I’m so excited to welcome Jennifer Estep here to DarkFaerieTales.com to talk about her debut Urban Fantasy novel, Spider’s Bite, which is scheduled to be released on January 26, 2010.
Jennifer is giving one lucky commenter a chance to win an autographed copy of Spider’s Bite. In addition, I will also select five winners to receive some awesome bookmarks. Please be sure to come back this week to read my 5 skulls review. This book is absolutely amazing. Details are listed at the end of the post.
You can read an excerpt here.
DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about the book?
JENNIFER: Of course. Spider’s Bite focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who lives in the Southern metropolis of Ashland. When she’s not righting wrongs and killing people, Gin works at a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit. Ashland is home to vampires, giants, dwarves, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone. Gin happens to be an elemental who can control two elements – Ice and Stone in her case.
In Spider’s Bite, Gin gets double-crossed during her latest hit, and her handler is brutally murdered. Gin finds herself framed for a murder she didn’t even commit, so she vows to get to the bottom of the deadly conspiracy. Along the way, she joins forces with her foster brother and general partner-in crime, Finnegan Lane, as well as a sexy detective named Donovan Caine.
I like to think that Spider’s Bite and the Elemental Assassin series in general have a little something for everyone – action, danger, magic, and even a little romance.
DFT: What motivated you to write Spider’s Bite?
JENNIFER: Ever since I started reading fantasy literature in high school, I’ve always been fascinated by assassin characters. Then, a few years ago, I wrote a pretty bad epic fantasy book. But I did learn something important from it – that my secondary assassin character was more interesting than my farm girl heroine! Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to write an assassin book.
Eventually, I decided to go the urban fantasy route, and the character of Gin Blanco was born. Also, I wanted to try my hand at writing something really dark and gritty but still fun at the same time, which urban fantasy and Spider’s Bite let me do.
DFT: If you could describe your main characters with only 3 words, what would they be?
JENNIFER: I’d describe Gin Blanco, my assassin heroine, as tough, smart, and determined. As for Finnegan Lane, Gin’s foster brother/partner in crime, I’d describe him as fun, flirtatious, and greedy. Donovan Caine, the detective who teams up with Gin and Finn, is definitely honest, upstanding, and conflicted.
DFT: Tell us something about your research process and the choices you make when creating the story.
JENNIFER: I don’t do that much traditional research when writing. I check a few facts, but that’s about it. The thing that I love about writing fantasy is that you get to create your own world, magic system, etc. – that kind of control and the creativity that it can inspire really appeals to me.
So I guess you could say instead of doing research, I spent a lot of my time world-building and thinking about my characters, their powers, and my magical system in general and making sure that it’s all cohesive and logical.
I think the most important choices that I make when creating my stories are just not limiting my fantasy world too much or making my magical system too narrow. You always want to leave room for not only your characters and their powers to grow, but for the bad guys to get nastier and more dangerous as well.
DFT: Do you have a long-term plan or goal for this story universe? What happens after book 3, Venom?
JENNIFER: I recently sold books 4 and 5 in the Elemental Assassin series to my publisher which will let me wrap up the main story arc with Gin and her nemesis. Of course, I hope to write more books in the series beyond that, but the first five books will tell a complete story and answer all the big series questions, including who murdered Gin’s family and why, and who she ends up with romantically.
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) did you draw from while writing Spider’s Bite?
JENNIFER: Well, I’m a Southern girl, so I used my experiences growing up in the region to create my Southern metropolis, Ashland, which is complete with beauty salons, barbecue restaurants, and more. Seriously, is there anything more Southern than a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint? I don’t think so.
I also enjoy cooking and thought that would be a fun hobby for Gin to have (as well as give her an excuse to have plenty of knives lying around).
Gin also loves to read (as do I), so I name drop several books that I’ve enjoyed over the years throughout the series. I also tried to make the themes of the books that Gin reads tie in with what’s going on with the action in the rest of the book. For example, in Spider’s Bite, I mention Where the Red Fern Grows, which is a great book about love and loss, two things that Gin experiences during the course of the story.
As far as literary influences go, I actually thought a lot about Greek mythology while writing Spider’s Bite and the other books in the series. There are so many prophecies in Greek mythology, and it seems like they all could have been avoided by doing a few simple things (like Oedipus’ parents not sending him away as a baby). So the idea of prophecy/destiny is something that I explore a little bit in the series.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
JENNIFER: I go back and forth between Gin and Finn. I love Gin because she’s so tough and ruthless, but I also really like Finn because he’s so shameless and greedy. They’re both a lot of fun to write, but in different ways.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line from Spider’s Bite?
JENNIFER: I really love the first line of the book – “My name is Gin, and I kill people.” I think it’s the best opening line that I’ve ever written, and it really sets the tone for the book and the whole series.
I also really like a scene at the end of the book where Gin is attending the funeral of her murdered mentor. There’s a lot of poignancy and emotion in that scene – and readers find out much more about Gin, including her real name.
DFT: What other projects are you working on that you would like to tell us about?
JENNIFER: I’m working on another urban fantasy series that features spies – kind of like Alias with magic. The first book in that series is called Live & Let Spy. I also want to write an epic fantasy young adult novel this year, if time permits.
DFT: What was your favorite part of writing this series?
JENNIFER: Getting to write such a strong, kick-butt heroine. I’ve always loved stories where the women are the ones in charge (like Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter or Alias with Jennifer Garner). I’ve tried to make my character, Gin Blanco, just as strong and interesting as the characters that I’ve loved over the years.
And action scenes. I love writing a good action scene.
DFT: What is your favorite fairy tale, and why?
JENNIFER: Definitely Beauty and the Beast. I simply love the overall story, especially since the heroine is the one who saves the beast in the end just by loving him. She looks past his outward appearance to see what a good person he is on the inside. It’s a great, timeless lesson. Beauty by Robin McKinley is one of my favorite versions of the fairy tale and one of my all-time favorite books in general.
DFT: What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
JENNIFER: Hmm … Well, I’m a huge James Bond fangirl, and no one ever asks me any trivia questions about the movies. I have so much obscure, useless knowledge when it comes to the franchise, that it’s just sad. And all my friends are thoroughly sick of watching movies with me and me piping up and saying “Did you know so-and-so was in a Bond movie? She was the girl who died in the opening credits!”
DFT: What books/genres do you read when you have the chance? Any must read authors or series?
JENNIFER: I read pretty widely – all types of fantasy and romance, mysteries, spy books, thrillers, etc. The only two genres that I’m not crazy about are sci-fi and non-fiction.
Some of my favorite authors include Robin McKinley, Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, Ian Fleming, JK Rowling, David Eddings … I could go on and on!
DFT: What is your definition of a “bad writing day”? How do you deal with bad writing days?
JENNIFER: To me, a bad writing day is one where I don’t get any writing accomplished – when I have to do all the pesky little things that life and personal hygiene require, like laundry and washing the dishes.
I also hate it when I’m trying to write and am constantly interrupted. I’m one of those folks who prefer absolute, dead silence to write, and it’s hard to get the mojo going if I’m distracted.
As for how I deal, I just get up the next day, sit down at my computer, and get to work – because I know that no one else is going to do it for me.
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or any writing rituals?
JENNIFER: Not really. Like I said before, I prefer alone, quiet time to write. That’s all I really need. A clean desk helps too, though.
DFT: If you weren’t writing, what would you want to be doing for a living?
JENNIFER: Well, I still have a day job (I work at a newspaper) so I’m doing that for a living. But I think it would be awesome to have a really wacky and cool job, like taste-testing ice cream or being a movie critic or having my own show on the Food Network. I also think it would be interesting to work in a library or bookstore, just so I could be surrounded by books all day long.
DFT: Describe your typical day.
JENNIFER: During the week, I get up and go to the day job. At night and on the weekends, I’m usually doing book stuff – writing, doing revisions, answering e-mails, blogging, etc. Being an author is like having a second job, but I really do love it. And I try to make time for fun too – spending time with friends and family, reading, and even playing D&D on occasion. (Yes, I’m a total geek!)
DFT: Describe yourself in 5 words.
JENNIFER: Sassy, smart, sarcastic, focused, and funny (I hope!)
DFT: Which urban fantasy world would you like to live in, and why? i.e. The Hollows, etc.
JENNIFER: Hmm … this is a toughie because there are so many great worlds/books out there. For books, I’d have to go with The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher just because his world is so varied and interesting. As far as movies/TV shows go, I’d pick Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Because any world with Spike in it is a good one.
DFT: If you could be any paranormal creature, which one would you be and why?
JENNIFER: It’s not necessarily a paranormal creature, but I think it would be cool to be a Greek god. I really like the various mythology associated with the Greek, Norse, and other gods. There’s so much drama and in-fighting that you’d never be bored. Not to mention the fact that it would be awesome to be able to throw lightning bolts.
I’d also like to be a dwarf – because dwarves are just tough and cool.
DFT: Thanks Jennifer for taking the time to stop by.
One lucky commenter will have a chance to win an autographed copy of Spider’s Bite. Five winners will also receive bookmarks.
To enter, leave a comment below answering the following question:
Would being an assassin automatically make you a bad, evil person? Why or why not?
1. +1 entry for answering the question (required).
2. +2 entries for becoming a follower of this blog and Dark Faerie Tales on Twitter.
3. +3 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).
4. Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada residents only.
5. Please include your email address in your comment.
6. Giveaway ends Monday, February 15th at 11:59 PM EST.
7. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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