Friday, October 8, 2010

Interview: Jennifer Estep

I'm thrilled to welcome Jennifer Estep to the blog today, she writes a brilliant urban fantasy series that focuses on an extremely tough yet wonderfully vulnerable assassin by the name of Gin Blanco. If you haven't had a chance to read this series, make room in your schedule immediately!

And as a special October treat, there's a copy of Venom up for grabs! Just leave a comment with an email address so I can contact you if you win! Open to US and Canada addresses only. Ends 10/11.

Can you give us a brief glimpse at what we can expect from Gin and gang in Venom?

Of course. Here’s the back cover copy for Venom:

It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer … who is about to save her life.

Basically, in this book, one of Gin’s friends is being stalked by a serial killer, so Gin decides to take care of the stalker – permanently. Only things get complicated, especially since the stalker works for Mab Monroe, Gin’s nemesis. Plus, the stalker is more powerful than Gin first realizes, and he just might end up killing Gin – instead of the other way around.

If you could interview any of your characters, who would it be and what’s the first question you would ask them?

I’d love to interview Finn, since he’s such a fun character. The first thing I would ask him would be for the keys to his Aston Martin so I could take it for a spin. He’d probably tell me no, though – that no one drives his cars but him. LOL.

Do you think it’s more difficult to write the first novel in a series, setting up the world and introducing the characters, or the subsequent books where you have to keep the story fresh and create new problems for the protagonists?

I think they’re both equally difficult. The first book is all about setting up the characters, their magic, and the world that they live in. That’s a lot to establish in one book, especially if you’re writing fantasy and have to come up with your own magic, how it works, and how characters’ powers might grow and change in future books.

But it doesn’t get any easier in the subsequent books. Sure, you have your world established, but like you said, you have to keep the story fresh and come up with new problems/enemies for your heroine to face down and overcome. Not to mention the fact that you have to explain the magic system and recap what’s happened in previous books as well as laying out the plot for the current book.

You can’t assume that everyone who picks up the second or third book in a series has read the first one. It’s a tough balancing act to lay out your world every time for new readers while still moving the story along for folks who have read the other books in the series.

I always do my best to give readers the best book that I can, whether it’s the first one in a series or a subsequent book.

If you were an assassin like Gin, what would your code name be and why?

Hmm. That’s a toughie! I’d probably have to say Ice Queen just because I’m so cold all the time. Seriously, people hate to shake hands with me because mine are usually so cold. Most of the time, my fingers are like icicles even in the middle of summer. LOL.

Gin is a woman of few words. Instead so many of her emotions, as well as Donovan and Owen’s, are expressed through the eyes. Why did you decide to use a look to convey feeling instead of vocalizing it?

I think people can communicate so much with their eyes. Often, one look can tell you everything that you need to know about a person and what she’s feeling at the moment. A grimace, a glare, a look of shock, glassy eyes, narrowed eyes, angry eyes, sad eyes … Eyes really are the window to the soul. As an assassin, Gin spent most of her life watching people and learning how to read their emotions and what they’re going to do next just by looking at them.

Plus, part of it is the old “show, don’t tell” adage. If someone narrows her eyes at you or crosses her arms over her chest, she’s probably angry. Most of time, describing how someone is impatiently tapping her foot or the flash of anger in their eyes is more interesting than just saying “Gin was angry.”

What is your favorite scene in any of the three books written so far?

This is another tough question, since there are so many scenes that I love. But one of my favorites would have to be near the end of Web of Lies when Gin is wandering through the collapsed coal mine, trying to find some way to escape. I think that scene really shows how mentally tough Gin is, that no matter how bad things get or how impossible a situation seems that she’s going to do her best to get through it – even if it kills her.

Gin loves to cook to unwind, are you any good in the kitchen?

I do love to cook, and I think I’m pretty good at it. Although let’s face it – it’s not that hard to follow a recipe. LOL.

I have a huge sweet tooth, so I love to make cookies and cakes and other desserts. I also like simple recipes that don’t take too long to make or that aren’t too complicated. I don’t have all day to spend in the kitchen, and I know other folks don’t either. Besides, to me, simple food is often the best. You can get great flavors from just a few ingredients. Chocolate, anyone?

(um, yes please!)

Each of the characters has a rune that symbolizes their overall personality or personal creed, have you ever given any thought to what your personal rune would look like?

I think my personal rune would be an open book, since reading and writing are both such a big part of my life. And maybe in tiny, tiny print, there would be some words on the book that would say something like “Jennifer Estep is a pretty cool author.” Hey, it’s my rune, right? ;-)

For you personally, would you choose Owen or Donovan?

I would choose Owen. I like Donovan, but his strict code of morals just isn’t practically in a city as dirty, violent, and corrupt as Ashland is (which is one of the main problems between him and Gin). I think trying to live up to Donovan’s ideals would be tiring after a while.

Owen is much more tolerant and much more accepting, since he’s done quite a few bad things in his past just to survive and keep himself and his younger sister safe. Plus, Owen is just more relaxed and fun – and you have to have fun in a relationship to make it work over the long haul. Especially if you’re someone like Gin, who has had such darkness in your life for so long.

Anything you can tell us about your future plans? Any other books/series in the works?

Well, there will be at least two more books in the Elemental Assassin series. Tangled Threads, book four, will be out in May 2011, while book five (untitled at this point) will be out in fall 2011. I hope to write more books in the series, but that will depend on sales, like everything else does.

I’ve also sold a young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 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 finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.

The Mythos Academy series has a lot in common with the Elemental Assassin series, since both series feature strong, sassy heroines, cool magic, and lots of fight scenes. The Mythos Academy series is just a little lighter on the sex and violence than the Gin books are, although it’s still fairly gritty for the young adult genre.

A huge thanks to Jennifer for answering my questions! Her website is chock-full of fun extras and short stories, so if you're looking for a little introduction to Gin, be sure and check it out!


I adored Venom, it's my favorite of the series so far, so if you're interested in my review you can find it here.


  1. SQUEEE!!! Fab interview. I adore the Elemental series and can't wait for Tangled Threads.

  2. No surprise here, but I've never heard of this series before! It's sound fabulous and I'm going to add it to my ever-growing tbr pile. Thanks, Jenny!

  3. Tori -- Thanks! Glad you are digging Gin and the gang so far. ;-)

    Rummanah -- Cool. I hope that you get a chance to check out the books.

  4. I want! Jennifer, you must write more and faster. Get right on that, okay? :)


  5. I definitely must read Venom! This was such a fun interview! :)

  6. Zita -- I actually write pretty fast. Books 4 and 5 are done already, it's just that the publishing process takes sooo looong ...

    Melissa -- Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

  7. Sounds great!
    Is it international? Then please enter me.

  8. I really enjoyed Spider's Bite and I can't wait to read the rest of the series and find out what happens next for Gin and friends.

  9. I think I already know what's going to happen to Mab. One word -- fishsticks.

  10. Lucy -- Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Barbara -- Thanks! I'm glad you are digging Gin and all her crazy adventures.

    PR -- Let's just say that Mab and Gin will go toe-to-toe before it's all over.

  11. Great interview and questions. I normally don't read this genre but I loved this series and Venom was the best yet. Can't wait for the next one.

  12. Cathy -- Thanks! That's what every author wants to hear -- that the books just keep getting better and better. ;-)

  13. I would love a copy of Venom! I need to check into this series. Great interview - I always love getting to know an author better! :)


  14. I really enjoy this series. Taking kick ass to a new level. Great interview.

  15. I'm bummed that the next books are written, but you have to wait on the publishing company. I want them to be available just as soon as I finish Venom.

    jen at delux dot com

  16. Lit for Lunch -- Cool. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

    ParaJunkee -- Thanks! I'm glad you are digging the books.

    Jen -- I wish you guys could go ahead and read them too, but that's not my call. And it does take a while to get the cover, the copy edits, and everything else done. Unfortunately, waiting is part of the process in publishing.

  17. Great Interview!! Let's all attack the publishing companies and tell them to hurry up with publishing the books or else we will all die if we don't get em!

    Cassandra C
    cassandra dot crouser at yahoo dot ca

  18. You must love the name Gin Blanco. I have not read this series so this could be great to get me started.

    Fangs, Wands and Fairy Dust
    Twitter: @fangswandsfairy

  19. Thank you for such a great recommendation and interview!
    Lvsgund @

  20. Cassay -- Thanks! And I know what you mean. I wished the books were coming out sooner too. But at least I'll have four books out next year (May, August, October, and December) so there will be plenty to read from me, especially in the fall.

    Steph -- I like it, but I might be a little biased. LOL.

    Lil -- Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  21. Jennifer - 4 books next year? YESSSSSSS:) That is what I like to hear:)