Wednesday, February 14, 2007

TANTALIZE by Cynthia Leitich Smith




Award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith, writes fiction for everyone, from toddlers to teens. Her books include JINGLE DANCER (Morrow, 2000), RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME (HarperCollins, 2001), INDIAN SHOES (HarperCollins, 2002) and SANTA KNOWS co-authored with husband Greg Leitich Smith.

Her latest book, TANTALIZE (Candlewick, 2007), marks her debut into the world of young adult fiction. We are very honored and pleased to have her as our first guest at the Cafe.

~~~
Mary P: Tell us about Tantalize! What has you most excited about this story?

Cynthia: Tantalize is the story of Quincie P. Morris, 17, whose family owns an Italian restaurant in Austin, Texas. Just when the restaurant, Sanguini's, is about to relaunch with a vampire theme, her long-time chef is murdered and suspicions land on her hybrid werewolf best friend/first love. Meanwhile, Quincie's job is to "makeover" the dorky new hire chef--to bring him from blah to bite--in time to play a convincing "master vampire" for opening night. Before Quincie knows what's happening, though, real vampires swoop into the mix and clash with humans and shape-shifters as the question arises: who is predator, and who is prey? I'm most excited about the story itself, but I don't want to give too much of that away. Let's just say it's a genre bender, offering gothic fantasy, suspense, mystery, romance, and humor with a serving of blood-and-tongue sausages on the side. I'm pleased to have offered a strong, ambitious, female protagonist whose sensuality...unlike in so many horror stories...is what makes her human, not a monster. Beyond that, it's fun to share my gothic vision of near south and central Austin. My world is eclectic, and (also unlike most genre fiction) reflects the diversity of our real one. Peel back the scary romp, and there's depth there--thematic treatments of alcholism, feminism, race and class relations, all through analogy. But many YAs will just enjoy the marinara-baked chills, and that's just fine.

Mary P: What kind of research did you have to do?

Cynthia: I returned to the dark master, started with Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). It was a secondary character, Quincey P. Morris, a Texan among Van Helsing's vampire hunters who had first set me on this course. As an Austinite, I longed to "bring home" the mythology and update it for the 21rst century--especially when it came to gender (Victorians wrote their women as virginal or fiendish, which didn't work for me) and clashing cultures (Dracula as a metaphor for the "dark, evil foreigner," which also didn't fly). It was intriguing, though, how those "dated" prejudices persist in the modern world and addressing them in my supernatural one.That said, to write in a literary tradition, you must know it. There's a difference between being derivative and making a contribution to a long conversation of books. So, I not only studied Dracula, the novel, but also other fictional works (film and literary) it inspired and related scholarly criticism. I offer a sampling of books and DVDs I considered via a bibliography on my official site at:
But vampires aren't the only fantasy creatures in Tantalize. I also included a variety of shape-shifters, drawn largely from the Central Austin setting (though there's nothing to prevent, say, a wereantelope, from hopping a plane). Consequently, I spent quality time reading and watching videos of such diverse characters as wolves and turkey vultures. I also camped out for a few days taking notes at the Austin and Nature Center. Some of the resources I consulted are listed at yet another bibliography on my site at:
Then it was a matter of dealing with real Austin, juxtaposing and synthesizing the worlds. For the fiction restaurant, Sanguini's, I interviewed restaurant pros, dined at every Italian joint in town (such a burden), scoured cookbooks, and enlisted my cook-in-the-family husband's aid with the menu. Moreover, I put together outfits for my characters at local boutiques. I went "house shopping" for each one, confessing my agenda to real estate agents (all of whom thought it was cool) and left with floor plans. I even walked the Fairview, South Congress, Bouldin Creek, and Old Enfield neighborhoods with a camera. Imagine me at Jo's Coffee on main street Texas approaching a large tatoo-covered man in much leather and many chains: "Excuse me, sir, I'm a horror novelist, and I think you'd be a wonderful model for a vampire. Would you mind if I took your picture as a reference?" He was enthralled.
.
Mary P: What is your favorite line, passage, or chapter from this book? (I always have favorites in mine but no one ever asks!)
.
Cynthia: The story includes a minor character, Meara Morales, who'd been a dear friend of Quincie's late parents and is the werewolf mother of leading man Kieren. Meara left her pack long ago to marry her human husband and now works as a wedding planner. When Quincie goes to visit Kieren, early in the story, Meara sits her down in the living room for "a talk." She begins, "It's time a woman explained to you the facts of life." Quincie, believing this is going to be about sex, is temporarily mortified. Although Meara is the closest thing to a mom she has, the boy of Quincie's desire is of course Meara's own son. But then Meara qualifies that she's referring instead to Kieren's need to leave them both and join a Wolf pack, both for his safety and everyone else's. This, to Quincie who loves him so much, is even worse. It's just one example of moments where the natural and supernatural blur in a specifically adolescent context, one that speaks to the YA characters (and hopefully YA readers) on more than one level while also advancing the story.

MaryP: What are you working on now?

Cynthia: I'm currently polishing another YA gothic fantasy manuscript, this one tentatively titled Eternal, to send to my Candlewick editor at the end of the month. The book is under contract but not yet scheduled. It's set in the same universe as Tantalize; however, there isn't any crossover between the characters. That said, if my muse and the market cooperate, I'm hoping to do that in the next book that follows. In any case, though it's not structured as a lineal series, readers should consider Tantalize an introduction to the world and its ending on the Sanguini's dance floor a spawning ground for more story to come.

Mary P: And what a world you have created! It drew me in immediately! Thank you so much for answering my questions, Cynthia! But I don't want to hog the floor--I hope you will answer a few more questions from blog readers now . . .
~~~
~~Cafe Note~~ As a regular part of our interviews, featured authors will pop back in for one week after their interview is posted to answer any other questions blog readers may leave for them. So if you have any questions, fire away! Cynthia will answer as many as she possibly can. And feel free to send congrats and confetti her way too.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Cyn!

I'm waiting patiently for my copy of TANTALIZE to arrive.

Mar

Brent Hartinger said...

I'll be nice and not ask you what other, newer books in your genre you DON'T like, but I am curious about what you DO like, what you recommend.

diane davis said...

Congratulations Cyn!
Such a change from your younger work. I'm fascinated by it. Can't wait to hear more.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thanks, Mar and Diane! Most appreciated. Brent had asked about YA gothic fantasies I particularly enjoyed. My faves include: Annette Curtis Klause's Blood and Chocolate; Gary Soto's The Afterlife; Deborah Noyes' Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales; Tobin Anderson's Thirsty; and Holly Black's Valiant. Those on my to-read list include the upcoming Daemon Hall by Andrew Nance and Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer. I have a whole bibliography on gothic fantasy and related author interviews on my website.

Nancy said...

A question, Cyn: One of the most fascinating parts of the book was the menu for opening night at the restaurant. How on God's green earth did you come up with that? Particularly, uh, the predator's dessert....

-Nancy Werlin

crissachappell said...

Congrats!!!!!!

Lisa said...

Cyn, I'm counting the hours until the UPS guy brings me my copy of TANTALIZE.

One of the things that has impressed me as we've talked about this book and worked on your site is the depth of your research.

I know you mention where to find these sources, but in case people have any trouble with the link, here it is again:

http://tinyurl.com/2jh9l4

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thanks to Crissa, Lisa, and Nancy! Nancy asked about the development of the menu for Sanguini's, the fictional vampire-themed Italian restaurant in Tantalize. For the record, scrambled eggs is the most complicated dish I can make personally. I actually burned my microwave bacon this morning. So, I turned to my author-husband, Greg, for help. Together, we scoured 19th century recipes along the lines of Italian (interpreted liberally), Romanian, and deeply carnivore. You'd be surprised how prominent, say, rodent dishes were back when. In any case, with that as a base, then we got...imaginative.

Mary P said...

I just wanted to add, that you manage to bring "research" to the level of a whole new art. Any writer who can include shopping and eating out as work is my hero. I bow to the master. : )

SAH said...

Congrats, Cyn!

How long did Tantalize take to write? Did you have to revise much?

Melissa W. said...

Adding my congrats, Cyn.

Have you always been drawn to dark fantasy? Or was this something new you wanted to explore?

And who is your favorite film vampire?

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thanks, Mary! Researching Tantalize was one of my most spooky fun endeavors. I decided to really live in the world, and that helped me connect with the characters.

Hey, S.A.! I first started writing Tantalize in 2001, but for a long time it was just exercises--pictures of character "models" torn from magazines, letters from them to me, etc. While working on other books and especially short stories, I built up my skills and confidence. Eventually, I found myself there--fangs and fur. The fantasy had sucked me in.

In 2004, my agent sent a draft to editor Deborah Wayshak (Gothic!; The Restless Dead), and together we gutted out two major (and one minor) revisions.

I absolutely love to revise. It's letting the mss go that's hard. Or, when monsters are involved, their letting go of me.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Melissa asked if I'd always wanted to dive into dark fantasy or if it's new to me. I've long been a reader of the genre (including the classics), enjoyed the better made films (and some of the lousy ones, just for kitsch), and of course I bow before Whedonverse in awe. Basically, I've written the kind of book I most like to read.

As for my favorite film vampire, that's easy. Bela Lugosi is the king.

Little Willow said...

Congrats, Cynthia! I know you enjoyed BtVS as much as I did, so I must recommend the PROWLERS books to you. The quartet of novels by Christopher Golden deals with shapeshifters in a modern-day setting, with the world at large not knowing of their existence, and two siblings - aged 19 and 29 - discovering their threat. Absolutely stunning novels, action scenes and characters all wonderfully depicted.

Holly Black said...

Just wanted to pop in and say how much I loved TANATALIZE and what a relief it is to hear that there will be more books in that world. GUH, Kieren!

MarPerez said...

Cyn,

I'm glad you said Bela, because I'm STILL pouting about Tom Cruise being cast as the Vampire Lestat.

Mar

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Consider the Christopher Golden books on order! Thanks, Little Willow, for that recommendation! (Memo to self: interview Christopher Golden?) More thanks to Holly! That means a LOT, especially coming from a gothic fantasy goddess like yourself. And Marlene, honey, I'm right there with ya, though I did think Kirsten Dunst was rather remarkable.

Little Willow said...

Cynthia: If you'd like to interview Christopher Golden, feel free to email me, and I'll introduce the two of you, okay?

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thanks, Little Willow. Let's touch base once I get this next mss in the chute.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thanks so much to everyone at the YA Authors Cafe for this wonderful interview and opportunity for exchange. It's been a joy and an honor. Now, remember: eat, drink, and be scary!

Linda said...

Just got my copy of "Tantalize" today! It looks delicious. And, may I add, that I heard at a library workshop that werewolves are HOT. Can't wait to read it!

Linda J.

Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

Thanks, Linda J. It was important to me to humanize my shape-shifters. (My research seemed to suggest that big predators have taken a major environmental hit in part because they're our competition and so we've demonized them.) I was a little worried about my Wolf-man competing with the vampire chef, but right now fan mail is running in his favor by about 5 to 1.

Little Willow said...

Cynthia: Just saw your latest response. Sounds good!

free ps3 said...

Thanks for the nice post!

Anthea said...

Hello, I am librarian, and I´m from Spain. Only a question: your book, Tantalize, will be publicated in spanish language? If you said yes, when?

Thank you!!!

I want read this book!!!!

Kiss for you ;)

OnlinePharmacy said...

qxX26B Your blog is great. Articles is interesting!

phentermine at discount p said...

fa9EcC Nice Article.

distribution of audience in electronic meridia said...

l0mT2s Nice Article.

name said...

MbkhGM Good job!

adipex meridia phentermine xenical said...

gGtBlr Hello all!

coast gateway motel said...

Wonderful blog.

name said...

Good job!

bruce springsteen uk tour dates 2005 said...

Please write anything else!

delhi travel tour said...

Please write anything else!

insurance clerk said...

Nice Article.

ringtones said...

Hello all!

said...

Thanks to author.

cialis inpermalink,guid said...

2kxyJj Please write anything else!

download free ringtones i said...

Wonderful blog.

Tim said...

Good Job! :)

wholesale air jordan said...

Air Jordan Shoes, Nike Jordan Shoes, Nike Air Jordan Shoes,Jordan Whoesale.

Nike Shoes: Shoes like Air Jordan Shoes, Air Jordan, Nike Jordan Shoes, Nike Air Jordan Shoes, Jordan shoes, and many other Wholesael Nike Shoes are reviewed.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

When ever I surf on web I never forget to visit this website[url=http://www.weightrapidloss.com/lose-10-pounds-in-2-weeks-quick-weight-loss-tips].[/url]yaauthorscafe.blogspot.com is filled with quality info. Frankly speaking we really do not pay attention towards our health. Let me show you one truth. Recent Research indicates that almost 80% of all United States grownups are either chubby or overweight[url=http://www.weightrapidloss.com/lose-10-pounds-in-2-weeks-quick-weight-loss-tips].[/url] So if you're one of these people, you're not alone. In fact, most of us need to lose a few pounds once in a while to get sexy and perfect six pack abs. Now the question is how you are planning to have quick weight loss? You can easily lose with with little effort. Some improvement in of daily activity can help us in losing weight quickly.

About me: I am webmaster of [url=http://www.weightrapidloss.com/lose-10-pounds-in-2-weeks-quick-weight-loss-tips]Quick weight loss tips[/url]. I am also health expert who can help you lose weight quickly. If you do not want to go under hard training program than you may also try [url=http://www.weightrapidloss.com/acai-berry-for-quick-weight-loss]Acai Berry[/url] or [url=http://www.weightrapidloss.com/colon-cleanse-for-weight-loss]Colon Cleansing[/url] for fast weight loss.

cheap viagra said...

Hello people want to express my satisfaction with this blog very creative and I really like the views of the focus very good indeed Thank you for the helpful information. I hope you keep up the good work on making your blog a success!

tina said...

Gucci
Replica GUCCI SHOES
Replica GUCCI handbags
wholesale gucci shoes
cheap Gucci shoes
cheap Gucci handbags
discount gucci shoes
Gucci shop
Gucci bags
Gucci shoes
Gucci ON sale
Gucci Belts
Gucci small accessories
Gucci hats & scarves
Gucci wallets
Gucci Handbags
women Gucci shoes
Men Gucci shoes
Gucci
Replica GUCCI SHOES
Replica GUCCI handbags
wholesale gucci shoes
cheap Gucci shoes
cheap Gucci handbags
discount gucci shoes
Gucci shop
Gucci bags
Gucci shoes
Gucci ON sale
Gucci Belts
Gucci small accessories
Gucci hats & scarves
Gucci wallets
Gucci Handbags
women Gucci shoes
Men Gucci shoes

elizabeth bernot said...

Costa Rica Tours
Jaco Costa Rica Tours
Los Suenos Costa Rica Tours

cialis 20mg said...

Your blog is outrageous! I mean, Ive never been so entertained by anything in my life! Your vids are perfect for this. I mean, how did you manage to find something that matches your style of writing so well? Im really happy I started reading this today. Youve got a follower in me for sure!

Mobile Application said...

My friend recommended to this blog.... you have some awesome articles shear. keep it up the great work

android application | android web application