Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Author Interview: Jeri Smith-Ready + Win a Signed UK Copy of Shade! (Worldwide)

Jeri Smith-Ready is the author of many novels, including the adult urban fantasy WVMP series. Her first YA book, Shade, is published in the UK this week, and to celebrate its release I have a cool Q&A with Jeri herself. Thanks for your time, Jeri!


Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Jenny! I’m really excited to be here to celebrate SHADE’s big UK debut.

Why did you decide to branch out from adult urban fantasy and write a YA novel?

I actually didn’t decide—the story decided for me.

SHADE originally started as an idea for a world where ghosts had been proven to exist, and where some lawyers would sue on their behalf so they could find peace. But for two whole years, the idea went nowhere, because I had no main character to give it that spark of life.

Then 16-year-old Aura popped into my head, and everything clicked. THIS was the next story I had to write. Within a week, I knew that Aura would be the first of an entire generation of ghost-seers, that her boyfriend would die and become a ghost, and that a Scottish hottie would complicate things. Seeing this world through Aura’s eyes unlocked the whole story in one big flood.

In general, some of my ideas just work better with teen characters, and others with adults. Right now, I have a new urban fantasy idea that hasn't decided which it wants to be. It depends on which character jumps out and says, “It’s all about ME!”

(P.S.: SHADE wasn’t my first YA attempt. I wrote my first between 2003 and 2006, before I even knew there was such a thing as the “young adult genre.” It wasn’t very good, but it taught me a lot—plus, it was my first fictional encounter with the fateful Liquid Stupid.)

What have you found to be the biggest difference between writing for an adult and young adult audience?

I think the biggest difference in YA, in both writing and discussing the books, is that super intense focus on characters. Which I love! When I was a teen, I wanted to be an actor or a psychologist—I was fascinated by the way people thought and felt and behaved.

Teens are the first to say when someone is behaving “out of character,” because they spend a lot of time thinking and analyzing them. They get into it the same way an actor would study a part or a psychologist would ponder a patient.

It makes sense that they’d be so smart about this stuff—most teens are full-time students, so they literally think for a living.

Not that adults don’t think or care about characters—they do. But most e-mails I get that ask questions or share insights about Aura, Logan, and Zachary are from teens. It’s fun to meet people who care about the characters as much as I do!

Shade seems to be on the more mature side of YA, and that definitely shows through in your writing. Was that a conscious decision?

Nope, it’s just the way I write. I write about things that matter to me—and things that mattered to me as a teen. I’m so thankful that I can express them in a way that feels honest and real to me, and that my readers and my publisher feel the same way. That’s all any writer can ask for.

The fact is, a lot of teens deal with the same conflicts as Aura. Maybe they can’t see ghosts, and maybe they haven’t suffered a major tragedy, but they might face big decisions about sex or drugs or alcohol, or they might wonder how they fit in with their friends or family. They might feel utterly alone.

So if a teen reads SHADE and feels like someone out there understands them, if they feel a little less alone in the world, that means everything to me.

Ghosts are an area that currently seems underused in YA. Why do you think their popularity doesn't rival that of, say, vampires and werewolves?

Simple: you can’t have sex with a ghost. Vampires and werewolves are partly about that forbidden animal side of us—they’re all about the physical. Ghosts are everything BUT physical.

That’s part of the agony of Aura and Logan’s relationship, because they still have those yearnings. At the same time, it makes them realize that their love is more than just lust. It’s really soul deep. Besides, there are ways to be creative…. *whistles innocently*

But I think ghosts in general can be very romantic, especially in a YA novel, where there is less emphasis on sex than in an adult romance. Like vampires, ghosts are dead, so they’ve got that tortured soul thing going on. And you know that a guy who’s still attractive despite being made of air is really someone special.

Shade's leading lady Aura is such a strong, well-rounded character. Is she inspired by anyone in particular?

Thank you! Aura isn’t based on anyone in particular, although when I was a kid, I loved astronomy. (I even married an astronomer.) So Aura’s interest in the stars—and science in general—comes from my childhood passion.

Speaking of passions, with Aura I wanted to show that smart girls can still be interested in boys. Really, really interested. Love doesn’t mean turning off your brain, and intelligence doesn’t mean turning off your heart.

If you had the hardship of choosing between leading men Logan and Zachary, who would you go for?

Arrgh, hardship! My favorite is always the one whose scene I’m writing at the moment (or whose music I’m listening to). It’s a tough choice, because Logan has the guitar and the poet’s soul, but Zachary has the accent and, y’know, a body.

Overall, I am firmly on Team-Don’t-Make-Me-Choose. Actually, I’m the captain of that team.

In the name of research, did you get the chance to visit the UK and see the Scottish Highlands?

Not recently, but I spent six months in London when I was in college. A couple friends and I traveled through Scotland for a week. It’s by far my favorite place I’ve ever been. Every year for Christmas I get a scenic Scotland calendar, so that I can remember—and dream of the day when I return. Sigh…

But if I sell the third SHADE book, I plan to travel to Newgrange in Ireland, since part of that book takes place there. When we go, I hope to hop across the water to visit Zachary’s hometown of Glasgow. All in the name of research, of course.

What can you tell us about Shade's sequel, Shift?

I promise it will be less tear-jerking than SHADE, and that the love triangle will be resolved rather than dragged out forever. We’ll get many answers about the Shift, some of which will lead to more questions. And there’ll be music, of course—always, always music.

Thanks very much for having me at Wondrous Reads!


Jeri / Jeri's Twitter / Simon & Schuster Children's UK

My review: Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready


Because Jeri is so lovely, she's very kindly offered to give away one (1) signed UK copy of Shade. If you want to know what it's about, click here to read the summary on Amazon.

Rules & info:
  • Open worldwide!
  • End date: September 13th, 2010.
  • One entry per person.
  • You do NOT have to follow my blog to enter.

Fill in the form to enter, and good luck!

23 comments: said...

This contest is awesome!
Thanks for the chance to win!

Kate Evangelista said...

YeY, a contest!

thebookfairyhaven said...

Really enjoyed reading this interview. I have wanted to read this book for a while now. Thanks for making this contest international :)

Darlyn said...

I have nnot read Shace yet but feel really excited to know there will be a sequel! Thanks for the giveaway!

sRy_ said...

Thanks for the opportunity! :)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

This is awesome. I've beem wanting to read SHADE for a while now. :)

Giada M said...

Thank you for the interview and giveaway! :D

Dwayne said...

Awesome interview, Jenny! - I've heard a whole LOT about Shade and everyone's all positive about it! Can't wait to read and find out.

Bee said...

I love your questions. And I love Jeri's answers.

But I think I love the fact that it's about ghosts more! :))

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I'm definitely reading this soon. I'm really excited about it now!

SusanKMann said...

This book sounds great, I love the cover and great interview.

Pagecrawler said...

Great give away for a great looking book Thanks

Lucie said...

Great interview! I can't wait to read Shade!

SJH (A Dream of Books) said...

Fantastic interview! And thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book. I'm dying to read it.

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

Thank you!

Fi-chan (Bookish-Escape) said...

thank you! :D

Arjun Thakrar said...

Thanks for the giveaway,I've been wanting this for a while now ! :)

Amelia said...

Ohh looks like a great book!!

Aleksandra said...

Great interview! I really want to read this one! Thanks for the giveaway!

Pink Panther said...

Thanks so much for making this international! :)

cara said...

This looks like a birlliant book! Thanks for the giveaway!

Sarah said...

Fab giveaway. Looks lovely

chickilista said...

heres wishing i win...