Hi Ella. Thank you for this interview.
What drew you to write urban fantasy, and do you have any favorite books or authors in the genre?
The genre is about much more than vampires and werewolves and sexy detectives. It’s about viewing modern life through the lenses of metaphor and exaggeration. For example, many people feel like they don’t fit in. Monsters of myth don’t fit in here, either. We can explore what that means by reading and writing fiction.
My favorite urban fantasy tends to be the older works, before it became a whole genre to itself. Like Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice and Agyar by Steven Brust. The genre seemed to be less fluff and more stuff back then. I also tend to like urban fantasy with faeries; also anything with new interpretations of angels and demons. I think of Brom’s Child Thief and Mark Ferrari’s Joby, as well as books by Neil Gaiman and TV shows like Supernatural.
What’s your process like when you begin a novel? Does the premise or characters come first?
Usually the premise. My favorite part is worldbuilding. I’m in the process of building several worlds – One I’ve worked on for years started with the premise: What if Carl Jung’s ideas in psychology had won over Sigmund Freud, and history was altered forever? I still have no characters for that one. As I think up the rules for the world, the characters come along and want to play by those rules.
Do you have any world-building advice for anyone interested in writing urban fantasy?
Start with a premise. The best place for ideas I find is science, especially biology. Folklore is also extremely rich with stories and ideas. Many cultures and ancient stories are completely untapped.
Start with the premise and answer questions to flesh out the world. For example, “What if the cannibalistic Wendigo were real?” Research the myths. Then ask lots of tough questions. Why have scientists not discovered the Wendigo? How does it survive? If it eats people, why aren’t there more missing people and murder investigations? What are its motives and goals? Is there just one, or many? How does it reproduce? The answers to each question will spawn new ideas and tougher questions – maybe Wendigoism is caused by a virus or a genetic mutation, but their blood contains the cure for cancer. These are all opportunities to develop a richer, deeper world that will feel believable. It will also generate conflicts that will be seeds for your plot.
Your Dreams by Streetlight series puts a unique spin on faeries as urban fantasy creatures. Please tell us a little bit about the fae in your books.
Faeries to me represent dreams and stories: the essences of creativity. They are distilled extracts from our own subconscious minds. Be they dreams or nightmares, they have one thing in common: They are irrational, following rules that only they can understand. There are seelie and unseelie (good and evil fae), but even these lines are blurry to the human understanding of morality.
Nykks are faerie spirits with no bodies. The rational human mind will resist “seeing” them, so they can be sensed only partly with the eye – the rest is seen with the mind, so can easily be passed off as a hallucination.
The faeborn are nykks who choose to be born into human bodies. These pass as human. Their fae natures are even more difficult to sense than nykks.
There are a lot of types of faeries, from little brownies and sprites, to giants and trolls; from the beautiful to the grotesque to the horrifying.
What are dreamers, and what do they provide to the fae?
The fae were born of dreams. They need dreams to survive. Dreamers are humans with exceptional talents in the arts.
Think of flowers producing nectar, and bees turning that into honey. Every time a dreamer writes a story or paints or composes a new song, she gives off a type of energy called toradh (“tor-ah”, a Celtic word). The fae consume toradh. Glamour is a byproduct which can be used by humans and the fae for magic.
Can you give us a little background on your heroines, Jina and Sandy? Why did they become faerie hunters, and how have they learned to fight them?
There is a prequel to Emerald City Dreamer called Make Willing the Prey. It’s more of a horror story than urban fantasy. In that, Sandy and Jina are lured into a deadly game by an imp named Haun. They manage to escape, but so does Haun. Emerald City Dreamer starts several years later, and Sandy has vowed to fight Haun and all his kind. She is the studious type, and at the beginning of the novel, the most she’s really done is research and experiment.
Jina lets Sandy lead the secret society, and helps recruit other hunters. But it seems like all Sandy ever does is talk and prepare, until Jina begins to question Sandy’s leadership skills.
The story contrasts how the two women have dealt with their trauma, and how ready they are when it comes time to get their hands dirty.
Who is your favorite bad guy/gal in Emerald City Dreamer and why?
Jett. For the exact same reasons why I hesitate to call her a bad guy. Jett is a protagonist acting antagonistically… or is she an antagonist acting protagonistically? Either way, she’s a faerie, and as such, her actions and motives are unpredictable.
How does your version of Seattle differ from the real thing, and why did you choose that location?
I love Seattle. It’s another reason why I decided to write urban fantasy, because I wanted to share my excitement for this place with others. In some ways, I wrote Seattle herself as a character, living constantly in the background, breathing her own life into each scene. I wrote about real places, and often kept their names or changed them only slightly. Emerald City Dreamer could easily have happened in May of 2009, while the rest of us were busy obliviously living our own lives.
Any hints about what we can expect for the rest of the series?
I’m doing the first round of revisions on Emerald City Hunter now. Sandy’s nemesis, Haun, will continue to haunt and evade her. Sandy and Jina will continue to grow. Jett has grand designs. Expect intrigue to get a bit more political over the next couple of books as Jett chases her goals. You will definitely see more fae. And after Emerald City Hunter, we just may see an older faerie hunting society show up and try to throw their weight around…
Are there any types of stories or characters that you’d like to see more of in speculative genres?
More strong women, minorities, and sexual minorities. Fewer tropes and more trope-twisting. I like stories to surprise me. Especially in urban fantasy, I’d like to see more “idea stories”, more intricacy in the worlds, and more depth to the stories.
What do you feel are the advantages and/or disadvantages of self-publishing these days?
It’s hard to say what the publishing industry will look like in ten years, but I love being part of the process. The advantages are clear: It allows more experimentation and more niches. It gives more authors voice, and allows readers to be a larger part of the selection process for what succeeds and fails.
The disadvantage is that some writers may not shoot for a minimum level of quality in their work. It takes lots of “bad writing” for most authors to gain skill. Many authors publish the first things they write, which floods the market with unprofessional work.
I think that will all sort itself out soon. A local group here called the Northwest Independent Writer’s Association has a few ideas for setting minimum standards of professional behavior and quality writing, including a Seal of Quality program they’ve just started. Other organizations are gaining traction as well, like the Association of Independent Authors.
Do you have any predictions for urban fantasy trends we might see in the future?
It will likely be influenced by its sister genres. Like any good story, the popularity of genres themselves seem to follow patterns of emotional ups and downs… Dystopian fiction may cause a backlash and we may want something more upbeat for a while. We may see a short period of increasingly dark themes in UF, followed by increasingly bright and optimistic themes. Perhaps we’ll see less about fighting monsters in the real world, and more about magic’s power to uplift the human condition. The upside of writing about faeries is there is plenty of material for both.
Emerald City Dreamer
Dreams by Streetlight Book One
By Luna Lindsey
Word count: 124,000
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Amazon Kindle Price: $3.99
Available from amazon.com, amazon.co.uk
Jina and Sandy survived the unthinkable. Now they've set up a secret Order in Seattle to fight the impossible - fairytale creatures born of human nightmares and nourished on dreams. Their tools: iron, lore, science, glamour, and support groups. As beginners, without access to the ancient societies of faerie hunters, they must rediscover how to protect themselves. And in order to fight the fiends of the world, Sandy must take control her inner ghosts.
As a dreamer in a rock band, Jina unknowingly feeds the fae and attracts unseen enemies at every turn. Now, they're finally on the tail of at least one dark monster bent on evil. She is a dreamer, so she must follow her heart - but which way does it lead?
Jett is an elf who only wants to protect her hodge-podge clan of faeries from the encroaching world of science and religion - which have systematically slaughtered her kind and the beliefs that gave birth to her people. True dreamers are rare beings, and when she finds them, she does everything she can to protect them and claim them as her own.
Ezra is a teenager who never feels comfortable in his own skin. Most people like him well enough, but when he looks in the mirror, he sees a demon. He has been taken in by the Garbage Eaters, who expect obedience and purity. Before long, he suffers a crisis of faith that may lead him into real danger.
Delve into this deeply developed, internally consistent world of the fae, and meet beings who are simultaneously alien, elegant, and terrifying, fueled by dreams and the creative energy of artists. Glimpse the secret world of Tir Nan Og through the eyes of fully fledged four-dimensional characters living in a Seattle that is just a bit weirder than you think.
This is a story with psychological depth, a page-turner with unexpected twists and turns.
When prey hunts, who will lead the chase, and who will run?
Buy at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Emerald-Dreamer-Dreams-Streetlight-ebook/dp/B007L9CTEI
YouTube Video Author Reading of short story Right After Feeding Time: http://youtu.be/0q-ckzF0Jyw
Website and Blog: http://www.lunalindsey.com
Facebook Author Link: http://www.facebook.com/LunaRLindsey
Amazon Author Link: http://amazon.com/author/lunalindsey
Library Thing Author: http://www.librarything.com/author/lindseyluna
YouTube Videos http://www.youtube.com/user/JamGrrlLuna/videos