Please welcome author of the Jaz Parks Series, the incredible, the amazing, Jennifer Rardin!!
Jennifer has a new series out so far consisting of FIVE books, each being released rapidly one after another! I have had the pleasure of reading and devouring books one and two so far and I have to say they were damn good!!
Jennifer please tell everyone about your series featuring Jaz Parks.
I’d compare it to a terrific bachelorette party. Fun from beginning to end, with romantic overtones and yet no icky sex to squash the vibe. Okay, nobody gets drunk until book four (Bitten to Death). And there is that small matter of the violence. And occasional gore. What can I say? Jaz and Vayl are assassins, and damn good ones at that. Necessary characters in a world inhabited by vampires, necromancers, witches, reavers and the like. Yeah, Vayl’s a vampire too, but he’s chosen his own path, one that’s allowed him to live peacefully among humans for over eighty years. He’s unique in a lot of other ways as well, which is why Jaz finds herself so fascinated by him. Hopefully you guys will as well.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Once Bitten, Twice Shy took me two years to finish, but that was because I could only go at it part-time, usually at night before I went to sleep. Now that I’m writing full time, I can generally complete a manuscript in six months. However that’s working intensively, usually seven days a week, from six to eight hours a day. I wouldn’t recommend that schedule long-term and am looking forward to stretching the time-line to about nine months after I’ve finished One More Bite in May.
Did you need to do any research for your books?
Quite a bit. My philosophy is that everything that parallels real life in my books should be as believable as possible, because I think it allows readers to more easily embrace the fantasy elements. My research has run the gamut from the basic rules of belly dance to what word Spec Ops guys would use to call for a medic during a firefight. The most fun bit of research I ever did was to participate in an afternoon of Airsofting with my son and a group of his friends. The guns look genuine, but they shoot soft pellets. Everybody straps on appropriate safety gear and then the games begin. It was amazing how real those guys could make a battle situation feel for me. Very cool of them to let me play.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing book five of the Jaz Parks series, One More Bite, during which Jaz and Vayl fly to the Scottish Highlands in order to take out another assassin. I’m pretty excited about this one, because we’ll have a chance to learn more about Jaz’s childhood. I’m also developing a new urban fantasy series which has got me pretty psyched. It’s a lot different from this one, but still with those elements of adventure, humor, romance and violence that I find so appealing both as a writer and a reader.
How many books will be in the Jaz Parks series?
At this point we’re planning on five books. However if we get a big, positive response to the series, we’re certainly open to doing more.
I think your books would make excellent movies. Is there any talk about turning them into movies or a TV show?
We’ve had a couple of nibbles from movie producers, but nothing firm yet. So fun to ponder which actress could pull off Jaz Parks though. And Vayl—that’s going to take some real charisma. Any ideas?
How do you write your fight scenes? They’re so vivid and real. Do you have to plan it out or does it just fall into place as you write?
My editor helped me a lot with fight scenes by suggesting that I write them as if I was viewing them on a TV screen. Just see the action and then describe it. So that’s what I try to do.
I never plan those scenes out. In the outline it usually just says something like, the bad guys show up and they fight. I will say I find those the most difficult to write. Because they should read really fast, but they go into the laptop like taffy—intricate detail usually involving multiple characters. They’re the scenes I labor over the most. Those and the climactic endings, which generally change several times before I’m happy with them
Do you plot your stories or just go right to the writing?
I did minimal plotting on Once Bitten, which came back to bite me (pardon the pun) in the rewrites. We’re talking massive numbers—I’d say over twenty in all. Once you’re published, you can’t really write that way anymore. Editors need to know the plots for catalog copy and so on long before you’ve ever begun the story, and I’ve found the writing goes faster, from the first draft onward, if I’ve plotted the entire novel from the get-go. Having said that, I should note that I’ve never stuck with the original outline once I’ve gotten into the writing. Stuff happens, you know? Unexpected twists and turns that make a story sing, and if you try to force it away from what it’s trying to become, stick to the plan you started with, the creative juices stop flowing.
Vampires tend to have different rules in every paranormal and urban fantasy novel that I read. How did you decide what will work for your vampires and demons in your books?
Some of my decisions were based on practicality. Should vampires be able to see themselves in mirrors? Well, duh. Eat and drink people food? I figured if some of their body parts worked, all the others should as well.
On the other hand, I couldn’t buy everything I’ve seen vamps do in fiction. Time travel? Nope. Turn into bats? Fly? I just couldn’t go there. My editor requested that I stay with a few of the more traditional aspects of vampirism (no skipping into church, if you please) and I was cool with that. Out of respect for all of those who came before, I felt I should maintain traditional methods of killing them as well.
But as a writer your attempt is to offer readers, if not something new, at least a unique perspective on a subject. So then the decisions begin to base themselves on contrasts. How do your vampires who are monsters differ from Vayl, the one vampire who is controlling his monster? And what does that mean for him and Jaz?
I adored the scenes with astral projection, when the soul leaves the body to travel elsewhere and then returns to its body after. I have always found this so fascinating and I think you did a wonderful job with it. How did you go about writing those scenes? Any research needed for it? Do you believe it is possible to astral project in real life?
Thanks so much! I always think it’s cool to see which scenes people pick out as their faves.
I didn’t research for astral projection specifically. But when I was younger, for a while I became fascinated with near-death experiences. That is, people who’d died and then been brought back. So I’ve read a few books on that theme and heard quite a few first-hand accounts, one from a close family member. So that figured into the process somewhat.
I wasn’t sure people would accept that Jaz could separate from herself in the way I wanted her to. So my effort was to make it seem as real as sitting down to breakfast. Do I believe it’s possible? I tend to think anything’s possible, but to suspect anyone who publicly claims some amazing ability. Maybe that sounds like an oxymoron, but my sense is that wondrous gifts are rare, and their owners only share the news with people who know how to keep their mouths shut.
If you could have one super power what would it be and why?
If I could be a superhero, I would be Hilariousgirl. (Your Stephen Lynch fans are probably rolling on the floor right about now.) Seriously, I’d like to be able to crack people up every time I opened my mouth. My “day job” would be a blast—people would pay just to hear me stand on a stage and talk. Have you ever heard anybody laugh until they snorted? It’s a riot! Plus, think about it, you could foil any sort of crime, because people can’t function when they’re laughing so hard they’re trying not to pee their pants.
What authors and genres do you enjoy reading?
I love reading Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Ursula K. LeGuin, Charlaine Harris and (early) Laurell K. Hamilton. I’ve also read a lot of Tom Clancy and everything by James Clavell. My favorite romance writer is Maggie Shayne.
I prefer urban fantasy, fantasy and science fiction with an occasional dose of mystery and horror for variety.
Is there anything else you would like to tell your readers?
Thanks to all of you for joining the Jaz adventure! My third book, Biting the Bullet, is due to be released February 11. Bitten to Death will follow on August 12 and One More Bite will appear on bookshelves March 2009.
Hope your 2008 rocks!
Jennifer RardinThank you so much for this wonderful interview Jennifer! Good luck with your series and I can't wait to read Biting the Bullet!!
Jennifer will be answering readers' questions between 7 and 8 pm Central time Monday January 7th. (IT is today the 7th, sorry for the typo originally)
Visit Jennifer Rardin's site here
Buy Another One Bites the Dust here