Angie Fox won an Smart Bitch Interview in the Brenda Novak Diabetes auction, prompting me to freak the hell out because dude, I don’t know of a single question that would adequately measure up to the bid she made to fight diabetes and be interviewed by yours truly. So first and foremost, thanks to Angie for supporting a great cause, and giving me an inferiority complex that is barely contained by my undershorts. Onward to the interview!
Sarah: Ok, the obvious part! Pimp your book in a handful of words!
Angie:Newly anointed with demon-fighting powers and suddenly able to hear the thoughts of her hilarious Jack Russell terrier, a preschool teacher finds a whole new world of dark and dangerous, including a sexy shape-shifting griffin she’s not entirely sure she can trust.
Sarah: If your book were a food, which one would it be?
Angie: If the book were a food, I’d have to say it’s like hot apple pie right out of the oven – sweet, warm and a bit flaky.
Sarah: In your initial email to me, you mentioned that you’d written three serious mysteries before you “relaxed and found your voice.” Nosy Sarah says, “Moar pls?”
Angie: I spent a lot of years as a writer thinking that in order to connect with my readers or to say something with my books, I had to take things very seriously. I outlined (more than any one person should), I made charts, I filled out stacks of colored note cards. Basically, I took every bit of advice I’d ever heard on writing and incorporated them all. Because eighteen methods are better than one, right?
Well the result was that I wrote three mysteries that didn’t sell. A few of my rejections said the mysteries were “too funny,” so I was trying my darndest to be serious. At all costs. But my natural voice is lighter and I had to fight every instinct I had in order to make my stories ultra dark.
That kind of thing will wear you out after awhile. So I said the heck with it. I decided to write what I wanted to write. And one night, I started thinking about what would happen if a preschool teacher who wants nothing more than to be normal, learns she’s a demon slayer. And what if she has no idea how to fulfill her destiny and has to learn along the way? And what if, to escape the demons out to get her before she’s ready, she’s forced to run off with her long-lost Grandma’s gang of geriatric biker witches? It amused me. I’ve always been a sucker for a reluctant heroine (and I think I watched too many episodes of The Greatest American Hero as a kid).
I chucked the note cards, started writing, and the story unfolded from there. Instead of ending my writing sessions thinking, “I hope an editor will like this,” I ended them thinking. “No. I did not just write that. I did not just make my character defend herself with a toilet brush and a can of Purple Prairie Cover air freshener.” I couldn’t wait to get back to the keyboard every day and finished the book in just under five months. It felt right, natural. And before I had a chance to think about it too hard, The Accidental Demon Slayer sold (less than a week after I finished it). When I told my editor how much fun I had with the story, she said, “I can tell. That’s why I bought it.”
Even more important, I learned that you can indeed write a lighthearted book with a serious side. The Accidental Demon Slayer is about finding out who you really are. It’s about the strength you find when you have the courage to forgive. And most of all, it illustrates something that’s all too easy to forget – that while loving yourself (and your family) can take work, it’s worth every bit of the battle.
Sarah: What is this about biker dogs in your quest for research?
Angie: There is a gang of geriatric biker witches in my book, and I ended up doing research with a lot of real-life Harley riders. Then there’s also a dog character in the book, yet I had to get him on a Harley. I ended up meeting all kinds of Harleyriders who ride with their dogs. It’s the wildest thing. You should see how excited they get when they know they’re going to ride. It’s like doggie heaven – wind in your face all the time.
Before this, I thought research meant talking to experts, reading books or surfing the internet. I found myself on the back of a coal black Harley, behind a guy named Stone, with my helmet on backwards and an Irish Setter in tow. The dog’s name was Frankie and I can tell you right now, Frankie knew a lot more about motorcycles than I did.
It was my fault, really. When I sat down to write The Accidental Demon Slayer, I had no notes about dogs on motorcycles. But in the second chapter, when my heroine learns she’s a demon slayer and all hell is after her, she takes comfort in her dog. It was a sweet moment. And as I wrote it, I thought, ‘How do I throw her off?’
I made Pirate, the dog, say something to my heroine. Nothing big. After all, he’s only after the fettuccine from last week. And he knows exactly where she can find it (back of the fridge, to the left of the lettuce crisper, behind the mustard). It amused me, so I did it. Thanks to her unholy powers, Lizzie can now understand her smart-mouthed Jack Russell Terrier. I ended up having a ball with it, and I fell in love with Pirate the dog. Then I realized I was writing about motorcycle riding biker witches.
How do you get a dog on a motorcycle?
Well, I went online and learned that there is a nationwide club of Harley bikers who ride with their dogs. So my heroine could have her pink Harley, and her Jack Russell Terrier too.
And of course I had to meet these Harley riding dog lovers. I called up a few of the members of the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club and the adventure began. They invited me into their homes, introduced me to their dogs and, like my heroine, the bikers hoisted me up on the back of a Harley, with a dog in tow.
Stone, the biker who spent the most time making sure I didn’t fall off his hog, showed me how to ride, invited me to some biker rallies (note to self: don’t wear pink next time), and helped make The Accidental Demon Slayer as real as it can be (for a book about a somewhat sheltered preschool teacher turned demon slayer).
So just when I thought I was writing fiction, it seemed my made-up characters from The Accidental Demon Slayer weren’t so imaginary after all. One of the bikers I met even has a wife who is a biker witch. I’m wondering if she, like my heroine’s biker witch grandma, wears a “kiss my asphalt” t-shirt and carries a carpet bag full of Smuckers jars filled with magic. I like to tell people that maybe I’ll find out on my next adventure
Has all this interviewing madness made you curious? I’ve got five copies of The Accidental Demon Slayer to give away. How to win? Leave a comment. And for extra more gooder fun, visit Angie’s website and find out your Your Biker Witch Name, and let us know what it is.
Mine, for the record, is Fast Frankie Pothole Jumper. But you can call me “PJ” for short.
But wait, there’s more! So long as your anointing yourself with a biker name, head on over to Angie’s site for a contest wherein, if you art the winner, you get a role in her next book, The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers