A couple of weeks ago, I suggested we try a Q&A. I know it seems a little corny, but it’s a good way to connect with you and find out what’s on your mind. Your comments and questions provide fuel for stories, blog posts, and even details in the Kari Hunter world. It started with the Vote Your Adventure campaigns we did—your feedback inspired the stories in ways I never dreamed. Sure, your votes directly guided the stories, but it was the additional, often hilarious comments that inspired me to add quirky details I may not have thought of otherwise.
Bottom line: I like connecting with you.
I got a lot of great questions—personal ones as well as book related. And there are a lot, so let’s get started.
Question: I just want to ask how are you doing? (And say I can’t wait for the next book. xx)
Jen: Honestly, I feel awesome. I mean it. A couple of weeks ago, I alluded that the Spouseditor and I made some changes to our lives. It’s given me a better balance and I’m able to make writing a high priority. This is probably the best “head space” I’ve been in in many years, so thanks for asking. And thanks for the excitement about the next book! I’m pretty excited too. It’s really shaping up into something special. And comical.
Question: What kind of car do you drive? Year, model, colour, condition? And if you could have any car what would you buy? (not unplausible if you become a super-novelist)
Jen: I have a dark grey 2009 Toyota Corolla (with a moon roof!) but I don’t drive much—once or twice a month, if that. The Spouseditor and I recently moved into downtown Seattle and we’re both close to our jobs. Plus, the city’s congested and it’s expensive to park. I thought I’d hate giving up my car but the truth is that my stress level has dwindled and I’m infinitely happier now that I don’t have to fight traffic every day.
If I could have any car, what would I buy? Well, in THE FOURTH CHANNEL, Kari owns a red Audi TTS Coupe. Back when I was writing that book, it’s the car I wanted. These days, I don’t really drive, but if a stranger walked up to me and handed me the keys to a brand new Tesla Model S, I wouldn’t complain. I’d hop in and hit the gas… er, electric.
Question: Were the Sci-fi pinups inspired by some strange geek fetish that I may or may not share?
Jen: Hah, no. One day, I was brainstorming blog ideas for someone and I got a weird idea for a zombie-themed pinups post. The person I suggested it to liked it (outwardly, anyway) but they never used it. So, after waiting a few months and not seeing the idea being used, I decided to use it. I liked the idea because it’s funny and nostalgic, and the posts are quick and dirty reads, which makes it ideal for the internet. Sci-Fi Pinups is, by far, my most popular series. So I keep doing it. For you. I’m a woman of the peoples.
Or maybe I’m just a big ham. Dunno. Could go either way.
Question: What do you read/listen/watch to inspire yourself to write?
Jen: The pros say a writer should never wait until they’re inspired or writing would never get done. I find that to be true. So, I just sit down and do it. But I need a special kind of ambience to stay focused. Music can be distracting if it’s not the right kind. Music has an opening, a climax, and an ending. Then there’s a pause, and a new song begins. Distracting. My brain picks up on all that and it’s hard to focus.
So, to keep a steady, consistent mood, I turn on a very long video game soundtrack. I recommend Skyrim and Halo 2. For even more ambience, turn on Simply Rain behind the soundtracks. Hours of uninterrupted bliss.
Question: Is Kari Hunter a character you wanted to write about or is there a quality in her that represents you or what you want to be?
Jen: Kari is the type of character I wanted to write about. For many years, most books I read were about serious characters in serious situations. Even now, many books try to “out-dark” each other. I didn’t want to go that route. I like comedy and I wanted to write a woman who could be strong while being funny. Even if she did want to go the strong, dark route, nothing in her life will allow her to sink into it. It’s hard to keep a straight face when Rambo’s singing crime show theme songs in monotone.
Question: Which fictional character (other than one of your own) would you want to be, and why?
Jen: I got this question quite a bit, in a few different forms. So I gave it a lot of thought and decided I want to be…
Hear me out on this one. Princess Leia has it all: she’s a Rebel leader, she’s rich, she has Jedi powers, she’s a princess, and she gets to smooch Han Solo. In her spare time, she’s flying around the galaxy, righting wrongs and fighting evil. In the novels, she even gets her own lightsaber!
Question: What is your favorite non-popular video game?
Jen: Oof. Answering this is like showing you my gaming skeletons in the closet. I’ve loved a few bad games in my time. Bad ones. You know what I’m talking about. After a long day at work, you come home to find the game drunk and pantsless, sleeping on the recliner, surrounded by open beer cans and empty bags of Fritos. You yell and scream and threaten to leave if they don’t shape up. You know you could walk out the door and be with a game that has a 92 Metascore—but they promise they’ll change and treat you better.
But they never do. They’re buggy and lose your saves and all kinds of crap. The controls are bad, and you don’t know why you do it to yourself. But you keep playing…
A few years ago, I played a game called Hellgate: London. It had a lot of promise and did well initially. It even had an online component that my friends and I all played. But the game was buggy, and customer service wasn’t handled well. The fixes were “too little, too late” and the company closed. The servers were shut down as a result.
But I kept playing. There was something about a near future where demons were in control of the Earth’s surface that appealed to me. I kept playing it and thinking about it. Even though the game was filled with glitches that made me have to start brand new characters after hours of gameplay, something about the idea of the game wouldn’t let me go.
Our Vote Your Adventure world was inspired by it.
Question: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure song?
Jen: Anything by Toto or Lionel Richie. Don’t judge me.
Question: So what is Rambo intended for if the hilt does not fit Kari’s hand? Other than singing Mack the Knife, that is.
Jen: If you haven’t yet read THE FOURTH CHANNEL, our intrepid necromancer, Kari, has named all of her knives. Her fourth knife, Rambo, is very different from the first three, so much so that she has never touched it. When it was created, its wide handle and jagged, black blade freaked her out, so she used a pair of tongs to put it into her knife box, and the knife hasn’t moved since. The question is a really good one. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait until the next Kari Hunter book. Rambo’s a big part of the plot.
Question: How is Kari really related to Brad? Seems odd that his third channel dad would miss an important thing about his niece considering how close they all are.
Jen: Brad’s mother and Kari’s birth mother are sisters. Brad’s parents divorced when Kari and Brad were young. The divorce was not amicable. Since Rick (Brad’s dad) didn’t want to see his ex or his ex’s sister, he made it a point not to go over to the house where he thought Kari lived. The only time he went was shortly after the incident that made Kari a necromancer. He saw Kari’s tiny bedroom and it was obvious that she had never been there. After that, he’s always been suspicious that something was amiss.
Furthermore, Uncle Rick has never had prolonged physical contact with Kari. He’s gotten the static shock from a quick brush against her skin, but because she’s just his niece, it’s been easy for Kari to avoid contact that would grant him necromancer sight.
Question: May we have a flashback scene where she comes into her power and meets Mikelis? Just cause I love him.
Jen: I love Mikelis too. Sure. I’ll write that for you. Stay tuned.
Question: When is the next Fourth Channel book being released?
Jen: The sequel has no date yet. Sorry. But I can say that I’ve never written anything this quickly before. I’m very excited about the story and I’ll be sure to update you on its progress.
Question: Sometimes I feel that women have monopolized modern fantastic literature. Perhaps I’m being paranoid?
Jen: That’s interesting because I see men dominating fantasy and science fiction. Before releasing THE FOURTH CHANNEL, I was afraid that male readers would see my name and a female protagonist and largely assume it was a “girl book.” Whatever that means. Maybe that the characters were painting each other’s toenails and shoe shopping. Many female authors have been known to use initials or a pseudonym for this very reason. Now that I’ve published, I feel as though self-publishing is changing that attitude. Or maybe it’s just changed my attitude. Readers are looking for good books. Period.
Question: It’s 4am. There’s a knock on your door. You look over at Tom but he’s so deep in sleep that he doesn’t even stir when you elbow him in the ribs. A second knock. You check twitter on your phone. The trending topics in your area are: MurdererKnockingOnDoorsBeforeKillingEveryoneInside AND GenerousMillionaireVisitingHousesAt4amWithGiantCheques
What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?!
Jen: Stand on the other side of the door reading the latest Wall Street Journal aloud. The millionaire will be excited. The murderer will fall asleep.