To celebrate URBAN FANTASY MONTH here on Pocket After Dark, we decided to get two of our dynamic Pocket authors to e-sit down and e-chat with e-chother about their respective series!
JENNIFER ESTEP writes the Elemental Assassin series, which tells of the life (and many deaths) of the city of Ashland, where Gin Blanco, the assassin known as the Spider, makes her home. Possessing the elemental powers of Stone and Ice, she’s a formidable force, though when all of Ashland’s criminal underworld is after you, nothing is ever easy. Check her out at www.jenniferestep.com and @Jennifer_Estep.
ALLISON PANG writes the Abby Sinclair series; Abby is a TouchStone for a Faery Protectorate—a position filled with the benefits of long life, an enchanted iPod, and an assload of crazy paranormal beings coming her way. Dealing with OtherFolk and visiting Crossroads are sometimes maddening, to say the least, but with a miniature, perverted unicorn by her side, and an incubus watching over her, it’s the good kind of crazy…usually. Check her out at www.HeartoftheDreaming.com and @Allison_Pang.
As both Allison’s and Jennifer’s editor, I’m going to posit a couple of questions here and there, but, really, they’ve probably heard quite enough from me getting these two books ready for your eyes. So without further ado…
–Adam Wilson @AdamDetritus
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Adam: Okay, let’s go with the obvious question first: Why urban fantasy and not another genre?
Jennifer: I’ve always enjoyed reading about assassin characters in fantasy literature because it seems like there are so many different stories you can tell about them. Plus, assassins can be everything from cold to calculating to crazy. I tried a couple of times to write an assassin story as an epic fantasy, but it just didn’t work out.
Allison: Actually, I’d also always figured my first book would have been more of an epic/high fantasy.
JE: Well, one day, I thought, “What if I write an assassin story as an urban fantasy instead?” That’s when the characters, the plot, and the voice really started clicking for me. That was sort of the beginning of Spider’s Bite and the rest of the Elemental Assassin series, and I’ve been writing urban fantasy ever since.
AP: See, I originally wrote A Brush of Darkness as a PNR [paranormal romance]–it was supposed to have been my “learner” book – something I could use to figure out the ropes of publishing. I never expected it to sell. But it did, and when my editor asked me to change it to UF, I was happy to do so. Writing UF gives me greater control and flexibility over my stories – I can still have romance, for example – but I’m not required to have an HEA [Happily Ever After].
JE: If I had known how much fun it would be and how great the fans and other authors in the genre are, I would have started writing urban fantasy long before I did! Plus, my favorite things to write are strong heroines and fight scenes, which seem to work well in urban fantasy.
AP: Definitely. UF allows me to write some pretty dark stuff, mixed with the fantasy that I love…but I can also poke fun at tropes and myself while doing it. I find this greatly amusing. I love writing the snarky sort of characters, I suppose. But it can’t be all jokes and snide comments, either. Basically I just enjoy writing all sorts of characters. As long as I can get into their heads and figure out their motivations, it’s all good.
JE: Well, I know your books are definitely filled with snark, and also a lot of pop culture. What supernatural lore inspires you?
AP: Although I make a lot of pop-culture references in the Abby Sinclair series – Buffy, Twilight, Tolkien, video games, etc. – most of those are tongue-in-cheek references from the characters themselves. (Breaking the 4th wall a bit, maybe.) When it comes to the actual world lore, I prefer to pull from established mythology and twist it up until it suits my needs.
JE: I enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was on, and I love watching all kinds of fantasy movies and TV shows. I like popular mythology, but when it comes to writing, I prefer to come up with my own take on something and my own magic system and rules so I can give my characters the powers and abilities that I want them to have (or not). Still, I enjoy reading about all kinds of supernatural creatures, and there are a couple of different powers I’m looking forward to writing about in my Elemental Assassin series. I’d like to write something about gargoyles or maybe gryphons, and I’d also like to write an urban fantasy and populate it with more fairy tale-type creatures and magic. No aliens or bug-like creatures, though. I’m not a big fan of science fiction, and bugs creep me out a little bit.
AP: The only thing I purposefully did was stay away from writing about vampires. They *do* exist in the world, but the characters only mention them in passing. (I don’t loathe vampires at all, but I don’t really want to write about them.) My books have a Kitchen Sink approach to world building – anything and everything is fair game as far as supernatural creatures go.
Adam: …let me just look over our e-shoulders to make sure no supernatural creatures have been offended by our comments… Okay, think we’re good.
AP: Okay, with all that in mind, how do you think you’d fare if you were dropped into Gin Blanco’s city, Ashland?
JE: Probably not very well. LOL. I’d probably be Bystander #2 who gets mugged as soon as the sun sets – or in broad daylight in Ashland. I’m not nearly as tough as Gin Blanco and my other characters are, so I doubt that I’d last long in Ashland, or the Crossroads. How do you think you’d do in the Crossroads?
AP: Heh. Probably about as good as Abby does? I wrote Abby to be more of a “normal-ish” girl. She does have a few interesting powers – i.e. her Dreaming ability, for example – but that has no real bearing on most of her interactions with the OtherFolk. She’s got to rely on her wits and dumb luck/circumstances to maneuver through this world, so I figure I’d stand about the same chance. 😉
Adam: Okay, so you’re not going visiting your fictional realms anytime soon. But maybe the big screen? If you two visited your character’s worlds in the movie theaters, who would you like to see up there portraying your people?
JE: I think Jennifer Garner would make a good Gin Blanco, and I could see someone like Clive Owen or Daniel Craig as Owen Grayson. I think Hugh Jackman or Ryan Reynolds would be cool as Finnegan Lane, and I could see someone like Madeleine Stowe as Mab Monroe.
AP: This is a hard one for me. I mean, how does one cast a small, pervy unicorn?
Adam: I wonder what Uni from the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon has been up to all these years… Maybe he’s old and jaded and ready to portray a pervy unicorn at this point…
AP: Or Brystion in his demon form? I’m not sure I can cast anyone at this point. Maybe Emma Stone as Abby?
JE: Well what about who’s cast on your covers? Do they match up with what you’re thinking of?
AP: Honestly? I’m not sure any cover is going to ever match up to what’s in my head. Thus far I’ve had two different artists and two different models representing Abby, so it’s hard for me to really choose. My only real stipulation was that Abby not be holding a weapon of some sort – she’s not a demon slayer or a chosen one or anything like that.
JE: True, everyone has an internal idea of what characters look like that’s hard to match. Tony Mauro has designed the covers for the Elemental Assassin series, and I think he’s done an excellent job of capturing Gin Blanco and the dark, gritty world of Ashland. Every time I think that Tony can’t possibly top himself, I see the art for the next cover, and I’m impressed all over again.
Adam: Okay, last question. You’re not just writers, but readers—read anything great lately?
AP: I’m right in the middle of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin and I’m really enjoying it.
JE: I’m in between books right now, but some books I’m looking forward to reading this year are Lothaire by Kresley Cole; Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas; and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore.
Adam: Awesome! Thanks, Allison and Jennifer! Those are some nice insights into both the Elemental Assassin and Abby Sinclair series. I’m glad we could m-e-eet up like this and you to could make your e-quaintance. (Yes, I will stop now.)
And I’m sure our fans will love to check out these books that you’ve been interested in. BUT ONLY AFTER THEY READ EACH OF YOUR NEW BOOKS–RIGHT, XOXOers? RIGHT?
Ahem. Actually, we love readers of all stripes who read any and all books. In that spirit, we encourage readers to leave their own book recommendation in the comments section!