>Interview with Jeri Smith-Ready – Romantic Times Feature

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Award-winning author Jeri Smith-Ready lives in Maryland with her husband, two cats, and the world’s goofiest greyhound.

Jeri’s plans to save the earth were ruined when she realized she was more of a “problem maker” than a problem solver. To stay out of trouble, she keeps her Drama Drive strictly fictional. Her friends and family appreciate that.

When not writing, Jeri she can usually be found—well, thinking about writing, or on Twitter. Like her characters, she loves music, movies, and staying up very, very late.

Q: With so many various writing conferences and cons nowadays authors seem to have several options to fill their schedules. What is it about Romantic Times that made you add this event to your busy schedule?

ShadeA: I’ve been going to RT since 2007, and every year it’s been my favorite event. I love RT because of the readers, pure and simple. They pack the panel rooms, talk to us in the hallway, and flock to the Saturday Book Fair in huge numbers. Everyone is so enthusiastic—you can just hear the book-love in their voices.

Q: As far as busy schedules go, do you find time to read for yourself? If so what are some of your current favorite books?

A: I would go crazy if I didn’t read! If anything, I need it during busy times more than ever, just to keep me sane. I try to read first thing in the morning and then again before bed.

My current YA fave is probably Julie Kagawa’s IRON FEY series, and my current adult obsession is Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series. Hmm, I just realized they’re both about the fae, even though I have no plans to write about them myself. (I’m totally intimidated at the thought of writing them.)

Q: So many adults are enjoying the YA genre now. Do you feel like your writing has messages for the targeted audience of young adults, or do you keep in mind the cross-over audience as well?

A: I don’t really think about messages, I think about the stories. When it comes to teens, my goal is not to teach, but to understand—specifically, I hope that when teens read my books, they feel understood, not judged or looked down upon.


At the same time, I hope that adults enjoy the stories, too. In fact, I hope that if my adult readers give SHADE a chance, they realize how awesome YA books are and they go out and read a whole slew of them!

Q: Do you ever get “star-struck” meeting other authors or have “fan-girl” moments?

A: All. The. Time. This week (I’m writing this on March 15), I’m doing a couple of events at the New York Teen Author Festival, with some of my favorite authors, including Libba Bray, David Levithan, and Gayle Forman. I’m about to pass out just thinking about it. I hope I can put together complete sentences in front of these authors.


One of my favorite fan girl moments happened at RT 2007. I went up to Caprice Crane after the awards ceremony and told her how hilarious her novel STUPID AND CONTAGIOUS was (it had just won Best Chick Lit, and my EYES OF CROW had just won Best Fantasy). I never do that, walk up to someone just to gush—I’m way too shy. But Caprice was so happy to hear it, and we started talking, and now we’re friends. She’s incredibly down to earth (despite working in Hollywood, LOL).

Q: Since Romantic Times has an emphasis on romance, who are some of your favorite romantic couples of fiction?

A: Ooh, my favorite is probably David and Joanne from Rachel Caine’s WEATHER WARDEN series. But I haven’t read all of the books—I hope they haven’t died or broken up by now!

Q: Are there certain things you have to have to write, like snacks or music?

A: Coffee to start. Lots of snacks. I almost always listen to music when I write a first draft. Lots of people find it distracting, but it actually helps me focus. It makes me aware of time passing, for one thing. It also gets my adrenaline going, or calms me if I need calming. Or it can help contribute to the mood of whatever I’m writing.

Q: Writing seems to be such a personal thing, is it hard to send your work out into the world? How do you deal with getting feedback from so many different people?

Shift (Shade, Book 2)A: I only send my manuscripts to people whose opinions I trust, and I absolutely love getting feedback—everything from word choice to big character/plot issues. But all that changes once the book is final. I don’t go looking for reviews. I don’t do Google Alerts, and I never visit my Amazon page once a book is out. I think reviews are for the readers. People should be able to discuss a book online honestly without worrying that the author will see it and feel bad.



But if someone e-mails me a link to a review, I’ll definitely read it. It gives me warm fuzzies to hear that a reviewer enjoyed it. So I guess I’m a hypocrite. Oh well!

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to young adults (on anything), what would it be?

A: The same advice I give to anyone: learn to think for yourself. It’s important to consider other people’s opinions, especially people who know you well, but ultimately you have to decide what’s right for you. Only you can live your life. Everyone else is busy living theirs (or they should be).

Q: What is your opinion on the steady popularity of supernatural elements in YA fiction? Do you think that the Vampire (were’s, angels, demons) trend is here to stay?

A: I hope so, if we include ghosts on that list, too. 😉

Q: As writers of Young Adult fiction, teens (and some adults for that matter) can get kind of obsessed with characters and the authors that created them. Do you enjoy the fame and attention you have gained from writing or is it more of a nuisance?

A: If I never wanted attention, I would just keep my manuscripts in a box under my bed and never submit them. The whole point of storytelling is reach an audience, large or small.


And I honestly have never encountered anyone I’d consider a nuisance. I do feel guilty for not answering reader e-mail faster. I always want to give each reader a thorough, personalized answer instead of just a quick “Yay, thanks!” Maybe if I just said, “Yay, thanks!” more often, my inbox would be skinnier.


Thanks so much for having me!

*Jeri Smith-Ready’s next release is SHIFT (May 3), the second in the YA ghost trilogy that began last year with SHADE (which is coming out in paperback April 5—just in time for RT!) She loves to hear from readers, so please visit her at http://www.jerismithready.com/, or better yet, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jerismithready) or Twitter (@jsmithready), where she spends far too much time.

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