Exclusive Interview: Julie Kenner

TaintedAuthor Julie Kenner was kind enough to respond to an exclusive interview for SciFiChick.com. Kenner’s latest series, the Blood Lily Chronicles, begins with Tainted, recently released, followed closely by Torn and Turned. Keep reading for more about the author and her latest series.

Can you tell us a bit about the new Blood Lily Chronicles?

Sure! The series centers around about a woman who goes out to murder the man who raped her sister, but is killed in the process. She’s given the chance to come back to earth in the body of another woman to earn her redemption as a demon assassin. But things aren’t always as clear-cut as they seem, and as Lily tries to navigate life in a murdered girl’s body, she has to figure out who her allies and her enemies really are.

Unlike most series which produce new novels each year, Tainted, Torn, and Turned are coming out in quick succession each month. How did that work out?

More and more publishers seem to be doing that lately. As a reader, I think it’s awesome (except, of course, after book 3 you have to start waiting again, and I’m impatient!). The idea is to build excitement and let readers have a chance to really get a feel for the series. I was happy to learn that Ace intended to publish the books that way!

Where do you get your ideas for your characters?

I like to tease and say Wal-Mart, but the more honest answer is that I really don’t know. With Lily, I thought I knew her in the proposal, but after a few false starts, I realized I didn’t know her at all, and the character who ended upon the page is much different from my original incarnation. In contrast, Kate (demon hunting soccer mom) hasn’t changed at all from the way I first envisioned her. As for where they came from, Kate in a lot of ways came from me and my new-mom status. Lily comes from a darker place, and I can’t point exactly to where because I don’t really know. I started with the idea of an assassin, and spun off from there. Characters, to me, are very organic.

Lily is a demon hunter, and so is Kate Connor (from the Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series). But the Blood Lily Chronicles is much darker than your previous series. What made you decide to go this route?

I think of it as an organic process. Each story has a certain way in which it screams to be told, and part of that has to do with the author, and part with the characters. In the case of Kate and Lily, it’s the nature of the characters–their attitudes and their life view and their unique circumstances–that color the nature of the story. After all, when you start a story with a soccer mom smelling something stinky in Wal-mart and assuming it’s a poopy diaper, the tone of the series tends toward light. Likewise, when you start a story with the narrator confessing that her sister was raped and she went out to kill the man who raped the girl, the tone tends to be dark. So the “feel” of the books flowed from those essential, core elements.

Urban fantasy/paranormal novels are popular and widespread right now. What different about the Blood Lily Chronicles that sets it apart from the others?

I think that’s a good question that can apply to any genre – contemporary romance, spy thrillers, cozy mysteries, space opera, narrative nonfiction, whatever – and I think the ultimate answer ties back to the author’s voice. Hopefully there’s something about the way I tell a story that readers find as compelling as the story itself. It’s been said that there are only a limited number of stories out there. But the number of storytellers? Well, that is a huge number. (And, yeah, there’s one plot thing that springs to mind that I personally haven’t seen in urban fantasy, but I can’t reveal it without revealing spoilers!)

Are there just the 3 planned for the series?

I would love to do more, but those three were the sum of the contract, so it’s in the publisher’s hands now as to whether Lily has more adventures. (Here’s hoping for great sales!)

What are you working on next?

At the moment, I’m working on the last book in my upcoming Shadow Keepers series, which will be published as J.K. Beck books.

The first three books are When Blood Calls, When Wicked Craves, and When Pleasure Rules. The series itself is set in and around a paranormal judicial system that mirrors our own familiar court system, but is designed to apprehend, prosecute, adjudicate and detain those paranormal creatures who break the Covenant, a series of laws first formalized in the cuneiform writing of ancient Sumaria, kept alive and updated today by a paranormal legislative body with authority over all the creatures of the dark.

That system stands as guardian over the meshing of the human world and the world of the shadows. The series is called The Shadow Keepers.

In the first book, an up and coming prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has the world shift beneath her feet when she is given a promotion and brought to “Division” to work as a prosecutor in the shadow world. And things only get more crazy for her when she learns that the first defendant she will be prosecuting is a man she’d had a one night stand with–and that he’s not only accused of murder, but is a vampire.

The books are paranormal romantic suspense novels, and I’m having an absolute blast writing them. I haven’t got a full fledged website yet, but you can enter a contest a read a bit more here: www.theshadowkeepers.com

Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience in writing.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember – I used to bang out stories on my dad’s typewriter even before I knew how to spell, much less type! I wrote short stories and poetry as a kid, then did the school paper and worked on my college paper, but my love was really novels.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really know how to go about having “novelist” be my job. And I liked to eat, which meant I liked the steady paycheck that 9-5 brings. I was very much a “here’s the class, make the grade,” kind of girl, and college doesn’t offer “how to be a novelist 101.” So I majored in journalism, but then switched to film and considered writing screenplays. I graduated very young, though, and was too chicken to move to LA, so I bummed around doing some media related jobs, then took the LSAT because, hey, it seemed like the thing to do (for someone as Type A as I can be, looking back I detect a serious lack of focus!). I had a knack for the law, loved the research and writing component, and ended up clerking on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. That was a two year gig, and I interviewed with LA firms and ended up moving to California, figuring I’d practice entertainment law, which I did to a certain extent.

But I also got bit by the creative bug all over again I met a guy also interested in writing, and he and I wrote two screenplays, one which sucks, and the other which got some interest in Hollywood, but was never optioned.

After I got married and moved to Orange County it was too hard to continue writing together in those early Internet days and so I started thinking about writing novels again. I discovered category romances and thought that with my insane lawyer schedule, I should focus on that, as the books have a shorter page count. I wrote one, got decent feedback, and discovered RWA. I was fortunate to sell my second manuscript to Harlequin Temptation, and my third, a full length paranormal called The Cat’s Fancy, both as the result of RWA contests.

What inspires you?

Personally, big blue skies and wide open oceans. From a writing standpoint, it can be anything. A friend mentioned her kid was dressing up for Halloween as “spyghost” recently, and I immediately started rattling off a story in my head.

Who are some of your favorite authors? What books do you love?

This is such a hard question because there are just too many!!! My absolute favorite is J.D. Robb. I love the In Death books. Beyond that, I read pretty much anything and everything, though not nearly as much as I wish I had time for. My favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time, and my favorite adult book is hard to say, but probably The Pillars of The Earth.

What do you do when you’re not writing? In your spare time?

Um, “spare time?” I’m not sure I’m familiar with that term.
Seriously, I don’t have a lot. I homeschool my two girls (ages 8 and 6) and have a pretty hefty writing schedule, so there’s not a lot of time to spare. Major spare time activities is reading, and lately I’ve started multi-reading and reading in bed simply b/c I hate being so busy I don’t have time. Just finished Atlas Shrugged (Audiobook), and am re-reading Dragonfly in Amber because at some point I want to read An Echo in the Bone, and I can’t remember the details of the last 6 books! I’m also reading The Count of Monte Cristo, and just started The Hunger, an upcoming YA by Jackie Kessler for a cover quote. It rocks! Another one that rocks is And Falling, Fly, by debut author Skyler White. It’s coming in March.

My husband and I tend to glom one or two shows. Currently, Mad Men and The Wire (yes, we’re behind). And when I can, I love to catch a movie or go biking. I also like to work in my yard, but never seem to have the time (as the state of my yard will attest!)

Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just thanks for having me! Oh, and folks can check out Tainted for free by listening to my podcast! www.juliekenner.com and follow the link to the podcast (or search for Kennercast) at iTunes. Thanks!

Julie Kenner and The SciFiChick
Author Julie Kenner and SciFiChick at DragonCon ’09

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