Recently, I read and reviewed Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares books: Magic Lost, Trouble Found (book 1) and Armed and Magical (book 2). From the very first page, Raine Benares had me hooked. Both books were so fantastic, that I had to ask Lisa Shearin over for a ‘Chat’, Book Smugglers style!
What’s even better is, Lisa agreed to provide us with a giveaway! For those who are interested, we will be giving away two prizes:
First Prize – Autographed copies of MLTF and A&M
Runner Up – Raine Benares Gear (bookmark, magnet, and postcard)
In order to enter, just leave a comment following this post! The contest will be open until Monday, July 14 at MIDNIGHT (Pacific Standard Time, GMT -8). We will randomly select and announce the winners Monday afternoon. Good luck!
And now, without further ado, we give you our Chat with the wonderful Lisa Shearin!
The Book Smugglers: Could you share with us how you met Raine Benares–and how you were able to get her story written and published?
Lisa:I have two finished manuscripts in my office closet that I consider practice books for what I’m writing now. I started writing those books way back in my freshman year of college. I’d been to the local Waldenbooks looking for something to read, and I couldn’t find anything. My roommate got tired of hearing me complain about not having anything to read and told me I should write my own book. So I did. At that time, I was devouring epic fantasies, so I wrote an epic fantasy in third person with multiple points of view. Over the years after college, I wrote two books of what was supposed to be a fantasy trilogy. When I tried to get it published, everyone told me “No, thank you” or just plain “No.” Thank God. Those books were terrible—and they still are. My husband doesn’t think so; but Derek is the “Most Supportive Author Husband Ever” with good reason. ; )
But even though they were unpublishable, those books were how I learned what worked, and more importantly, what didn’t. At least what didn’t work for me. Once I zeroed in on one main character, writing in first person just felt like the right way to go. Turned out I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Kristin Nelson (now my agent) read my query letter and wanted to see sample pages. She read those and wanted to see the entire manuscript. After she read it, I got what all aspiring authors dream of—The Call. (And yes, getting The Call is just as squeeee inducing as you’ve always imagined.) Kristin wanted to represent me, and I wanted to let her. ; ) It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; Kristin is a dream agent. She sent Magic Lost, Trouble Found out to about six of the big NY publishing houses to editors who were looking for my kind of book, and in a matter of a few weeks, Anne Sowards at Ace Books (Penguin Group USA) made an offer. Again, I was blessed. I want Anne to be my editor forever. She’s simply marvelous.
The Book Smugglers: In a recent blog post, you’ve shared a beautiful parchment map of Raine’s world, which has been under construction for years now. While both books are focused in Mermeia and its comprising islands, Raine’s world is a lot larger than this one city–and this is something that comes across in the reading as well. Will we get to explore more of Raine’s world, beyond the Isles and Mermeia?
Lisa: Raine’s world is huge, and there’s plenty of material for more stories, and even prequels. And yes, in future books, Raine has to travel. I can’t tell you where she’s going, but I can guarantee that Raine’s fans will love what happens when she gets there.
The Book Smugglers: I love the characters of Raine and Phaelan, and the reactions characters have to the notorious Benares family. Will we be meeting more of the Benares clan of thieves, pirates, smugglers, et al.?
Lisa: You’ll be meeting Phaelan’s dad (and Raine’s uncle), Commodore Ryn Benares in The Trouble With Demons. And Phaelan’s older brother (Mago Benares) plays a decisive role in Bewitched & Betrayed. Since I haven’t started writing Bewitched & Betrayed yet, a few more members of The Family may show up. Who knows? ; )
The Book Smugglers: That dratted stone, the Saghred, and Raine’s binding with it reads like a wonderful throwback to The One Ring to Rule Them All (not to mention all the other brilliant fantasy/romance/suspense-crime elements you have blended in to these books). Can you share a few of your influences in creating Raine’s world?
Lisa: Raine’s adventures came out of my love of genre fiction—fantasy, detective fiction, mysteries, action adventure, romantic comedy, thrillers, and crime capers. I wanted to combine fantasy with the intrigue of the classic detective novel, the suspense of a mystery, the daring of action adventure, and the fun of romantic comedy and crime capers. I wanted to write a roller coaster that you could read. I think it all goes back to my college days and not being able to find a book that combined all of my genre fiction loves. So I wrote the type of books I wanted to read, but couldn’t quite find. Well, that and Raine didn’t give me a choice.
The Book Smugglers: Speaking of genre blending, many readers have applauded the almost ‘urban fantasy’/noir-ish voice Raine narrates the story with, but also the great balance of fantastic elements. As a lot of readers are finicky about point of view (especially in the traditional “fantasy” genre sensibility), what made you decide to write these books from Raine’s perspective?
Lisa: Mixing contemporary sensibilities with traditional fantasy was a hard line to walk. I resisted doing it for as long as I could, but I finally gave in. But I figured elves and goblins don’t really exist, so who’s to say how they speak or don’t speak? Raine’s voice just wouldn’t be forced into traditional “fantasy speak,” and third-person was out of the question—Raine let me know that in no uncertain terms from day one. Once I started writing in first-person, I immediately found her voice, and I really knew I was on to something when my other characters started coming out of the woodwork as if they heard their cue to come on stage.
The Book Smugglers: On breaking with conventions–sexy Elves are a standby. We’ve had our share of pretty Legolases, but never before have I seen a goblin portrayed as sexy (as a race of magical creatures, they get the short, hairy, drooly end of the stick on a regular basis)! What inspired you to re-invent Goblins as sexy denizens of the night?
Lisa: Because Tam told me to. ; ) When Tam arrived on the character scene, he came complete with emotional baggage and a past he wanted to keep hidden. He was the new bad boy businessman in town—and he was a goblin. Turning him into someone who would make Raine all hot & bothered was a natural progression. I asked myself why couldn’t goblins be gorgeous? Why couldn’t they be tall, lean, silvery skinned, and wicked sexy? And while I was at it, I thought fangs and long black hair would be a nice touch. (Heck, they don’t call it “fantasy” for nothing.) My goblins are just your basic dark-eyed, smooth-talking, dangerous bad boys who you probably wouldn’t take home to meet the parents.
The Book Smugglers: It’s unfair, but I gotta ask–Are you a Mychael or a Tam kind of gal? See, I’m good–not asking who Raine will end up with, if either of ’em…although please don’t hesitate to spill if you feel the urge 😉
Lisa: I’m both a Mychael and a Tam kind of gal. There’s the steadfast, noble (but really sexy) hero who is good for Raine; and then there’s the mysterious bad boy with the shadowy past—what girl can resist that? It’s difficult to choose, which is why Raine is having such a tough time of it—and it’s not going to get any easier for her. ; )
The Book Smugglers: According to your bio, you are an avid fencer and in your spare time you love to sing with a choir–both activities that translate strongly in both Raine Benares books (in the tight action fighting sequences, and the beauty & significance of spellsingers like Mychael and Piaras). When you write, do you undertake any other sorts of hands-on type of research?
Lisa: Since I’ve begun writing Raine’s adventures, unfortunately I haven’t had the time to get back into the fencing gym. But I have five years of fencing experience to fall back on (my Olympic weapons of choice are the foil and epee). And while I was working on the manuscript that would become Magic Lost, Trouble Found, I took private rapier and dagger lessons, and took a lot of notes for future book use. My fencing coach, Wes Caudill, helped me block out the fight scene in the first chapter of Magic Lost, Trouble Found, and is always available for any and all of my combat-related questions.
Like Raine, I like to be creative in my fighting style. Though unlike Raine, I’ve never used a rose bush branch as an offhand weapon. I prefer the more traditional offhand weapons: a dagger, a second rapier (fighting with a pair of rapiers is also known as a “case” of rapiers or Florentine style), a dueling cloak (though I never quite got the hang of that), but what was just too much fun was a rapier and a bullwhip. Yep, you heard me right. Believe me, nothing distracts an opponent like a six-foot whip wrapping around their blade. Hmmm, a bullwhip. That sounds like a weapon Raine would like.
In Bewitched & Betrayed, there will be what I want to be sword-fighting scene that readers won’t forget. Wes will be helping me choreograph that scene as well. It’ll probably take me a long time to get it on the page just right. It has to be realistic, and convey that this is life and death. I want it to be a real nail-biter for the reader.
The Book Smugglers: In a recent interview over at Fantasy Debut, you gave a teaser about an upcoming book, set outside of Raine’s world–in a different genre altogether! What are your writing plans for the future? Any upcoming releases we should be on the lookout for?
Lisa: I don’t have another book other than Raine’s adventures in the works at the moment. But I do have an urban fantasy/thriller series that I hope to be starting within the next two years.
The Book Smugglers: What are you reading right now?
Lisa: Since I’m gearing up to write Raine’s next adventure—Bewitched & Betrayed—I’m steering clear of fantasy as reading material. I’m re-reading a favorite crime caper, Put A Lid On It by Donald Westlake—sharp, smart, snarky fun.
Lisa currently works as the editor at an advertising agency. She has been a magazine editor and writer of corporate marketing materials of every description. Lisa enjoys singing, reading, writing novels, and fencing (foil and epee, as well as rapier & dagger dueling). She lives in North Carolina with her husband, one cat, two spoiled-rotten retired racing greyhounds, and a Jack Russell terrier who rules them all. Magic Lost, Trouble Found and Armed & Magical are the first two books in her Raine Benares adventure series. The Trouble With Demons will be out in the spring of 2009.
A big Thank You again to Lisa Shearin for stopping by and chatting with us. Be sure to check out Lisa’s wonderful blog, and (if you are a sucker for Raine like I am) her online store! I for one cannot wait for The Trouble With Demons!
The giveaway is on. Good luck!