Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Another Talk with Ann Voss Peterson

I've collaborated with many writers, including F. Paul Wilson, Jeff Strand, Henry Perez, Tom Schreck, and Blake Crouch.

I'm currently working on a spy novel with Ann Voss Peterson. We previously co-wrote the thriller short story WILD NIGHT IS CALLING, which has sold close to a thousand copies in the past month.

Recently, Ann and I met in Google docs and hammered out a novella, featuring characters from my Jack Daniels series.

The result, a Harry McGlade story called JAILBAIT, just went live on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.

Here's the description:

Private detective Harry McGlade is on the prowl, looking for a one-night stand. Or, in McGlade's case, a five-minute stand.

When he finds a sexy lady at his local bar, he thinks he has a chance with her.

But she wasn't alone. There was a guy with her. A guy with a gun whom she was desperately trying to get away from.

When the local mafia becomes involved with McGlade's tryst, things start going bad.

Then they go really bad, when a baby comes into the picture. And the only one McGlade can turn to for help is his old partner, Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels.

JAILBAIT is an 11,000 word novella (about 50 pages long), written by bestselling author J.A. Konrath, and romantic suspense author Ann Voss Peterson (who has over 3 million books in print.)

It's a hysterically funny, and sometimes poignant, look at sex, relationships, pregnancy, and fatherhood. It also has guns and violence and criminals and double-crosses and twists. Ann and J.A. are confident that it will appeal to fans of mysteries, thrillers, and even romance (as long as the reader keeps tongue firmly in cheek.)

J.A. blames Ann for any depth and emotion the story has, because he feels that such sensitivity has no place in a humorous mystery.

Ann blames J.A. for the non-stop barrage of tasteless jokes, because she has much classier standards than that.

This ebook also features a brand new excerpt from FLEE, a spy novel co-written by Konrath and Peterson, which will be available on April 26.

So, in celebration of this release, I invited Ann to a quick Q & A.

Joe: Congrats on the Rita Award nomination!

Ann: Thanks, Joe! It's pretty exciting. For anyone who doesn't know, the Rita Award is the biggest award for romance fiction, like the Edgar for mystery or the Hugo for science fiction. And this year, it's being held in New York City. I'm waiting for the clothing designers to start lining up to dress me for the Awards! Okay, that's just my imagination. Speaking of imagination, let's talk about this crazy Harry McGlade novella we just wrote.

Joe: So the idea behind this story was basically to show you how to use Google docs (which I've used with Blake Crouch for Killers and Barry Eisler for our dialog).

Ann: Now wait, Joe. The spark of the idea ignited before that. It came from your blog. Someone asked if you were going to write a romance. So I challenged you, and the idea took a few strange twists from there.

Joe: I was pretty convinced we weren't going to end up writing a romance. I was also convinced that whatever we came up with wasn't going to be publishable. I thought of it more like an experiment. But then it grew into a Harry McGlade short story, and eventually a Harry McGlade novella, and I'm really pleased with the result.

You've read my Jack Daniels books. What was it like writing in that universe?

Ann: At first, it was a bit like writing fan fic, which I've actually never done. But you did give me free rein to create a few characters of my own to make Harry's life hell. Gotta say, I really enjoyed that.

Joe: The funny thing is, the story doesn't seem like a collaborative effort. It reads pretty much like one of my solo works, even though you wrote half of it.

Ann: What was it like to have someone else messing in Harry McGlade's life?

Joe: Surprisingly seamless. Having someone write for Harry and Jack was fun, and I don't think there were any false notes. You had some really funny lines that readers will probably think I wrote, which proves how good you were at mimicking my style. What did you think of Google docs for collaboration?

Ann: When we started, I really thought I would hate it. It's so contrary to the way I work. My rough drafts are ROUGH, and I never let anyone see them. I rewrite a lot to hone my story. So I was really uneasy with the idea of writing the same document at the same time. But I have to say, it grew on me. It pushed me past my obnoxious inner critic and forced me to just put words down. And I could trust that if I turned the story in a way that didn't work, you would change it in front of my eyes. In summary, it made me stretch, which is always a good thing for writers.

Joe: I'm really stuck on Google docs lately, and how much fun it is. Sort of like hanging out with another musician and starting to jam.

Because it came so easily, we wrote this sucker pretty damn quickly, and it required minimal rewrites once we finished. Do you normally write this fast?

Ann: No. I rewrite 'til the cows come home. Wait, I need to delete that cliche and come up with something better--

Joe: The cliche works fine. Now just open the door and let the cows back in.

At the end of JAILBAIT, we included another excerpt from our upcoming spy thriller FLEE. It's a different excerpt than the one in WILD NIGHT IS CALLING. What do you think of FLEE so far?

Ann: I adore FLEE. It has been such a blast to write. I think Chandler (the lead character) is me, she just lives in another dimension. Well, there might be a few other differences, too.

Or are there?

Joe: When I first met you I had a hunch you were a superspy assassin. Now that you're getting a taste of ebook self-publishing, are you planning on doing anything solo?

Ann: I have a lot of ideas, the problem is choosing which to do first. No, the biggest problem is that I'm loving writing Chandler right now, and we're talking about some sequels, and my imagination is running wild!

Joe: Chandler is such a fun character. Driven, brave, complicated, and at times really vulnerable. We just wrote a pretty steamy sex scene. Well, you wrote the bulk of it. I just added more oral.

Was it odd writing a sex scene with a partner, especially a guy?

Ann: I've never written a sex scene with anyone else before, so I guess you're my first, Joe. It actually went pretty smoothly. I suspect it would have felt a little more odd if we'd written that scene together in Google docs.

Joe: I'm thinking the next two Chandler books will be called SPREE and THREE. It would be cool to write and release them by Xmas. I think ereader sales are going to go through the roof this year. I've made over $40k this month. I can imagine, next January, making $100k a month. Isn't that crazy?

Ann: Crazy? That's fabulous! Let's get these books written!

Joe: FLEE will be available on April 26. The preorder page is now live on Amazon. If you order today, it will automatically be delivered to your Kindle or reading device the exact moment it goes live. It will also be available on B&N, Smashwords, Sony, Kobo, iPad, and in print.

If you were part of the now-ended FREE FLEE promotion, I'll email you a copy several days before the official release.

Now I'll field some questions. If anyone has questions for Ann, please post them in the comments section.

Q: How did you get Amazon to create a preorder page for you?

A: I asked nicely. Don't expect them to create one for you, though, unless you have friends who work there, and 200,000 previous ebook sales.

Q: How much is JAILBAIT?

A: We released it at $2.99, which we feel is fair considering its length.

Q: Is JAILBAIT funny?

A: If you don't laugh out loud, you're either dead or dead inside. But be warned; it's not for the easily offended.

Q: You're doing a lot of collaborations lately. Why?

A: Simple math. I can write twice as many stories with a partner as I can on my own. That means I can extend my virtual shelf space quicker, and also reach new readers through my co-writers' fans.

Plus, it's fun. I really can't express what a joy it is to work with other writers. Everyone needs to try this.

Upcoming releases include BIRDS OF PREY with Blake Crouch (a sequel to SERIAL UNCUT and KILLERS), and BURNERS with Henry Perez (A Jack Daniels/Alex Chapa novella).

Henry and I are also working on a semi-sequel to DRACULAS called MUMMIES, for a Halloween release. Also signed on for that are F. Paul Wilson and Heather Graham.

Blake and I are doing STIRRED, the final Jack Daniels book and sequel to SHAKEN, which also marks the end of his Andrew Z. Thomas (DESERT PLACES, LOCKED DOORS, BREAK YOU) horror series.

I'm also planning on writing WEREWOLVES this year with Blake, and it looks like we'll quite possibly team up on that with two other known bestsellers in the ebook world.

Q: Aren't you doing anything on your own anymore?

A: TIMECASTER SUPERSYMMETRY, the second Joe Kimball sci-fi actionfest (and sequel to TIMECASTER), and CONSUMED, the new Jack Kilborn, are on deck for later this year.

Q: What about that super-secret project you talked about with the NYT bestseller?

A: It's still super-secret. Sorry.

Q: Can I collaborate with you?

A: If your name is Stephen King, James Patterson, or Dean Koontz, yes. If any of you guys are reading this, contact me. I'll help boost your ebook sales.

Q: You haven't posted your self-pub numbers in a while.

A: As of today, March 29 at 8:17am, I've sold 53771 self-published books this month. I'll probably break 60,000 sales for March.

Q: How much money is that?

A: A shitload. The IRS is going to eat me alive.