Julie Kenner is our latest GCC guest, currently touring cyberspace to promote her new novel, CARPE DEMON: Adventures of a Demon Hunting Soccer Mom.
"What would happen if Buffy the Vampire Slayer got married, moved to the suburbs and became a stay-at-home mom? She'd be a lot like Kate Connor, once a demon/vampire/zombie killer and now "a glorified chauffeur for drill-team practice and Gymboree play dates" in San Diablo, Calif., that's what. But in Kenner's sprightly, fast-paced ode to kick-ass housewives, Kate finds herself battling evil once again." -- Publishers Weekly
A combination of mommy lit and fantasy, the book has been receiving praise since even before its release when Booksense honored it by selecting CARPE DEMON as one of its Top Ten Summer Paperback Picks for 2005. The book was also selected as a Target "Breakout Book" and has held the Number One slot on Barnes & Noble's SF/Fantasy trade overall bestseller list for seven weeks (and counting!).
CARPE DEMON has also been optioned for film, and is currently in development at Warner Brothers, with 1492 Pictures (Chris Columbus, Harry Potter) producing.
I had the chance to ask Julie Kenner a few questions, and she was gracious enough to share her thoughts. Here's our conversation..
--Your most recent books have such fun titles: Carpe Demon, The Givenchy Code. Did you come up with the titles first and then write stories to fit them, or did you write the books first, and then come up with the titles?
Alas, I suck at titles. Fortunately, I lucked out with my friends and my agent! Seriously, CARPE DEMON was a line I used in my synopsis, but it never occurred to me to have that as the title. My original title was the truly gag-worthy Demons & Dirty Diapers. My agent, wisely, said I had to change it before she shopped the book, and I came up with the rather obvious Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom. But it was missing something. She and the other agents at her office brainstormed, and one of them read my synopsis, saw the "carpe demon" line and basically said, duh! That's the perfect title. And, of course, he was right!
As for THE GIVENCHY CODE, that wonderfully clever title was the brainchild of my critique partner, Kathleen O'Reilly, who was kind enough to give it to me in exchange for a lifetime supply of lattes (well, not really, but I feel obligated to supply her anyway!)
--You have published over 20 books in five years. How are you able to be so prolific? What is your writing process like? When did you first start writing?
The easy answer is that I write pretty fast. That's also the obvious answer since if I wrote slow, that level of productivity wouldn't be possible! The harder answer is that I budget my time pretty strictly, especially back during the years when I was working full time. Early on, it was easier because I had no child and my husband was in grad school (read: lots of guilt-free writing time at night). Later, it became more difficult. Even now, working full time as a writer, I have to budget strictly because in addition to family obligations (I don't write when my daughter's up and about unless it's ABSOLUTELY necessary), I also have all those "extras" that come with being published: galleys, copyedits, promotion, etc.
As for the process, I set a daily word count and then try (I don't always succeed, but I try) to hit that count on a daily basis. Often, though, I'm making up pages at the end of the week. I also use goal sheets (a trick from author Janelle Denison), and I have sample goal sheets on my website (in the Articles section) that folks can download.
I can't remember not writing. Seriously. I even wrote "gibberish" novels as a small child on my dad's typewriter. In elementary school I wrote poetry (and in high school), and then later I wrote short stories, newspaper articles, edited the school paper, etc. After and during law school, I piddled around with plays and screenplays and bits and pieces of novels. But if you're asking when I got serious, when I sat down and actually said "I am going to finish a book," that would be in 1997.
--What are you working on now?
At this very moment, I'm working on the last few chapters of CALIFORNIA DEMON: MORE ADVENTURES OF A DEMON-HUNTING SOCCER MOM
--Since I always ask a fruit related question--What do you think is the most demonic fruit, and why?
Ah, well, I guess I'd have to say the apple! Which, of course, is my
favorite fruit. Hmmmmm.
--I love 'em, too; I guess that makes us both demonic! Thanks so much for stopping by, Julie! Have fun on your tour; may CARPE DEMON continue to flourish.