nothings better than the time before the riff raff awakes. God, I treasure that time more than any other. Thank you for the wonderful interview and I really look forward to reading The Taken.

  10. Hi, Vicki! (waving) What an intriguing new series this looks to be. Looking forward to the read.

    Also, I second the advice about protecting one’s mental space. When we sit down to write, we have to actually _be_ there, in our heads. And that’s sometimes harder than it sounds.

  11. It’s so great to hear what’s going on for you these days, Vicki. Your Celestial Blues series sounds super fun, and I loved hearing a bit about your process. I haven’t seen “Woman of the Year.” I’m going to track it down.

    Totally looking forward to June 12. Yay!

    Happy writing to you,
    Ev

  12. What a great interview, Vicki, I love all your fun facts. The Zodiac series sits proudly on my favorite’s shelf, and since I love Hepburn and Tracy too, The Taken looks like another winner.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  13. I love the cover of The Taken! Now I want a dress like that. *g*

    I really enjoyed the Zodiac series too. I’m actually going to be in Vegas at the end of June, and I hope I can find at least a few of the locations mentioned in the series 🙂

  14. Vicki, you are an inspirational mentor. When ever you give good advice it always has a positive spin. It reminds me of the first rule of my writers group, that when giving your first comment make it something positive about what you liked about the piece and then back it up with constructive criticism. We don’t want to discourage but incourage. You kick ass as a writer and you continually amaze me with your generosity.

  15. Hi Vicki,

    Unfortunately I don’t get to Vegas until the 23rd – bummer! It sounds like it’ll be a fun event – I wish I could be there. (That said, before you feel too sorry for me, I _will_ be in Florida at that point of my holiday *g*)

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