Please join us in welcoming author Vicki Pettersson here today to Dark Faerie Tales. Vicki’s new book, The Taken, about a rockabilly reporter and an angel private investigator was recently released on June 12th. The Taken is the first in the Celestial Blues trilogy. We are featuring this series on our UF/PNR Reading Challenge 2012. Read the first four chapters here. Vicki also writes the bestselling Signs of the Zodiac series.
What to read more from Vicki Pettersson?
DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about The Taken?
Vicki: Sure! THE TAKEN was inspired by a (very) short story I wrote right before I sold The Signs of the Zodiac series. It stayed with me for years. I literally could not shake the idea of a mortal-turned-angel whose job it was to assist murdered souls into the afterlife. The lead protagonist then morphed into a 50’s PI, haunted by his own long-unsolved murder, and his female counterpart followed in form of a modern-day reporter who could both help him … and be his particular form of emotional kryptonite. Thus my unlikely sleuthing team of Griffin Shaw, busted angel, and Kit Craig, rockabilly reporter, was born.
DFT: Could you tell us about your main characters in The Taken?
Vicki: Well, as I said, my gumshoe detective, Griffin Shaw, arrived first and sat simmering, but alone, for years. Then one day, I walked into a cut-your-hair-for-five-bucks salons, where a rockabilly hairdresser gave me a terrible haircut and a fabulous idea for my female lead, Kit Craig. Making her rockabilly gave her a retro-sensibility Grif could relate to, if not fully understand, and underscored that in some ways they were both still living in the past. My setting, cast of characters, and plot grew from there.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
Vicki: It’s divided evenly between Kit and Grif. He’s certainly driving the story because it’s his guilt over his haunted past that set everything into motion. But I’m always interested in the way a woman moves around in a man’s world – it seems to be my thematic obsession – so Kit’s strength as a woman was extremely attractive to me. She’s different than anyone I’ve written before, and her doggedness and lust for life end up saving her and Grif in ways that surprise them both. In short, Grif may know a lot about dying, but Kit is the one who teaches him how to live.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line in The Taken?
Vicki: My favorite line is the one that’s driving the entire trilogy to its conclusion: Who Killed Griffin Shaw? It’s the question he’s obsessed with answering, and while each book possesses a self-contained modern-day mystery, it’s his murder – that old, unsolved mystery – that slowly unravels over the three books. I guess you could say it’s the question I’m most obsessed with as well.
DFT: How much research went into creating this series?
Vicki: I took about a month to flesh out a series bible before writing and submitting my proposal. It’s important to me to have the world-building rules in place, and that’s also the most fun part for me. I also researched the angelic orders, and then drew upon my love for noir to give the series a different direction. Once I knew the rockabilly element was in place, I research more online and interviewed a local woman who’s heavily into the scene.
DFT: Do you have a long term plan or goal for this story universe?
Vicki: I conceived of it as a trilogy and it hasn’t yet morphed from that original vision. I like the number three, the rule of three, and I think it’s a good way to pack a lot of story into a tight, but satisfying package.
DFT: Your books are mainly set in Las Vegas, what makes that city so deliciously inspirational?
Vicki: As someone born and raised in Vegas, I love the city as only a local can. In the past I really wanted to share a side of my hometown that others might not get to see on a quick weekend trip to the Strip. But I’m also fascinated by the city’s malleability. It can become whatever you want it to be, and you can become someone new while you’re there. New dramas are spawned there daily, and I think the way a person experiences it reflects more about them, and where they are personally, than it does about the place. So place as a mirror for person – it’s something I’m simply not yet done exploring.
DFT: What do you particularly like about writing in the Urban Fantasy genre?
Vicki: The thing I like best about the entire fantasy genre is being able to address real concerns via a supernatural remove. It’s very helpful, especially when you’re trying to address a specific moral issue, in keeping you from sounding didactic. All of my books have an inherent mystery or suspense element too, and that’s perfect for exploring the human condition, so combining supernatural and real-world concerns leads to endless story possibilities. The short answer: It’s fun.
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or ritual?
Vicki: I used to write everyday, but this isn’t a job that leaves you after you’ve walked away for the day. There’s always something else to do, and it can easily consume your family life, and everything else, if you let it. So now I take weekends off, and to my surprise I’ve found that I’ve actually become more productive and faster by slowing down. So that’s what I do – make sure I have time with the people I love most, time to fill the creative well again, and time to take care of me, too.
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) do you draw from while writing?
Vicki: It sounds too easy to say everything, all the time – but it’s true. And those inspirations change daily, hourly … by the minute. Every thought is fodder. Every conversation can be turned into text. Every headline a potential story. I see stories everywhere, so I draw on real life.
DFT: Which genre do you prefer to read? Do you have any favorite authors or series?
Vicki: I read a ton of mystery and thrillers. Obviously nothing ups the stakes of a story like a life-or-death situation, but those stories are wonderful for shining a spotlight on dark places, and through that you begin to realize that we all live in gray areas. That’s interesting to me because it both makes you think and – if done right – it makes you feel. I love so many authors in that, and other, genres: Dennis Lehane, Megan Abbott, Diana Gabaldon, Nora Roberts, Stephen King … all pure storytellers. Truth-tellers through story, really.
DFT: What can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?
Vicki: I’m editing the second book in the Celestial Blues series, which is called THE LOST. I’m also writing a book on spec this year, though I’m not one of those authors who send out leading little tweets, “I haz a secret project! It’s so good, but I’m not telling!” Annoying. Just write it. Nobody cares until it’s completed anyway. But everyone is always working on something. I’m never not writing.
DFT: Is there is question you are never asked in an interview and you wished you were? What is that question?
Vicki: No, people are pretty good at speaking their mind. So am I. It works out well.
DFT: What creature are you afraid of the most? Why?
Vicki: The human predator. Because they really exist, and no matter how deeply I stretch my imagination into psychoses, I know someone else has already thought of it, and done it, before.
DFT: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Available June 12, 2012 from Harper Voyager Books
About the Book:
Griffin Shaw used to be a PI, but that was back when gumshoes hoofed the streets . . . and he was still alive. Fifty years later, he’s an angel, but that doesn’t make him a saint. One small mistake has altered fate, and now he’s been dumped back onto the mortal mudflat to collect another soul–Katherine “Kit” Craig, a journalist whose latest investigation is about to get her clipped.
Bucking heavenly orders, Grif refuses to let the sable-haired siren come to harm. Besides, protecting her offers a chance to solve the mystery of his own unsolved murder–and dole out some overdue payback for the death of his beloved wife, Evie.
Joining forces, Kit and Grif’s search for answers leads beyond the blinding lights of the Strip into the dark heart of an evil conspiracy. But a ruthless killer determined to destroy them isn’t Grif’s biggest threat. His growing attraction to Kit could cost them both their lives, along with the answer to the haunting question of his long afterlife . . .
Click HERE to read an excerpt
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.