Grabbing a Bite
with MaryJanice Davidson

Absolute Blank

By Erin L. Nappe (Billiard)

What do you get when you cross Buffy’s attitude, Angel’s “vampire with a soul” schtick, and Carrie Bradshaw’s designer shoe fetish?

Well, you might get something like Betsy Taylor, the heroine of MaryJanice Davidson‘s popular “Undead” series.

For those not familiar with the series, here’s a quick overview: 30-year-old Betsy is hit by a car and wakes up in the morgue. She discovers that she is a vampire, but a strange one… sunlight doesn’t hurt her, she can touch crosses and other religious articles without pain, and she isn’t consumed by the urge to feed. As it turns out, these are the very things that make her the prophesied Queen of the Vampires. She teams up with “tall, dark and sinister” Eric Sinclair, a sort of vampire king, and you can guess what happens next.

Davidson is incredibly prolific, having published 26 books in four years, with 7 coming out in 2006 so far. (“I type fast,” she says.)

Undead and Unpopular, the fifth book in the series, was released this month, and we here at TC had the chance to pick Davidson’s brain.

Toasted Cheese: How long have you been writing professionally?

MaryJanice Davidson: I quit my SDJ (Stupid Day Job) three years ago and have been writing full time since. It was frightening to contemplate, since I’ve had “real” jobs since I was 16, and Minnesota was in the midst of a terrible recession at the time, and my SDJ was a good one (Ops Manager). Everyone encouraged me to keep my job and keep writing at night, except my husband, who told me to go for it. And once I did it I never looked back. And once my editors knew I was writing full-time, they went out of their way to try to find me lots of work. They knew I had a family to feed.

TC: What’s the first thing you ever wrote? Published?

MJD: The first book I ever wrote was The Adventures of the Teen Furies and, coincidentally, it was the first book I published (the e-publisher HardShell Word Factory bought it, and it’s still in print, both as an e-book and as a paperback).

TC: How long did it take you to get published?

MJD: Years and years. I’ve been writing since I was 13, submitting since my early twenties, and I’m now 36. I have a stack of rejection letters from just about every romance publisher out there: Harlequin, Silhouette, Warner, Avon, Little Brown, Dorchester.

TC: What writer (or writers) do you admire? Is there anyone in particular that inspired or influenced you?

MJD: Stephen King (I love his rags to riches story), John Sandford, Laurell K. Hamilton (another rags to riches story, plus she was a single mom for quite a while), Carl Hiaasen (funniest writer ever), Ann Rule (amazing depth of research for her true crime stories), Charlaine Harris (just an outstanding writer in general, and such a nice lady in person, a total sweetheart!). I’m pretty eclectic; I read across genres. Frankly, I admire any writer who managed to get published; it’s a tough business.

TC: What about the “paranormal romance” genre interested you?

MJD: I love vampires, werewolves, fairies, witches… the idea of having “super powers” is just fascinating to me. What must it be like to be immortal, to be super strong, to see in the dark like a cat, to do magic? Fascinating.

TC: Was there any real life inspiration for Betsy?

MJD: I guess, maybe me. I’m six feet tall, like Betsy, and a jerk, like Betsy, and self-absorbed. I didn’t want a “Mary Sue” heroine, the type who can do no wrong. What I like about Betsy is that not everybody loves her; in fact, she irritates the hell out of a lot of people. Also like me!

TC: What are you currently working on?

MJD: I just finished SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES, my new paranormal series about a grumpy mermaid who doesn’t like to swim and is allergic to shellfish. And I’m working on another Alaskan Royal book, THE ROYAL SURPRISE. (What if Alaska was never bought by the US, was its own country and had its own royal family?)

TC: Can you tell us what’s next for Betsy and Sinclair?

MJD: Well, the wedding (if all goes well). Betsy really wants an “official” ceremony as opposed to the Book of the Dead simply stating she and Sinclair are mated for a thousand years. Whereas Sinclair thinks the idea of a ceremony is just ridiculous; they’re already husband and wife according to vampire lore. And Betsy badly wants a baby, which is a little tricky, since her ovaries stopped working the day she died. And she still has a lot of vampires to win over; many of them think Sinclair is the real power behind the throne, and she’s just a fluke. When, frankly, it’s the other way around.

TC: Do you have any advice for our readers?

MJD: Never ever ever give up. If I had quit submitting any time during those 15 years, I would never have made the New York Times list. I’d never be writing full time and, frankly, I wouldn’t have gobs of money. It’s a tough business, but persistence is definitely rewarded.

Billiard Recommends: Undead and Unwed

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