Wednesday, March 31, 2010

GUEST AUTHOR: Jessica Andersen


Today, we have Jessica Andersen visiting the blog!

The Raving Readers: Hi Jessica, thank you so much for joining us today at The Raving Readers. I love the way you depicted the Nightkeepers' world. So fascinating and mysterious. Have you always been interested in Mayan lore and civilization? When and how did this fascination start?

Jessica Andersen: Thanks so much for having me, and for your kind words on the Nightkeepers' books! Yes, I've always been fascinated with the Mayan civilization, going back to my kidhood, when my parents used to take me down to the Yucatan for several weeks each spring.

This was just as Cancun was building itself up as a tourist destination, when most of the 'big' ruins in the area were in the process of being restored and weren't as tightly regulated (or touristi-i-fied) as they are today. Those experiences (climbing up the pyramids, down inside the tombs, hanging my feet over the edge of the sacred cenote) really stuck with me.

So when I was researching for another book, and came across the idea that the Mayan calendar would complete its cycle on 12/21/2012, and there was some scientific reasoning to suggest that something Big And Bad could happen on that day ... I was hooked!

TRR: We can see how that could be so exciting. In fact, your Final Prophecy series has an overall storyline arc. Did you plot everything before writing the first book? Or did the storyline come about on a per book basis?

JA: Erm, yes and yes? LOL. Really, it's a bit of both. Although I wrote a series bible at the very beginning, there have been major changes along the way. The world, the basic characters, and the magic were mostly established from the beginning, the stories and twists have really evolved on a book-by-book basis.

TRR: I love the twists and turns you presented in each book. I could never predict what's going to happen and I love being surprised! In Skykeepers, we see you dipping your toes into Egyptian lore. Will we see more Egyptian influences in the coming books? Any other civilizations making their appearances in future books?

JA: I'm fascinated by the way similar myths, images and rituals can show up in cultures that are (in theory, anyway) completely separate! Yes, we're definitely seeing more of the Egyptian influence (especially in Demonkeepers). Another culture that may play into the stories is that of the Hopi, who have an end-time myth that runs parallel to that of the Maya.

TRR: In the books that you've written, whose story was the easiest to write? Why do you think this is so?

JA: I don't know that any of them have been all that easy, per se. These are long, complicated books with lots of moving parts, as well as characters that really challenge me (and each other!). That being said, I've always found Lucius's (hero of Demonkeepers) point of view very natural for me to write-- he's a total nerd, knows he's a nerd, embraces his nerdhood, and then tries to find an element of coolness within it. That's sort of how I see myself, so Lucius and I get along.

TRR: That's interesting, coz Lucius is one of my favorite characters! Sh, don't tell the others or they might get jealous. Now, which among the couples is your favorite? Why?

JA: Whichever couple I'm writing at a given moment becomes my favorite! I need to love them in order to write their story-- because if I'm not totally sucked into their story, then I won't be able to bring the reader along with me. So even if a character isn't necessarily someone have a ton in common with (e.g., Michael, the mysterious assassin from Skykeepers), I look really deep inside them and find something that I can connect with.

That being said, Rabbit is probably my favorite character-- love him because not only is he an intentional troublemaker, half the time he creates chaos with the best of intentions! Not to mention that I think it would be very cool to be pyrokinetic :)

TRR: I have to admit I was anxious for Lucius's story, but I thought he'd be paired with Anna (vibes from Nightkeepers)! But in Demonkeepers, his mate is obviously Jade. Can you tell us a little about Demonkeepers, which will be out in April?

JA: One of the things that I find really cool about Demonkeepers is that even though Lucius is fully human, he's been exposed to both demonic and Nightkeeper magic, and has gained some powers of his own.

So where the geeky 'old' Lucius tended to cling (for example, to Anna), now there's this 'new' Lucius who has outgrown a bunch of the old one's insecurities ... but then he starts realizing that being a front-line warrior isn't nearly as glamorous as he'd made it out to be. Then we add Jade into the mix, along with their one-night stand (which was hinted at in Dawnkeepers), and things heat up fast!

TRR: How do you create your characters? Let's say, for example, Lucius. Did you know when you were writing Nightkeepers that he would end up the hero in Demonkeepers?

JA: There have been a few character shuffles since I wrote Nightkeepers. For example, there's one main character I thought was going to die who refused to go, another I expected to survive who didn't, and there was a little bit of brain-swinging going on, where I had planned one set of couples who traded mates on me.

Honestly, I had thought that Lucius and Sasha would end up together. But then in Dawnkeepers, Lucius and Jade worked together in the archive, and before I knew it, sparks were flying!

Those scenes didn't make it into the final book-- they were cut because these books get long, and I'm forced to really concentrate on the main storyline, even though my brain is telling me about all this cool stuff that's happening off-screen to the main plot. However, I knew what Jade and Lucius had been up to while we (the 'viewers' of the series, so to speak) were focused on other things. So for me, the only possible choice for Lucius was Jade, and vice versa.

As for how I created the characters, back when I was writing Nightkeepers, I knew that I had a *lot* of people in the story, and I was using an unusual number of points of view (my agent even joked at one point that she expected the tree to get a scene in its POV). So I worked very, very hard to make the characters feel unique and individual.

Thus, most of their major traits were set up in that first story ... but at the same time, everyone has evolved. They've all had different experiences along the way, and those experiences have continued to shape them. That's what is (I hope) helping each story feel very different from the others.

TRR: Why is Jade, and not Anna, perfect for Lucius?

JA: Although Anna and Lucius share a love of ancient Mayan research and hieroglyphics, it's far more in a mentor-student way than in a romantic way. They're just at different places in their lives.

Jade was a counselor in the outside world, but keeps her feelings deeply hidden. Lucius wears his heart on his sleeve, but needs help adapting to his new powers and responsibilities. In that way, they're perfect for each other.

Problem is, both of them are also trying to prove themselves as fighters and magi, which complicates things, especially when you throw sex magic (one of the Nightkeepers' strongest powers and greatest temptations) into the mix.

TRR: Will Anna get her own story someday? *g*

JA: That's the plan!

TRR: How many books did you plan for the series? After Demonkeepers, what have you got for your fans?

JA: I'm planning nine books and one novella!

After Demonkeepers, we shift gears a little with new titles and new cover concepts: Blood Spell will be out this fall-- it's Patience and Brandt's book, which is really different because they've been married for six years and have twin sons together. However, their relationship has been spiraling downward ever since they joined the Nightkeepers, and now it's reaching critical mass. When they're forced to work together-- and revisit pieces of their past-- in order to break a secret curse, things heat up fast!

TRR: I can't wait to see the new cover! The title Blood Spell sounds awesome, certainly different from the first four books. Anything else you'd like to tell us?

JA: Please visit me at the Nightkeepers' online home: http://www.jessicaandersen.com/. Be warned, the animated intro is kind of loud! So if you're at work, think about turning the volume down (snicker). The website is a ton of fun, and includes not only my schedule, newsletter signups, and excerpts, it also had additional info on the Maya, the 2012 doomsday, and a bonus short story that's available free for your reading pleasure. I'm a big Facebook-er, too, so please hit me up-- either search for 'Doc Jess' or search for 'Jessica Andersen' and look for the cover of Demonkeepers!

Oh, and as extra fun, I'm doing a Virtual Signing of Demonkeepers! To order a signed copy that will be delivered to you the first week of release (first week of April), go to store.radcliffbookstore.com and click on the virtual signing. While you're there, you can also order a signed copy of Ward's Lover Mine! (Great book, btw.)

Thanks for having me on this week, and please feel free to hit me up with questions or comments!

TRR: Thanks, Jess, great to have you here!

Reviews of books in the series:

Nightkeepers
Dawnkeepers
Skykeepers
Quiz on Nightkeepers - How well do you know the book? Test your knowledge!

Three (3) copies of book #4 Demonkeepers to be won! Everyone on the planet can join, even the penguins in Antarctica, if they can get on the 'Net and write a comment. LOL

How to enter?

Go to Jessica's website and tell us what you like about it. It can be about her books, the extras she has there, or even the design of the website. You can also tell her what you want to see there. Anything. While there, look at the amazing information she has for you. But be warned that the animated intro is a little loud, so if you're at work, hit the volume!

Extra chances to win:

+ 3 if you're an old follower of this blog
+ 2 if you're a new follower of this blog (starting to follow from this post/contest)
+ 2 if you follow us on Facebook or Twitter
+ 2 if you take our poster (located on the right sidebar) about this contest and post it
               on your blog/website with a link back to us
+ 1 for every time you spread the word about this contest via Facebook, MySpace,
              Twitter, your blog, website or other form of social media. For example, you
              tweeted about this contest twice and also announced it on your Facebook. You
              also wrote a blog post. That's 4 additional chances! However, for these to
              qualify, be sure to come back here and post the links. Like, if you tweeted
              twice, give me both links.

If you do all of the above, at a minimum, that's 9 chances to win (8 chances if you're a new follower)! Remember, the more things you do to help us spread the word about this contest, the better are your chances.

Contest ends on April 2 (Friday), 1159pm EST. (Original deadline was April 1, which is April Fools' Day, so we thought it might be better if we extend the contest by another day. *grin*)

Winner will be picked via Randomizer.org and announced within the week. Instructions will be given then on how to claim your prize. Be sure to come back and check because we won't hunt you down. If prizes are unclaimed after 1 week, new winners will be chosen.

Good luck!

3 comments:

Sunny G said...

Great interview! I was tickled pink to know that of all the characters, it was Lucius who is the most like the author.

But it didn't answer my questions. :( Hope Jessica will drop by and check out my comment in your review of Dawnkeepers, where I posted all my questions.

Jessica Andersen said...

Oops, sorry, Sunny! Glad you enjoyed the interview, and will head over to the other thread right now!

Jessica Andersen said...

Okay, I'm caught up! Will be checking in periodically now that the flood waters have receded. Good luck to all on the drawing, and thanks for posting!!

 

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