Interview: Jeaniene Frost part 1

NRR: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

I’ve always had vivid, detailed dreams. When I was a child, I’d sometimes write them down and make little stories out of them. By the age of twelve when I became hooked on romance novels, I knew I wanted to write my own book one day. I am nothing if not a procrastinator, though, so it took me until I was thirty to actually quit stalling and do it. 

NRR: What sparked the Cat and Bones idea?

My initial idea for Cat and Bones came to me in a dream where I saw a half-vampire woman arguing with a full vampire man over why she'd left him years before. In the dream, I knew the woman still loved him and hadn’t wanted to leave him, yet had done it to protect him. I also knew the male vampire had looked for her and wasn’t about to be brushed aside. The story of who those people were, and what brought them to that point became my first novel, Halfway to the Grave. Now the dream segment that started the whole series actually takes place in the second book, One Foot in the Grave. 

NRR: How did you ever come up with a man as perfect as Bones! I do believe ever reader has a crush on him! 

Bones wasn't based on any particular person in books, film, or TV. I knew some things about him right away, like his determination and that he’d been a bounty hunter/hit man. I also knew he had a wicked sense of humor, so Bones sprang from my admittedly twisted mind with a lot of his traits already decided. Some things were a surprise, like his inherent chivalrousness and promiscuous past, but being surprised by my characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. For looks, I've often compared Bones to a blending of - when they were young, age & wrinkles happen to all of us - Billy Idol, Bruce Campbell, and Viggo Mortensen. If I were using contemporary actors for Bones, I'd say that I see him as a blend of James Franco, Orlando Bloom, and Chris Pine.

NRR: How would Cat and Bones spend Valentine's Day?

Well, considering Cat and Bones’s bad luck when they try to do anything normal on a holiday, they’d probably spend it fighting off an enemy who chose that day to attack them. I don’t see them doing the dinner-and-a-movie thing, even if Cat would like to do something traditional for once. Still, mayhem gets in the way more often than not. 

NRR: What is your favorite thing about writing? 

As I mentioned above, one of my favorite parts of writing is getting to know more about the main characters than I ever imagined when I first began their book. The other equally favorite aspect is having plot twists or new side characters surprise me when I write. I’m more of a “pantser” than a plotter. I start a book with a very loose outline that highlights the basics of my main plot, but over fifty percent of the story comes to me as I write. Not before I write. So while I’m writing a scene, little twists and turns can spring up in my mind. Or characters. 

For example, I never, ever intended to touch the Dracula myth when I began writing vampires. In fact, I specifically told myself that I would avoid it because it was so cliché already. And then while I was writing a scene in my third book, my hero Bones was annoyed because “the bloody show hound” was outside his house. Boom, insert Vlad onto the page without any advance planning from me. I even decided to write him out, because damn it, I’d promised myself that I was not touching the Dracula myth! But Vlad’s character stuck in my mind, scornful of his fictional reputation and ready to smack anyone who called him Dracula, and I knew I was fighting a losing battle. Vlad stayed, and now I’m writing a new series with him. Just goes to show that you should never say never, but it’s these surprises that make me love writing. Without them, it wouldn’t be the same. 

NRR: Which actors could you see playing Cat and Bones?

I don’t see just one actor for either of them. When I watched Iron Man 2, I thought Scarlett Johansson could play a decent Cat, but even she doesn’t match the image I have in my mind. Bones…no actor comes close to how I mentally picture him, but as I mentioned above, find a way to combine James Franco, Orlando Bloom, and Chris Pine into one hot actor, and you’d come close to how I see Bones :).

NRR: Can you tell us a little about This Side of the Grave?

It’s the fifth novel in the Night Huntress series featuring Cat and Bones, and in the novel’s timeline, it’s several months after the events of Destined For an Early Grave (Night Huntress #4). Cat’s adjusting to her new “status” in the vampire world, but a zealot is using her to incite tensions between vampires and ghouls. Bones and Cat know they have to stop things before they escalate into a species war, but when they turn to the voodoo queen of New Orleans for help, it has repercussions that neither of them could imagine. 

For more information, readers can watch the book trailer and read the first 20% of This Side of the Grave here: http://jeanienefrost.com/books/this-side-of-the-grave/  

NRR: Do you do anything special on a release day of your novels?

Well, for the last release, I was on a book tour so I did whatever my publisher had scheduled for me that day. I’ll be on the road this time, too, so on my release day I’ll be at the Books A Million store with author Pamela Palmer in Birmingham, Alabama (other stops can be found here: http://jeanienefrost.com/2011/01/february-2011-tour/ ). Before that, my release days were pretty quiet. For my first two releases, I worked a normal nine hour shift at my day job and then went home and ordered take-out with the hubby. The next three releases, I worked out of my house as a full time writer, so those days were spent writing, answering emails, or completing interviews, and when my husband came home from work, we’d go out to dinner to celebrate. That’s probably what I’d still do if I wasn’t on the road. By the time release rolls around, I’m a bundle of nerves, so I don’t want to do anything else stressful. If I had my way, I’d probably hibernate that whole first week.

NRR: Congrats on your upcoming Vlad books! When can fans anticipate their release?

Thank you! I’m so excited to get the chance to write Vlad’s story, and to introduce the heroine, Leila. The story with the two of them has been percolating in my mind for over a year now, so I can’t wait to dive into their book. The first book with Vlad is tentatively scheduled to come out in 2012. I don’t have any more information at this time yet, sorry. 

NRR:  Are there any plans to write a book on Tate or Ian?

I get asked a lot about a book for Ian, which is flattering, but he’s just not ready to settle down yet. Right now Ian’s into raising hell and sleeping around – not something I want to shine a spotlight on with an entire book. When Ian gets to the point where he can grow up enough to handle the type of woman who could take him on, I’ll be very interested in doing a book on him. Until then, he’s grounded like the bad little boy he is, heh. 

Tate is another character I’d like to explore more, but as with Ian, I don’t see it happening yet. Tate has different issues than Ian, but he’s also not at a place where I could revolve an entire novel around him. He’s still a bit too emotionally hung up on several things (no, not just Cat) to handle all the tribulations he’d have to deal with if I made him the hero of one of my books. 

NRR: The steaminess you write with Cat and Bones makes fans beg for more! How long does it take for you to write a romantic scene?

At least half a day at the keyboard. That’s the same amount of time it takes to write one of the fight scenes, too. Both require a lot of attention to detail as well as balance between emotional response and physical actions. No, I’m not being cute by saying that – if I treated sex scenes in a giggle-wink juvenile sort of way, that’s how they’d read, which isn’t what I want. Instead, I treat them seriously because my characters take them seriously, and I want readers to feel like they’re a fly on the wall during this very intimate exchange. 

NRR: Will there be any more Cat & Bones books released this year?

Yes. After This Side of the Grave, the next Cat and Bones novel, One Grave at a Time, comes out in September. Then at the end of October, I have a Cat and Bones novella in The Bite Before Christmas anthology with author Lynsay Sands. So there will be three Cat and Bones stories in 2011. Readers will need a break from them after that, and Vlad’s book will be coming in 2012 to offer that break :).

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