We welcome to the blog today Urban Fantasy/YA author Jennifer Estep. Jennifer is the author of the Elemental Assassin series: the first two books are Spider’s Bite (reviewed here by Ana) and Web of Lies. Venom, the third book, came out on Sept. 28. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while the fifth book (untitled) will be released in October 2011.
(She also sold a wicked-sounding young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in 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. Sounds awesome doesn’t it?) .
Anyway, to celebrate the release of Venom we invited Jennifer to talk about the evolution of her main character Gin Blanco and how she’s changed over the course of the books. Plus, we are giving away a set of the first three books to one lucky winner.
Please, give it up for Jennifer Estep:
Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Ana and Thea for having me on the blog today. Thanks, guys!
Some of you might know me as the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can con-trol 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 elemen-tals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.
So Ana suggested that I talk today about my heroine Gin Blanco and how she’s changed over the course of three books.
For those of you who don’t know, Gin is an assassin known as the Spider. She kills people – a lot of people – in the books. At one point, Gin quips that she’s killed more people than the common cold. Not exactly, but she’s definitely not shy and retiring either. That hasn’t really changed much from Spider’s Bite to Venom. Gin is still as sassy and sarcastic and strong as ever, and all of the books are filled with lots of action, lots of fight scenes, and lots of bloody deaths.
So what has changed? Well, Gin retired at the end of Spider’s Bite, due in part to the urging of her murdered mentor. She’s not necessarily retired from being an assassin, but she has quit killing people for money. Starting in Web of Lies and continuing through Venom and the rest of the series, Gin takes on what she calls “pro bono” jobs. In other words, helping out folks whose problems only have one solution – a bloody, permanent one that involves Gin using her silverstone knives.
These days, Gin doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty if it’s for a good cause, like in Web of Lies when she helped out Warren T. Fox, an old friend of her mentor’s who was being driven off his land. In Venom, Gin finds out that someone she knows is being stalked by a serial killer – and that the whole situation is sort of Gin’s fault to begin with. Guilt can be a powerful motivator, even for an assassin.
Gin is also changing in her personal life. Not to give too many spoilers away for what happened in Web of Lies, but Gin opened up her heart to someone and got pretty badly burned in the process. In Venom, she’s trying to regroup and wondering what to do about a new guy, Owen Grayson, who’s showing interest in her – whether or not she wants to try to have a real relationship with someone new and whether Owen can really accept her for who and what she is. After all, most guys would be a little leery about getting involved with a former assassin.
Then, there’s Gin’s long-lost baby sister Bria. At the end of Spider’s Bite, Gin found out that Bria was alive after thinking her dead for years. In Web of Lies, Gin struggled with how she felt about the revelation – and whether she should try to find Bria. After all, most people would be a little leery if they found out their big sister use to kill people for a living. Now, in Venom, there’s another twist to the Bria situation. I won’t spoil it here, except to say that Gin has to confront a lot of things about her past and the night her family was murdered.
In many ways, Venom is a turning point in the Elemental Assassin series. Gin makes some big decisions in this book – about her sister and especially about what she’s going to do about the Fire elemental who murdered her family. Relationships between Gin and the other characters deepen or take new turns, and of course, I take readers to new places in Ashland, including a riverboat casino called the Delta Queen. All of these things will drive the story arc into the fourth and fifth books in the series.
I don’t know that there’s a softer, kinder Gin in Venom, but I do think that she’s a little more open and a little more caring and a lot more interesting. Hopefully, readers will agree.
What about you guys? How do you like to see characters change over the course of a series? Who are some of your favorite fantasy characters?
We have ONE set of the first three books (Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies and Venom) in the series to giveaway to one lucky winner. Leave a comment answering Jennifer’s questions for a chance to win. Contest is open to residents of US and Canada ONLY and will run until October 9 at 11:59 PM (PST). Only one entry per person please! Good luck!