Deb Jen has been on the road—first in San Francisco for the RWA National Conference and then to Manhattan for the Backspace Writer’s Conference. With all the traveling, she ended up double-scheduling today, so first you get a visit from guest author Jackie Kessler, and then Deb Jenny’s posting for today.
So first off, please welcome the lovely Jackie Kessler, author of the Hell trilogy: Hell’s Belles, The Road to Hell and now, just released, Hotter than Hell. Jackie is not only a really fun and clever woman, but extraordinarily imaginative, having built up a fascinating, witty and extremely hot world in Hell and on Earth peppered with alluring demons and sexy devils.
DB: Tell me a little about your book.
JK: HOTTER THAN HELL is the third book in the Hell on Earth series. Unlike the first two, this one is in the incubus Daunuan’s POV. (Pronounced “Don Juan.” Sort of.) Daun gets a promotion in Hell, but for him to actually become the Prince of Lust, he needs to get a woman meant for Heaven to sin big enough for her to be damned to Hell. In other words, he’s got to seduce her. Problem is, she’s completely impervious to his devilish charm. And there’s also the small matter of the rogue demons hell-bent on destroying him. Whoopsie…
DB: What got you writing in the genre in which you write?
JK: There’s something about the nature of Good and Evil that fascinates me. Maybe it’s because the two are so close to each other. Maybe it’s because the dark side has cookies. But man, it’s that burning drive to fight against the forces of darkness—or, from the other end, to blot out the light of the world—that is compelling. Give me the dynamic villains, the tortured heroes.
DB: Favorite thing about being a writer?
JK: Getting to tell stories. Man, there’s no rush like when you’re on a roll, and you know every single word you’re crafting is exactly right.
DB: Least favorite thing about being a writer?
JK: Writer’s block! Whenever I fall prey to writer’s block, it’s almost always because the scene I’m working on isn’t right. Either there’s a plot point that’s gone astray, or the characters are doing something uncharacteristic, or the novel has gone in a direction that doesn’t best serve the story overall. The only thing that works for me is to figure out what went wrong, untangle it, and keep going.
Sometimes, I get into arguments with my characters. Seriously. Like in HOTTER THAN HELL, there was a scene in which Daun was supposed to visit Jesse at the strip club where she works so that he could get some information from her. But Daun insisted on watching Jesse dance first. I didn’t want to bother with that—we’ve already had two books in which Jesse dances, enough with the dancing already. But Daun insisted, and he wouldn’t let me write a damn thing until I agreed to have Jesse dance first. And it wound up being a great scene.
Do I sound insane yet?
DB: What is the most interesting thing that’s happened to you since becoming a published author?
JK: Interesting? I don’t know about that. But I’ve certainly started coming out of my shell. I’m a very shy person, and I’m more inclined to stay home than to go out and meet people. But writing—specifically, doing promotion and going to conferences—has really shown me that I’m not as shy as I thought, and that people really rock.
DB: What’s your favorite type of pie?
JK: Coconut custard!
TALES FROM THE WRITING CRYPT by Deb Jenny
I’ll be honest and tell you I am fairly ritual-less in my writing. I am a catch as catch can operator. My days begin fairly regularly—I wake by about 5:30 a.m., get to the gym by 5:50. Back by 7, then the morning scramble begins to get kids off to school. Depending upon the day, the kids are in school by 8:30 or 9:40, so my quiet times begins some time thereafter.
Quiet time is relative, however. Because I have a menagerie of pets who seem to interpret no kids in the house as time to par-tay. A perfect example of this last year on the day my youngest returned to school, two weeks after the older ones did.
I had grand intentions to hunker down and get finishing a book I’d planned to finish during the summer, but for the distractions of having everyone home all summer. I figured a perfect day to launch my efforts would be when all three were back in school. So I headed immediately home, not even stopping for cappuccino along the way.
Once home, I settled into my chair, fingers resting on my keyboard, ready for inspiration. But then the dogs started barking. I got up, let them out, sat back down again. And then they barked at the door to be let in, scratching intermittently. Up again, let them in, back down. This happened another time or two, but I was determined to not let this phase me. But then the parrot started plinking on the cage bars. Her goal was for me to open the cage into a perch. But I refused to do this because she’d gotten into the habit of getting into trouble whenever I did this. So I ignored the plinking. Which soon turned into a “dringing” sound, as she dragged her beak across the bars over and over, much like a prisoner in a wild west movie would drag a tin cup just to tick off the sheriff. I tried to ignore. But after five or ten minutes, it was impossible to tune out. So I gave up and opened the cage (as she chased me across the cage, trying to peck at me!).
I sat down again, started trying to write. Until I saw the bird had climbed down the outside of the cage and started pulling out newspaper from the bottom of the cage and shredding it all over the floor. At that point, I just chose to ignore the mess that was accruing just outside my peripheral line of vision.
So I started to write. And probably got out a couple of sentences. I was starting to hit my stride, I just know I was. Until I noticed an unusual silence. And an absence of a parrot on the cage. I got up, and went in search of the bird. Found her about 20 feet away, a trail of bird poop betraying her walkabout.
So I tried to corral her back to the cage. But she’d have nothing of it. I had a brilliant idea: since she gets nervous with unfamiliar objects, I figured I’d get out something she rarely sees to motivate her to get away from it and onto the cage. So I pulled out a broom and began to sweep up her paper mess. But the bird had a better idea and started to chase me, all the while pecking at my feet and the broom and repeating to me, “hello, Gray chicken!” (a little nickname I have for her).
Of course this cracked me up so I gave up bothering trying to get her on the cage, figuring she’d go back in due time. I returned to my computer. And all was fine for about a sentence or two in my manuscript. Until the bird started flapping her wings, scattering shredded newspaper everywhere, the dogs came charging toward her, one trying to eat her, and the bird fought back, saying, “Bridget, stop it, now! You’re a bad, bad girl!”
At that, I gave up trying to write. I coerced the bird to climb back onto the cage, or perhaps the threat of decimation by dog did that. I swept up her mess, and did a load of laundry instead.
So much for my daily routine.
One last thing—I was so thrilled to find out late yesterday that DearReader.com has chosen Sleeping with Ward Cleaver as their book pick this week! It’s a fabulous website and if you have a minute please do stop over there to check it out!
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