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