Wednesday's in the Basement with Jeanne C. Stein

This week in the League Lounge, I'm a bit uncomfortable and it's all because of our guest. You see, we have feisty (yet paranoid) urban fantasy phenom Jeanne Stein, fresh from the release of her latest Anna Strong tale, Legacy. But for some reason she doesn't trust me.

You'd think people would be appreciative, but sadly no...

Me: Are you sure the weapon is absolutely necessary, Jeanne?

Jeanne: Weapon? Oh, you mean my little friend here. His name is Sugar. He's only half pit bull, so there's no need to be so nervous. And the white froth around his mouth? My vet says the rabies treatments are not as bad as people say. Actually, he belongs to Michelle Rowen. She got him after that unfortunate incident a couple of weeks ago. Thank you, Michelle, for lending him to me. *Smiles sweetly at Mark* But I'm sure the kidnapping was just an unfortunate misunderstanding.

Me: Obviously. You know, some of the other League members survived the last interview. So there's really no reason for your concern. I'm not a total maniac. But, if you insist. This really puts a damper on the fun we could have. *winks*. Your choice. I recently read the first book in your Anna Strong series, The Becoming, and really enjoyed it. Like read it in two sittings enjoyed it, so that's a big compliment. Really. Enjoyed it enough to buy the second book, Blood Drive, while out on a recent ghost hunting weekend.

Jeanne: You can drop the sweet talk, Mark. I'm not letting Sugar out of my sight. And keep your distance. I'm not sure what that thing is on the table, but if you take one more step toward it, I'll have to let Sugar off his leash. You wouldn't want that, would you?

Me: Absolutely not. I wouldn't dream of rushing over there and beaning you with that donkey jaw bone. *points to a meaty object on a nearby table* I'm just not like that Jeanne. I don't know where you got that impression.

Jeanne: *snickers* I've seen you in the bar at conferences, remember? I know how you are after a couple of drinks and I can smell the booze on your breath from here. And remember, I talked to Michelle.

Me: She can't be trusted. Anyway. Legacy, the fourth book in the series is just out. Why don't you tell our wonderful readers all about it. Well not all about it, but enough to tease 'em a little bit. They love a good tease.

Jeanne: As long as you stay in that corner. Sugar, sit, boy, but don't take your eyes off him. Okay, Legacy is the fourth book in the Anna Strong series. A woman shows up, claiming to be the widow of Avery, Anna's mentor in The Becoming. She's come to claim his estate, something Anna is more than willing to relinquish. But there's more to the woman than meets the eye--she's a werewolf--and it soon becomes obvious she's after more than money--she wants Anna's blood. Kind of like what I suspect you want, right, Mark? Blood, I mean?

Me: That's totally untrue. Blood's so dirty. I just want to make the League readers happy. Is that so wrong? Now, getting back to the interview. I always wonder about inspirations. Who are some of the authors, filmmakers, musicians, artists that inspire you?

Jeanne: Joss Whedon, for sure. LKH, Charlaine Harris, Ira Levin...are you listening?

Me: Hmm. Did I ever tell you I'm the bastard child of Ira Levin and Jackie Collins? *looks around for something to distract the dog*

Jeanne: What?

Me: Nothing. *spots a discarded whistle, slides it over with his foot* So if you didn't write urban fantasy, what would you be writing?

Jeanne: I started wanting to write mysteries. Straight mysteries. No luck. Then I tried romances...well, one romance. My rejection letter said something like, "We hate the hero. There's nothing sympathetic about him. And the heroine comes across like a man-eater. Have you ever READ a romance?" Since that seemed like a rhetorical question, I didn't answer. But one good thing came of it...the phrase "man-eater"--not too big a leap to vampires. So, I guess the answer to your question is: I like urban fantasy. I wouldn't want to write anything else. At least not for the moment.

Me: Man-eater? Hmm. You could have gone zombie with that comment. I always thought I'd write some high-brow literary shit, you know? Some weepy tearjerker set on the dunes of some east coast tourist village. Sadly, I couldn't generate the empathy. *picks up the whistle and gives it a silent blow. Sugar stretches her chain taut. Upstairs there's a shuffling.*

Jeanne: *tugging on chain* What are you doing? What's going on?

Me: Nothing to worry about. Let's just keep going. What's next for Jeanne Stein? Another Anna book? Something else?

Jeanne: *Eyes on Sugar* You'd better not be f---ing with me. Sugar can tear a dummy apart in five seconds…and you look very much like the dummy she tore apart. Okay, to get back to Anna--signed on for two more books. In book six, Anna discovers what being "chosen" means. It's not what she thinks. The books go in a whole new direction and she'll have some tough decisions to make.

Me: That's exciting news, you're fans will be ecstatic. Here's one of my favorite questions. They decide to make the Anna Strong movie, who would you like to see cast in the lead roles?

Jeanne: I've been asked that a lot. I think Angela Jolie as Lara Croft or Kate Beckinsale as Selene in Underworld would be good fits. Christian Bale as Anna's new love interest, Lance, and maybe Luke Wilson as Daniel Frey. It would have to be a BIG budget project, for sure!

Me: *noticing Jeanne has relaxed a bit blows the whistle*

The shuffling above us gets louder and the door to the basement creaks open. A column of dusty light spotlights Sugar; he growls intently. The first plodding footfall is accompanied by a sound somewhere between a groan and a belch.

Me: Ah. Anton's decided to join us.

Jeanne: Anton? I thought I heard he died a couple of weeks ago. Electrocuted by his toothbrush in the shower, wasn't it? *Sugar is growling and barking now, straining against the leash. Jeanne takes a tighter hold.*

Me: True. True. But I have my ways and a hotline to the sweetest little voodoo priestess. I met her on my last visit to Port-au-Prince--she made some mean fried plantains. And don't worry about Anton. He shouldn't bother us.

The zombie reaches the bottom riser. His hair stands straight up; his skin scorched around his hairline, ears, eyes, and nostrils. His lips are split and the skin hangs from them in wet spirals. He stumbles forward, tripping on Sugar's leash and collapsing in a heap in front of the dog's frothing jowls.

Jeanne: Oh my God--Sugar, no!

Me: Oh, Jeanne. It's fine; big strong dog like that. He's bound to be hungry. Let's just chat while he finishes that meat. I'm only sorry it couldn't be fresher.

Jeanne: Michelle is going to kill me. Sugar is only supposed to eat macrobiotics. Anton wasn't a vegan, was he?

Me: Is overpriced Foie Gras vegan?

Jeanne: Jeez--there's not much left, is there?

Me: *shrugs* Any plans for a YA? Just about everyone is jumping on that train.

Jeanne: Not at the present. It's been so long since I was a teenager, I can't remember what it was like. I think I've repressed that entire part of my life. Course the drugs involved in being a teenager in the sixties may have something to do with that. Not that I DID drugs, mind you. But I had friends and breathing the same air...well, you get it. Besides, I don't do angst and it seems a lot of YA involves angst.

Me: How about telling us all about your first sale? I love a good first sale story and I know our readers do.


Jeanne: *Eyeing Sugar who is belching quietly and settling down for nap* She seems all right. What was the question? First sale? Oh yeah. The Becoming was first bought by a small Colorado publisher, ImaJinn Books. I used it as a query to get an agent thinking it would show my storytelling abilities and he'd be so dazzled he'd want to see what else I wrote. Turns out, he'd had lunch that week with a New York editor looking for a vampire book and damned, if he didn’t resell it. Course, I had to buy my way out of the original contract. But I've been published by a small publisher and I've been published by a big one and big is better.

Me: That wasn't so difficult, at all, was it? Damn. Anyway. You survived the interview and your Sugar had dinner on me. Good times, I say. Michelle is so dramatic. She'll totally get over it. Thanks for dropping by, Jeanne. *looks at the puddle of Anton* I know I enjoyed it.

Jeanne: *Pulling on the leash to get Sugar to stand up.* Yeah. It was super. *Sugar ambles over and licks Mark's hand.*

Me: *pats Sugar's head* Who's a sweet baby?

Jeanne: Michelle is really going to kill me.

***

You can visit Jeanne at the blog she shares with sicko author Mario Acevedo, The Biting Edge. Legacy is on store shelves now.

***

Now for a wee bit of a contest. Leave a comment, ask a question, spread your Anna Strong love all over and you could win a signed copy of Legacy and a $25 Amazon gift card to pick up the rest of the series. Oh yeah. One winner will be drawn next Wednesday morning and posted here, so make sure to check back, I'm not going to track you down, unless I've got Sugar with me and then you won't be needing any prizes, will you? Will you?

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