Hi Judi, Welcome back to Anna’s Book Blog! It's great having you here again. To start off can you tell the readers a little about yourself?I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, have written since my the raindrop story in first grade, always wanted to be an author but never thought it was possible, have a husband, kids, two alpha cocker spaniels who don’t always get along, a cat with a serious attitude, a full time job and never enough time to do what I want to do.
I Dream of Genies is your latest release, can you tells us a little about it and the series?The story idea came to me as I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones. I could hear the Indiana Jones theme song, and knew I wanted to incorporate the fun of the sixties’ sitcom. Other than that, I had no idea where the story was going to go until I started writing it. Turns out it’s got a baby dragon, a cat with an attitude, a couple of Egyptian and Persian gods and goddesses, screwy magic, deadly flowers, mythological beasts, and a cross-dressing High Master genie as well as the romance between Matt Ewing and his genie Eden. And I had an absolute blast writing it.
The rest of the series are unrelated books, unlike my Mer series which is about royal siblings, although Eden has met the hero of Genie Knows Best, but under rather auspicious circumstances—when they’re both being sentenced for the crimes they committed. Vana, the genie in Leave It To Genie, is just a fun character who’s been chatting with me all along, hoping I’ll get to her story quickly so she can end up with her happily ever after.
What was the last book your read or/ are currently reading?I wish I had more time to read, but with a day job, a family, writing, and a life, not so much. The last ones I’ve read was Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning and Last to Die by Kate Brady (yes, I read more than one at a time. Thank God for the Kindle app on my iPhone.)
Which authors have influenced you the most?When I first started out, it was the women I’ve grown up reading. Anne Stuart and Ann Mather – they were the first ones I’d pull off the library shelves. Then I found Jill Barnett and Jude Devereaux. Then came Julia Quinn. After her, there are so many I enjoy reading and just seeing the diversity and creativity is so empowering as an author, that people are reading across the board and if you want to have a talking cat or mythological beast in a story, there’s an audience.
When you're not writing, what do you like to spend your time doing?Is it surprising if I say “read”? I love to read and if there’s a downside to being an author, it’s that I don’t have the opportunity to read as much as I want. And considering all the books I get at conferences and from writer friends, I have enough material.
I also like to watch reality TV. Why? I have no idea. I think I should have been a sociology or psychology major in school because the dynamics of watching people’s reactions to their 15 minutes of fame is mind-boggling. I’m always amazed at how they’re so willing to talk or act badly in front of a camera.
Have you always wanted to be an author?Ever since I could talk, I was making up stories. Casper the Friendly Ghost was my imaginary friend and my first story I ever wrote in first grade won some award. Then came Honorable Mention in the Caldecott Award, and my first romance novel in ninth grade, and, yeah, you could say I’ve always been writing. To be a published author, however, was something I never thought was attainable until I joined RWA and my local chapter. At my first meeting, I met a published author and was blown away that it was possible to become published.
What type of research did you do for this new series?Twenty-some years ago, I was in a car accident and partially paralyzed for nine months. This was in the days before laptops, cell phones and On Demand TV. We lived on a 3rd floor apartment, with no elevator and no balcony about two hours from our families. The only thing I had to do was watch TV, and there was a channel that played episodes of I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island, Green Acres, The Munsters, etc. I think I saw every episode of each show and pulled on the pop culture perception of genies for the mortals’ reactions. Things like blinking their eyes to perform magic, having a blue djinni after them, Open Sesame. I also did research into the actually mythology of the djinn, but that delves into religious aspects and I wanted to steer clear of someone’s belief system. The djinn are tied to Islam, so I walked a fine line of sticking close, putting my own twist on it, and offending someone. I picked my friend’s husband’s brain a lot. He’s Egyptian, a Muslim, and a native Arabic speaker so he was of invaluable help.
Between your Mers and the Genies, do you have a favorite character?When I’m writing them, they’re never my favorite character—because I have to pull stuff out of them. When I’m done, oh, yeah, I love them all. The heroes, of course, because you have to fall in love with your hero or your reader won’t. The heroine because we all want to relate to her (see the part about falling in love with your hero), and the secondary characters because they don’t care what they say or do. They can be as snarky as they want, do whatever they want, and they don’t really have to be redeemed, though it is fun doing that, too. Chum, Livingston, Ginger, Stewart, A.J., Harry, Obo, Humphrey… I had a blast getting to know all of them. Trying to keep them corralled and not take over the story, on the other hand, was a bit tougher.
What inspired you to write a story about genies?I have no idea. I just woke up one morning with the Indiana Jones theme running through my head and the idea of a genie who’d been sentenced to her bottle for 3000 years suddenly finding herself free, sat down, and started writing. Sometimes it just happens like that, though I’d love someone to study my subconscious and find out exactly what I was thinking to come up with that while I slept. LOL
Besides Books 2 & 3 (Genie Knows Best and Leave It To Genie) of the Genie series, do you have any other projects you can tell a us about?At the moment, nothing is etched in stone (read: put in a contract), but readers are asking for Marianna and Pearl’s stories (part of the Mer series), and it turns out that Vana, the genie in Leave It To Genie has a twin sister (who knew?) who has a few issues of her own, so maybe I’ll head in that direction. We’ll have to see which way the (desert) wind blows.
I DREAM OF GENIES
BY JUDI FENNELL
IN STORES JANUARY 2010
“The nonstop cinematic gee-whiz results will keep the reader enraptured. Fennell also tosses in sultry sex scenes, a bubble-gum-sweet but passionate romance, quick-moving action, and a variety of puns and riddle-making beasts.”
—Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW
He needs to change his luck, and fast!
Matt Ewing would gladly hunt down a fortune in lucky pennies if he thought it would help save his business. But for all his hoping, Matt’s clueless when his long-awaited lucky charm falls in his lap in the form of a beguiling genie. He just can’t believe that this beautiful woman could be the answer to his prayers…
She’s been bottled up for far too long!
Spending 2,000 years in a bottle would make any woman a little stir-crazy. So when Matt releases Eden from her luxurious captivity, she’s thrilled to repay him by giving him the magical boost he needs…
But for all her good intentions, Eden’s magical prowess is a little rusty and her magical mistakes become more than embarrassing. And though Eden knows falling in love will end her magic and immortality, she can’t help but be drawn to the one man who wants her just for herself…
Where to Buy:Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders | The Book Depository
About the AuthorJudi 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, Genie Knows Best, set for release in November 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.judifennell.com/.
Thanks to Sourcebooks I have two copies of I Dream of Genies to giveaway. To enter leave a comment along with your email address. Open to U.S. & Canada. The winners will be announced on January 16th. Good Luck!