We are pleased to welcome USA Today bestselling author, Jennifer Estep back to Fiction Vixen today.
FV: Hi Jennifer, welcome back to Fiction Vixen! You’ve been our guest several times now but this is the first time we’ve chatted. For those who may not know about you, give us a little background on yourself.
JE: Thanks for having me here again on the blog. I appreciate it!
My name is Jennifer Estep, and I’m a USA Today bestselling author. I write the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.
Touch of Frost, the first book, came out on July 26. First Frost, a prequel e-story to the series, is also available now.
I also write the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. 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.
Books in the series are Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, and Tangled Threads. Visit www.jenniferestep.com for free short stories, excerpts, and more.
FV: Touch of Frost, was released on July 26. Did you have any pre-release jitters, especially since this is the first book in a series as well as your first foray into this genre?
JE: I always have jitters whenever a new book comes out. You always hope that people like your current book just as much – or even more – than they did the last book. Plus, you hope that the current book makes readers look forward to the next book in the series.
I would say I’ve had a few more jitters this time around since Touch of Frost is not only the start of a new series, but my first young adult book as well. I’m curious what folks think of my take on YA. The response to my Elemental Assassin adult series has been so wonderful, and I hope that folks like Touch of Frost and the Mythos Academy series just as much. I also hope that folks have as much fun reading the book as I did writing it. Fingers crossed, anyway.
FV: Did you do anything special to celebrate the occasion?
JE: Whenever I have a new book out, I always try to go to the bookstore, look at, and take a picture of my book on the shelf. It’s just a little ritual that I try to do for all my books. I’ll also usually treat myself to a book, DVD, chocolate bar, or something like that – just a little something nice to mark the occasion that the book is finally out for folks to read and hopefully enjoy.
FV: In Touch of Frost, Gwen, a seventeen year old gypsy is a bit of an outcast at Mythos Academy. She doesn’t quite fit in socially or economically, and she feels her magic is different from that of the student body. Will she continue in this frame of mind or will we see her fitting in more down the line?
JE: Gwen doesn’t think that she’s as rich, beautiful, deadly, or powerful as the other warrior whiz kids, as she calls them, but Gwen’s stronger, tougher, and more of a warrior than she realizes. I think she’s always going to feel like a little bit of an outcast because she didn’t grow up in the warrior world like all the other kids did.
But you’ll definitely see Gwen grow in her magic, her fighting skills, and her confidence as the series goes along. She’s going to have to get tougher, given the bad guys that I have in mind for her to fight.
FV: Gwen’s gypsy gift is psychometry— the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. I would be more likely to consider this a curse since she must avoid touching people, but one of my favorite things about Gwen is that although her gift hinders her in some ways she still seems to consider it a gift and enjoys using it. What made you decide that psychometry was the gift she would have and why she would embrace, rather than shun her gift?
JE: I like to see characters embrace their magic and use it to fight the good fight and defeat the bad guys. So that’s why I decided to have Gwen like her Gypsy gift, as she calls it. The psychometry magic is part of who Gwen is, and it’s definitely shaped her personality in that she likes finding out other people’s secrets – something that sometimes gets her into trouble. Gwen knows that she’s nosy, but she also likes using her magic to find out the truth too.
As for why I picked psychometry magic, sometimes, an idea for a story comes to me first, and sometimes, I think of a title and go from there. One day the title Touch of Frost just sort of popped into my head. I thought it was a cool title, so I started thinking about what kind of magic and heroine I could create to go with it, and I started thinking about psychometry, or what I call touch magic in the books. That was sort of the beginning of Gwen and the book.
FV: There is a good bit of romance and sexual tension in Touch of Frost, but it’s not over the top. I’m really excited to see where things will go for Logan and Gwen. I also really liked the secondary romance between the “pretty-in-pink” Valkyrie Daphne, and the goofy band nerd Carson. Will we see these romances growing more in future books or will you keep the focus more on the action, magic and mystery?
JE: You’ll definitely see Gwen and Logan’s relationship grow and change, along with Daphne and Carson’s as the series goes along. I’m also thinking about introducing some other secondary romances, although these four characters are really my core group. I like books with a little bit of everything in them – action, magic, mystery, and romance – and I enjoy putting all those elements together in my books.
FV: I noticed that in both romances you paired a nerdy type with a cool kid. Any particular reason for that?
JE: Well, there’s the old saying that opposites attract. I like seeing different kinds of people become friends, fall in love, and more. Plus, I think that we can all be nerdy and cool in our own ways. We all have things that we’re good at or passionate about. Some folks might think those things are nerdy, while others might think that they’re cool. You just have to be happy with yourself.
FV: Were you the nerd or the cool kid in school?
JE: Definitely the nerd. LOL. I don’t think I’ve ever been cool in my entire life.
FV: You wrote a funny guest post here at Fiction Vixen about your experience with a spitting llama. How would Gwen respond if confronted with an overly aggressive, mythological spitting llama? Would her cute Spartan need to step in or would she handle it?
JE: *Snickers* Gwen would probably glare at it at first and try to shoo it away. If the llama persisted, Gwen would then probably stomp her feet and yell at it, all the while trying to avoid getting spit on. If the llama still didn’t go away (and you know that it wouldn’t do anything but just stand there and grin at her), Gwen might brandish a sword or a staff at it. But since she hasn’t had the lifelong warrior training that the other Mythos Academy students have had, I don’t know how well that would work for her. I think the llama would just keep grinning at her until Gwen got fed up and left.
I think Logan would probably stand by with an amused look on his face and watch Gwen try to deal with the llama – unless she was in real danger, then he’d step in and help her.
FV: Would you consider writing in a mythological, overly aggressive llama into the series? I kid, I kid. (I’m not)
JE: Well, I do have mythological monsters in the books – including Nemean prowlers, which are big, panther-like creatures with burning red eyes. I could probably sneak a llama in there somewhere. LOL. Maybe the llama could be really mean and nasty in that it spits acid or something like that. *Scribbling down note to research mythological llamas*
FV: You write three series, each in a different genre. The Elemental Assassin series: Urban Fantasy, the Bigtime series: Paranormal Romance, and now Mythos Academy: Young Adult. If you had to pick…like your life depended on it, which genre is your favorite to write?
JE: I really like writing urban fantasy. I write first-person books, so it’s a genre that works well with that. Plus, I enjoy coming up with my heroine’s magic and figuring out how her power can grow and change over the course of several books. I would consider the Mythos Academy books to be urban fantasies too – just for young adults.
FV: I’m excited about this new YA series and you already know I’m a super-fan of Gin and your Elemental Assassin series. At some point I’ll be digging into the Bigtime paranormal romance series. Do you have any other projects coming up we can look forward to?
JE: Thanks! I appreciate that.
Kiss of Frost, the second book in the Mythos Academy series, will hit shelves on Nov. 29. Dark Frost, the third book, will be out in 2012.
Spider’s Revenge, the fifth book in my Elemental Assassin series, will be released on Sept. 27. I’m also working on the next two books in that series. By a Thread, the sixth book, will be out in February 2012, while the seventh book (untitled at this point) is tentatively scheduled to be published in the fall of 2012.
FV: Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting today.
JE: Thanks for taking the time to feature me and my books. Happy reading, everyone!
Jennifer would like to giveaway a copy of Touch of Frost to one lucky reader. To enter, tell Jennifer what type of mythological creature you’d like to read about. (psst, there might be a cookie in it for you if you say overly aggressive, mythological, spitting llama.)
Giveaway is open until August 9, winner announced soon after. Open to US and Canada only please.