Monday, March 11, 2013

Contest and Interview with NYT bestselling author Angie Fox on her latest novel Immortally Embraced

One Lucky Commenter will win a signed, first edition copy of any of Angie’s books, winner’s choice-contest runs through 3-31 

Angie Fox is the New York Times bestselling author of the Accidental Demon Slayer series and her brand new Immortal M*A*S*H series.

Debbie - I love to promote local authors, I can’t think of one more deserving than St. Louis resident Angie Fox.
Angie, welcome to my blog.
Angie - Thanks for having me!

Tell us a bit about your newest novel Immortally Embraced.
Sure. Immortally Embraced takes place in and around a paranormal MASH unit during a seemingly never-ending war.
The heroine is a doctor to all kinds of creatures. Immortally Embraced starts out with a new patient – a pregnant Medusa. Petra seems to be the only one who can handle her. Medusa is actually a lot of fun to write. I mean, yes, she is serpent-goddess, executioner of men, scourge of Kisthene’s plain. But she has feelings, too.

This newest book also brings a surprise from Petra’s past, and she ends up going AWOL to learn about this nasty new weapon from a murdered research scientist in an enemy camp. So we get to see her use her power in a cool, new way and we also get to see what it’s like on the enemy side.

This is the second in your new Immortal M*A*S*H  Series.
Is there a set number of books?
Yes. All of the books take place around this MASH camp. Petra and her colleagues at the MASH 3063rd have been drafted until the end of the conflict, which is bad for Petra but even worse for people like her vampire roommate, Marius. They’re living in this quirky, ad-hock camp, trying to make the best of it while they work long hours in the operating room, putting soldiers back together – knowing that they’re probably going to see these injured heroes again and again – if they’re lucky.
The underlying tragedy brings the oddball personalities in the camp together. They develop ways to keep their sanity and to create the kind of relationships that offer a port in the storm. It’s been such a fun story to write – intense, yet sweet at the same time.
There will be three books total. The third, Immortally Ever After, comes out this summer.

Tell us about your road to author-dom.
Sure. I have a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri and spent about a dozen years as an advertising copywriter. I did print and television ads for Anheuser-Busch, Coke, Minute Maid, Hallmark, Motorola. But I wanted to do more creative writing and I’d always loved to read. How hard could it be to write a novel? [Insert insane, high pitched laughter here. Or perhaps a pat on the head for my old deluded self.]
My first book was an Agatha Christie-style mystery. It took four years to finish and was rejected all over the place. One agent even rubber stamped “not for me,” on the top of my query letter. That was a little depressing until it hit me how funny that was that she’d actually gone to a stamp store to buy a custom stamp with which to break the hearts of aspiring writers. Anyhow, I had lots to learn after book one.
So I wrote book two, which was in the same genre. That I didn’t even send out. I’d learned enough while writing that book to know it was broken. And I was a better writer for having wrestled with that manuscript. Never mind that it had taken me three years to complete. Hey, I was getting faster.
The third book (am I depressing you yet?) was a mystery with a slight paranormal, ghostly twist. That one took a solid year to write and at least earned some good rejections. In fact, I received an amazing rejection from Donald Maass. He said the book would probably sell, but he hoped it didn’t because this wasn’t my breakout book. I was holding back, playing it safe. He didn’t know what I should be writing, but he knew this probably wasn’t it.
I was frustrated, because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear and well, because if I wanted to be completely honest with myself, he was right.
I’d been writing these serious mysteries, or basically, what I thought would sell to a publisher, not what truly inspired me. Worse, the entire time I was trying to bury my quirky voice, I was sneaking off to read book by writers like MaryJanice Davidson, Katie MacAlister and Kerrelyn Sparks. It occurred to me that maybe I should write the kind of books I loved to read.
So I pulled my third unpublished book from submission, stuck it under the bed and  decided to write something completely different, a funny paranormal romance where I could build my own world and make up my own rules. I fell in love with the idea of a preschool teacher who is forced to run off with a gang of geriatric biker witches and The Accidental Demon Slayer was born.
Better still, I loved writing it. The opening chapters did well in contests and caught the eye of an editor, who asked to see the whole thing. That same editor bought the book less than a week after I finished it. A year later, The Accidental Demon Slayer hit the New York Times list.

What’s the most exciting thing you ever did in the name of book research?
That’s such a loaded question. I’d have to say the Harley bikers would win for the most fun research team. In the Accidental Demon Slayer books, Lizzie rides with her Grandma’s gang of biker witches. I’d never been on a motorcycle before, and wasn’t sure how it felt to ride. Plus, I had to figure out how to get Pirate the dog onto a bike.

I went online and learned about the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club, made up exclusively of Harley riders and their dogs. I ended up meeting some of them, along with a few other bikers along the way. These bikers were so great to me. They hoisted me onto the back of their Harleys (with dogs in tow). They took me to biker rallies (note to self: don’t wear pink). And they laughed at me when I tried to put my helmet on backwards (I still say I was distracted by the Pomeranian wearing a tiny pair of motorcycle glasses).

After a few outings with my new biker friends, I was able to make my biker witch characters a lot more realistic. And I took home some great pictures, too.

How much stock do you put in social media?
I think it’s a great way to connect with readers and with my author buddies, too. For example, the first book in the demon slayer series (The Accidental Demon Slayer) just went on sale online for 99 cents. Huge bargain. So I Facebooked and Tweeted it and knew I could get the word out to my readers that way.
I talk more personal/goofy things on my FB friends page, and then I keep up an author page for those who only want book news. I also have an online street team where I connect with readers who enjoy the books and want to get more involved with helping me get the word out.

I’m happy to admit I’m a HUGE fan of yours, and of both series.
Speaking of that, tell us how Pirate (the talking dog) from your Demon Slayer series was conceived?
Pirate was a happy accident. When I sat down to write The Accidental Demon Slayer, I had no notes about a sidekick for my heroine. But in the second chapter, when she’d learned she was a demon slayer and all hell was after her, she took comfort in her dog.

As I was writing, I thought, ‘This is a sweet moment. Now how do I throw her off?’ Simple. I made the dog say something to her. Nothing big. After all, he’s only after the fettuccine from last week. And he knows exactly where my heroine can find it (back of the fridge, to the left of the lettuce crisper, behind the mustard). It amused me, so I did it. Thanks to her unholy powers, my heroine can now understand her smart-mouthed Jack Russell Terrier.

But then I almost cut Pirate out of the story because Lizzie was going to have to run off with her grandma’s gang of biker witches and I had no idea how to get a dog on the back of a Harley. I didn’t even think it was possible. Luckily, I decided to research it and find a way.

Sometimes, the most important thing you can do when you sit down to the keyboard is be willing to follow a story in new directions. I’m sure glad I did.

What’s the strangest piece of fan snail or email you ever got?
An ex-boyfriend emailed. He’d read The Accidental Demon Slayer and was all impressed and amazed – not about the book, but about a sex scene in the book. He wanted to know how I’d gotten so adventurous. I had to remind him that I am not a demon slayer, I (unfortunately) am not personally acquainted with any smoking hot shapeshifting griffins and that this is not a biography.

What’s the best thing about being an author?
That feeling you get when a book is working. It’s pure magic.

And there are certain characters who are so much fun to write. One of my favorites is Pirate the dog. His storylines write themselves because he’s just so natural on the page. I just have to let him go. Like in A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, Pirate finds a dragon egg. The thing hatches and he decides he has a pet. I mean, how fun for a pet – to own a pet. Lizzie is not happy about that. She has enough going on and doesn’t think her dog needs to own a pet.
So she tells Pirate to find a new home for Flappy the dragon (Pirate named him, not Lizzie). So Lizzie is battling evil people and losing track of what Pirate is doing. He keeps promising to find a new home for the dragon, but instead Pirate is hiding the dragon, and loving the dragon and teaching him tricks. Every time Lizzie realizes the dragon is still there, it’s gotten bigger and bigger and, well, it’s just one more thing she can’t quite control. I smile every time I think about writing that story line.

What’s the worst?
There are days when the words aren’t coming and I think, “Oh no. Why did I tell my publisher I could write this book?” Maybe I don’t know how to write. Maybe the other books were flukes. But like with anything, you just need to push through those moments. And have a bit of chocolate.

Angie thank you so much for spilling a little of your personal beans for me today. I wish you much success with this and all your future novels too.
Thanks for having me here. I’d love to give your readers something fun while we’re at it. How about a signed, first edition copy of any of my books, winner’s choice!

Visit Angie’s website here for fun facts, a printable booklist and much much more

Here’s what’s being said about her writing:
PRAISE FOR ANGIE FOX and her bestselling novels
“A new talent just hit the urban fantasy genre, and she has a genuine gift for creating dangerously hilarious drama.”—RT Book Reviews on The Accidental Demon Slayer
“With its sharp, witty writing and unique characters, Angie Fox’s contemporary paranormal debut is fabulously fun.”—Chicago Tribune on The Accidental Demon Slayer
“The Accidental Demon Slayer is a delightful new paranormal romance that is hilarious, exciting, suspenseful, dangerous, and an adventure ride of action from start to finish. The characters are eccentric, the writing flows great, and the storyline is original. I adored every page of this outstanding debut novel and I hungrily look forward to getting my hands on Angie Fox’s next book.”—Fresh Fiction
“Ms. Fox details her world with colorful characters that have mysterious pasts, and keeps readers engaged with humorous mishaps, blossoming romance and spells gone awry. The Accidental Demon Slayer is a fast moving good time that will quickly gain fans.”—Darque Reviews
“Sharp, witty and refreshing. I savored every minute of this story.”—Manic Readers on The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers
“A demonically delightful paranormal romp. I didn’t want it to end.”—Michelle Rowen on The Accidental Demon Slayer
“Sexy…slapstick hijinks will please comedy fans.”—Publishers Weekly on Angie Fox’s story in So I Married a Demon Slayer
“Plenty of romance as well as humor…an amusing and entertaining read.”—Night Owl Reviews on Angie Fox’s story in My Zombie Valentine