Y'know, I love being a blogger. I really, really, really do.
Case in point - I was recently drooling over the cover art for 7th 'Kate Daniels' book, 'Magic Rises' and reciting a typical mantra of "hurry up July, hurry up!" when I got this wacky idea to shoot off an email to Ilona Andrews. I just wanted to ask them some questions, you see. I wanted to pick their brain. Between waiting for 'Magic Rises' ... I just thought I'd ease some of my rabid fan-girl anticipating by shooting off some questions to the authors.
So I emailed them.
But I know they have crazy deadlines. And I'd really much rather that they concentrate on writing their amazing stories than answering my rabid reader questions. And they must get a heap of fan-mail every single day, and to answer every single one would result in carpal tunnel and would, again, take them away from their writing.
I did not expect them to write back to me. I just figured I'd try it to say I'd tried.
... But then I got a reply.
FROM ILONA ANDREWS!
ILONA ANDREWS ANSWERED MY RABID FANGIRL QUESTIONS!
... And this is why I love being a blogger - because now I get to share their answers with you.
Q: Are you ‘plotters’ or ‘pantsers’, respectively? 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? And did you have to change your plotting/pantsing ways to suit each other?
A: No we plot everything out, well at least the beginning and end. Usually while floating in the pool and drinking yummy beer. We know how it starts and how we want it to end, the rest is getting it there.
Q: And to the actual nuts and bolts of duo-writing – is writing a book together a case of someone writing chapter one, and then handballing chapter two off to the other person? Or do you write together line-by-line?
A: We sit in the same room, our desktops about five feet apart. I do a lot of the plotting & male voice, especially Curran. Ilona will usually do a scene then send it to me and I add or change whatever I think needs and send it back. Other times we just talk it out. If it gets in the book, we both went had our hands in it.
Q: Kate and Curran’s infamous romance has sort of become an urban fantasy bookish legend – you certainly set a high benchmark for tension & snark, and ‘will they or won’t they?’ romance. How did you handle the building tension – both between Kate and Curran, and from fans wanting them to get together – I imagine you must have received many rabid fan emails demanding satisfaction, now!
A: We didn't want them to fall into bed together in the first book. We wanted it to be as realistic or believable as it could be, given the circumstances. Our fans are great and I don't recall any negative emails.
Q: I think you write some of the best action scenes – sometimes books so filled with action can demand skim-reading, but with ‘Kate Daniels’ and ‘The Edge’, I’m gripping the cover in my hands and my heart is racing with every sword-swipe and body-slam. What sort of research do you do to ensure your fight scenes are so gloriously detailed and riveting?
A: Thanks, we both have some martial training. Ilona has taken some self defense & classes in Russian schools. My background is in wrestling, Judo, Ju Jitsu and some Army training. We also enjoy watching cheesy martial arts movies. When we do the action or fighting scenes we actually physically go through it to see if it makes sense, if we need more people we will recruit the kids. As far as research, we highly recommend "Meditations on Violence" and "Facing Violence" by Rory Miller. The tv show "Human Weapon" is also great.
Q: Which has been the hardest ‘Kate Daniels’ book to write so far, and why?
A: Probably the first because we had no idea what we were doing and when we got a deal the totality of our edits was "cut it by a third." Didn't matter what, we just had to make it shorter. We had to go through it carefully, almost line by line, and find stuff we could take out, without changing the story.
Q: I loved the ‘Magic Tests’ young adult short story in the anthology ‘An Apple for the Creature’. It was great to read Julie apart from Kate and the pack, and by reading about her on her own we were able to see how much she’s grown over the books/years. Are you now contemplating writing a Julie YA spin-off series? And, if so, would Derek feature prominently?
A: We've talked about it. We would like to write an older Julie, maybe a love triangle between her, Derek and Ascanio. Lately though, my money is on the dragon guy. We're not YA writers though, and it might not work as well as we'd like.
Q: You gave readers Andrea and Raphael’s incredible story with ‘Gunmetal Magic’. How long have you known that this couple would get their own world-book? And did you ever anticipate fan’s level of adoration for these secondary characters?
A) Andrea and Raphael probably since Magic Burns. Jim and Dali came later. We wanted to sort of hint at it before Hexed and Magic Dreams. No not really, we are always surprised at how enthusiastic and supportive our fans are. They are great.
Q: As to the end of the ‘Kate Daniels’ series … do you have an end in sight? Is there a finale ‘plan’ already in place that you’re writing towards?
A: Hmmm, well originally it was only going to be the seven books and the two spinoffs, or set in Kate Daniels worlds books. However, I am only allowed to hint at new and exciting things to come, as our agent Nancy put it. We do certainly have an end game. We know how we want the series to end. That said, if people still wanted to read the books, we would still write them. We just don't want to drag it out until people get sick of it. I hope that makes sense.
Thank you so much for replying, Ilona Andrews.