Beth Fantaskey is the hilarious author of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and Jessica Rules the Dark Side (which you can begin reading for a limited time on Figment here). If you’ve been following Jess and Lucius’s adorable love-coaster from the beginning, you’ll love Jessica Rules the Dark Side. Our vampire royals are married, and, of course, drowning in a sea of drama when Lucius is wrongfully accused of a crime and Jessica must save him. We sat down (virtually speaking) with Jess to talk about her craft and her new book.
On your website, you have a list of 10 hilarious facts about yourself. Want to give our readers a chance to play two lies and a truth?
* I have a leopard gecko named “Lancelot.”
* I once toppled backwards out of a chair during a job interview, performing a complete somersault.
* I own a trophy for finishing third-place in a hot-dog eating contest at the Bloomsburg, Pa., county fair.
So, you’re obviously a fan of lists. Can you describe your book in four words?
(I may have made up two of those.)
Jessica Rules the Dark Side is written in chapters that switch perspective. Did you write it in order, from beginning to end, or did you write all of one character’s chapters first?
What an interesting question! I wrote it in order, just allowing each character to “speak” when it seemed as though he or she had something to say. It all flowed very naturally.
Your books are super dark and romantic. What appealed to you about writing romance?
Oddly enough, while I’ve never been a “candy and flowers” kind of girl–give me something practical, any day–I love a good love story. If I’m going to invest my time in a book, it has to have an element of romance, even if it’s a mystery or thriller–and the higher the stakes, the better. I’ve always been that way. As a kid reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was most drawn to minor the romantic subplot involving the mortal Aragorn and the immortal Arwen. I’d be impatiently paging along, thinking, “Yeah, yeah, Gollum, ring, fires of doom . . . Come on . . . Where’s the love story?” As an adult, writing romance was a natural fit for me.
In Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, a normal girl finds out she has a paranormal destiny. Did you ever dream of being told you were something other than what you thought?
Sure, I think every kid has those moments when you think, “I don’t belong with this crazy family! Somewhere out there, I must have parents who are perfect and magical!” Then you realize that of course you belong with your crazy family–and you’re exactly like them. But it was fun to write a book about a girl who gets the best of both worlds: The loving, off-beat mortals who raised her and the exciting vampire clan who claims her, too.
Can we expect more books about Jessica’s exploits?
In terms of another complete book, there’s nothing planned right now–although I have lots of ideas. I suppose it depends upon how readers respond to Jessica Rules the Dark Side. However, even if there isn’t another published novel, I do plan to at least write a second smaller continuation on my website–another free installment, like the chapters that tell the story of Jess and Lucius’s wedding. I like having a way of saying “thank you” to everyone who’s supported the books.
Do you have an established writing routine?
Yes, I pretty much keep regular office hours. I sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee at 9 a.m. and start writing, then grab lunch and a Diet Coke at about 11:30, followed by more writing until 3:30, when my kids get off the school bus. I am really a creature of habit, which I think helps me meet deadlines. I don’t goof off during the day. It’s all about work. It’s boring, but true.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
That’s definitely my husband’s repeated suggestion that I write a book about a school/summer camp/insert-other-random-location-here that’s located above a “secret Indian burial ground.” He comes up with this plot idea about once a year. I just tell him, “Sure, I’ll lock that one away!” Meaning, in a vault I’ll never touch–unless I get a job writing for Scooby-Doo!
Psst! Which of those “two lies and a truth” was the true fact? Beth really did once topple out of a chair during a job interview!