Friday, January 29, 2010

Jennifer Estep is here!

A special day! The fabulous Jennifer Estep is here to give away a signed copy of her new urban fantasy novel, SPIDER'S BITE, first in the Elemental Assassin series. This is getting some awesome reviews! Jennifer is also the author of the Bigtime series. So, keep reading to learn how to enter, and get a little inside peek into some of the characters in the novel from none other than Gin herself, the heroine of SPIDER'S BITE.

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Kelly for having me on the blog today. Thanks so much, Kelly!

So Kelly suggested that I talk a little bit about the characters in Spider’s Bite – the first book in my new Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that was released on Jan. 26.

Of course, the main character is my heroine, Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who also runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. Gin is tough, sassy, smart, and sarcastic. I know, I know, so is every other heroine in urban fantasy these days. But hey, who wouldn’t want to write a character like that? ;-)

Now, Gin is an assassin and she’s spent her entire adult life killing people for money, something that’s she’s very, very good at. But that doesn’t mean that she’s completely heartless. In fact, Gin has several folks that she cares deeply about.

Spider’s Bite is written in first person, so the reader sees everything from Gin’s point of view – including the other characters. So today, I thought that I’d share some of Gin’s observations about her fellow partners in crime – as well as her enemies.

Fletcher Lane: Gin’s mentor and foster father who took her in off the streets when she was thirteen and trained her to be a master assassin.

Gin’s take: My gray eyes focused on the cash register perched on the right side of the counter. A lone man sat next to it, reading a tattered paperback copy of Where the Red Fern Grows and sipping a cup of chicory coffee. An old man, late seventies, with a wispy thatch of white hair that covered his mottled, brown scalp. A grease-stained apron hung off his thin neck and trailed down his blue work shirt and pants.

The bell over the door chimed when I entered, but the man didn’t look up from his paperback.

“You’re late, Gin,” he said.

“Sorry. I was busy talking about my feelings and killing people.”

“You were supposed to be here an hour ago.”

“Why, Fletcher, it almost sounds like you were worried about me.”

Fletcher glanced up from his book. His rheumy eyes resembled the dull green glass of a soda pop bottle. “Me? Worry? Don’t be silly.”

Jo-Jo Deveraux: A two-hundred-fifty-seven-year-old dwarven Air elemental who uses her magic to heal Gin whenever Gin gets injured on one of her hits. Jo-Jo also calls herself a “drama mama” because she runs a beauty salon that caters to trophy wives, debutantes, and all other manner of Southern women.

Gin’s take: Even though it was close to midnight, Jolene “Jo-Jo” Deveraux looked like she was ready to go to Sunday church. A flowered dress covered her stocky, muscular figure, and a string of pearls hung from her short neck. Her feet were bare, although flirty pink polish covered her stubby toenails. The color matched her lipstick and eye shadow. Jo-Jo’s bleached blond-white hair was coiffed into its usual, helmetlike tower of ever-tightening curls, although her black roots were starting to show. At an even five feet, she was tall for a dwarf, and her hair only added to her height. But I still had a good seven inches on her … The dwarf’s eyes were almost colorless, except for the pinprick of black at their center. Her pale gaze flicked over Finn’s battered face, and the blood spatters that coated both of us like strips of wet wallpaper. The crow’s feet and laugh lines that grooved her middle-aged face deepened with worry.

“Hell’s bells and panther trails,” Jo-Jo drawled in a voice as light and sweet as apricot syrup. “Come in, come in. Take him in the back. You know where.”

Sophia Deveraux: Jo-Jo’s younger sister at one hundred thirteen and counting. Sophia disposes of the bodies that Gin leaves in her wake. The dwarf also works at the Pork Pit, baking up the best sourdough bread in Ashland.

Gin’s take: Sophia was an inch taller than her older sister, and her body was thicker, with an extra layer of hard muscle. Where Jo-Jo was light, Sophia was dark—as in Goth. Short, straight black hair clung to her head, matching her eye shadow, eyeliner, and lipstick. Her eyes were also a flat black. Instead of a dress, Sophia wore black jeans, black boots, and a black T-shirt embossed with hot pink skulls. The skulls matched the plastic ones hanging off the spiked, black leather collar that ringed her thick throat. Even though she was a hundred and thirteen, Sophia had the moody adolescent look down pat … Her voice rasped worse than a whiskey-drinking, hard-living chain smoker’s would have. When she did deign to speak, Sophia liked to limit herself to small spurts of syllables. Nothing too strenuous. Then again, her dwarven sister, Jo-Jo, talked enough for both of them.

Donovan Caine: One of the few honest cops in Ashland, Donovan has a total Boy Scout mentality, which is why he’s determined to track down the assassin who killed his partner. That would be Gin, of course, which makes for some great tension between her and Donovan – especially when they team up to find out who wants them both dead and why.

Gin’s take: I tracked Caine through the scope as he approached Giles. Thirty-two. Six foot one. Cropped black hair. Hazel eyes. Strong chin. Square jaw. Bumpy, crooked nose. Lean body. Bronze skin that showed his Hispanic heritage.

He was handsome enough, although not as pretty as some of the other men I’d seen in the lobby. But Caine moved with the loose, easy confidence of a man who knows what he’s doing—and knows he can handle anything that comes his way.

Was there anything sexier than confidence and the skill to back it up? I didn’t think so.

Mab Monroe: The Fire elemental who runs Ashland like it’s her own personal fiefdom. Mab runs a Mob-like empire and has a strangehold on all the illegal goings-on in Ashland. She’s also rumored to have more raw power, more raw magic, than any elemental born in the last five hundred years.

Gin’s take: Gasps surged through the crowd, and I searched for the source of the sudden disturbance. My gaze locked onto Mab Monroe. The Fire elemental swept through the lobby and walked up the grand staircase. Every eye turned to her, and conversation stopped, like a song cut off in mid-chorus. Mab had that effect on most people. Her softly curled red hair gleamed like a new penny, and she wore a gown of the darkest scarlet imaginable, cut low in the front to show off her creamy d├ęcolletage. Her eyes were black pools in her face. Fire and brimstone. That’s what I thought about every time I saw Mab.

A flat gold necklace ringed the Fire elemental’s delicate neck. My eyes caught on the centerpiece of the design: a circular ruby surrounded by several dozen wavy rays. The intricate diamond cutting on the gold made it seem as though the rays actually flickered. A sunburst. The symbol for fire. Mab’s personal rune, used by her and her alone. Even across the room, I could hear the gemstone’s vibrations. Instead of beauty and elegance, it whispered of raw, fiery power. The sound made my stomach clench.

Quite the cast of characters, huh? ;-)

I hope everyone has as much fun reading about Gin and everyone else’s (mis)adventures as I did writing them. Happy reading everyone!

What about you guys? Who are some of your favorite characters in urban fantasy and beyond? Share in the comments (Kelly here: Your comment will enter you to win a signed copy of SPIDER'S BITE!! I'll draw a winner on Monday).


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I have to be honest - I havent really dabbled into urban fantasy.... yet. This looks really good and I am thinking I need to branch out in reading. :)

Gin is tough, sassy, smart, and sarcastic? Heck, I want to be her.

journey through books @ gmail dot com

Bethany C. said...

This sounds great! Some of my favorites are Cat and Bones, Raine Benares, Mercy Thompson, Dante Valentine, Jill Kismet, Joanna many.

Jennifer Estep said...

Shelia -- You are really missing out on some great books in the urban fantasy genre.

Don't we all want to be tough and smart? ;-)

Bethany -- You named a lot of my favs too. I'm really looking forward to Jeaniene Frost's spinoff book from her Cat series that's coming out in February.

Unknown said...

First of all, I have to say that I really like Charlie Madigan. Gin sounds pretty cool, too (I'd certainly hang out with either of them).

I'd have to say that my all-time favorite UF character is probably Jilly Coppercorn, who appears in several stories by Charles deLint. She got her own book when he (finally!) published "The Onion Girl" in 2001. Jilly is cool, but not so much that I'd want to be her... she had to go through too much crap to get to where she ended up.

Picking a favorite literary character is a bit like trying to pick your favorite child, by the way- how unfair!

Keep up the great blog.

K. said...

So happy to have Jennifer here! If you all haven't read her, make sure to check out her Bigtime series as well. ;-)

And thanks for the kind words on Charlie, Corrie! :D

Okay, well, it's off to work on YA revisions... Have a great day everyone!

Zita said...

I read 'em all. Urban fantasy is exactly my cup of tea. From Linda Hamilton's Anita Blake and Merry Gentry to MaryJanice Davidson's Queen Betsy and Fred the mermaid, I love each and every one. It's a good time to be a reader :-)

Jennifer Estep said...

Corrie -- deLint is one of those authors that I've been meaning to try for forever but just haven't gotten around to yet. What would be a good book of his to try?

Kelly -- Thanks for letting me guest blog. I appreciate it!

Zita -- It is an awesome time to be a reader. Interesting that you like a mix of the gritty and lighter UF. It seems like most folks prefer the darker stuff these days ...

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer,

I started with "Moonheart," which is a very likeable novel; I'd put it into the UF-with-a-romantic-twist genre. It was enough to make me hunger for more, at least!

I have not read a single book of his that I didn't love. Try "Jack: The Giant Killer" or "Greenmantle," too. He has a great range. All of the so-called "Newford" books will get you into the world of Jilly Coppercorn (she's only one of many really cool characters that populate the city of Newford).

I'd go on but just realized it's almost 3 a.m. here and I need sleep!

Jennifer Estep said...

Corrie -- Thanks for the recommendations. Now go get some sleep! ;-)

Unknown said...

I knew we were about to get snowed in so I bought this book on Wednesday- loving it so far.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Nope, don't enter me, ladies. I'm dropping in to let you know I've posted about this at Win a Book. Hopefully you're both about to make some new, loyal fans...

Gretchen Stull said...

It sounds like an awesome book, I can't wait to read it!

My favorite UF characters are Zsadist and Bella from JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

K. said...

Oh, thanks, Susan. Very much appreciated! :-)

Jennifer Estep said...

Jon -- Glad you are enjoying Spider's Bite.

Susan -- Waving at you (again). ;-)

Lily -- Ah, Bella and Z. Definitely my favorite couple from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series!

Unknown said...

Jennifer, between your newsletter and blog guest posts I am positive that Gin is my type of character.

As far as other characters . . . I recently started reading Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. I don't think the series is considered UF, maybe SF or alternate reality is a better description. Anyway, I really like Thursday. Good luck with the Elemental Assassins series!

Jennifer Estep said...

Janel -- Thanks for the well wishes. I appreciate them. ;-)

I've only read the first Thursday Next novel. I thought it was clever, but I suspect I would have liked it more if I had enjoyed reading Jane Eyre more in college. LOL.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I have so many favorites, but I'll say for the moment, right now, Cat and Bones win.

This book sounds interesting and is right up my alley of the type I love to read!

donnas said...

Sounds like a great book. I have a few favorites but the ones that come to mind right now are Cat and Bones. Mercy Thompson and Kitty Norville.


bacchus76 at myself dot com

Van Pham said...

Some of my favorites character in urban fantasy are Max (Bitter Nights by Diana Francis), and Kate (Magic series by Ilona Andrews).

Thanks for the giveaway!


Barbara E. said...

I love Jeaniene Frost's Cat & Bones, Jaye Wells' Sabina Kane, Gail Carriger's Alexia Tarabotti, and Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville.
I'm sure I'll be adding Charlie Madigan and Gin Blanco to the list as soon as I finish reading Kelly's Better Part of Darkness (which is on it's way from and Spider's Bite (as soon as I can get my hands on it).

Mardel said...

Wow, this is an interesting collection of side characters. I was debating about getting this book, but the first person narrative, and the cast of character descriptions really pulled me in.

Some of my favorites (supporting cast) from urban fantasy have been (most recently Kelly Gay's {you!}) Rex from The Better Part of Darkness, Devon Monks' newest secondary character from Magic in the Shadows - Seamus, and the supporting cast of the series by Suzanne McLeod- Finn, Malik and Hugh the police troll.

Sometimes the side characters are just as interesting (if not more) as the main characters. I have so many "favorite" series that I couldn't pick one or two out of main characters, but some of my favorite series are
Mercy Thompson,
Shifters (Rachel Vincent)
Allie Beckstrom
Kate Daniels,
and now Kelly Gay's Charlie.

There are so many good urban fantasy books out now. I'm having a lot of fun reading. I've just about decided to buy Spider's Bite (unless I win it....hopefully) as soon as I can.

Beleth said...

Some of my fav characters are Anita Blake, Cat and Bones, Mercy, Cin Craven and a lot lot more!

battyaboutbats at

Cherie J said...

I am new to Urban Fantasy. What hooked me was reading Patricia Briggs. I love her Alpha and Omega series. She really hooked me by doing a fabulous job of developing the characters of Charles and Anna. Thanks for the contest!


Jackie said...

UF and PR are my favorite genres so this is fun for me to answer. Kelly have to tell you that one of my new favorites is Charlie Madigan, you knocked my socks off with your debut book and am happily awaiting book 2.
I also like Jill Kismet, Kate Daniels, Anita Blake, The Leandros bros Cal and Niko, Cat and Bones, Cin Craven, Mercy Thompson, Joanna Archer! Could keep going all day but these are my tops have the entire series of and have read!!
Thanks for Jennifer coming out today Spider's Bite is already on my must reads and think probably Gin is going on my characters listing soon!!

jackie b central texas

Jennifer Estep said...

Melissa -- I loves Cat and Bones too.

Donna -- I haven't tried the Kitty series yet, but I've heard a lot of good things about it.

Van -- Diana Francis is another author that I've been meaning to try.

Barbara -- I hope you enjoy Spider's Bite.

Mardel -- Glad you liked the excerpts. I think I have some pretty cool supporting characters, especially Finn and Sophia. ;-)

Beleth -- All of those are great characters.

Cherie -- I've read the first two of Briggs' Mery books but not Alpha and Omega. I'll have to check that one out too.

Jaca -- I also really like the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. You're welcome. I hope you enjoy Spider's Bite!

kiaras said...

My favorite characters are always the supporting members of the cast. Jenks (Kim Harrison), Gighul (Jaye Wells), Molly and Toot-Toot (Jim Butcher), Cormac (Carrie Vaughn).

Yeah, I like sarcasm, apparently.

Spider's Bite sounds fun!

K. said...

Jacabur1 -- Thank you so much for the awesome words about the book! :D

Squee! Thanks, Mardel!

Barbara E -- Thanks for ordering the book! Hope you like it!

mariska said...

Since i just received Kelly's book (huge thanks Kelly, i love it), Evy Stone is my favorite heroine : )

And i would to learn about Gin too !

uniquas at ymail dot com

Linda Henderson said...

I am reading Hallowed Circle by Linda Robertson and I am finding Persephone Alcmedi a very interesting character. I'm kind of new to Urban Fantasy and sometimes I have trouble telling what is Urban Fantasy and what is just considered Paranormal.

seriousreader at live dot com

heatwave16 said...

I love urban fantasy, and I think Gin is a great addition to all the kick-ass heriones out there...which are my favs.

Favorite characters: Anita Blake, Rachel & Ivy from Kim Harrison's the Hollows, Lizzie from Angie Fox's Demon Slayer series. Jane True from Nicole Peeler's Tempest rising.


Spav said...

It sounds like a great book!
My favorite UF characters are Lily Yu, Kate Daniels and Curran, Mercy Thompson, Adam and Bran, Connor Grey and Harry Dresden.


Tyhitia Green said...

Jane Yellowrock in SKINWALKER and BLOOD CROSS by Faith Hunter. Anita Blake in the first few novels by Laurell K. Hamilton. Charlie Madigan (Better Part of Darkness) by Kelly Gay and Evy Stone (3 Days to Dead) by Kelly Meding

Jennifer Estep said...

Kiaras -- Oh, I forgot about Jenks, but he's one of my favs too.

Mariska -- I hope you like Gin too. ;-)

Linda -- That's yet another author/series that I need to try ...

Heatwave -- Harrison's series was one of the first UF series that I started reading. I really like Rachel and how she's grown over the series.

Spav -- Harry is a favorite of mine too.

Demon Hunter -- I've heard a lot of good things about the Jane Yellowrock series as well.