Can you tell us a bit about Jane True, and how your idea for her came about?
Jane thinks she’s a human being with a weird secret, till she learns the truth of her supernatural heritage. She’s actually half-selkie, which is a myth about seal-human shapeshifters that comes from Scotland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Ireland. Jane’s pedigree, meanwhile, developed through knowing what kind of protagonist I wanted to write about. I wasn’t comfortable creating an already powerful heroine who automatically kicks butt; I wanted to write about a woman who was vulnerable and very human, despite being supernatural. When I created Jane, I was living in Edinburgh, Scotland, right on the shores of the Firth of Forth, so landing on “selkie” for Jane’s heritage was fairly obvious. And selkies are a perfect mythology for my purposes: they’re tragic, beautiful, and Jane’s hybrid nature was already outlined in the legends of selkie maidens marrying human husbands and then abandoning them for the sea.
Urban fantasy/paranormal novels are popular and widespread right now. What different about the Tempest series that sets it apart from the others?
My book isn’t about a superhero type who goes about singlehandedly saving the world. Instead, Jane is an everywoman who has to step up and meet an unexpected challenge. So the series is more about seeing Jane develop as a character than it is about watching her destroy stuff with a flaming sword.
How many are planned for the series?
We’ve got a contract for three, so far, but I’ve got a six-book arc planned for Jane. I’m also working on a trilogy set in the same world, which stars a very different protagonist in a very different set of circumstances. That’s probably what I’ll start working on next, as the protagonist in question is clamoring to get out. She’s feisty.
Can you talk about what’s next for Jane?
Book two is called Tracking the Tempest, and it’s set about four months after the first book. Jane’s been training, and things with Ryu are heating up. That said, she doesn’t know what “hot” is till she finally visits Ryu in Boston and gets caught up in an investigation involving a string of gruesome murders. Nothing is at it seems in this case, however, and Jane ends up in some serious trouble. Tune in July to find out more!
Congratulations on your debut novel! Do you have any advice to give struggling, pre-published authors?
My biggest advice has to be what I learned doing my Ph. D., and that’s to separate yourself (your intentions, your aspirations, etc.) from what you just wrote on the page in front of you. What you wrote on the page will always be flawed, and therefore improvable, no matter how “perfect” is the idea inside your head. So when an otherwise intelligent reader comes along and says, “I don’t understand this,” it’s not because your concept is bad or that you are a talentless hack; it’s simply because you need to communicate that idea differently so that it makes sense to people not living in your own brain. In other words, learn not only to accept criticism, but actively to seek it out. Your work will never be “perfect” until the day you stop growing as a person and you can’t write anything better. So until that horrible day happens, recognize that every engaged critique of your work is a blessing, and not a judgment about you as a person or your potential as a writer.
How do you plan on celebrating your release day?
My friends just helped me throw an amazing launch party in NYC, and I’ve got a big signing event planned in Shreveport, Louisiana, on November 7th, with Jaye Wells. So, for the actual, official release day, I’m doing something very mature and proactive . . . I’m running away. Seriously, I’m scarpering to an undisclosed location, to hide out with a friend. I’m just gonna act like none of it’s happening and indulge myself in a little hedonism-induced amnesia.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of things, but primarily by ideas from the literature and philosophy I read for my teaching, by the music to which I listen, and by my incredible friends, who are some of the funniest, smartest, most interesting human beings on the planet. I’ve been seriously blessed when it comes to friends.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite fantasy writers are Mercedes Lackey, Charles de Lint, Charlaine Harris, and David Eddings. Other favorite writers from other genres are Iris Murdoch, Robertson Davies, Philip Roth, Hemingway, and, last but not least, D. H. Lawrence with his wayward wombs.
What do you do when you’re not writing or teaching?
I belly dance, watch a lot of live music, eat out a lot, and travel loads. And I read, obviously, pretty obsessively.
Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me! And everyone reading this should come find me at http://nicolepeeler.com, on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nicolepeeler, and on twitter as NicolePeeler.