As many of you may remember I gave away a copy of Faith Hunter’s SKINWALKER in December after winning Nano ’09. So, Mrs. Hunter was kind enough to offer a signed copy of the 2nd Jane Yellowrock novel, BLOOD CROSS, which came out only days ago. 😀
Faith Hunter’s other wonderful Urban Fantasy series, The Rogue Mage series, was her first series in the genre. But Mrs. Hunter has also written thrillers under another name, Gwen Hunter, for over twenty years.
Mrs. Hunter was kind enough to answer a few questions for a little interview of mine. Contest information will follow below the interview. 😀
BLOOD CROSS’s description as seen on Faith’s site: The vampire council has hired skinwalker Jane Yellowrock to hunt and kill one of their own who has broken sacred ancient rules-but Jane quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep…
Demon Hunter–1.) How did the concept for Jane Yellowrock develop?
Faith Hunter–I was having tea with Kim Harrison at Starbucks, a time when we let our minds rest from the creative and promotional process of being writers. Yes, we talk business, a lot of business, but we also use tea-time to detox and let our creative juices start to flow freely again. This particular day we were talking about our future book ideas – nothing specific, more along the lines of, I have this character, or this magic system, or this conflict line in mind… Kim was thinking about epic fantasy—to give her brain a chance to rest from urban fantasy. Her worlds are wonderful, the magic systems so unusual, and I was entranced! I was thinking about thrillers, specifically Lee Childe’s character, Reacher.
I said, “For the last few weeks, I’ve kept hearing two things: this street name in the Smoky Mountains—War Woman Road, and this line in the back of my head. ‘Katie’s Ladies, the oldest continuously operating whore house in New Orleans.’ And this line ‘Have Stakes will Travel.’ ”
Kim said, “Go with it.” And I did. For about five minutes, as ideas started coming, I talked and Kim got excited with me, her eyes glowing, sharing the joy of that first blooming. In that first five minutes, came the image of Jane, a Cherokee warrior woman, a vamp-killer (no last name at the time, but an orphan called Jane Doe,) and the conflict point of a vamp-killer hired by the vamps. Ideas are like that for me. I’ll get a line or an image or a name in my mind and it sits there, until something nudges it forward.
DH–2.) Was it difficult to write such an excellent, tough female character without her being whiny and mean for no reason?
FH–The answer is in the question itself. “For no reason.” If a writer does her job and presents a character’s motivations properly, then readers will accept and understand, even if they do not always agree with the acts that follow.
Jane had to be a tough cookie to do the job I wanted her to do. Vamp killers can’t be wusses, you know? So she had to have sharp edges and inner strength, which I usually achieve by giving a character depths she hasn’t plumbed yet, or a history she either doesn’t know or refuses to look at. In Jane’s case, she has no memories from before the time she walks out of the forest at age 12-ish. Her search for that lost time, and for her heritage, make her strong.
Yet, I needed Jane to have a softer side, weaknesses that could be used by her enemies to hurt her. I needed to have something that might make her cry—in Jane’s case it’s always Angie Baby and Molly—the two people she loves most on the face of the earth. In Blood Cross, Jane cries several times, something she doesn’t do in book one, Skinwalker at all, or in book three, Mercy Blade, at all. Why does she cry in Blood Cross? Her best friends in the world are in danger. For me, it’s the juxtaposition of weaknesses and strengths that make a character or a person interesting.
DH–3.) When will the 3rd Jane Yellowrock novel be out?
FH–Mercy Blade… I have no idea!!!! I hope by the end of 2010.
DH–4.) Is there another Urban Fantasy series in the works?
FH–Not right now. I am working on a paranormal psychological thriller with a co-writer, and an RPG (role playing game) with 2 co-writers, based on the Rogue Mage series, and I have an urge to write a stand alone about Molly Everheart’s twin sisters, young witches who get into big trouble when they think they are working a love potion, and instead a demon appears and falls in love them. Both. But now that I see it written out, it still lacks some spark that I will need for it consume me and make it on to paper.
DH–5.) What made you shift from thrillers to Urban Fantasy?
FH–Wow. Lots of reasons. In no particular order: I want to remain viable in a market that is constantly changing. Thriller market is shrinking and the mystery market is flat-lining. I read fantasy and urban fantasy. I finally found a voice that the market wanted with the Rogue Mage series, and then another with the characters in the JY series. Real life is dull sometimes. I can’t knit. I don’t want to play Parcheesi. So I needed to keep my writing life exciting to make up for a routine, unchanging real life. (Of course, that was before I fell in love with white water kayaking, and spiced up my RL.) I discovered I was probably 40% American Indian (Cherokee and Choctaw) and maybe 20% African American, and I wanted to explore some of my ethnicities in my fiction. There are likely more reasons, but these come to mind.
DH–6.) Do you like Urban Fantasy better than thrillers? If so, why?
FH–I like writing and reading both for different reasons. Writing: Thrillers give me less to work with, (no magic) which means my job is harder. You would think that I then would enjoy it less, but that isn’t the case. The challenge is fun! The limits imposed on my writing by reality as it is can make a book fast paced and action packed. And the characters can be just as vivid as in urban fantasy. Yet, the creative freedom found in UF is hard to beat. The limits on anything are created by me, not physics, history, culture, etc. It’s my world and I love that! The best fun for me is merging the two, giving me the best of both worlds, which writing the Jane Yellowrock series does.
As to reading, the choice between urban fantasy and thrillers is based on which writer has what book out now. If there is a new Stuart Woods, Lee Childe, Harlan Coben, John Connelly (to name a very few) I pick that up. If there is a new Rachael Caine, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher (to name a very few) I pick that up. Then I read when the need hits me.
DH–7.) Will there be more books in the Rogue Mage series?
FH–I certainly hope so! That world is ripe for change, filled with internal and external conflict and the characters are sooo very different from other urban fantasy characters.
DH–8.) What advice do you have for unpublished writers?
FH–Write. Write, write, write. And study the market. How? Read a LOT! Not older fantasy, but the new stuff, things just released by New York City-based commercial publishing houses, written by newly discovered, first time published writers. That will tell you the trends that editors were looking for most recently. Read analytically, tear up a book with pen and highlighters and sticky notes to see what a writer has done that worked. Rewrite sections that didn’t work for you. And, again – write. BIC – Butt in chair. Also, for writerly advice with a decidedly fantasy twist, read http://www.magicalwords.net every day. Four writers and lots of guests post and chat back and forth about the business of writing and the creative part of writing.I’d like to thank Mrs. Hunter for participating in my interview. Also, since I’m posting this so late, I will allow everyone to enter the contest starting tonight, Tuesday, January 12, 2010. And the contest will end on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. All entries must be in before that time. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post. Everyone only gets one entry this time. Winners will be announced on Thursday, January 21, 2010.
To read more about Faith Hunter and her work, you can find her on these websites:
UPDATE: Anonymous posters!! I don’t know who you are if you don’t leave a name, and you can’t win if you don’t have a name, right? Riiiight! So please leave one. The two Anons who already posted are free to add their names. Any ANONYMOUS poster after this notice will not have a chance to win if their name is not included in their comment. Thanks! 😀