Jen: Please let me welcome Jennifer Estep back to the blog. Jennifer, will you please share a short bio with us? Jennifer: Of course. By night, I’m an author, prowling the streets of my imagination in search of my next fantasy idea. I currently write the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The first book in the series, Spider’s Bite, was released on Jan. 26 by Pocket Books. Web of Lies, the second book in the series, will be released in June 2010, with Venom, the third book, to follow in October 2010.
I’m also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series for Berkley. The Bigtime books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love. Titles in the Berkley series include Karma Girl (2007), Hot Mama (2007), and Jinx (2008).
Jen: Tell us about Spider’s Bite and where it’s available.
Jennifer: Spider’s Bite focuses on Gin Blanco, who moonlights as an assassin codenamed the Spider. 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. Gin happens to be a very rare elemental, someone who can control not one but two elements – Ice and Stone in her case.
In Spider’s Bite, Gin gets double-crossed on a hit and finds herself the target of a deadly conspiracy. So she teams up with a sexy detective to figure out who wants her dead and why – and Gin has no qualms about killing her way to the top of the food chain until she finds the person responsible for setting her up. I like to think that the book has a little something for everyone – magic, action, fights, and some steamy scenes between Gin and the detective.
Spider’s Bite is available at all the major chain bookstores, as well as online at Amazon, B&N.com, Borders, etc. You should be able to get or order it just about anywhere that sells books. Spider’s Bite is also available at some Walmarts as well.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Jennifer: I’ve always loved to read, but it wasn’t until high school that I started writing short stories and poetry, mostly for class assignments. While I was in college, I had the thought that I think all writers do after they read a book that’s maybe not so good – “You know what? I could write something better than that.” So I wrote my first book one summer during college and haven’t stopped writing since.
I wrote seven books in a variety of genres before I sold Karma Girl, the first book in my Bigtime paranormal romance series, in 2006. When I got the call, I was at my day job. The phone rang, and I thought – well, hoped – that it was my agent calling with good news. And it was! After she told me the good news that we had an offer on Karma Girl, I got up from my desk, went outside, got in my car, and screamed with happiness for a few minutes. Then, I went back inside and got back to work. I had a huge smile on my face the rest of the day.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Jennifer: Nope, I’m the only writer. Other folks in my family often say that they can’t even write a letter, much less a book! So I’m the only one who’s been bitten by the writing bug.
Jen: Do you have any “must haves” with you while you’re writing?
Jennifer: Just my computer, my wrist brace (to stave off that nasty carpal tunnel), some quiet, alone time, and whatever muse is whispering to me at the moment. That’s all I need.
Jen: Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to your experience? If so, how?
Jennifer: I like to think that I get better with every book that I write. That my descriptions get more vivid, my characters more layered, my stories more complex and interesting. I think that all writers want and need to grow with every book that they produce. You always want to stretch yourself, test your skills, and give readers an even better story than the one that came before it.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Jennifer: For me, the most challenging aspect is finding time not only to write, but to do everything else that goes along with being an author — blogging, keeping up with e-mails, following up on things, doing copy edits, revisions, etc. I have a day job, and then most nights and weekends, I go home and work on book stuff. It really is like having another full-time job, but I love it. And you should always make time for things that you love doing – no matter how tough it might be sometimes!
I would say the easiest aspect of writing for me is coming up with ideas. I have about ten different ideas right now for books in a variety of genres that I’d love to work on – it’s finding the time to juggle the new ideas with what my current books/series demand that’s tough for me.
Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Jennifer: To me, the most rewarding thing is having folks enjoy my work. Getting an e-mail from a reader who says that she loved my book is one of the best feelings in the world. That’s why I write – to entertain folks. To make them laugh and take them away from their cares, even if it’s only for a few hours. Knowing that folks enjoy my work and are looking forward to my next book is what makes it all worthwhile to me.
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Jennifer: I’d love to write a western someday. I have an idea for an urban fantasy western that I’ve been mulling over for a while now. I’d also love to write a really elaborate heist book — something in the vein of Ocean’s Eleven.
I’m not crazy about reading science fiction, so I doubt that I’d ever write a sci-fi book. I like writing about magic much more than aliens!
Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Jennifer: 1) Ian Fleming, because I love his James Bond books so much. They’re a great mix of action, adventure, and romance. I’m a total Bond fan girl – love the books, love the movies. I’d ask Fleming how he manages to come up with such interesting villains. Because really, a hero is only as good as the villain that he goes up against.
2) Robin McKinley, because her book Beauty is one of my all-time favorites. The fairy tale Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite stories, and McKinley’s writing in Beauty is just pure, lovely elegance. I’d ask her to write a sequel pronto!
3) Donald E. Westlake, because he does humor so well, especially in his Dortmunder comic crime caper series. And, writing as Richard Stark, he does a great series about a tough-as-nails thief named Parker. Westlake really showed me that authors can do more than just one type of book and tell more than just one type of story – and do them both exceptionally well. I’d tell him thanks for all the great reads that he’s given me over the years.
4) Terry Brooks/David Eddings, because I discovered their epic fantasy books one summer and devoured every single one that I could get my hands on. They’re both really good at world building, and I’d ask them to share some of their tips with me.
5) My mom, because every Saturday when I was a kid she’d take me to the local library. My mom is the reason that I fell in love with books and reading in the first place. I dedicate my books to her so she’ll know how very much that has meant to me over the years.
Jen: If Spider’s Bite was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Jennifer: I think that Jennifer Garner would be wonderful as Gin, my assassin heroine. Garner was terrific on Alias, and I think that my character Gin has a lot of the same strengths and vulnerabilities that Garner portrayed in Sydney Bristow. As for the hero, I’m actually going to focus on Finnegan Lane, who is Gin’s sidekick and partner in crime in the Elemental Assassin series. I think Hugh Jackman would be great. He has a tough, but mischievous quality that would suit Finn well.
Jen: What has been your highlight of your career to this point?
Jennifer: I actually have a couple of these. One highlight was holding a finished copy of my first book, Karma Girl, in my hands and then seeing it later on the shelf at my local bookstore for the first time. Those are two moments that I’ll never forget. Another highlight would be selling my Elemental Assassin series. This was equally as sweet because I’d been trying to write an assassin book for a couple of years. I had tried writing it as an epic fantasy before I decided to go the urban fantasy route. It took me a long time to get it right, but it was worth the wait!
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Jennifer: Read, of course! I wish I had more time to read all the great books out there. I also like to cook, love spending time with my friends and family, and enjoy playing D&D. Yeah, I’m a total geek at heart!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jennifer: I have two more Elemental Assassin books coming out this year – Web of Lies in June and Venom in October. I also recently sold books 4 and 5 in the series to my publisher, so I’ll be writing those over the new few months. I’m also working on a new urban fantasy series – but with spies, instead of assassins. The first book in that series is called Live & Let Spy.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Jennifer: Folks can visit my Web site, www.jenniferestep.com, to get info on the Elemental Assassin series, as well as read the first chapters of each one of the books and a bonus prequel short story, Spider’s Bargain, that takes place before the events of Spider’s Bite. People can also follow me on Facebook at http://profile.to/jenniferestep/ or e-mail me anytime at email@example.com.
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers? Jennifer: I would like to ask readers this – If you enjoy an author’s book, drop her an e-mail and let her know about it. Writing is a hard, lonely business most of the time, but receiving an e-mail from a reader can brighten up even the worst day.
And if anyone has a question about my books or writing in general, ask it in the comments. I’ll answer what I can. Happy reading, everyone! 😉
Jen: Readers, Jennifer is giving away a copy of Spider’s Bite to a random commenter. Due to shipping costs, the contest is limited to US/Canadian residents only. To enter the contest, first you need to leave a comment or question for Jennifer. The to finish your entry, you need to either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be chosen on Sunday, February 21.