Trinity Faegen is the YA author of the Mephisto series. She also has written several adult books under her pen name Stephanie Faegan! All of her books feature kick-butt heroines and dashing males. I think we’re in love here. This interview is amazing. It may seem long but it’s filled with gold. I think we’d read anything Trinity ever decided to write, even if it was a manual on how to grow soy beans!!!
Can you tell us a little about your work and what motivates you to write?
I was always a hardcore reader, and got the bug to write in high school. When I was 16, I spent all of my babysitting money that was earmarked for college on a typewriter. I did go to college, albeit with less money, and my dad said I could be anything I wanted, as long as it was an accountant or an engineer. I picked accounting, which is okay because I make decent money and people think I’m smart. They never know I’m terrible at math. Or that I take breaks from tax returns to stare at the wall and dream about my current manuscript.
I graduated college, got married 5 minutes later, and had a baby 5 minutes after that, but never lost the dream of becoming published. While I worked full time and raised my babies, I wrote 11 manuscripts. Granted, it took me 10 years to do it, but still. The 11th was the one that sold. Silhouette (which is now Harlequin) had an imprint called Bombshell, and every book featured a kick-ass heroine. They were hoping the popularity of shows like Alias would translate into book sales. I wrote 3 books for Bombshell, all of them with a heroine named Pink Pearl who was a kick-ass CPA. I finally found a way to meld my left brain-right brain. The first won an RWA RITA for Best First Book which is still the highlight of my career. Unfortunately, sales weren’t enough to keep the line, so Bombshell was no more. And my career stalled out.
I made the jump to YA after my Bombshell editor, Natashya Wilson, told me I had a great voice for YA and I read eleventy million YAs and was all Eureka! YA rocks! I wrote The Mephisto Covenant and sent it to Tashya, who took it to committee, but they said no, it was ‘too adult’ for Harlequin Teen. We had others who offered, and decided on Egmont USA, who’ve been wonderful to work with. They declined my option book, however, so I’m now shopping for a new publisher for the third in the series. It may be that the new publisher will be MMI – Me, Myself, and I – but I’m hoping someone will take on the series because I suck at promo with a publisher – doing it on my own would be dodgy at best. I suppose some authors would walk away from the series, but I can’t do that. I have too much of my soul invested in these brothers to not tell their stories, even if I’m the only one who ever reads them.
I’ve also resurrected writing for the adult market. I sold a romantic suspense to Entangled that will be out in April. Or June. (It’s a long story.) Out of Control is a bit like the Bombshell line, with a kick-ass heroine. I loved writing this book!
As for motivation to write – it’s what makes me complete. I don’t know why. Maybe I should have had therapy because my dad was such an autocrat. Or maybe I was just born to make stuff up. I love the entire process, from dreaming up characters and storylines, to revising and editing.
Do you like to read/write hot make-out scenes or softer cuddling ones?
Lame Answer Alert: I like both, because it all depends on the story. I’ve read some smokin’ hot scenes that were too much Tab A/Slot B; so mechanical, I was flipping forward to get back to the story. I’ve read soft cuddly sweetie scenes that made me think of my grandmother, who wrote sappy poetry and listened to church on the radio. This isn’t something I want to think about when I’m reading a romancey scene. Grandma made me feel guilty because I have impure thoughts about my husband. And it’s not that she said anything to bring on the guilt-fest. Her mere existence lent itself to my feeling awkward. She’s passed on now, but she’ll always be my prudish grandma who had 10 kids without ever having sex her whole life. Amazing! If a scene in a book is too syrupy, I think of her and the book loses some of its appeal.
On the other hand, I’ve read soft cuddly scenes that were so hot, I perspired. And smexy scenes so filled with emotion, I teared up. It’s all in the execution.
As for writing lovey-dovey scenes, I find that the better I know the characters, the better able I am to write about physical contact, and whether it’s a hot make-out scene or a quieter huggy scene is organic to the story. If it’s not, if it feels forced (see above re: tab a), I back up and go a different direction. Also, I love this question!
When you’re writing what determines the age of your characters?
The story and the plot. In Out of Control, the heroine is a petroleum engineer who works for a wild well blowout company. She needed to have been briefly married, and have the experience to supervise killing a wild well fire. If she was 24, she’d be a child prodigy who graduated college at 16. Since she’s not a prodigy, because that would be a different story, she’s 31.
In the third Mephisto book, which is solidly New Adult, the heroine, Mariah, is a couple of weeks away from 19. She’s a survivor of child abuse, an orphan on her own in the world, and I needed her to be focused on a solid goal for her future. Like a lot of almost-19-year-olds, she’s looking ahead, hoping to make a happy life for herself, making plans for university and saving every penny toward that end. (She would never blow her cash on a typewriter. Just sayin’.) All goes awry when she’s discovered by the Mephisto, and she has to abandon her hopes and dreams, which I hope bums out the reader. If she had no plans, nothing to look forward to, there’d be an “Oh, well, I got nothin’, so I might as well hang with these guys” thing going on.
Writing a story is all about taking away everything important to the main character, then making them realize that life is what happens while you’re planning it. We adapt and move ahead and maybe things aren’t how we planned them, but having an open mind and being chill to bumps in the road makes for a happier life. Mariah planned to remain single and be a doctor and save little children who are abused. Instead, she’s hanging out with a son of Hell who kills people for a living. If she was 25 or older, she’d be less able to adapt – at least, for story purposes. She also might have worked through the trauma of her childhood, and I needed her to still be avoiding thinking about it, much less dealing with it. Equally important, Phoenix is eternally 18. Mariah much older would change the tone of the story.
I think age is a huge factor in writing a book; from physical appearance, to mindset, to language, clothing choices, views on sexuality. Because we grow and change so much in our lives.
What is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?
I’m not a jewelry person. I typically wear silver earrings, my wedding ring, a watch, and I’m good to go. In December 2010, I had a mastectomy, and at Christmas, I was still bandaged and loopy from pain meds. My husband had asked my daughters if they thought I’d like a diamond necklace for Christmas and they emphatically said, No! But he was determined, so he had a jeweler make a necklace for me with mostly white diamonds, and one pink diamond – because of breast cancer, and because of Pink Pearl in my books. The girls were worried I’d open it and say, What the –? Diamonds? They were so wrong. I sat there and cried and cried. It meant so much because it was his way of saying, I’m here for you, no matter what comes. We still didn’t know at that point what would be my prognosis. I wear it every day, even when it doesn’t show.
How do you write? Do you use outlines or are you a pantser?
Pantser all the way. I always know how it will end, but have no idea how I’ll get there until I start writing. If I outline, I’ve told the story and I grow bored with it and abandon the project. It’s the not knowing what will happen next that keeps me up until the wee hours and spurs me on to the end.
If you looked at your ipod (any music device) what would be playing?
Classic rock, mostly – I’m an old lady, you know. Ha! I love Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the Beatles. Right now, Bon Jovi is singing It’s My Life, and next up is Snow Patrol. I like Matt Nathanson and Carolina Liar and the Counting Crows and Coldplay and Adele and Pearl Jam and Kings of Leon and Stevie Ray Vaughn and the list goes on forever. I like a lot of music. Can’t write without it. I’m not a big fan of pop music, rap or hip-hop, and country doesn’t generally work for me, with a few exceptions. I love piano and electric guitars at volume 10. I’m sure I’ll be deaf before I’m really old – but too-loud headphones are a vice I can’t quit.
What is your perfect man like, in your head or real life?
In my head, he’s tall, because I’m kind of tall, at least with heels. He’s hot and built. He’s well off by his own smarts – no trust fund baby for me. He’s very smart, almost nerdy smart. He loves dogs AND cats. He isn’t a hunter, but likes to deep sea fish and drive fast cars and listen to killer music. He takes care of things I don’t like doing, like insurance and getting a new roof and the yard. He surprises me and buys me a new car for Christmas, and takes me on lovely trips. He’s gaga for his children and takes his share of the work in raising them. He sends his mother flowers on her birthday and frets about his dad’s health. He likes chick flicks as much as he enjoys Rambo movies. He believes women are equals in the workplace and supports my feminist ideals – and if he doesn’t, he never lets on because he knows it’s my passion. He believes in God and lives a life of integrity. He likes my cooking and says so. He thinks I’m beautiful, even when I say he needs glasses. He doesn’t mind that I’m scarred like a war vet from cancer surgery. He’s my best friend.
In real life, except for the tall thing and the deep sea fishing, this is my husband. He’s not quite the fit hottie he was back in the day, but then, I’m a little road worn myself. He’s still the one I adore, in my head and in real life. (Oh, hell, that was sappy, wasn’t it? Now I’m channeling Grandma. Damn!)
Can’t get enough?
Yeah us either!!!