Thursday, September 18, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview with Jennifer Estep


By night, Jennifer Estep prowls the streets of her imagination in search of her next super idea. No wonder her Bigtime books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillians, as well as smart and sassy gals on the hunt for love.

During the day, Jennifer is an award-winning features page designer for a daily newspaper. She’s also a certifiable fangirl and an authority on fantasy literature and culture.

KARMA GIRL, HOT MAMA & JINX have been featured in Cosmo, Entertainment Weeky, Southern Living (since Jennifer’s a Southern gal) and other publications! Where does Jennifer go to check out her hard publicity work? The library! Her love of literature transferred into the dream of being published, and along the way Jennifer found that journalism was a real world way to write for a living. Now, after many years of toil, Jennifer has finally achieved her dream of being a bona fide published, fiction author. What’s next? She’s going to keep on writing, dreaming, making up stories in her head…and getting herself into trouble!

Though I also think libraries are one of the greatest inventions ever, I ran into Jennifer at Moonlight & Magnolias in Georgia. In a storyboarding collage workshop, I saw a lady stroll by. She stopped and said she liked my efforts. I thought, “Where do I know her from?” After class I rushed back upstairs, with the kernel of an idea, and ripped open my suitcase. I flipped to the back of KARMA GIRL, and eeked, “Oh my gosh!” I’d just met one of the author’s I’d wanted to run into, and been such a dweeb! Needless to say, I think I redeemed myself at the booksigning.

The first time I saw KARMA GIRL’s book jacket blurb and cover I knew I had to get the book. Eventhough I rarely buy trade paperbacks. Not only was it about comic book type superheroes, but it also had a quirky set-up that seemed so similar to my own style. Yay! It was another kernel of hope for me and so many others who don’t write inside the box. I’ve read about Jennifer’s struggle to get published, and was renewed with hope. All I can say is thank you Jennifer for having such tenacity. To Berkley I’ll give a shout out for taking a big time chance! I think I speak for all Jennifer’s readers when I say, “We haven’t been disappointed. Bring on more biff, bam and pows!”


I love your Just the Facts, Ma’am and Stats columns. Can you give us some insight into you or your world of Bigtime?

Well, I’ve always loved to read. My mom used to take me to the library every Saturday so I could check out new books for the week.

I like fun, action-adventure and fantasy stories the best, whether it’s books or television shows or movies that I’m watching. When I was in college, I realized that I could write my own fun, sexy fantasy books – and tell the stories I wanted to tell. That’s when the writing bug bit me. It took me a while to find my writing groove, but I did, and eventually the Bigtime series was born.


From the press, I’ve learned you’ve been a journalist since college. Was that the spark that birthed KARMA GIRL and your Bigtime series?

Partially. They always say to write what you know, and, well, I know journalism. Which is why I always wondered why Lois Lane never figures out that Clark Kent is Superman. Glasses are not a great disguise, and Lois is supposed to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. And it’s not just Lois Lane. Lots of superhero wives/girlfriends/love interests just never seem to realize their boyfriends, etc. are really superheroes.

So one day, I started thinking about what would happen if a reporter discovered her fiancĂ© was cheating on her – and that he was a superhero to boot. What would she do? Why expose his secret identity to the world, of course! That “what-if” idea took off from there and eventually blossomed into the zany world of Bigtime.


Since your series has superheroes galore, can you tell us who’s your favorite superhero? If you could meet one up close and personal who would he/she be?

Karma Girl (aka Carmen Cole) was the first superhero that I wrote about. She starred in my first published book, so she’ll always have a special place in my heart. But outside of my own Bigtime world, my favorite superhero is Wonder Woman. I’d love to meet her – and convince her to let me try on her super-cool tiara.



Where and when did your break into the “big time” with Berkley seem real? Can you give us a glimpse into your first social occasion as a published author?

I think the first time it felt real to me was when my publisher mailed me the first finished copy of Karma Girl. I just stood there in my kitchen for a few minutes, holding it in my hands and staring at it. Finally, finally, after all those years of writing and all those manuscripts and all those rejection letters, I finally had a copy of my book in my hand. It truly was a dream-come-true moment – one I’ll always remember and cherish.

My first book signing was at my local library. Members of the library’s friends group brought food, and most of them bought copies of my book too. They were really supportive and wonderful and enthusiastic. It was a great first book signing and a very lovely time. One that I’ll always remember.


If you could build your own team of heroes or villains to command on your every whim, who would you choose from Bigtime’s population?

Well, if I could just pick three heroes, I’d settle on Karma Girl (because she’s an empath who can tap into anyone’s power); Fiera (because she’s super-strong and can control fire); and Swifte (because he’s super-fast). Between the three of them, I think they could handle just about anything!


Just as superheroes struggle to maintain a balance between real life and a superheroic existence, how do you battle the wear of donning two hats? What was your biggest hurdle to gaining your bonafide success?

Well, I still have a day job so the biggest hurdle for me is just making time to write and do all the other author-related things that need doing (mailing out promo packets, designing bookmarks, setting up signings, etc). But I’ve come up with my own system to handle it.

When I’m writing my first initial rough draft, I almost exclusively focus on doing that after work and on the weekends. Then, when that’s done, when I’ve at least got the initial story on paper, I can slow down my pace a bit, catch up on anything I put off, and do all the other things I mentioned before while still writing/revising/editing a little each day. So far, it’s worked well for me.


The September release of JINX marks a milestone for you. Do you have any plans to celebrate or other events we should know about looming in the foreseeable future?

I’m just going to take time to remember that each book is a wonderful, special achievement and hope that readers like Jinx even more than they did Karma Girl and Hot Mama. Fingers crossed on that one!

As for the future, I’m working on a new urban fantasy series. It’s called the Elemental Assassin series and focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin who can control the elements of ice and stone when she’s not busy running her barbecue restaurant, the Pork Pit. It’s a little darker than my Bigtime books, but still a fun, sexy, action-packed fantasy. It’s also got a definite Southern vibe. The first book is tentatively titled Gin on the Rocks.

And as always, folks can get updates on me at my Web site, www.jenniferestep.com, or e-mail me anytime at jennifer@jenniferestep.com. Thanks for having me on the blog today, and happy reading, everyone!



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9 comments:

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Jennifer, thanks for talking about your books, your creative process and your writing journey. I'm so glad 'fun' is part of your stories.

Jennifer Estep said...

Hi, Savanna! Thanks for dropping by. Fun is definitely part of my stories. If they weren't fun for me to write, I doubt they'd be much fun for readers to read. When I read, I want to be entertained and that's what I try to do in my own books -- just entertain folks.

And I want to say thanks for Skylar for inviting me to guest blog -- and for all the nice words you had to say about my Bigtime books. I appreciate them! :-)

Also a note: I'm off to a conference this weekend, so I probably won't be responding to comments until maybe later today (if I can get Internet access) or late Sunday when I get back.

Pauline B Jones said...

Saw you were stopping by here and had to come by and say I just finished Karma Girl and really enjoyed it. What a hoot and what a fun idea.

Now I've got to go find Hot Mama!

I keep wondering where I've been that I hadn't heard of these before. Quirky is always up my alley. :-)
cheers,
Pauline

Beth Caudill said...

I love all three Bigtime Novels and hope we get more. I'll look for the UF series too. Nothing wrong with dark although I do love the fun part of Bigtime.

Jennifer Estep said...

Thanks for the nice words about the books guys. Glad you enjoyed the Bigtime books!

I think folks will like my urban fantasy series too. It is a little darker and grittier than the Bigtime books, but overall, it's still a fun, sexy fantasy. And you guys know how I like fun books. ;-)

Skylar Masey said...

You're super welcome Jennifer! I let out a eek over you saying yes ;0)

I'm sorry the formatting went screwy on the post! That's what I get for using Opera instead of Firefox...and a computer other than my laptop :0\

Hope things are going well at the conference and you're meeting tons of other readers who love your work!

Lynda K. Scott said...

Jennifer, these books sound great! I have to echo Pauline and wonder where I've been that I haven't run across these books. They sound like something I'd really enjoy!

Thanks for being with us today. Hope you enjoy your conference!

Lynda

Skylar Masey said...

Like Lynda, I put my fuzzy minions to the test today! All 3 selected one name, so it's unanimous...Pauline is the winner of the signed copy of JINX!

Pauline, please send me your snail mail addie at www.skylar0masey@yahoo.com :0)

Jennifer Estep said...

Skylar -- No problem. I'm always up for guest blogging. The post looks fine to me. ;-)

Lynda -- Congrats! And I hope you enjoy Jinx.

And thanks to everyone for stopping by and commenting. Happy reading! :-)