TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery!
Joanne: Thanks for inviting me. Is there a bar?
TQ: No bar.
TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Joanne: Maybe not my most interesting, but certainly my most annoying quirk is that I cannot move on with a character until I have given them a name—and it has to be the right name. I have tried reasoning with myself that I can always come back and change a name later, but my brain rejects this as non-f*****g-negotiable. It has principles.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Joanne: For inspiration, I would have to say Lewis Carroll—not the most original answer, but a truthful one. He taught me that our world is not entirely known, language is liquid and that the best characters are sometimes the most unlikeable. I am so glad these ideas were planted in me before I was taught to know better.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Joanne: Plotter. Obsessive plotter. Once I have laid the track of the story, I can switch to the other side of my brain and just let it flow.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Joanne: I love puzzles and mysteries, so my stories will always have a dark, cryptic heart. But I also hate any mystery where a solution just pops up without any evolution. So, as I piece the points of the mystery together, I have to go back and make sure I have woven the key elements deep into the narrative and that all the clues are there should , if the reader re-traces their steps. This can be a huge task and I often curse my brain for coming up with these twisted mysteries that demand so much inter-weaving.
TQ: Describe Romeo Spikes in 140 characters or less.
Joanne: There is a supernatural side to suicide, and life is too short for you not to know this.
TQ: Romeo Spikes did not start out as a novel, but as a screenplay. How difficult/easy was it to turn the screenplay into the novel?
Joanne: I thought it would be easy— – like taking a Ford and pimping it up to a Mustang. In fact it was like taking a Ford and pimping it up to Detroit.
TQ: What inspired you to write Romeo Spikes?
Joanne: I wanted to create a new supernatural entity, one that belonged to the world we live in now. The key is always to determine what their relationship to humans might be. Then a friend of mine made a chance remark in the middle of an unrelated conversation, and in that moment the idea came to me.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Romeo Spikes?
Joanne: My research follows a pattern that I think is common to many. I start off looking for some specific fact, click on Wikipedia and then another link in the body of the text catches my eye. So I click on that and within the next few moments (and clicks) I am deep into some other article on some other subject and far away from the original answer I sought. But in these “wiki-treks” I frequently come across wild facts that inspire a fresh thread in the story.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why?
Joanne: Dali came to me like an old friend (albeit an uninvited one, as he’s not to be trusted…). I loved his dandy ways and careful vanities. His voice was always welcome in my head. It was also hard to let go of Dr. Torgus. The way she ferociously clings to her sexuality even as her body fails her—God love that crazy bitch.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Romeo Spikes?
Joanne: There is a scene where a young genius kid called Mo’Zart is recruited by Agent Petrus Bex into S.C.U.R.O. The call to join comes from nowhere and Mo’Zart is taken immediately. Apart from the weird relationship between Mo’Zart and Bex (which was fun to create), I guess the scene keeps us hopeful that our lives can spin on a dime. Nothing is set. Everything is possible.
TQ: What's next?
Joanne: Next up is BOOK II in the saga. And this one twists a supernatural mystery with a brutal homicide case, as a serial killer walks between the two worlds of humans and Tormenta.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Joanne: Thanks for inviting me. Where’s the bar?
Romeo SpikesLo'Life Trilogy 1
Gallery Books, August 14, 2012
Hardcover and eBook, 416 pages
Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.
If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.
They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions. Like the long-legged beauty who seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rock star whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.
We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent life span of those who harm themselves.
To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next . . . and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change. The coming of a mighty Tormenta is prophesied, a dark messiah known as the Mosca.
To stop him, Bianco and Lola must fight their way through a cryptic web of secret societies and powerful legends and crack an ancient code that holds the only answer to the Mosca’s defeat. If this miscreant rises before they can unmask him, darkness will reign and mankind will fall in a storm of suicides. Nobody’s safe. Everyone’s a threat.