TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Jennifer: I'm not sure if you'd classify it as interesting or disturbing but my writing quirk is that I write on no kind of schedule. I'm not one of those authors who can write every morning for an hour before work, or every night before bed, or at lunch breaks, or even every day. I've tried all that and failed because I was working against my own sensibilities. The only way for me to write is when I organically feel like writing. Sometimes it's every day for four or five days in a row at whatever time of day feels right. Sometimes I write nothing for two weeks, then have a weekend marathon where I forget to eat and shower while I write pages and pages. Now, when I'm on a contract deadline, I shoot for 6,000 words a week and sometimes I can do it day by day and sometimes in a long haul on a Sunday. Some writers and aspiring writers seem very disappointed when I tell them this, and I suspect it's because they expect better from a professional, but I can say that for my six published novels, I never missed one contract deadline. Squeaked a few in there under the wire, but I've never been late.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Jennifer: I'm a reformed pantser. Because I've surrendered to my need to write when it suits me, I had to transform into a writer who at least knows what she's doing when she does get around to sitting down at the computer. I'm not a hardcore plotter with pages and pages of outlines and notes, but I'm a three-chapters-ahead plotter. This means that I know the beginning of the story, I know the end, I know some scenes in the middle, and at all times, I'm plotted three chapters ahead. This leaves room for some aha! moments but closes me off to the kind of literary meandering that leads to a dead end and wastes my time.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing to you about writing?
Jennifer: I think it's writing humor into a novel. I'm pretty funny in person and in first-person prose like blog posts or diary entries or Facebook rants, but in fiction it is very difficult to know if your humor is translating well to a wide audience, and if it plays well into your story. I've written plenty of scenes that seriously slay me, but when I bring them to another reader, they are like, "uh, what?" Sometimes I am lucky enough to hit it on the mark. But writing funny fiction is very, very hard.
TQ: Describe Tooth and Nail in 140 characters or less.
Jennifer: Gemma Cross is an amateur boxer who learns that she is a faerie warrior who must protect the innocence--distilled from human baby teeth--that the fae need to re-create their lost world.
TQ: What inspired you to write Tooth and Nail?
Jennifer: It was actually a writing exercise that I was doing with a group of writers that met every couple of weeks to casually freewrite. The prompt was writing something from the point of view of the tooth fairy. I wrote a little bit and quickly realized that my tooth fairy was not exactly who I thought she was. I developed the idea over a number of months and finally decided to write it. Up until that point, I wrote exclusively romance, so it was a departure for me -- but a liberating one, because I expected nothing of myself in a new genre. It was freeing to think, while I was writing, that this manuscript would never see the light of day. Of course, now I'm a little nervous that it's way out there in daylight!
TQ: What sort of research did you do to create the mythology in Tooth and Nail?
Jennifer: I researched the tooth fairy myth and the information about its origin is pretty limited, so I felt like I had a lot of free rein there, which was great. I had to learn about some methods of cosmetic dentistry, and how to make toothpaste. I had to research boxing gyms and skills -- I have some boxing experience, but I'm mostly martial arts, so I had to absorb a lot of that information again. I had to do my Washington DC homework. I read a lot of urban fantasy novels over a few years. Turns out there is a lot to learn before you can start just making stuff up. :)
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Tooth and Nail?
Jennifer: One of my favorite scenes is when Gemma has to collect a tooth -- her first -- from Watergate. I loved the idea of the tooth faerie sort of breaking and entering Watergate at night. I got to really play with her newfound fae abilities to navigate her through the scene. And I also love the climactic scene in the book...but you get nothing from me now about it!
TQ: Who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?
Jennifer: I think the most difficult character to write was the blogger, the D.C. Digger. He needed to be a snarky, annoying, and ultimately threatening journalist, but I had to give him reasons for his behavior. When I fleshed him out, he became one of the most compelling presences in the book. The reader will love to hate him -- and hate to love him. The funny thing is, he wasn't even in the original outline for this book. Now, without him, so much of this story wouldn't work. The easiest character? Hm, no character is easy, but I think Frederica Diamond, the fae recruiter, was the easiest for me to immediately understand. She is the archetype of a fairy godmother, a calm and soothing presence, a guide through the magical, but also a source of strength for Gemma the warrior.
TQ: What's next?
Jennifer: I'm not absolutely sure yet, but you probably haven't seen the last of either me or Gemma Fae.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at the Qwillery.
Jennifer: It's an honor to be asked to contribute. Thank you!
About Tooth and Nail
Tooth and NailNight Shade Books (Feburary 2012)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Gemma Fae Cross, a tough-girl amateur boxer whose fiance is running for congress, has just made a startling discovery about herself. She is half faerie--and not just any faerie, but a tooth faerie.
A hybrid of fae and human, Gemma is destined to defend the Olde Way and protect the fae--who are incapable of committing violence--from threats to their peaceful and idyllic way of life, which must be maintained by distilling innocence collected from children's baby teeth.
But when a threat to the fae mission emerges, Gemma is called upon to protect her heritage, and become a legendary fae warrior... even if it means sacrificing everything she knows about being human.
Jennifer Safrey is an award-winning author of four romance novels. TOOTH AND NAIL is her first foray into urban fantasy. Jennifer is the co-owner of Emerald Yoga Studio in Pembroke, Mass., where she teaches vinyasa flow yoga. She holds a black belt in taekwondo. She grew up just outside New York City and graduated from Boston University.