It may be Hotter Than Hell but the Dark Side has cookies! This month, join Genre Chick Alethea Kontis as she shares iced tea in the summer heat with sweet and spicy romance author Jackie Kessler. Enjoy!
Alethea Kontis: What exactly are succubi and incubi? What drew you to write about them as opposed to the traditional characters of paranormal romance?
Jackie Kessler: Succubi and incubi are demons of sex. A succubus is a female demon; an incubus is a male demon. But they’re both all about the nookie. Demonic nookie. (Cue Barry White music. Backwards.)
When I started thinking about the HELL books, I knew I wanted to write about a demon, and I wanted it to be a female demon. At the time, I automatically equated that with a succubus. And so, the protagonist would be a demon of lust. Also, I hadn’t intended to write a romance at all. Yes, the romance between Jezebel and Paul wound up being central to the story. And sure, there’s an HEA [Happily Ever After]. But I really didn’t mean for it to be a romance. From the start, I was always interested in the conflict between Good and Evil. (Let’s face it: I love writing about evil. I’m told the Dark Side has cookies.)
AK: What do you think it is that draws contemporary readers to the “Beauty and the Beast” aspect of paranormal romance?
JK: Many of us grew up reading fairy tales, the ones that begin “Once upon a time” and end with “and they lived happily ever after.” Those are stories about princes and princesses, about monsters and demons, about good and love triumphing over adversity and evil. We want the hero and heroine to succeed — it’s very cathartic. And they usually have great hair. We love to root for people who have great hair.
But frankly, it’s when the monsters are the heroes that I start getting excited. Through monsters, we get to examine our own humanity. And the bad boys are just so much freaking cooler than the good boys.
AK: You’ve done your fair share of interviews… what was the best question you’ve ever asked, and who answered it?
JK: Ha! Actually, it’s not me doing the asking. It’s all Jezebel. (And no, I’m not going all schizophrenic on you, I promise.) Jezzie interviews the characters of other authors, and those interviews get posted on my Web site in the Cat and Muse section. She tends to ask the same questions, although sometimes they’re tailored for specific guests. But her favorite question to ask is “If you were evil for a day, and you were granted spiffy evil powers, what would they be, and why?” There have been tons of terrific answers, including Jennifer Estep’s character Bella (star of Jinx) mentioning something about making people with curly hair have to live in 90% humidity.
But recently, Jezebel interviewed Daunuan, who stars in my latest book, Hotter Than Hell, and she asked him, “If you were good for a day, what would you do?” And he answered, “Probably slit my wrists out of boredom.” Hee hee hee…
AK: Your short story “Red” appeared in the April 2007 issue of Realms of Fantasy — do you still write short stories?
JK: Not as much as I’d like. I do have a short story coming out in Elaine Cunningham’s upcoming anthology called Lilith Unbound (Popcorn Press). That story is “When Hell Comes Calling,” and it’s the tale of how Lillith (in this antho, spelled “Lilith” for consistency’s sake) went from being the First Woman to being the first mortal demon. I had a lot of fun with this one. And I also have an erotic novella that will appear in Avon’s A Red Hot Valentine’s Day, in January 2009. “Hell Is Where The Heart Is” shows us how Daun and Jezzie first met. Nookie ensues. (And ensues. Dang, these demons have a lot of stamina…)
AK: Which of the Seven Deadly Sins gives you the most trouble?
JK: Me? I’m innocent, I tell you. Innocent. Everything you’ve heard about me is a lie. A vicious lie. Seriously. Like the time with the trampoline and the honey? Not me. Honest. (But Lust is a bitch to write about.)
AK: How’s your luck?
JK: Oh, you know, good and bad…
AK: You do an amazing amount of self-promotion for your books… what swag do you think gets you the most bang for your buck?
JK: Hmm. I’d say probably the pens. Maybe the post-it notepads. The stressball hearts are fun, and so are the mirrors, but the pens and notepads are practical swag items. The one item that was more cool in name than in reality was the phone thong. (No, really.)
AK: What was/is your favorite comic book?
JK: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Totally. Close runner up: Grendel by Matt Wagner. And then there’s the Hush arc in Batman. And the Batman/Grendel miniseries. And the Dark Phoenix saga in The Uncanny X-Men. And The Death of Captain Marvel. And Preacher by Garth Ennis. And Hellblazer. And…
Sorry, what was the question?
AK: Do the sexy characters in your books happen to wear a lot of spandex?
JK: In Black & White (Bantam Spectra, summer 2009), they sure do. My co-author Caitlin Kittredge and I called the project “Code-Name: Spandex” when we were writing it. Hee.
But in the Hell series? More sequins than spandex. And leather. And lingerie. And birthday suits. Lots of those.
AK: If you could be any superhero, who would you be and why?
JK: Well, Black & White, my character *is* a superhero. She works with shadows. And she’s sorta crazy. But me? Hmm. Oh, I know: I’d have the power of height! I’d finally be taller than five feet! Or I’d shrink everyone else down. Yeah! I’d be the Heightmeister! (Do I get my own theme song?)