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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Author Interview: Jennifer Estep

Today I'd like to welcome back Jennifer Estep, who is stopping by to talk about her new Urban Fantasy release, Web of Lies, which released on May 25th and is the second novel in her Elemental Assassins series. You can see my review here.

Sara: How would you describe your novels, Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies, for readers who haven’t heard of it before?
Jennifer: Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies are the first two books in my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Spider’s Bite was released in February 2010, and Web of Lies just came out on May 25. The third book in the series, Venom, will hit shelves on Sept. 28.

Sara: How would you describe Gin using only three words?
Jennifer: Sassy, sarcastic, strong.

Sara: Why did you decide to make Gin an assassin? Were you worried her career path would be viewed negatively?
Jennifer: I’ve always loved reading assassin books, especially in fantasy literature, because assassins can be everything from crazy and creepy to cool and in control. The more I read about assassins, the more I wanted to write my own assassin book with my own magic system and world building. So one day, I did, and Gin Blanco was born.

I know that not everyone likes books about assassins, and that’s okay. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. To me, the biggest challenge was having Gin be an assassin and still making her a likable character. To that end, Gin has hobbies, quirks, and hang-ups, just like the rest of us do. Gin loves to cook and read, and she’s fiercely protective of the people that she considers her family. I think that’s a trait that everyone can admire.

I think your character can have any kind of job you want -- even being an assassin -- as long as the reader is able to relate to her in some way, as long as you humanize her in some way. Hopefully, I’ve done that with Gin.

Sara: When I think of elemental powers I think of earth, wind, fire, and air. But within your books there are other elemental powers such as stone and ice. What made you decide on the elemental powers specific to your series?
Jennifer: I wanted to do something a little different from what folks usually think of as the four elements, so my four elements are Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone. When I started writing the Elemental Assassin series, I knew that I wanted two elements to compliment each other -- like Air and Fire, and Ice and Stone. And I wanted two elements to oppose each other -- like Air and Stone, and Fire and Ice. So it just made sense to me to use a different set of elements.

Also, I thought by using Ice and Stone that I could come up with some really cool powers for both Gin and the bad guys to use. So far, I think it’s worked out well. I’m having fun writing about these elements, and I hope readers think that I’m using them in interesting ways.

Sara:If Gin could work together with any Urban Fantasy heroine, who would you want her to work with?
Jennifer: Hmm, that’s a toughie just because there are so many great urban fantasy heroines out there. I would have to go with Karen Murphy from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Karen’s a cop, so she and Gin could work together to bring down a bad guy -- and then Karen could try to bring Gin to justice for all the bad things that she’s done. The cop and the assassin is always an interesting dynamic to play around with.

Sara: Can you give us a small description for Venom, the next book in the Elemental Assassin series?
Jennifer: Certainly. In Venom, Roslyn Phillips asks Gin to kill the man who is stalking her. Roslyn is the vampire madam who runs the nightclub Northern Aggression, and thanks to some events that take place in Web of Lies, Roslyn catches the eye of Elliot Slater, a giant who is one of Ashland’s most dangerous men. Since Gin feels responsible for Roslyn being stalked in the first place, she agrees to eliminate Slater, who happens to work for Mab Monroe, Gin’s nemesis. Readers will also find out more about Bria, Gin’s long-lost baby sister, and Gin makes an important decision regarding Mab Monroe. The book is really a turning point in the series in a lot of ways, as Gin decides on a new path in life for herself.

Venom is the third book in the series, and it will hit shelves on Sept. 28. Right now, I’m contracted for five Elemental Assassin books, with books four and five tentatively scheduled for 2011.

Sara: Who are your greatest influences, both in and out of the Urban Fantasy genre?
Jennifer: I read pretty widely -- fantasy, romance, spy thrillers, mysteries. For epic fantasy, I grew up reading folks like David Eddings and Terry Brooks. Some of the first folks I read in urban fantasy were Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison. In romance, I like Kresley Cole, Jeaniene Frost, Lisa Kleypas, and Linda Lael Miller.

I also love Donald E. Westlake, who wrote the Dortmunder comic crime caper novels, and his alter ego, Richard Stark, who wrote a series of novels about a thief named Parker. And I’ve got all the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming on my keeper shelf. Basically, I love books with a lot of action scenes, and I think that comes across in my own writing as my books are pretty action-packed. I love writing fight scenes.

Sara: What are you currently reading?
Jennifer: Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery. It’s a contemporary romance set in California. Contemporary romance is another genre that I’m interested in writing someday, and I always like to read what other folks are writing in any genre that I’m thinking about dabbling in.

Feel free to leave comments and questions for Jennifer! I'll be stopping by periodically after I get some sleep (just got home from an overnight shift).

And here's the more information about Web of Lies for anyone interested:

Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I'm Gin Blanco.

You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man... dead or alive.


  1. Both books are already waiting on my towering TBR pile... I wish I had more time to read! *sigh*
    Jennifer seems like a reaaly amazing person. Thanks for the interview!

  2. Tine -- Thanks! I hope that you enjoy the books when you read them. ;-)

  3. Thanks for stopping by Jennifer! I was wondering who does your cover art because not only are they beautiful, but there's a real attention to detail that really sets your covers apart.

  4. just finished spider's bite and it rocked. Absolutely loved it.

  5. Hi, Sara! Thanks for having me on the blog. The first two covers were done by Tony Mauro. I think the covers are absolutely gorgeous and really capture the spirit of the books. I always like it when the cover of a book matches the story, and Tony really did that for Spider's Bite and Web of Lies.

    Pam -- Thanks! I'm glad that you enjoyed the book, and I hope you like Web of Lies as well. ;-)

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Thanks for stopping by Sara's Urban Fantasy Blog! I'd love to here what's on your mind. :)