Here’s another Boroughs Author!
(BTW, don’t forget to check out Boroughs’ writing contest! Many of the Lunchbox Romances that have been featured STARTED in last year’s Boroughs Love @First Sight Writing Contest!)
Kellyann Zuzulo writes romance fiction about genies. She is the author of a new series, 101 Nights, as well as the novel The Genie Ignites, which is book one of The Zubis Chronicles from Boroughs Publishing Group. Book two, The Genie Smolders will be released in April 2013. Seven Souls A Leaping, an anthology to which she contributed the story Star Light, Blood Bright was selected by Joyfully Reviewed as one of the best of 2011. Kellyann is a member of the Romance Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Backspace Writers Group, and a regular contributor to The Pop Culture Divas blog. A former journalist, Kellyann lives on the East Coast with her husband, three children, and two terriers, Djin-Djin and Dixie.
Here are a few questions I asked her:
Me: What inspired 101 NIGHTS? Why genies?
Kellyann: I came up with the idea of 101 Nights because I realized I’d been writing romances where my jinni protagonists are males. While that has been quite, eh, a stimulating exercise, I wanted to give equal time to the female perspective. I’d been a huge fan of I Dream of Jeannie since I was young. And although Barbara Eden as Jeannie was highly entertaining, I did find her complete deference to Major Tony Nelson to be a little irritating. I thought it would be a lot of fun to create a jinni character who was a bit more intense and independent but just as committed to the human she’s paired with. The premise in 101 Nights creates scenarios where sometimes it’s hard for Amani Zarin—the genie—not to be totally resentful of Jason Masters—the human—and of her predicament. It heightens the tension. Because, ultimately, they are wildly attracted to one another. However, their individual motivations make it hard to be totally honest about how they feel.
And I write about genies because the theories around them fascinate me. I feel that Western fiction mostly trivializes the possibility of their existence. It’s much more dramatic to imagine that they are real and more like us than we’d like to believe.
Me: What is a “Romantisode”?
Kellyann: Well, according to the Urban Dictionary, it’s a combination of the words romance and episode to create a word that was invented by a Dr. Charles Austin Miller. And I think that a fellow author at Boroughs Publishing Group resurrected the term. The idea is to offer readers a series of novella-type installments that ultimately complete a full novel. Very similar to the serialized stories, or serials, that were popular in the middle of the last century. I love the idea because it’s how I like to read stories…it’s sort of like watching your favorite soap opera, like a Downton Abbey, where you get a full array of drama and some resolution, but it keeps you hanging on for the next episode.
Me: What is your typical day like?
Kellyann: I get up around 5 to write, before the kids get up. There’s the morning rush getting my two elementary-school and one middle-school darlings off on the magic carpet then it’s a full workday at the desk. I usually have several projects going, either fiction writing or freelance editing. I have to remember to get up and stretch every hour or so. If I’m on deadline, the day can be very long.
Me: What’s your next project?
Kellyann: Writing the next installments in the 101 Nights series. I will be delivering a Romantisode a month for a total of five months. One down, four to go. Alongside that, I’ve begun the third book in The Zubis Chronicles. Book One was The Genie Ignites. Book two, which releases in April is The Genie Smolders. Book three will be The Genie Flares. I think the final book should be The Genie Retires.
Me: Quick! You’re sucked into a genie’s lamp and won’t be released for 500 years, what ONE item do you take with you?
Kellyann: My laptop. I only hope I can get a WiFi hookup so I can email more stories…though I think the genie (and I’m hoping it’s Zubis) could help with the electrical connections.
Me: Would you prefer to be a genie or a mortal? (Or a priestess?)
Kellyann: I think I’d rather be a genie. They live a lot longer than humans. They can shift their molecules at will and so move from one place to the other. (I’d like to visit Italy again, and then Egypt.) They’re very physically fit without having to work out….something to do with gravity’s effect on their metabolism. All in all, a good deal.
Me: What is your most embarrassing moment?
Kellyann: Hmmm. Embarrassment typically is a social situation gone wrong. I’d have to say it was when several friends shared the news that the guy I had been dating—I thought exclusively—was engaged to someone else. It was in Vanity Fair magazine, of all places. I probably should have been really angry. That came later. Initially, I was mortified. Ah, love. Some of my fictional villains have bits of that fellow in them. And they all come to an incendiary end.
Me: What is your favorite dessert?
Kellyann: Hands down, chocolate-covered strawberries. Has to be good milk chocolate and giant strawberries. Size does matter.
Me: Do you have any pets?
Kellyann: We have two terriers. My loyal guard dog, all nine pounds of him, is an Australian Silky terrier, named Djin-Djin, which, incidentally, is also the name of Jeannie’s dog in I Dream of Jeannie. Our other terrier, which is more loyal to my kids, is a Yorkshire Terrier named Dixie.
Me: What is the best birthday gift you ever received?
Kellyann: A pair of red enamel chopsticks, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They came in a custom bamboo box with my name on it and engrave with Artist in Residence. There are also Chinese characters meaning “success.” The box is always on my desk…unless I’m eating sushi. My husband gave them to me a couple of years ago. He’s a keeper.
Me: Tell us about one of your past jobs.
Kellyann: My second job out of college, where I majored in journalism, was as a managing editor of publications for a company in Washington, DC, that produced publications for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. I was responsible for putting together a monthly newsletter called Saudi Arabia and a quarterly magazine called, guess what, Saudi Arabia. That job is primarily the root of my genie fascination.
When genie ambassador Amani Zarin reluctantly agrees to work with human scientist Jason Masters to save her homeland, she never factored in the force of magnetic attraction…or the heart. The heat they generate could start a fire that will either bind them forever or incinerate their neighborhood and possibly their respective worlds.
Against a backdrop of conniving board members, hostile genies, and nosey suburban neighbors, Amani and Jason must navigate their loyalties and their own stubborn hearts to achieve wedded bliss…at least for 101 Nights.
Thank you, Kellyann!
Also, CONGRATULATIONS are in order!
Kellyann’s The Genie Ignites is a finalist in the Abalone Awards, which recognizes achievement in romance writing that has multicultural or interracial relationships.
And don’t forget to visit Boroughs’ website for more Lunchbox romances, novels, novellas, and romantisodes.