Author Jennifer Rardin first hit the paranormal scene in October 2007 with her urban fantasy novel Once Bitten, Twice Shy. And now, after six novels with her original heroine, Jaz Parks, Rardin has left behind CIA operatives for ordinary folks — or as ordinary as you can get in an urban fantasy tale. Her newest group of heroes are members of a book club who must band together to fight the monsters that are popping out of their favorite works of fiction. The author is hard at work on her new trilogy, but took a moment to share the details of this new project with us.
RT BOOK REVIEWS: What inspired you to send members of a book club, normally not a group of people many of us think of as being particularly active, into action fighting demons?
Jennifer Rardin: I had three reasons to reach into this rare group for my heroes. First of all, I knew fans would easily connect with a bunch of voracious readers who go so far as to carry their favorite titles around inside their bras! Also, when you think about it, these are the people who pay attention to the minute details of the worlds authors create and the ways in which monsters are dealt with within those worlds. That turns out to be key for the success of my heroines and their token male book club member (who finds ways to shine as well!! And, think about it, how much room for hilarity will we find when we mix total newbies with big scaries? I'm thinking fans will be laughing till they cry!
RT: What aspect of your new series gets you geared up to sit down and spend more time with your book club brigade?
JR: I love the characters. They are so unique, I just can't wait to spend time with them every day. I never know what they're going to say, but I'm pretty sure it's going to entertain me, and that makes me uberexcited about my work!
RT: So, can you tell us about these characters that have you so excited?
JR: Sure! The girls in Book Club are all upperclassmen at Wisconsin State University (a fictional institution), which I've located in Kenosha. Paige is a super senior who still isn't quite sure what to do with her life, so she's turned to self-help books as a last resort now that daddy's threatened to cut off her tuition. LaVonne is big, black, and beautiful, a nursing major with a deep-seated aversion to the sight of blood. Mila survived the war in Bosnia--kind of. Convinced that civilization is about to come to an end, she's preparing for the chaos that will no doubt follow. And Joss has already earned his Vet Tech license. He's putting it to use at the most popular clinic in Kenosha. The four friends meet every week to discuss the stories they've been inhaling like oxygen, bitch about the plot turns they disapprove of, and decide if vampires really can see their own reflections. However all changes when the monsters that've been keeping them up nights begin walking the streets for real!
RT: Jaz Park's adventures took her all around the world. So why did you decide to set your new series in a fictional location?
JR: I'll be using real spots around Kenosha for many of their experiences, since the girls share an apartment off campus and Joss lives in the same complex. But the university is of my own creation so I can take great leeway in playing with buildings and, ahem, the tunnels beneath them.
RT: What are some of the books that Book Club will be reading and why did you decide to include those titles?
JR: The Book Club mainly sticks to novels like Eternal Lover and Passion Howls. These are titles of my own creation, and I chose them because I think they give readers the sense that paranormal romance and urban fantasy make the girls go, "Whew, baby! I think I need me a cold showah!"
RT: Which three fictional monsters give you chills?
JR: 1) There was this snake with a man's head in a movie I saw as a kid that still freaks me out to this day. If I had to guess, I'd say it was from the Island of Dr. Moreau. 2) Remember the garbage chute monster from Star Wars? Yeah, not fond of that one. 3) I saw a movie when I was a kid where there was some kind of nuclear holocaust that caused many of the people to gain a lot of albino traits. I remember their pale skin and pink eyes, and the fear in the people they kept trying to kill--those guys will never stop scaring me!
RT: Will you share a detail that RT readers can keep their eyes open for in Book Club Of The Damned?
JR: Here's one I just love and I hope readers will too...sometimes Joss gets to drive the company "car" which is actually a pet ambulance. I haven't quite settled on a nickname for it yet. Right now the working word for it is the "shitmobile."
Readers can expect to see Jennifer Rardin's new series hit shelves in 2011/2012, starting with Book Club Of The Damned. For more information check out Jennifer Rardin’s website, friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.