Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview With Judi Fennell, Author of Catch Of A Lifetime

Author: Judi Fennell

Book 3 of the Tritone Trilogy
February, 2010
Publisher: Sourcebooks

Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages


Back Cover Blurb:

She’s on a mission to save the planet…

Mermaid Angel Tritone has been researching humans from afar, hoping to find a way to convince them to stop polluting. When she jumps into a boat to escape a shark attack, it’s her chance to pursue her mission, but she has to keep her identity a total secret…

When he finds out what she really is, they’re both in mortal danger…

For Logan Hardington, finding a beautiful woman on his boat is surely not a problem—until he discovers she’s a mermaid, and suddenly his life is on the line.

Judi, it’s always a pleasure to have you here Over Coffee especially to talk about your wonderful books—which I’ve loved, by the way.

Aw, thanks, Sia. It never gets old that people love what you’ve written.

You just had a birthday a few days ago. You were almost a Valentines baby. Did you do anything special?

Actually, I did. I spent it with some of my favorite people – and, no, I don’t mean my family. (We’ve had umpteen snow days it seems like; I’ve spent enough time with them. LOL). I spent it with my fellow Valley Forge Romance Writer chaptermates. It was our monthly meeting and I was giving a presentation. Then we went out to lunch and then I had a book signing. Yes, it was a working day for me, but I love what I do and am feeling a bit shut in since the last event I went to was back in October. Maybe that’s why I’ve registered for 13 events so far in 2010.

Now, Let’s go back in time a bit.

Will you tell us briefly how you became an author?

I’ve always written, but it wasn’t until that fateful day when my youngest was in kindergarten and I woke up and thought, “I wonder what room I should clean today,” that I took a hard look at where I was in life. I love being a stay-at-home mom, but I did not like to clean. It was time to go back to being Judi – which is different from being Mom and Wife. I like all those parts but the “me” wasn’t getting out.

So I got a part time job AND I decided to get to work on getting published. Someone should have told me to do one or the other; but I probably wouldn’t have listened. I loved my part time job, but I love writing even more.

How difficult was it for you to get published?

As for how difficult, well, rejection is never easy. And I’ve had my share. I’ve also had my share of higher-profile exposure to feedback, in that I did three online contests, pre-publication, in the vein of American Idol-like contests. Talk about getting a thick skin quickly. Not everyone got my humor, or liked it. But others did.

Those contests gave me visibility and a writing resume. Other contests and critique groups helped with craft and story. And I went to a lot of writing conferences and workshops. Networking is as important in this career as in any other.

Four years after I joined Romance Writers of America, lightning struck and the perfect manuscript met the perfect editor at the perfect time.

I’ve heard you refer to the first in this series, In Over Her Head, as your talking fish story. How did you come up with this idea?

Originally, In Over Her Head, was part of another series – twists on fairy tales. I’d written Cinda Bella, Beauty and The Best, Fairest of Them All, and decided to “twist” The Little Mermaid. The easiest way to do that was to make him the Mer, and voila! In Over Her Head was born.

I’d finalled and won several contests with those stories;
Beauty and The Best was in the third American Title contest sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Magazine, as well as being the only romance to make the Top 20 finalists of the & Schuster First Chapters Contest, but it hadn’t sold. Came pretty close once but then the editor I’d been working with left, and well, c’est la vie.

So, it wasn't your original thought to make In Over Her Head a Mer series?

No, it was only when In Over Her Head made the Top 5 of the Books First Chapters Romance Contest, I knew I wanted to focus on the Mer world I’d built and I came up with blurbs for two more stories in the series. That determined the direction of the series.

So, I’d written the first story with an eye toward one series, but then
adjusted my focus according to the market. And the Mer series was the one that sold.

Catch of a Lifetime, features Angel Tritone. She’s not the typical Tritone. Tell me a bit about Angel and who she is? Was it her plan to find a human of her own to love?

Angel is the classic middle child. She’s stuck amid over-achievers and is feeling the need to make a name for herself. Humans have always fascinated her and she’s become a scientist in Humanology.

When her brother, Rod, the High Councilman, sets out to create a Mer-Human Coalition to facilitate interaction between the species in hopes of working toward bettering the planet, Angel sees a job description built just for her. Sadly, Rod won’t even let her apply.

But that doesn’t stop Angel. She wants to be somebody and she’s damn-well going to get the chance to do it.

She’d never planned to fall in love with a Human; she wasn’t planning on falling in love for a long time. She wanted to make her mark first. So when Logan comes into the picture, you could say she was feeling a bit like she’d been caught up in a whirlpool.

Which scene do you like the best in your story?

Are you really going to make me pick? I can’t. Each one has its highs and lows. Some were harder to write than others. Some have so much emotion that it makes me catch my breath, or makes me smile with happiness. And then there are the scenes that make me flat-out laugh out loud.

Nope, I can’t pick. Just like I can’t pick which character is my favorite, or which book is my favorite. Or which of my kids.

What was the hardest thing for you to write in this book or this series?

In this book, the story actually veered down a path that I hadn’t wanted it to go. There’s a young boy—Logan’s son Michael—who ended up being kidnapped by a man named Curtis. I write comedy; I couldn’t come up with any way to make that kidnapping humorous. And I’m a parent; inherently I shy away from thinking that situation could be humorous at all.

I had to reevaluate the story that I’d originally envisioned. Oh, I hadn’t thought of including a kidnapping, but the antagonist kept heading toward that no matter how many times I re-wrote it.

So, I ended up getting rid of him and finding another antagonist. This one a shark. Who, yes, does lure Michael into the ocean, but not with the intent to kidnap him like the original villain had done.

I have to say, it was an angst-y time, reworking the story, but I’m much happier with it in the end. And I had a heck of a good time with A.C., the shark.

You’re very involved with RWA. You are president of your Chapter and do quite a bit of travel. This year you’re doing some special things at the conferences, aren’t you?

I’ve been invited to speak at the first Velocicon conference in March, I’m doing a presentation at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference and my research workshop with authors Stephanie Julian and Melissa Mayhue has been selected for RWA National Conference.

This will be my busiest year yet with conferences. At present, I’m registered for 13 events. And looking forward to each one! There will be some meet-ups with long-time online friends, and catching up with those I only see at conferences. Plus all the writerly and readerly interactions. I love this job!

You’re wife, mother, a chapter president, and author. Good god, when do you have time to write?

It’s my job. I don’t get in the car and commute to an office, but I do go to my office. And I put earphones in. If a kid comes in, there better be blood trailing from some appendage. Otherwise, I’ll talk to them when they come home from school, but then I go back to work.

I also have the most supportive husband who tells me to head to my favorite bookstore when deadlines hit and I’m in my one-track mind mode. I’ll head there for 13 hours at a pop and he’ll handle the house and kids.

I couldn’t do this without him.

Given your writing schedule and deadlines, what do you do to relax and recharge?

I vegetate in front of reality television. It’s my guilty pleasure and I make no apologies for it. I need to watch something that I don’t have to concentrate on a story. I have a group of girlfriends who have been watching Survivor ever since the ending of the second season. We get together almost every Thursday night, even when the show is on hiatus. It keeps us sane.

You have a new series coming out about a society of Genies. I love how you write about mythical creatures co-existing with us. When will this series debut?

I Dream of Genies comes out January 2011. It was a blast to write and I could never have seen where that story would take me. I’ve pulled elements of Middle Eastern and Egyptian mythology in and combined with the pop culture references of I Dream of Jeannie. It was a lot of fun.

You've been a busy lady. I'd love to bottle your energy and drive, I'd make a fortune on the market. LOL

I will say, from what I've read of Genies, we're in for a treat. I love the premise and damn, you sure know how to tell an entetaining story.

I'm thinking, if I believed in reincarnation, Judi must be Queen Scheherazade, and I, like the King of old, am eagerly looking forward to her thousand and one tales of magic and adventure.

Thank you, Judi, for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me.

  • I have two copies of Catch Of A Lifetime to give out to two commenters today.

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Judi Fennell is an award-winning author. Her romance novels have been finalists in’s First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, as well as the third American Title contest. She spends family vacations at the Jersey Shore, the setting for some of her paranormal romance series. She lives in suburban Philadelphia, PA.

Find Judi Fennell on her website, on twitter, on Facebook, on Goodreads