Monday, October 6, 2008

Round 2 with Ann Aguirre, Author Extraordinaire  

Books: Regular readers of this blog may remember that I first interviewed Ann Aguirre back in March soon after her book Grimspace was released. The second in Ann’s spacefaring adventure series, Wanderlust, is now on shelves, so I thought I'd get back in touch with her for another round of author talk. One of the nicest writers in the biz, she graciously agreed…

Congratulations on Wanderlust, it's a great sophomore entry on top of a dynamite first book. How has the book been received, and are you happy with the way that it turned out?

You know, like Goldilocks with her porridge, for some Wanderlust is too hot, for some it's too cold, and for others it's just right. I think it's been pretty well received, and I'm happy with the book. I don't think it's helpful to compare it to Grimspace because I try not to write the same books over and over again. I might feature the same characters, but I'm always working toward growth.

One of my favorite aspects of Wanderlust was the interplay between main character Jax and her love interest, rugged former mercenary March. Their relationship and the tension in the book felt very authentic and realistic to me. Where did you draw the inspiration for the dynamics of the relationship?

Like many authors, I find my examples in real life relationships. I observe how people relate to one another, and I ask my friends whether the motivations ring true. Otherwise, I can't say there's any one couple who represents March and Jax, nor are they representative of gender roles as a whole. Basically, I invented them, so their behavior comes from me. I guess that makes me a good student of human nature, huh? *g*

In both Grimspace and now Wanderlust, characters often use the term "Mary" as part of an exclamation or declaration. How did you come to decide on this word, and will we ever get any backstory on it?

Ah, I've actually taken some heat over this. A few people have called me misandrist for dethroning Christ and installing his mother at the top of the religious hierarchy. A brief explanation occurs in Grimspace:

When she brings a bowl of soup up for my lunch, I just have to ask, "Why are you being so nice to me?"

She gives me a Madonna's smile. "Mary teaches us that's how you change the world, one soul at a time, one kindness at a time. That's the only way it'll ever take root."

"Didn't they kill her for that doctrine?" I ask, taking the dish from her.

Adele shakes her head. "No, that was her son. They knew better than to martyr her. It was meant as an object lesson from the authorities, but it didn't shut her mouth. She went on to live a good life."

I've never been religious, never thought much on the oaths I swear, but I pause in spooning up a bite of soup. "That's why she's revered? For living a good life?"

I don't mean to minimize its importance, but I can tell my tone struck a chord because she drops down on the battered old sofa that came with my apartment. "Isn't that more than it sounds like, Sirantha? It's easy to do right when everything goes right. But let everything go wrong and see how difficult it becomes."

Since I'm writing about some indeterminate future, it made sense that religion would have evolved like everything else, so I took a mainstream religion and gave it my own spin.

I've got to ask… there are a few characters in the book that seemed (to me, anyway) like surreptitious shout-outs to Harry Potter. Grubb and Boyle seemed a little like Crabbe and Goyle, both in name as well as their role in the story, not to mention the name Riddle pops up as well. Homage, or pure coincidence?

I'd have to call it coincidence; a thousand monkeys, typewriters and Shakespeare sort of thing. See, I haven't read all of the books. I can't remember where I stopped, but I don't think I got through more than three. But hey, if it sells more copies, all you Harry Potter fans, come read my books for the surreptitious nods!

Besides Sirantha Jax and her outer space adventures, you're also cooking up a supernatural-themed series starring new heroine Corine Solomon, due out in early '09. You gave a rough description of the series last time, but what can you tell us now? What should readers expect from this series, and do you feel that fans of Jax will likely enjoy Corine's adventures as well?

I think so. Unless you just hate action and intrigue with a touch of romance. All my books have a love story threaded through them, but the development of it will come slower in the Corine books. These books are urban fantasy, not SF, but I think they're fun, entertaining reads. But don't take my word for it!

*produces unpaid author endorsements*

"Ann Aguirre proves herself yet again in this gritty, steamy
and altogether wonderful urban fantasy. Outstanding and
delicious. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next."

–NYT Bestselling author Patricia Briggs

"An authentic Southwestern-flavored feast, filled with magic,
revenge and romance, spiced with memorable characters
and page-turning action. ¡Muy caliente!"

–Rachel Caine, author of the Weather Warden series

Coming April 7, 2009 from Roc.

And a Blurb...

Right now, I'm a redhead. I've been blonde and brunette as the situation requires, though an unscheduled color change usually means relocating in the middle of the night. So far, I'm doing well here. Nobody knows what I'm running from. And I'd like to keep it that way…

Eighteen months ago, Corine Solomon crossed the border to Mexico City, fleeing her past, her lover, and her "gift". Corine, a handler, can touch something and know its history—and sometimes, its future. Using her ability, she can find the missing—and that's why people never stop trying to find her. People like her ex, Chance…
Chance, whose uncanny luck has led him to her doorstep, needs her help. Someone dear to them both has gone missing in Laredo, Texas, and the only hope of finding her is through Corine's gift. But their search may prove dangerous as the trail leads them into a strange dark world of demons and sorcerers, ghosts and witchcraft, zombies—and black magic...

You've recently started using the Ava Gray nom-de-plume for another series of books, though it's pretty clear from the website that it's not really a big secret who Ava really is for anyone who does minimal clicking. Why the new name, and what can you tell us about the new line?

Because these are romances, make no mistake. They'll be dark and gritty, like my spec fic, but the point of these books will be the relationship. Expect lots of hot sex and violence. I wanted my romances to be separate from my spec fiction (SF&F) so that readers wouldn't see my name on the new fiction table and then be distressed to realize they'd purchased a romance novel.

I hope most of my readers will be open-minded enough to give it a try because I surely put a new spin on the "romance" genre. Yes, I give you a happy ending, but there's a high body count, lots of action along the way. These stories have a paranormal element, but it's light -- no vampires -- instead you have a greedy medical research corporation trying out radical vacines on poor people, which results in strange abilities. My heroines and heroes walk in shades of gray, owing loyalty to nobody but each other.

On your blog, you've mentioned attending a few conventions. Now that you've got two great books on the shelf and a bunch more in the pipe, do you notice any difference in the way that people react or relate to you in person? More specifically, how does the early phase of genre superstardom feel?

Pardon me, gotta stop laughing first. Can't type. Superstardom? Really? Uhm. Well, I still make dinner at night. I write five days a week, and I answer emails. I also fret about stuff over which I have no control. Except for the writing part, that makes me like any other Joe with a day job. But it is kind of cool when people recognize me. I'm not used to having folks know who I am, unless I owe them money.

Top three things you've read in the last year, go.

Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione
The Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine
Dead Shot by Annie Solomon

The last time I interviewed you, I asked you to make a tough choice between corn, wheat, and rice. This time, the stakes have been upped. Now, it's dogs and cats… the species you choose will become the domesticated animal of choice for the entire world, and the species you don't choose will end up in a series of industrial-grade meat grinders, be turned into low-grade cafeteria patties, and vanish from the earth forever. Do you save cats OR dogs… and why?

No way. I live with both cats and dogs. They'll find out if I take sides. It's not happening.

They're *both* safe. Drats! Foiled again...

I should have foreseen that a clever author like Ann would have found a way around answering that one, but next time she won't get off so lucky.

Many thanks to Ann Aguirre for the chat. readers can visit her website for more info here, and her books Grimspace and Wanderlust (both available online and in finer bookshops everywhere) get top billing from me. If you haven't already, run out and buy a copy of each right now.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

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