Literatopia: Hi Jeaniene, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Would you tell us a bit about yourself, first? Who are you and what kind of books do you write?
Jeaniene Frost: Thanks for having me. I’m an author of urban fantasy romance, which basically means that my books don’t fit neatly into either fantasy or romance. I write the Night Huntress series featuring half-vampire heroine Cat Crawfield and her vampire lover, Bones. I’ve been an avid reader and vampire fan since all the way back to childhood, so it’s a real dream come true for me to get to write about vampires (and ghouls, ghosts, and magic, too!).
Literatopia: Your very first book, Halfway to the Grave, first in a whole series, earned you considerable fame. In your own words, what’s the Night Huntress series about? What’s in store for your readers?
Jeaniene Frost: The Night Huntress series is about Catherine “Cat” Crawfield, a half-vampire who hunts vampires. Cat has been brought up to believe that anything undead is evil, and she also has serious self-acceptance issues because of her mixed heritage. Bones is the Master vampire Cat attempts to kill, but who ends up coercing Cat into partnering with him. As the first novel – and the series – progresses, Cat realizes that most of her beliefs about vampires are wrong. Her relationship with Bones also goes from hostility and mistrust to passion and love. But that doesn’t mean all is well in Cat’s world. There are still many scary vampires and other creatures that go bump in the night, and Cat’s one of the few people strong enough to be able to take them on.
Literatopia: When you wrote Halfway to the Grave, were you already planning to write a whole series or was this something that developed later on?
Jeaniene Frost: It’s interesting, because I started HTTG with the intention of only writing one book. The original idea I had for the story came from a dream where I saw a half-vampire woman arguing with a full-vampire man over how she’d had no choice except to leave him years before. The dream fascinated me enough to want to write a story about those two characters and what happened between them. Of course, what I found out after I was nearly finished with the first novel was that their story encompassed far more than one book. The argument I glimpsed in my dream actually takes place in the second book in the series, and yet once I’d written that, I still wasn’t even close to finished with their story yet.
Literatopia: How many more books to the series will there be? Do you already know what the end will be like or do you work your way there step by step?
Jeaniene Frost: I’m contracted for seven Cat and Bones books and I am anticipating to end their storyline at book seven (possibly eight, if I can’t fit everything I want to do into just three more books). But yes, I do know how I want this series to end, and every book brings my characters a little closer to that final resolution.
Literatopia: When your first book was such a hit with readers, people started calling you the new shooting star of Dark Fantasy. What do you think about that title? Do you feel it’s an honor or is it awkward for you?
Jeaniene Frost: It’s very flattering to be considered a shooting star of anything, but I’m a little amused by the Dark Fantasy title. In America, my books are primarily shelved in the romance section. Genre distinctions are determined more by booksellers and publishers than they are by me, though. My books contain a lot of elements: romance, fantasy, action, violence, humor, and sex. That almost sounds like my books suffer from an identity crisis, but for me, all of those elements are necessary to tell the story properly. How they’re classified later is up to people other than me, but I’m honored that readers seem to be enjoying them.
About "One Foot in the Grave"
Literatopia: July 2009 the second book in the Night Huntress series, One Foot in the Grave, was published in German. Can you tell readers of the first book what this second one is all about?
Jeaniene Frost: The second novel starts off four years after the events in the first book. Cat’s solidified her position as leader of a covert branch of government soldiers who hunt down rogue vampires and ghouls, but she’s still broken-hearted over Bones. When Cat frees a vampire with connections to Bones’s past instead of killing him, it sets a chain of events in motion that leave Cat a target for assassination – and Bones is the only one who can help her.
Literatopia: The formation of a new team is at the heart of this book’s plot and that’s what makes it seem like One foot in the Grave was written more or less to fill in a gap. Do you think the same about the second book or was it purposefully written to be less spectacular than the first book, Halfway to the Grave?
Jeaniene Frost: It’s always my goal as an author to make each book better than the next, revealing a little more about the characters and the world in every volume. As I mentioned in my earlier answer, events in One Foot in the Grave were actually the inspiration for the story that became Halfway to the Grave, so it was in no way written to be a gap or filler book.
About "At Grave’s End"
Literatopia: In At Grave’s End, Bones’ and Cat’s cover is blown. Consequently, can we expect more action from this book than from the last?
Jeaniene Frost: Yes, Bones and Cat’s covers are blown in this novel, but that’s just the beginning of their problems. This was an intense novel to write. I think readers might find it to be one of the most action-packed of the series thus far.
Literatopia: From the jacket text we know that in the third book Cat has to face having a vampire for a father and Bones has to face his past. Can you reveal a bit more about the plot?
Jeaniene Frost: In addition to Cat’s cover being blown, a woman from Bones’s past is determined to kill him, using anyone close to Bones to hurt him or draw him out. After some narrow escapes, Bones realizes there’s a traitor in their midst. What they don’t know is whether the traitor is one of the vampires Bones trusts, or someone closer to Cat. Expect to see a lot more of the vampire world in this novel, as well as dark magic being used as a weapon.
Being a writer
Literatopia: When and why did you start writing? Did you start with some first shorter stories when you where a child or did you discover your passion for this profession later on?
Jeaniene Frost: As a child and through my teen years, I wrote poetry and short stories. I’d always wanted to write a novel but I felt I didn’t have the time or the skill. Finally, right before I turned thirty, I realized that if I didn’t chase my dream of being an author immediately, I’d never do it. Right around that same time I had that dream about the half-vampire girl and a full vampire man. Then I sat down and wrote Halfway to the Grave in under four months while still working a full-time job.
Literatopia: What is it that drew you to Dark Fantasy? Is it that it lets you blend fantastic elements with a real-world-setting or something completely different?
Jeaniene Frost: I’ve always been intrigued by the paranormal, and I’ve been a fan of horror movies since I was a child. Many horror movies have supernatural elements in them, and many of them are also done in a “real world” setting where most people are unaware of the monsters among them. The idea that more exists than what we know has always been tantalizing for me. My fascination with the “what if?” factor has probably most influenced me to write about the paranormal in current, real-world settings.
Literatopia: Apart from your novels, you’ve already written contributions to several paranormal anthologies. How did you get started on that? Do you enjoy to contribute to these books? Can you recommend one in particular to your readers?
Jeaniene Frost: In every instance except one, I was invited by an editor to participate in an anthology. The single instance where I wasn’t was when a couple author friends and I decided it would be fun to be in a book together. So we pitched the anthology idea to an editor, who liked it enough to buy it. I enjoy writing short stories for anthologies. It gives me a chance to expand storylines of other characters in the Night Huntress world, and to vary my writing through different point of view narratives.
As for which anthology I’d recommend to readers, I’m particularly proud of the UNBOUND anthology, which is the one that started out as an idea between some friends and me. Other authors in UNBOUND in addition to me are Kim Harrison, Melissa Marr, Vicki Pettersson, and Jocelynn Drake, so you can see why I was so excited about it.
Literatopia: How about readings – are they something you get a blast out of or are you still too nervous to enjoy them much?
Jeaniene Frost: I’ve been lucky enough to avoid readings thus far. I enjoy speaking on panels and workshops, and I try to be on a few in every convention I go to, but readings are just not my forte.
Literatopia: You like to read novels but you also enjoy poems. Do you write poems yourself – maybe some that draw on your own novels and stories? Or are they something of a counterbalance to the kind of themes you write about in your novels?
Jeaniene Frost: I do write some poetry but it has little to do with the themes in my books. It’s usually just about emotions or nature. Nothing with a paranormal or even a dark slant. I have no intentions to seek to publish any of my poetry, either. It’s just another way for me to express myself through writing, but a personal one, not a public one.
Literatopia: Do you read vampire stories yourself or is it enough for you to write them?
Jeaniene Frost: I love to read vampire novels! I definitely have not reached a saturation point even though I write about vampires. Some of my favourite vampire authors include Charlaine Harris, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Adrian Phoenix, Lara Adrian, Jeri Smith Ready, Yasmine Galenorn, Kresley Cole, and Colleen Gleason.
Literatopia: You like to stroll through old graveyards. What is it that draws you there? Do you come up with new ideas and draw inspiration for new stories there or do these walks mostly calm you?
Jeaniene Frost: The walks are mostly calming. Cemeteries are usually beautiful places, very serene, and many with lovely sculptures. Historic or battlefield cemeteries are almost like outdoor museums, too. And occasionally, I will read an inscription on a headstone that sparks inspiration in me. Sometimes fascinating little stories about people are left on their gravestones or on the outside of their crypts.
Literatopia: Is there an interview question you’ve been dying to hear for years without it ever being asked? If so, what question is it and what’s your answer?
Jeaniene Frost: No, I don’t have any burning unasked question to answer. I think you were very thorough!
Literatopia: Thanks for the interview!
Jeaniene Frost: Thanks so much to you for having me! I really appreciate you and your readers taking the time to allow me to chat with you.
Questions sent in by our readers
Question: The overall atmosphere of One Foot in the Grave was surprisingly optimistic. Will it continue to be like this in the next books?
Jeaniene Frost: Each book has its own tone depending on the plot and how the circumstances affect the characters. Some books will be lighter, some darker, some more romantic, and some more action-based. I don’t strive for a particular atmosphere when I start a book. I just try to tell the story the best way I can, and that means the atmosphere will vary based on the plot elements in each book.
Question: Bones’ life story would deserve to be told in its own right. Can we expect a novel about it or will it be told solely via the books of the Night Huntress series?
Jeaniene Frost: I’ve often toyed with the idea of writing a novel on Bones showing his life as a human up through him becoming a Master vampire. Right now, though, I have deadline commitments through the end of next year, so I don’t have the time to write it. I did get to write a short story about Bones, though. It’s called Reckoning, and it’s in the UNBOUND anthology I mentioned before. Reckoning shows Bones on a hunt in New Orleans about five months before he meet Cat, and it’s written through his point of view. I very much enjoyed getting the chance to peer deeper into Bones’s mind with this story, and I hope readers will enjoy seeing a closer look at him.
Question: To see one of your books turned into a movie would be great! Which actors would you personally think a good choice to play Bones and Cat?
Jeaniene Frost: Wow, I would have such a hard time coming up with actors that I think would personify Bones or Cat to me. I have very specific ideas about what the two of them look like, and thus far, no actor I’ve seen has nailed either of them for me. Of course, there are a lot of actors I don’t know about, so perhaps Bones or Cat do have their perfect double out there and I’ve just not seen them yet.