Sunday, August 22, 2010

INTERVIEW: MaryJanice Davidson

Alright lady and gents, boils and ghouls, guess who's back from her vacation! And to kick off my triumphant return I have an interview to share with none other than Ms. MaryJanice Davidson. Did you know she invented the vampire chick lit genre? No joke. She's also no stranger to various best-seller lists and to top it all off, the chick can write some pretty darn fine books. Take her Undead series for example: one day Betsy Taylor is just your run-of-the-mill, shoe-obsessed, self-absorbed, bubbly secretary. Then she gets hit by an Aztec and wakes up your very-much-not-run-of-the-mill, shoe-obsessed, self-absorbed, bubbly vampire queen. How can that not be a great read?!

*cough, cough* Ok, my epic fan girl moment is done. I swear. And, now without adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did MaryJanice Davidson break into the publishing world?

Through bribery and desperation. Actually, I just kept submitting stories until I was buried under an avalanche of rejection slips. To all aspiring writers: do. Not. Quit. I collected over ten years of rejection slips before UNDEAD AND UNWED sold.

(2) Is writing a full-time job or have you got an alter-ego thing going on à la Clark Kent?

It's my full-time job. It's so absurd that they pay me to do one of the things I love best.

(3) At present, you have one on-going adult series, Vampire Queen Betsy, and a YA series , Jennifer Scales, you co-write with your husband. Vampire Betsy recently got a revamp and went to hardcover with its ninth book expected out this July.
Why the format/style change? Will it continue for all future Betsy books?

I was getting fan mail from 11 year old girls, which completely shocked me. It was something I hadn't foreseen when I was trying to get published. The cute, cartoon-ey covers were a huge factor in this. I'd get "Me and my BFF just luurrrrv Betsy because she's, like, the coolest and I saved up all my baby-sitting money to buy the new book!" and be torn. On the one hand, it's not my kid, and thus it's inappropriate to lecture them on appropriate reading. On the other, it's a kid! Reading about vampires having sex upside down in the deep end of the swimming pool! So the edgier covers not only reflected the adult content, it also helped my books stand out. When UNDEAD AND UNWED came out, Betsy was the only game in town. 6 years later, you have to elbow the hip cool paranormal heroines out of the way. So the marketing department made some changes.

(4) Betsy is as about as far as you get from your typical vampire. I mean, even for the vampires in the series she’s far from normal. How did your take on vampires come to be? How did your concept of a Vampire Queen come about?

I got tired of basically reading the same vamp romance over and over: the vamp was always some ancient English lord who skulked in alleys and bitched about being eternally young and eternally hung. I wanted to know where the plumber and secretary vampires were. Where was a vampire we could relate to? Someone who worried about paying the utility bill? I couldn't relate the the ancient rich European ones, but I could relate to Betsy.

(6) The relationship between Betsy and Sinclair has had its rocky moments (I mean, at one point, she hates him, she rapes him, she loves him...and that’s all in one book!) but some how it all comes out seeming a lot more real because of it. Has it be hard setting the development of their relationship?

No, I could always relate to both of them: Betsy for being reluctant yet drawn, and Sinclair for being enchanted yet ruthless. My husband and I dated for six years before we got married; I don't know much about whirlwind romances.

(7) UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED, the latest Betsy book, had quite the cliffhanger ending. Originally, you had made comments that UNDEAD AND UNWORTHY was the start of a trilogy within the series. When did you realize that 3 books just wouldn’t cut it?

UNDEAD AND UNWELCOME. I hadn't realized Antonia and Garrett were going to bite the big one until the book before UNWELCOME, and I realized I couldn't wrap things up in UNWELCOME.

(8) You’re contracted for two more Betsy books and posted on Facebook that you’d like your contract to be extended to include a total 5 forthcoming books. Will book 14 then be the last Betsy book?

I've got no plans to end the series anytime soon. That said, I did feel it was necessary to shake things up with this latest book. There were only so many shoe sales I could write about. ;-)

(9) In developing Betsy's character in the series, do you plot it all out prior to writing each book or are you winging it as you go?

Oh my God, you're adorable! Thinking there was a chance I had planned out any of this. You're so cute. ;-)

(10) So, Betsy gets hit by a car one night and wakes up a vampire. By that week’s end, it turns out she’s not just any vampire, she’s the long ago foretold Queen of vampires. How did you come up with the idea in for the series in the first place? Why go with what you did? And was there a lot of research involved?
That's the great thing about writing can make your own rules. Though I do occasionally get the "a real vampire wouldn't do that" e-mail, which never fails to crack me up.

(11) You’ve also got a werewolf series set in the same world which began as a series of short stories. What are the chances of these stories going the way of Sookie’s and being re-released all together?
Slim for now...I don't have the rights to at least 2 of the novellas, and the publisher sensibly has zero interest in selling them back to me. Which is of course her perogative; it's not like someone forced me to sign the contract at gunpoint.

(12) The next Betsy book, UNDEAD AND UNDETERMINED, comes out next July (which is just cruel and unusual) and picks up just half an hour after Undead and Unfinished ends. What else can you tell us about this book?
Betsy's got some work to do! And she's not at all happy when she finds out the truth behind the Book of the Dead. Also...


...the Marc Thing follows Laura and Betsy back to the present, and must be dealt with. Ditto she has to explain to her friends that they're now living in an altered timeline. "Yeah, when I left for Hell, Jess? You were the opposite of knocked up. I guess that would be knocked down. Anyway, you weren't pregnant. So this is weird and awkward for me. And possibly you."

(13) For the Jennifer Scales series, how exactly do you and your husband work out the co-writing process?
My husband outlines the entire book, chapter by chapter, and then we divide the chapters based on our strengths. I tend to take the dialogue heavy ones (e.g. a scene in the women's locker room) while Tony will take the description-heavy one (headed to Crescent Valley in the fall, or what the town looks like under the sickly huge of the dome).

(14) How hard is it for you to flip from one world to another? Is it very difficult switching back and forth between them?
Actually, I like it a lot. It keeps me from getting blocked...if I can't get Betsy out of a corner, I can head to Jennifer's world for a while, or vice versa.

(15) In terms of the writing process, what is the most difficult part for you? Is it starting? Writing certain scenes? Editing or chopping up parts? What about the easiest?
The entire secod half! By then the excitement of starting a new book is long gone, but I still gotta hit my word count. Argh.

(16) How long does it take you to go from idea to finished manuscript?
About 3 months.

(17) Have you plans for any other works outside of Betsy’s world, or at least Betsy’s POV? What’s coming next for you?
I've got UNDEAD AND UNDERMINED out next July, and RISE OF THE POISON MOON just came out. Next year I've got an anthology, UNDEAD AND UNDERWATER. And the next book in the ME MYSELF AND WHY SERIES. What can I say? I like to keep busy.

(18)Finally, some random questions about you: a. What are your hobbies aside from writing? Cooking and reading. I'm so boring!
b. Could you please describe your dream day? Waking up in the chocolate bath in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with an egg cream in one hand and a pound cake in the other. Also cable TV.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes? Not a chance! All my dreams have come true. Asking for more is just greedy. :-)


And there you have it. Be sure to swing by MaryJanice's website over here for all the latest 411 on her past and future releases, not to mention whatever else may be going on over there.

Oh! Almost forgot: I've got something new in the works for the blog so be sure to check in over the next few weeks as I have it unfold. It's going to be pretty great provided the pieces come together. Over and out, folks.