Friday, January 17, 2014

Fangirl Friday: An Interview with Isobel Irons

About the Author

As you might have already guessed, Isobel Irons is a pen name.

In real life, I am (among many things) an indie film director and TV producer with a deep–some might even say obsessive–appreciation for onscreen storytelling and a lifelong book habit that I just can’t seem to kick. 

In film, there’s nothing I like better than a JJ Abrams “show, not tell” character reveal, or a Joss Whedon banter session. Or an Erik Kripke-level “bromance.” And of course, I’m a die-hard fan of the will they / won’t they trope, where the fans start shipping two characters agonizingly long before they share their first kiss. Or in Hart Hanson’s case, like three frigging years before. (That’s right, Hart. I’m talking to you, you incorrigible tease.)

In my novels, I use my visual storytelling skills to show the reader an entire menagerie of hidden worlds. When it comes to imagination, there is no production value and no budget. But if there was, I would spend it all and then some. To me, my characters are real people, who just happen to live in my mind. Before I write, I scout locations to set the scene, I hold exhaustive casting sessions to find the perfect quirks that will ignite the maximum amount of conflict. Then, I throw in some tricky, but believable situations that allow my characters to expose themselves–sometimes in a figurative, emotional sense, other times quite literally. Rawr.

Finally, I sit back and let the story unfold. If it sucks, I cut it. I tell my characters–sternly, but calmly–to reset and do it again, but this time give me MORE. Show me MORE. Make me laugh or cry or want to hit something MORE. And then, when I realize I’ve read through the entire thing in one sitting and–Holy shit, is it really that late, and Oh my God I am SO hungry! Have I even eaten today? That’s when I know it’s ready to be unleashed into the world.

Vivid characters. Vibrant settings. Relatable problems. Together, these elements combine to form the Ultimate Literary Crack. Or, as I like to call it, “Promoting Literacy through Shameless Addiction.”

What's your writer's journey been like so far:

In a word, adulterous. I started writing my first novel while cheating on my homework. Wait, no that sounds like I was buying test answers or getting tutored by an Asian or something. The truth was--I was having an extra-curricular affair with fiction. Does that make sense? Then, when I started doing spec writing, I started cheating on my assignments with way better assignments, that I would make for myself. I remember the first indie film I ever worked on, I was kicking around on set with the actors, and no one was saying it but we were all thinking: "Dear God, this script is SO bad." And I never told anyone this, but that script became the basis for my first short story (that I never published, because even the adapted version was bad). After that, I just started coming up with book ideas all over the place. Then ideas for whole series of books. And that's how I became the well-adjusted, manic creativity whore you "see" before you today.

What's your Twitter Pitch! (140 characters or less.)

"Rich girl crashes car in a fit of drama. Forbidden comatose Patient/Doctor relationship ensues. Inception meets Grey's Anatomy, with murder." 

Meh...I am NOT good at writing Twitter pitches. Especially since you're not supposed to use film references to put your point across...even if they're SPOT on. Also, I should probably specify that when I say Grey's Anatomy, I mean season one when Shonda Rhimes was at the helm and in top form. "Seriously."

What inspired you to write this book?

On Veronica Park's blog, I told the story about how I got drunk watching Inception this one time, but now I'm going to tell you the REAL story. The real story is, I was doing this speed-dating type thing with a bunch of publishing industry types, and this editor asked me about my latest WIP (that's "work in progress" in nerdy writer speak) and I couldn't tell them because back then I was agented and my agent had told me not to talk about anything that was on submission with publishers. So I randomly pulled this story idea out of my...metaphorical nether parts...and I came up with the concept of a girl/patient who falls in love with her doctor, while she's unconscious. Long story short, the editor loved it and was like "I want to see pages!" and I was like "I will absolutely get those for soon as I've written them."

Then, a few weeks later, I got drunk while watching Inception and I was like "I've got it!" The end.

What's your favorite thing about writing?

Being able to work without pants on.

What's your least favorite thing?

 Forgetting that I am writing without pants on, and Skyping with people.

Now it's time to brag a little--What do you love most about your book?

Honestly, this is probably not a good thing to say to people who haven't read the book yet, because really there is SO much awesomeness and romance and seriousness...but the thing that really caught be by surprise and threw me for a loop was Brady. He was one of those characters who kind of gets thrown in there for comedic value or tension relief, you know? And then he just kept sneaking into these super serious scenes, and I was like "Ugh, get out of here, Brady! Don't you know you're ruining the vibe!!?" 

Yet, I didn't really care about him all that much as a character. Until one day, he totally crossed the line. He barged in during this SUPER important part of the story, it was this part where...well, I won't tell you anything important, but it was the ending. And it was supposed to be all serious and heart-breaking and really deep and thought provoking and shit. And Brady totally HIJACKED my ending. And I lost it. I stopped writing and I grabbed this stupid, pain in the ass supporting character, and I was like "WHAT IS YOUR GODDAMN PROBLEM?" And the weirdest thing happened: for the first time, Brady got serious. He broke down right then and there, and for the first time, he told me his life story. And I was like, "Shit. You're going to need your own book."

And that, no lie, was my favorite part of writing WAKE FOR ME. Like the best literary crack, it was a gateway book. (By the way, feel free to edit out any swearing or what have you. And don't worry, my editor cuts out 99.9% of all instances of "Valley Girl speak" in the book.)

Okay, now a little about you. (And yes, I stole these questions from In the Actor's Studio with James Lipton.)

What is your favorite word?

"Serendipity," which loosely translates to: "Finding something amazing while you're busy looking for something else."

What is your least favorite word?

It's funny, because I can't think of the Actor's Studio without thinking about that SNL James Lipton skit, and I can't think about that without thinking about Will Farrell, which leads me to the word I hate the most in all of the romance genre: "Lover." *Shudders*

What turns you on?

 Face stubble, interesting quirks, delicious smells, and rolled-up sleeves.

What turns you off?

 Possessiveness, sulking, and men who think women can't be as smart--or even smarter--than them.

What sound or noise do you love?

 Rain. I LOVE thunder storms.

What sound or noise do you hate?

 The squeaky sound cotton balls make when you squeeze them. 

What profession, other than your own, would you most like to attempt?

 I would say secret agent, but I've heard the health benefits totally suck. So maybe an international assassin? But like, an assassin who only kills really bad people. And assholes who double-park in front of Starbucks.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear G-d say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

LOL, I like that "God" is blanked out. I'm not sure if that's intentional or not, to spare people from being offended or what have you. But just in case it is, I just want you to know that I did a quick search of my latest manuscript, and apparently I take the Lord's name in vain 87 times. That is, of course, probably excluding phrases like "goddammit" and such. So... I guess if I don't go straight to hell, where I belong, I'd like it if the G-man looked down at me and was like, "Don't worry about it. I get you, Izzy."

Finally, what's the one question you've always wanted to answer in an interview? (And of course, you have to answer it!)

Nobody ever asks this in "professional" circles, probably because it's considered inappropriate or something. But I feel it's an issue which MUST be discussed--it is just THAT important to understanding whether or not a person has the same sense of humor as you. So here it goes:

Family Guy, or South Park?

For me, I have to say South Park, because I am irreverent and slightly twisted--I'll fully admit that--but I'm also passionate about current events and political irony. Also, I'm not into talking animals. Nothing against all you Family Guy fans out there, but it's a different camp situation. Fans of The Simpsons, however, are pretty much compatible with every type of twisted humor subset. And that's why America is great. 

PS - The UK is still slightly better though, because you guys have Steven Moffat.


"Finding the man of your dreams can be hard... Especially if you're unconscious."

When Viola Bellerose breaks up with her “up and coming” Irish rock star boyfriend, the feisty winery heiress takes it in stride—by making out with a hot stranger and accidentally crashing her Mercedes into the East River. Whoops.

Somewhat unfairly, in her opinion, Viola now spends her days in a coma, trapped inside the prison of her own body. With each passing day, she finds herself becoming more lost in a world of vivid and terrifying dreams, in which a tall and tortured doctor often appears in a romantic role.

First year intern Sam Philips is barely surviving his complicated life, dealing with his older brother’s death, avoiding scary charge nurses and working endless hours--all while competing against his fellow interns. His solace is the time he spends with his favorite patient, the girl he’s nicknamed Sleeping Beauty. Convinced that her coma can’t last forever, Sam spends hours at her bedside, spilling his secrets to the unconscious girl.

But what the outwardly shy Sam could never guess, is that his Sleeping Beauty is actually aware. That she's secretly hanging on his every word, and falling head over heels in love with him. That even as Sam tries to save her, someone else might be trying to kill her.

WAKE FOR ME is a novel of New Adult / Adult romantic suspense, and the first installment of the Life or Death Series by Isobel Irons 

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