Jun 3, 2011

Posted by in Interviews | 11 Comments

Interview with Ilona and Gordon Andrews

A while back, a few fellow book bloggers and I were having a conversation via twitter.  The conversation shifted to author interviews and eventually landed on this topic: Who would be your dream author interview? For me, there was only one answer – Ilona and Gordon Andrews.  As you can read in my letter to them that I posted this morning, they and their books are one of the main reasons I am happy in my life today  and I knew that I would just be completely honored to be able to ‘chat’ with them about their Kate Daniels books via interview.  Well, they’re here and holy sh*t I can’t get over it!  I have have to pinch myself to make sure this is real and every time I even just peek at this post, I *Squee* a little.   It really is surreal to me.

So, without further ado, here they are.  Ilona and Gordon Andrews!  *insert Kermit the frog cheer*

I am really intrigued by the idea of both of you writing this series together.  Did you always know that you would write it as a team?  And which one of you was the first to say “Hey!  I’ve got an idea for a book.  What do you think hun?”

Ilona:  No, we started in college.  I am very logical in my reasoning and because English is my second language, I rarely misspell things.  But I drop a and the into the narrative at random if I am not paying attention.  Articles are a foreign concept to me.  Gordon can’t spell that well.   It just wasn’t a skill he learned.  We had an English class together and at some point one of us said, ” Hey, can you read this to see if it makes sense?”

The Kate Daniels’ books are written from her point of view.  I love that it is because I feel as though I really connect with her character.  But I must say that I do look forward to reading Curran’s point of view after I’ve read “Kate’s version”.  Gordon, you do a wonderful job of writing them.  I think you capture his character perfectly.  Where did the idea of writing from his POV come from?

Gordon:  I think because the books are in Kate’s POV, Curran sometimes comes off, especially in the first books as a bit of an ass.  I guess I wanted the readers to see what he really thinks as opposed to his King Cat routine.  It was honestly just something we wanted to do for the fans and the response was surprising, at least to me.  I’m glad that people like them and we have fun with it.

Let’s go back to the beginning.  (Don’t worry, I won’t ask you specifics about Magic Bites – even though I think it’s a really good book, by the way, no matter what you guys say).  One of my most favorite parts of your series is the world you’ve created.  In a genre that is full of vampires and shifters and magic, you guys have managed to keep your ideas fresh and unique.

The shapeshifters you write in your books are of all sorts.  There are not only lions and wolves, but badgers, rats, hyenas, bears…  And your shifters can either shift fully of take on a half-form and they don’t have to wait for a full moon.  You could have gone in any direction with your shifters.  What made you decide to write them as you have?

Ilona:  I’m a huge fan of the Jungle Book.  Kipling painted this amazing jungle world, where animals had personalities and had complicated social interactions. It was pure magic.  I wanted to live there.  This is sort of what we were aiming for with the Pack. They are people with different personalities who have complex relationships.

To me the most interesting aspect of the Pack is the social dynamics and the personal internal struggle of the shapeshifters themselves.  An animal feels no guilt and has no concept of the brevity of life.  Lions kill cubs fathered by their rivals so the lionesses would come into heat. Hyena cubs fight viciously and to the death often from the moment they are born.  Wolf packs don’t adopt outsiders, they kill them.  We, as human beings, have the potential to be the most savage but also the most merciful.  We live in a society that praises compassion; we are bound by friendship and love; we are aware of our own mortality. In a shapeshifter’s body and mind, the human morality overlays the animal pragmatism.  How do you reconcile the two?

That complexity is much more fascinating to me than the traditional view of a lycanthrope as a victim whose body betrays him during every full moon.

And your vampires!  Cree-py!  Infected dead-ish things that are piloted by members of The People.  I have to say I have not read vampires like that anywhere!  Where did that idea come from?

Gordon:  That is how we sort of see them.  Why would an un-dead creature be sexy?  They’re dead.  If you think of the very first vampire movie, Nosferatu, he was creepy.  Bela Lugosi sort of made Dracula cool and sexy, but in the old tales, like Slavic folklore they are feared and despised.  We wanted those kind of vamps.  That said, I am a huge fan of Anne Rice and who could do her sort of vampires better than that?

I really enjoy Julie’s character.  (For those of you who aren’t aware, Julie is a young teenager who is now Kate’s ward)  What I think I like the most about her though is what she’s done for Kate.  Since meeting Julie in Magic Burns, Kate has become more grounded and learned to live for others as well as herself.  Did you guys know from the moment you wrote Julie that she would play an important role in your books?

Ilona:  Yes.  Once we made the decision to include Julie, it was clear that she would become one of the major characters.  There was too much personality there. Julie is a child slowly turning into a young woman.  In some regard, Kate is watching Julie go through all of those experiences she missed: having a mother figure, getting her first crush, going to school, and watching this process forces Kate to emotionally mature.

It’s the same process that takes place with parents: when a child is born, the child comes first, which forces the parents to make decisions based on the welfare of that child rather than their wants and desires.  Children do make you older, but they also keep you young, because you experience happiness and rediscover things you forget as an adult. Kate needed that, she needed to have a little bit of fun, and even though she moans and does her, “why me?” bit, she would do anything to keep Julie safe and happy. Julie loves Kate with unconditional love of a child and Kate needs to be loved.

And Curran.  I know you guys were not aware that you were writing one of the most drool-worthy characters out there.  One who makes pretty much every woman who reads him want to purr right alongside him…  *daydream break*  Did you always intend for Curran to be Kate’s match or was there a time when he was just going to be Kate’s crazy neighbour who sheds on her furniture?

Gordon:  I think we always knew they would eventually end up together, but we wanted it to make sense, not just they see each other and hop into bed and have the best sex evah!  We wanted the relationship to develop over time and on the page.

There are many incarnations of Kate on your domestic and international book covers.  Are there any “Kates” that look closer to how you envision her while you’re writing?

Ilona:  I think Chinese cover artist drew a beautiful Kate.  I also still love Kate on the cover of MAGIC BITES.

Gordon:  I really like the Spanish cover, well the second book.

Once in a while (a.k.a. often) while you’re writing, you Tweet things along the lines of “Why won’t this book die?”  Are you ever fully satisfied with one of your books once it goes to printing or is being in love with your work practically impossible as an author?

Ilona:  I hate them all.  When I try to read them after publication, I cringe.  I felt compelled to read some of MAGIC SLAYS just to reassure myself that it was not a complete fail and had to stop.

I’ve read on your site a long while back that you were going to write 7 Kate books.  Then I read an interview where you said you were open for more, depending on your publisher.  Then I read that it was 7 but you were thinking spin-off.  So could you clarify things a bit?  Will you be ending Kate’ adventures at book 7?

Ilona:  We have no idea at this point.  I can tell you that there will two spin-off novels, but as it stands now, we have Kate plotted to book 7.

A lot of the series in our field follow the Detective Novel format: a character is a cop/FBI agent/PI who gets a case and they work the case, with their personal story weaving in and out of the narrative.  This is an extremely convenient series model, because the next case is always around the corner.  With Kate we did something writers generally shy away from: in every book the stakes are personal. The readers now expect each book in the series to have that “grab you by the throat” plot line.

With MAGIC SLAYS we tried a slightly different plot line: we went for a snowballing plot, which starts almost innocently, as just a job, and then rolls down the hill becoming a catastrophe.  We did it this way, because we wanted to change it up a little.  If you look at some of the early feedback of MAGIC SLAYS, you will see that some readers expected personal stakes right off the bat.  These kind of books are hard to write, because eventually it will get into silly territory: we’ll have to throw darts at the board to see which of the un-injured characters will be in mortal peril next.

If the publisher asks for extension, the original plan would’ve been to do some of the Kate’s Cutting Edge cases, but it clear from the early feedback that “new case” storyline won’t cut it. If the series will be extended, it might have to come as a spinoff storyline, extension after book 7, or in some other strange manner I can’t quite think of at the moment.

As an aside, next book will likely – although not certainly – include Hugh d’Ambray and we will once again break the status quo of the series again by probably taking it out of Atlanta.  We like shooting ourselves in the foot, apparently.  😀

Next up for you guys is a story in the anthology Hexed, which is being released June 7th.  Can you tell us a little about Magic Dreams, your contribution to this book?

Ilona:  MAGIC DREAMS is all about Dali and Jim. It was so much fun to write.  Dali is just such a sad puppy and she is blind – not in a physical sense – to her strengths.  Dali can walk into a house filled with sick people suffering from a curse and lift it by merely being there.  She is smart and funny and fierce, but she completely doesn’t see it.  Jim, on other hand, sees it very well.

Okay, Flash Four time (these questions only require one or two word answers)
Flash four questions about books and writing ~

How long, from start to end, did it take you to write “Magic Slays”?
Too long.  We wrote it, sent it in, then took it back and re-wrote it not to suck as much.

Did you see yourself being a writer as you were growing up?
Ilona – No.
Gordon- I wanted to be a rock star then the plan was to be a soldier of fortune.

In what room of your house do you write from?
Hangout room.  Both our computers are in there and the couch and big tv.  We sort of live in that room more or less.

Do you tend to come up with the title for your book before you start writing it, while you’re writing it or when it’s all done?
When it’s done.  Prior to that it’ s referred to as the book that won’t die.

Flash four questions about random things ~

Sweet or salty snacks?
Ilona – Neither.
Gordon – both actually, why not?

What color is your toothbrush?
Ilona – Aqua.
Gordon – blue I guess but like a deep sky blue.

Your high school experience:  good or bad?
Ilona – Weird.
Gordon – I would say good, I was a three sport letterman then I got to spend my senior year in Japan.

What do you like on your pizza?
Ilona – Mushrooms and bacon.
Gordon – Meat!

Thank you so much guys for taking the time to, not only answer my questions, but for helping make one of my dreams come true.  Yes, that sounds corny as hell, but it’s true.

You’re very welcome.

*Squee*  Don’t these two rock?  They are totally amazing.  And if you like Urban Fantasy and you haven’t read the Kate Daniels books, Do It!  You will NOT regret it!

  1. TheOnlyLisa says:

    What a great interview! I often wondered why they depicted vampires as they did and it makes sense. How sad that Ilona cringes when reading her own books, they are SOOO GOOD!!!

  2. I adores them both so much-but in a totally non creepy stalker way. Srsly.

  3. Great interview! I absolutely love the Kate Daniels books.

    It was very interesting to read what they had to say about the snowballing plot. That very thing was what kept me from connecting to the book at the beginning. But as the stakes grew personal, the book really took off.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Jen at Red Hot Books

  4. I love them! Kate Daniels is one of my favorite UF series. I’ve always found kind of weird and fascinating that the books are written by a couple, I cannot imagine writing something with DH… I don’t think that will end up well. 🙂
    Great interview Julie.

  5. Great interview 😀
    I must say that the Spanish cover really rocks

  6. FANTASTIC interview, Julie, Bravo!!! I loved every part of it!!!!!
    Love the series, and love answers, fun and informative.

  7. Awesome Julie! Thanks for spreading it to us as well. OMGosh I’m so excited about the next book if Hugh d’Ambray is in it….

  8. Great review Julie…tks!

  9. Love this interview. I think it’s so weird that they continue to think of their books as “that book that wont die” and Ilona HATES her books?! o.O So interesting. (psych major rears her ugly head) It’s like when a beautiful women thinks she’s ugly. So crazy to me, but I’m neither beautiful nor an amazing writer, so I suppose I can’t relate 😉

    I love this series. It’s one of my absolute favorites. Thanks for this Julie.

  10. TheOnlyLisa – It does make sense, doesn’t it?! 🙂

    tori – Yes. In a non-stalkery way. lol

    Jen – The Kate Daniels books are the bomb!

    BookaholicCat – I feel the same way. Jason and I aren’t nearly enough on the same wave length to pull something like that off. lol

    blodeuedd – I LOVE that cover!

    Pamela – I LOVED their answers!

    Skye – I was hoping it would be the ‘let’s kick Hugh’s ass’ book next. 😉

    Sharon – Thanks. 🙂

    Jessica – I can’t believe she doesn’t like them either. I mean…they are seriously amazing!

  11. Awesome interview Julie! I’m so happy to see that you were able to interview your two favorite writers for a series that you absolutely love. 😀 I love the tag team on answering the questions and the flash four questions still make me smile! 😀

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