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Jennifer Estep

By night, Jennifer Estep is an author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next super idea. Her Bigtime books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and lots of smart, sassy gals looking for love.

By day, Jennifer is an award-winning features page designer for a daily newspaper. She's also a certifiable fangirl and an authority on fantasy literature and culture. Jennifer is a member of Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and several other writing groups.

Karma Girl is her first book. It will be published May 1 by Berkley Books. The sequel, Hot Mama, will be released Nov. 6. The third Bigtime book, Jinx, is set for an April 2008 release.

KARMA GIRL

Someone has to pay for what happened to Carmen Cole ...

Bigtime, New York is not big enough for both Carmen Cole and the superheroes and ubervillains who walk its streets. An intrepid reporter, Carmen's dedicated her life to unmasking the spandex wearers, all because her fiancé turned out to be a superhero, and a cheating one at that—sleeping with none other than his nubile nemesis.

Exposing the true identities of the nation's caped crusaders and their archenemies has catapulted Carmen from her sleep southern hometown to the front pages of one of the country's biggest newspapers, The Exposé. Hobnobbing with modelizing millionaires and famished fashionistas is all in a day's work for the woman hot on the trail of the Fearless Five and Terrible Triad. But when Carmen gets the scoop of her career, her life comes crashing down around her. And even Bigtime's sexiest superhero, Striker, may not be able to save her ...

Beyond The Book - Jennifer Estep on KARMA GIRL

Lee : Hi Jennifer, Congratulations on your debut release! Please tell us something about your background. When did you actively start pursuing the dream of becoming an author?

Jennifer: Thanks, Lee! Here are some tidbits about me. Iím a Southern gal through and through Ė sassy, sarcastic, and slightly crazy. Iím a total Jimmy Buffett fan and a James Bond junkie. Some of my favorite things are gray, rainy days, libraries, and, of course, chocolate.

I wrote my very first book back in 1999. Like most first-time authors, I wrote a really long, really clichť, really bad fantasy book. But I also got hooked on writing, and kept going. Along the way, I penned several more books, joined writersí groups like RWA, and kept getting better at writing, editing, and revising.

Lee : This must be a very exciting time for you. Could you share your Call story with us? Where were you and what were you doing when you got the news that you'd sold? Who was the first person you told?

Jennifer : Itís been a wonderful time for me. People say your first book is always special, and it has been for me. My friends, family, the fans, other authors, the publishing folks Ė everyone has been so wonderful. Iíve been truly blessed.

I was at my newspaper day job when I got the Call. I was sitting at my desk, staring at the food pages I was laying out when the phone rang. My agent had been hinting that we might get an offer on KARMA GIRl, and Iíd been expecting the Call for about a week. I jumped every time the phone rang and was always disappointed when it wasnít my agent. But this time I knew Ė I just knew Ė it was her. And it was!

When I hung up with my agent, I called my mom and told her, then my significant other. I didnít really have to tell people, though. They knew something was up from the ear-to-ear grin on my face. LOL.

Lee : Paranormal romances usually revolve around vampires, werewolves, demons and so on but you've taken a less traveled route by writing about Superheroes. That in itself was enough to grab my attention. What made you decide to write about Superheroes?

Jennifer : Iíve always loved superhero stories, books, TV shows, movies, etc. I grew up watching the WONDER WOMAN show with Lynda Carter and the old BATMAN show with Adam West. The idea of having powers and using them to do good really resonates with me.

But I always wanted to change the stories. Add my own strong, sassy, female characters to the mix. Have them save the day and be all-powerful and throw off cheeky one-liners, instead of letting Batman have all the fun. Then, one day it hit me Ė I could write my own comic book story. With my own mythology. And my own characters. With that idea, KARMA GIRL and the zany world of Bigtime, New York was born.

Actually, I was a little concerned that KARMA GIRL wouldnít sell because it wasnít about vampires or witches or werewolves. But, luckily, I found an agent and editor who loved my voice and loved the idea of sexy superheroes. KARMA GIRL is different from other paranormal romances out there, but I think thatís what makes it special. I hope readers will agree.

Lee : Please tell us about KARMA GIRL.

Jennifer : KARMA GIRL is about Carmen Cole, an investigative reporter who discovers that her fiancť is cheating on her with her best friend Ė on their wedding day. As if that wasnít bad enough, Carmen also discovers that the two are her townís resident superhero and ubervillain. Needless to say, sheís a little upset.

Carmen exposes the pairís secret identities in her hometown newspaper, but she doesnít stop there. She goes from town to town, newspaper to newspaper, exposing heroes and villains, until she gets to Bigtime, New York Ė and gets into some bigtime trouble. Lucky for Carmen, a sexy superhero named Striker takes an interest in her. And the feeling is definitely mutual.

Overall, Iíd say that KARMA GIRL is just a fun, sexy, fantasy read.

Lee : What sort of research, if any, did you do for this book?

Jennifer : I used my background in journalism as a jumping off point for Carmen. I thought about how Carmen would go about exposing secret identities Ė and how it might get her in trouble. Once I had the framework for the story in place, I went from there.

Also, over the years, Iíve read and watched lots and lots of fantasy and comic books, movies, cartoons, TV shows, etc. (too many to count really!). You could call me an expert in fantasy culture Ė or just a total, geeky fangirl. LOL.

Either way, I had a solid foundation to build on when it came time to write the book. I knew exactly which fantasy and comic book conventions I wanted to spoof and how I wanted to make them my own.

One thing I love about writing paranormal is that you create your own world, instead of having to research someone elseís (for example, like how the FBI really handles cases). It was a lot of fun to create my own comic book world, complete with zany characters and a larger-than-life city.

Lee : I understand you're a features page designer for a daily newspaper in your normal day job. Has the release of KARMA GIRL changed your life much as far as the job goes?

Jennifer : Not really. I still have my day job. Folks at work ask me how the book is doing, and some of them have bought and read it. Other than that, itís pretty much business as usual. On the bright side, Iím not the first person at my newspaper to write a book, although Iím the first person to be published in fiction. But the other book guys have been really great about sharing advice on things like book signings, people to contact, etc. Thatís definitely helped me.

Lee : When do you find the time to write? Do you have a set schedule to work on your next book or do you tend to just grab time to write as and when you can fit it in?

Jennifer : I write after work, on the weekends, and whenever else I can find time. I donít have a set schedule, but I do have a system. When I start my first rough draft, I try to write about 3,000 to 4,000 words a day. This way, I can get the draft done in about two weeks and see if the story is going to work or not.

Then, I put the draft aside for a few weeks, before starting revisions and editing. I usually do this about four times before Iím satisfied something is as good as I can make it. I also switch back and forth between books. For example, while Iím waiting for my rough draft to cool off, Iíll work on revisions for another book. When Iím done with that, Iíll go back to the rough draft, etc.

Even if Iím not working on revisions or a rough draft, Iím blogging, creating my newsletter, answering e-mails, etc. So really, Iím working on something all the time.

Lee : What hobbies do you enjoy besides reading?

Jennifer : I love spending time with my friends and family. Shopping. Watching my favorite TV shows and movies. (Iím really digging ďHeroesĒ right now).

Also, on the weekends, I get together with my significant other and friends, and we play Dungeons & Dragons or some other role-playing fantasy game. Thatís a lot of fun, and lets me bring out my inner geek! LOL.

Lee : Based on everything you know today about the publishing industry and making it as an author, is there anything you'd do differently if you had to do it all over again?

Jennifer : I would have started writing when I was five years old! LOL. Seriously, getting published is a long, hard road for many folks. It took me about eight years and seven books before I sold KARMA GIRL. Sometimes, I wonder if Iíd started writing in high school, if maybe I would have had a couple of books out by now, instead of just my debut.

I would have also joined a writersí group like RWA right off the bat and started educating myself sooner about how to write a query letter, how to pitch to agents, etc. The more you know, the better your chances are of getting published, and the sooner it will happen for you. At least, thatís my theory.

Lee : What are you working on at the moment?

Jennifer : Iím finishing up the third Bigtime book, titled JINX. Itís about Bella Bulluci, a fashion designer whose luck superpower is more of a curse than a blessing Ė especially when it comes to her love life. Iíve also started working on the fourth Bigtime book, tentatively titled NIGHTINGALE.

Iím also working on a paranormal spy book with a chick-lit tone. Itís called LIVE & LET SPY and is about the worldís worst Druid whoís forced to become a spy. Like the Bigtime books, itís a fun, zany adventure and will probably be the first in a series of books.

Lee : What can readers expect from you next?

Jennifer : Next up is my second book, HOT MAMA. Itís the second book in the Bigtime series. HOT MAMA focuses on Fiera, a superhot superhero who can melt steel with her bare hands Ė and hopes to do the same to one manís heart. HOT MAMA will be out in November.

Iím also doing several book signings, blogs, and more in the coming months. Iím really looking forward to attending RWA in Dallas in July to hopefully connect with readers. You can check my Web site, www.jenniferestep.com, for my appearances schedule.

Lee : How may fans contact you?

Jennifer : Well, since KARMA GIRL is my first book, Iím not quite as famous as Nora Roberts Ė yet. But thatís definitely in my plan of world domination. LOL.

Iíve gotten several lovely e-mails from readers who have read and enjoyed KARMA GIRL. People have also commented on my blog about how much theyíve liked the book. Those really make my day. I save each and every fan e-mail I get.

And I admit that Iíve Googled myself a time or two to see what people are saying on message boards. Everything Iíve read so far has been really positive.

I also do a lot of guest blogs for various romance sites and connect with folks that way too. And Iíve gotten a lot of good response to my newsletter. It comes out about once every six weeks and features my latest news, plus recipes, contests, and reading recommendations. (You can subscribe to the newsletter by going to http://www.jenniferestep.com and filling out the sign-up form. All you need is an e-mail and username.)

Lee : Jennifer, thanks so much for your time.

Jennifer : Thank you for having me, Lee. Happy reading, everyone! And for all you writers out there, remember this quote from GALAXY QUEST Ė Never give up, never surrender!