Today, Preternatura welcomes author Judi Fennell, who writes some great light romantic fantasy in what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her newest book, Genie Knows Best, came out Tuesday, and she’s hard at work in Philadelphia on the next, Magic Gone Wild, which comes out in August. For more information on Judy, visit http://www.judifennell.com/. Read on to meet Judi and win one of two copies of Genie Knows Best we’ll be giving away to commenters. Genie Knows Best is second in a series, but can be read as a standalone.
Welcome, Judi! Tell us a little about Genie Knows Best—something the official blurb doesn’t tell us.
First, thanks so much for having me. As to the question, the blurb doesn’t tell you about all the zany characters you’ll meet in the city of Izaaz, or where that city is. In I Dream of Genies, the magical city was in a swirling sandstorm that traveled around the Sahara, so how could I make the new city different? This time, it’s under the desert. With a glass ceiling. As for the inhabitants, think of The Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer—that was the image I had in my head when I thought about the world. Gnomes, leprechauns, wyverns, dragons, trolls… or are they ogres? That’s Samantha’s question–just one among many. And then there are the gremlins and the karkkadans, the simurgh, the centaur and the satyr. Brownies too. Yes, I pulled from as many mythologies as I could – talk about a melting pot, which, I guess if you think about it, a city under a glass ceiling in the middle of the desert is bound to be hot and the ceiling could be thought of as a lid… which is part of the problem. Since the residents are too busy fighting each other no one’s regulating the ceiling and the excessive sunlight has fried the place to a crisp. Yeah, I don’t think you get any of that from the blurb…
What drew you to genies—and how has writing about them differed in terms of how you approached their world and mythology differed from your mer series?
Before I was published, I tried to come up with new ideas in case the first (or second or third) books didn’t sell, I’d have something that could be considered marketable. I loved I Dream of Jeanie when I was growing up and who wouldn’t want to have all that power at their disposal? When I came up with the idea of doing a genie series, I had this vision of her being confined to her bottle and getting out accidentally. That’s the premise of I Dream of Genies. So I had to figure out why she was confined to her bottle to begin with and thought about the trial scene where she’s sentenced, and who showed up there, but Kal, the hero in Genie Knows Best. So I had some of his backstory and knew he’d get his book next. I have no idea what the inspiration was for Leave It To Genie, now titled Magic Gone Wild(book 3 that comes out next fall), except to say that Vana just popped into my head at 5 am one weekend morning (I hate when the muse won’t let me sleep in on the weekends!) with her backstory. That story is a little different than the rest of my books in that you won’t have the “off-they-go” chase scenes. But you’ll still have the magical world. As to what drew me to the mythology… I like to put as much realism in my stories as I can, and Scherezade’s 1001 Arabian Nights was the perfect launching point. From there, I found a whole new world of Persian mythology, and I have a friend who is Egyptian, so I could tap into his cultural knowledge and his Arabic language skills. Something different that most people aren’t writing about and I love learning new things, so this was the perfect match for me.
How much do you rely on research into traditional mythology for your characters, and how much of your world do you build from scratch?
You know, it’s funny. I typically start writing and I’ll get to a point where my imagination wants something to be a certain way, and then I go researching, and voila! I find what I need. The Hadhyosh in I Dream of Genies is the perfect example. I wanted a Behemoth-type creature and it actually is part of Persian mythology. In Gene Knows Best, I wanted a place similar to the Garden of Eden, but not. The island of Hufaidh is part of the Ma’dan (or Marsh Arabs) belief system that fit the bill perfectly. I always get a big rush when that happens; it’s as if the Universe is pointing me in the right direction, saying, “Yes, you’re on the right track with this story.”
What does your genie, Kal, want people to know about him?
I’m not so sure he wants everyone to know this, but he definitely wants Samantha to know that everyone needs to be loved. That no matter how strong and self-sufficient you come off to others, everyone just wants to be loved and that’s the most powerful magic of all.
Who is your favorite author? What do you read for fun?
I love a bunch of different authors’ works, depending on my mood. Jill Barnett wrote my favorite book ever; Bewitching. Julia Quinn’s When He Was Wicked is a close second, along with Jude Devereau’s A Knight In Shining Armor, and Barbara Delinsky’s Cardinal Rules are in the top 5 also. But these days when I’m reading for pleasure, I pick up Romantic Suspense. Favorite authors in that genre are: Roxanne St. Clair, Cindy Gerard, Karen Rose, Kate Brady, and Allison Brennan. Yeah, I like to be scared and on the edge of my seat as I’m trying to relax at night after writing light-hearted, humorous characters… go figure.
If you could be a preternatural creature, what would you want to be?
I actually wouldn’t want to be a genie. One of the hardest parts to write about the series is the fact that genies are essentially, servants to others. For all the power they can command, it is not theirs to command. I like the idea of being a mermaid, but with the way we humans are dumping things into the waters, I don’t know that I’d want to live there, plus having to hide or risk being scientific fodder… not so much. I do like the idea of being a bird–I’ve always wanted to be able to fly, so maybe a phoenix… How about Wonder Woman. Can I be her? She has that lasso and those bracelets, and that invisible plane, and a kick-ass outfit (and a kick-ass figure, too…)
You can definitely be Wonder Woman! What’s next after Genie Knows Best?
Book 3 in this trilogy, Magic Gone Wild, comes out in Fall 2012. Edits are in on that. As for what comes after that… I’m working on a proposal for my editor, so once I know, I’ll let you know. Thanks so much for having me on Preternatura!
Genie Knows Best by Judi Fennell – In Stores November 2011
Be careful what you wish for…
Samantha Blaine is about to make a fateful discovery. A tall, dark, handsome, ohmygosh kind of fateful discovery…
Kal is very pleased to meet his attractive new master—especially since he intends to seduce her into granting him freedom. But when seriously dark magic spells trouble for both of them, Kal can’t help himself from falling for the woman who holds his fate in her hands…
Warmly acclaimed by readers and critics alike, Judi Fennell brings to life a fabulous world of magic and mayhem where wishes come true in the most unexpected ways!
Thanks, Judi! You know the drill to be entered for a copy of Genie Knows Best–just leave a comment and tell us if you’d like your very own genie (I’d like one to clean my house–being sexy would come second–LOL.) One entry for comment, one for blog follow, one for Twitter follow @Suzanne_Johnson, and one for Tweet or Retweet.