I'm really excited to welcome Beth Fantaskey, author of the popular Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side, a tale of a young girl who finds that she is betrothed to a vampire. Watch this space tomorrow for a fantastic giveaway. Thanks so much, Beth, for taking the time to answer my questions!
Hazra: Tell us something about yourself.
Beth: Aside from the basic stuff, like I’m a 44-year-old mom who sometimes teaches at Susquehanna University, I:
- like to do endurance-type sports, like running and biking.
- have a difficult time writing if there’s no music playing.
- am a terrible cook who can barely make scrambled eggs!
Hazra: Can you tell us about your upcoming book, Jekel Loves Hyde?
Beth: Jekel Loves Hyde is a paranormal romance about two teenagers who gradually discover that they share a mysterious (and possibly deadly) connection to the old novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As Jill and Tristen work against the clock to solve that mystery, they become more attracted – and more dangerous – to one another. It’s a love story with lots of dark twists and turns, and some humor, too, as shy Jill accidentally tastes a chemical formula that unleashes her wild side…
There’s a longer synopsis and preview chapter on my website, bethfantaskey.com. And I’m hosting a Jekel Loves Hyde book trailer contest there through March 15. Anyone who creates a video preview of the novel is eligible for some fun prizes. Or visitors can comment on the trailers that are already posted. There are some great entries already!
Hazra: Sounds really exciting! What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you don’t like?
Beth: My three favorite things about being an author are:
- using my imagination on a daily basis;
- the freedom to work from home (in pajamas, some days!); and
- interacting with readers (which is the most fun part, actually.)
Hazra: What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out?
Beth: My biggest advice to new writers is to practice every day. I think a lot of people believe that you either “have talent” or you don’t. But writing is also a skill that you can improve upon, just like playing an instrument. You wouldn’t expect to sit down and play a beautiful song the first time you touched a piano. It’s the same with writing. The more you work at it, the better you get. Along those lines, be open to revising your work. I don’t think many people write perfect first drafts, either. I know I don’t!
Hazra: What is the most difficult part about being published? How do you suggest aspiring writers deal with it?
Beth: The most difficult part about getting published is all of the competition out there. You have to be persistent and have faith in the face of rejection. Don’t give up.
Hazra: Which authors have you been inspired by?
Beth: I am a big fan of the classic authors, like Dickens, Melville, Austen and the Brontes – some of whom are referenced in Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. (And of course Jekel Loves Hyde draws directly from that classic tale.)
My biggest influence is probably Dumas, though. I love his cliffhangers, and Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo) is my favorite hero/anti-hero. I’m in awe of how Dumas created a character who is so intense and imposing and vulnerable, all at the same time.
Hazra: You have been to India researching the Dalit struggle for human rights. What would you say about your Indian experience?
Beth: India is the most beautiful, amazing country, but it’s also a place with pockets of incredible poverty – especially among the population of Dalits (formerly known as “untouchables.”) Because they are traditionally considered “unclean,” Dalit individuals are usually relegated to doing the dirtiest, most humble jobs and may be segregated from broader society in other ways, too.
My research involved documenting how Dalit leaders are trying to use media to expand interest in their fight for equality. It was fascinating and inspiring to be at the heart of a growing civil rights movement and meet the people who are making it happen.
Anyone who’s interested in learning more can go to leadforwardinc.org, an organization dedicated to providing education for young Dalit students.
Hazra: That is really good work. Thanks for sharing it with us. Tell us something about the books you are working on. Will we see more of Jessica and Lucius from Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side?
Beth: I am working on a possible sequel to Jessica’s Guide, but it’s too soon to make a formal announcement. In the meantime, anyone who wants to read more of Jess and Lucius’s story can check out the “mini sequel” on my website. It’s 23 chapters of new material that I wrote to thank everyone who’s asked to see what’s next for Jess and Lucius. (I won’t give away more here…)
I will give one hint though: If the sequel does become a reality, it will start where the on-line story ends, so readers can expect to see more of the new characters I introduced. (Including Lucius’s closest vampire friend, Raniero Lovatu, who seems to be piquing a lot of interest!)
Hazra: I'm sure a lot of people are waiting eagerly for that one! Finally, if you could organize a dinner with five of your favorite fictional characters, who would they be?
Beth: Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo); Pip (the tortured protagonist in Dickens’ Great Expectations); Sirius Black (from Harry Potter); Athos (the mysterious Musketeer); and Mr. Darcy (really, who doesn’t want to meet him??)
Gee – I looked at my list and think I must be drawn to dark, troubled and complex heroes!
Well, I'd say that you'd have a lot of trouble getting any sort of conversation going! Thank you Beth, for your wonderful responses. You can learn more about Beth by visiting her website.
Shy Jill’s father has always insisted that the Jekels are distantly related to THE Dr. Henry Jekyll, whose story inspired the 1886 novel about a scientist who creates an evil alter ego in his lab. In fact, Jill’s dad swore that a box locked away in his home office contains documents that detail Dr. Jekyll’s diabolical research.
And Tristen, a talented young pianist with a decidedly dark edge, has even closer – and worse – connections to the 19th century tale.Because if Tristen’s family legends are to be believed, he is a direct descendant of the monster, “Mr. Hyde,” and doomed to repeat a history of violence if he can’t find a “cure” for the evil that lurks inside of him. When Jill's father is murdered and her college savings disappear, she is tempted to break her parents’ rules and examine the forbidden papers, in hopes of winning a lucrative chemistry scholarship by re-creating the old experiments and determining whether the Jekyll-Hyde story really could have been true.
Can Tristen and Jill control the most frightening aspects of themselves in time to not only win a scholarship but to save their souls? And ensure that the love that’s growing between them won’t lead to their mutual destruction? Read Jekel Loves Hyde to find out!