My family just discovered ME TV featuring reruns of shows from my childhood. My favorite - I DREAM OF JEANNIE. Thus, I jumped at the chance to interview paranormal author Judi Fennell, author of The Bottled Magic series.
Judi Fennell is an award-winning author and writes what she calls “fairy tales with a twist.” Her romance novels have been finalists in Gather.com's First Chapters and First Chapters Romance contests, and have won numerous RWA Chapter Awards, including the FF&P Prism Award, and the New Jersey Golden Leaf Award. Judi lives with her family in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she is working on the next book in the Genie Trilogy, Magic Gone Wild, set for release in August 2012.
Kim: I read on your website that you’ve lived in Espana! I grew up in Coral Gables (Miami suburb) where the streets are named after Spanish cities. I have always been intrigued by Spain! Can you share a favorite sight, sound, and smell from your travels?
Judi: Oh, wow. What didn’t I love about Spain? I’ve always been fascinated by it. When I learned in 6th grade that I could take Spanish in 7th, I was thrilled! Then I found out in 7th that there was a thing called “Study Abroad” program in college and that was it. I was going. I saved all my babysitting money, then all my summer job money, planning for this trip. And then, in my junior year, I went. It was wonderful! We lived with a host family so I got to experience real life other than just student life. I will say that I was surprised at how bland the food was. For the first 2 weeks I lost 12 pounds because I didn’t enjoy the food. But it started to grow on me, especially when we discovered the tapas bars that we liked. I had a friend there whose mother taught me how to make tortilla de patatas, and I still make it to this day. I eventually ended up enjoying the food, but it was definitely an acquired taste, mainly because it is nowhere near as flavorful as what we’re used to. (Side note: my Spanish friend did a study abroad program in England after I left Spain and she would complain to me about how bland the food was there, so I can only imagine that it has no taste! LOL)
|Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir River in Cordoba|
The history, the beauty, the utter disregard for safety and centrifugal force on mountain roads… (seriously, try driving from Salamanca to Merida. 20 some years ago, it was treacherous, especially at night. Don’t ask…) My favorite city was Cordoba, but so many have so much to recommend them. From Segovia (the castle there is where Ferdinand and Isabella gave Columbus permission for his voyage of discovery), to Avila (one of the oldest walled cities), to Toledo (ah, the steelwork!), to the Costa del Sol, Malaga, Marbella and Seville… I love the country. Bullfights and all. (Yes, I did learn to appreciate the artistry in the bullfight.) I even modeled the mythical Al-Jannah, capital city of the Djinn world in my Bottled Magic series after old Seville.
Kim: I enjoyed looking at your photos posted on your blog from conventions - we must have crossed paths a few! I know reader conventions are busy - I can only imagine what it must be like for an author. Can you share a funny or heartwarming moment at a convention?
Judi: It’s always thrilling to meet my readers. It still seems so amazing to me that people wait (sometimes not so patiently) for my next release and know my world as well (if not better) than I do. That is the BEST – being able to discuss the characters as if they are real people. Because, honestly, I spend so much time with them, they do seem real to me. It’s so nice to be around other people who get that, because most people in my “real” life just don’t. JTo have someone come up to me and squee about meeting me is just mind-blowing. And awfully nice. Another great thing is to hear how my stories have touched someone, or helped them get through a rough time. In the end, authors are in the entertainment industry and if I can do that, I’ve done my job, so it’s so nice to get that kind of feedback.
Kim: From the Fun Stuff on your website, you are the namesake for Princess Judi in Dana Marton's Saved By the Monarch. Pretend you are a real princess. What designer gowns would you wear? What famous building would be your home? What charity would you be the reigning patron?
Judi: Wait, what do you mean “pretend”? Ask anyone: they’ll tell you there is no pretending. Especially since my sister gave me a t-shirt for Christmas one year that says, “Queen of the Freaking Universe.” Now she can’t deny it. A neighbor gave me another shirt that says “The Queen is Not Amused.” My brother-in-law gave me a Cinderella tiara one year for my birthday, my niece gave me a pillow with a crown in silver sequins embroidered on it that sits on my “throne” (my massage chair in my office that was named Fabio by several online friends); I have a picture of a princess, dragon and castle hanging in my office, and I own a square foot of land in Scotland that came with the title Lady Judith. So I’m not getting this “pretending” thing. Dana naming the princess after me was just pure joy.
As to where I’d live… I guess Buckingham is out? I did really love the castle in Segovia (at this link) so I’ll take that one. Or, how about just the Disney one? That’ll do for me. Disney is the happiest place on earth in my mind. I’m a HUGE Disney princess fan (I guess that’s not a surprise…) As for designer gowns… Hmmm, that’s a bit of a tough one. I want the big, poufy, frou-frou fairy tale dresses, so maybe Disney’s costume designers could whip up a few for me. As for what charity – I had a cousin who had MS. I used to do her makeup for her when I was growing up which gave me a great sense of her disease as well as compassion, so in Lil’s memory, I’d go with the MS Society. I do support a neighbor who does the long bike ride for them every year.
|Schloss Neuschwanstein - inspiration of the Disney Castle|
Kim: Tell us about your Bottled Magic series and your new book, GENIE KNOWS BEST.
Judi: I pitched this series to my editor as “I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones.” That was all I had and it was just a smidgen of an idea. Not only did she love it, but so did the publisher and director of sales, so voila! A series was born. Then I had to write it. I Dream of Genies came out in January 2010 and from the moment the characters hit the magical world in the swirling sands of the Sahara desert, all I could hear in my head was the Indiana Jones’ theme music. The adventure through the High Master’s park was almost too hard to write because it came to me so fast and furious that I found myself skipping sentences and words and misspelling things as I typed it so fast so I wouldn’t forget it.
|Indiana Jones in Petra - I wonder if he found a genie ....|
The same thing happened with Genie Knows Best: once I put them in the magical under-the-desert world of Izaaz and mythological creatures started crawling out of the woodwork and dropping from the sky (literally), I again, couldn’t keep pace with the story. Thank God for the voice recorder app on my iPhone. I used it a LOT. I had a lot of fun mingling mythologies and gods/goddesses/creatures from different cultures and the research was a lot of fun. I can get lost in research and many times I had to pull myself back on task. The best part of research is when I need something to be a certain way for the story and then I find out that what I want to do actually exists. For example: the Hadhyosh in I Dream of Genies is a “real” mythological creature in Ma’dan or Marsh Arab mythology. In my Mer series when I wanted to put Atlantis under Bermuda, I knew I wanted it to be in a big cave. I was thrilled to discover that Bermuda is actually known for the beautiful caves beneath it. I love when that happens.
|Crystal Caves, Bermuda|
Kim: What's next for Judi Fennell?
Judi: I wish I knew! I have so many ideas and so many things I’m working on. I’m hoping to get out Marianna and Pearl’s stories – the last two Tritone siblings from my Mer series. Readers have been asking for their stories and I do miss that world, so I’m diving back under the sea for that. But DeeDee (Aphrodite Nirvana: Vana’s twin sister) is tapping me on the shoulder to write her story, plus there’s another genie named Farrah who would like her story to be told, so we’ll see. I have to get a proposal together for my editor and we’ll go from there.
Thanks so much for having me and I hope everyone enjoys Genie Knows Best! You can see excerpts and outtakes from the story on my website, www.JudiFennell.com. Hope you all enjoy the (magic carpet) ride!
Mahalo, Judi, for taking a magic carpet ride over the Pacific to join us in virtual Hawaii! Sourcebooks is giving away two copies of GENIE KNOWS BEST:
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!
|Trapper and Hawkeye had their own |
"magic bottle" ... er, magic still!
To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about your favorite "classic" sit com - my other favorites are MASH and Hogan's Heroes.
If you are too young to have seen classic sitcoms before cable, check out ME TV's website for a blast from the past, www.metvnetwork.com.
2. Sourcebooks' giveaway is open to US residents only but I'll giveaway a third book to an international reader.
3. Comments are open through Saturday, November 19, 10 pm in Hawaii. I'll post the winner on Sunday, November 20.
Kim in Hawaii