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Things That Are Destroying Jane Greene’s Undead Social Life Before It Can Even Begin:
1) A twelve-year-old brother who’s convinced she’s a zombie.
2) Parents who are begging her to turn them into vampires.
3) The pet goldfish she accidentally turns instead.
4) Weird superpowers that let her rip the heads off of every other vampire she meets.(Sounds cool, but it doesn’t win you many friends.)
5) A pyschotic vampire creator who’s using her to carry out a plan for world domination.
6) A seriously ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make out with her. Not sure which.
Being an undead, eternally pasty fifteen-year-old isn’t quite the sexy, brooding, angst-fest Jane always imagined....
Helen Keeble’s riotous debut novel combines the humor of Vladimir Tod with Ally Carter’s spot-on teen voice. With a one-of-a-kind vampire mythology and an irresistibly relatable undead heroine, this uproarious page-turner will leave readers bloodthirsty for more.
What inspired you to become an author?
Half the blame goes to other authors, and the other half goes to role-playing games. I was an introverted, fantasy-obsessed book-addict as a child, and since my favourite authors couldn’t possibly write books as fast as I could read them, I naturally started making up stories for myself. Then as a teenager I discovered there was this entire hobby where basically people gathered round to improvise stories round a table together – role-playing games! At university I met a fantastic gaming group (who are still my closest friends), and on a whim I started writing stories for them about our characters’ adventures. Then that turned into writing other stories set in that particular gameworld (Legend of the Five Rings)… which turned into writing my own original fantasy stories… which turned into submitting them to magazines… which turned into deciding to try writing whole novels… one thing just led to another!
Did you have to do any type of research for your book?
I also spent a lot of time in university libraries reading about obscure vampire folklore. In one of the chapters in FANG GIRL, the heroine’s mother is also doing research into vampires and has a ton of reference books scattered around –my copyeditors commented on that scene to ask if some of the book titles were meant to be imaginary, as they couldn’t find ISBN references for them. I can state that every single title in that scene is a real publication, but some of them are really obscure. As in ‘are actually a PhD literature study in the archives of the University of Toronto’ obscure.
I also read every vampire book I could get my hands on, with the result that Amazon now has a deeply skewed view of my reading preferences. I’ve had to start buying nothing but SF novels to stop it from only recommending paranormal romances on my “You might like…” page!
What was your favorite chapter/part to write?
All the scenes with Van, grumpy teenage vampire hunter extraordinaire. He’s the straight man in the book, who takes everything extremely seriously even when wildly ridiculous events are going on around him.
And because he’s my favourite character, the very worst things in the plot happen to him. Poor Van.
Which of your characters was the hardest to write and why?
Hakon, the ancient Swedish Elder vampire. He’s over a thousand years old, and I wanted that to influence the way he spoke. I spent a lot of time reading history books about Viking and Scandinavian poetry and oral traditions, especially the riddle-metaphors called kennings. In the end I took most of the archaisms out of his speech because they made it too hard to read, but a few of them are still there – “treacherous feeder of ravens”, for example, which means a murderer.
Are any of the characters based on people you know (or yourself)?
Jane’s family isn’t exactly based on my own, but I do have a younger brother who is both much more outgoing than I am, and a much better dresser (although not in steampunk fashion). And there is one thing about Jane’s mother which is taken from real-life, but if I told you what it was my own mother would kill me…
(Hint: Page 16, Paragraph 2)
Where did you come up with the names for your characters?
The name of my main character, Xanthe Jane, is an in-joke for my own family. When my parents were trying to decide on a name for me, they agreed to make lists separately and then use the first name that appeared on both lists. The first name on my mother’s list was Xanthe. The first name on my dad’s list was Jane. Yes, they had to make more than one list before they finally agreed on Helen…
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
If you’re having trouble actually sitting down to write without feeling ‘inspired’, try NaNoWriMo! (National Novel Writing Month) It’s a yearly challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November, and there’s a huge community involved with it. I wrote the first draft of FANG GIRL for NaNoWriMo 2008 – though I hasten to add that I did not get that first draft published. It took about a year of rewrites and editing to turn that rough draft into the finished story. But that initial period of mad, panicked writing was invaluable, because it gave me that initial block of raw words to shape into a polished story.
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