Interview with Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel
Interview with Carrie Jones and Steven Wedel
CARRIE: Actually author Melissa Marr set us up on a speed date at a conference in Oklahoma where we had to go around to tables talking to people for five minutes. Melissa said she put us together because we were both mellow and nice. Ha! We had her fooled. Oh! Wait, maybe that was part of the Wedelian black magic. Geesh! How did I not know?
STEVE: hehehe I love it when a plan comes together! Seriously, until I saw the schedule Melissa had put together, I didn’t have a clue who Carrie Jones was. But the chemistry was instantaneous. We developed a little introduction as we went table to table and just had a great time. Later, Carrie stole the fruit out of my beverage, though. I’m not sure I’m over that yet.
2. Carrie, you are a respected New York Times bestselling author. It probably came as no surprise to you to learn that Wedel had created some fantasy in which you would write a book with him. Why didn’t you simply report him to the police immediately when he continued to harass you? Do you feel you encouraged his demented obsession through your innocent e-mails?
CARRIE: Since I work as a part-time police dispatcher, I knew that the complaint about Wedel would not really be taken seriously. There were no explicit death threats involved. Since I was on my own without law enforcement back-up, I figured that I might as well just do it.
No, actually I was super excited to try to write a book with Steve. It seemed like a cool experiment. And if I failed, I got to fail WITH someone. That’s never happened before. I’m used to failing alone. How about you, Steve? Was it freaky writing YA instead of Adult?
STEVE: Oh, I’m used to failing alone. But then, I am older than you, Carrie. Writing YA wasn’t all that freaky, really. Getting used to first person present tense took a while, though.
3. Rumor has it Steve chained Carrie to a desk and forced her to write this novel. In an effort to end the torment, you both set a breakneck pace and finished the book in a very short time. Is that how it happened?
CARRIE: It took less than a month to write that first draft. Enough said. Although as supporting evidence, I do have chain marks on my ankles. Really, I’ve never had so much fun writing a book before. I’d check my email all the time muttering, “Has he sent a new chapter yet? What?! WHAT?!? No new chapter.” Then I’d rush out my chapter to see what would happen next.
It was kind of like when you have a crush on a boy and you really want him to text and he doesn’t and you’re like – come on! Come on!
It was probably the opposite for Steve. He was probably all, “NO! NOT ANOTHER CARRIE CHAPTER!” Was it? (Please say “no,” Steve. Please say “no.”)
STEVE: Not even close! I felt exactly the same. I couldn’t wait for that next chapter, and as soon as I got it I was inspired to write my next part right then. If something happened and I couldn’t write my chapter on the same day I got Carrie’s latest I was wracked with guilt and afraid she would need more time, or would withhold her chapter as punishment and I’d have to wait longer for it. Like she said, writing has never been so much fun.
4. Artistically speaking what did each of you contribute to this book? How is it different than the usual novel you write?
STEVE: Well, the most obvious answer is that the book is written in alternating points of view between Aimee, Carrie’s character, and Alan, my character. Carrie’s writing is very much character driven and very feminine. She sees a lot of detail that I tend to gloss over. I’d say this novel is much richer in detail and tone than anything I’ve done previously and I blame Carrie for that.
CARRIE: It is much quicker, much more plot-driven, and has a lot more testosterone in it. Steve puts a really man energy into his chapters and he’s so good at dialogue and flow. I was really lucky to write with him.
5. Wedel has been sighted wearing a cowboy hat and driving a 40-year-old pickup truck. Carrie, on the other hand, is an East Coast girl with a Mini Cooper. Is it possible that you both found shared ground upon which to build a plot? What are some of the commonalities and differences between the two of you?
STEVE: I think our politicians could learn a lot from me and Carrie. Sure, we have some differences, but our ultimate goals are pretty much the same. We both want to tell good stories that entertain and just maybe carry a positive message. We share an interest in the supernatural and Norse mythology and the plight of the modern teenager. To be honest, I didn’t really know how good Carrie was with the paranormal elements until we wrote this book. Need wasn’t published yet, remember. I figured I’d provide most of the chills, but she wrote a scene with a knife that stands my hair up every time I read it.
CARRIE: Dude. When your hair stands up on end you’re like 87 feet tall. Steve has long hair…. Really, really long hair.
Sorry. Back to the question.
Well, he is quite tall and I’m --- I’m not quite tall and he has a lot of facial hair and I – I DO NOT! I think the thing we have in common is that we both really care about people and stories and teens. I mean, Steve will become a huge stress monkey if something is wrong with one of his students or his kids, and I think that passion and caring and love of people comes out in both our writing despite our political, physical, and motor vehicle differences.
6. What reaction do you anticipate from your loyal fan base regarding this collaboration? Is it something they’re going to like? Will they pity you for what you’ve endured? Or will they simply ignore it?
STEVE: Hopefully Carrie’s fans won’t feel the need for pity. No residents of Maine were harmed in the creation of this book. Not physically, anyway. I think my fans will like it. I know my students will, and I’ll be thrilled to have a book school librarians will make available to high schoolers.
CARRIE: I hope they like it despite the fact that there are no pixies. They will all probably fall in love with Alan, the main character that Steve created, the way I did. Oh my gosh! You think they’ll ignore it? Hold on. I have to go panic now.
7. After Obsession features a girl in Maine and a boy who comes from Oklahoma. Are there other elements in the novel that mirror your lives or your relationships to your Okie or Mainiac collaborator?
CARRIE: Well, Steve is tall. Alan is tall. Steve is less politically correct than I am. Alan is like that too. Aimee and I both try to eat healthy and we both paint…… Um…… Wedel? Can you answer this one?
STEVE: Alan and Aimee learn a lot about each other, and that was true for me and Carrie as we worked together. I learned a lot about living in a small Maine town. Can you believe they really don’t have football in most Maine high schools? I know I worked in several details gleaned from my life as a high school teacher.
8. The concept of demonic possession is something you haven’t dealt with in your previous fiction. Did the idea for the novel come from your month-long captivity? Carrie, was it a feeling of helplessness as Wedel subjected you to a Southern drawl and stories about the high school students he tries to teach?
CARRIE: I think it came from Wedel because he is twisted like that.
STEVE: I honestly don’t remember. I remember there was a pretty short period where we kind of kicked around some pretty basic plot ideas. That was November 2008. Carrie was working on something for the National Novel Writing Month, so we agreed to start writing in December. Not being bound to NaNoWriMo, I went ahead and wrote a chapter, then confessed to what I’d done. Turns out, Carrie had done the same thing. So, I’m not sure who’s idea the possession was, but I guess I did the research on it as we got into the book.
9. Carrie, you are known for strong young female characters instrumental in solving their own problems, much like you allegedly gnawed through the chains and escaped Wedel. Has the revolving point of view used in After Obsession diluted the strength of Aimee, the female protagonist? And Steve, you are known for your horror and your detail. Did you find it hard to tone it down for this book?
CARRIE: No. I think by seeing her actions through Alan’s eyes it actually makes her stronger.
STEVE: In YA, even demons have to watch their language. Actually, the scary elements aren’t that toned down from my solo novels. And, I guess I’ve mellowed with age, because I’m not including as much graphic content in my other books as I used to.
10. Carrie, are you suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Would you collaborate with Wedel again, or are you simply glad to be free? Steve, have you moved on to bigger and better authors to torment? What are your states of mind as After Obsession moves closer to publication?
CARRIE: I would love to experiment again, if he still wants me.
STEVE: Bigger and better? That would be hard to find. I’d write with Carrie again in a heartbeat. Maybe I wouldn’t even have to use that old black magic next time.
Find out more about Carrie Jones
Find out more about Steven Wedel