Now for Jackie to tell us a little about herself!
1. When did the dream of being a writer begin for Jackie Kessler?
When I was in college. Before that, I had my heart set on becoming a comic book artist. But once I was in college, I started taking creative writing seminars, and that’s when I started falling in love with the idea of writing stories instead of illustrating them. And then I promptly started working on my Great American Novel. Here it is, twenty years later (eek) and that book still isn’t published. (But a version of it is currently on submission. Wish me luck!) I didn’t get serious about wanting to write novels until 2003, and in 2004, I started learning (the hard way) about the business of writing. The third novel I wrote, HELL’S BELLES, sold in December 2005.
2. What is would readers be surprised to learn about you?
Er. I’m not sure. I’m really quite boring. And shy. Um…maybe they’d be surprised that I’m even shorter in real life than I look in my photos?
3. What details can you give us about your release, HOTTER THAN HELL?
It’s the third book in the Hell on Earth series. Unlike the first two, which are told in the point of view of Jezebel (or Jesse, depending on whom you ask), this book is all from, and about, Daunuan (pronounced “Don Juan,” sorta), an incubus who has a once-in-an-afterlifetime opportunity to become the Prince of Lust. All he has to do is seduce a woman meant for Heaven instead of Hell. And, you know, avoid getting killed by rogue demons who are hell-bent on destroying him for reasons unknown. So basically, it’s a first-person male demonic narrator with sex on the brain…and he’s the good guy. (Well, he’s the protagonist. It would be a stretch to call him a good guy…)
4. What drew you to the ‘supernatural’ in order to write the ‘Hell on Earth’ series?
I’ve always been fascinated by Good versus Evil. And it’s through monsters that we can examine our own humanity. Besides, demons are a lot of fun. How better to joke about death, doom and destruction?
5. Daun captured my attention and libido from page one. I absolutely loved him. Could you describe what your characters, Virginia and Daunuan like to our readers?
What they’re like? Well, Daun is an evil bastard. No, seriously – he’s evil. His entire purpose is to fuck evil people to death, then take their souls to the Abyss for judgment and damnation. And he loves his job. He’s not a nice guy, and when some readers ask me if I’d secretly like to date Daun, I’m like, “Fuck, no! (But if I could swing it with keeping my soul intact, I wouldn’t mind a night of mindless passion with him.)”
And Virginia? She’s damaged. She was in a relationship for a very long time, and it left her with scars that haven’t healed. She’s a good person, but she’s a shell of herself, just sleepwalking through life.
Daun wakes her up. And that brings with it consequences he never saw coming. Heh. Poor Daun. ((rubs hands gleefully))
6. The way it was written in first person was perfect. I loved his thoughts and feelings. He was so deliciously “naughty” in his thoughts and actions and his “voice” was awesome.
Thank you so much!
Now tell me, did the story just naturally flow for you in first person when you wrote HOTTER THAN HELL?
Once I found Daun’s voice? Absolutely. But it took me months to strip out all of the Jesse from my voice and let Daun in. And then I had to tone him down so that my readers wouldn’t be totally squicked out or run away, screaming in terror. (Remember what I said about him being evil? Um, yeah. Very.)
7. What kind of reading experience are you hoping to create for your readers? What do you want them to come away from your books saying, thinking and feeling?
Well, I’d love for readers to enjoy my work. There are questions that I raise in HOT—about the nature of Good and Evil, and about the power of love—that I think are conversation-worthy. Actually, earlier this month, Jim C. Hines had a terrific conversation on his blog about the book, one that I greatly enjoyed participating in. I’m always happy to chat about the series—and I’m always open to questions about some of the stickier points.
8. What have you learned most about yourself since becoming a successful author?
Remember when I said I was shy? Well, I am. If you would have told me three years ago that I’d be going to conferences and doing panels and giving workshops, I would have asked you what drugs you were taking. But I’ve learned that conferences are fun, that panels are a blast, and that giving workshops is me just talking to people and sharing what I’ve learned. I guess I’m not as shy as I’d thought. (I still always feel like I’m going to vomit before I go to a conference, though!)
9. What advice about this business would you give to aspiring authors?
Author Cindy Procter-King once said that there are three things you need to succeed as an author: talent, persistence, and timing. I completely agree with her. Keep writing, keep studying the market to see what’s selling to whom. And no matter what, never be daunted.
10. How can readers best contact you?
I love getting email! You can always write to me at email@example.com. Or you can send me chocolate to my PO Box in New York. In fact, please do!
11. Let us know about your new book!
HOTTER THAN HELL (Kensington/Zebra Books), August 5, 2008. Available now!
12. What future project are you working on–what do readers have to look forward to?
For those new to the HELL series, they can start with the mass-market reissue of HELL’S BELLES, which comes out on September 2, 2008.
In January 2009, read the story of how Daun and Jezzie first met in the erotic novella HELL IS WHERE THE HEART IS, in the Avon Red anthology A RED HOT VALENTINE’S DAY.
And in summer 2009, BLACK & WHITE hits the shelves. Soooooooperheroes, baby. This book is coauthored by me and the fantabulous Caitlin Kittredge (author of the Nocturne City series). I write in the POV of the superheroine. She writes in the POV of the supervillainess. I’m the tortured hero; she’s the evil genius. Kapow!
Thank you, Jackie, for allowing me to be one of the first to read your book and for being with us here today!
And thank you, Chey! I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed it so much. Love your inner demon!