Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Guest blogger Ann Aguirre, bestselling author of GRIMSPACE

Give a big JeriSmithReady.com welcome to Ann Aguirre. Her debut print release from Ace Books, Grimspace, comes out today, and already she's a national bestseller, reaching #8 on the Barnes & Noble science fiction/fantasy mass market list, and #36 on the Borders Group list! But you can win a signed copy right here if you're lucky.

Grimspace is a gritty, emotional read that will keep you up late at night and cranky as a wet cat the next morning from all that missed sleep. (But unlike the wet cat, secretly grateful.) Dear Author gave it an A minus, which in most universes would be an A plus plus plus plus.

The novel's heroine, Sirantha Jax, possesses the rare J gene, allowing her to partner with starship pilots to 'jump' a vessel through great swaths of space. Her last jump resulted in tragedy, and now an interstellar conglomerate wants her dead, or at least locked up, drugged up, and shut up so she can't reveal their secret, one that would overthrow the established order.

Ann agreed to be my lab rat very first interview. I won't be hired on the Today show any time soon (we all know why, thanks to Mark Henry), but I'm hoping for at least a substitute gig on Morning Joe.

Q. What's been your biggest surprise/thrill about your first release?

Oh man, there have been so many moments that rocked my socks along the way that it's going to be hard to narrow it down. But if I'm brutally honest -- my biggest surprise was selling Grimspace. Even though my agent (and beta readers) adored it, I thought it might be a longshot because SF and romance have not been best pals in terms of crossover, but I'd like to think I'm at the vanguard. The reader response has been phenomenal.

My biggest thrill? Getting my Grimspace cover, no question. That made everything feel real, even more real than signing the contracts, because, hello, I have art! Plus, it's gorgeous. Scott Fischer is so gifted, and I hope I'm lucky enough to have him do all the Jax covers. I'd love keeping the same style through the series.

The word 'grimspace' is so chilling and evocative. How did you come up with it?

Short answer, hell if I know. Long answer, Walter Jon Williams penned an interesting novel called Aristoi, wherein he taps the idea that we possess fragments of other personalities locked away inside our brains; he called them daimones. These sub-personalities can think and feel independently and possess talents that we need. It's an intriguing take on beneficial schizophrenia, and I sometimes wonder if there's a kernel of truth to it.

Because the fact is, I don't know where Jax (or her world) came from. She told me about everything as we went along, including the name of grimspace. So I'm going to theorize that I allow these personality fragments to evolve into whole people, complete with history and everything, and then I listen to what they have to say (without going batshit crazy). It sounds marginally better than, "I write what the voices in my head tell me to."

That is the coolest thing I've ever heard. And yes, much better than the 'voices' explanation.

Though present tense narrative is becoming common in women's fiction and young adult fiction, it's still fairly rare in sf and romance. What made you decide to use this technique? Did you try it first in past tense and then switch over, or was it like that from the beginning?


No, I started in first person, present tense, which is weird because it's the only project in my long and multifarous career wherein I've done so. It wasn't a choice so much as dictated by Jax. Events unfold as the reader rides along with her.

When an author writes in past tense, the reader has the unconscious security of knowing that everything must've worked out in the end, or the narrator wouldn't be able to relate his story.

At least, that's how I feel when reading.

If you could inhabit the life of any of your characters, enter their world and deal with it as that person, which one would you choose?

Hm, I'm going to say none of them. Why? Well, I'm pretty hard on my characters. I put them through the physical and emotional wringer, and frankly, I don't think I could hack it. I'd much rather be in my office writing about their harrowing adventures than having them.

Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more ;-) ?

I'm always madly in love with whatever hero I'm writing. Right now, it's a cold-as-ice hitman named Reyes. I love a hero who seethes with passion deep down and yet keeps it tightly controlled. Until he meets the heroine. Then his iron discipline begins shorting out, and to me, there's just nothing quite as hot as watching an iceman melt. So I'll have to say, I wouldn't mind being the focus of this hero's leashed longing.

Same two questions, but use examples from another author's work (including television/movies/theatre)?

This is tough because I've spent many years learning to enjoy being exactly who I am. I can't think of anyone whose life I'd want other than my own. I'm fantastically happy, and I'm living my dream, so I'm going to pass on this one.

The second question, though, what movie character would I want brought to life? That's sooo easy. Riddick. I have such a crush on that character. Vin Diesel's looks and voice add to the package, but the character himself... man.

I love an anti-hero. We know he's a criminal and a killer from his backstory, but in the movie, he doesn't actually hurt anyone who doesn't deserve it. It makes you wonder how much of his rep came from people looking to make a name off him, and him putting them down for it.

I think something primitive in the feminine psyche responds to that sort of toughness. The hint of danger gets our adrenaline going, and the idea that he'd use his strength to take on our enemies and protect us? Powerful stuff.

Which author, living or dead, would you most love to collaborate with?

Sharon Shinn. I bought her books back when I didn't even have money for food. I sold plasma to buy her books. She was the first author I read who combined romance with fantasy--and she did it with such deft elegance that my chest felt tight when I finished one of her novels. So if I ever was so fortunate to collaborate with her (or heck, share anthology space with her!) I would feel like I had totally made it.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?

The speed, I suppose. I hate waiting for books I really want, and I know most readers feel the same. I'd also like to see it become more green when possible. My publisher is going to electronic edits now, though, which should help.

What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?

How it feels inside a cow's vagina. Thanks a lot, too. I'd almost blocked that out. Now I'm gonna start having the flashbacks again. No, I'm not saying another word.

What's your earliest memory?

Reading Bambi in my bedroom when I was supposed to be asleep. What? It was summer, dammit. You can't expect a four year old to sleep when the sun's out.

Do you have any phobias?

I'm terrified of tiny lizards. A tiny lizard once cornered me in the kitchen for like ten minutes while I yelled for my husband. He still mocks me to this day, but I'm afraid they'll jump in my hair and then, hello, lizard-hair! It'll be running with its tiny scaly feet all over my head, and what if I smash it while trying to get it out? Then I'd have lizard guts in my hair. So not cool.

My husband hates when people use the word 'barometer' to mean 'measure.' Which word usage faux pas drives you berserkest?

Hm. I'd have to say use of the word 'drowned' bothers me most. "She had all the appeal of a tiny drowned angel." Well, okay, but this meaning of drowned -- to die by suffocating in water or another liquid -- trumps any other. It's what I think of first. So when I read that, I think the hero is that he's secretly a bit of a necro, which probably isn't what the author wants. Word choice is very important because of connotative meanings.

Name a literary cliche that makes you throw a book across the room.

Well, I'm quite done with the Chosen one trope, and I do rather wish that an orphan would just be an orphan one of these days, not a long lost heir to a throne, or a secret prince / princess.

Let's say there's a TV show, movie, or recording artist that has a cult of one, i.e., you. Which is it? (i.e., what do you like that no one else you know likes)?

I can't imagine too many people have heard of Little Annie, and I love her raw, torchy sound.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Read books and eat food that someone else cooked. Ravioli would be good.

If you could ask your favorite author one question and they had to answer honestly, what would it be?

"Will you pimp my book?" Wait, do they have to actually do the thing I ask or just answer honestly? Because I bet I could get a "no, go away" right now. *g*

If you could write in a totally different genre than your current one, which would you choose?

I'd love to be published in romance. I've got sales in SF and UF, so now I'm turning my sights toward conquering paranormal romance. Mwahahaha! We will stop at nothing less than world domination.

Actually, that's a lie. Romance, fantasy and SF will do it for me. I haven't the clever puzzle-building brain for writing mysteries.

What are you working on now, and what new releases can we expect to see from you down the road?

I'm working on a hot paranormal romance project. Once I have that proposal done, I'll write Hell Fire, which is book two in my Corine Solomon series (urban fantasy with Latin flavah). After that, it will be the third contracted Corine novel. There are more Jax books in the pipeline as well, pending approval.

Wanderlust, Jax book two, will be coming out in September. And look for the first Corine book, Blue Diablo, in '09.

----

Ask Ann a followup question, tell her how much you want to read her book, or make friendly with your own daimones. Whatever you choose, do it in the comments before 5 p.m. EST on Monday, March 3. (Crap, it's almost March already?) I'll draw a name and announce it next Tuesday morning.

If you don't have a Blogger account, don't panic! Just sign in as anonymous and leave your name at the bottom of your comment so I can identify you.

Also, there are still three more days to get your commentin' on down at Mark Henry's post to win a copy of Happy Hour of the Damned.

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53 Comments:

Hey Jeri! Really enjoyed the interview with Ann! Her book sounds really good and totally likey the cover! You guys have a great day!

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 2/26/2008 9:42 AM

Hi

Thanks for the interview, I loved Grimspace and I am thrilled to see there is a book 2 in the works!

Posted by: Blogger lysrian at 2/26/2008 9:48 AM

Great interview, Jeri!

I like anti-heroes too, Ann. They're so much fun to work with as they won't play by the rules. I agree, I think it's something primal with women that we want someone who could crush our enemies, LOL. The hero would try to talk it out, the anti-hero would just punch them, LOL.

And I'll join you in the crush on Riddick!

Posted by: OpenID ajmenden at 2/26/2008 9:50 AM

I don't have any questions, but I think the book sounds excellent :D

Posted by: Anonymous Zoe at 2/26/2008 9:52 AM

Great interview. Grimspace sounds so good. I love the cover of the book.

Posted by: Blogger CrystalGB at 2/26/2008 9:54 AM

I love the answer of Riddick as the character to come to life. Great choice! He is such a paradox. A criminal who has spent his whole life in and out of prison and who really puts himself first, but when push comes to shove, he does the right thing - most of the time against his better judgement. I just wish there more chronicles of Riddick's adventures.

I have Grimspace on my wishlist at Amazon and have been waiting for a little cash to purchase it. I may have to dig up the money sooner. :-)

Posted by: Blogger Katie at 2/26/2008 9:54 AM

Hi, Ann!

Awesome review! and I'm looking forward to rereading Grimspace again soon because I loved it, I'm reading the Jaz Parks series right now and it's so good too!

I can't believe I have to wait until Septempber for Wanderlust, that's just mean, Ann!

Posted by: Blogger Wendy at 2/26/2008 9:58 AM

Hey, I have nothing to do with that, Wendy!

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/26/2008 10:10 AM

Okay, how wierd, my friend whom I trade paranormal/fantasy books with all the time literally just walked in the door and handed me Grimspace and said I had to read it! She said the clerk at Borders recommended it to her.

Off to go read now!

Posted by: OpenID ajmenden at 2/26/2008 10:38 AM

Ann: great phrase, 'beneficial schizophrenia'. it's going to stick to my brain now. and about lizards: i spent a summer volunteering in a kenyan village, where tiny geckos ran over walls and ceiling all night hunting mosquitos. sometimes they fell on the bed in their haste - not the best way to wake up. but i figured, better geckos falling on me than getting malaria from the mosquitos.

jeri - i think you need not have worried. you're great at the interview thing. bring morning joe on!

Posted by: Blogger M. at 2/26/2008 10:45 AM

great interview. Loved reading the answers. This sounds like a great book. Love the cover.

Posted by: Blogger lrwirum at 2/26/2008 10:51 AM

I know, I know but I still don't have to like it! lol.

Posted by: Blogger Wendy at 2/26/2008 10:54 AM

"She said the clerk at Borders recommended it to her."

Wow, that's awesome! Talk about serendipitous.

M, I'm gonna have bad dreams about lizards falling on me while I sleep. Ack! Aren't there pills you can take for malaria these days...? *g*

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/26/2008 10:55 AM

This interview was really enjoyable! I'm so looking forward to Grimspace (I looked for it at my college bookstore yesterday, but no luck). And I'm with you on the Sharon Shinn fandom; she totally rocks!

Posted by: Blogger Kimberly B. at 2/26/2008 11:12 AM

Great interview!!! I was giggling the whole time I read it. The co-workers were not impressed!
I can't wait to get my fingers on Grimspace looking forward to it.

Posted by: Blogger Sarai at 2/26/2008 11:33 AM

I liked this interview. And, well, I'm wondering - what's this book with the hitman named Reyes in it? When is that coming out?

Posted by: Blogger Janicu at 2/26/2008 11:58 AM

I *love* that cover and have been looking forward to this book for a while! Great interview - thanks Jeri and Ann. :)

Posted by: Blogger Karen Mahoney at 2/26/2008 12:11 PM

Janicu, I can't talk too much about that particular project. When I have concrete info, I'll put it on my Annie Dean website, as it's a romance.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/26/2008 12:16 PM

It looks great.I can't wait to read it.

Posted by: Blogger Kathy at 2/26/2008 12:33 PM

*wail* But I like the voices!!!

*ahem*

No, really, I like the voices.

Me too.

Yeah, they are cool.

//////

Now I know how I'm gonna get all those stories out of you.

Note to self: get a bug box, catch lizards.
Note from self: how big a box?

//////

Kidding aside: the book rocks the house. Really really does!

Posted by: Anonymous azteclady at 2/26/2008 2:30 PM

Congratulations Ann! I have been waiting for what seems forever to get this book.

Posted by: Anonymous Susan at 2/26/2008 2:33 PM

Love that 'beneficial schizophrenia' thing - I'd never heard of it before, but it sure sounds true! Ann, in what ways do these personalities make you unique?

Posted by: Blogger aBookworm at 2/26/2008 3:11 PM

Enjoyed the interview today! I've also been hearing many good things about this book and I'm looking forward to it!

Posted by: Blogger tetewa at 2/26/2008 3:24 PM

Hi, Jeri and Ann! Great interview! I've been in love with that Grimspace cover since the first moment I saw it--it's truly fabulous. And, Ann, you know I agree with you completely about the anti-hero and Riddick. Pitch Black was on Sci-Fi the other night and I just couldn't turn away.

Posted by: Blogger Cynthia Eden at 2/26/2008 3:37 PM

Great interview and answers,especially about how you came up with grimspace. I'm sold on the series. Ann, I love an anti-hero, too.

Posted by: Blogger Pam P at 2/26/2008 6:25 PM

just fabalous and i hope to read it soon!

Posted by: Blogger HOTCHA1 at 2/26/2008 6:44 PM

I keep entering contests to win Grimspace but I keep missing out. It's because of you evil people who make your contestants think in order to win. Thinking makes my brain hurt ;-)

Have a lovely day! :-)

Posted by: Blogger Tez Miller at 2/26/2008 7:00 PM

I have no question. I'm sick and my brain isn't working. But that book also sounds very cool. And good interview, Jeri. Me want pretty book?

(Also - random spot of coherence, oh and it's a question! - I kinda sorta know you from Nothing But Red, right? Yay, question.)

Posted by: Anonymous Jess at 2/26/2008 8:43 PM

great interview. I know that some of my favorite authors are pimping your book. But who are your favorite authors. just curious.

Posted by: Blogger Pamk at 2/26/2008 9:10 PM

Great interview! The book sounds wonderful. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Posted by: Blogger LighthouseSandy at 2/26/2008 9:36 PM

I've been hearing soooo much about this book and would love to get a chance sooner more than later :)

catslady5 @aol.com

Posted by: Blogger catslady at 2/26/2008 10:05 PM

Enjoyed the interview with Ann Aguirre. Here are a couple of questions for her: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to become a writer and what other jobs did you have that were not satisfying but were good experience? Which writers are role models/mentors for you (other than Sharon Shinn)? What is your favorite activity when you're not writing?

I love 'Pitch Black' and 'Chronicles of Riddick' too. Please check out my review of the latter film here:
http://www.zone-sf.com/chronriddick.html

I'd love to win a copy of GRIMSPACE because I just love 'spacey' SF novels with strong heroines and lots of creative, invented world backgrounds
and enotional content in them and this book fits the bill perfectly.

Thanks so much for an excellent, insightful interview. Looking forward to the GRIMSPACE and its sequels,
Amy Harlib

Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 2/27/2008 6:01 AM

Ok, here's hoping I address all the questions.

ABookworm -- I guess the fact that I have people living in my head makes me unique! I also don't let them drive me crazy, which is good.

Jess -- Yes

Amy -- what point in your life did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

Pretty much since I learned to read and figured out what books were all about.

What other jobs did you have that were not satisfying but were good experience?
None? Yeah, I'm gonna say none. I am not emotionally equipped to work for other people. I have a problem with authority, I don't like being told what to do, and I hate showing up at the same place / same time, day after day. I admire the hell out of people who can make a living this way, however, because they possess all sorts of admirable traits that I lack.


Which writers are role models/mentors for you (other than Sharon Shinn)?
I don't know if she'd agree because it's not like she really knows me or anything, but I'm going to say Nora Roberts. We've exchanged all of one email and she's posted on my blog a few times. Nonetheless, she has influenced me a great deal.

She has taught me a lot via example, however, as to how an author should comport herself online and she's shaped my work ethic: no whining, butt in chair, write the book, do the job. I will always strive to write the best book possible, present a professional demeanor in public forums, and to turn in my manuscripts well ahead of deadlines. I want to be known as a cheerful, positive author who is easy to work with and takes direction well.



What is your favorite activity when you're not writing?

Reading. I'm totally a book nerd.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/27/2008 10:27 AM

Enjoyed the interview! Grimspace sounds like a really good book. I have been hearing great buzz about it.

Posted by: Blogger Cherie J at 2/27/2008 2:14 PM

"I have been hearing great buzz about it."

Yes, there's been a fantastic reader response to it. To which I say, "You must read it to see what's so awesome about it! Find out why people are basting my work with praise. Run out and get a copy RIGHT NOW."

But there have also been people who didn't like it at all for various reasons. To which I reply, "You must read it to see what's so bad about it! Find out why people think it's so crappy. Run out and get a copy RIGHT NOW."

Because either way, you must be in the know. You can't be cool without reading this book. Otherwise you'll the one person standing around clueless while everyone is talking about it.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/27/2008 2:27 PM

Lol. I agree. I devoured it (loved, loved it) and immediately passed it on to my sister so we can both be cool. Will continue to spread the word. Can't wait for more Jax and March!

Posted by: Blogger Angiegirl at 2/27/2008 6:14 PM

Angie, thanks so much for your support! I hope your sister enjoys it too. Hmmm, maybe we could use a catch-phrase...

"Finally, an awesome, intensely emotional SF series that Fox can't cancel."

You think?

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/27/2008 6:53 PM

Absolutely. I'm just trying to decide who I can see playing the parts. Any dream cast ideas?

Posted by: Blogger Angiegirl at 2/28/2008 1:56 AM

I found the interview fascinating and loved the background about your novel. The book is exceptional and I would nejoy reading this new release.

Posted by: Blogger ruth at 2/28/2008 12:10 PM

Thanks for the interesting interview. Your book is a winner and sounds like the ultimate. Best of success.

Posted by: Blogger diane at 2/28/2008 12:17 PM

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/28/2008 12:37 PM

Thanks for this fascinating interview. Your book is a popular and loved novel which I would enjoy reading. What a great success.

Posted by: Blogger pearl at 2/28/2008 1:00 PM

Nice intereview Jeri! :)

Can't wait to read the book...it's on my Amazon wishlist.

"How it feels inside a cow's vagina."

My first thought was "What? Ew!" My second thought is "hmmm interesting." haha ;)

Posted by: Blogger Brooke at 2/29/2008 10:43 AM

I knew I should have passed on that question. It will haunt me forever...

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 2/29/2008 2:29 PM

Have been reading all the buzz about this book on the Linnea Sinclair list - huge following there so you've been definitely added to my wish list pile. Congratulations on the success.

Vicky B

Posted by: Blogger Vicky B at 2/29/2008 3:24 PM

I can't wait to pick up Grimspace. I've been looking forward to it coming out since I heard about it. Lovely interview, I enjoyed it very much.

Posted by: Blogger Barbara Elness at 3/01/2008 6:27 PM

Ann!!! I can't wait to read it, girl!

Hey, about ravioli... There's this ravioli my husband and I used to get in St. Louis (long story) and I can't find it anywhere else and it drives me batty! It's beef ravioli that is DEEP FRIED and then you dip it in marinara sauce, and ohhhhh, it's good! Ever had it?

Posted by: Blogger Victoria Dahl at 3/01/2008 11:03 PM

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone!

Victoria, I haven't had that kind of ravioli. Sounds good, though! I can't even get Chef Boyardee here. I found some imported ravioli in a jar the other day, made of tofu. It was actually pretty good.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 3/02/2008 10:44 AM

I'd love to read this book because it's about me! (well, OK, I share my name with the heroine ;) )

Would like to ask Ann whether she found it at all disconcerting to write first person - I tried it once and it was very distracting to every day life.

Posted by: Anonymous Jax at 3/02/2008 11:03 AM

Well, I currently write two series that are first-person, so I'm going to say no. It's not me who is writing as "I"; it's the main character. I just have to make sure I'm fully in her head before I begin.

I'm told by readers who have read both Grimspace and Blue Diablo, that the voice is amazingly different for Jax and Corine. Versatile is the word my editor applies to me. :)

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 3/02/2008 1:11 PM

And the winner of a signed copy of GRIMSPACE is...Karen Mahoney! Woo-hoo!

Karen, send your mailing address to me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Ann.

Everyone else, thanks for commenting, and go buy GRIMSPACE while you're still feeling the dull ache of disappointment.

Also, come check out my interview with Ann's fellow Ace debut author Anton Strout. Maybe you'll win a copy of his new urban fantasy DEAD TO ME, or at least have fun trying.

Posted by: Blogger Jeri at 3/03/2008 6:23 PM

Congrats, Karen! Jeri, thanks so much for having me. I'll return the favor in May.

Posted by: Blogger Ann Aguirre at 3/03/2008 6:38 PM

Sounds like a good read. Great giveaway! Count me in. bebemiqui82(at)yahoo(dot)com

Posted by: Blogger Bebemiqui at 3/05/2008 7:03 PM

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