Today we are pleased to welcome New York Times bestseller, Jacqueline Carey, author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series of fantasy novels, to the Fireblade blog. Her latest novel, Dark Currents, is currently available, so please check that out on her website.
- 1. Can you define the moment when you first knew you wanted to write a book?
There was no defining moment; it began as a hobby while I was in high school, and continued through college. It was afterward, while I was living in London and working in a bookstore, that I finally realized writing books was the career I wanted to pursue.
- 2. What or who inspired you to write?
The very first story I wrote was inspired by Fleetwood Mac’s song Sisters of the Moon. The lyrics were cryptic and intriguing, and I wanted to know the whole story it hinted at… so I began writing it!
- 3. Do you have a particular ritual preceding or following the completion of a book?
No, I don’t.
- 4. Do you reward yourself after completing a book and how?
I’ve been known to celebrate with a bottle of champagne!
- 5. Any superstitions with regards to your writing?
None that I can think of.
- 6. What attracted you to write in your particular genre?
I’m an eclectic reader, but I’ve always loved fantasy, and, as a writer, I love the freedom it affords me to create – or recreate – whole new worlds. The possibilities are limitless, and it establishes a wonderful canvas for storytelling.
- 7. Once you had completed writing your first book, what steps did you take to becoming a published author?
I followed a very traditional route, researching agents and publishers, sending out query letters and submissions, all the while working on my next book. I actually have several ‘practice novels’ that will never see the light of day. Kushiel’s Dart, which became my official debut novel, was the book that secured me an offer of representation from a literary agent, who went on to sell it to Tor Books.
- 8. Whose opinions do you value most when it comes to your writing?
I write in relative isolation. My partner, Julie, serves as the only sounding board for works in progress. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with several excellent editors over the years, all of whose input I’ve valued.
- 9. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly, I don’t think I had a professional goal in mind. Maybe that’s why it took me so long to realize I wanted to be a writer!
- 10. What is the most interesting lesson you’ve learnt about yourself through your writing?
During my ‘struggling writer’ years, which was a solid decade, I learned that I’m a lot more tenacious than I realized, and capable of persisting in the face of rejection.
- 11. Do you draw any of your character’s traits from friends or family?
Almost never, although there are a couple of characters in the new Agent of Hel series that are minor exceptions.
- 12. How many characters have you killed off?
Wow, I have no idea what my body count over the course of 14 books is! Pretty high, I suspect; there are a lot of dramatic deaths in the Kushiel’s Legacy series.
- 13. Have you ever regretted killing off a character?
Regret, no. I’ve felt remorse – it’s painful to kill off a character I’ve come to know and love – but it’s always been in service of the narrative.
- 14. Which character did you most enjoy writing about?
I’d have to say Phèdre nó Delaunay from the first Kushiel trilogy, simply because she was a truly unique character. As a writer, it’s rare that you have the chance to execute an idea that no one else has ever done before, and I think casting a masochistic courtesan-spy into an epic fantasy heroine was a first for the genre!
- 15. What is the biggest challenge you face when starting a new book?
For me, it’s getting the voice right.
- 16. Ever had a stalker?
I’ve had an overly ardent fan or two who made me uncomfortable, but I haven’t – knock on wood! – had a bona fide stalker.
- 17. Name one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never have? Why?
There are a few trips I’d love to take – India, south-east Asia, a safari excursion somewhere in Africa. I just haven’t had the opportunity yet. Travel is wonderful, but expensive and time-consuming!
- 18. What has been the hardest book for you to write? Why?
Kushiel’s Avatar has the darkest sequence of any book I’ve ever written, and that was definitely the most difficult.
- 19. Is there a message or a lesson you’d like to convey to your readers?
I think the central precept of Blessed Elua in the Kushiel’s Legacy series is a pretty good one: Love as thou wilt.
- 20. If you were given the opportunity to mentor a young writer, would you?
At this point, I’m afraid my writing schedule and ever-present deadlines would prohibit it, but I look forward to a time when I’m able to take on additional projects and share my hard-earned experience.
- 21. Please share with us your favourite recipe for a dish or drink you love to make and enjoy.
Here’s a good one for all the fresh seasonal produce we’re enjoying here in Michigan:
Tacos de Calabacitas
Yield 4 servings
Time 30 minutes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 cup diced yellow summer squash
1/2 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup corn kernels, preferably fresh
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup diced tomato or quartered cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
8 corn tortillas
1 tablespoon minced cilantro.
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add onion and sauté until translucent; about 2 minutes. Add squash, zucchini, corn kernels and jalapeno. Sauté until squash and zucchini are lightly browned; about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano and salt to taste.
2. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring once or twice, until squash, zucchini and tomatoes release their juices and begin to blend; 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, and adjust salt as needed. Sprinkle with cheese, cover, and cook until cheese is melted; about 1 minute. Remove from heat and keep warm.
3. Preheat a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, warm the tortillas on the griddle, about one minute a side. Place the warmed tortillas on a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
4. Arrange two warm tortillas on each of four plates. Place equal portions of filling in the center of each tortilla. Garnish with a sprinkling of cilantro, and serve.
The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.
To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly.
But when a young man from a nearby college drowns – and signs point to eldritch involvement – the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime – and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her demonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.
New York Times bestseller, Jacqueline Carey, is the author of the Kushiel’s Legacy series of historical fantasy novels, The Sundering epic fantasy duology, post-modern fables Santa Olivia and Saints Astray. Her most recent release, Dark Currents, is the first volume in the Agent of Hel contemporary fantasy series. Jacqueline enjoys doing research on a wide variety of arcane topics, and an affinity for travel has taken her from Finland to China to date. She currently lives in west Michigan.