Interview: Kristen Strassel, new adult author

Last week over at Aussie Owned and Read I interviewed Julie, half of the Undead Duo. I’m now thrilled to have her partner in crime, Kristen Strassel, to my blog for a visit. Kristen is a vampire smut peddler, hair band fan, makeup artist and lover of live music. Her debut release, Because the Night, came out last month, and the prequel, Seasons in the Sun, comes out on 4 December. That’s right: TODAY!

Because the Night

Available NOW on Amazon! And Smashwords!

Because the Night is set in Las Vegas. It seems like the perfect place for a bunch of debauched vampire rock stars; although it’s sunny I hear those casinos are so huge you can quite happily never see the light of day! How did you choose the setting?

Hi Cassandra!  Thanks for having me on here!  Las Vegas really chose me. I had a dream about ten years ago about a girl trying to make her way in Vegas. Something about the dream stuck with me so much I actually moved to Vegas to write a book about it! Turns out my friend must have left the TV on, because when I saw the movie Showgirls it bore a striking resemblance to the dream. But the experience was invaluable research for Because the Night.

Sure, there’s plenty of sunshine in Las Vegas, but it’s Sin City. Dark, sensual, anything goes. The more I started putting the story together, the more it couldn’t have been set anywhere else. What other city in the world could vampires capitalize on what they are without anyone really believing they had anything to worry about?

Tell us a bit about the leading lads, Tristan and Blade. Are they both vampires? Which is the sexy one on the cover? Because damn!

Tristan is on the cover, and I know, right? He’s a pretty reasonable facsimile of what Tristan looks like to me. Tristan is a vampire, and he’s the rock star. He’s always been trouble, which led him to the afterlife. Callie’s never been able to resist him, which brought her to Vegas. But Blade is the one who made her stay. Blade is everything Tristan isn’t. First and foremost, he’s alive. He leads a normal life, and understands there’s a time for fun and a time for responsibility. Tristan has no idea what responsibility even means.

I know you’re a huge live music fan. Did any real-life rock bands inspire Immortal Dilemma?

I love going to concerts. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing your favourite band play their songs live in front of you. The emotion, the energy…it’s sexy. There’s no better word for it.

Immortal Dilemma was inspired by Motley Crue.  They’re perfect because even though there’s that undertone of debauchery, women love them. Nikki Sixx has died twice. So anyone who’s done that and lived to tell about it deserves to have a fictional character based on them. He was my inspiration for Tristan.

Everyone’s publishing journey is different. What is the number one thing you’ve learned so far on yours?

This is a tough question! I would have to say Expect the Unexpected. And adapt. When you’re writing your novel, everything is in your control. Once you make the decision to publish it, from the minute you send out that first query, you are handing control over to someone else. I think that the concept of “dream agents” and “dream publishers” as a debut author is exactly that—a dream. In the beginning, you work with the people who say yes. It’s just the reality of the situation when you’re starting out. You have to earn your bargaining chips. I never expected Because the Night to have the journey it did, but I’m happy with where I’m at and where the book is at right now. At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you. You don’t have to answer to or apologize to anyone for what you do.

What’s it like having a childhood friend who lives near you as a crit partner? (Can you tell I’m jealous?)

Because the Night probably wouldn’t have existed without Julie. Remember I told you about moving to Vegas to write a book? Yeah, that book didn’t get written. Until Julie one night worked up the nerve to tell me she was working on a vampire novel, which is Running Home. I said, “You know, I’ve had one that I haven’t been able to put together in the right way and finish.” So we worked together, we finished the books, and we brought them to the world.

We get together about once a week these days. Pizza and adult beverages are usually involved. Our meetings have evolved as our journey has. Before it was just about the writing. Now business has crept in as well.  We don’t always agree on everything, but that’s what makes for a good partnership.

KristenStrasselI asked Julie this and now I’m asking you: what’s the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you and they never do?

On my bio, I allude to the fact I’ve worked a lot of different jobs. It took me a long time to find my path in life. I think that’s why I’m so attracted to the New Adult category. I’ve started over a lot. College wasn’t for me, and I worked a lot of dead end jobs that I hated. When I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence to reinvent myself so easily, and at one point I actually had to come to terms with the fact that my dreams were never going to come true. The turning point for me was when I lost a lot of weight—almost 100 lbs. (which has since come and gone several times). It made me realize that if you wanted something badly enough, you could make anything happen.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Please and thank you.

Plotter or pantser?

Both, really. I pants until I hit a wall and then I outline what I’ve got and write down ideas for what needs to happen next.

Morning or night?

A very reluctant morning person. I have to be up sometimes in the 3 AM hour for work, and it’s always very unpredictable, so I don’t like to get too off schedule. But I do love the nightlife.

Sneaking into nightclubs to see bands since she was sixteen, Kristen has been researching Because the Night her whole life. Now she’s been to more concerts that she could possibly count. She gets an up close and personal look at the behind the scenes workings of the entertainment industry doing makeup and hair for TV, movies and commercials. She’s a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks and Blaine Beauty School. She enjoys watching football, decorating her house, and making wickedly decadent desserts she force feeds to all her guests. She does not have a Boston accent. You can find Kristen on Goodreads, at her blog or on Twitter.

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