This year I had a great opportunity to do reviews for both of Jennifer Estep's Gin Blanco "Elemental Assain" series, Spider's Bite & Web of Lies. I also had the chance to interview her as well. Read on below to see what this talented author has to say.
It's rare anymore to see a female character without being strong in more ways than one. What are your thoughts on this?
I’ve always loved strong heroines in books, TV shows, and movies. Some of my favorite characters are Sydney Bristow from Alias, Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess, and Wonder Woman. So I really enjoy all the strong female characters out there, and I hope folks think that my assassin character, Gin Blanco, is a good addition to the mix.
Nobody likes reading about wimpy characters, whether they’re male or female. If the fate of the world rests on your heroine’s shoulders, then she needs to know how to take care of herself and save the day. I’m not saying that she has to be a Rambo-type character, but she needs something that she can draw on to help her – whether it’s magic, weapons, or just her own street smarts. Those are the characters that I like reading about, and those kind of strong female characters are what I write about in my own books.
With that being said, how do you feel about feminism and "Grrrrl Power" and all that?
I’m all for feminism and “Grrrrl Power.” I think that women can do everything that men can do – women are just as strong, smart, and sexy as guys are, so why shouldn’t we be portrayed that way?
Is it hard writing a paranormal novel and keeping it based to one specific mythos ... werewolf, vampire, fairies, zombies etc?
Not really. I have four main types of creatures/magic users in my Elemental Assassin series – vampires, giants, dwarves, and elementals (or folks who can use one of the four elements, which are Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone). So I’ve got a lot of different magic and powers to play around with in the series.
I also have another urban fantasy series in the works, as well as a young adult series. The magic system in both of those is different from the Elemental Assassin series. For me, half the fun of writing a novel is coming up with new powers and problems for my various heroines. I have a different system in each series, so when I get tired of one, I can always go write in another world that I’ve created.
Do you ever use your stories as a sense of therapy? Such as getting revenge on someone via the novel? Or anything like that?
Not really. Although the one thing that I really enjoy about writing Gin Blanco is that she gets to do and say whatever she wants to – whether it’s being a smartass to someone that she shouldn’t or taking out a bad guy. She’s just a really fun character to write in that respect. Gin can say and do things that I would never dream of doing!
You have two current series, "Elemental Assassins" and "Bigtime." What is the diversity between the two?
My Elemental Assassin series is urban fantasy, and the books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider. Titles in the series are Spider’s Bite (which came out in February), Web of Lies (coming out on May 25), and Venom (due out on Sept. 28).
My Bigtime series is paranormal romance, and the books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smarty, sassy gals looking for love. Titles in the series are Karma Girl, Hot
Mama, and Jinx.
Basically, the Elemental Assassin books are much, much darker and grittier than my Bigtime books, which are really comic book spoofs/romances.
Have you ever thought of crossing the two? Or would that not work?
I do this a little bit now. In each one of my Elemental Assassin books, I try to give at least one a little shoutout to my Bigtime books as well. For example, in Spider’s Bite, I mention that someone is wearing a Fiona Fine suit – Fiona happens to be a fashion designer/superhero in my Bigtime series.
I think that casually dropping in characters like that is a little treat for all my Bigtime fans out there, and it’s a lot of fun for me too. ;-)
How do you accomplish a scheduled time frame for a novel?
I have a day job so I do my writing at nights and on the weekends. I write a rough draft pretty quickly, usually in about three weeks, just getting the words down as fast as I can. Then, I let the book sit for a while before going back and seeing if the story holds together and what changes need to be made. Then, I start working on a second draft. Once that’s done, I go back through it and see what changes need to be made. I usually do this about three or four times before I have a finished book. It can take anywhere from two to six months, depending on how busy I am with various projects.
Is it easy coming up with character names? What is the process in doing so for you?
This is pretty easy for me. First of all, I think about the names that I’ve used already and make sure that I don’t repeat any of those, at least not for a main character. Sometimes, I’ll look up names online to see what their meanings and origins are and see what might fit my story. But basically, once I have my character in mind, I just sit down and come up with a name for them – something cool and catchy that fits the story.
You have a crazzzzzzzzy tour schedule for 2010. It must be exhilarating. What parts of your tours do you look forward to the most?
My schedule isn’t really that crazy – I try to go to a few conferences every year. The best part of any conference is just interacted with folks – readers, authors, and industry professionals – because we’re all there for the same reason. We love books – reading them, writing them, and talking about them.
How have you coped being around so many great colleagues? (Cope may not be the right word feel free to do a substitution!!) Is it numbing? Like you just can't believe it's happening still?
There are so many great writers out there. It’s always very humbling whenever I go to a convention and get to meet someone whose books I’ve loved for years. I’ve signed books in the same room as folks like Nora Roberts and Debbie Macomber – it really is an honor just to be in the same room with best-selling authors like that.
Thank you Jennifer for this insightful and fun interview with you. I truly enjoyed the Elemental Assassin series. I can't wait for Venom this month. Hopefully Mab Monroe gets a beat down!! Congratulations once again on all of your publication success to date, as well as your up coming urban fantasy series. Thanks again for the review, gifts, and interview opportunities you have so kindly allowed.