AG: Writers like Nora Roberts now tend to mix genres, and I’ve noticed that in “Truth or Dare” you featured a protagonist who has psychic gifts. Besides adding suspense to romance in order to avoid sentimentality, I’m wondering which genres work best for this mix, and which you prefer to read or write?
KRENTZ: In hindsight it’s easy to see the literary influences of my youth. I started out on horse stories, became addicted to Nancy Drew, and then discovered Andre Norton. To this day, my favorite plots involve a combination of romance, suspense, animals and the paranormal.
AG: What kind of research did you do on “Truth or Dare”?
KRENTZ: Research is one of the most fascinating aspects of the writing process for me. Perhaps, in part, because of my librarian background. In the course of plotting “Truth or Dare,” I learned a lot about feng shui, the ancient Chinese theory of interior design. I also learned more than I really wanted to know about how easy it is to accidentally electrocute yourself in a backyard pool! On a more positive note, the book provided a perfect excuse to spend a few days in Sedona, Arizona. The town in the book is fictional, but I had the red rock country around Sedona in mind when I wrote the story.
AG: Have you heard Joyce Bean read your work, and if so, what did you think of her performance? Did she capture the characters the way you imagined them?
KRENTZ: I think the best answer I can give is to tell you about my brother’s reaction to the book. My brother never developed the habit of reading for pleasure. He certainly knows how to read — he reads magazines, newspapers, tech manuals, etc. But he never discovered the joys of reading fiction. “Truth or Dare” was the first audio book he had ever heard. The only reason he listened to it was because it was dedicated to him. You should have seen the email he sent to me raving about Joyce Bean’s performance! He said she made him laugh, made him cry, and she made him want to go right out and buy another audio book! He has since become a huge fan, not only of her work, but of audio books in general. And now I finally know what to give him for Christmas.
AG: Audiobooks are reportedly going up in sales while hardcovers are declining, I’m told.
KRENTZ: I don’t know how to interpret the statistics, but I do know that we often forget that reading fiction for pleasure is a relatively recent development in the course of human history. Printed novels have only been around for the past couple of hundred years and they were not widely available until the last century. But we have always known how to listen to a good story. The talent is in our genes because it’s a survival skill. For untold thousands of years our ancestors handed down information, wisdom, warnings and advice through stories told around fires built in dark caves. The oral tradition is the oldest tradition of all. It is no surprise to me that audio books are enormously popular today. Audio books also take advantage of another truly remarkable human talent, one that we often take for granted–the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time. You can drive a truck, hop on a treadmill, clean house, or plant bulbs, all while listening to a book.