So, as a book nerd I tend to fan-girl over many series and authors - which is perfectly normal. But if there is one particular series that gets more of my fan-girl obsessive love, it is without a doubt Patricia Briggs' 'Mercy Thompson' urban fantasy series.
I sweat, I started reading those books about three years ago and they were a revelation - in noir, romance, mystery, fantasy ... I pretty much wanted to rent a soapbox and sing Mercy's praises (and to some extent I do do that - I recommend these books to absolutely every person I know - as well as a few strangers I just met).
So when the opportunity arises to ask questions of the author responsible for one of my most beloved series OF ALL TIME - I hyperventilate, happy-dance and then I get my questions on.
With many, many thanks to Hachette Australia for making this happen, and Patricia Briggs for being herself - I give you the interview!
Q: Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’? That is, do you meticulously plot your novel before writing, or do you ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ and let the story evolve naturally?A: Mostly a pantser. I have outlined exactly one book – and the outline took me longer to write than the book. Worse, once I had the outline, it was tough to come up with the enthusiasm to write the book because I already knew how it ended. When I started writing I approached every book the same way. About ten books ago (Frost Burned is my 19th book) I discovered that it was more effective to let each book start where it wanted to.
Q: Where do story ideas generally start for you? Do you first think of the character, theme, ending? Or is it just a free-fall?A: When I am not writing a series book – so I only have to live with the decisions I make on the fly for one or two books—I prefer to write free-fall. Sometimes that means that I am deleting scenes almost as fast as I am writing them, but it gives the stories an unpredictability that I like.
Writing a series as long as the Mercy Thompson books, means that I have to plan a bit more. I want to make sure that each story is fresh and is going somewhere new and different – and driving future storylines. I’m not to the point of outlining yet, but I’m not freefalling either.
Q: In my review of ‘Frost Burned’ I suggest that perhaps Jesse’s question to Mercy about the possibility of a baby (which is then followed quickly by a head-on collision) was a subtle message to fans that they shouldn’t look too far into the future. Care to comment on that? Or answer Jesse’s question: ‘will Mercy and Adam have a baby together some day?’A: I would like to think that she and Adam have at least one child—but I’m still trying to figure out how that would work for future stories. I am a mother – and as soon as my oldest child was born I changed how I lived. I started wearing helmets when I rode horses and quit jumping them almost entirely. Associating with vampires and werewolves would have been out. But I’m not saying never, just that it would be miserably hard on me to make it work.
But, yes, in general, I think it is important to pay attention to what’s going on right now. That doesn’t mean not to plan for the future – just that worrying too much about it is counter -productive. No one knows what’s going to happen in the future.
Q: ‘Frost Burned’ follows on quite nicely from ‘Fair Game’ – with regards to an uneasy supernatural/political climate and perilous Fae/human relations. And, of course, we get Asil stepping out of ‘Alpha and Omega’ and into the ‘Mercy Thompson’ world (with terrific results!). Does this all suggest that the time is closing in when we’ll get a crossover book?A: I used to say never, and the thought of trying to balance a story with Anna, Mercy, Charles and Adam in it makes my head hurt. But I’m always looking for new challenges. Let’s just say that it is not happening in the next book and leave it at that.
Q: You’re currently working on a book of ‘Mercy’s World’ short stories. We know you have a story for Samuel and Ben . . . can you give anything else away? Will Asil get a story? Will Ben get a bit of romance in his story?A: I don’t like to give too much away while I’m still working on something. Then people will read it and say, “I thought you promised that you were going to do X”. There will be a Tad story and, though I’m not there yet, an Asil story. Also I am including a story version of “Homecoming”.
Q: The ‘Alpha and Omega’ spin-off has been such a success – fans embrace Charles and Anna as they do Mercy and Adam. When did you first suspect that Charles could carry a series on his own? Are there any other ‘Mercy’ characters you’ve day-dreamed about writing a spin-off for (perhaps everyone’s favourite British werewolf!?)A: Charles stalked onto the pages of Moon Called fully formed. At that point, Moon Called had so many characters I stopped typing and told him, “Really? Now? We have to do this now?” I managed to do little more than hint about him and set him aside with the promise of more later. When Anne Sowards, my editor, asked me to write a novella, I let Charles out to play. It was Anne who asked me if I could write a series with Charles and Anna and I jumped at the chance.
Q: Purely out of curiosity . . . will we ever meet Adam’s ex-wife?A: Funny you should mention that . . . yes. Mercy #8 will have Christy Hauptman on stage.
Q: So, we know you’re working on the short story collection. But how many more ‘Mercy’ books are you contracted for, and how many more ‘Alpha and Omega’ books?A: I have three novels under contract. Two more Mercy books and another book in the “Mercyverse”. That other book might be an Alpha and Omega book, or I might pull another character out to play. That said, I am sure there will be more Alpha and Omega books, I just wanted a little more freedom to explore the world. I will keep writing both series as long as they continue to feel fresh to me—and readers still like them.
Q: What books and TV shows are you currently loving at the moment?A: I love The Mentalist (anything except the Red John episodes. He doesn’t make sense to me as a character.), Criminal Minds, NCIS (okay, the stories don’t always make sense but . . . Gibbs makes up for it), Warehouse 13, and Haven. We are watching the DVDs of Game of Thrones. Terrific acting, scriptwriting, story, and the filming is amazing – but I’m a happy ever after kind of person and George Martin never met a character he couldn’t torture and kill. So “loving” isn’t really the word for my relationship with The Game of Thrones. Awed, maybe, but not loving.
Q: What advice do you have for budding young writers?A: Read! Read outside your genre. Read good books and figure out what you like about them. Read books you hate and figure out why you hated it. Then write, write, write and write some more. And . . . get a day job.