As we countdown the days until AAD 2013 starts (14 days!!), today we welcome the Master of Ceremonies, MaryJanice Davidson, to Romancing the Book. Before we start our interview, here’s a little more about MaryJanice.
MaryJanice Davidson invented a) her children, and b) the vampire chick lit genre. Also the Internet. She is kind to (some) children and (occasional) small animals, and enjoyes referring to herself in the third person. Appearing several times a year on the best-seller list, as well as occasional Federal “person of interest” sheets, she takes time from the living hell that is being paid to do what she loves best to seek out the nearest Cinnabon franchise. Her goals include working for world peace, figuring out how to make potstickers, and speaking at writer and reader conferences around the world. (Australia is still recovering.)
You can check out the antics of some of MJ’s heroines (Vampire Queen Betsy, FBI Agent Cadence/Shiro/Adrienne, and Jennifer Scales), eyeball book excerpts, see where she’ll be any given week, play the “who do you want to play Betsy/Cadence/Jennifer in the coming movie?” game with other fans, and mock her weekly blog at www.maryjanicedavidson.net. She occasionally tolerates getting mail from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org, has a Facebook page, and absolutely zero interest in Twitter.
Jen: Tell us about your newest release.
MaryJanice: My newest book in the Queen Betsy series (# 12) is Undead and Unsure. Let’s have the blurb speak for itself:
It’s no surprise to Betsy that her trip to Hell with her sister Laura landed them in hot water. Betsy isn’t exactly sorry she killed the Devil but it’s put Laura in a damnable position: assuming the role of Satan (she may not have the training but she looks great in red)—and in charge of billions of souls as she moves up in the world. Or is that down?
But Betsy herself is in an odd new position as well—that of being a responsible monarch suddenly in charge of all things more earth-bound: like her vampire husband Sinclair who has gone from relieved to ecstatic to downright reckless now that he can tolerate sunlight. And if Sinclair isn’t enough to contend with, Betsy’s best friend Jessica is in her sixth (and hopefully last) trimester. Considering she’s been pregnant for eighteen months, she’s become a veritable encyclopedia of what not to expect when you’re expecting. Oh, the horror…
And speaking of growing pains, Betsy and Sinclair’s adopted little BabyJon is finally starting to walk. And if the increasingly unpredictable toddler is anything like his extended family, precisely where he’s headed is anyone’s guess.
Jen: Do you approach writing a series different from a stand alone book or a story in an anthology?
MaryJanice: The correct answer is “yes”, right? Yeah, that’s probably it: yes. Except, um, not really. I don’t look at, say, book 9 in a series and tell myself “I’d better make this really complex and leave lots of unanswered questions so readers will buy book 10 to get (some of) the answers.” Mostly I just want to tell a story. I just want to write something that makes me laugh and hopefully makes them laugh. Honestly. That’s all I’m ever after, every time. I’m very sorry. I’m sure you wanted a better answer. Your own fault for not picking a more competent writer to interview. Let this be a hard-learned lesson.
Jen: What does a typical day in your life look like?
MaryJanice: Like pure awesomeness. I’m not exaggerating much, here. I have a ridiculously great life because of my family and my readers. My family provides the love and laughter, my readers provide (it must be said) a lot of money with which to enjoy those things. When my first book, UNDEAD AND UNWED, sold, I was working 50 hours a week as an office manager and saw my kids for a couple of hours in the evening and on weekends. I’d work a full day in the office, pick up the kids from daycare, fix supper, put them to bed, try to write a few chapters around ten o’clock at night, then fall on my face and die until 6:30 a.m. when it was time to get up and do it all over again. These days I write full-time, set my own hours, have two homes, and an assistant. I’ve been all over the world; my books are in fifteen countries. My kids haven’t had to ride the bus for years; I’m always home to take them wherever they need to be. (Soon I’ll be a full-blown agoraphobe which, secretly, is a dream of mine. You should see the fort I can make from our living room couch cushions!)
Jen: What one place in the world was your favorite place to visit and why?
MaryJanice: That’s a tie between our cabin in Wisconsin (I know, another boring, BORING answer) and Tuscany. Ha! There. Finally an answer that isn’t about how great it is to stay home with kids or how nifty cabins are. (I can’t help it. It is great to stay home with kids that, previously, I never saw, and cabins are nifty, especially when cell phone reception is iffy at best so no one can track you down. They can’t find you!) Yeah, my husband and I went to Italy for our anniversary this summer (see above: wonderful readers who have made me a best-selling author) and it was like being trapped in a beautiful calendar for three weeks. And the food. Oofta. Don’t get me started. I’d planned to deliberately find a bad meal in Italy and blog about it, because everybody always blogs about the wonderful meals in Italy. And then I got to Italy and sampled the food and couldn’t bear to deliberately seek out a crappy meal. So I didn’t blog about any of it. I’m not sure why I told that story just now…it’s not terribly relevant unless the question is just how lazy are you, really?
Jen: Who or what are some of your influences?
MaryJanice: Carl Hiaason, who is funnier on his worst day than I on my best. And he makes it look so easy, the bastard. One of his villains loses a hand to a barracuda and ends up with a Weed Whacker prosthetic (it makes sense in the book). Come on. Weed Whacker prosthetic…how great is that? I’ve had tears running down my face after reading his work; I should be so lucky to have the same effect on my readers.
Another influence is Stephen King, because he makes his characters seem like real people. Even the villains—maybe especially the villains. They’re thrust into these horrifying absurd situations but you root for them because they love and hate the things you love and hate. That’s what I try to go for, every time. One of my heroes or heroines might be in a jam you’ve never had to face, but they’re root-able. At least, if I’ve done my job they are.
Jen: If the Betsy series was made into a movie or TV series, who do you see in the starring roles?
MaryJanice: Oooh, this is a fun game my readers play all the time! Past nominees have been Reese Witherspoon for Betsy (I was bummed when she won the Oscar…no more Legally Blonde roles for her, so no Betsy), or Jenna Elfman (Dharma from Dharma and Greg). Matt Bomer (from White Collar) or Odet Fehr (from The Mummy) for Sinclair. Queen Latifah for Jessica…that’s actually my favorite. Readers have pointed out that Jessica is super, painfully skinny so the Queen would be no good for that, to which I reply the character isn’t about body type, but personality, and the Queen would friggin’ own the part of Jessica. Also Jennifer Coolidge for The Ant (Pauline the manicurist from Legally Blonde) and Lena Olin, of course, for the Devil. I get wonderful suggestions from readers all the time. Maybe someday, right?
Jen: What’s next for you?
MaryJanice: I just signed a new contract with Berkley! There’s another Undead book to come, plus two more set in a new universe where reincarnation is accepted the world over, and people can actually access their past lives to solve problems in their current lives. (“Wait, you and I have had awkward first-time sex in the last four lifetimes? Why are we not getting better at this?”) Can’t even tell you how excited I am about that. I have the greatest job ever.