Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jeri Smith Ready

And the winner is . . . drum roll, please! (As I reach into my porta coffin . . .) micaela6955. Please email me with your snail mail info and I'll pass it along to Jeri! Thanks so much everyone, for your great participation!!

“Well, I ain’t superstitious,
But a black cat crossed my trail.”
--“I Ain’t Superstitious,” as recorded by The Rolling Stones

I am a bizarre combination of two seemingly incompatible creatures: the skeptic and the scaredy-cat. Officially, I don’t believe in demons, vampires, and ghosts -- not with my rational forebrain, at least. But my lizard brain, the part that tells me to eat, fight, procreate and FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T GET KILLED, believes that demons and ghosts and vampires are not only out there, but they’re after me. Especially when I’m walking the dog down a lonely country lane late at night. In the fog.

I can’t argue rationally with my lizard brain. It was raised on a steady diet of horror movies and ghost stories and Stephen King novels. I saw THE BLOB at an age when reality and fantasy still blurred -- I figured it was just a matter of time before I was part of this monster’s complete breakfast.

My first published novel was REQUIEM FOR THE DEVIL (Grand Central, 2001). It’s a love story told from the first-person point-of-view of Lucifer. Yeah, that Lucifer. When I first started writing it, I was afraid to tell anyone the subject matter, afraid even to speak my character’s name. (Old superstition: if you call the Devil’s name, you summon him.)

But by living with the character Lucifer as I created him, I gained some of his power, his supreme confidence, his comfort with evil (don’t worry, it didn’t make me evil -- he learns to be good). Moreover, by seeing the world through his eyes and experiencing his agony at eternal separation from Heaven, maybe I understood the nature of good and evil a little better -- that there’s a bit of each in all of us.

So that took care of demons. On to vampires. Two words: ‘SALEM’S LOT. That was my vision of vampires until Anne Rice and eventually Buffy. In both series, the vampires are humanized, but most are still ruthless killers. Monsters.

And then one day I had an idea for a group of characters who were psychologically and culturally ‘stuck in time’ in different twentieth-century eras. I realized, with a certain amount of dread, that vampires were the logical choice, as the only paranormal creatures who die but go on living.

But for me to accept vampires as objects of affection and passion, I had to make them my own, add such a unique twist to them that my lizard brain could be fooled into thinking they weren’t really monsters. Looking back, I realize that the key was sharing with them my passion for music.

WICKED GAME (May 2008) is the first in a romantic urban fantasy series about 94.3-FM: WVMP, The Lifeblood of Rock ‘n’ Roll. At this radio station, all the DJs are vampires, each wearing the clothes, speaking the slang, and of course, playing the music of his or her original “Life Time.” While a few vampires in my universe hunt and kill people for sustenance, most live more carefully, to avoid detection and being hunted themselves. They form symbiotic relationships with “donor” humans and are monitored by an ancient paramilitary organization called The Control, which helps the good vampires and, uh, neutralizes the bad ones.

WICKED GAME heroine Ciara Griffin is a human, but a different kind of predator: a con artist. Through her I could relate to that shifty sort of morality that evaluates others based on nontraditional criteria. In other words, she doesn’t judge them for taking what they need. (More important, through Ciara I could totally crush on the hero, grunge DJ vampire Shane McAllister.)

So my vision of vampires has expanded to include sympathetic, humanized versions as well as the more monstrous types. That’s two nightmares down -- yay!

Leaving me with ghosts, probably my biggest irrational fear. I once stayed in the Cooper Queen Hotel in Bisbee, Arizona, a place thought to be haunted (my friend neglected to tell me this fun fact before we arrived). I made the mistake of reading the “Ghost Book” at the front desk as we were checking in. In the Ghost Book, guests could describe the spooky things they’d seen and heard during their stay.

After reading that, for three nights I insisted on sleeping with the lights on (not that I slept much, or even closed my eyes). I only let my friend leave me alone when I had to go to the bathroom, and then I wouldn’t look in the mirror because I just knew that something would be staring back at me.

*shudders, lies down for awhile*

You know where this is leading, right? My current work-in-progress is, naturally, a ghost story. The main character has seen and heard spirits since -- well, since she could see and hear, period. They’re part of her daily life -- a rather annoying part, if you ask her. In her sixteen years she’s absorbed and catalogued the pain of countless nameless dead, to the point where she can barely feel her own pain anymore. (And that’s all I’m telling, since it’s still in proposal stage.)

Of course, part of the fear of ghosts stems from the fear of death. In my romantic fantasy trilogy from Luna Books -- EYES OF CROW, VOICE OF CROW, and coming in November, THE REAWAKENED -- every person has magic bestowed by their Guardian Spirit Animal (what most of us would call a ‘totem’). The heroine, Rhia, has the Aspect of Crow, the Spirit that governs death. This doesn’t exactly make her the most popular girl in the village, but in a time of impending war, it just might save her people.

In this series I depict death as just another stage of life, one that leads to an eternal peaceful existence on the Other Side. I’ve been told by readers who have lost a loved one that these books comforted them. Writing doesn’t get any more rewarding than that.

We dark fantasy authors must embrace our fears, dance with our shadows. In so doing, we bring depth and reality to the worlds we create, and we bring readers along on our journey from terror to triumph.

So while I can’t argue away my fear of the dark, by tackling these bogeymen in books, I can tame it, master it, make it my own. And have a heckuva lot of fun in the process.

I love to hear from readers, so I encourage anyone to contact me through my website, I also give away free bookmarks and signed bookplates for any of my books and frequently hold contests on my blog and in my newsletter.

For more about my latest release, WICKED GAME, check out To visit the DJs and listen to a sample of their shows, go to Ciara, Shane, and I can also be found on MySpace, though mysteriously never at the same time (,, and Ciara and Shane love to make new three-dimensional friends. J


Jeri will be giving away a signed copy of WICKED GAME. Just leave a comment here, answering this question: Which musical time period would your vampire DJ represent? Winner will be posted here on Tuesday, July 22.


Blogger LadyVampire2u said...

Loved your post! I think I'm with you in that although I don't actively believe in some things, I don't rule them out and am just cautious of them in my own way. And good for you in tackling your fears! It's probably unfair of me to say this but I'm thinking we fans definitely benfit from it, getting to read all the great stories you write. Speaking of that, I'm looking forward to your next novel with the ghosts. Sounds very good!
As for your question: My Vampire DJ would represent the late 80's and early 90's with Hard Rock and Metal music. Some alternative too.

2:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jeri, popping over from your LJ blog. I just wanted to comment because I'm very similar to you - I'm a big scaredy cat and yet I love to read paranormal books, maybe to make them less scary to me. Maybe that's why I write superheroes, I know if I spend too much time with the scary things, I'll give myself nightmares. (;

7:03 AM  
Blogger Margay Leah Justice said...

What a dichotomy - a skeptical scaredy-cat! Loved your post. My DJ would probably spin music right now. There is just such a great crop of singers/musicians out there, who wouldn't want to hear it?

9:24 AM  
Blogger Tarot By Arwen said...

Super job, Jeri! Just last night I found this site with "ghost" pictures so I spent time looking at them.

Then I slept with the lights on. SNORT! I really love your books.

My Vampire DJ would do the soft rock of the 70's (yeah Air Supply.. y'all deal with it) and late 60's folk like Phil Ochs and Harry Chapin and the Kingston Trio.

9:30 AM  
Blogger Maggie Stiefvater said...

Coming over from your LJ because I really want a copy of WG!

I completely understand what you mean about writing out your fears -- and I laughed about your Lucifer story. I wrote a demon short story (my first to get published, actually) this year, and the whole time I did it, I was sort of shrinking into my chair and waiting to be zapped into oblivion.

And the question: My Vampire DJ would be 90s Celtic all the way, baby! (with a certain passion for Alt rock as well)(but there just aren't enough Celtic stations)

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your post. I am a fraidey cat when it comes to this kind of stuff but my favorite genre is paranormal.

My Vampire DJ would be in the here and now. With awesome music like Disturbed's Down with the Sickness, he wouldn't find this time lacking in any way.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved your post.
When I think of vampires at least movie vampires I think of Classical Music Time Periods.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Ruth Schaller said...

Great interview Jeri! The more you guest blog, the more your readers know about you. Scary isn't it???

Also my vamp DJ would do the late 80s with all the long haired rock bands of that time!

Count me in for this one!!!

10:19 AM  
Blogger Pam P said...

Love this post, Jeri. I'd have the vamp DJ do classic rock, late 60's, early 70's. One song that comes to mind thinking of the books - (Don't Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult.

10:27 AM  
Blogger flip said...

late 70s and early 80s punk/alternative music would be my genre. I could pogo to the music

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

love all your blogs.

pleaseeeeeeeeeeee enter me to win!

tasha t


10:52 AM  
Blogger Lynda Hilburn said...

Thanks so much to Jeri for being here today! I read WICKED GAME a while back and absolutely loved it. Keep these great comments coming!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Dani said...

Great blog Jeri! I love vampires. They are one of my favorite paranormal creatures. While I'm still debating whether vamps are real or not (legends had to come from some where...LOL), I am definately a believer in ghosts. I've seen too much not to. Not that I see them in a Sixth Sense way, but close and not that often. I'd really be scared to death if I saw them the way that the kid in that movie saw them.

As for your question, well that's a hard one to answer for me. I love all kinds of music, but I'm a rocker at heart, so I'd have to go with the 70's and 80's rock. I loved the hair bands of the 80's and a lot of bands from the mid 70's too. It's what I grew up on. :)

11:05 AM  
Blogger Jeri said...

ladyvampire2u: Thanks! I'm glad someone is benefiting besides my psyche. ;-) And don't look forward to the ghost book yet--I haven't even submitted it yet, much less sold it. (Have I jinxed it by talking about it? Yikes!)

AJ: Hi! Glad I'm not the only one. I know that Stephen King is also a little like this--in one of his author notes he said he never hangs his foot over the edge of the bed because he's sure something will grab it. Ever since I read that, I never do it either.

margay: You're right--I'm finding a lot of great new musicians lately. Is it better this year than it has been the last few years, or is it just that I've found satellite radio?

Arwen: Yes! I can't do ghost research when I'm home alone. I can read about it, but I won't let myself look at the pictures.

Maggie: Yay, Celtic music! I don't know of any stations completely devoted to it. Hey, I should start a Celtic station on Pandora, then at least we could listen to it online.

Breia B: Love that song! Whenever it comes on in the car, I crank it up and let the guitars crush my head. ;-)

Kimmyl: Well, my vamps aren't much for classical, but Lucifer is! He plays a mean Bach Sonata on the violin. :-)

Ruth: That IS scary, LOL! And 80s hair metal bands were Shane's first love.

Pam P: Thanks! You'd like Jim--he does the 60s music, mostly psychedelic and British invasion.

flip: Regina's your woman! She plays punk, post-punk, new wave, and goth. She's got the Siouxsie Sioux look. :-)

Tasha: Thanks, and good luck in the drawing!

11:14 AM  
Blogger Jeri said...

Lynda: Thanks so much for having me! Glad you enjoyed WICKED GAME. :-)

Dani: I'd probably pass out if I ever saw a ghost. The few spooky experiences I've had (where I couldn't explain them later) really freaked me out. I'm such a wimp.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Margay Leah Justice said...

Well, I don't satellite radio, so I have to say it's better this year.

11:20 AM  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

Great post. I am a big scared cat when it comes to some things.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Jeri said...

Margay: Oh good! I mention satellite because it has an indie station, and there's no other way I would have stumbled over some of my new favorite bands. So much of what's on the commercial "alternative" stations sounds the same to me. (But maybe I'm just getting old. :-)

Crystalgb: Thanks! I'm so relieved to know I'm not the only one. ;-)

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Good question! I love all genres of music. Based on the era I grew up in, it would be the 70's. Yea, that's right, I love disco. What's it to ya?
However, I was also thinking WVMP really needs a Big Band Era vamp, so that would be cool too.
Ghost story, huh? VERY EXCITING! I can't wait to see where that goes. While vamps are usually my favorite fiction subject matter, ghosts are definitely right up there since I'm a paranormal investigator in my spare time.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Breanna said...

Great guest blog! Please enter me to win!


4:28 PM  
Blogger Fedora said...

What an great post, Jeri--thank you! I'm a bit of a chicken, so I do completely relate to that side of you ;) My vampire DJ would definitely be 80's--I'm sure there's been tons of fabulous music since then, but my radio dial seems to be stuck ;)

4:32 PM  
Blogger Gina G. said...

Jeri - just found out about you through Amberkatze's book blog...
Truly enjoyed reading about you and your books. LOVE the idea of a vampire needing a shrink! Can't wait to read, esp. since that was one of my degrees (Human Development Counseling and Analysis - not vampires).

Since I've just heard about you I'm going to check out your books regarding totems...also, interesting concept!

I empathize with the scaredy cat part of your id...(snickers...I still have nightmares from sneaking into the living room at the tender age of 6 and watching Fright Night when my parents said no scary shows). I'm still traumatized at the age of 48...what can I say, I have issues.

So, my vampire DJ would represent the mid to late 70's...Bee Gee's and Frankie Valli during this time frame...and a little 2000's with Josh Groban and Death Cab for Cutie

4:36 PM  
Blogger Melsy626 said...

Loved your post!!! :)

I'm looking forward to your new YA read........I love ghost stories!!! :)

My Vampire DJ would play the big hair bands from the 80's!!! :)

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again, I guess you wondering if you are ever going to get rid of me. (NOT ANYTIME SOON)
Great interview, I think I am the biggest chicken that has ever walked around but that's OK because I live in my own little world and they don't care. I absolutely loved Wicked Game.
My time period would have to be mid 80's to mid 90's I love the music at that time.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Michele P. said...

Very nice post, loved reading about it! I love horror, and while I do read other genres, scary stuff and things that go bump in the night are still my faves. My vampire DJ's would be early to mid's 1980's-Thriller would be playing on the radio and I can almost imagine them dancing along with him. And of course some Ozzy and heavy metal, with hidden subliminal messages included! thanks for the giveaway!

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which musical time period would your vampire DJ represent? Hmmm... Probably die hard goth rock and gothic darkwave from the late 80's and early 90's. Playing bands like Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Switchblade Sympony, The Cruxshadows, Ego Likeness, and probably some Voltaire!

But anyway, I enjoyed reading your post!

6:38 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My vampire would play a lot of big-hair rock along with some 70's and 80's mixed.

Please enter me!

Jen Z

6:39 PM  
Blogger Jeri said...

ailishsmom: Actually, there are vamps from that era in WICKED GAME, and that music, but they're just not DJs at the station. Hmm...not yet.

Breanna: Thanks and good in luck the drawing!

flchen1: I grew up in the 80s (er, actually, I didn't grow up until my 20s so let's just say I went to HS in the 80s), so I know where you're coming from. I still MUST get up and act like a goofball when I hear "Safety Dance."

Gina G: Love Death Cab for Cutie! I've heard about them for years but never really listened to them until this year. I'm getting ready to buy their new CD with my birthday gift card. :-)

melsy626: Now now, the YA series is just a proposed project, not a sure thing. *crosses fingers* But I love ghosts, too. I don't know why there aren't more ghosts in paranormal fiction these days. Maybe because one can't have sex with a ghost?

MEME: Oh yay, I'm glad you got a hold of a copy of WICKED GAME, and even gladder you enjoyed it! Feel free to pop by every guest blog post o' mine.

micaela6955: Oh definitely some Black Sabbath! Very vampy. Thanks for stopping by!

chris(topher): Then Regina's the vampire DJ for you. She plays all the goth stuff, as well as punk and new wave. She looks a lot like Siouxsie Sioux. I love Bauhaus (Peter Murphy and I have the same birthday, BTW, and yes that makes me automatically cool).

Jen Z: That would be awesome! Good luck in the drawing.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jeri- your life is so much more interesting than mine-lol! I too grew up on King and Anne Rice. But your vamps are so much more real! That's why my 11 year old daughter(she reads above her age) and I are your biggest fans. As for what time period would my dj be- of course the roaring 20's! Music was fabulous then. We would love a copy of your book so keep us in mind! Love ya!
Nature Girl

8:27 PM  
Blogger -.- said...

Fear of the Dark is a hard fear to get rid of. I still can't sleep in complete darkness, or I'll scare myself.

As for my Vampire DJ, I think it would be 90s-recent music.


~ Popin

8:29 PM  
Blogger Lori T said...

Hi Jeri!! I loved your post.

I think that my vampire DJ would represent the punk scene of the late 90s...bands like Alkaline Trio, Blink 182, AFI, and music along those lines. While I am a bit older than most of the crowd at that time...this is what my daughters were really into and I went to several concerts with them and really learned to love the music. Alkaline Trio is one of my favorite bands still!

9:56 PM  
Blogger Jeri said...

Nature Girl: Thank you so much! My goal is always to make my characters feel real, even the nonhuman ones. :-) And I love 20s music!

Popinfresh: Sometimes I leave the light on when my husband's away and sometimes not. Not sure why. I haven't read or seen anything really scary lately, so that helps. :-)

Lori T: Hi! I need to check out Alkaline Trio--I keep hearing their name, and I love the other bands you mentioned. *off to check out their MySpace*

6:46 AM  
Blogger kaicevy said...

(More important, through Ciara I could totally crush on the hero, grunge DJ vampire Shane McAllister

3:21 PM  
Blogger Jeri said...

Congrats, micaela6955, on winning the drawing! Thanks to Lynda for having me blog, and especially thanks to everyone who commented! It was great hanging out with y'all. Have a wonderful week!

10:15 PM  
Blogger Michele P. said...

wow, just came home from work and saw this as I was checking the blog again... what a great surprise! Thanks ladies....Lynda I have sent you an email with specifics via your own website, if you don't get it, please email me at micaela6955(at)msn(dot)com Again, thank you!!!!!

6:32 PM  
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6:41 PM  

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