Debut Author Spotlight: Jenn Bennett

Name: Jenn Bennett

Book: Kindling The Moon

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Current Home: Atlanta, GA

Author Icon: That would be a toss-up between Phillip Pullman (who is both brilliant and rebellious), or Anaïs Nin (the for the same reasons).

Favorite Word: My husband says that any answer other than "Sasquatch" is incorrect. But I think I'll go with "whiplash," which is both violent and graceful at the same time. 

What inspired you to start writing?

Almost three years ago, I lost a corporate job that I hated. Instead of rushing to find another one, I decided to try something crazy and important. A couple of months later, I'd written my first manuscript. It was terrible, as first-tries often are, but in a few months, I'd end up writing what later became Kindling The Moon.

How long did it take you to finish writing Kindling The Moon? What was the process for selling it?

It took me six weeks to write Kindling The Moon, from idea to completion. Six months later, I signed a contract with an agent, and a few weeks after that it got a couple of offers and was sold to Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books. I'm not sure if that's fast or slow in the big scheme of things, but it seemed like quite a long time to me!

What was the most challenging part of writing Kindling The Moon?

My book centers on a magician—a mage. But detailed descriptions of spells and rituals can be boring for the reader. Sometimes I had to force myself to dial back the minutia of All Things Esoteric in order to keep the plot crisp.

What was the first spark of idea you had for Kindling The Moon?

The spark came when two ideas collided. First, I was watching a "true crime" show on television and wondered what it would be like to have a serial killer in your family. I also wondered what it would be like if your neighbors looked human, but were actually demon on the inside. Surely these are normal thoughts that any healthy young woman would have, yes?

Did your plot go through any major revisions during the writing process?

It didn't, actually. The original first draft isn't all that different from what's being sold in stores; however, I think that the revisions my agent and editor requested filled out the story in subtle yet important ways that I never would have accomplished on my own.

At the book's beginning, your heroine, Arcadia, is the co-owner of the Tambuku Tiki Lounge where she works. What is her favorite part of her job? Any favorite drinks she would like to share?

Yes, Arcadia owns a small underground tiki bar with her best friend, Kar Yee. She would deny it until the cows came home, but the favorite part of Arcadia's job would probably be the small thrill of power she gets from binding demon customers who get too rowdy. And as far as drinks go, her favorite drink would be a classic Mai Tai, which—fact!—requires orgeat syrup, Orange Curaçao, and fresh lime juice.

In the story, your heroine's parents fake their own deaths — only to be found years later. In your opinion, is there any "perfect" way to fake your death and go into hiding or is this type of secret destined to be found out?

The only perfect way to fake your death would require that you keep a low profile after said faking. That is precisely the problem with Arcadia's parents: they aren't subtle people. If you ever decide to fake your own death, I propose that you only consider it seriously if you are 100% okay with a wallflower-esque, hermetic lifestyle. It also probably helps if you don't like flashy clothes and expensive cars. 

Because of her resurfacing parents, Arcadia is prompted to solve a years-old murder. Does she have any special skills going into her amateur sleuth gig?

Arcadia's turned Running Away into an art form; therefore, most of her special skills allow her to slink into the shadows, like the invisibility spell that's carved into her arm. Perhaps that's why this whole situation throws Arcadia into a nosedive, because she isn't very good at sleuthing, and she's forced to rely on other people to help her. That's a very uncomfortable position for someone like her.

Her sidekick on the quest to clear her parents' names is a demon named Lon. Can you define Lon and Arcadia's relationship? (You have to admit it does seem a touch unconventional.)

Lon and Arcadia's relationship is absolutely unconventional, yes. She's a magician, he's a demon . . . they are supposed to be mortal enemies. Then you throw in the age difference, and the fact that Lon is divorced and raising a teenage son on his own? Well, this quickly becomes a complicated relationship that Arcadia would never in a million years have conjured up for herself. But Lon is exactly what she needs—someone who's stable and unwaveringly loyal, who can both understand her unique situation and also see past it. And she's exactly what he needs, too—someone who shares his interest in magick, who makes him feel alive after years of self-imposed exile, and who finds his grunts and squinty-eyed stares to be charming.  

The RT reviewer was happy to point out that this looks to be a series. Is there anything you can share about your next Arcadia Bell book?

The second book in the series, Summoning The Night, will go on sale in April 2011. It centers on a dark mission for the leader of the Hellfire Club, who is seeking a local boogeyman called the Sandpiper Park Snatcher. The story takes place around Halloween (just a few weeks after the events of the first book) and introduces several new characters while following Arcadia, Lon, and Jupe as they adjust to their fledgling family unit.

Have more questions about Jenn Bennett's debut novel and her writing process? Get answers by leaving your questions in the comments below — she will be stopping by all day to respond!