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Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?
Urban fantasy comes prepackaged with a lot of room to explore current issues that might not translate so cleanly to, say, space opera or high fantasy. The struggles of the homeless in urban America, the plight of the Rust Belt, the issues surrounding the LGBT+ community, and so forth.
Authors like Terry Pratchett have done an amazing job of translating those same issues into more fantastical settings, but it’s easy to give in to a longing for a magical “quick fix”—that all those problems can be solved by Sufficiently Advanced Technology, or the righteous rule of a Fisher King, or the cheap availability of magic, or what have you. I like the messiness that comes with urban fantasy, and I like seeing my characters dealing with mundane challenges in fantastical ways.
What research is required?
Every little detail needs its own search. Vampires and werewolves were officially banned from my series, so I spent a ton of time looking up lesser-known monsters like impundulu and poludnica (and then double-checking to make sure I wasn’t just using entries out of Monster Manuals). Every time somebody got hurt, if I hadn’t experienced that kind of injury myself, I had to look up first-hand accounts or talk to nurses about their experiences treating it. My partner took me to a firing range and showed me how to fire most of the weapons I wrote about, and then I wound up looking up specs for the rest.
Most of that seems fairly standard to the process of writing urban fantasy, though.
Several of the books take place in abandoned buildings, so I had to explore abandoned factories and houses in my area. Arkay works as a stripper, so in addition to reading blog posts and interviews, I went to a strip club and interviewed the dancers. Speaking of which, here’s a riddle for you: A straight man, a bisexual, a lesbian, and an asexual woman walk into a strip club. Which one do you think gets the most attention? (here’s a hint: the writer was the asexual.)
Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.
Arkay’s sense of justice is constantly at odds with Rosario’s sense of mercy, and the conflict between those two elements drives a lot of action. For most of the first half of the series, Arkay is willing to swallow her pride and help people (even if she thinks they don’t deserve it) for Rosario’s sake. Later she’s forced to make an effort to understand why Rosario believed the things she did, and really think hard about mercy and redemption. And, naturally, so did I.
Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?
I actually have a sleep disorder that makes for really weird writing hours. My natural cycle shifts constantly, so I could wake up at eight in the morning and fall asleep at midnight; then, a week later, I can wake up at three in the afternoon and fall asleep just as my partner is getting up for work in the morning. With all that, I’ve found that I get my best writing done after three in the morning. By then, I’ve run out of interesting things to read on the internet, all my friends are sleeping, it’s not safe to walk my dogs, and all the shops are closed so I can’t run errands. All the distractions and guilt are gone, and there’s nothing to do but write.
Are you a plotter or pantser?
This series more or less forced me to be a plotter. It was an unusual case where I had to send a proposal for the series to a small press, and then I was to write the entire thing in a very particular size and format (nine books, 25,000 words each). So I had to get really finicky about plotting out the whole three-act structure and hitting all the plot points in a pretty tight frame. Somewhere along the way, the plot still managed to get away from me, and what I wound up with is dramatically different from the outline I gave the publisher.
Look to your right – what’s sitting there?
My dog Baldur is currently napping on a blanket that should be in the laundry. My other dog, Freya, and George my cat are napping on the day bed a few feet away. Like I said, I tend to do most of my writing in the dead of night (it’s 4:30 AM as I’m writing this), and my pets like to keep me company while I clack away at the keyboard.
Do you have a question for our readers?
If you could change a single thing about this world, what would it be? Be it political, fantastical, historical, whatever—how would you change the world?
Read an excerpt:
Occult ‘R’ Us:
The room was lined with dozens, maybe hundreds, of unlit candles in shades of white and red and black. The line of candles only stopped at a bookshelf full of old, leather-bound tomes and even older-looking brass weapons. An iron circle had been pounded into the concrete floor, which had been liberally smeared with rust-brown stains. The far wall was shiny and steel with a big door that looked like a walk-in refrigerator, the kind you’d find in a restaurant kitchen.
Arkay had apparently ignored Occult ‘R’ Us entirely, except to stack the old books under a window and try to pry open the glass with a rune-covered dagger. “Think you can fit?”
“I’ll suck it in,” I said.
“Then give me just a minute. I’ve almost got it.”
So during that minute, I did The Thing. You know, that one thing you usually see people in horror movies doing. The one that makes you facepalm and shake your head at the sheer stupidity.
Because Arkay was busy with the window, and Matheson and his goons were scratching at the door with what sounded like a screwdriver, and I had nothing else occupying my time or my mind.
Nothing but that giant freakin’ door in the shiny metal wall, just begging to be opened.
Three guesses what I did.
About the Author:
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