TBRG: Thank you for being here today. JF: Thanks so much for having me!
TBRG: Before we get to the burning questions that everyone wants to know, can you tell us a little bit about your book? JF: Think of I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones. That’s actually how I pitched it because I knew it was about a genie in her bottle and something happened and she was off on an adventure, complete with theme music. That’s pretty much all I knew, but soon came to go on that adventure with her and Matt when she inadvertently escapes her bottle and vows never to be back in The Service to mortals again. Unfortunately for her (and Matt), the evil vizier, Faruq, isn’t going to let her go so easily. He’s got plans for her, both personal and professional. No way is he letting his sexy meal ticket slip through his fingers. So Eden has to figure out some way to avoid Faruq while trying to find her bottle and figure out what’s gone wrong with her magic that is now acting screwy. Throw in a cat with an agenda, a cross-dressing High Master genie, and an Egyptian goddess with her own agenda, and it really was like a zany magic carpet ride to write this.
TBRG: Who has been the biggest influence on your writing? JF: I don’t know that it’s been any one person, per se, but the campy, tongue-in-cheek humor of 60’s and 70’s sitcoms (like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Gilligan’s Island, The Addams Family, etc.), as well as Disney’s movies. Then when I started entering contests before I was published, my work kept getting compared to Katie MacAlister and MaryJanice Davidson. I started reading them, found Judi McCoy’s goddess series, Stephanie Rowe’s dragons, and I realized that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed light-hearted, paranormal romantic comedies. For sheer fun, I highly recommend Jill Barnett’s Bewitching; it’s my all-time favorite romance.
TBRG: What is the one thing your readers would be the most surprised to know about you? JF: That the left and right sides of my brain are equal. I have a day job where I have to be very organized and methodical, handling paperwork and computer software. Then there’s the other side of me that creates these fantasy worlds with flippant humor.
TBRG: Where is the one place you have always wanted to go, a place on your bucket list? JF: Europe. All of western Europe. I lived in Spain and have been to Portugal, but that’s it. I keep saying I will get to Italy, Greece, France, Switzerland, etc., but with kids heading to college in a few years, that might be a bit of a ways off. But I plan on living to 113, so I’ve got some time.
TBRG: Who are some of your go to authors, and what are you reading right now? JF: Go-to authors: Kate Brady, Julia Quinn, Cindy Gerard, Roxanne St. Claire, Stephanie Julian, Olivia Cunning, and countless others. I just love to read.
TBRG: If you weren’t writing and keeping us in books (thanks for that by the way), what would you be doing? JF: For a while before I pursued publication I taught baton twirling in my local school district. I got involved with publication while my kids were little, so now that they’re grown, I don’t know what I’d be doing. I didn’t figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up until I grew up. Once I realized it was possible to become a published author, that was what I wanted to be. Well, actually, I’d always wanted to be one, but never knew it was possible until I found Romance Writers of America. I love to travel, but, again, with kids in school, it’s not that easy. Then there’s that day job thing.
TBRG: Who is on your playlist when you are writing? JF: Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Yanni, Kenny G… I need instrumental and preferably something I can’t sing along with so I can focus on the story. I just need background noise. When I was writing the Mer stories, I listened to the sounds of the sea a lot. Put in my earphones and cranked up the whale song. TBRG: Where do your ideas/characters come from? JF: I have no idea. I usually wake up with them in my head. A line of dialogue or a scene, or even an idea. I came up with the Mers because I was writing twists on fairy tales and needed a new one to twist (I’d already written one on Cinderella, another on Beauty and The Beast, and another for Snow White, so The Little Mermaid was natural). The easiest way to twist that story was to make HIM a merman. For the genies, I wanted to come up with a paranormal being people weren’t writing about. I loved I Dream of Jeannie as a kid, and it was also a natural fit for me. But the characters themselves… no clue. They just sort of evolve when I’m writing them. Sometimes I don’t know why the way they are until a good portion into the story. I remember with Reel, the hero of In Over Her Head, it wasn’t until he’s on the deserted island with Erica and he thinks about children that he made sense to me, and I think that’s about 2/3 of the way through the book.
TBRG: Are you a planner or a fly by the seat author? JF: Mostly pantser, but at about chapter 3 I stop and write a synopsis of where I think the story is going to go. Five books in to my editor, and not one of them has gone the way of that synopsis. But it helps me focus and think about what has to happen to get to where they need to get to. But I don’t plot out a whole story because the characters define it for me.
TBRG: It was nice to read a book with different types of characters instead of the same old thing that has been floating around for awhile. You created such an imaginative world for the Genie’s, what did you take your inspiration from? JF: I like to keep my worlds as close to reality as possible, at least at the launching point. Djinn, or genies, are based in Islam, so I wanted to build the worlds with those influences. Luckily, I lived in Spain in college, and the south of Spain, especially, is full of Islamic architecture. I built Al-Jannah, the Djinn magical city in the middle of the Sahara after Seville, Spain. Even brought up a map of the old town and plotted out where the High Master’s palace, the park, Faruq’s office and palace, the square where Matt and Eden kiss, etc. are.
TBRG: I loved the witty humor between Matt & Eden will we have the opportunity to catch up with them in upcoming books? JF: The difference between my Mer series and my Genies is that the Mer series is interconnected and the Genies aren’t. In the Mer series, each book is about one of the Tritone siblings. In Genies, Eden knows who Kal (the hero in Genie Knows Best) is because she meets him at the trial where they’re both sentenced for their crimes, but that’s about it. There is a mention made of Eden in Genie Knows Best (at least, as it stands now; I’m just starting the editing process with my editor, so that might change), but no, you won’t see them in the subsequent books. That being said, however, I have ideas for more genie books where you might, so never say never.
Thanks so much for having me! If anyone would like to see an excerpt, there is one on my website at www.JudiFennell.com.
If you want a chance to get your own copy make sure to comment – 2 winners will be choses (US & Canada only) About the Author
Judi Fennell is an award-winning author and writes what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her romance novels have been finalists in Gather.com’s First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, and have won numerous RWA Chapter Awards, including the FF&P Prism Award, and the New Jersey Golden Leaf Award. Judi lives with her family in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she is working on the next book in the Genie Trilogy, Genie Knows Best, set for release in November 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.judifennell.com/.