This week TLT says hello to PJ Jones, who insists on using that nom de guerre lest: “crazed Twi-hards trash my yard.” PS: I know “Nom de guerre” and “Nom de plume” aren’t the same thing, that was a joke. Sort of.
You see, PJ is best known for writing devastating parodies of numerous “Sacred Cows” to the culture, ranging from Vampire Romances to, ahem, the Porn Industry. For her latest work however, Driving Me Nuts!, PJ has left her satirical sword in its scabbard, and written something…(gasp)…heartfelt and serious. Yet it still manages to be really funny at times, as that’s just how PJ rolls. You’ll probably get a sense of that as the interview progresses.
Ed: So, PJ, where are you from?
PJ: You see, Ed, when a man and a woman love each other very much they show their affection for one another in a very beautiful way…
Ed: Right, then the stork comes, my folks explained that to me years ago. How about a day job?
PJ: Graphic designer
Ed: Dream job?
PJ: I am almost living my dream job, designing cool artwork and writing funny books. All I need is to get paid more for it and it’s officially my dream job.
Ed: Now the easy one, why do you write?
PJ: I write because I have vivid dreams that must be told, and writing is fun. I’ve also made some awesome writer friends in this business.
Ed: Lightning Round! Quick! Your favorite:
Band – Alive: Rascal Flats, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker. Dead: Jimmy Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn
Food – Anything with chocolate as the main ingredient
Game (any kind) – The kind that employ handcuffs, swings and D batteries
Album- Uhhh, they make these things called iPods now, Ed.
Piece of clothing- soft jeans
Movie- Lesbian Vampire Killers, Dirty Love, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Amazon Women on the Moon, Deuce Bigalow, Pineapple Express, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Lord of the Rings
TV show – Family Guy, American Dad, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Drink – Water
Song – “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flats and “Baggage Claim” by Miranda Lambert
Line from a song – From “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flats: “It’s like a storm / That cuts a path. It breaks your will / It feels like that.”
Pizza topping- mushrooms
Crime – Speeding
Place – the beach
Ed: Three random things about yourself, please.
PJ: 1. I am recouping from a painful illness. 2. The sound of my child’s laughter is the best sound on earth. Number 3. My butt hurts from sitting at the computer.
Ed: Look, I told you it was a long interview.
PJ: It really depends on my mood. I have eclectic tastes in books.
Ed: Say you are looking at the back of a book in a bookstore (you don’t have to say it out loud), and reading the blurb. What sort of thing makes you say “yes,” what sort of thing makes you say “pass?”
PJ: If the heroine in the novel is weak and waiting for a man to save her, I’ll probably pass.
Ed: What genre do you enjoy most?
PJ: Paranormal or historical romance or both combined.
Ed: What genre would you read only if you lost a bet?
PJ: Sci fi (Ed NOTE: Only the “cheesy” variety of Sci Fi earns PJ’s disdain.)
Ed: You do know Paranormal was Sci Fi before they started calling it Paranormal, right? But I digress. Do you have a favorite author, and do you think they influence your own writing?
PJ: I have many favorites. It really depends on the genre. As far as pure comedic brilliance, it’s Mykle Hansen.
Ed: Do you have a favorite book, and how many times have you read it?
PJ: Help! A Bear is Eating Me! by Mykle Hansen. I’ve read it three times. I must read it every year, and I will never tire of the humor.
Ed: Ever lied about reading, or not reading, a book? You can tell me, nobody’s listening.
PJ: I’ve made promises to friends that I’d read their books and then always find myself short of time. I feel really bad. Either I’m terrible at time management or just a very slow reader.
Ed: Ever read a book you were sure you were going to like, and not liked it?
PJ: YES! Some really awful historical romance called Lord of Scoundrels where the heroine actually shot the hero and the hero called her names throughout the book, even after he ‘redeemed’ himself. Gah! I wanted to slap both of them throughout the whole book and my sick, twisted mind refused to stop reading it. It was like literary torture.
Ed: Ever grudgingly read a book, and loved it?
PJ: Yes. That’s how I got hooked on reading romances. I used to make fun of my mom’s trashy covers when I was getting my English degree, but when I ran out of Jane Austens, I began sneaking my mom’s romances.
Ed: What’s your favorite line from a book? (not your own)
PJ: “I wasn’t always being eaten by a bear…” from Help! A Bear is Eating Me! by Mykle Hansen
PJ: The titles just smack me upside the head. I believe they are called epiphanies.
Ed: I thought epiphanies were people from Ephesus. Speaking of people, how do your characters get their names?
PJ: Names, like titles, just come to me. They must be funny, unique and fit my characters’ personalities.
Ed: If you could live in the world / with the people of one of your stories, which one would it be and why?
PJ: I already live in a world similar to Driving Me Nuts! I certainly wouldn’t want to live in the world of my paranormal parodies, with were-gerbils and non-sparkly vampires.
Ed: What do you think your books say about you?
PJ: That I like to laugh and that no matter how much ‘life shits on you,’ you can always get by with a little bit of humor.
Ed: Tell me about your favorite character.
PJ: Fred (from Driving Me Nuts!) is my favorite character. He sees the world through the eyes of a child, even though he’s 37. He’s adorable, sweet and loyal to his friends.
Ed: What’s your favorite line which you have written?
Ed: From Romance Novel: “Every romance needs a villain, so the hero can save the girl and get laid.”
Ed: And now, about that old whacky process of the writing itself. Are you a “Plotter” or a “Pantser?”
PJ: I try to be a plotter and then the little evil demon punster muse rears its head and usually takes over half-way through the novel and completely changes the plot.
Ed: Oh yeah, I know that punster. What’s the Best/Worst advice you ever got as a writer?
PJ: The best advice I got was to be prolific. Keep writing, writing, writing more books. The worst advice I got was not to write book two until you’ve contracted book one. Nope. If you believe strongly in the book, then keep writing the series.
Ed: Best/Worst thing about being a writer?
PJ: The best thing is that I’m doing what I love. The worst thing is that I sometimes become obsessed and ignore my family.
Ed: Why Indie?
PJ: I’ve gone the traditional route under another name. It was an interesting experience, and I worked with two different wonderful editors, but I’m an impatient gal. Waiting for over a year for your book to be released is no fun. What’s also no fun is being forced to change your ending, etc…when you think it goes against your character’s nature.
Ed: Is being a writer what you expected?
PJ: I NEVER expected so much promotion. I was naïve at first, and thought the readers would flock to the books. Nope.
Ed: Have you, or would you ever, collaborate on a story?
PJ: Yes, I sure would and I think it would be a blast, especially since I’ve got a few fantasies and historicals that I’d love to pen, and I’d love some more creative input.
Ed: If you were starting to write for the first time, what would you do different?
PJ: I would have taken the craft courses before writing rather than write a few heaping piles of trash and then taken the craft courses.
Ed: What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?
PJ: Keep writing.
Excellent thought to end on. And if you would, please do give PJ’s books a look, particularly if you could use a good laugh, and promise not to trash her yard.
The Vampire Handbook: Useful rules and regulations for adapting to the bloodsucking lifestyle.