Good day everyone! I’m pleased to welcome Judi Fennell, author of Genie Knows Best, to Peeking Between the Pages today. I’m a fan of Judi’s novels having enjoyed them all so far. Yesterday I reviewed her latest Genie Knows Best (my review) and it was such a fun read. I have also read the first in the Bottled Magic series which was I Dream of Genies (my review). In addition, I’ve read her Mer series which included In Over Her Head (my review), Wild Blue Under (my review), and Catch of a Lifetime (my review). All are fun and entertaining books that are guaranteed to sweep you out of your real life if only for a few hours. For now, I hope you enjoy the interview I prepared with Judi who is always a lot of fun to talk with…
Judi, we all know you’re a terrific writer but can you share a bit about yourself outside of your writing career?
JF: I live in a castle and have numerous servants to do my bidding. My lawn is a gorgeous English garden, complete with a maze in the backyard, and the horses are all stabled in a well-cared for barn where swans and bunnies frolic.
Sadly, life is not that fairy-tale-ish. I have a Day Job because I have Kids Who Will Go To College Soon and the dreaded non-castle-ish Mortgage.
I do admit to being a reality TV junkie, as well as totally in love with Grimm and Once Upon A Time, but I guess if you read my stories, that’s no surprise.
My sister and her family, and my parents live relatively close by, so we do football Sundays together, and I have Kids in Activities, so that takes up a lot of time, too. One of these days I’ll remember what boredom is—and revel in it.
Can you tell us what your inspiration is for this newest magical series of yours and maybe a little peek into what Genie Knows Best is about?
JF: The series was actually started before I sold my Mer series. You never want to put all your eggs in one basket, so I figured if the Mers didn’t sell to a publisher, I’d need to have something else with commercial appeal. I tried to come up with a paranormal being that a lot of people weren’t doing and, well, I love the television show I Dream of Jeannie. I hadn’t seen a lot of genie books, so I thought I’d give that a try. Once I made that decision, Eden’s story (I Dream of Genies) popped into my head. And so did Kal, who is the hero of Genie Knows Best. He’s the only genie to figure out how to get the magical cuffs off that bind genies into The Service, and he imparted this information to Eden at the trial where they were both brought to face their respective charges. I knew the moment I wrote the Trial Scene (that wasn’t used in either of the books but is available as an outtake on my website www.JudiFennell.com) that Kal had to have his story next.
Genie Knows Best is about Kal finishing out his sentence and regaining his reputation and the job his imprisonment cost him. But when he meets Samantha Blaine he’s not so sure the job will fill the loneliness he’s been living with for two thousand years. It also has about a zillion secondary characters, the biggest cast I’ve written so far. I had a hard time taming these “folks,” since they all wanted center stage. Matter of fact, Bart and Maille, the divorcing dragons, really tried to steal the show. It hurt to cut out a lot of their repartee.
As for Genie Knows Best, I hadn’t even gotten to page 6 before I was full of giggles. You have a way of writing your stories that is so charming and funny that they never fail to put me in a good mood. Is your personality like that in real life; is that what enables you to write such entertaining and imaginative novels?
JF: You know, when I went to my (*&^*th) high school reunion right before In Over Her Head (my debut novel) came out and was telling people about it, they all looked at me and asked, “You mean YOU wrote comedy?”
Yeah, I never knew I was funny. Who knew? Well, actually, scratch that. I thought I was hysterical. But I wasn’t sure anyone else would think so. I always figured I had a sort of under-the-radar kind of humor. I liken my writing to the movie Shrek. There’s one level of funny for the kids, but a whole other for the adults. I try to tap into that other level in my writing and finding an editor and agent who like my work and have the same sense of humor was very freeing. Now when I write and think, “Should I put that in there?” I no longer hesitate. It goes in. Sometimes it has to come out, but other times, it’s exactly the line that’s needed.
As to if I’m like this in “real life,” I will say that several people who’ve met me after reading my books say that the books do showcase my personality but I’ll have to ask my high school friends at the next reunion to see if they agree…
What do you find most challenging/rewarding about writing your novels? I would think just dreaming up the fantasy worlds you do a challenge in itself. LOL.
JF: You know, the worlds actually are the easy part. I LOVE coming up with new worlds. It’s very freeing because I don’t have to adhere to anything that exists, or something someone could call me on for being wrong. I did have someone dispute the existence of coral off the coast of NJ in In Over Her Head. He swore I was wrong and took issue with it (never mind that there was a Mer man, a talking fish, and the entire civilization of Atlantis beneath the island of Bermuda also in the book), but I steered him to the NJ dive site website where they had actual photographs of the coral that exists on the artificial reefs. That was actually a heart-stopping moment for me because when I put “reality” in the stories, I want it to be right. I love to research and do a lot of it, which allows me to put that realism in the stories, so when my facts are questioned, I panic that I got the research wrong.
As to the most challenging part of writing? Finding the time. I now work full time and my writing schedule has had to become tighter. No longer can I agonize over a paragraph until it’s just right before I finish the story. I find myself spitting the story out and then going back to edit it chapter by chapter because if a certain nuance isn’t right, it can throw off the direction of the story. Not that I actually have a direction, since the story usually always flows organically from the characters. Sometimes I try to direct them and that’s when I find I have a problem. As long as I know the beginning and the ending, I can meddle through. But the luxury of time is no longer there and that’s really tough.
How long does it take you to develop all the characters and these magical worlds you write about?
JF: Well, as I said above, it takes a lot less time now. I’m lucky in that I actually started several stories years ago and they’ve been percolating. We went on a vacation in the summer of 2010 and the landscape spoke to me so much that the characters and their stories have been talking to me ever since. I’m letting them percolate, though I have written some of it down so I don’t forget it, but it’s simmering. We’ll see when I get to them. But I usually come up with the first story in a series and the world over a period of time, but then I have to write the second and third book much quicker. I’m so thankful that, to date, I’ve always known my characters. They start talking to me at some point in an earlier book so that by the time I get to theirs, I know who they are. I don’t necessarily know how they’re going to get through all they have to get through to get that happy ending, but it does help to know who they are.
Do you base any of your characters personalities, including your mythological ones, on people you know?
JF: I totally plead the fifth on this or I’ll lose friends. LOL.
Seriously, though, I don’t. Well, there was one villain who might be modeled after someone, but that secret’s going to the grave with me. These characters really do come to me as full-formed individuals. I’m sure if Freud were to examine them, he’d probably find fragments of people I’ve known/admired/loved/hated in them because we are all shaped by the people and events in our lives and we pull on who we are as people when we’re writing, but it’s not a conscious effort.
Other than the wonderful and magical Bottled Magic series, you have another series all about life under the sea – the Mer series which I loved as well! Would you like to share a bit about that series with the readers?
JF: Ah, the Mers. I had soooooooo much fun writing that series that I’m hoping to go back and write Mariana and Pearl’s stories. I did a lot of interviews when In Over Her Head came out about how the inspiration for that story was The Little Mermaid and my fear of sharks thanks to Peter Benchley, Steven Spielberg, and JAWS. I got to poke fun at myself while writing it and I did pour a bit of myself into Erica, especially the scene where she wakes up under the sea in Reel, the Mer man’s, lair. I literally placed myself in her flippers for that scene, closed my eyes, and wrote it as if I were experiencing it.
Then I got to play with the mythology of Atlantis, which has always fascinated me. And of course, the puns. I played on every fishy pun I could think of. There were a lot of those, “Should I put this in?” moments because I had no idea of the reception. Let’s just say that the reception was more than I could have envisioned. Everyone got in on the act with the reviews and the interview questions. It was a lot of fun. Sadly, there isn’t as much when it comes to the genies to “pun-ify,” but I had fun with their misconceptions of the mortal world.
Now for a few personal questions. For me your novels are the perfect escape from my world into a carefree one. What takes you away to another world where you can get away from everything?
JF: I love to read things like what I write, but what really takes me away—and this is almost as far from light-hearted paranormal romance as you can get and still be in the romance genre—is romantic suspense. I love to read Cindy Gerard, Roxanne St. Clair, Kate Brady, Allison Brennan and Karen Rose and have the &&^^&* scared out of me. Those ladies can keep me up all night.
What are your favorite books or authors? Have any inspired your writing? What book is sitting on your nightstand right now?
JF: Aside from the ladies listed above, Julia Quinn is a must-buy for me, as is Jill Barnett. I was so thrilled when she put her backlist up electronically because Bewitching is my all-time favorite book, followed closely by When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn, Cardinal Rules by Barbara Delinsky, and A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux. What’s on my nightstand? My iPad with a zillion books on it, but I’m reading Game of Thrones because I just watched the first episode on HBO (on the recommendation of a lot of my friends) and I am so hooked I can’t wait for them to do another season when the books are right there, waiting to share their secrets of what happens to all the characters.
Finally, what are you working on now? I know there is one more book in the Genie series which I’ll be anxiously waiting for but what about after that? Any teasers on what your next fantasy world will be or is it still top secret?
JF: I have turned in Magic Gone Wild, book 3 in the Bottled Magic series. I’m awaiting my editor’s editorial notes, so I still have that going on. As to what comes after… when I know I’ll let everyone know. It’s a conversation my editor and agent and I need to have. I will say, though, that there is at least one more genie story in me (Vana, the heroine of Magic Gone Wild, has a twin sister, DeeDee, who kind of really needs a story once you read Magic Gone Wild), and readers have been clamoring for Mariana and Pearl’s stories, the last two sisters in the Tritone family. So, we’ll see. I honestly don’t know what’s next.
Judi, thanks so much for taking time out to answer my questions and thanks for the wonderful books you write! You’ve got a fan in me!
JF: Again, no no! Thank YOU for having me! It’s always fun to come back here! And I’m so glad you’re enjoying the (magic carpet) ride!
About Genie Knows Best by Judi Fennell
Be careful what you wish for…
Samantha Blaine is about to make a fateful discovery. A tall, dark, handsome, ohmygosh kind of fateful discovery…
Kal is very pleased to meet his attractive new master–especially since he intends to seduce her into granting him freedom.
But when seriously dark magic spells trouble for both of them, Kal can’t help himself from falling for the woman who holds his fate in her hands…
Warmly acclaimed by readers and critics alike, Judi Fennell brings to life a fabulous world of magic and mayhem where wishes come true in the most unexpected ways!
About Judi Fennell
Judi Fennell is an award-winning author and writes what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her romance novels have been finalists in Gather.com’s First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, and have won numerous RWA Chapter Awards, including the FF&P Prism Award, and the New Jersey Golden Leaf Award. Judi lives with her family in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she is working on the next book in the Genie Trilogy, Magic Gone Wild, set for release in August 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.judifennell.com/.
I have 2 copies of Genie Knows Best by Judi Fennell to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment entering the giveaway.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do, thank you, and please let me know in your comment so I can pass the extra entry on to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway and spread the word.
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will draw for the winners on Saturday, November 26/11. Good luck everyone!