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Hellion: Hullo, one and all! As promised, Angie Fox is joining us today on the ship. *pokes Jack in the back to make him stop ogling her like a truffle at a confectioner* Jack, behave yourself.
Angie: That’s okay. I like the bad boys.
Jack: *kissing the back of Angie’s hand, smiling roguishly* I am behaving myself. Come, dear, have a seat and I’ll share a spot of rum with you. *leading her to one of the cushy chairs in the Captain’s Quarters* One shot or two?
Angie: Now I do believe you’re trying to take advantage.
Hellion: *sighing* Every chance he gets.
Jack: That’s a luv. *pouring her a glass* So tell me, luv, what is your pirating style?
Angie: It’s the black boots, isn’t it? I’m not really a pirate. I’m just trying to match my book cover.
Hellion: *slapping Jack on the back of the head* I’m sorry, Angie, he’s a bit of a flirt. Something about romance novelists and he completely loses his head.
Jack: *leaning forward* But not before you lost yours, if you know what I mean, lass.
Hellion: I’m afraid we do. Angie, what is your pirating style? In writing, that is. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination of the two—a plantser?
Angie: Just call me a plantser. I like to know where the story is going, but not too much because when I’m having fun, that’s when the story itself takes on a lot more energy.
With The Accidental Demon Slayer, I started with a kernel of an idea that amused me. What if a straight laced preschool teacher suddenly learns she’s a demon slayer? And what if she has to learn about her powers on the run from a fifth level demon? Ohhh and wouldn’t it be fun if she’s running with her long-lost Grandma’s gang of geriatric biker witches?
I started writing and let the story evolve based on the characters and that central issue of what happens when a reluctant heroine is thrust into a series of extraordinary situations. And I knew the story was working when I couldn’t wait to get back to the keyboard every day.
Jack: Ah, not with the writing questions already, Hellie. You’re work-work-work, all the time. *pouting, pouring another jigger of rum*
Hellion: He’s fine. Just pretend he’s a prop. You know, like a cushion or something.
Angie: That’s some cushion.
Hellion: *knowing laugh* Yes, he can be. *holding up a finger to Jack* Not another word. *Jack sits back sullenly, tugging at one of Hellion’s red curls* We love Call Stories—what was yours?
Angie: The first 50 pages of the manuscript had won a contest, and the editor who judged it wanted to see the rest of the book. Problem was, it wasn’t finished. Not even close. So I hurried up and wrote the last eight chapters and emailed it off on a Thursday. A few days later, the phone rang and it was a 212 (New York) area code. I assumed it was one of the agents who had the partial manuscript. Nope. It was the editor. She read it over the weekend and wanted to publish The Accidental Demon Slayer. I was stunned at how fast it happened.
We had friends coming to stay (with their three children), so I did a quick “yay, yay, yay!” and then I had to go scrub toilets and get the rest of the house ready.
Hellion: Holy cow! That’s the most amazing Call Story I’ve heard yet. That’s like a whirlwind marriage—and it’s certainly proof to get your butt in gear if you’re asked to submit a full manuscript and you don’t have it done. It is possible to sell your book right away. Wow. *shakes head* Okay, well, let’s talk about your book. Your debut novel is The Accidental Demon Slayer. You have a very entertaining Ordinary World opening…
Jack: Oh, here we go again with the Joseph Campbell again….
Hellion: …thrust into a Call to Adventure/Inciting Incident (i.e. preschool teacher discovers she’s a demon slayer)—why a demon slayer? What is it about paranormal or demons that draws you? Any authors or shows you draw your inspiration from?
Angie: I wish I could say something profound here, but really, I just tend to write what makes me smile. I read widely – a lot of historical romance, cozy mysteries, contemporaries, paranormals, biographies. Most of the TV I watch is straight comedy (The Office, My Name is Earl, any and all Seinfeld re-runs). I think a great way to draw inspiration is to think of what you haven’t seen.
As for the question of – why paranormals? My favorite part is building new worlds and making up my own rules.
For example, when I sat down to write The Accidental Demon Slayer, I had no notes about a sidekick for my heroine. But in the second chapter, when Lizzie learns she’s a demon slayer and there are some very scary, very angry creatures on her tail, she takes comfort in her dog. As I was writing, I thought, ‘This is a sweet moment. Now how do I throw her off?’
I made the dog say something to her. Nothing big. After all, he’s only after the fettuccine from last week. And he knows exactly where Lizzie can find it (back of the fridge, to the left of the lettuce crisper, behind the mustard). It amused me, so I did it. Thanks to her unholy powers, Lizzie can now understand her smart-mouthed Jack Russell Terrier. Where else can you do that but in a paranormal?
Hellion: *laughs* Nowhere. Clearly “mad, bad, and dangerous” men are your favorite kind. (Well, I don’t recall a single kind and sensitive villain (a.k.a Evil Guy who happens to be a shapeshifting griffin) in my acquaintance, at any rate.) Why do you think women find bad boys so fascinating? Why do you think we’ll fall in love with your hero?
Angie: Dimitri is a Greek shapeshifting griffin, and what I love about him is that he’s incredibly strong. He can be an alpha male, but what sets him apart is that he’s not only a protector, but he’s also intensely loyal. Griffins were used as a symbol of marriage in the medieval church because they mate for life. So here I can have this rock of a man who hasn’t been sleeping around, who really is looking for his life mate and will know how to treat her right once he’s found her. To me, that’s sexy.
Hellion: *fans herself with her question cards* Griffins mate for life, eh? I’ve to look into getting me one of those.
Jack: What are you saying, Hellie?
Hellion: *patting his leg* Nothing, sweetie, have some rum. *turning back to Angie* Your voice is more romantic comedy (versus the broody gothic paranormals that seem popular now)—how hard was it to break into the genre? (I keep hearing Romantic Comedy is dead, so it’s always uplifting to see proof humor is alive and kicking.)
Angie: You know, I also heard romantic comedy is dead, funny paranormals too. Thank goodness I only heard that after The Accidental Demon Slayer sold. But I couldn’t have written it differently. This had to be a quirky book in order to tell the story I needed to tell.
As far as the state of the industry, I have to think funny books are becoming popular again. The booksellers I’ve met have been very positive. The Accidental Demon Slayer also hit the NY Times Bestseller list a week after it was released. Hopefully, editors will see that readers are indeed interested in light paranormals.
Hellion: You mentioned that! Congratulations—I see that you’ve slipped up even higher on the list this week to #31! That’s awesome! Now, I also know you were/are a journalist/journalism major. What might we learn from journalism that would make us better novelists?
Angie: One of my MU J-school professors used to say, “Don’t waste a single word. You have to have a reason for every word you write.” It makes sense for a radio or TV piece (where you might only have thirty or sixty seconds), and also for novels. MU taught me how to write tight.
Hellion: Yeah, a lot of us around here need to learn how to do that more. Stop poking me, Jack. *slaps at his chest* Tell us more about The Accidental Demon Slayer. And I’m particularly curious—is Grandma based off anyone you know? (Does your granny ride a harley?)
Angie: Oh my, no. My grandmother doesn’t ride a Harley. In fact, when I set out to write The Accidental Demon Slayer, I’d never been on a motorcycle before. I also had to figure out how to get Pirate the dog onto a bike.
I went online and learned about the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club, made up exclusively of Harley riders and their dogs. I ended up meeting some of them, along with a few other bikers along the way. These bikers were so great to me. They hoisted me onto the back of their Harleys (with dogs in tow). They took me to biker rallies (note to self: don’t wear pink). And they laughed at me when I tried to put my helmet on backwards (I still say I was distracted by the Pomeranian wearing a tiny pair of motorcycle glasses).
After a few outings with my new biker friends, I was able to make my geriatric biker witch characters a lot more realistic. And I took home some great pictures, too.
Hellion: *laughs* That sounds like a blast. And I love Pirate the dog…very cool name. Did you go to RWA this year? If so, did you meet any authors in particular that made you have a Fan Girl moment?
Angie: Oh yes, fan girl moments were plentiful. Excuse me if I gush, but it was really fun to meet Sherrilyn Kenyon. She’s so open and warm. When I told her my first book had just come out, you would have thought she was the one who published it. We did the link-y, jump-y hand thing while she asked all kinds of questions and was truly excited. It was really neat. I know now why her books are so moving because she’s 100% present in whatever she’s doing.
Then I got to meet Vickie Lewis Thompson, which was a thrill because I love her nerd series. Of course I wasted no time telling her that. We talked about what we were both working on and then (fan girl) I had her sign a book. And I’ll always treasure it because she used the opportunity to write a personal congrats for Demon Slayer, which was really sweet.
Then I was able to sit down at dinner with Jennifer Ashley (I love her Immortals) and Marjorie Liu (like there’d ever be enough time to gush to her). Both of them were really great.
Hands down – the best part about having a book out is getting to meet the authors on my keeper shelf.
Hellion: Jack would want to ask you how you like your rum…
Jack: Particularly if you like it horizontal or vertical. *winces at Hellion as she slaps him in the arm*
Hellion: But since I know you’re from my hometown too, I have to ask you how you like your Shakespeare’s Pizza?
Angie: Wheat crust, pepper jack cheese, with sausage and onion and a cold beer.
Hellion: I want to thank you again for interviewing with us today. And I totally have to give a shout out to Kimberly Killion for recommending it. It’s just really cool to visit with all you guys. I hope you’re able to stay and answer some questions from the crew. *slaps a hand over Jack’s mouth* None from you. Crew—what questions have you got for the funny and wild Angie Fox?