Darkstars Fantasy News

25. September 2010

Interview with Carrie Jones

Category: Interviews – Darkstar – 12:31

jones-need.jpgOn Monday, Carrie Jones “Need” will be released in Germany: An urban fantasy novel for young adults about the dark and sinister side of fairies. To celebrate the translation Carrie Jones agreed to answer my questions on her love to fairies, on her writing life and about the importance of writing about homosexual characters. And I am happy to be able to share her insightful and often funny answers on these topics, on “Need” and on many more:

Interview with Carrie Jones

Thank you, Carrie, for taking the time for this interview!

Your main protagonist Zara is an expert when it comes to phobias. Why did you give your character such a weird quirk?

Oh my gosh! Maybe because I’m weird? No, well… sort of….
Here, the official reason is that Zara’s life has spiralled out of control with her dad’s death and she very much is the type of person who wants to be brave, who wants to be in control. Now, though, she is surrounded and besieged by fears. She figures if she can define the fear, she can control it.

Do you have yourself any phobias (and if so, how do you deal with it)?

I am deathly afraid of downhill skiing. This is pretty logical because every time I try it I break a bone. So, I deal with it by not skiing. This does, however, make life less pleasant because there are quite a few good-looking ski instructors out there. Now, I no longer get to meet them.

The Shining Ones in „NEED“ are not romantic-girl-dreams-come-true-creatures but dark, dangerous creatures. Were you tired of the standard romantic-fantasy-variations of these figures?

Yes. I wanted something scary, something sinister, but part of the point of the entire series is how Zara and other characters’ perceptions of pixies change, and how they have to face their own bigotries.

At the beginning the novel reminds the reader a little bit of Stephenie Meyers “TWILIGHT”: A young girl moving to a cold town, not being to enthusiastic about that; getting a new car; starting school … Although the novel takes quite a different turn then … did you plan to have a similar beginning or how did it come to be?

Carrie Jones - Captivate (Need 2)Growing up we had a very small library and I zipped right through the children’s book section. We were poor so I couldn’t actually buy books. I would borrow as many library books as I could and the head librarian had a thing for old school, gothic romance. Both NEED and TWILIGHT use the conventions of that genre:

1. Woman is thrust into a new place with bad weather.
2. She must chose between two men.
3. Her life is in danger.
4. She must be saved from that danger.

Part of the point of NEED was to take that genre and turn it on its head a bit, in the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer does. I wanted to make Zara through wit and bravery save her self and her friends.

The Pixie King in „NEED“ has to mate with his potential queen or is forced to take blood tribute from young men and boys. Are there any myths and tales about such rituals or did you come up with that fascinating idea all by yourself?

That one is mostly me being sick.

How did you do research for that novel?

I read as many books as I can find/order and do internet searches. I’ve talked to a couple scholars as well.

Can you remember what did inspire you to „NEED“?

I was at the Common Ground Fair, which is this huge, cool fair in Maine that’s sponsored by Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association (MOFGA). To get to the main part of the fair you have to walk through this sweet trail that curves through these tall spruce trees.
Right in front of me was this guy. He had a weird vibe. He was wearing all corduroy – blazer, pants. And sticking out from his blazer was this long tail-like appendage that was wrapped in different colored earth-toned cloth. I guess he could tell I was checking him out because he turned his head and looked at me. His eye was this startling silver color. How startling? So startling that I actually gasped and got creeped out.

Carrie Jones - Entice (Need 3)Then when we were in line to pay we made eye contact again and his eyes were brown.
I know! I know! I probably imagined the silver eye color.

It doesn’t matter. That was one of the main things that got me started. Then, I just had this image of a man standing outside an airport pointing at an airplane this girl was on.
It also creeped me out.

So, I started writing.

When did you start writing and how did you realize that you have a talent for it?

Oh gosh, I don’t know if I will ever think I have a talent for it. I’m always hoping to improve.

I guess I really started when I was in fourth grade (around 10 years old) and I wrote a Star Trek fanfiction for my jock brother who is 14 years older than me. We were really poor and didn’t have cable and he was stuck babysitting me. It was pouring so we watched old (pre cute boys) Star Trek. I thought that meant he loved Star Trek, but mostly he just didn’t want to have to actually interact with me, poor man.

His birthday was in two weeks and I had a brilliant idea for what to give him.

So, I got two notebooks and wrote in longhand this story about a geeky girl with short brown hair and glasses who slurred her s’s and saved everyone in Star Trek. Everyone fell in love with her (including Mr. Spock who allegedly doesn’t feel emotions) before she died saving the world. I was super proud of it. I even drew pictures in the margins. I wrapped it in ribbons and gave it to my brother for his birthday who was all, “What the heck is this? Star Trek?”

I didn’t write for a long time after that.

Would you share with us how an ordinary working day looks like for you?

1. The alarm rings.
2. I curse the alarm.
3. I flop out of bed and crawl to the bathroom and brush my teeth, noticing along the way that I need to vacuum due to excessive amounts of dog fur.
4. I brush my teeth.
5. I crawl into kitchen.
6. I pull myself into computer chair.
7. I open laptop lid.
8. I stare at laptop.
9. I stare at laptop.
10. I stare at laptop.
11. I write.

If you could meet a fictional character – both from your own work or from someone elses – who would it be and why?

I have to admit I have a total thing for Dumbledore. Excuse me while I go hide in shame.

You never feared writing about homosexual characters as other authors of young adult fictions sometimes do. Why do you think a lot of publishers and authors decide against writing about homosexual teens?

I wish I could understand this. I don’t understand it. I think they don’t have a problem with it if it’s the focus of the novel. When it is a subplot it seems to be much more difficult. But I’m not a publisher, so I’m not sure.

And why do you feel it is important to write about them?

Carrie Jones - Tips on having a gay (ex) boyfriendI can’t imagine not writing about gay characters anymore than I can imagine not writing about characters who might have blue eyes or be female or any other label people can come up with. As writers, it’s important that we write truths, that we try to create the most realistic worlds we can. We owe kids that. It is also important that we show gay characters in ways that are natural, not only present them in some sort of problem novel way where their sexuality is the focus and thrust of the story.

Still there is no lesbian or gay character in “NEED”. Any chances this might change during the series?

Actually there is a gay character in the series. There are a couple. I did have a character announce it in one of the books, but it was cut out during the last revision.

What do you think is the reason that young readers are fascinated by dark and romantic Urban Fantasy?

It’s such a great way to escape, especially in times of war and recession and bigotry. When we can escape into epic battles and romance, into worlds where the stakes are so high, it helps us deal with our own daily problems. I think the worse life becomes the more we have the urge to see those Jungian prototypes play out epic struggles.

And what fascinates you on fairies?

I love pixies specifically because there is much less lore about them. That makes them fun to play with. It’s a research challenge and a cultural challenge as well, to try to make them a bit less Disneyfied. No, that is not a real world, but I used it anyway. Sorry!

Why did you decide to write a fantasy novel after your more realistic novels?Carrie Jones - Girl, hero

I get very easily bored. It’s horrible. And I like challenges. I’ve always been such a character-driven writer that I thought, “Hey! Let’s see if I can write something plot driven!” I just thought of it as a huge experiment.

How many books about Zara and her world will there be?

Four, I think. Hopefully,, I’ll be able to finish it all up. I’m writing the fourth now.

Now with “NEED” coming out in Germany. Any plans to visit Germany in the near future?

Oh gosh, I hope so. I love Germany. I won a fellowship to study there in high school, but my mother wouldn’t let me go because she said she’d miss me too much. Now, it’s just like a life craving to spend time in your country.

Are there plans to also translate and publish your other novels here in Germany?

Not the literary novels, but the NEED series should be all published there, hopefully, as long as they don’t do horribly and make the publisher hate me.

Could you please tell us a little bit about the project you are working on at the moment?

It’s about a boy. A girl. A farm. A werewolf. Not the nice kind that have beautiful abdominal muscles. The horror movie kind.

Thank you! All the best both for your private live as well as your career!

You can find Carrie Jones website here!


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