Today we welcome Jackie Kessler to the League Lounge. Her fantastic first novel, Hell's Belles introduced us to Jezebel, a delicious exotic dancer that happened to be a succubus on the run from hell. In her latest, The Road To Hell, Jackie takes us back to Jesse's world and a devilish showdown that could be the end of everyone's favorite stripper.
Hey Jackie, the new book is in stores this week. You must be trippin', right?
If you define "trippin' " as stressing out and getting little sleep, absolutely! I'm psyched, truly -- there's nothing like seeing your name on a book, even if its about OJ postulating how he would kill you (if he were to do that sort of thing). But it's also stressful. That's because I'm addicted to Amazon rankings and Ingram numbers. I swear, those are crack for writers. Just say no!
Now, I haven't read Road--I'm just not into books, really--what would you like people to know about this one?
Naughty boy. Your loss, man. Inside its pages, I break the code to the NYS lottery and teach people how to pick winning numbers.
Well, not really.
In THE ROAD TO HELL, former succubus Jezebel, now the mortal Jesse Harris, must return to Hell to save the lives of those she loves. If she'd known love was this tough, she never would have turned her back on Lust. (More sex, more strippers, more demons than in HELL'S BELLES. More to love!)
Jezebel's a succubus and a stripper. Tell us all about your personal experience with either of those occupations. Don't be shy.
Hey, a gal's got to work her way through college somehow...
How did you get into mixing the paranormal with throbbing veiny love?
That's the best sort of love, you know. And it's just how the story went, you know? I wrote about a succubus -- she's going to have sex. And think about sex. And want to have sex. If I'd written about a demon of gluttony, it would be all about the food.
What or who inspires you to write such shameful dirtiness?
My mother, of course. It's all for Mom. (Hi, Mom!) Now, some might say that I live to embarrass her. And they would be right.
Actually, my mom is all sorts of awesome. I did a reading at an erotic reading series called In the Flesh, and Mom and a bunch of her friends were in the audience. When it was my turn at the mike, I introduced her to the audience, and she got a round of applause. Then I read the big demon nookie scene from HELL'S BELLES. And as I got to the climax, I paused, then said into the mike: "Having fun yet, Mom?" I never knew a face could turn so red. Gawd, I love my mother.
Do you have any paranormal experiences you'd like to share? Any ghosts in the closet hanging next to all those bones?
Short of questionable ouija board activities when I was a teenager, I can't say as I've had any definitive paranormal experiences. But I am willing to learn! I'm not offering up myself for possession or anything else as invasive as that. (Hey, I read THE HARROWING. Awesome book by Alexandra Sokoloff. Possession? Just say no. Really.) But if there are any supernatural entities looking to schmooze with a mortal author over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, I'm game. (However, they would have to bring their own blood of innocents; all I'd have to offer would be half and half).
A ton of aspiring writers will be reading this post, what advice do you have for them?
Lots. First: never be daunted. Write the story, get it down, don't self-censor. Just write, you know? Almost everyone says they want to write a book; very few actually complete the damn thing. You can find the time. Get crackin'!
Second: get a critique partner, or a writing group. A good crit partner and honest beta readers are worth their weight in unlimited Amex cards. And all the time and effort you put into editing/reviewing someone else's work will definitely make editing your own work a lot easier. Win win, baby.
Third: after you write it, revise it, and get it out there for consideration...start something else. I spent 17 years -- yes, years -- rewriting the same damn story. Finally, with triple-digit rejection letters, I got it through my very thick head that I needed to move on. Don't waste 17 years tweaking something. Give up the ghost and write more.
Last: as Joe Konrath once told me, if you want your business to be writing, you have to treat your writing like a business. And that means you have to be a professional. Learn how to write a killer query letter. Research agents. Buy a copy of YOUR NOVEL PROPOSAL: FROM CREATION TO CONTRACT by Blythe Camenson and Marshall Cook and write the evil synopsis from hell. Stop thinking of your work as your baby and treat it as your project...and get ready to sell yourself. Be an opportunistic whore, and be proud of it. (That would look good on a tee shirt, no? "Proud to be an opportunistic whore!")
What's next for Jackie Kessler? I've heard rumors about a Hell's Belles musical, have I not?
Damn that Whedon. He told me he'd keep mum about that. Sigh. Can't trust anyone these days...
The next two HELL books -- well, a novella and a novel -- hit the shelves in 2008. First, A HELL OF A TIME will appear in the Kensington anthology ETERNAL LOVER, along with the uber talented Richelle Mead and the lovely Hannah Howell and Lynsay Sands. That's in April 2008. And then in August 2008, the incubus Daunuan gets his own book in HOTTER THAN HELL. I write as a sympathetic male demonic narrator. Me, happily outside of my comfort zone! Actually, HOT is the best thing I've ever written. If I do say so myself. :)