7 Questions with Jackie Kessler

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

I’m happily slumming with the fives—definitely a bit nutty, but more in the delicious chocolate-covered way than in the lock-me-up way. Part of the insanity is my own fault (mental note: STOP CHECKING AMAZON RANKING EVERY HOUR). Part of it is writing-related (contrary to popular belief, the waiting doesn’t get any easier once you are getting published). Part of it has to do with everyday stress. But as for the rest? It’s all good.

2. There’s a whole host of paranormal creatures you could have chosen. Why succubi?

Why not succubi? 🙂

3. Lilith, Lilith everywhere. Wait, you have a Lillith, with a double L in the center. But there are many Liliths in fiction today. Why is that, do you think? And why is yours spelt with two Ls?

When writing about a succubus, there’s probably going to be a Lilith reference in there somewhere — according to some stories, Lilith was the First Woman (the pre-Eve model), and subsequently became the first succubus after she got tossed out of the Garden of Eden for not doing it missionary style with Adam. She was the original demonic Working Girl. You gotta admire that. In HELL’S BELLES, the character is spelled with two Ls because it felt right. It rolls off the tongue: Li-llllllllllll-ith. I would have had more Ls in there, but that would have looked weird.

4. It seems like every writer is writing YA now. You have begun reworking your Great American Novel, your first ever book, as a YA. Is it industry driven, or is it “What the heck, let’s try this!”?

Both. I was going nowhere with it in its previous version — for good reason, in retrospect. The characters were college seniors, which automatically puts them in the “Who the hell is the target audience?” bracket. And then there was the cliché plot, the been-there-done-that world building, and…um, no, that’s pretty much why the previous versions of the GAN sucked. But I was in love with the story. After 17 years of tinkering with it, the characters were a part of me. And the magic system I created kicked ass, so I really wanted to do something with it instead of let it die a multi-rejection sort of death.

After I read a couple of terrific YA urban fantasies (including the fabulous upcoming EIGHTH GRADE BITES by Heather Brewer), I started thinking about whether the characters in the GAN would work better as high school students. And what if, instead of having the protagonists bamf to a Place Where There Is Magic, the characters were ALREADY in a place where there was magic — and the magic was an evil thing? So I decided to make the world in the GAN a very dark reflection of our own reality. And boom: you have THE MAGIC BRIGADE. Currently on submission. Wish me luck!

5. Did you and Richelle Mead, the other Kensington succubus author, meet through your publisher? And how did you two get from meeting to blogging together on Magical Minxes?

I became aware of Richelle 90 minutes before I started querying literary agents about HELL’S BELLES. I was going through Publishers Marketplace to catch the latest deals…and there was SUCCUBUS BLUES, in all its three-book-deal glory, about a modern day succubus. I cried. Utter hysterics. Even chocolate couldn’t calm me down. Then I got busy and queried. Scored the agent and a three-book sale. Look at that: the market can support more than one succubus author! 🙂 Author Joe Konrath said at the June 2006 Backspace Conference that it’s insane for authors not to support each other, because readers are not going to pick one author exclusively over another. I agree: most likely, people who read HELL’S BELLES will also read SUCCUBUS BLUES, and vice versa. So I emailed Richelle to introduce myself as the other Kensington Succubus Author. We exchanged emails, and I was thrilled to discover just how freaking cool Richelle is. Now she’s one of my closest friends, whom I’ve never met. (Love that Internet!) We joked for a while about how we should do a Kensington Succubus Diva tour. But the idea of Magical Minxes was all Richelle. She’s brilliant. Richelle designed the site’s look and feel, and we worked together to come up with content ideas. It’s an evolving process (we recently added the amazing Caitlin Kittredge and her protagonist/cop/werewolf Luna to the Minxy mix) and it has its complications (Richelle is in Seattle; I’m in Upstate New York). But we love Magical Minxes.

6. You’re the fantasy editor for Wild Child Publishing. Are you one of those dreaded creatures, an infernal editor…an editor from Hell? And do you have an internal editor or an infernal editor?

Depends on how you define “infernal” in this case. 🙂 I’ll push back with authors if I think a plot point doesn’t work, but I like to think that I’m flexible. (Then again, so’s Jezebel. So maybe I really am an infernal creature.) As for editing my own work…yeah, my internal editor can be quite hellish.

7. Like me, you’re five feet tall (okay, I’m shorter, but what’s a quarter of an inch?). Which part of Hell do people who like to hold stuff over our heads, out of our reach go to?

Heh — I’m actually four-foot-eleven and three-fourths. I round up. Back in the 1980s, I was at least three inches taller (let’s hear it for Big Hair and Aqua Net). As for the Danglers who taunt us…I’d say they’re just jealous of good things coming in small (er, short) packages, so I’d put them in Envy.

Jackie Kessler blogs as herself, and as Jezebel on Cat And Muse and Magical Minxes. Hell’s Belles releases January 1st.

3 Responses to “7 Questions with Jackie Kessler”

  1. December 27, 2006 at 1:56 am

    Actually, the idea for MM was Jackie’s. I was actually freaked out about the idea of blogging as Georgina. But once we got into it, it turned out to be pretty fun.

  2. December 30, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    Richelle, I guess this is going to be one of those stories that no one remembers who actually started, but continue to tell all the same… 🙂

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