Thursday, March 27, 2014

Special Guest Post with Andrea Janes

I'd like to welcome author Andrea Janes to the blog in a special guest post in which I interview her about her YA novel, Glamour. Read on to find out more about the book, ghost tours, and Andrea's dreams of being a sea captain.

What made you decide to set Glamour in Cape Cod?

I can’t remember! I started working on this story in 2004, based on a casual suggestion from a friend (“You should write a script about a girl who works in an ice cream shop and she’s an ambidextrous scooper”) that I thought was amusing. Scoops, as it was initially called, had a vastly different form then. It was a screenplay, for one thing. Reese was the main character, and it had no witchcraft in it. There was a lot of stuff about doppelgangers and doubling that I thought was very Hitchcockian at the time, but of course it was pretty dreadful. So I put it away for a while and wrote something else (The Flickers, a caper about slapstick comediennes who solve mysteries). Then, about four years later, I took out Scoops, looked at it again and realized it still had potential – it just needed a hook. Well, I figured, they live on Cape Cod, kind of near Salem, why not make them witches? A bit predictable, maybe, but once I replaced the ice cream making with magical spells, the story became much more interesting. Also, it was at this point that I realized Christina was a far more fascinating character than Reese, so I threw Reese into another dimension and let Christina take over. By this point in my life I’d realized my odds of selling a spec script were slim, especially one with two female leads and a lot of costly special effects, so I then rewrote it again, this time as a novel.

I understand that when you're not writing, you give ghost tours of New York City. What is one of the most unusual things has happened to you during a ghost tour?

Yes, when I’m not writing I run my own tour company called Boroughs of the Dead: Macabre New York City Walking Tours. I lead dark and haunted historical walking tours of the city, and I also sell my collection of short stories (also called Boroughs of the Dead) on the tours and on the website.

The strangest thing that ever happened to me on one of my tours was the time I had a guest who claimed to be psychic and she kept up a running narrative of all the ghosts she was seeing as we walked through Greenwich Village. At first I assumed she was a bit nutty, but then her comments became uncannily close to what I knew to be true about the places we were visiting. At one stop, she immediately said she smelled heavy perfume and cigar smoke; we were in front of a former speakeasy that is known for its olfactory ghosts. At another she said she felt an overwhelming feeling of sadness; we were in front of a house where a child had been murdered. By the end of the tour I was just letting her do all the talking.

Your main character, Christina works in an ice cream shop. What's her favorite ice cream? What's your favorite ice cream?

Fun fact: Christina despises ice cream and never eats it! I, however, would move into the Ben & Jerry’s factory if I could. There is almost no flavor they’ve put into a one-pint container that I have not enjoyed. One of my all favorites though is a Baskin Robbins flavor that I think has been discontinued (I haven’t been able to find it for years anyway). It was called Tiger Tail and it was orange sherbet with a black licorice swirl.

Christina is a very powerful witch. What made you decide to write about witches?

I’ve always been really interested in witches for some reason, I don’t know why. I just feel an overwhelming instinctual attraction to the idea of witches and witchcraft. The psychological answer probably has something to do with freedom and power. I like both those things. I even like the sound of the word “witch.” It’s so euphonious.

Your twitter handle says you wish you were a sea captain. What would you do if you had the chance to be one?

Catch that damn white whale! But seriously, a real sea captain? Like, nowadays? Well, first of all, I’d pull in a healthy salary of at least $150k/year. Did you know that maritime careers are really well compensated? It’s true! (Even longshoremen make about $135k/year.) I’m not sure if I’d be a commercial captain, or work on excursion boats or what. I do know that, either way, it would be significantly less romantic than I imagine it would be, and would involve lots of diesel fumes.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a horror novel about a haunted condo in Rockaway Beach, Queens.


Andrea Janes writes horror, dark comedy, thrillers, and historical slapstick. She is the author of Boroughs of the Dead: New York City Ghost Stories. She is also a licensed NYC tour guide, and offers a variety of ghostly tours around the city. Her many obsessions include New York City history, old photographs, Mabel Normand, all things nautical, and beer. She maintains a personal blog over at Spinster Aunt, where she discusses these obsessions in more detail than is probably healthy.

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