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Interview: Carrie Jones and Alyxandra Harvey

February 10th, 2010 (10:37 pm)
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Sometimes, vampires and pixies get along . . . or at least their creators do! Together, authors Carrie Jones and Alyxandra Harvey are currently touring the country in two ways: in-store book signings and virtual appearances at blogs. Their blog tour is being referred to as Valentine with Bite. Their newest works were recently published by Bloomsbury: Captivate, the second book in Carrie Jones' supernatural trilogy, and Hearts at Stake, the first book in Alyxandra's vampiric series The Drake Chronicles. We celebrated our shared appreciation of poetry, peace, and paranormal prose in this interview, which took place right before they kicked off their bookstore tour.

Little Willow: Did you two know each other prior to setting up this tour, or did you meet simply because you share a publisher? Wait - have you met in person yet, or only virtually?

Carrie Jones: We still have only met virtually. I think it's safe to say that we're both psyched-slash-terrified of going on a a book tour.

Alyxandra Harvey: We haven't actually met yet! But I'm sure we'll be hunting out gold pixie dust and pale Drake brothers in no time.

Little Willow: I'll bet! Both of you have gifted your protagonists with interesting first names. Alyx, how did you select the name Solange?

Alyx: I keep lists of names I like, along with a pile of baby name books. Finding that perfect name is one of my favourite parts of the book-building process. And I liked the faintly unusual sound of Solange. It just had that inner click for me.

Little Willow: Cool. Carrie, what made you pick Zara?

Carrie: I really need a name that meant princess, but I couldn't use Sarah because that made me think of Sarah Silverman, who I grew up with. Sarah has such a strong personality that she would have totally possessed my character. So I did a little research and found Zara.

Little Willow: Alyx, your website informed me that you like The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson. So do I, ever since I was a kid and learned of it from the Anne of Green Gables Kevin Sullivan film.

Alyx: I love that rendition of Anne of Green Gables! It led me to The Highwayman poem.

Little Willow: Ditto. What attracted you to these tragic poems?

Alyx: For The Lady of Shalott, I love Tennyson and I adore J.W. Waterhouse paintings, especially his Lady of Shalotts. Ditto Arthurian stories. Not so much Lancelot, though. Add some tragic girl, a river and pretty medieval dresses and I'm pretty much hooked. I love poetry and am on a secret mission to make it accessible, i.e. less scary and not boring.

Little Willow: Do you write poetry yourself?

Alyx: I've had several poems published in various literary magazines such as Room, The Antigonish Review, OnSpec and Tesseracts 11, as well as on the goblinfruit website. goblinfruit is fantastic - I highly recommend it!

Little Willow: I'll have to check out that site. Carrie, your first three novels were set firmly in realistic settings. You then ventured out into the fantasy genre for the Need books, though Zara's world is still ours - the general populace simply doesn't know that pixies and other mythological creatures really exist. When dipping your toes into fantastic waters, what proved to be your biggest challenge?

Carrie Jones: The biggest challenges writing a story with fantastic elements:

One: Not thinking they are real. Honestly, I have a much harder time walking outside at night now. I keep listening for pixies whispering my name.
Two: Not falling in love with any of the characters. Honestly, werewolves can be really hot.
Three: Not being disappointed when I remember that they aren't real. I have always had a hard time not falling in love with my characters' love interests. This didn't seem as weird when they were human.

Actually, the hardest part of these books has nothing to do with the genre at all. It has to do with the structure and blending all the mysteries, allowing resolutions but adding more mysteries. My non-linear mind sometimes has a hard time with that.

Little Willow: Alyx, would you ever write (or have you already written) realistic fiction?

Alyx: I'm not overly fond of straight "realistic" fiction. I like the added layer of fantasy or legend to tell the story in a deeper way. The closest to "realistic" that I read-write-love would be historical fiction. She then quoted: "People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within." Ursula K. Le Guin.

Little Willow: Here, there be hungry dragons. What writers have inspired your own styles and stories?

Carrie: I know it sounds bizarre, but Sherman Alexie's poetry and short stories (not his YA – sorry, Sherman) have influenced me the most. I love the way he puts words together, uses humor, dives into images with such a fierce fearlessness. And Charlaine Harris.

Alyx: I'm inspired by so many things! Long walks, the forest, rivers, poetry, sari material. I admire Jane Austen, Mary Oliver, Charles De Lint, Tanya Huff, Susanna Kearsley, Patricia McKillip, Holly Black and Joss Whedon. That man can tell a story!

Little Willow: Alyx, how many books are planned in The Drake Chronicles?

Alyx: There are 3 books currently contracted. Book 2, Blood Feud, tells the story of Logan Drake and Book 3 is about Quinn Drake and the world of Helios-Ra vampire hunters. In my head, the story arc would best be told in five books, and I am writing the fourth one right now. It's messy! Cliffhangers and angst and betrayals. Fun! I also have a not-so secret wish to do a few historical fiction novels exploring the Drakes and vampire hunters in different time periods.

Little Willow: Carrie, your newest release, Captivate, is the second in the trilogy you began with Need. Do you have a firm title or release date for the third volume? Any options for future volumes, or does it definitely end in book three?

Carrie: Well, I've written the first draft of book three and unless my editor of awesome, Michelle Nagler, does something or gives up on me, it does not end in book three. I think it will end with book four or even five. I have a definite ending. I'm just not sure how long it will take to get there. The next book is currently brilliantly titled NEED THREE or CAPTIVATE SEQUEL. I am no good at titles obviously, and it's supposed to be out in December of 2010 or January 2011, I think. Thank you for asking. There will be sneak peeks and things like that at a website my publisher made, which is www.needpixies.com

Little Willow: Zara is extremely invested in her support of Amnesty International and non-violent social change. Did either of you find it difficult to write action sequences? Are either of you squeamish when it comes to reading or watching fantasy violence, but found it easy to write, or vice-versa?

Carrie: I am the kind of person who closes her eyes in boxing matches or when Buffy stakes a vampire (or) demon, so it was weird for me to write it, but I don't have a problem writing it, which is super odd, I know! My biggest problem is a moral one -- like Zara, I have always been a big advocate of peace and trying to resolve issues diplomatically. The books explore what happens when you feel like there aren't diplomatic resolutions, when someone who is essentially a pacifist is forced to fight to protect her friends and her family and her town. Like Zara - and Grandma Betty - I'm a bit of a tiger when my people are threatened. Not so much that the police have ever been called, I swear!

Alyx: I admit I like action to be sprinkled, not marinated. Long action sequences in books and movies, like car chases and gun battles, are boring to me. But throw in a sword or a bow and arrow and some corsets and all of a sudden I'm very interested! But I don't like gore or needless sensationalist violence, even dressed up.

Little Willow: Who are your favorite fictional pixies and vampires?

Carrie Jones: I'm going with pixies for this question and that has to be: Jenks from Kim Harrison's books. Mr. Sanderson from Fairly Odd Parents. Pretty much all the pictsies from Terry Pratchett's otherworld series. Astley from my own book. Oh, I feel so naughty putting him there like it's nepotism or something. Bad Carrie. Bad.

Alyx: I love Spike, of course, from Buffy [the Vampire Slayer]. And Henry Fitzroy from Tanya Huff's vampire Blood Price books. And I think Mick St. John from the TV series Moonlight was yummy and had loads of potential, but alas the series wasn't renewed.

Little Willow: If you found yourself face-to-face with a pixie or a vampire, what would you do?

Carrie: Are they hot? It totally changes the answer if they're hot.

Alyxandra: Demand a story! You know, after I regained consciousness. *wink*

Find out if the authors are visiting a bookstore near you!

Visit their websites:
www.CarrieJonesBooks.com
www.AlyxandraHarvey.com

Check out Liz Gallagher's recap of Carrie and Alyxandra's Seattle signing, complete with pictures.

Read my 2007 interview with Carrie Jones.