I’m very pleased to bring you the second 3:2 Interview with a spiffy author, wherein I ask three questions about the author's current work, and two somewhat saucy questions in an attempt to get to know them better.
Today I’m grateful to Nicole Peeler for stopping by to metaphorically clink a beer bottle with us and shoot the breeze. Nicole is the author of the Jane True series, the second installment of which, Tracking the Tempest, is being released today. She’s under contract for six books with Orbit, so we’ll get to see plenty more of Nicole’s half-selkie heroine.
Writer’s Grove: One of the things I enjoy about your series is that Jane isn’t the typical asskicking urban fantasy heroine—the sort we always see dressed in black leather and holding something sharp and shiny. You’ve created something unusual within the genre here—even your covers set you apart from the crowd—and I’m wondering if that was an intentional act or something of a happy accident. What was behind your thinking in creating Jane? Walk us through your character creation process, if you will.
Nicole Peeler: I was inspired to write Tempest Rising by reading Dead as a Doornail, by Charlaine Harris. The idea of a heroine that wasn't kickass blew my mind, and I thought, "I could write a character like that." I'm too self deprecating to write a typical heroine, or even a typical anti-heroine. But Sookie was human-woman strong, and that was very inspiring to me. From that inspiration, I put together a bunch of my former and current interests, combined with what I "needed" for a character like Jane. I had Jane's essence first: the type of woman she'd be. Then, I started working on how to supe her up. I pretty instantly hit on selkies, but then I tweaked it by making her one of the progeny of the selkie-human pairings that have inspired so many myths. The combination of selkie and human gave me a character who could be magical, yet vulnerable; human, yet supernatural; smart, yet ignorant of her new world.
WG: Every single actor who’s ever played Dr. Who is alive and well and in the prime of his life, standing before you in a replica of the Tardis. Naturally you will want to squee—it’s an irresistible urge—but due to an evil plot by the Daleks you will only get to squee for ONE of the Doctors. The bad news is that the other Doctors will disappear. The good news is that the Doctor you squee for will ask you to be his new companion, and together you will defeat the Daleks once and for all. For whom will you squee, and why? Legions of Dr. Who geeks want to know.
NP: I would squee the hell out of Christopher Eccleston. It's the ears. And the accent. I'm always a sucker for a Northerner, of any country or planet.
WG: Your book has a vampire love interest, as many urban fantasies do. Why do you think that particular attraction has blossomed so well among both writers and readers? Can we trace everything back to Def Leppard’s song, “Love Bites,” or might there be a more significant sociological/cultural/psychological cause, or some other large college word at the root of it?
NP: I would hang everything on Great White's "Once Bitten, Twice Shy," but that's just me. I think there are tons of reasons we love vampires: the menace, the promise of immortality, the multiple penetration . . . by which I mean fangs, bitches. Get your minds out of the gutter.
My book has a lot of parodical elements, and Ryu is one of them. In Tempest Rising, Jane is totally, utterly excited to have a normal, old skool sexual fling. That Ryu is someone who screams "Fling" makes it even better. The way I see it, vampires--if they really existed--would have to be one of three things: parasites, like fleas, that no one wants to read about; monstrous predators; or total gigolos. I thought the third would be the funniest and sexiest to riff on, and I thought I could play a lot with the idea of what happens when women get what we think we want. We only catch a glimpse of this idea in TR, but Tracking the Tempest really delves into Jane's confronting what Ryu's existence truly means. So, yeah, women have fantasies about meeting that ultimate sexual ninja who will blow their mind with his sexcapades . . . but the reality of such a man is never as glossy as the exterior. They're fabulous for the short term, but long term? The issues rise to the surface like dead little goldfish. And nobody gets off on dead goldfish. At least, not people we discuss in public.
WG: You get to be a judge on Iron Chef America. What do you want their secret ingredient to be, and why? (No fair saying, “Bacon, because it’s bacon.” That’s too easy, because when they actually had bacon as the secret ingredient on Iron Chef America, it turned out to be a draw because everybody wins when they’re eating bacon.*)
NP: As I would eat poo if it were bacon-wrapped, I can understand your logic. Since I can't choose bacon, I would choose Guinness. I can drink it while they cook with it, and they can make delicious things with Guinness that I'd actually want to eat. If you've never had a Guinness cake, you're missing out on a little bit of heaven.
WG: How do you schedule your writing time? I’m very interested in this because you and I have similar day jobs (we teach), and I’m curious how you balance the demands of teaching with the demands of writing—and throw in the demands of drinking beer if you like.
NP: With the budget cuts at my university in Louisiana, this last semester was hell for writing. I really just wrote on weekends and breaks. I'm hoping to have a much more integrated author/professor existence at my new job, in Pennsylvania, at Seton Hill, where I'll be teaching in the MFA in Popular Fiction. But as far as balancing is concerned, I "balance" by working pretty much all the time. I've become just like my mother; I live for my work. And I'm totally unapologetic about that, as I love what I do and get so much pleasure out of my books and my teaching. I am, however, hoping to have a bit more of a social life in Pittsburgh. For Jane's sake, as well as my own. :-)
WG: Thanks so much, Nicole! Best wishes to you!
NP: Thank you, Kevin! It was great being here.
*Bobby Flay vs. Sursur Lee, 2006-2007 season, episode 12.