Saturday, August 22, 2009

Interview with Beth Fantaskey

Today I am pleased to introduce author Beth Fantaskey to Fictionistas and our readers. I fell in love with Beth's novel, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Darkside. Beth is a 43 year old married, mother of two, who lives in the small town of Lewisburg, PA. She says she "must be the longest-running Ph.D. candidate in Penn State University history." She uses her real maiden name-- Fantaskey-- to write.

This month she has featured an absolutely delightful "wedding party" on her website. Writers take note-- this may be the cutest promotional thanks to readers EVER. You can get to know Beth at her home page, and follow her on twitter, too!

Jessica's Guide is a wonderful concept. Where did the idea come from?

Thank you!
My children are both adopted, and we often wonder what their birth parents were like. What if they were different somehow? I took that to the extreme by imagining Jess's parents not only as vampires, but vampire royalty. The rest flowed from there...

You recently included a free, fun, interactive reward for fans on your website ( What prompted that decision?

So many readers have asked for a sequel, but for the past year I've been absorbed in writing my second book, Jekel Loves Hyde. I've only started to seriously consider a sequel now. So in the meantime, I wanted to thank everybody who's asked to read more about Jess and Lucius by writing some original, free chapters that would help satisfy their curiosity about what happens next. (Hint: Romance!)
When I had the idea to make the event interactive, I was so excited that I could hardly wait to announce it. All summer long, I've been planning and trying to keep it a secret. And the response has been amazing!

Basically, I am a very, very grateful author. I never anticipated how many people would be nice enough to contact me with their thoughts on the book. Some of the readers have become genuine friends. It's important to me to let everybody know how much I appreciate all the support. Without readers - what's a writer, really?

What are some of your biggest influences?

Some of my major influences are right there in my own books. Jessica's Guide has a little nod to Melville and Bronte, for example, and Jekel Loves Hyde draws from the old Stevenson novel. I am also a big fan of Dickens, Austen and Dumas... all the classic writers. (Not that I think I'm anywhere in their league!! I don't mean to suggest that!)

What have you been reading recently?

This will sound strange, but I rarely read fiction. I am trying to finish my doctoral dissertation in mass communication history, so when I read, it's usually old books about female reporters. And I'm about to sit down with "The Art of Public Speaking" to prepare for a class I'm teaching this fall. Not exactly stuff most people are going to rush out and buy for fun, but I have no choice!

You say you love to travel but hate to fly. How do your reconcile your passion and fear?

I remind myself that I only get to live once, and that I'd rather die in a plane crash than miss the opportunity to see the world. Especially since my logical self knows how seldom planes really crash. Still, I'm a nightmare to fly with. I went to Italy with a friend a few years ago, and I clutched her leg so hard that she got bruises that lasted for days. Needless to say, she's never traveled with me again.

You're a mom of two and a writer, too. How do you find time to write while juggling life as a mother?

My children will both be in school this fall, so I am going to have a big window to work soon. However, in the past, it's been a juggling act. I definitely get lots of support from my husband, who is a college professor with a flexible schedule. We basically take turns working and watching the kids.

What's next for you? More vampires or something completely new?

Hmmm... that's still under wraps. Maybe a little of both!

Fictionistas have a few standard, nosy-questions we always like to ask for fun.

What five items are ALWAYS in your purse?

Wallet, make-up, inevitably-dried-up "wet wipe," crumpled tissue of mysterious origin, and this weird "aromatherapy inhaler" that emits a great smell when you open the cap. (Came in handy when one of the kids threw up in the car.)

What music have you been listening to lately?

I usually listen to our local college radio station or Pandora while I work, so I've been hearing everything from Sugarcult to Johnathan Coulton. It's always something new.

Worst High School memory?

The classic Prom Nightmare. Never go with a guy you used to date, just to go. It's a recipe for an awkward, awful time. My hand-me-down dress was ugly, too. I would have had more fun at home watching TV - or going alone... in a nicer dress!

If you could go back in time and say ANYTHING to the high-school-you, what would it be?

I would tell me, "You will be shocked by how cool all these people turn out to be. Someday, they will track you down on Facebook, and it will be like the cliques never existed, because you'll all grow up to be decent people just trying to raise your own kids to be the same."


  1. What is it with that dried out wet wipe? Is that standard issue in all purses? lol

  2. I read the book excerpt on your website and I'm hooked! Can't wait to read the whole story.
    Your Facebook comment above is so true. My seventeen year old self would have recoiled at some of the members of my 'Friends' list. It's been quite cathartic becoming reacquainted with those folks.

  3. I absolutely LOVE that last answer. Too true. I can't count the number of "townies" who acted like I as toxic in high school, but cross s huge parking lot to say "hey" now.

    Thanks again, Beth!!

  4. Thanks for visiting! Great interview and where can I find one of those aromatherapy thingies?

  5. Amanda Brice2:21 PM

    Thanks for visiting, Beth! Great answers.

  6. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Great interview. A woman who hates to fly and loves Austen is right up my alley! Where have you been hiding her? Amazon, here I come!

  7. Beth sounds great! I'm so intent on reading her book x)

    pssst: a teensy surprise for you in my post :)

  8. here's the link:

  9. Okay, I had to check in with the "fictionistas," and I want to thank everybody for the nice comments... although I bought my "stress relief" aromatherapy inhaler years ago (as part of an ironically very stressful magazine story on how to relieve stress!) you can still get them at (And it still smells amazing, even YEARS later!)

  10. YAY, what a great interview!!! Thanks for visiting us. :D