Urban fantasy author Jessica Andersen's new release is called DEMONKEEPERS. (Penguin Group). She joins us today in a chat with our own Leeann Burke.
Leeann: Tell us a bit about your KEEPER series and more specifically your latest release DEMONKEEPERS.
Jessica: Hi! Thanks so much for having me here, and to your readers for checking out this interview
The Nightkeeper books tell of an underground battle that is being waged even as we speak … As we approach the end date of 12/21/2012, dark forces stand poised to overrun the earth and crush humanity beneath a vicious rule of terror and blood sacrifice.
Our only hope rests with a group of saviors living in secret among us: modern magic-wielding warriors called the Nightkeepers. These dark, sexy magi must find and win their destined mates in order to protect the barrier of psi energy that forms humanity’s last line of defense against the demons of the ancient Maya.
In DEMONKEEPERS, Lucius is an Indiana Jones wannabe who never quite measures up, until a twist of magic brings him powers beyond belief … and reunites him with Jade, the one-night stand he never forgot.
Despite the sizzling chemistry between them—and the added power that comes with a love match—Jade is determined to prove that she’s more than a researcher … she can be a Nightkeeper warrior in her own right.
But as the two race to rescue the sun god himself from the underworld, they learn that kicking ass isn’t enough. They’ll need all their brains and skill—and the long-denied love that burns between them—to foil the demons plot to usurp the sun and bring ecological ruin to the earth.
Leeann: What is it about the Mayan prophecy that made you set your KEEPER series around it?
So when I came across a reference to the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, I immediately saw the potential for a high-action, high-intensity series based on a mythology that hasn’t been done to death in the paranormal romance and urban fantasy markets.
Part of my fascination comes from having spent time down in the Yucatan as a kid. My parents would pull me out of school for a few weeks every spring (much to my teachers’ relief, I suspect) and we would go investigate the ruins, which were in the process of being restored at the time.
They’re far more regulated and tourist-ified now, but back then, ruin ratting was a total Indiana Jones, creep-through-the-collapsing-tunnel experience. I try to bring that excitement and wonder to the books.
For me, it’s really interesting to blend archaeology and 2012 cosmology into sexy urban fantasies. I’m writing the kind of books I love to read, but can’t always find on the shelves!
Jessica: I would say that each book has its own writing process. The first book, NIGHTKEEPERS was the most difficult to write, in that I not only had to define the world and an unfamiliar mythology for readers, I was also introducing a huge cast of characters and trying to make them each distinct and memorable.
The subsequent books have been easier in the sense that I know the world and the characters, and I’ve been able to focus more on the hero and heroine of each specific book, and telling their love story. But at the same time, each story challenges me in a different way as a writer.
For example, DEMONKEEPERS turned out to be, in a way, a makeover story, with nerdy Lucius gaining magical powers and growing into the big, buff warrior he’d always longed to be. But I really dislike ugly-duckling-to-swan stories that make it seem as though physical strength and beauty are required for happiness, or that they can fix all other problems.
So I really concentrated on peeling back Lucius one layer at a time, until we see (and he sees) that his new powers actually make things more complicated, not less, causing him to mistrust not only himself, but also Jade, the woman he loves.
Leeann: Is there a bit of Jessica in Jade?
On the surface, Jade and I have some things in common—she’s an intellectual and feels like an outsider among the Nightkeepers because she can’t command warrior-level magic. So I relate to her on the level of someone who grew up nerdy and on the fringe of things.
However, Jade was raised by an unemotional protector who emphasized duty and responsibility over feelings. More, out in the human world (prior to the reunion of the Nightkeepers), she was a therapist who specialized in relationships, and so she often saw lovers at their worst. This has given her a seriously jaundiced view of relationships and has left her pretty walled-in when it comes to emotion.
That’s not me at all—I’m far more the one who plunges headlong into each new friendship/relationship expecting the best out of the other person in terms of trust, respect, and emotion. In that way, I’m far more like Lucius. And we’ve both gotten burned by that openness a time or two.
So I guess you could say that there’s a lot of Jess in Jade and Lucius together. And I’m okay with that
Jessica: I’m a huge TV and movie watcher, with emphasis on the decibel level—if it’s loud and there’s lots of running and screaming, preferably with a shirtless manhunk or two, then I’m there! That’s why I write the books I do—loud books with lots of running, screaming and sex ☺.
I also love clever writing, like that in Bones and Caprica (though I preferred BSG over Caprica). I’m not a big murder-and-politics news watcher, though love sharing quirky stories with friends.
However, I don’t know that I would say any of those things feed my creativity.
Leeann: What does? Desperation.
Jessica: LOL. I wish it weren’t true, but deadlines seem to be the best driver of my creativity. When I know I’ve got to get the darned story down on the page, I somehow find a new ability to sit my butt in the chair and pound out pages.
And the thing is, that’s when I do my best writing. I think the desperation forces me to ignore the internal editor that wants to pick over each paragraph, trying to make it perfect and in the end succeeds only in making it bland.
When I’m writing fast, the narrative flows and I’m forced to concentrate on the central story, the main action-and-reaction, rather than worrying about the small details of scene or setting, like whether the curtains match the drapes. So to speak. (Snicker).
Leeann: What can you tell us about the book you are working on right now and when will your readers be able to get their hands on it?
Jessica: I’ve got two stories I’m putting the finishing touches on right now. This fall, we’re giving the Nightkeepers a new look, with different titles and more urban fantasy-type covers. BLOOD SPELLS will be out in November—it’s the story of the Married With Children Nightkeepers, Brandt and Patience.
In the original series outline, they didn’t have a story of their own. I figured they’d already had their happily ever after … but when I really got into writing the first book, I realized that their marriage was based on them having hidden their true identities from each other and the gods putting them together for a larger destiny. Which meant their lives weren’t going to be nearly as simple as I had first imagined. Then, when the Nightkeepers’ king sent their twin boys away into protective custody … well, I knew something was going to blow up in a big way.
We see a bit of that in DEMONKEEPERS, but things really heat up in BLOOD SPELLS!
After that, in February ’11, I’ll have a novella in an anthology with Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, and Deidre Knight.
This story is told from the perspective of a winikin (a member of the Nightkeepers’ servant class) that has escaped from their world to become a demon hunter in his own right.
It was fascinating for me to be in the head of someone who doesn’t necessarily see the Nightkeepers as the ‘good guys.’ When he’s pulled back into the doomsday war while trying to save a sexy female archaeologist, sparks fly … and the Nightkeepers’ world will never be the same!
Leeann: I appreciate you taking the time to put together this interview, and thanks very much to those of you who have read through to the end! For more info on DEMONKEEPERS and the other novels of the Nightkeepers, please check out www.JessicaAndersen.com!