Tuesday, December 9, 2008
On TEASER, the murder mystery
JRW: We can't resist. We want to interview our own Jan! (Here's a special photo of her.)
Teaser is out officially--today! (And here's the cover!) Congratulations. It's so scary, and such a cautionary tale. Just tell us a bit about it.
JAN: Thanks Hank! Teaser is about social networking going horribly wrong. Hallie (the fictional Hallie, my main character. Not our Hallie.) comes across a provocative video clip when she's trolling a chatroom and realizes the young teens are local. She convinces her editors that she's got a great story, a story parents need to hear. Her investigation leads her to some very dark places, and when girls start dying, it becomes a personal crusade -- especially when she loses the newspaper's support.
JRW: How did you decide to write about teenagers on-line?
JAN: Well first of all, I was a difficult teenager who did a lot of stupid things. I actually used to hitch hike just to meet guys and had to bolt from the car more than once. So I feel like I relate to teenagers and understand how easily it is for them to lie and to ignore their parent's warnings. In raising my own teenagers, I began to view the Internet as a sewer pipe, something that could pump really bad stuff into my own home.
JRW: Your four-star review from Romantic Times said TEASER could be ripped from the headlines...is it based on reality?
JAN: It was definitely inspired by two headlines. The first was in Rhode Island, when two young teenage girls posted naked pictures of themselves on MySpace. The attorney general's office did not consider this a teenage whim. These girls were prosecuted for child pornography. Also the Justin Berry series in The New York Times alerted me to how kids could get in really big trouble with a webcam.
JRW: As a parent....does it give you chills? What do you think parents don't know?
JAN: Although I know the Internet is incredibly useful, much of its traffic and revenues are driven by pornography and I think parents should understand that. There is an overwhelming U.S. demand for pornography that contributes to the internationl sex slave trade. And I think exposure all our kids are getting to pornography is changing the culture.
I think parents don't know how vulnerable teenagers are, especially around 13 and 14 years old. Or how lonely for attention or acceptance they can be.
And it was an eye opener for me to learn how adept and patient sexual predators can be at grooming kids on line. They take very small steps, the process is so incremental, it can seem non-threatening to a kid. I really don't think parents should allow teens, especially young teens, laptops behind closed doors.
JRW: This is the third Hallie Ahern mystery--was this one different to write?
JAN: It was a little different in that the teenage characters came easily to me. I didn't fuss quite as much with this book. The odd thing was I didn't think I dwelled as much on Hallie's gambling addiction in this book, but every reviewer seemed to note it more here than in earlier titles.
JRW: Your video is so...edgy. Here's the link, for anyone who hasn't seen it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJNye1b1FIM
What did you think when you met the "real" Hallie? And the "real" girls?
And hmmm....didn't we see a secret actress in one scene?
JAN: It was such a thrill to have my characters come to life. I walked around in a cloud for days afterward. And I felt strangely maternal about the actresses. I was oddly proud that Hallie was so pretty -- as if she were my daughter. They were so much my characters that I had the hardest time calling them by their real names. Jaime, Gillian and Alma. They were all terrific actresses. And about that secret actress -- I have no idea where she came from!
JRW: And now-- The BIG LIE! Tell us four things about yourself--only three can be true! And we'll try to guess which one is a lie...
JAN: Wow, I FINALLY get to play the Jungle Red game!! And you know what?? it's a lot harder than I'd imagined.
I tapped dance before an audience on stage when I was nine-months pregnant
George Harrison was my favorite Beatle
My great, great, great grandfather was a guard in the Tower of England
I'm part Native American