Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
by Beth Fantaskey
Available Now!

"Just remember, girls: The young male vampire is a predator by nature. Some boys may look at you not only as a romantic interest, but as prey..."

Chapter 1, "On the Verge of Adult Vampiredom,"
in Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions

-Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn't fit into Jessica Packwood's senior year "get-a-life" plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he's her long-lost fiancé. Armed with new found confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius's soul from eternal destruction.

When these two meet they couldn't be more different than night and day. Sharing a heartbreakingly similar beginning their paths diverging when an angry mob interferes (as they tend to do when scared and foaming-at-the-mouth angry at things they do not understand). She's raised in a peaceful Gandhi-like vegan environment completely ignorant to who she really is, whereas He is raised with an iron fist to become a Vampire Warrior King. He's arrogant, officious (basically his cup runneth over with confidence), willing to do whatever it takes to fulfill his duty to his family. While she is both rooted in a black-and-white reality, completely rejecting all things fanciful and mystical, she is also conflicted and more than a little insecure.
Clashing, miscommunication, fear, and frustration crush both their efforts; Jessica to have a normal life, and Lucius to convince her join him in ruling a vampire kingdom at his side forever.

"New lovers are nervous and tender, yet smash everything,
for the heart is an organ of fire."

I've loved this quote from the English Patient for so long, and when I read this book it felt as if it could have been written with these two characters in mind. This story takes Jessica and Lucius through many changes allowing the reader to fully believe the twists and turns that carry them so very far from where they started. This book is a MUST read, I guarantee you will love it.

"I'll be looking at the moon,
but I'll be seeing you"
- The English Patient

IBT Talks with Beth Fantaskey

IBT: If you could choose one fictional character to bring into real life, who
would you choose?

BF: Without hesitation, I would choose Edmond Dantes, "the Count of Monte Cristo."

I didn't read the book until a few years ago, and as soon as I started it, I thought, "Why did I wait so long to meet this guy?" To me, Edmond is the ultimate hero - intelligent, funny, daring, passionate, handsome... and more than a little dark and dangerous. I'd love to spend a day with him.

IBT: How did you survive being a teen?

BF: I was really shy when I was younger, so my teenage years were definitely a challenge. I survived by surrounding myself with a few very, very close friends. We shared the same sense of humor, the same sort of viewpoint on life. I always knew that I could count on them and confide in them.

In my novel, I tried to recreate that dynamic with Jessica and her best friend, Mindy. Although their friendship is strained over the course of the book, ultimately - when it's do or die - they are there for one another. They aren't the most popular kids in school, but they take care of one another.

That's the kind of safety net I had as a teenager. To this day, I keep in touch with my three closest high-school friends, even though we're scattered far and wide. When things go wrong, they're still the first people I call.

IBT: Have you ever written something that you feel uncomfortable writing,
knowing that your family and friends will probably end up reading it?

BF: Because Jessica's Guide is ultimately about the passionate relationship between Jess and Lucius, I worried a little about what my family would think of the more intimate scenes. However, I was actually most concerned about the profanity in the book. I included it, though, because I felt like characters who are facing the situations that Jess and Lucius face wouldn't say, "Oh, shoot." If a guy like Lucius was poised to potentially destroy the love of his life, he'd curse. My mother did mention being a little taken aback, though!

IBT: What do you think are the biggest issues that teens need to be thinking
about today? Do you think teens today are looking for quality in the books
they read, or just to live vicariously through superficial characters?

BF: I think, more than ever, teens are engaged in the world to the same level as people in their 20s, 30s, etc. This past election, for example, was all about youth speaking out. In other words, teens are already thinking about the most important issues we face - from environmental protection to global human rights. I sometimes teach freshman-level college courses, and I'm consistently amazed by how involved 18- and 19-year olds are, socially and politically.

As for how this is reflected in what they choose to read, I think teens in general look for quality in books. Fiction does provide a degree of escape from the everyday world, but if you look at what's popular these days, a lot of it deals with moral choices and the repercussions of those choices. That, to me, is at the heart of quality fiction.

IBT: How have the books you've read inspired the books you've written, if at all?

BF: I would say that Dumas's books - The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers - gave me a love of heroes and drama. I'm also a big fan of Jane Austen, whose works definitely inspired my ideals for romance. In Austen's world, love is something that builds slowly in intensity, is life-long, and doesn't have to be the purview of the girl who just happens to be the prettiest, in a conventional sense. Other virtues can be admired and rewarded, too. On a more modern note, I love the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling definitely has the knack for making readers want to turn the next page. I really wanted Jessica's Guide to draw readers in that way.

IBT: What is the strangest thing you have ever gotten inspiration from? What
inspired you to write Jessica's guide to Dating?

BF: That first one's a tough question. It's hard to even know when inspiration really strikes. For me, at least, it's more of a building process that starts when I take something in my life and ask, "What if...?"

Jessica's Guide is a good example. Like Jessica, my children are adopted, and their birth parents are a complete mystery. So that was the germ of a question: "What if we discovered something shocking about their biological parents?"

That question, of course, became the premise of Jessica's Guide. "What if a very rational, 'average' girl learned that her birth parents were vampires - something completely inconceivable, even repulsive, to her? And what if they had promised her in marriage to someone whose existence she couldn't even comprehend? And what if she was, through that unwanted betrothal, destined for greatness in a world she didn't even believe was real?"

I think inspiration is a matter of looking at the things that surround you every day and asking that crucial question, "What if?" Then asking it again and again.

IBT: Many writers say parting with a character is hard. Do you ever look back
on a character and wish you had changed something about him or her?

BF: Parting with characters really is incredibly hard. You spend so much time with them, and they become so real to you, that it's like mourning when you're done writing. I've had that experience as a reader, too.

As for changing a character - I don't think I would alter Jess, Lucius, Mindy or even Faith. In particular, I like the way Jess and Lucius grow and change over the course of the story. I guess they're so real to me that I can't imagine them being different!

IBT: What is the one thing such as, sky diving or any other daring thing, that
you would love to do but you are too afraid?

BF: I'd love to go scuba diving, but I have a weird fear of really big fish. I have no idea where it comes from, but I even get edgy in big aquariums, when the sharks are swimming by the glass! I think it would be amazing to experience that completely different world, though, so maybe someday. I do sort of like conquering fears. I used to hate public speaking - so I started teaching, just to face it down.
Then again - there are no sharks in the classroom.

IBT: What do you do when you are faced with writer's block? What helps you get over it?

BF: Facing a blank page is always scary, so I've developed a ritual to help overcome it. Each day, when I sit down to write, I start by revising something from the previous day. I go back just a few paragraphs into the previous chapter, and that usually gets my creativity back on track. It's like dipping my toe into a cold pool before I jump in.

Of course, that doesn't help with completely new projects. With those, I just have to start typing, even if I'm not sure what I'm going to say. Putting words on paper is the only cure for me.

IBT: Paris is the one city I cannot die without first visiting. Do you have a
place you've yet to visit but cannot live without?

BF: One summer my husband worked in China, and we would spend weekends traveling around the country. At some point, we heard about this area called "Shennongjia," which sounded beautiful - almost mystical. There were legends about strange creatures - white animals, and something akin to a bigfoot - attached to the place. So we started asking people how we could get there, and our friends would always say, "No, it's too dangerous!" Or even just, "No, it's impossible to go there!"

Our desire to visit there really seemed to alarm everybody we talked to, so we eventually skipped the trip... But I always like to think of Shennongjia as this magical place that exists out there, waiting to be discovered.

IBT: Will Jessica and Lucius's story continue as a series? Would you ever write from Lucius's perspective?

BF: There are no definite plans for a sequel, although it's been discussed. My next book is called "Jekel Loves Hyde," and although it's a YA romance with paranormal elements, the cast of characters is completely new. I think anyone who likes Jessica's Guide will enjoy this book, though. I'll post an excerpt on my website, www.bethfantaskey.com, soon, so people can check out the new heroes, Jill and Tristen.

That said, I would love to write more from Lucius's perspective. That's definitely something I've considered, when I've thought about plotting a sequel. It's kind of up to readers now... editors and publishers will definitely listen to what they want!

IBT: Let's get them to make a sequel! Thanks Beth!


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Lauren said...

This book looks great. So, count me in. :)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

This does sound good. I heard about it recently and really want to read it. Great interview!


Erica V said...

I have a ARC of this book and it rocks I would love a official copy please sign me up.

Liviania said...

This sounds like a really cool book. I love author interviews - they offer a nice glimpse into a book's creation.

Liv (Alivia) said...

This looks like an amazing book. :)

Enter me, please.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I'm finally following! I don't know why it wouldn't let me before. :)


Book Spot said...

This book sounds great! And I like the idea of going over previous writing being like dipping your toe in a pool :)

Carol(ina) said...

Great interview! Her next book sounds very interesting!

traymona said...

Sounds like a great ook to get into.

katayoun said...

very nice interview, i'd love to be entered

Cyndi said...

I've heard a lot about this book and I would really love to win this! :D


Carol(ina) said...

I'd love to win this book!



Holly said...

I really want to read this! Please enter me! And a great interview!

Also, I'm going to follow. Love your blog!

Kate said...

Wonderful, this book looks interesting. I'm very interested in reading it (; I'd love a copy, hope i win the contest. I've read the Count of Monte Cristo before and I definitely agree, Edmond Dantes is a wonderful character.

Leslie said...

Great interview. This book sounds wonderful. Would love to read it.

Laura said...

This book looks like such a fun read! Please enter me!

donnas said...

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I also follow though Google Reader.

jocelyn said...

I've heard cool things about this book!

damnnoob said...

Yay I've been wanting to read this book. Please enter me!

Yan said...

I'd love to be entered! And I'll follow your blog as well :]

danie88 said...

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datwater88 @ hotmail.com

danie88 said...

I'm now a follower of your blog!

datwater88 @ hotmail.com

Darling Diva said...

This books sounds positively amazing and I would love to win it.

Thank you, for having this contest.

pssst....now I am a follower

Marie said...

oooo this book looks good.
i really wanna read it
hope i win!
and i love the interview im glad she answered all those questions
i wanna go scuba diving sometime now hehe

Donna said...

In one day I've found an awesome book and another awesome blog. I'd love to be entered into the contest and I'm definitely coming back to read more here!

cecilia said...

Count me in! I want to date vampires :)

cecilia // cecpham@gmail.com

Paradox said...

Oh my gosh! This book sounds so cool!!! It's got vampires, the whole separated at birth thing/unknown birth parents, romance, and saving the world! This sounds like the kind of book I would love to read!!!

ellie_enchanted said...

This sounds amazingly good. I'm hoping that the contest is international!

Meg said...

Ooh, this sounds good! I'd love to win this :)

Lost In Lit said...

I want to read this book, SO BADLY. It looks great. Please enter me :o)

Lost In Lit said...

Oops contest over! Haha.