Friday, April 25, 2008

Radio Experience

First of all, for those of you who missed my fabulous appearance on KFAI's "Write On Radio," you can listen to an audiofile in their archives at: 4/24/08 - Write On Radio Show. Don't be thrown by the fact that there's a long musical lead, no show identification or the fact that a woman with a British accent (Marie Phillips) starts reading about the goddess Artemis and trees and blow-jobs. I'm on during the second half of the show, and they were waiting for Marie to call in from London.

What's funny is that I just wrote a scene in DEAD IF I DO with another Greek goddess, Athena, and had I known that the author of GODS BEHAVING BADLY was going to be sharing the show with me, I'd have brought that scene.

Being on KFAI was a blast. I've been really fortunate enough to have been on KFAI several times in the past (I have a bunch of .mp3 files on the FAQ section of my web page, if you're at all curious.) The station itself is on the top floor of a thin, funky building on University of Minnesota's West Bank. The West Bank, if you're not familiar with it, has some of of the last vestiges of Minneapolis' hippy culture. There's May Day Books still there, as well as the home of a few cooperatives. There used to be the New Riverside Cafe (which is featured in Emma Bull's WAR FOR THE OAKS), as well as the folk music collective: The Coffeehouse Extemporie. The West Bank is also adjactent to the sort of low-rent theatre district of Minneapolis -- the Theatre in the Round, Southern Theatre, and Theatre du Juene Lune are all there. Somali immigrants have also moved into the West Bank which adds an East African flavor to the whole mix.

KFAI is very much part of the remaining hippy culutre that's clinging to the neighborhood, so it's not like being on a radio show on one of the big, commerical stations. I've done that once, where I called into a station in Wisconsin, and that was a lot more nerve wracking.

At KFAI they have several studios, which look not unlike regular meeting rooms, except there are big microphones over each spot at the table, and, of course, a fancy looking electronic board on the other side of a short divider. You get to wear headphones, which adds to the whole, "I'm on the radio!" feeling, but there's a window and posters on the wall. I was nervous until I got into the studio. You do have to be silent the moment the "On Air" light goes on, but thanks to the relaxing atmosphere of the place, it's not as big a deal as you might think.

I have to say that the thing that amused me was how much Ian Leask gestured to everyone silently while Marie talked. There was a lot of frantic pointing and obtuse sign language that made Cin (the woman who read the calendar of events) very nervous. I guess they also had a back up tape ready to roll in case there were technical problems getting Marie on the air.

My favorite moment came when I completely blanked on what DEAD SEXY was about. I couldn't remember for several hours, actually. The problem is, of course, that that book was so long ago in some ways. I'm in the middle of writing book four, and three even seems like a dim memory for me, you know?

I always feel like I'm blathtering away, and I know I went off on vaguely unrelated tangents. In the past when my friend J. Otis Powell! was the host of the show, he actually gave me a list of the questions he was going to ask ahead of time, so I'd have a moment to prepare. Steve didn't, so everything was very spontaneous. I noticed that I used my stall-while-I-form-an-answer phrase a couple of times, the whole "That's a great question...."

Even so, it was a great time. I can only hope I get the opportunity to do it again sometime.

Interview and New Ninja Story Time

If you're interested in reading an interview of me over at Jenna Black's website, you can go to: Jenna Black's Interview with Tate

And, today is Friday, be sure to check out the new story by Stephen Baxter over at Ninja Writer's Story Club: Featured Post

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Write On, Sister!

If you happen to notice this post before 11:00 am (CST) today, you can hear me on the radio! I'm going to be one of the guests on the "Write On Radio" show on KFAI. I'll be promoting my new release ROMANCING THE DEAD and my up-coming appearance at Dreamhaven Books & Comics. KFAI can be heard at 90.3 Minneapolis/106.7 St. Paul or streaming on-line at

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blathering on about Science Fiction

Yesterday, my alter ego posted over at SF Novelists about the question of why fantasy outsells science fiction, "Defining Darkness (SF vs. F Redux)"

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interview with Jenna Black

Book Blurb: Drake is a Killer vampire.

Unlike the Guardians of the Night, Drake feeds on human blood, choosing victims who deserve to die. But still he works with the Guardians to protect those humans who yet have some good in them.

When Gabriel, the leader of the Baltimore Guardians, mysteriously disappears, Drake finds himself in charge of a small band of inexperienced fledgling vampires. When a delegation of European Killers arrives in Baltimore looking for Gabriel, Drake must call on all the savagery of his sordid past to keep the Guardians in line—and to protect them from the ruthless Killers.

Forced to confront a past he has tried so hard to outrun, Drake risks losing his humanity. His only hope is Faith, the French Seigneur’s concubine, who desperately needs his help to rescue her human sister from the Seigneur’s clutches. Then someone begins killing the members of the European vampire delegation, and Drake is the only suspect. Will Drake be saved by love, or will he become a Killer without a conscience?

What was your inspiration for writing HUNGERS OF THE HEART?

Since the first book of the Guardians of the Night series, I’ve always known I would eventually write Drake’s book. Many of my readers have also impatiently been awaiting his book since they first “met” him in WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT. As excited as I was to write his story, though, it turned out to be very hard to do. One of the most attractive things about Drake in WATCHERS was his self-confidence, the sense that he was comfortable in his own skin. Confident, comfortable characters, however, don’t make for interesting protagonists, so I had to shake him up. I found myself strangely reluctant to do so. That was the first time I had to struggle to make myself be mean to one of my characters. Usually authorial cruelty comes easily to me, as my readers no doubt know!

Which books and authors have most influenced your career?

I’d have to credit THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT, by Barbara Hambly, as being the book that piqued my interest in vampires. The main vampire character in that book, Don Simon Ysidro, is absolutely fascinating to me. There’s no question he’s a bad guy—all her vampires are killers, and none of them seem to feel any remorse for their actions. However, Don Simon also has redeeming qualities, such as a sense of honor, that make him at least somewhat sympathetic to both the reader and the novel’s hero. (And from that description, you can no doubt see how much I was influenced by that particular book!)

For my urban fantasies, I’d have to credit the Anita Blake series, by Laurell K. Hamilton as having had the most influence. That was the first urban fantasy series I read, and I ended up absolutely hooked. After reading her books, I went on to “discover” such authors as Kelley Armstrong, Keri Arthur, Rachel Caine, and Patricia Briggs. It was because I loved all those books so much that I set out to write an urban fantasy myself.

What’s the best and the worst advice you’ve ever received?

The worst advice I ever received was to slavishly follow all publishers’ guidelines for submissions. (Note the word “slavishly.” I’m not saying to ignore guidelines.) For the 16 + years I was seriously trying—and failing—to get published, I dutifully submitted books one at a time, no simultaneous submissions. I can’t tell you how many times I had to wait a year or more to get a response. And during that waiting time, I refused to submit the book to another publisher, because most publishers say they won’t accept simultaneous submissions. It made for a painfully slow, agonizing, frustrating process. If I had it all to do over again, I’d probably go ahead and make simultaneous submissions despite the guidelines. I think it would have saved some of my sanity.

The best advice was for me to take responsibility for my own career. This meant always acting as though my career was under my control, even when sometimes it feels like I’m a victim in the winds of fate. This advice was crucial to my finally getting published. I had gotten to a point where I’d convinced myself I needed to get that lucky break to get my foot in the door. And that was a dismal prospect, because you can’t control luck. Then I went to a workshop where the teachers were adamant in their belief that luck has nothing to do with it, that if you write well enough and long enough, you’ll break in. It was a total change of attitude for me, and it changed the way I approached my career. When I began to believe that it was my own abilities, not the whims of luck, that would ultimately get me published, I started working much, much harder at my writing. I started treating it like a career, rather than a hobby. A year later, I had an agent. Two years later, I had my first contract. And now I have five books out with four more under contract. So it was by far the best advice I’ve ever received.

What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

Number one on my list is, naturally, reading. Like most writers, I’m a voracious reader. I’ve recently become addicted to doing jigsaw puzzles. My enjoyment of jigsaw puzzles has come and gone multiple times over the course of my life. I’ll go for years without doing one, then suddenly I’ll have an urge and I’ll do a whole bunch in a row. I’m finding them particularly fun right now because they’re something I can do that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer.

I also enjoy ballroom dancing, which I’ve just taken up again after several years’ hiatus. I think it’s important for me to find things to do outside the house now that I’ve quit my day job. It would be so easy for me to become a hermit. So that’s why I decided to start dancing again. (Though it’s also a lot of fun as well as being good exercise.)

What are you writing now?

Right now I’m working on the fourth book in my Morgan Kingsley series. I’ve just gotten started, so I’m still in those very uncertain “what the heck is going to happen in this book?” stage. It often takes me a few chapters before I start feeling like I’ve “really” started the book. I’ve also been playing around with an idea for a YA urban fantasy, but I have to put that aside now to work on the book that’s sold and on deadline.

Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

I wrote my first book when I was in fifth grade. It was an autobiography. It’s written in pencil, with crayon illustrations and a construction paper cover. So I’ve pretty much been writing forever. I wrote my first novel my senior year of high school for my English class on creative writing. (Actually, it was really a novella, but I considered it a novel at that time.) I then wrote my first real, full-length novel in college. However, it took about 20 years and 17 more novels before I made my first sale.

In college, I majored in anthropology and French. My intention was to get a PhD in physical anthropology and become the next Jane Goodall. Obviously, my career and my ambitions ended up taking a different path.

What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

I start out by trudging up to my computer while guzzling coffee as I try to shake the sleep clouds from my head. (I’m not the best morning person in the world.) I usually read emails and look at some of my favorite Internet sites (like MySpace and Romance Divas) while I wait for my brain to be fully functional. Then I drag myself to a computer that has no Internet access and no games—nothing installed on it other than word processing software. And I write.

I tend to write in multiple short (45 minutes to an hour) spurts throughout the morning and early afternoon. Between spurts, I check email or do chores or work out. (Or goof off, but I try to keep that to a minimum.)

Where do you write??

I have a home-office-cum-library where I work. It’s a converted bonus room over our garage, and it’s decorated to help stimulate my imagination—and give me the illusion that I’ve actually left the house to write. The effect is like working in a medieval/gothic library, with faux-wood floors and faux-stone walls.

What is the best part of being a writer? The most frustrating?

The best part about being a writer for me is hearing from readers. I love knowing that people have read and enjoyed my books. I was especially moved when I got an email from a reader who was seriously ill and told me my books helped make the bad times better for her. Books have always been my escape during the worst times in my life, and one of the thoughts that kept me going while I was struggling to sell that first novel was the desire to provide that same kind of escape for others. Learning that I’d done so for at least one reader brought tears to my eyes.

The most frustrating part of being a writer is how many things about your career are not under your control. You can’t control the whims of the market, the editorial shifts in your publishing house, the closing of lines, the cover art, the marketing . . . You name it. (Some of those things you can control when you’re a mega star, but I’m not there yet!)

This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

There are three other books out in the Guardians of the Night series: WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT, SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS, and SHADOWS ON THE SOUL. There’s also THE DEVIL INSIDE, the first book in my Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist series. The second book in that series, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, will come out on July 29.

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

My website is You can also find me on MySpace at

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's Not Too Late to Join Story Club!

Ninja Writer, aka CV Rick, has posted a story by Elizabeth Bear as part of his story club. It's called "Tideline," and, if you get a chance, you should read it. Not only is it one of the many short stories up for an award this year, but... well, read it. The beginning is slow, but the story is worth it, IMHO. If you disagree, you can join the discussion.

The discussion started last Friday, but you can continue to post through the rest of this week.