Jennifer Estep joins us today to talk about her new book YA fantasy Touch of Frost, on sale today in stores! Here’s a link to my review of the fantastic book.
And keep reading after the interview for a giveaway of Touch of Frost!
Can you tell us a bit about Touch of Frost in your own words?
Sure. Touch of Frost is the first book in my Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.
In Touch of Frost, Gwen is getting used to going to a new school and trying to figure out how she fits in with the other warrior whiz kids, as she calls them. Gwen doesn’t think that she belongs at Mythos Academy, but when a girl is murdered in the Library of Antiquities, Gwen decides to use her psychometry magic to figure out who killed the girl and why. Of course, Gwen gets into a lot of trouble along the way.
Basically, Touch of Frost features myths, magic, monsters, and mean girls.
The mythology and lore is quite extensive in this series debut. How much research did you have to do?
I researched information on various gods, goddesses, monsters, and more. But really, I tried to put my own spin on things. I’m using a lot of Greek and Norse myths in the books, but I’m definitely twisting and changing them around to fit in with the world that I’ve created and the story that I want to tell – about this girl who finds out that she’s stronger and more of a warrior than she ever thought she could be.
A majority of recent YA fantasy seems to be geared toward the female audience. What do you think sets apart your new series from others?
There are a lot of wonderful YA books and authors, and it’s a great time to be a fan of the genre because they are so many interesting reads on the shelves. It’s also a little intimidating because you want folks to enjoy your book as much as they do all the other YA reads out there.
I think my heroine, Gwen Frost, is really smart, sassy, strong, and sarcastic. She likes her psychometry magic because it lets her know people’s deepest, darkest secrets – something that sometimes gets her into trouble. I also love writing fight scenes, so having Gwen go to a school for warriors gave me a chance to pack a lot of action into the book.
I like reading books with a little bit of everything in them – action, magic, danger, romance, adventure – and those are the kind of books that I like writing. I just hope that folks enjoy the mix of all those different elements in the Mythos Academy series.
Did you find there were many differences in the process for writing geared towards a younger crowd?
You always want to stretch and grow as a writer, and I thought writing a YA book would be one way to do that. It was definitely a fun challenge writing for a younger audience, especially since my Elemental Assassin books for adults are so dark, gritty, and violent. It was interesting to write something a little lighter on the sex, language, and violence and still have the book have a lot of action, magic, and romance in it. It was also a challenge to try to write in a YA voice and have my heroine sound like a 17-year-old girl. I hope I succeeded. Fingers crossed, anyway.
How many books are planned for the Mythos Academy series?
Right now, I’m under contract for three books. I hoping to write at least five or maybe even seven books in the series, as that will let me finish out the first big story arc with Gwen, her friends, and the evil god Loki.
I really enjoyed your Elemental Assassin series, but completely fell in love the story, characters, and mythos in Touch of Frost. How do you deal with fans stalking … I mean, pressing you for updates on future releases?
Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed Touch of Frost.
I try to keep readers updated through my blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages. I post cover art, back cover blurbs, and more on those sites. I also do a monthly e-newsletter with my latest news, reading recommendations, a recipe, and more (folks can sign up for that on the home page of my website).
I do get questions about what’s going to happen to various characters in future books, so I’ve gone to a no-spoiler policy. I really, really appreciate all the interest in my books, but I just never know how much of a spoiler someone really wants about what’s going to happen next, and I don’t want someone to come across the information who doesn’t like spoilers. So I usually just give out as much info as is revealed in the back cover copy on the book.
What are you working on next?
Touch of Frost is out today, July 26. First Frost, a prequel e-story to the series, is also available now. Kiss of Frost, the second book, will be out on Nov. 29, and Dark Frost, the third book, will be published in 2012. So I’m working on revisions, copy edits, page proofs, and various other things for those books.
Also, Spider’s Revenge, the fifth book in my Elemental Assassin series, will be out on Sept. 27. Folks can visit www.jenniferestep.com for excerpts, free short stories, and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.
Basically, I always loved to read. I remember my mom taking me to the library every Saturday when I was a kid. That’s how I fell in love with reading and books in the first place, and I think my writing just grew out of that.
One day, I had the thought that I think a lot of writers do after maybe reading a book that they thought wasn’t very good – that I could write something better. So I sat down and wrote my first book one summer. It was a pretty bad epic fantasy book, but I had been bitten by the writing bug, so I wrote another book … and another book … and I haven’t stopped writing since.
My first book, Karma Girl, (the seventh book I wrote) was published back in 2007. Touch of Frost will be my eighth published book and my first YA book.
What inspires you?
Everything. The way someone laughs. The way someone walks. A story I hear on the news. A funny saying on someone’s shirt. A joke that I hear. You just never know what might spark an idea now, tomorrow, or even years in the future – like watching Clash of the Titans for movie day in school. LOL. I remember watching that movie all those years ago and how cool it made mythology seem. Over the years, I watched more mythology-based movies and TV shows and read books like The Iliad and The Odyssey. And now, I’ve written my own mythology-based story.
I’ll hear, see, or read something, and think about what might have happened. Like what if a girl at the coffee shop spilled her smoothie on the guy at the next table? What if they fell in love? What if their parents didn’t approve of their relationship? I like to call it the “what if” game. It’s a great way to brainstorm and to think about all the different paths a character and her story might take.
Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?
Some of my favorite authors include Robin McKinley, Donald Westlake, Robert Parker, David Eddings, Ian Fleming, and too many others to name. Beauty by McKinley is one of my all-time favorite books. I also love the James Bond books by Fleming and the Dortmunder series by Westlake.
When it comes to YA, I like authors like Alex Flinn, Julie Kagawa, Ally Carter, Eilis O’Neal, Kristin Cashore, and many others.
What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?
I love to read, cook, and hang out with friends and family. I watch way too much TV, and I love fantasy and action-packed movies. I also enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons. Yes, I’m a total geek. 😉
Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just that I hope that everyone has as much fun reading Touch of Frost and the rest of the Mythos Academy books as I did writing them. Happy reading, everyone! 😉
I have a copy of Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep for two (2) lucky winners!
Contest is open to US residents only. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends August 19. I’ll draw names on August 20, and notify winner via email.