Tuesday, May 04, 2010

SPOTTED: Beth Fantaskey + Jekel Loves Hyde

Hi guys! Another interview. I didn't realize that I've interviewed lots of early May authors!
Today, I have Beth Fantaskey, the author of Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side and Jekel Loves Hyde.

What inspired you to write Jekel Loves Hyde?

I honestly don’t know where the inspiration came from. There was just a moment when the title popped into my head, and I was intrigued by the sound of it, so I started developing this story about a very shy teenager who is raised to believe that a distant relative inspired the old Jekyll-and-Hyde monster story. The rest just grew from there.

What is your purpose in writing Jekel Loves Hyde?

I really just wanted to tell a fun, mysterious, dark story about a girl and guy whose lives are dramatically influenced by an old horror novel. A story that gets more intense and romantic as it goes along... That’s the main purpose – just to entertain!

What lessons will the readers pick up from your novel?

That’s an interesting question, because I didn’t set out to include a lesson in my first novel, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. However, a lot of readers thank me for writing about a heroine who is size ten, instead of size two, and who learns to embrace that aspect of herself. Along those same lines, I didn’t intend to put any lessons in Jekel Loves Hyde – but I hope some readers who are shy (like me) are happy that a very quiet girl rises to be a hero. By the end of the book, Jill Jekel “owns her power,” to borrow a phrase one reader used.

What is Jill and Tristen's relationship like?

They each have something the other needs. Tristen has a “bad” side and needs Jill’s moral force to keep him on track. Jill is too good, at the beginning of the book, and needs Tristen to help her learn that sometimes you have to break a few rules. Beyond that, they think they’re running out of time to be with each other, so there’s an intensity based on that time limit.

Favorites in Jekel Loves Hyde:

Favorite scene?

When Jill insists on tending to an injured Tristen, and he realizes that she’s gaining power in a relationship that he always thought he dominated. I like to see girls take charge!

Favorite line?

It feels strange to pick a favorite line from something I wrote, but I’ll choose the quote in which Jill says:

“And Tristen, always a gentleman when not wielding a butcher knife, held open the door for me with his bloodstained hands.”

Favorite character expression?

It’s not so much an expression as a motion. Jill has a habit of absently tucking her hair behind her ears when she gets nervous – until one day, when she performs this same motion on purpose, with very evil intent.

I liked the idea of twisting that seemingly harmless action into something bad.

Was there a part of the novel that was hard to write?

The scene in which Tristen first interacts with his dad, who may or may not be a complete monster. It was tricky to capture Tristen’s affection for – and complete distrust of – his aloof but charismatic and potentially dangerous father. I bet I wrote that chapter twenty times.

Did you include any personal experiences in the novel? Or was there a part of the novel that was inspired from your personal experience?

There aren’t really any specific personal experiences in the book, but I did feel a very strong connection to Jill’s shy nature, especially when she can barely bring herself to talk to Tristen. I remember being in high school and getting nervous every time a certain guy came into the computer science lab. And on the rare occasions he talked to me, I was a wreck! (No, I’ll NEVER give his name out. Not even all these years later!)

How does your mood affect your writing?

Writing definitely comes easier when I’m in a good mood – or maybe it’s a “chicken-egg” thing, because I also get in a better mood when writing is going well. It’s circular, I guess!

Is it important that you are in an ambience that you like when you write? If yes, why?

Since I work at home, usually alone, I like to listen to music while I write. Otherwise, the house seems too lonely. I also hate to be cold, so I crank up the heat in my office. It’s about eighty degrees in here right now. Beyond that, I don’t need too much, in terms of ambience. (Well, I like to have a Diet Coke on the desk, too, if that counts...)

Do you listen to music when you write? Do you have a specific song in mind?

Oops, I guess I answered that... I don’t have a specific song I like to hear, but I tend to listen to the local college radio station, WQSU. Right now, they’re playing some Cake, which is always a good thing!

Do you write continuously or do you take breaks?

I take lots of breaks. I set a goal, like writing a chapter, then reward myself for meeting it by calling a friend or getting a snack or playing a game on the computer for a few minutes. Then I feel ready to get back to work.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. It’s fun to return to that world of vampires and royalty and Lucius’s sarcastic letters...

What tips can you give to aspiring writers (like me)?

I still feel like a novice, myself, in terms of writing fiction, but if I were to give any advice to new writers, it would be to practice every day. I wrote for about 20 years, nine-to-five, as a journalist and in public relations before tackling a novel, and I learned something new every time I sat down at my keyboard. I definitely benefited from daily practice. It’s not exciting advice, but I believe it’s true.

What would you like to say to the people who have read Jekel Loves Hyde or have included your novel in their wishlists and/or to-be-read piles?

I would say thank you so much! A writer is not complete without readers, right??

Thank you for dropping by Beth!

Jekel Loves Hyde is out now!

Book Description:

Jill Jekel has always obeyed her parents’ rules – especially the one about never opening the mysterious, old box in her father’s office. But when her dad is murdered, and her college savings disappear, she's tempted to peek inside, as the contents might be key to a lucrative chemistry scholarship.

To better her odds, Jill enlists the help of gorgeous, brooding Tristen Hyde, who has his own dark secrets locked away. As the team of Jekel and Hyde, they recreate experiments based on the classic novel, hoping not only to win a prize, but to save Tristen’s sanity. Maybe his life. But Jill’s accidental taste of a formula unleashes her darkest nature and compels her to risk everything – even Tristen’s love – just for the thrill of being… bad.


  1. AAH so there IS going to be a sequel to Jessica's Guide to Dating n the Dark Side??! I kind of assumed that was the end of that, since it seemed to tie the story up okay, and since Beth had a post on her website about Jessica and Lucius's wedding, but a sequel will be fawesome :D

  2. I want to read this book all of a sudden.