Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Interview with Jeri Smith-Ready & Your Chance To Ask Questions Too!

For those that don't know yet (gasp!), can you tell us what Shade is about?

Okay, here’s my amateur short version (not the extended magical marketing remix):
16-year-old Aura can see ghosts. Then again, so can everyone around the world who was born after her. In fact, they have a word for the moment of her birth: the Shift. Aura suspects that the Shift might be connected to her missing mystery dad and an event that happened at Newgrange tomb in Ireland a year before her birth.

Ghosts can be annoying at their best. At their worst, as dark, powerful "shades," they can be deadly. So Aura's major goal in life is to undo the Shift and make the ghosts go away.

And then, her boyfriend dies and becomes a ghost.

You have written many amazing adult fiction books with Shade being your first foray into YA. Was Shade started as YA or did it evolve that way?

It originally started as an idea for a world where the existence of ghosts had been proven, and a law firm that specialized in wrongful death suits. As tickled as I was by my cheesy tagline, “I sue dead people,” the idea went nowhere without a main character or a compelling story to give it life. (Besides, I know zilch about law, so it wouldn’t have gotten far. It wasn’t until the main character of 16-year-old Aura Salvatore came into the picture that the story took off. I thought hey, what if all people her age and younger could see ghosts? And then the biggest part of the story of all: what if her boyfriend died and become a ghost?

SHADE wasn’t my first attempt at writing YA, though. I wrote another YA (about the daughters of fallen angels Lucifer and Beelzebub as high school seniors) in between my other books, in bits and pieces from 2003 to 2006. But when it came time to revise it for submission in 2008, I realized it pretty much sucked (well, the first half of it, anyway). By that point, I already had the idea for SHADE and was really excited about it, so I decided to do that instead. Sometimes you just have to know when to drop a project and move on.

Having written for both adult & YA audiences, what was the hardest/easiest about writing YA?

In some ways, writing YA is easier. I get to focus on the elements of storytelling I enjoy most and that I think I’m best at: character development and voice, especially dialogue. Writing for teens usually requires a faster pace, and I’m all for that. Whether I’m writing for adults or teens, I believe in following Elmore Leonard’s #1 rule of writing: leave out the boring parts.

The hardest part of writing YA for me is cutting down on the plot digressions. Especially with a book like SHADE where the whole society has changed because of ghosts, it’s so tempting to geek out and explore all the different world-building aspects. My editor does a great job of telling me when I’m losing focus from the main characters and their conflicts. Also when I’m getting too James Bond-ish.

In Shade, the colors purple & red are significant, why were these colours chosen?

The color concept is based on the visible light spectrum—though I don't specifically mention it in the book—where violet and red lie at opposite ends. Red corresponds with the first “chakra” (or energy center, in traditional Indian medicine), located at the base of the spine, where it represents life and the physical world. Violet is associated with the seventh chakra, at the top of the head, representing pure thought. Though I’d chosen obsidian because of its use by ghost hunters, I later discovered that the rock corresponds to the color red and the first chakra. Score one happy world-building accident!

How many books are planned for this series?

There will be at least two (SHIFT is coming out next May). I hope there’ll be three or four ultimately, but of course that depends on my publisher wanting more, which of course depends on readers supporting the series. This doesn’t just apply to my books—if you love an author, buy their books and tell all your friends! Otherwise the publishers won’t know how loved they are, and next thing you know, no more books. :-(

Can you give us a sneak peak at what to expect in book #2, Shift?

SHIFT picks up right after SHADE finishes, and you won’t believe how Chapter One ends! Aura faces a whole new unimaginable dilemma in her choice between Logan and Zachary. As Zachary puts it, “We need to redefine the word ‘impossible.’”

But Aura does find out all about her mom and dad and the mystery of the Shift. The question is, what does she do with that information? And that leads us into a possible third and fourth book.

Ahhh, as if I wasn't already dying to read Shift!

Thanks so much for having me on your blogs! I love to hear from readers, so come visit me at, or better yet on twitter @jsmithready or, where I spend way too much time.

And thanks for writing amazing books & sharing them with us!

I hope you have enjoyed the week so far. Today is the last day to enter the contest for a SIGNED copy of Shade courtesy of Jeri! (Click here to enter)

Now for the fun interactive part...Jeri will be checking in with us today so if you have any questions for her, just type it up in a comment below!

Cross-posted at: He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him? on 13 May 2010.


Jeri said...

Thanks for having me! I'm happy to answer any questions you have for me today, about the writing process, about any of my books (including SHADE, of course), or whatever crazy thing you can come up with.

Looking forward to it!

Kate at Read This Book! said...

I like seeing authors reply to these. =)

If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?

If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

What was one Young Adult book that left you a lasting impression long after you read it?

Jeri said...


If someone told you 20 years ago that you would be a published author, what would your reaction be?

It's funny you should ask this today of all days! Yesterday one of my Twitter pals posted a picture of SHADE on a bookstore shelf, and two books over are the books of a college friend of mine, Jordan Sonnenblick. 20 years ago, neither of us wanted to be writers--he wanted to teach, and frankly I don't remember what I wanted to do, other than graduate. ;-) He blogged about it here just now.

If you could go back in time and tell your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

"Spend more time with your friends and less time with your boyfriend." But she wouldn't listen, so why bother? ;-)

What was one Young Adult book that left you a lasting impression long after you read it?

This is probably a common answer, but John Green's Looking for Alaska. After I read it, I was actually depressed because I thought, "I'll never be that good." This feeling only lasted a few hours, though, because after all, everyone has their own voice and their own stories to tell. But the book itself has really stayed with me.

Thanks for your great questions!

Kate at Read This Book! said...

Hi Jeri! Ooh interesting replies. :) It's cool that your college friend and you have your books shelved next to each other!

I haven't read Looking for Alaska *shocker!* but I have read Paper Towns! Quite liked it.

Have a great day, thanks for answering my questions so quickly!

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