Well peeps, I am super excited to have one of the coolest people I've ever met as my special guest today :) The one and only Chloe Neill. Being as busy as she is, I don't think she'll be stopping by, but she did answer my nagging, er, indepth interview questions for inquiring minds who demand to know. So, let's get started....
S~ What was the first vampire story you ever read? Did it have a romantic angle to it?
I recall reading vampire ghost stories as a child--there was one about some sort of vampire dog. Definitely no romantic angle in that one. :) It was some time later that I read Christine Feehan or Sherrilyn Kenyon and fell in love with the vampiric hero.
S~ How different is the Chicagoland Vampire series from when you originally came up with the idea, or has it stayed pretty close to your original version?
VERY different. The original version was pretty (unintentionally) silly. Mallory (or was it Merit?) was in a band and was performing at a club owned by Morgan. Merit was made a vampire in the back of the club by some raging, anti-human vamp. Ethan was completely absent, but Merit's other love interest was a blond named Lucky.
Generally, it was pretty awful. And then I got a mental image of Ethan, standing with his hands on his hips with that superior expression, and the rest is history!!
S ~After reading Firespell,the 1st book in your YA Dark Elite series, I was struck by how mature these teens are, and have a completely different voice than the CV series, not quite as snarky. How easy was it for you to create a world told from the perspective of teenagers without making it silly or too angsty?
Honestly, I didn't try to make them teenagers per se. I just tried to imagine how Lily and Scout would interact given their circumstances. There is, however, definitely a balancing act between good banter and angst, and trying to make the books neither too light nor too dark.
S~ How many books are planned in the DE series? Any possibility of a crossover with the CV series?
There are currently 3 under contract, but there's no possibility of a CV crossover at this point as, while they're both set in Chicago, they are completely different universes.
S~ How extensive was your research on Chicago for each series? Did you base the locale on actual places, or use your own imagination to come up with each individual world?
I'd say its 85% actual locations and 15% made up (but within the context of the neighborhood). Because the books are set in an actual location with a HUGE population, I knew I had to get it right the first time. I can't put Navy Pier in Evanston or ignore the Chicago River, for example. So I did lots of research about Chicago geography and neighborhoods. I now supplement that with location scouting trips to Chicago. But there is still some fudging on my part. For example, Cadogan House is imaginary, but it's set in the very real neighborhood of Hyde Park.
S~ One of my favorite things about your books is the different and complex relationships that exist: best friends, romantic interests, Sire to subject, some of them intertwined. How do you keep the action exciting without skimping on the personal interactions?
My focus is always on the personal interactions, because that's what I enjoy reading and writing. The action scenes don't come naturally to me, as I really have to work to imagine fights in three dimensions, for example. But these are urban fantasy, so action is inevitable. I try to focus on the stakes of the fight--what a character could win or lose as a result of the battle, which leads back to the personal interaction.
S~ You've talked about who inspired Ethan & Merit (Becks and Jill from the USA show "Royal Pains"). Any actors/actresses inspire the characters for your YA series?
I have Chris Pine in mind as Jason Shepherd, but that's really it. The Dark Elite series is very much about the characters' roles in their magical world, so while I have mental images of the characters, I haven't really worried too much about finding real world counterparts.
S~ Do you currently read any YA books? Any recommendations?
I recently finished Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and adored it (as I do with all Neil Gaiman). Beyond that, I don't have time to read much fiction at all, unfortunately!
S~ Okay, I just gotta ask: can we expect some intense, hot lovin' between any of your characters in Twice Bitten? How HOT can we anticipate it to get?
No comment. ;) [Luckily I already know the answer, and nope, I'm not telling either *g*]
S~ How do you like to relax? I see you like to bake and exercise. Are there other ways you unwind after a long day working/writing?
I'd say those are the big two. I also take my dogs to the dog park or on walks. I'll also scan the internet checking out interesting design and gadget web sites. You never know where ideas might pop up!
S~ What are some of your guilty pleasures? Favorite beverage? Favorite t.v. shows? Favorite music on your iPod?
Beverage - Hands down, Diet Coke. Always and forever! Xoxo
TV shows - Community, Parks & Rec, 30Rock, Leverage, Burn Notice, Man v. Food, No Reservations, Family Guy, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the list goes on and on and on. :)
S~ What are you reading right now?
I just started reading The Passage by Justin Cronin. Very intriguing so far!
S~ What's the last really good move you saw? What was so memorable about it?
I very rarely watch movies; I'm too much of a multitasker to devote the time to it. In fact, I can't remember the last movie I've watched...
S~ When you're writing about the ancient history of the Chicagoland Vampires, did you study actual history, or use a lot of creative license to describe its origins?
I studied actual history. I have a timeline written for the devleopment of the Greenwich Presidium (and its precursors) and the secret "RG" which sent Merit cards and invitations in FRIDAY NIGHT BITES. Although the histories are unique, I tried to ground them in realistic events--including the French Revolution and witchhunts of the 15th Century.
S~ What are some of your addictions? Twitter? Manicures? The Food Network?
Artsy notebooks created by independent graphic designers. Stiletto heels. Great handbags. Japanese needlepoint pens. Great salsa. Adult Swim.
S~ Which comes first: the character description or the name? Out of all your characters, which one was the hardest to come up with?
They both have to pop up at about the same time. Usually I'll have a loose idea for a character, then I'll scan through a baby name book until his or her name pops out at me. Ethan's name was VERY hard. He was Jason and "Iason" for a while. But when I got to Ethan, it stuck. Unfortunately, I have no memory of how I got to "Merit." Mallory was always Mallory, as were Lily and Scout.
S~ What else is going on in Chloe's world? Are you working on any other creative ideas?
I've got a couple of other series ideas in the works, but no time to write them! At the moment I'm focusing on writing two books a year.
S~ Wll you be going to see Eclipse when it comes out in theatres? If so, are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?
I probably won't (See movie discussion above). But I'm Team Jacob. :) [Yet another reason to like you ;) ]
S~ Has your writing ever taken you in a direction you weren't expecting? Do you have any hard and fast rules, or is it pretty much anything is possible?
It often takes me in a direction I wasn't expecting--and that's true of outlining as well as writing. The outline for the fourth Chicagoland Vampires book is completely different than its original incarnation, but I really love the direction its taking. The magic in HEXBOUND still awes me, as most of it just flowed out as I was writing the story.
S~ Any gossip you'd like to share with the group? *g*
Nothing that hasn't already been revealed on my Facebook page. ;) Thanks for having me today!
S ~ As always Chloe, it's awesome having you here :)
And to my wonderful visitors, stay tuned later this afternoon for your chance to win a copy of Twice Bitten, the 3rd book in Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampire series!