Basic Facts: Gerry Bartlett, author of REAL VAMPIRES DON’T DIET, book 4 in the Glory St. Clair series, Berkley Trade Paperback, January, 2009
Favorite Candy: anything chocolate as long as it doesn’t have peanut butter in it. Not a fan of peanut butter.
Favorite Cartoon Character: Snoopy because he’s a fellow writer.
Super Power Most Covets: I’d like to have the vampire’s ability to never age. Hate the way gravity gets to you. Never gaining weight is cool too.
Favorite Vampire: Charlaine Harris’s Eric—he’s the bad boy we all crave. Don’t know why the good guys never seem to do it for me.
Q.) First can you tell us about your Glory St. Clair series?
G.B.) About my series: Gloriana (Glory) St. Clair was turned vampire on a day when she was bloating. Now she’s been stuck for over four hundred years with an hour glass figure that runs more like ninety minutes, if you know what I mean. She’s in an on again, off again relationship with her maker, a hunky Scot, and runs her own vintage clothing store in Austin, Texas. She’s big on independence and tries to stay safe by blending with humans. She has a dog/shape-shifter named Valdez who is by her side twenty-four/seven, lots of interesting friends and enough enemies to keep her hopping in her four inch stilettos.
Q.) What about your take on vampires, do you stick with tradition or tweak it a bit?
G.B.) My vampires are fairly traditional. They can’t go out in sunlight, sleep the day away, and drink blood to stay alive, though there are synthetics available. They are independent—no fancy hierarchy, government or special species. They live off the grid, blending with humans, and are immortal, so they have to stay moving to keep their cover and live peacefully. Like any group of people, there are good guys and bad guys. The bad ones are pretty evil and like to rip out throats and cause problems for the peace-loving vamps like Glory. They can read minds and control them too. This is handy when they use mortals as their source for nourishment. They wipe the memory and move on, no harm, no foul. Some humans do know about the vamps and are “pets”, but this isn’t a common thing and Glory usually just hangs around with fellow vampires.
Q.) Why vampires? And more specifically why a full-figured vampire? Where did you get that idea?
G.B.) I decided to write about vampires because my critique partner Nina Bangs nagged me into trying it. She’s been very successful with her vamp books and thought I could be too. I decided I had to do it my way and I had read some other vamp books I liked, including Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Maggie Shayne. I wanted to make mine funny and my friend and other critique partner Kimberly Raye actually suggested the full-figured aspect. Kim’s a genius, because that was the spark I needed to get excited about the story. I began writing it first person and Glory just seemed to speak to me. Since I’ve had figure issues myself, it was really easy for me to get inside her head.
Q.) What would you do if you met a “real” vampire? Would you be a vamp groupie or would you dash for the nearest stake?
G.B.) If I met a “real” vampire, I’d run. The paranormal actually scares me. Let’s keep it fictional. Please.
Q.) If you were given the option, would you be turned?
G.B.) If I were given the option, I wouldn’t want to be turned vampire. No way. Not unless everyone I know and loved would live forever too. I can’t imagine watching them die while I lived on. There could be nothing worse. And I’m with Glory and the whole liquid diet thing. I love my food too much to give it up. What fun is it to live forever without steak and a baked potato? Not to mention chocolate pie. I have to have crunch in my diet, just like my heroine.
Q.) Matchmaker dilemma, you have a choice of a vampire, a werewolf or a witch/wizard as a date for your sister’s wedding, who do you take?
G.B.) I’d rather date a wizard, I think, than a vamp or a werewolf. Not into the furry thing at all and not interested in being a blood donor, though the dark and dangerous male is a real turn-on in my fantasy life. A wizard could do some cool things, though. Like turn some people who have been not-so-nice into frogs for me.
Q.) Are you a plotter or a pantser? Character-driven or plot driven? Ever try to be the opposite? Do you have a set method you use when starting a book?
G.B.) I’m definitely a pantser. I always have a starting point, a beginning of an idea and the characters I want to write about, but that’s about it. With a series, it’s really fun because I know Glory and her friends so well. The challenge is that I know fans want to see how some of their favorites are doing but the landscape can get pretty cluttered, especially now that I’m on book five. I always try to balance the humor, mystery and the love story, so that’s the juggling act I’m constantly involved in. When I start a book, I do a lot of brainstorming with my critique group and think about how I can use the cast of characters to help Glory with whatever problem is going to crop up. I do a lot of rewriting, but I don’t mind it. I’d much rather edit than face a blank page.
Q.) What is the smartest thing you’ve done so far as advancing either your writing or your writing career? What is something you wish you had done differently?
G.B.) The smartest thing I ever did to advance my writing career was join Romance Writers of America. I attended a local chapter meeting and got up my nerve to go one Sunday when there was an invitation to form a critique group. That group was the beginning for me getting serious about writing. It’s been many, many years and only Nina, Kim and I are left of the original gang, but the three of us, who all started really raw and unpublished, have sold nearly eighty books now. Kim’s sold the most at almost sixty and has hit the USA Today list. Nina’s hit that one and the NYTimes bestseller list. I’m the slowest to get going, but still have made the Barnes and Nobles and Borders bestseller lists. It wasn’t easy, with lots of tough criticism and tears along the way, but we’re living proof that perseverance pays. The only thing I wish I had done differently is not wasted so much time writing something that wasn’t marketable. Nina is very market savvy. It has paid off for her in a big way. That’s not to say that she doesn’t love what she writes, but that she always makes sure there is going to be a place to sell what she produces. I foundered around with a historical for too many years when they were dead in the water. The vampire thing was my reality check. When I finally tried my hand at it, I got my first agent and a quick sale after a long dry spell. Now that historicals are heating up again, I may try a vamp historical.
Q.) Can you describe three things in your writing area that tell us something about you?
G.B.) My writing area is a work in progress. I just put in new flooring and still haven’t rescued all of my “stuff” from the garage. I do have a sign from my late father’s desk that says “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius.” I take that as a challenge. Daddy encouraged me to write and bought me my first computer. I have a picture of the two of us together when I was about a year old next to my desk too. I’m obviously a Daddy’s girl. I also have a poster from “Gone With the Wind.” It was the first romance I ever read and I still think Scarlett and Rhett ended up happy together somehow. Naturally, I’d have written the ending differently. Finally, my husband John passed away last year and I have one of the better pictures of us together next to my computer. We were both fairly skinny and look happy at one of his high school reunions. He was my hero and I learned that love at first sight is real and can last. Have to admit, though, that it’s getting tough to write those hot love scenes lately. So if you have a hunky vamp or wizard who needs a date, hook me up. ;)
Q.) Any new projects on the horizon? What would you like to try next?
G.B.) As for new projects, I hope to keep the Glory St. Clair series going for a while. And I’d like to try my hand at a funny vamp historical series. I’ve always loved the Regency period and am convinced I lived there in a previous life. For now, I’m busy trying to recover from Hurricane Ike. My home and family are fine, but my antique business in Galveston was basically wiped out. So I’ve been busy shopping and cleaning and assessing what needs to be done to get things going again down there before Christmas. If you’re ever in Galveston, come to the Strand at 20th to Somewhere in Time where I have a booth and say hi. I usually keep a few of my own books on the shelf there. One of the worst losses when we got ten feet of water during the hurricane, was that all of my collectible books were ruined. Argh. Including my 1936 copy of “Gone With the Wind.”
You can read Glory’s blog at myspace.com/gerrybartlett or check out gerrybartlett.com for a complete list of the Real Vampires series and an excerpt from REAL VAMPIRES DON’T DIET coming from Berkley Publishing on January 3, 2009.