Interview: Vicki Pettersson

NRR: Can you share  with us how you got started writing?

Like most, I was  a reader first. I thought writing was  something done by those living in ivory  towers. You always hear of the impossibility  of it, so I believed it was impossible.  Yet on the day I turned 26 I  simply decided to write a book. Published  or not, I would write it, finish  it, and be able to say I did  it. However I didn’t merely fall in  love with the process of writing, I  became immediately obsessed with it …  and have remained obsessed every day since. 

NRR: How were you  inspired to write The Signs Of Zodiac series?

I  hate saying it, but  it was a dream.  A specific image (of  a beautiful woman fending  of a killer with  a stiletto shoe) coupled  with fatigue from failing  to finish an historical  manuscript.
So I took  the image, a deep  breath, and a new  voice - and just  decided to have some  fun. To ensure I  no longer had to  worry about anachronisms,  I also wrote it  as fantasy. As with  the day I started  writing, I just ignored  what I “couldn’t”  do, and did whatever  I wanted. It was,  at the time, the  most fun I’d ever  had writing.

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NRR:  What is your guilty  pleasure? 

I  will, on occasion, watch  a whole episode of  the ‘Real Housewives’  franchise. (Ug. I feel  dirty just writing that!)

NRR:  What is in your  to be read pile? 

Sophie  Littlefield’s AFTERTIME,  Kelli Stanley’s CITY  OF DRAGONS, and a  JD Robb. I adore  Eve and Roarke.

NRR:  Since The Neon Graveyard  is the last of  the series, what is  next for you? Please  tell us that you  will keep writing!

Absolutely!  I’m thrilled to be  able to continue writing  for Harper, and my  amazing editor there,  Diana Gill. We’re  now working on a  new dark fantasy trilogy  called Celestial Blues, which I’m so excited about it! While still set in Vegas, it features a new world and cast of characters, and focuses on a partnership between a supernatural private eye and a rockabilly reporter with a real nose for trouble. The first book should be out in Spring 2012. 

NRR:  Other then a writer,  what are some other  occupations you have  had? 

I  usually joke that I’m  qualified for nothing  because I have a  degree in English. However,  the real reason I’m  unemployable is my temperament.  I have a hard time  working for others.  My longest working stint  prior to writing was  as a showgirl in  the now-defunct ‘Folies  Bergere’ and that  only because the Entertainment  Director worked days  while we worked nights.  Autonomy, with only  a smidgen of direction,  fits me best.

NRR:  Can you share with  us what a day in  the life of Vicki  Pettersson is like?

Sure,  but it’s likely to  put you to sleep!  I wake early, read  the Times with my  first cuppa, then do  the morning mommy shuffle.  After my Unreliable  Narrator is off to  school, I hit the  gym. Then it’s back  home for an hour  of reader communication  and email before I  enable my Freedom software,  disconnecting from the  net for 5 hours  to write. Then it’s  back into mommy mode,  with after-school activities  and dinner with the  family. I like to  finish the day by  indulging in whatever  I’m reading at the  time. I travel a  lot, but I stick  to this routine as  much as possible. Exciting,  no? ;-)

NRR: Did you always know the last scene you were going to write to this series?

I started writing toward this ending in CITY OF SOULS. As a result of the emotionally charged events in that book -- it was such a game changer for Joanna, story-wise -- the rest of the series unfolded from there. I knew the backstory and personalities of the main characters so well by that point that I knew exactly what they'd do, and sacrifice to get to this ending. So, yeah, every page since then has been a direct step toward this conclusion.

NRR:You have taken readers on one hell of a ride thru the Signs Of The Zodiac series. What was the most challenging part of writing The Neon Graveyard?

Actually, THE NEON GRAVEYARD poured out of me. Once it was outlined, it was pretty well written from A to Z. Not that it was easy - writing is always hard work - but I sincerely wanted to tie up all the loose ends from the previous books. I needed - and I think the reader needs - a definite emotionally conclusion to all the question surrounding Jo, her relationships, and her world. 

Plus, as you said, I really put her and the reader through it in some of the previous installments. I received some seriously "concerned" reader mail after CITY OF SOULS, and I remember thinking, 'Just stick with me. I know what I'm doing here. Trust that I'm going somewhere with all this.' 

The last scene in THE NEON GRAVEYARD is that somewhere.  

NRR: Do you have a favorite scene in The Neon Graveyard? I have a few...and all I will say is the ending is one of them!

The Midheaven visits were fun to write because they're just so fantastical. I could be as imaginative (and gruesome ;-) ) as I liked. I also enjoyed catching up with the kids in the comic book shop. I couldn't end the series without giving them their final bows - and it was fun to reveal more of their mythology through that ending too. 

Finally, there's a goodbye in the scene you mentioned that is particularly cathartic for Jo, and without revealing too much, let's just say it brings the series full circle. It's not a bow on the top - this wasn't, and never could be, that kind of series - but it gave me a sense of closure to write it. I hope readers feel the same.

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