Tuesday Chit Chat with Jane Lovering.
We have the brilliant, entertaining and very clever Jane Lovering with us today, winner of the 2012 Romance Novel of the Year.
Jane, come in and lie down. We have comfy, squidgy sofas at Romaniac HQ. The arms are fat and soft – just right for resting one’s head. Now, did we promise chocolate Hobnobs? If you’d like to help yourself to some cheese in our fridge, feel free. The sheep’s blue cheese is mine (Laura’s), but I’ll share.
Thank you. Ooh, yes, very comfy… Hang on, must just ensure that I don’t get my own fat and soft arms confused with those of the sofa…Oh, tea, lovely, yes please, no sugar and I’ll just hang on to that packet of Hobnobs, shall I? Be a shame for you to waste energy handing them back and forth and everything, I’ll just put them here, all right? On one of these fat , soft arms.
We Romaniacs would like to congratulate you on the success of Please Don’t Stop the Music and the fantastic award it received this year. What impact has this made to your writing career?
Well, thank you again! I was at least as gobsmacked as everyone else in the room, perhaps more so since I have a gob which is quite easily smacked. It is the most fabulous thing EVAH (except when I have to dust it, when it becomes just a little less fabulous) and..oh, bother, my Hobnob just fell in my tea, hold on a minute…. Now, where was I? Oh yes, awardy-type thing. Yes. It’s lovely. Very lovely. As for impact, well, if I dropped it, it would probably break my toe or something. The main thing it has done for my career is to let me know that I actually can write. You know, proper books that people like, not just some stories that a few kind people buy to save me from starving. And that’s always nice, having people I am not related to in any way buying my book and saying that it’s a good story.
Describe in three words how it felt to win your award?
Nearly wet self.
I witnessed it.
Given the ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’ plot and characters, who is your favourite musician?
Gary Lightbody, the lead singer with Snow Patrol. He writes wonderful lyrics and looks like a well-disposed horse. I am easily won over by a man with a way with words and I quite like horses, so he wins on both counts.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
I refuse to answer this on the grounds that my current celebrity crush – the gorgeous and talented Tony Robinson – yes, Tony Robinson, the one from Time Team – might be upset. Yes, THAT Tony Robinson, the one with the very thick glasses, who’s four foot tall. And since I still cultivate a tiny little thought that I might, one day, be in with a shout with our Tone, I wouldn’t want to put his nose out of joint by mentioning any other men.
Yes, the Tony Robinson who’s about sixty – will you shut up about it now? I like him, so there.
I hear he has a cunning plan…
And all-time favourite song? Why?
It would have to be ‘Vienna’ by Ultravox. Of course, I was but a mere child when I first heard this, but there is something very haunting about it. Plus, I know all the words and everything, which I can’t say about ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. And I named my first-born daughter Vienna after the song, so I can’t really suddenly change my mind now, or she’ll have to change her name, and my second-favourite song is Fallout Boy’s ‘A little less sixteen candles, a little more touch me’, which is going to look bloody silly on the birth certificate, I can tell you.
Please tell us everything about your current book, A Vampire State of Mind.
Aha, I see what you did there! You are trying to trick me into giving away all my secrets… and it’s no good hiding the cheese behind your back, I can see it sticking out. So, pass the Emmenthal and the crackers, and gather round…
Vampire State of Mind is my attempt to redress the balance in vampire fiction. Have you noticed how all vampire books tend to be a) set in America, b) have wussy heroines who are described as ‘feisty’ (not sure what feisty means… made of feist, possibly. Now not sure what feist is. Hmm. A type of cheese, possibly) and c) have Alpha-Male vampires who rescue the heroine at every turn. Probably because she’s made of cheese, and would dissolve otherwise.
Anyway. I set out to write A Very British Vampire Novel. It is set in the city of York, my heroine is very down-to earth – she has problems with the computers, can’t work the electric pencil-sharpener, and is mostly in charge of filing things – and the vampires, whilst good looking, are a bit old-fashioned and set in their ways. My heroine, Jess, has to make sure that the vampires stay the right side of the law, but that’s what the vampires want to do anyway, so… she mostly files. Until things get a bit out of hand when a new demon arrives in town…
Will that do? Otherwise I’m going to be here all night, and I’ve already eaten my own bodyweight in Hobnobs.
Have you got any crisps? I really fancy some beefy crisps. Walkers, for preference. What do you mean, you’ve only got plain? Tut, I don’t know, you invite me in here…look, rub a Bovril cube on them, that will do.
What would your response be if L E James (that’s me, by the way) took A Vampire State of Mind, wrote an erotic romance fan fiction based on it, and became a millionaire as a result? (It would be a result, I can tell you.)
I’d take her fan fiction and write a fan fiction based on it. Which would be better, and funnier than hers. Then I would become equally rich and we could have ‘tenner wars’, where we threw money at each other, scoring points for direct hits. It’s all right, we’d invite poor people to come and watch.
I was slightly concerned when I read ‘tenner wars’. I was thinking you meant something completely different…
Moving on. What is your current literary heat level? Have you considered writing anything hotter?
I think I’m rated at ‘spicy’. You know, the same as those packs of curry in the supermarket with two chillies on them; sometimes you eat one and think that there’s absolutely no chillies in them at all, and then next week you get the SAME ONE and it nearly blows your head off. I have a grudge against those, and their inconsistent chilliage…
I do write some sex, but there are words I don’t use. *2”£$* is one, $£%^£” is another. I think we all know these words, and putting them in for shock value is pointless. I like my sex to titillate..well, not my sex, because that’s mine and you can’t have it, but the sex I write. I like to think it’s graphic enough for everyone to get the idea what’s happening, but without using the words *2£$* and $£%^£. Because everyone knows where they go, I’m writing a book not a sex manual, if you don’t know what fits in what, then see me later. I’ve got diagrams.
What is your favourite aspect of promoting your novels?
Being allowed out.
Do you find that side of things daunting?
No, because I am a Grade A show-off (I’ve got medals and everything), and I like people. Being actively encouraged to talk to them is my favourite thing. Of course, some of them run away, but that’s perfectly normal, and others stop me to ask why I’ve got my pants on my head, but that is also normal.
What are the funniest and most interesting or unusual questions you’ve been asked at a talk or book signing?
Apart from ‘why have you got your pants on your head?’ People don’t often ask me questions. They are usually accelerating away too quickly, although a lady did ask, during a recent talk, about the use of the subjunctive in modern novels. THAT was interesting… Mostly though, questions are limited to ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ and ‘who is the responsible adult who is currently in charge of you?’
Tell us about your job as a science technician?
I think most aspects of the job can most accurately be expressed through mime. Like this.
There. Did you like the bit where I juggled the eyeballs? That always makes them laugh. Or vomit.
What guilty pleasures do you enjoy?
Hmmm. I’m not sure I have any…oh, yes, another Hobnob would be great, thank you. And some more of that cheese…mmmm. Oh, and could someone put Doctor Who on for me, please? Yes, it’s the one about the dinosaurs tonight, I’ve been looking forward to that. Thanks. Chocolate? Don’t mind if I do, and perhaps just a smidgeon of that lovely chilled Chardonnay I can see over there on the table that you haven’t got round to offering me yet?
Nope. No guilty pleasures at all, that I can think of.
Which one item would you lock in Room 101 and why?
Cars. I don’t like cars, although I have one and drive it every day. I want us to go back to the horse and cart, mostly for the fun of watching the road rage incidents, when someone tries to cut someone up at a roundabout. Cars are a big heap of metal into which I have to pour lots of money simply for the joy of getting from place to place, whereas horses are big heaps of stupid, into which I have to pour lots of money for the joy of getting from place to place, but I can do it over jumps. Show me the BMW that will take me over a four foot fence and I will reconsider.
What party tricks can you perform?
None. None at all. I am the most boring person on the planet. Although I can, as recently stated, hypnotise a chicken, if this is the sort of party at which chickens are welcome, I’m keeping my coat on, thank you very much.
Can you do the Time Warp? I’ll start you off…it’s just a jump to the left…
You just want to know about my pelvic floor, don’t you? It’s absolutely fine. Terrific. Although, actually…all this tea and the wine…can I just pop to the…? Thank you. Back in a mo.
What are you future plans?
Think I’ll keep on with the Being Alive thing, that seems to be working for me quite well. Oh, you mean writing plans? Well, I’ve got a book scheduled for release from Choc Lit in June, about amateur witchcraft, called Hubble Bubble, then, hopefully there’s the sequel to Vampire State of Mind, then I’m working on a book about an astrophysicist (who, after having typed ‘astrophysicist’ half a dozen times, I am thinking of making into a farmer. Or a dog), and then I’ve got some ideas about a women who’s obsessed with gravestones. And, you know, do some stuff. Helping my children pack would be top of the list there.
And finally, the most important question, posed by Catherine: What type of cheese would you be?
Well, given my smell, perhaps Gorgonzola? A nice, ripe one. All oozey.
Jane, it has been an absolute pleasure having you here and we wish you continued success. Please remember to close the fridge door…
Damn. All right, I’m going, I’m going. No need to shove…..
You can follow Jane and make her jittery at:
Vampire State of Mind.
Jessica Grant knows vampires only too well. She runs the York Council tracker programme making sure that Otherworlders are all where they should be, keeps the filing in order and drinks far too much coffee. To Jess, vampires are annoying and arrogant and far too sexy for their own good, particularly her ex-colleague Sil, who’s now in charge of Otherworld York.
But when a demon turns up and threatens not just Jess but the whole world order, she and Sil are forced to work together, and when Jess turns out to be the key to saving the world it puts a very different slant on their relationship. The stakes are high. They are also very, very pointy and Jess isn’t afraid to use them, even on the vampire that she’s rather afraid she’s falling in love with …