Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Werewolves, Homina, Homina

One of the first scary movies I was allowed to watch was MONSTER SQUAD, because it starred Ryan Lambert of KIDS, INC. (Oh, how I loved Ryan Lambert in all his spiky haired glory.) And one of the monsters was a reluctant werewolf played by Jon Gries. And the whole tortured soul in ripped clothes bit brought out that latent "save the wounded puppy" instinct in me... which eventually led to the way I wrote werewolves in the NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS books and in an as-yet-untitled werewolf project Pocket will be putting out next spring.

With success of NEW MOON and the upcoming Benecio Del Toro version of THE WOLFMAN, werewolves, a lot of cool articles about our favorite furballs.

First, we have an article from Salon.com called A Look At Werewolves

Then an entry from Smart Bitches, called Vamps and Weres, What's Next

Friday, November 13, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different...

I've mentioned a few times that I wrote a non-paranormal romance, AND ONE LAST THING, which will be released by Pocket Books in August 2010. I don't have cover art to show for it yet, but it is available for pre-order on Amazon.com, right here.

AND ONE LAST THING... is the story of Lacey, who finds out her husband, Mike, is cheating on her. She uses his business mailing list to send a mass e-mail to his friends, family and clients, announcing his infidelity in stunning, technicolor detail. This is not well-received by said friends, neighbors and clients, and Lacey is exiled to a family cabin by a lake. She meets her new neighbor, Monroe, a grumpy crime writer with an unfortunate buttock-related nickname and a strange aversion to recent divorcees. Random nudity and romantic hijinks ensue.

And since it's a bit of a departure for me, I thought I'd share an excerpt featuring the meet-cute between Lacey and Monroe. At this point, Lacey has been exiled, but has not idea that the cabin next door is occupied.

My movie marathon didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. I forgot that at the end of The Women, Mary throws away her pride and goes back to her husband. It didn’t exactly put me in a drowsy place. I ended up watching a few movies where Rex Harrison pretended to sing and John Barrymore pretended to be sober. I wrapped up with Rebecca, a movie about a first wife who was such a vicious bitch that her mere memory eventually drove everyone around her kind of nuts.

I found that message a little more cheerful, but I was still awake at five a.m. and not sleepy in the slightest.

I hadn’t been awake to see the sunrise in years, so I decided to go out to the front porch and enjoy it. I settled into an old cane rocker with some juice and propped my feet on the porch railing. I loved the quiet time at the lake in the mornings, before the birds started chirping or the boaters and the jet-skiers started their wake wars. The water reflected a bright coppery light that made you feel cleaner, somehow, healthier and more virtuous, just for being outside in it. Even the gentle lapping of the water seemed muted and kinder somehow.

I might have worried about the fact that I was wearing just an old Wildcats t-shirt, panties and a surprisingly chipper expression. But the only cabin within sight was the old McGee place, about fifty yards down the shore.

The McGee family had been friends of my family for generations. They were sweet people who co-hosted decades of Fourth of July barbecues with my grandparents. But the tradition had died with Gammy Muldoon. My parents preferred entertaining at their house and I hadn’t quite graduated to hosting family holidays yet. I was still doing “hostess training wheel” events like baby showers and bridal teas.

Besides, Harold McGee was getting older and no one had opened up the house for years. I thought so right up until the front door opened and my new neighbor stepped out onto his porch.

“Gah!” I yelped, tumbling off of the chair in a panty-baring heap. If there was one thing Mama drilled into my head, it’s that you never have a second chance to make a first impression. And I had just made a first impression on my new neighbor with my ass in the air.

Lovely.

Maybe I could commando crawl into the house without him realizing I was even there.

I peeked over the porch railing to see him staring at me, openly smirking at me. “Morning.”

Maybe not.

“Morning.” I said, standing and trying to pull my shirt down as far as possible. I stood behind the rocker, hoping it at least, would cover my bare legs.

My new neighbor, hoo boy. Old battered jeans, black t-shirt, bare feet, a lot of dark wayward hair and sideburns that desperately needed a trim. Sharp hazel eyes and sharper cheekbones, and a wide, generous mouth set in a grim line. He raised his coffee cup in mock salute and padded back into his house.

“I usually wear pants!” I called.


I wrote this book while I was on maternity leave between finishing the final revision of NICE GIRLS DON'T DATE DEAD MEN and a first draft of NICE GIRLS DON'T LIVE FOREVER. After two years of writing about vampires, I really enjoyed writing about regular human people who could go out during the day and eat solid food. I know it's kind of messed up that a book about infidelity, public revenge and divorce will always remind me of special time at home with my son, but I've never really led a "normal life."

For more information about AND ONE LAST THING, stay tuned to this blog.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Membership has its privileges



You have to love Marta Acosta, author of the CASA DRACULA novels. Not only does she do fun author interviews, like the one with yours truly here, but she heads the Naked Boreneaz Club, of which I am now a proud member. OK, sure, I picked on David Boreanaz for starring in that horrid Crow sequel, but surely my years of devotion to Buffy, Angel and Bones qualify me for membership.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Christmas and Vampires: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

I don't knit. Anything that involves hand-eye coordination and counting is not for me. My friend, Brandi, however, has always been crafty. She's never been able to just sit still, which has resulted in many a handmade scarf and pillow. And she came to the Kentucky State Book Fair on Saturday and presented me with this Christmas ornament:



And if that wasn't cute enough, check this out:



I am ashamed to say I've never even thought of "Season's Bleeding," but now I think I'm going to sign all my Christmas cards like that.

Brandi makes these felt (non-monster-related) Christmas ornaments and sells them at her online store found here.

The vampire ornament is available by special order if you contact her at bluegirldesigns AT gmail.com.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Interview with Thriller Author JC Hutchins!!




I was lucky enough to meet author JC Hutchins in college. He was the kind of friend that always listens, understood, nay, expanded my pop culture references, and didn't make fun of the fact that I used to drink Zima infused with Jolly Ranchers. Yes, really. Over the years, we've both tinkered with writing projects, e-mailing chapters to each other on occasion and offering encouragement during the soul-sucking querying process. And somehow, against every law of probability in the publishing universe, we both ended up with publishing contracts.

Meanwhile, I have watched in awe as JC's 7th Son podcast has grown into an internet phenomenon with legions of followers (Hello, loyal clone army.) I am very proud to say, "I knew him when." JC's new book, based on the podcasts, 7th Son: Descent, hit bookstore shelves last week. And I wanted to introduce him to you guys, so you will like him as much as I do, buy his books, and force his publisher to offer him ridiculous advances for forthcoming books.

OK, does every understand the plan? Good. On with the show.

MH: So, JC, tell us a bit about yourself- Your hometown, where you're living now, your newspaper background... college friendships with feisty, freakishly tall girls who changed the way you see the world...

JCH: I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. I was a very introverted, daydreaming, awkward blonde-haired boy with a chili-bowl haircut. I now live in South Florida ... and my hairline's receded just enough for me to quietly pine of that lush, chili-bowl mop.

I think what tugged me out of that snail shell was indeed journalism. I wrote for my high school paper, then went to college to study newspaper and magazine writing. When you're a reporter, you can't afford to be shy for long -- you'll blow many an interview if you don't follow up on your curiosity and instincts. I finally began to become comfortable with myself, and managed to find the beginnings of my writerly voice.

And yes indeed, while I was attending Western Kentucky University, I met a freakishly tall girl whose beauty was eclipsed only by her brilliance! She was a fantastic writer, a dogged reporter, and a wily movie-line-quotin' marvel. I think she went on to become a novelist. Something about vampires and librarians...?

(Editor's Note: I don't know about dogged reporter, but the rest of that stuff is totally true.)

MH: You went about getting published in an unconventional way. Could you describe your path to authorship for the nice readers?

JCH: My path to publication could be charitably described as "circuitous," though I prefer the term "ass backwards, in a good way." I began writing my high-tech thriller novel, 7th Son, back in 2002. Ignoring all common sense -- and industry norms -- I set out to write a story that rivaled Stephen King's The Stand in length and scope. Three years later, I presented this monstrous manuscript to agents and, predictably, received universal rejections. I thought the system would make an exception for me. I was wrong.

DEAD WRONG.

Ahem. So there I was, heartbroken and despairing at the realization that this book that I loved -- a book about human cloning, personal identity, nature versus nurture, government conspiracies and science run amuck -- this book I'd crafted to with commercial sensibilities in mind, would never, ever be published. But also during that year, I began listening to podcasts (think downloadable internet radio) and discovered a few authors who were recording and releasing their unpublished manuscripts as free serialized audiobooks. These dudes were getting buzz in the small-but-growing podcasting community.

I smelled an emerging trend and reckoned that if I couldn't sell 7th Son, I could be like these authors and share it. So I chopped up the manuscript into thirds and began recording the first act of that epic story as "Book One: Descent." If people liked the book, I reasoned, I could record the other acts (now books) -- and if they didn't, I wouldn't be committed to recording the full 1,200-page manuscript. Thanks to some savvy zero-budget marketing by me, and a whole heckuva lot of evangelism by my fans, my audience grew into the tens of thousands. I released the 7th Son trilogy from 2006 to 2007.

I leveraged that audience size and enthusiasm to snag an agent. Eventually, I connected with St. Martin's Press and we banged out a deal for Descent, the first novel in the series. It hit bookstore bookshelves last week, and is selling well. The trilogy has also been optioned by Warner Bros.; it is now in development with the producers of The Lord of the Rings saga.

MH:Your podcast is a huge internet phenomenon-
JCH: Noooo.
MH: Don't deny it.
JCH: I must, lest my crimson cheeks spontaneously combust!
MH: Stop blushing. Exactly how many people have joined your clone army? How does it feel to have such devoted fans? And are any of them interested in dual membership in a clan of vampire librarians? Just thought I'd ask.

JCH:It's hard to say exactly how many listeners 7th Son has had over the years. The first episodes of the 2006 version of Descent have been downloaded more than 50,000 times, so at least that many people have been exposed to the story in some form. The series has had more than 5 million episodic downloads, and still generates around 100,000 episodic downloads each month. I have an online street team called "The Ministry of Propaganda" that's at least 240 members strong, and have about 1,800 folks on my mailing list.

How does that feel? Stupefying and humbling. I never thought this book would find an audience, much less the kind of audience it now has. Numbers aside, my fans are amazing. They evangelize my work to friends, family and strangers ... they cheer me on, and provide invaluable feedback on my work ... and now that Descent is in print, they're supporting the print novel. It's nothing short of miraculous.

We've built a pretty remarkable community around this book, and its characters. Here's an example of how much love and passion exists for 7th Son: One fan purchased 100 copies of my novel. One hundred copies! I don't know what 100 of anything looks like! He did it to support the book, and me as an author. Try to wrap your head around that. And try to think of the last time you heard a Stephen King or Dan Brown fan do something like that.

These folks love my book ... and I love them right back.

MH: Could we talk about some of the guest stars you've scooped up for the podcast? How did that happen? Exactly what sort of bribe would be involved for me to get Nathan Fillion's cell phone number?

JCH: Yes! During the release of the 7th Son trilogy, I invited several celebrities to appear in brief cameos in the podcast. I invited them to read "previously on 7th Son" recaps, and in exchange for their time and effort, they could promote anything they wished.

Yep, the very handsome and dashing Nathan Fillion -- star of the sci-fi show Firefly, and now Castle -- read a recap, as did Battlestar Galactica's Richard Hatch, Firefly's Ron Glass, Farscape's Gigi Edgely, and others. I knew my listeners were hardcore sci-fi fans, and tried to dazzle them week after week with these celebrity cameos. I also had bestselling sci-fi novelists, comic book writers and movie directors come aboard to read recaps. It was a blast.

And no. You can't have Nathan Fillion's phone number. You'll have to do what every other sefl-respecting, smitten, squeeing fangirl does: stalk him.

(Editor's note: I have no problem with that.)

MH: And there are already sequels in the works for 7th Son, right?

JCH: The sequels -- which were originally Acts Two and Three of my original book -- are released as free serialized audiobooks in 2006 and 2007. However, these books have not yet been picked up by my publisher. The company is being appropriately prudent and taking a "wait and see" approach regarding the release of 7th Son: Descent. If Descent does well, the sequels will earn the right to get the print treatment. If Descent is a sales disappointment, things get messy for me.

Did I mention that it's available for sale in bookstores and online?

MH: You have to go about writing in a different way than most authors since most of us are working ahead, writing stuff that won't be published for years. Could you describe how you're working "in the now?"

JCH: Since I have an engaged online fan community that hungers for Hutchins-crafted content, I'm often working on fiction or non-fiction stuff for them to consume. I've written a podcast-exclusive novella and short story anthology to keep my peeps well-fed, and will sometimes release interviews with creative types -- like the one I did with you!

I'm releasing serialized audio fiction via my site right now -- a new recording of 7th Son: Descent's "print edition" manuscript, serialized PDFs of the full novel, and even songs "written and performed" by a character from the book ... all for free. The full text of the novel is also being serialized for free at BoingBoing.net, one of the Top 5 most-popular blogs in the world. I want longtime fans and newcomers to be entertained, and to be empowered to make an informed purchasing decision. Giving it away also ensures 7th Son will be exposed to people who would never have heard of the book, and will generate sales that never would have occurred otherwise.

I'm also currently committed to promoting 7th Son: Descent to anyone who will listen, which pulls me away from writing. In addition to firmly believing that creators are ethically obligated to promote their work, I must vociferously champion this book because it was brought back from the dead ... it shouldn't be in print. The very fact that it is, is ultra-special. I dare not jeopardize the sequels' fate by half-assing my promotion.

It took me seven years to get here. I've got one shot. You can bet that I'm putting my back into it.

MH: Do you consider yourself a sci-fi writer, a horror writer, or "shut the hell up and stop trying to define me by genre" writer?

JCH: I consider myself a thriller writer. I've written novels -- 7th Son and a another book titled Personal Effects: Dark Art -- that can be easily chucked into the sci-fi and horror genres, respectively. But I don't think either novel is firmly steeped in these genres. I try to write fiction that has mainstream sensibilities, that doesn't deep geek on sci-fi elements, and doesn't gross you out with gore.

In fact, there's a lot of genre-blurring in my work, which folks really seem to like. I incorporate investigative procedural elements into my books, a little bit of fright, a little bit of science, a little bit of romance, and a LOT of cliffhangers and thrills. I want you turning those pages, man.
I write books I'd like to read. I'm blessed to say others seem to want to read them, too.

MH: A good number of the people who read this blog are paranormal romance fans, and, also, women. What's in your books for the ladies?

JCH: Some of 7th Son's biggest fans are women, actually. My male readers are always commenting about the plot twists and violence -- and make no mistake, there's plenty of both in my work, R-rated stuff. But my female readers seem to dig the characters and the story's subtext.

In the end, 7th Son: Descent is about seven men who are kidnapped on the same day, and brought to a secret government facility where they learn that they are human clones -- unwitting participants in a government-sanctioned experiment. Not only do they have identical flesh ... they also have identical childhood memories. Worse still, they've been brought together to stop a chaos-hungry psychopath who happens to be the very man they were cloned from.

These clones -- the story's good guys -- reel from these revelations, and each one reacts in a different way. The priest has a crisis of faith, the "everyman" frets over the fact that his life has been a lie, and so on. My female readers seem to really dig how I represented these internal conflicts, and how realistic those reactions seemed to be. And yes, they also enjoy the cliffhangers and the action and suspense.

I honestly didn't think women would gravitate to this book -- especially considering its all-male cast and lack of romance. But they have, and they're some of my biggest supporters.

They might also think I'm cute, or have a sexy "audiobook" voice. But that's probably wishful thinking on my part.

No, wait. That's definitely wishful thinking on my part.

(Editor's Note: JC is, in fact, adorable, and has a very nice voice... except when he's doing his impersonation of this creepy PE teacher he knew in college. And according to this photo, there are like, an extra half-dozen, of him now.)




MH: And now I must ask the question required in all writing blog interviews: Plotter or Pantser?

JCH:I was a Pantser for about half of 7th Son, and became a proto-Plotter for the second half. I'd plot about three chapters ahead, hit the end of my outline, and then plot another three chapters or so. Rinse, repeat.
These days, I'm mostly a Plotter. My daydreamy chili-bowl-haircut inner child bristles at this formality and structure, but I've found that it makes the actual writing process go more quickly for me. There seems to be an efficiency in front-loading a lot of the twists and turns ... but I always give myself plenty of wiggle room for on-the-fly creative decisions.

MH: What's next for you?

JCH: It's promote, promote, promote 7th Son: Descent until 2010. Then I nap. Then I start working on The 33, a free serialized podcast fiction project -- it's another genre-blending thriller: tech, paranormal, magic, action -- and start plotting out another high-tech thriller novel. I also have two screenplay treatments I need to polish for my film agent. I have lots of ideas, and I'm hyena hungry to do this for a living. And the only way to do it, is to do it.

MH:How can people find all this Hutchy goodness online? Please list blogs, websites, amazon links, etc.

JCH: Your awesome readers can find links to my free serialized fiction -- including 7th Son: Descent -- and links to purchase the book at my site, JCHutchins.net.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Want to know how to make Jane's Mama's Pot Pies?

I mention chicken pot pies throughout the Jane Jameson series. Jane’s mother believes that if she gives her daughter enough of them, Jane will just forget about this silly blood-drinking thing and go back to a solid diet.

I received a few e-mails asking whether I have a good pot pie recipe. My mother-in-law gave me a great one, which I tweaked a bit because I am physically incapable of following a written recipe. (I once made a microwave spontaneously combust while baking a potato, I don't want to go into it.)

I keep a few of these in the freezer for those nights I don’t feel like cooking, but feel too guilty to feed my kids fast food. And since we’re heading into the colder weather, I thought I’d share it with you.

JANE’S MAMA’S POT PIE
(makes two pot pies.)

4 frozen deep dish pie shells
2 pounds cooked, diced chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of onion soup
1 can of Veg-All, drained
1 cup shredded cheese
2 tbsp minced garlic
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp celery salt

Mix soups, veggies, chicken, cheese, garlic and spices in a large mixing bowl. Split the mixture evenly between two pie shells. Invert the remaining shells over them. If you’re freezing the pie, leave the top pie pan on, and wrap the whole thing in aluminum foil. To bake, work the top pie pan loose and let the crust collapse over the pie.

Bake a frozen pie at 350 for an hour covered in aluminum foil, then addition 30 minutes uncovered until the crust is golden. Bake a thawed pie at 350 for an hour uncovered.

Enjoy!