Curledup.com contributor Angela McQuay interviewed Jennifer Colt,
author of The Vampire of Venice Beach,
who talked about making the jump from screenwriting to novel writing, identical twins
as main characters, and her brief foray into the vampire (under)world.
Interviewer Angela McQuay: It says on your author page that you are a screenwriter. What made you decide to make the jump into fiction writing??
Jennifer Colt: I didnít jump, I was pushed. (Kidding. Sort of.) It was a question of writing what I wanted to, as opposed to writing for hire. But itís not an either/or proposition. I did some scripts for HBO last summer, and I plan to write a pilot for a McAfee twins series. What shall I call the series, any ideas?
Was it a difficult transition?
Learning to write a novel was difficult but fun. I had no idea what I was doing. I just plowed ahead blindly, figuring Iíd ďfix it in post-production.Ē Most novels these days are written in a cinematic style, composed of scenes rather than a lot of exposition and narration, and I had the advantage of knowing how to write a good scene. It was the connective tissue that gave me trouble.
The McAfee twins are great characters for a mystery series, especially since theyíre so different from each other. What made you decide to write about twins?
I wanted a fresh idea for a sidekick. Having identical twins with opposing personalities makes for great comic conflict. It also provides a flesh-and-bones ďidĒ for the main character. Rather than having a contrary voice in her head, as most of us do, Kerryís got a life-sized facsimile of herself who will act on the impulses she wouldnít dare to.
Do you relate to one more than the other?
I relate more to Kerry, the conventional one, but I aspire to be more like Terry, the fearless one.
You seem to know a lot about the vampire subculture you wrote about in The Vampire of Venice Beach. What kind of research was involved in this book?
All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten. (It was a very strange kindergarten.)
No, I worked on a documentary film exploring the subculture. It never saw the light of day, which I suppose is appropriate for a film about vampires, but I had a great time doing it. We filmed at the Dracula í97 convention, held at the Airport Sheraton in honor of the 100th anniversary of Bram Stokerís Dracula. (Picture these people running around in velvet and brocade when the temperatures were in the 80s!) I hadnít realized that vampirism was actually a lifestyle, not to mention a topic for serious study. There were quite a few scholars and professors in attendance.
Vampires and goths are at pains to distinguish themselves from each other, but I didnít really bother with that distinction in the book.
Letís go back in time a little bit. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Pretty sure it was in the womb.
What was the first thing you got paid for writing?
Other than copywriting for video boxes (epic films such as Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Deathófeaturing Bill Maher!), the first paying job was a story credit on a straight-to-video horror film.
What are some of the movies youíve written for?
Oh no, I donít want people looking them up.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers, either screenwriters or fiction writers?
I guess Iíd say this: You donít need anyoneís permission to consider yourself a writer, you donít need to be produced or published. Just continue to write and let the rest take care of itself.
Now back to the McAfee books! There have been three in the series so farócan we expect more hijinks from the twins in future books or are you planning a new series?
More hijinks, more hijinks! I have to keep myself entertained, otherwise Iíll fret too much about the state of the world.
Iím also planning two YA series, and a book-length fable about faith.
If there is another McAfee book in the works, can you give us a little teaser about what trouble the girls will get into in it?
The next two books have already been written. In The Hellraiser of the Hollywood Hills, the McAfee girls are hired to babysit a ďpop tartĒ music star who gives them a run for their money, and who may just be a murderer. In the fifth book, they make a Christmas trip with Aunt Reba and Cousin Robert to Catalina Island, and what do you know? Thereís all kinds of mysterious goings-on, not the least of which is something that surfaces from Robertís past. Itís called The Con Artist of Catalina, and itís probably the funniest book so far.
Iíve started a sixth, entitled The Psycho of Santa Monica, which is a loving spoof of Thomas Harrisí Hannibal Lecter books. None of these three have been sold yet. Fingers crossed!
Jennifer Colt is the author of The Butcher of Beverly Hills and The Mangler of Malibu Beach. A screenwriter versed in the eccentric world of California, she lives in Santa Monica.
Contributing reviewer Angela McQuay interviewed Jennifer Colt, author of The Vampire of Venice Beach (see accompanying review), about
her book for curledup.com. Angela McQuay/2007.