Hey Joanna! Amanda here, and I want to thank you for agreeing to an interview! I really enjoyed Reaper’s Property- as you can tell by my review. Can you tell us a little about yourself? You kind of appeared out of thin air with this book and so many people are reading it now and loving it!
Hey Amanda – thanks so much for taking the time to review my book and do this interview. I’m thrilled to be here, and blown away by the incredible response I’ve gotten for Reaper’s Property. I’ve actually been a writer for a long time, but it’s been ten years since I’ve written a novel (my older stuff is very niche-market, but you can find it on Amazon if you’re interested). I started out as a journalist and have did all kinds of different writing jobs before going full-time freelance in 2002. Most recently I’ve written grants, nonfiction and even scripts. Last fall I decided to try writing another novel and Reaper’s Property just sort of came out.
It’s been so much fun (and sort of surreal) to see other people enjoying my weird little book!
Will there be other Reaper’s stories soon? If so, can you tell us about it?
Definitely! I had more stories in my head with these characters while I was writing the first book, but honestly had no idea what people would think of Reaper’s Property so I didn’t start writing them until recently. The next book will be about Ruger, with stories about Em and Picnic to follow. It’s been sort of funny – so many readers want to know more about Picnic, which I never saw coming. It’s been fun to plan his book.
I’ve never heard the term “sweet butt” before. I always call them club whores (to myself, of course). Where did it come from? Is there any other lingo that you know of that the readers wouldn’t know?
There’s tons of biker slang, and I suspect that each club uses it a little differently. “Club whore” and “sweet butt” are pretty much the same thing, with sweet butt probably being the less modern term (at least according to my research). I love researching things and I put a lot of effort into learning about outlaw biker culture. It’s truly fascinating.
The most important thing to realize is that while my book is a romantic fantasy, outlaw motorcycle club (MC) culture is real. I tried not to make up anything that was related to that culture, although of course I put my own spin on things (for example, my guys spend more time thinking about women than their bikes, LOL). Every MC is different, so even if you know a lot about one group, that doesn’t mean you can translate that knowledge automatically to another group.
To write Reaper’s Property, I read books, journal articles and tons of interviews. I also talked to real bikers across the country. My biggest disappointment is that while the guys seem happy to answer my questions, I haven’t been able to talk directly with any women living in the MC world. To balance that, I’ve read extensive interviews with a wide range of women and got a lot of help from a book called The Biker Babe’s Bible, which was written by a woman named Throttle. Here are just a sampling of the definitions for biker slang I came across (these are taken from Biker Chicks, by Arthur Veno and Edward Winterhalder, but they’re pretty much the same no matter where you find the definitions):
Bible: Harley-Davidson repair manual; frequently used for private weddings and torn up for private divorce proceedings.
Citizen: Anyone who is not an outlaw biker
Colors: Unofficial uniform of outlaw clubs, a vest made of denim or leather with patches on it (also called a cut)
MC: Motorcycle club
“Property of” Patch: A patch worn by a female associated with an outlaw MC that denotes which club member she belongs to (These are getting a lot less common, but I used one for my story because it gave me a good plot hook. One of the bikers I talked to says his wife prefers to be called property, because she hates “old lady” and he doesn’t want to piss her off!)
Run: An official club outing.
Where did the idea for a biker story get started? Are you a fan of Sons of Anarchy like myself?
I am a huge Sons of Anarchy fan – love that show! I did a series binge of SOA on Netflix last summer and found myself reading anything and everything I could get my hands on about bikers. I was surprised to learn how much of the show is based (at least loosely) on real biker culture, although all the guys I’ve talked to tell me it’s way too dramatic. One told me it’s sort of like a biker soap opera. Anyway, the more I read, the more I wanted to write a book about bikers. Then Horse and Marie’s story came to me one morning so I sat down and actually wrote the first 20,000 words in one weekend. It was a really fun book to write.
Do you relate to any of the characters in Reaper’s Property?
Um, I probably relate to all the female characters on one level or another, otherwise I couldn’t have written them. A lot of Marie is based on my time working in a homeless shelter, where I saw so many women suffering from spousal abuse. I wanted to write a character that actually left after a man hit her and never looked back, because I know so many women who never got that far.
One thing that I tried to do in this book is convey the sense of sisterhood that exists among women in biker culture. Even the lowest women in my book are still human, which is why I refused to let them become cat-fighting caricatures. I’m so tired of jealous women being the villains in romances. I think we’re better than that.
I don’t really relate to Horse at all. I think he created himself, LOL. I was just along for the ride.
Out of Marie and Horse’s POV, which did you like to write better?
I thought Marie’s was the easiest to write, but Horse’s was definitely the most fun. I just sort of let loose with him and enjoyed it without worrying about what anyone would think. It was a blast.
If Horse was to come with a warning label, what would it say?
Hmm… Not sure about that. How about “Property of Marie.” Payback, you know?
If Reaper’s Property had a soundtrack, which songs would be on there? What would Marie and Horse’s song be?
I don’t have a soundtrack for Reaper’s Property, and I don’t think of a certain song when it comes to Horse and Marie (although some readers have been very… ahem… creative in their sound/image choices for the book!). I think the closest I would have is the playlist I built on Pandora while I was writing it. Some of these songs fit the book perfectly. Others are totally random.
Either way, this is the “Reaper’s Property” playlist that’s loaded on my iPhone:
“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet
“Awake My Soul” by Mumford and Sons
“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
“One Day” by Matisyahu
“On and On and On” by Jack White
“The Promise” When In Rome
“Little Lion Man” Mumford and Sons
“Somebody That I Used to Know” by Gotye
“We Are Young” by Fun
“Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance
“Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd (This is a favorite at biker funerals. Even some of the younger bikers I talked to refer to their dead as members of Freebird chapter)
“Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
Who is one author that you would love to sit down with and pick their brain?
I can think of a LOT of authors I’d love to sit down with. Years ago I had the chance to have brunch with Stella Cameron, and that was one of the most educational hours of my writing career (and she picked up the check!). She’s an amazing, classy lady who has always given back so much to the writing community. I have also had a chance to chat one-on-one with Christine Feehan, who is another amazing woman.
I think if I could pick any writer right now, I’d probably want to talk to E.L. James. If you’re going to aim, might as well aim high!
What is something that we wouldn’t know about you?
I’ve only been deported from one country…
What can we see from you this year?
I’m working on the sequel to Reaper’s Property, and have a total of four more books outlined at this point. In addition to the MC stuff, I’m also working on a new adult project. A lot of details are still up in the air, so that’s probably about as far ahead as I should look right now, LOL.
Do you currently have any work in progress that you can share with us?
Well, I have more books coming out, but I’ve also been working on an alternate point of view scene from Reaper’s Property as a “thank you” to my fans. It’s about fifteen pages long and tells the story of how Marie and Horse first met, from Horse’s perspective.
Thank you so much for taking the time for an interview, Joanna!
Thank you for having me! Once again, I really appreciate the review and the time and effort you’ve put into my book. It’s a privilege to be able to talk to readers directly in an interview like this one.
One lucky winner will win an ecopy of Reaper’s Property! Please leave a comment for Joanna and your email address so I can contact the winner. A winner will be picked next Wednesday. Thank you and good luck!!