Friday, December 30, 2011

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Place of Reads Interviews Heather Jensen

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Place of Reads Interviews
Heather Jensen, Author of Blood and Guitars

PoR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

H.J.: I grew up in a small town in Southeastern Utah. I'm the oldest of three girls. My family did a structured foster care program when I was growing up and before I moved out we had had more than thirty at-risk teenage girls in our home from the time I was twelve to the time I moved out. I married my high-school sweetheart and we live in sunny St. George, Utah now. I’m a stay-at-home mom so I do most of my writing while my son is at school. Aside from spending time with my family and friends, when I’m not writing I like to decorate cakes, play my guitar, watch movies and play board games.        

PoR: When you were a kid, did you want to grow up and be a writer?  Or was there something else you wanted to do?

H.J.: I was constantly writing stories from the time I could read and write, although I’m not sure I was aware that people could do that for a living. Maybe that’s why I never really found any other career path that fit. I’ve only had a couple of jobs that I actually enjoyed doing. One of those was working as a relay for the deaf. That’s probably because I got paid for my mad typing skills, and I was allowed to write during my downtime between calls. The other was when I worked in a recording studio. I’ve always been a big music fan and I’m obsessed with all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating music. Writing Blood And Guitars has been very rewarding in the sense that it has allowed me to mesh together two of my biggest loves: music and writing.

PoR: In Blood and Guitars, your vampires are a bit different than your standard vampire or even the other vampires you might read about today.  What inspired your version of the vampire myth? 

H.J.: I was in high school when the idea for Blood And Guitars came to me. At that time, I was only aware of a select few vampire books. To this day I’m grateful that I created my vampire world six or seven years before Twilight came along, or vampires became the mainstream. I think it helped me to stay original and let my vampires be who they wanted to be without getting caught up in all the vampire hype that has been around for the last few years.

I don’t have any one thing I can name that inspired my vampires, but when I was creating them, I knew that several things had to be true in their world in order for the story to be what I wanted. First, they would injest human blood to sustain themselves, but they wouldn’t necessarily be blood-thirsty killers because of it. Secondly, although my vampires can function during the daylight hours, there is a pricetag to deviating from their naturally nocturnal schedule. During the day, my vampires only have access to the most basic physical gifts necessary to their survival (speed, strength, ect....) At night they can take full advantage of their mental abilities, such as reading or shielding minds, mentally tracking others and more.

PoR: In Blood and Guitars, you have an artist and several musicians.  Are you an artist or musician or have you always wanted to be one?

H.J.: Music has always been a big part of my life. I played piano when I was younger and I’ve been playing drums for more than half of my life. I didn’t get serious about playing guitar until high school but I own three now and play as often as I can. I dabble in songwriting, and it’s weird, but I do my best work when I’m inside of Trey’s head, writing songs from his point of view and experiences. I’ve always been fascinated with painting, especially oil painting. I’ve done a few paintings here and there but I don’t have the time to paint as often as I’d like to.

PoR: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

H.J.: More than specific experiences, I draw mostly from emotions that I think everyone has felt at one time or another. Aurora is a fiercely independent and capable young woman, but those qualities actually make her feel isolated from the rest of her kind. Trey, despite having success, money, fame, a career he loves, and everything else a man could possibly dream of, yearns for someone to love him for who he is and not what he is. Both characters have feelings that most of us can identify with at some point in our lives.

PoR: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

H.J.: It’s really hard to pick a favorite scene or chapter, but I particularly enjoyed writing about Aurora, Trey, and the rest of Catalyst going to the MTV Video Music Awards. I think I enjoyed it so much because it’s really the first time Aurora gets to see Trey in his element as the lead singer in a majorly famous band. She’s been with him in the studio a bunch but this is the first time she sees him and the rest of the guys in the band interact with their fans on that level. Aurora really gets to see another side of Trey and his life that she’s really only glimpsed so far, and it’s just the beginning.

PoR: If you suddenly found out that your vampires were real, what would you mostly likely do?

H.J.: I’m intrigued and terrified by that idea all at once. What a great question! If my vampires were real, and in turn, the characters from the story were real, I’d head to Clearwater and beg Aurora for a painting lesson, hoping she’d already had her fill of fresh blood for the week. My vampires are immortal, not invincible, so I like to think the pistol I pack would be a good insurance policy against any vengeful vamps looking for Most vampires aren’t looking to harm humans, so I imagine I’d feel just as safe as I do now, considering there are more humans out there creating violence than there ever would be vampires. Also, I’d join Catalyst’s fan club and buy their new album when it hits stores. ;)

PoR: Random question time!  What Christmas Traditions do you and your family have that you can’t live without?

H.J.: My grandma’s hungarian cookies. My sisters and I always help my grandma make a giant batch of her famous cookies. They are seriously the best cookies on the planet. They take forever to make since you have to hand shape them so we only do it once a year. Also, we always take inner tubes and sleds out in the mountains and slide down the snow with them. If the hills are too crowded with other people, my dad will tie a rope to the back of his pickup truck and pull everyone around on the icy roads instead. It doesn’t get better than that.

PoR: What was the last book that you read?

H.J.: I’m currently reading Blood Promise by Richelle Mead and listening to the fourth Maximum Ride book by James Patterson on my iPod.

PoR: Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

H.J.: Thank you for your support! There’s nothing better than getting feedback from readers who enjoy what you write, whether it’s by way of a review or a tweet or a note on my site. Also, I’m aiming for a summer of 2012 release for the second book in the Blood And Guitars installment, tentatively titled Immortals And Melodies. Stay on top of the news at my site/blog .

Books by Heather Jensen

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  1. I want to work as a relay for the deaf! I love sign language! I'm glad you did that and congrats on your book, it sounds fabulous!

  2. Katie,

    Thank you for your kinds words! Working as a relay was the most rewarding job I've had outside of the home. I really enjoyed it. :)


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