Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day with the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit and Julie Kenner

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! My "present" this year was a really, really nasty review from Kirkus Reviews, but then they trash everything. In the old days, that publication was generally only seen by librarians, but now, unfortunately, that will be the review posted at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Joy. On the bright side, the fact that they chose to review my book means they thought it was somehow significant.

I was sort of thinking of doing a good Valentine's Day post, you know, single people blah, blah, blah ... Hallmark holiday blah, blah, blah... after-Valentine's chocolate on clearance blah, blah, blah. But instead, you get a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit visit. My friend Julie Kenner is a repeat visitor, so I had to think of a few new questions for her about her latest book, The Manolo Matrix. Stay tuned for a little figure skating rambling from me at the end of this post.

Aspiring actress Jennifer Crane knows all about games -- the games girls play to get a guy; the games actresses play to land a part; and the good old game of credit-card roulette. (How else is a girl supposed to afford her shoes?) But she never expected to be playing a game with life-or-death consequences. Unable to successfully score an acting gig, she has, instead, been cast in the role of reluctant bodyguard to a real-life assassin's target -- a dashing FBI agent of all people! -- and must embark with him upon a scavenger hunt across Manhattan in search of the ultimate prize: survival. Before this, Jenn's definition of fighting dirty has been elbowing her way to the front of the line at a Manolo sample sale. Now, if she wants to stay alive, she's going to have to learn a few new uses for her stilettos. . . and they ain't pretty.

What inspired you to write this book?
Well, the book is a sequel, so part of the inspiration was built in and stemmed from the first book (I wanted to write a book -- a series, really -- wherein the characters had to solve a series of clues to stay one step ahead of the killer). This particular book, however, was inspired by my love of Broadway. In the world of my book, someone has started playing a computer game for real, with deadly consequences. The clues stem from a player's interests, and in this case, the clues stem from Broadway. I've been addicted to broadway musicals since I was in high school, and it was great fun pulling out bits and pieces to create clues to lead to specific locations!

(Ooh, as a lifelong Broadway addict, this may be a book I can really get into! And sing along with!)

What, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
Um, not much. She can sing and act. I can't sing my way out of a paper bag. She's a total fashionista; I'm a sometimes fashionista. But I'm VERY skilled at finding cute clothes at thrift stores, and I do have a weakness for purses!

How has making the move from attorney/author to full-time author changed your writing processes?
Surprisingly, I don't have more time to write. The gap filled with life stuff that had gone ignored. Like, oh, laundry and dishes, LOL. So somehow I always end up writing at night, just like I had before. Seriously, time expands to fill a vacuum!! Or something like that....

What are you working on now?
I'm finishing up my first YA novel -- The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even (Berkley, April 2007) and then I'm turning back to finalizing the final book in this series, THE PRADA PARADOX! (February 2007)

As one of the pioneers of moving chick lit into other areas (thrillers and paranormal), where do you see the chick lit market going?
I'm a pioneer? Really? How cool is that?

(Well, those were the first that I know of in those subgenres -- Carpe Demon did sell before I sold Enchanted, Inc., even if mine was published first, but mine was a full manuscript when I sold, which moved up the pub date.)

And even if you're right, as far as I know, pioneers aren't necessarily prescient. Too bad, too! But I suppose I don't need to be psychic to see that chick lit is changing. But everything changes. Without that change the industry would become stagnant, and who wants that? Writers are always complaining that editors and agents, when asked what they want, say "fresh new stories!" Yes, that's broad and vague. But it's also true. Because that's what the readers want. And as chick lit evolves, that's what's is happening and will happen. A subtle shift to add freshness. Look at what you're publishing! Talk about a fresh spin on chicklit!

(Unless you're talking to Kirkus ...)

Anything else you'd like to say about the book and the process of writing it?
Just that I had a great time writing it! And that I can't wait to go back to NYC and hit another round of shows!
(Count me in!)

For more info on Julie and her books, visit her web site.

Okay, now some figure skating talk. I love watching the pairs competition because it's so romantic. It's the ultimate demonstration of trust in a relationship to let someone throw you around like that or get very close to you with sharp blades. Plus, there's such interdependency there -- they have to work together, and they stand or fall together. One person's mistakes affect both of them. Last night's Olympic finals in pairs demonstrated both of these aspects. The Russian pair that won was known for being the team where he dropped her on her head during competition, and then he had to regain his trust in himself to keep going, and that made her worry about trusting him (fortunately, she doesn't remember the actual falling on her head part). At the end of their program, he dropped to one knee in front of her on the ice and kissed her hand. It was such a swooningly chivalrous gesture, almost something out of an earlier century. And then the Chinese pair that won silver demonstrated that interdependency when she pulled herself together to finish the program even after taking a bad fall. If she pulled out, she pulled both of them out, but she gutted it out and they medaled. And yes, I was crying.

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