Tell us a bit (and by "bit, I mean "lot") about your new YA novel, SHADE. What happens to start SHADE off?
SHADE is the first in my new paranormal YA series. It's about Aura Salvatore, a sixteen-year-old girl whose birth marked an event called the Shift. Everyone born after the Shift, including Aura, can see ghosts.
SHADE starts with Aura at a crossroads with her punk rocker boyfriend Logan. They're ready to take their relationship to the next level, if you know what I mean, but she's worried that once he becomes a famous musician, he'll ditch her for a harem of groupies.
Then Logan dies and becomes a ghost.
What is your main character Aura like? How did you come up with her name?
Aura is very down-to-earth. She has a bone-dry, sarcastic sense of humor. She wants to be outrageously punk like her friends, but has a major straight-lace streak. She's pretty jaded about life, since she's spent all of her own listening to ghosts yak about their horrible deaths and the lives they regret. She misses the mom she barely remembers and the dad she never knew.
Her name, well...I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I named Aura after the new Saturn sports sedan. I didn't name her after the car, but when I saw a commercial for it, I said, "That's my main character's name!" I'd been pondering the story idea in the back of my mind for a couple of years but hadn't started writing it. Having the name really jump-started the brainstorming process.
I feel like I should buy an Aura in gratitude. ;-P
What are Logan and Zachary like? Do you have a favorite of the two?
Logan and Zachary couldn't be less alike, except that they're both nice, cute guys in love with (or at least in like with) Aura. Logan has a frenetic energy, always in motion and interacting with everyone. Life of the party, you know. He wants to be famous because he wants the whole world to love him.
Zachary is a lot like Aura--level-headed, stubborn, totally focused on his goals (his biggest one is winning Aura's heart). He's Scottish and a master flirt--the combination is absolutely deadly. He looks like he could star in a James Bond Jr. movie. He has many secrets.
Like Aura, I'm torn between the two guys. Whichever is in the scene I'm writing is my current favorite. But I bet readers will take sides--I can't wait to see what they think of them!
Do you wish you could see and talk to ghosts like Aura can?
No way! I'm a complete wuss and would probably pass out if I ever saw a ghost or experienced any kind of psychic phenomenon. With the rational part of my brain, I don't believe in ghosts, BUT like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, I like to hedge my bets by saying, "I do believe in ghosts, I do believe in ghosts, I do, I do, I do, I do, I DO believe in ghosts!"
What's one cool thing you can do?
I can juggle. Nothing fancy, but I can keep three balls in the air for several minutes. It's very relaxing.
I can also whistle with my tongue. It sounds like the wind howling.
Was this a fun book to write?
It was both fun and meaningful. Like Aura (and like most people), I know what it's like to lose someone who leaves a giant hole in your life. You feel like you'd do anything just to have them around again, even in another form like a ghost. I'll be honest--I cried a lot while writing it (and rewriting it, and editing it, and proofreading it). But they were good tears, not painful.
The book also has a lot of humor. Aura is pure deadpan, not consciously witty like Ciara, the heroine of my vampire books. I thought it would be hard to make their voices sound distinctive, but it turned out to be easy, because their personalities are so different. Aura may be younger than Ciara, but she definitely has an older soul.
What are you working on now?
I'm writing the sequel to SHADE, which will be called SHIFT and will come out in May 2011. Soon I'll be proofreading the pages of the third book in my adult WVMP RADIO vampire series, BRING ON THE NIGHT. That comes out this August.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I love to hear from readers, so I encourage people to come visit me at www.jerismithready.com, or even better: www.facebook.com/jerismithready or http://twitter.com/jsmithready.
Thanks for the incredible interview Jeri! And to everyone else, go check out Jeri's website or say hi to her on FB or Twitter. Don't forget to stop by Tuesday for a chance to win a signed ARC of SHADE, courtesy of Jeri herself!