Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Women Who Rock Wednesday: Stacey Jay!

Welcome to another Women Who Rock Wednesday! Before we meet today's featured guest, I need to announce the winner of POSSESSION by Elana Johnson.... Battle Studies (aka Andrea) on Live Journal, that would be you! I will contact you ASAP for your address (or feel free to contact me if you see this first)

Now I am super excited, maybe even more excited than usual to feature Stacey Jay. In addition to writing some seriously cool YA novels, Stacey and I seem to find a lot of things in common via twitter so I heart her extra much. And I have been DYING to read her new adult Urban Fantasy, DEAD ON THE DELTA. Deadly faeries + Louisiana Bayou setting + a recommendation from Jeri Smith-Ready + knowing that Stacey is a great YA writer = 1 seriously excited Stephanie. Once I finish reading these last two Harry Potter books in prep for the new movie, I am totally all over this and I have a feeling that once you hear Stacey talk about it, you will be, too, so let's meet her shall we?

Q: Give us the skinny on DEAD ON THE DELTA. What is it about?

Stacey: DEAD ON THE DELTA is the first book in my new urban fantasy series from Pocket books, featuring Annabelle Lee, a woman immune to the venom of the killer fairies that have infested the Mississippi Delta region. Killer fairies, mystery, secrets, lies, relationship drama, and magic--the book has a little of everything.

Here is the trailer:

Q: I've heard a lot of gushing about this book and it's unique premise, can you share a bit about how you got the idea for it?

Stacey: That's great to hear! I'm so, so thrilled that people are enjoying the story, and spreading the word. When I first started brainstorming this concept three years ago, I was living in Arkansas where the mosquitoes are horrendous. You can barely go outside after sundown without getting swarmed. And, of course, being a horror-leaning writer, swatting bloodsuckers made my story-wheels start turning. The original premise was that mosquitoes were biting fairies and then biting people, therefore infecting people with magic and connecting the Fey and human worlds. I was going to call it the Catching Magic series, and it was going to be a young adult project.

But over time--as I continued to brainstorm character and plot--I decided it would be better if the fairies were the creatures doing the infecting. The story got progressively darker from there, and I decided it would be best for DEAD ON THE DELTA to be an adult novel. That gave me the freedom to explore themes I wasn't comfortable exploring in a young adult book. (At least not at that time.)

Q: If you had a soundtrack for DEAD ON THE DELTA, what are five songs that would be on it and how do they remind you of the book or characters?

Stacey: DANCE WITH DEATH by Hurray for the Riff Raff. This is Annabelle's theme song. She's at a low place in her life--and knows it--but she's also at a place where she's keeping it real. I believe some of our biggest growth as people can come after these low, real moments. I'm excited to see who she's going to become in the next book(s).

I'M AN ALCOHOLIC by Dent May and his Magnificent Ukulele. Another Annabelle song, in keeping with her dark sense of humor. (I don't believe Annabelle thinks she's an alcoholic, but she knows she might be becoming a bit too fond of the bottle. Still, she can't take anything too seriously, or she'll take everything too seriously.)

SOLDIER'S JOY 1864 by Guy Clark. This is a great old southern song that I think conveys the spirit of the book and all of the characters in one way or another. Each character has lost something in the fairy emergence, they're coming out of a dark time (and heading into a darker one, but don't tell them that. No need to get them all upset just yet.)

I AM NOT A ROBOT by Marina and the Diamonds. Several of the characters in the book are holding important people/issues in their life at a distance. They're denying who they really are and need to find a way to assimilate their truth with their persona before they become 'robots.'

WINTER WINDS by Mumford and Sons. This is it. The relationships in this book are all winter relationships. They're going to have to do some growing if they're going to make it to spring. (Love this song. Mention of pestilence wins it extra points.)

Q: I'm big on place in story. In my writing, the setting is almost like a character and it sounds like place plays a big role in DEAD ON THE DELTA. Can you talk a bit about how you decided upon the setting and/or how you researched it and built it?

Stacey: The setting is absolutely a character in this book, probably more so than any I've written previously. The post fairy-apocalypse world outside the iron gates of the small southern town of Donaldsonville, Louisiana, is a constant in the mind of every character. The natural world and the bayou that once provided for people in the delta are now a source of fear, predators outnumber prey and people have been shifted to a lower place on the food chain.

I knew I wanted a bayou setting--a special climate where fairies have lived amongst us unnoticed until chemical spills caused their mutation and growth. I also wanted a small Louisiana town near several real life chemical plants. I found Donaldsonville via google and my husband and I drove down there for a three day research trip (during which I took the pictures used in the DEAD ON THE DELTA book trailer). It was a very enlightening three days.

Donaldsonville is in a lot of real life jeopardy. Pollution from the chemical plants is a big problem, to the point the area has been nicknamed "Cancer Alley." A lot of the people I spoke with are worried about the price they're paying living so close to the pollution. D'Ville has an unusually high rate of sickness compared to other small towns. Also a high rate of poverty and illiteracy. There's a bit of a post-apocalyptic feel to the place already, which is sad. Because the people there are wonderful, good people. I've never felt so welcomed in a place so quickly. It sickens me to think that their health is threatened by the chemical companies in Louisiana--who historically have not been forced to play by the rules, even when the clean air act's very existence wasn't being threatened by extremist politicians.

I really came to love Donaldsonville, and I think that helped enrich my fictionalization of the town. I hope in some small way my book can raise awareness of their struggle for cleaner air/water/soil.

Q: Who are some of the people that inspired you and/or continue to inspire you to write, perhaps other artists or people from your own life? On WWRW we like to hear about inspiring women in particular, but feel free to include guys too!

Stacey: My critique partner, Stacia Kane. We've been CPs since 2005, when we were both unpublished and struggling to find time to write in between nursing babies. I've watched her career launch and her writing evolve into stories that take my breath away. (If you haven't read the Unholy Ghosts series, you must. Now. Today!) She's a soul sister of mine and inspires me daily. I'm grateful for her friendship, and so proud to have been a part of her journey.

Q: You are such a productive writer, I am envious. Do you have a clone and if so how do I get one? Just kidding, the serious question is what's next up for you?

Stacey: Don't be envious. I work too much. (No clone, just me and my crazy schedule.) I'm actually going to take a brief hiatus this fall. I've spent the last four years working harder than I should have and I need a break to refill the creative well. My first YA hardcover, JULIET IMMORTAL releases August 9th and then I'm working on edits for two other contracted books (ROMEO REDEEMED, the companion book to JULIET IMMORTAL, and BLOOD ON THE BAYOU, book two of the Annabelle Lee series). After that, I'm going to do nothing but read and hike for most of October. I'm really looking forward to it. I love playing pretend, but sometimes it's important to stop and stick your head out into the real world for awhile, clear out the cobwebs.

Q: I have two questions that I always ask my Women Who Rock, the first is a two-parter. What was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge, we like to see the roots of our women who rock!

Stacey: The first album I bought was "She's So Unusual" when I was six years old. Cyndi Lauper. I still love her. My first concert was Chicago when I was ten with my dad (mostly because they were one of the few bands to come to our small town). I was really bothered by how loud the music was and asked if we could leave about 45 minutes in--it took me awhile to grow into my rock. Obviously.

Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!

Stacey: My first signing in Oxford, Mississippi at Square Books Junior is my biggest rock star moment. They had an after party with a punk band and the lead singer had composed a song titled "You are so undead to me" in honor of my book. I was blown away. Best signing ever. Thank you Jill and all the folks at Square Books! (Wish I still had the link to the video of the song. It was awesome.)

Thanks so much for having me, Stephanie! And much rock to all your readers.

Yep, I gotta say that I love Stacey even more after reading that. (I think the fact that she was a Cyndi Lauper girl at 6 gives her major coolness points.) And I'm even more excited about DEAD ON THE DELTA especially after reading about it's real life setting. And after hearing more about it, I'm guessing you are, to, which brings us to...

Today's Contest:

You are in luck! Stacey is offering up a copy of DEAD ON THE DELTA to one fabulous winner! Due to postage expenses this contest will be for US mailing address only, please.

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:

+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview
+1 for tweeting or posting about DEAD ON THE DELTA
+5 for blogging about DEAD ON THE DELTA

Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win. I will be drawing the winner next week on July 6th when I bring you another lovely gal who rocks, Rea Frey!


Matthew MacNish said...

Killer Faeries, huh? That actually sounds like a cool premise.

Unknown said...

I've started seeing a lot about this book. It's on my TBR list.
Thanks for the giveaway!

throuthehaze said...

This sounds pretty interesting and I love the cover :) Thanks for the giveaway!
throuthehaze at gmail dot com

marina said...

I'm always up for contests. [=
And you're a big fan of them too!! This book sounds neat; I like the idea of urban meets fantasy rather than just one or the other.