Jennifer Harlow is the author of the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad series and her new book, What’s a Witch To Do?, just came out! She was nice enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome her to the blog!
Jennifer, will you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always been a storyteller in some shape or form. I used to fake being sick to stay home from school and play with my dolls. When I got too old for that around age thirteen I moved onto putting pen to paper. I started with really terrible novellas, then since I was living in Southern California, I thought I’d try my hand at screenplays. Most of them were pretty crap too, think Lifetime movie bad. With that more or less mastered, I woke up one day and was like, “Huh. Maybe I’ll try writing a book.” And I did. Nine and counting. But I fought being a writer for years. I was all set to be a psychologist, but just couldn’t help myself. Writing is HARD. Publishing is even harder. You get rejected all the time, even now. It becomes easier each time but still stings. If I could be doing something other than writing, I would. It is not for the faint of heart. But I kind of have no choice. I can’t not write. I’ve tried and failed for years. It’s a calling.
You’ve tacked all manner of monster in your F.R.E.A.K.S Squad series, but your new novel, What’s a Witch To Do?, is the first in a new series! Will you tell us a bit about it and its heroine, Mona McGregor?
She’s the most powerful witch in America, the High Priestess to over a hundred fifty witches, most of whom who live in her small Southern town of Goodnight. When she’s not dealing with various magical crises, she’s also raising her two young nieces and running her shop, Midnight Magic. In the book she also has to deal with a bleeding werewolf on her porch, slay a demon, figure out who wants her dead, host a supernatural summit, help in her sister’s wedding, oh and investigate who wants her dead and that’s not the half of it.
Do you already have an idea of how many books you’d like to write in the Midnight Magic Mystery series or will you just see where it takes you?
It’s not a traditional series by any account. Not only are the characters loosely tied to my other series, the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, but each book will follow a different character in another time period even. Everyone appears in each other’s books though. The next will focus on the Eastern Werewolf Pack the third on a character Anna West who I introduced in To Catch A Vampire. Right now there are only plans for those three but who knows what the future will bring?
Who (or what) are some of the biggest influences on your writing?
Without question, Janet Evanovitch, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Jennifer Crusie. From Evanovitch I learned how to incorporate humor, mystery, and sexual tension while keeping a quick pace in the story. Hamilton showed the perfect was to combine two genres effectively, thriller and paranormal, and that a heroine doesn’t have to always be a sweet, perfect woman. She can have a hard edge and still be likable. From Jennifer Crusie, I learned the art of a romance novel without a clear formula. Her characters aren’t perfect, they meet in interesting ways, and struggle with real compatibility issues. I just hope I did my heroes justice.
What are some of your favorite mysteries?
I love the humor in One For the Money, all of Tana French’s books for their complexity, and when I’m in the mood for something quick and light I re-read the Jaine Austen series by Laura Levine. Oh, and I just finished Emily Kimmelman’s Sydney Rye series. They’re really good.
What book(s) are you reading now?
Right now I’m on one of my, “I need to become a classier bitch” kicks so I’ve been focusing more on biographies. I just finished one on Lord Byron and have stared one on Eleanor of Aquitaine. When this phase is over I’m sure I’ll go back to my usual zombies, serial killers, and superheroes.
I read in your bio that you like scary movies! What’s one of your faves?
One of my favorite of all time is The Omen. That kid is so creepy and cute all at the same time. I also adore campy 80s horror films like The Monster Squad, Warlock, Waxwork, Night of the Comet, Near Dark just to name a few. I watch waaaaaaay too many horror movies, but I just love them so.
When you manage to find some free time, what’s one of your favorite ways to spend it?
When I was a teenager I was this ultra responsible and serious person who basically had no fun. As I got older I somehow morphed into a teenage boy. Lately I’ve gotten into video games and comic books besides my usual reading, watching television, and shopping. I’d love to travel like I used to by that’s the price of being a starving artist.
What’s next for you this year and beyond?
This year is loco bananas. I have two books, What’s A Witch To Do? out March 8th but also the third F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad book Death Takes A Holiday out in August. Besides those two I’ll also have short story out in e-book only and may self-publish another thing I wrote this year as well, no date on those. Next year the second Midnight Magic will be out in March. I’m exhausted just thinking of it all.
Keep up with Jennifer: Website | Twitter
About WHAT’S A WITCH TO DO?
High Priestess might sound like an ’80s hair band, but its Mona McGregor’s life. She runs the Midnight Magic shop in Goodnight, Virginia, and leads a large coven. She’s also raising two nieces and hasn’t been with a man for fifteen years…until a handsome doctor takes an interest in her. But Mona’s life really heats up when Adam Blue, a sexy werewolf, arrives at her door. Adam informs her that someone wants her dead and he is there to protect her. Hell’s bells! When a demon begins stalking her, Mona has to suspect her coven members, and even her family.
With two handsome men and a determined demon after her, Mona teams up with Adam to find out who really wants her dead . . . and who really wants her.