Monday, August 20, 2012

No Fixing Needed Here, Ma'am

Thought for the day:  Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.  [John Osborne]

Shoo, dog, SHOO!

Can't do anything to relieve that lamppost's anxiety, but I can assure a certain writer that I've got absolutely no criticism for her debut novel. Nope. Not a bit. Doesn't need a bit of fixing. Matter of fact, if I were a dog, I'd be climbing that lamppost to howl her praises.

So, who am I talking about, you might ask?

None other than Linda Grimes.

Yep, that same Linda Grimes who's been keeping her followers in stitches on her Visiting Reality blog is launching what's sure to be an outstanding career with the upcoming release of her debut novel In a Fix. (And if you don't already read her blog, I highly recommend that you fix THAT!) It was a great honor to be one of the lucky In a Fix preview readers as the ARC (advance reader copy) has been making a whirlwind tour around the country before the book's (No... make that THE BOOK'S) official release on September fourth. (Oh, and here's a singing-her-praises shout-out to Karla, too, who's done such an outstanding job directing and obsessing (HA!) over the smooth execution of that tour.)

                                       Okay, how's about an official blurb to whet your appetite?

Snagging a marriage proposal for her client while on an all-expenses-paid vacation should be a simple job for Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire. A kind of human chameleon, she's able to take on her clients' appearances and slip seamlessly into their lives, solving any sticky problems they don't want to deal with themselves. No fuss, no muss. Big paycheck. This particular assignment is pretty enjoyable...that is, until Ciel's island resort bungalow is blown to smithereens and her client's about-to-be-fiance is snatched by modern-day Vikings. For some reason, Ciel begins to suspect that getting the ring is going to be a tad more difficult than originally anticipated. Going from romance to rescue requires some serious gear-shifting, as well as a little backup. Her best friend, Billy, and Mark, the CIA agent she's been crushing on for years - both skilled adaptors - step in to help, but their priority is, annoyingly, keeping her safe. Before long, Ciel is dedicating more energy to escaping their watchful eyes than she is to saving her client's intended. Suddenly, facing down a horde of Vikings feels like the least of her problems. 

Sound good??? Trust me, it IS. Best book I've read in a long time, and I read a LOT of books. Entertaining, funny, adventurous, and a teeny bit naughty, this is one of those easy reading books that's a sheer pleasure to read. I'm telling ya, Linda out-Evanoviches Evanovich. No kidding.

Now, how about a little Q&A session with our soon-to-be star?

1.  In a Fix defies traditional single-genre classification, and would feel equally at home shelved alongside fantasies, adventures, romances, or humor. (And maybe a few others.) Did agents and/or publishers balk at your pigeonhole-defiance and try to steer your focus toward a particular genre? Do you think the genre-crossing nature of your book will open it to a broader fanbase?

I wouldn't say agents and editors steered me to narrow the genre focus, precisely, though a number of agents didn't think they could sell it, and so declined to rep me. Even my agent, Michelle Wolfson (Wolfson Literary Agency), warned me that it might be tough to find a home for it, but she loved it and wanted to try. Who was I to deny her the opportunity? *grin*

She was right—plenty of editors liked it, but didn't think it fit in with what their houses were selling—but Michelle's persistence paid off when she sent it to Tor. They were willing to take a chance on light urban fantasy with hefty doses of romance and humor. Thank goodness, because I adore my editor (the amazing Melissa Frain) and love working with her.

I'm certainly hoping the book will appeal to readers of both urban fantasy and romance, because those genres have huge and loyal followings. Combining the readerships would be awesome. And if I catch some readers who just plain like to laugh, too…well, that would be a bonus.

2. How in the world did you come up with the concept of aura adapting? It's entirely new to me, but somehow, you made it not only plausible, but believable. (And fun!)


Honestly? I couldn't tell you exactly how it first came to me. When I saw the name "Ciel" on a license plate, the character popped into my head, and I just somehow knew she had the ability to look like anyone she wanted. I also knew she wasn't a shape-shifter in the traditional sense—that she didn't have to go through that arduous physical transformation. I thought to myself, she's dealing with projecting her energy—her aura. That's what she's changing.

I think it's plausible because on the subatomic level, all matter is basically energy. (Don't try to think about it too hard. Just get into the Zen of it. *grin*)

3. Let's talk research. Were any of the locations in your book based on places you've actually visited? And how about those neo-Vikings? 'Fess up. Relatives, right? (Or maybe a Neanderthal high school beau?)

I've visited Visby (Sweden) on several occasions, and I've always loved the medieval charm of the walled city. And, of course, I live right outside D.C., so that locale is familiar, too.

Re the Vikings: Ha! No comment.

Actually, all the Swedes I know personally are very civilized. Even the ones I'm related to. (I know! Hard to believe.) I did date one very tall, blond guy back in high school, but he was a pussy cat, so I don't think he counts as Neanderthal.

4. Whether intended or not, main characters very often reflect the personalities of their creators. So, creator, how is Ciel like you? And other than the whole kick-butt aura adapting stuff, how is she different?

I can't believe you're just assuming I can't adapt my aura.

(Oh, all right. I can't. But, dang, wouldn't that be cool?) 

Anyway, Ciel is kind of a smartass. I suppose there are those who might *cough* say the same about me. We're both quite independent by nature. We both LOVE Swedish pastries. Also, she has three brothers, and so do I.  

As for how Ciel and I are different … well, I'm tall, she's short. She tends to be more impulsive than I am. She's kind of torn between two lust interests, and I am strictly a one-man woman. (Of course, he's a Gemini, so maybe he counts as two guys…) Also, I have this thing for camels; she's not as fascinated with them.

5. What? With all the different (and I DO mean different) modes of transportation Ciel uses, both willingly and not-so-willingly, both classy and (ahem) crappy, there wasn't a single camel to be seen. Or ridden. What's up with that? Gonna rectify that grave oversight in future books?

See above. *grin* As for future books … well, seeing Ciel on a camel certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility. In fact, given the way she seems to be a magnet for odd situations, I'd say it's quite likely.

6. What's next? When can we expect the release of Ciel's next adventure?

Quick Fix is due out next July, so get ready for more wackiness!

7. Anything else you'd like to add? (i.e. Here's where you get to answer the question you wish I would've asked.)

Hmm. I'd like to add a bit about the stress of dealing with the sudden wealth that comes with being a published author—you know, the second and third homes, the cabana boys and live-in maids, the research assistants … but, alas, it would be a bigger fantasy than my books. ;)


I'm telling ya, this book is as good as a great big bowl of ooey gooey chocolate dessert. Not convinced yet? How's about a big dollop of fresh whipped cream on top? Check out this kick-butt trailer:

This book, the first in what I predict will be a long and successful series, officially debuts on September fourth, but why wait? The time to pre-order is NOW. You know, get in on the ground floor. (You can thank me later.)

Easy reading is damned hard writing. [Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Clearly, Linda's put a LOTTA work into this book. Lucky us.

                                          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. Susan, I've known some enthusiastic book pimps in my time, but none as persuasive as you. Great interview!
    I will be "visiting reality" very soon.

  2. Sounds like a great book!! Thanks for letting us know all about it.

  3. What!? Ciel doesn't ride a camel?
    I sure hope Linda FIXES that in a future book. (See what I did there?)

    Thanks for reminding me. I'll be knee deep into the new school year by the time IN A FIX comes out. Best I just pre-order it so it will show up on my Kindle.

  4. Your review is teriffic and I will definitely put it on my "must read list".

    BTW, how is your novel coming along?

  5. Aw, man. Now I'm blushing. You are way, way too kind. So, heck, you can pimp me anytime! *grin*

    Thanks for inviting me to your blog! I always love it here. :)

  6. Jon- Yeah, sometimes it's a drag to live in a constant state of reality, but it's fun to visit it once in a while. Glad ya liked the interview. And I'm a good book pimp. I always treat 'em with respect.

    Connie- It is! You'll love it, I'm sure.

    Dianne- Yeah, no camel! Maybe next time.

    Arleen- Super. You'll love me. Thanks for asking about my novel. Not so hot. Got one of those, "Sorry, but we can't publish your book at this time" letters from the publisher. (What the heck does THAT mean. It'd be easier if she told me she HATED the book, ya know?) Oh well. Not sure yet if I'm gonna resubmit somewhere else, bury it, or go solo with it. But again, thanks for asking.

    Linda- HA! Dunno if your hubby would appreciate anyone pimping YOU, but I'd be happy to pimp your writing anytime.

  7. Brilliant opening quote, Sus. And the image of the clock at the end I like on so many levels.

    All best to Linda with 'In a Fix!'

    (Incidentally, that hairstyle really flatters her.)

  8. Thanks for the interview and review. And good luck to Linda grimes and In A Fix!

  9. (Susan: I think I'm scared to finish writing my idea for the very reason you've come up against. But keep at it. You will get there. I know you will.)

    In the meantime... awesome interview! And the book sounds awesome too. And by awesome, I do NOT mean 'awesome like a hotdog'. Unless it was a spicy hotdog with onions that wrapped around the earth twice and somehow stayed fresh and clean enough to eat.

  10. Arleen- HA! I MEANT to say you'll love IT, not you'll love ME. Too funny. Freudian slip? Y'know, where you say one thing and mean your mother...

    Suze- Thanks. Glad ya liked it. Linda's hairstyle does look super in her "official" picture, but I kinda miss her old "kick-ass writer" pic with the cigar in her hand.

    Stephen- Thanks for stopping by, dear sir. I'm expecting Linda's book to do great, but it doesn't hurt for us all to cross our fingers for her.

    CarrieBoo- (Don't be afraid to finish your book. Keep at it, okay? You're young and have time on your side. Seriously, coupled with determination and a stick-to-it attitude, you'll make it. Time isn't exactly on my side, but that's okay. I'm not discouraged. What will be will be.) Not only is the book as awesome as a spicy hotdog with onions that wraps around the earth twice, it has bacon and cheese on it, too! And the best chili sauce you ever tasted.

  11. What a great interview! I wasn't familiar with Linda's blog or book so I'm glad to rectify that now. Thanks for the recommendation! :)

  12. Julie- Great! I think you'll love both.

  13. Hey Susan,
    Yes, it's me, one of your biggest starstruck fans. Wow, what an endorsement and what a cool, informative, slightly zany interview with the obviously lovable Linda Grimes.
    This is a good day and to make a good day even gooder, I shall go and visit her blog. Anyone who can get me in "stitches", is worth checking out.
    I went to the 'Comedy Knitting' workshop. Had me in stitches.
    Susan, great stuff and much respect to the both of you.
    Your shy and humble fan, Gary :)

  14. I so want to read this book. An d what a great interview!

  15. Susan, don't you dare give up. Many well known authors have gotten the letter you received and later went on to have best sellers with a different publisher. You are a fabulous writer, witty, interesting and have such a talent with words. Rework it a little and keep submitting.

  16. Why aren't you a professional interviewer?

  17. Thanks again for having me, Susan, and to all the wonderful commenters. I hope In a Fix will provide them with a few good chuckles one day.

    Re your letter from the publisher: Ugh. Trust me, we've all been there. You have to stick with it, even when you feel like giving up (we've been there, too). Nothing pays off in the publishing biz like a hefty dose of perseverance. :)

  18. Gary- Humble maybe, but SHY? I don't think so... Thanks for your kind words, and I hope Linda's blog puts a smile on your face. Maybe not as many "stitches" as the Comedy Knitting gig, but enough to make your good day "gooder" and "gooder".

    Marcy- Glad you liked it. I KNOW you'll like the book!

    Arleen- HA! Yes, ma'am. You're so sweet.

    Laura- You mean I'm not gonna be getting a fat check in the mail for this? Oh, crap.

    Linda- 'Twas my pleasure. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  20. Susan and Linda, great interview. This is the second shout-out I've read about Linda's book, so I know it's fabulous. I'm adding it to my Amazon wishlist, so I don't forget it. (I just ordered 4 books in the last week, so I'm already over my quota.) :)

  21. Haven't been over for a while, Susan, and glad I came here today to meet Linda Grimes. Thanks for hosting her. Yes, her book DOES sound wonderful. And Tor is a great house. I'm now going to check out In a Fix. (BTW I love your new header photo; new to me, anyway. Cheers!)

  22. Linda- Thanks. It IS a fabulous book!

    Ann- So good to seeya again, and I'm sure you'll love the book. (Assuming you don't mind laughing out loud!) Thanks for the comment on the summer header, too. Almost time to change it again, and see what I can come up with for autumn. Take care.

    Al- I couldn't agree more!

  23. I, too wasn't familiar with Linda Grimes, her blog, or her book...but your comparing it to ...a great big bowl of ooey gooey chocolate dessert. did it for me. Now I have to check it out!

  24. Pixel- HA! A fellow chocola-holic. (Plus, her book is free of calories!)

  25. "Linda out-Evanoviches Evanovich," is all I need to hear! In a Fix sounds like a great read, and you are quite the interviewer/reviewer Susan! Best of luck to you Linda, and I will definitely hop over to your blog soon! Julie

  26. Julie- It IS a great read. If you like Evanovich, you'll love Grimes.