An interview with Jeri Smith-Ready (And a Wicked Game giveaway!)

The Squee

First, let me state: Jeri is a good friend of mine. However, I don’t squee about books that aren’t squee-worthy. I might tell you she’s a nice person, I’m excited to present this interview, I love her hair, or that I loved rooming with her in Pittsburgh. I might tell you any number of nice things, but if I didn’t love Wicked Game, there would be no squeeing.

Wicked Game

The best part about being an author is that I get to read books early that I would line up to buy. Wicked Game is one of those.

Jeri reinvents vampire mythos and she manages to make them grim, scary as hell, yet still sexy. Ciara and Shane are a fantastic couple with serious conflict. I loved the way the relationship develops; it felt natural to me. And the plot? Amazingly fresh.

As if that’s not enough, Wicked Game has some of the finest writing and characterization it’s been my privilege to read, ever. No spoilers, but certain scenes gave me chills. I just can’t tell you how much I love this book. But don’t take my word for it; Kresley Cole and Rachel Caine love it too. Now check out this blurb:

Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, ’60s psychedelia, ’80s goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers just how the DJs maintain their cred: they’re vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.

Ciara’s first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WVMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station — and the link it provides to their original Life Times — the vampires would “fade,” becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover is a matter of life and undeath.

To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara rebrands the station as “WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs’ vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around — next to Ciara’s complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the “gimmick” enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren’t so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher — and the perils graver — than any con game Ciara’s ever played….

The Interview

What book have you read the most? How come?
Alice in Wonderland. There was something about the way it made me feel as a kid—that ANYTHING could happen, and you’d never know what would be around the next corner. I wished so hard for my very own rabbit hole.


What’s your favorite drink, alcoholic or otherwise?

Ginger beer, the hotter the better. I like food that hurts, probably because of the endorphin rush.

What was your favorite book as a kid?
DOGSBODY by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s about the Dog Star Sirius who is punished by the gods (I can’t remember why) by being forced to come to earth and live the life of a stray dog. It combined my love of animals with my passions for astronomy and mythology. Because of that book, Sirius became my favorite star forever (not to mention my eventual choice in satellite radio).

Who do you think is the coolest writer who ever lived? (This can be anyone, living or dead. Of course you have to tell us why. You don’t need to have personal experience of this person.)
Neil Gaiman. Not only is his work amazing on so many levels, he’s an incredibly nice and funny person, and so generous with his time and self. Back in the days when he was merely Big and not OMG MF’ing ROCK STAR, I stood in line for ninety minutes to get a book signed by him. It moved so slowly because he spoke with each reader for at least five minutes. Even now at signings he’ll stay behind long after everyone else to make sure all the readers get to speak with him.

If you could transform into any animal, what would it be? Why that?
I think a dolphin would be tons of fun. Swim around and eat fish all day, but still be smart enough to appreciate life. And hey, sharks are afraid of them. You can’t beat that.

Your rabid fans have proclaimed you the best writer in the world. Defend your title!
The words I hear most often to describe my work are “original” and “unique.” This is flattering, but sometimes it worries me, because conventional wisdom says most people gravitate toward the familiar and aren’t really looking for something different.

But readers should buck the conventional wisdom. Prove the experts wrong! Besides, every mega-author was once original and unique. You can’t stand out and become an OMG MF’ing ROCK STAR by writing the same stuff as everyone else.

What’s one mistake you see in books that drives you nuts? (This can be grammatical, research errors, whatever skeeves your gentle heart.)
It really bugs me when a vampire bites someone in the carotid artery. No. That’d be like drinking from a fire hose. The blood would usually end up on the ceiling and all over the walls, but let’s say, just for yuks, that it actually got into the vampire’s mouth. It would totally come out his nose. Ooh…blood-snarfing—sexaaaay!

Pie or cake?
No contest: Pie! Cake, for the most part, is not worth the calories. Too dry. I like my sweets rich and moist. That being said, if someone wants to send me cake, I wouldn’t turn it down. Though I might x-ray it first.

Pirate or ninjas?
Ninjas are so freaking cool!! They’ve got stealth, balance, strength–they’re like human cats.

Could there be pirate ninjas? Or ninja pirates? Hmm, probably not. I think there are basic philosophical and tactical barriers between the two camps.

Who is your imaginary celebrity boyfriend?
Seth Green. He was at New York Comic Con a few weeks ago, as was I. I had this nutty fantasy he would show up at my book signing saying, “I read about your book in Publisher’s Weekly. Vampires DJs—awesome.” Alas, he did not.

What’s your favorite book, among those you’ve written?
WICKED GAME

That one? Really? How come?
It made me so happy to write it. I’d be in the car listening to music, and a song would come on that resonated with one of the characters or a part of the story. It was so much fun to write and to think about even when I wasn’t actually working on the manuscript.

On the opposite end of the happiness spectrum, VOICE OF CROW is my other favorite novel, because it was the Book That Almost Killed Me. It was my first attempt at multiple POVs, and it drove me crazy trying to balance the “screen time” among all the characters. The rewrite was hellish, but it ultimately turned out really well (I think). So VOICE OF CROW is like that troublesome kid who earns a special kind of love.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
For more about Wicked Game, including the entire first chapter, check out www.jerismithready.com/wicked-game. To visit the DJs and listen to a sample of their shows, go to www.wvmpradio.com. Jeri and her heroine Ciara can also be found on MySpace, though mysteriously never at the same time (www.myspace.com/jerismithready and www.myspace.com/ciarawvmp).

You can win a copy of this awesome book for commenting. Ask Jeri some questions or comment on her work. You don’t want to miss this!