Ilona Andrews are a NY Times Best Selling husband and wife writing team of the Kate Daniels series, which in order are: Magic Bites, Magic Burns and Magic Strikes. They are published with ACE, and have been contracted up to at least seven books in the series.
Ilona and Gordon have a new series: The Edge, and the first book: On The Edge, is released in September. A novella from the Kate Daniels series: Magic Mourns (part of the Must Love Hellhounds Anthology) was released this month. Ilona and Gordon also have a short story with Samhain Publishing, which was released earlier this year called: Silent Blade. All of these stories have a strong element of fantasy and romance.
At the moment, Ilona and Gordon are busy working on Magic Bleeds – the fourth Kate Daniels book and the second book in The Edge series, which is still untitled.
The very lovely Ilona has joined us for an interview, and the first part will be about On The Edge.
Bookpushers: Welcome to the lair of the Book Pushers, Ilona. For new readers, who haven’t read your Kate Daniel series, how would you describe On The Edge and what can they expect?
Ilona: On The Edge is an odd book. It’s an even mix of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Gordon, my husband and co-author, calls it rustic fantasy, because it’s set in a country environment.
Bookpushers: You mentioned in a discussion previously that you build your world first, then create the characters to suit and adapt. What did you enjoy most about the building process for The Edge series? And did you find there was more freedom as it doesn’t have a particular genre you can label it?
Ilona: Getting together the community of East Laporte was probably the most fun aspect. They’re so country, but they have different little magics, and they use their powers in the most mundane way possible.
When you live in a small town, you know everyone and you hear gossip about everyone. “Oh, she is a tramp. And he is a slacker. And she is nutty.”
In the world of the Edge it’s the same , except “oh she is a tramp” becomes “oh she is a tramp and she turns people’s hair grey if they sleep with her.” It was fun to make up the individual magic powers.
As to second part of the question, I rarely think of writing in terms of genre. That consideration comes later, when I have to make sure that subsequent books follow the first.
Bookpushers: Talking about magics in East Laporte, Rose, the heroine, has a special gift called Flash and young Georgie, and Jack both have special, unique powers. Will we learn more in future books about the family tree, and perhaps where these magical abilities originated from? (In a different way to Kate Daniels. Wave vs Sandwich).
Ilona: Haha. Apparently I’m infamous for my weirdo explanations of magic.
The second book of the Edge is all about William and it’s set in a different part of the Edge. Rose and Declan are in it very briefly. If the series does well enough for the publisher to want to purchase more books, then of course, I’d love to do a family tree and talk more about the boys growing up and unique challenges they face.
Bookpushers: So, how many books will there be in The Edge series?
Ilona: Two. Publishing is very much a business, and I try not to plan too far ahead. It would be just asking for heartbreak, because once you get a story in your head, it has to come out.
Bookpushers: While you were writing On The Edge, were there any big differences in the writing style and are there concrete differences between Kate and Rose?
Ilona: Writing On The Edge was very different. The narrative is in the third person, instead of the first person, like Kate Daniels book. And unlike Kate, Rose has a family and responsibilities. We might want to be like Kate, without too many attachments, but mostly we’re like Rose – we have regular jobs and people we have to take of.
Bookpushers: Were any of the characters in On The Edge, based on anyone you know of?
Ilona: Zombie Grandpa is based on Gordon’s Grandfather Dulie. Dulie was a functioning alcoholic. One day he didn’t show up for work. Nobody knew where he was and everyone was worried.
(He was in his favorite bar owned by a retired circus fat lady)
So finally he shows up, his little dog in tow, positions himself in front of his porch and yells, “Helen!” (Gordon’s grandma) “Helen! I want to go back to the bar. Give me five dollars”
And she says, “No.”
How about $4?”
Then he straightens himself up and says, “Helen! This is your last chance to give me a dollar?”
Bookpushers: **grins** We noticed that you like to keep your characters on their toes, for example: In the Kate Daniels’ world; magic comes and goes, and in The Edge, you have three worlds. What inspired you for magic/non-magic world(s)?
Ilona: Did you ever walk around as a kid in the woods or on some abandoned lot, and saw an odd little path and maybe thought to yourself, “I wonder where this leads?”
I remember when I was seven years old, they filled the lot before my grandmother’s apartments with huge chunks of gravel. I would sit on the lot with other kids and pick through the gravel, looking for cool rocks, and once I found this huge chunk of green glass. As big as a tennis ball. I would walk down those weird paths with a my chunk of glass, and I imagined that maybe it was magic and it would open some sort of secret passageway for me.
That’s where the Edge comes from. It’s a kid fantasy
Bookpushers: Declan is the hero in On The Edge. Can you tell us what and who you based him on?
Ilona: I’m not sure exactly where did the inspiration for Declan came from. I suppose he is that classic English aristocrat, except that he was born into the modern setting. The bluebloods of the Weird have to deal with a huge amount of responsibility and expectations, and Declan kind of decided to escape it all by enlisted in Red Legion, a military unit that makes ordinary soldiers’ hair stand on end.
Bookpushers: …Any info on William?
Ilona: Lol. Okay so what do you want to know about William?
Bookpushers: Something that’s not too spoilerific?
Ilona: Well, the sequel that features William is set in Edge Louisiana. William is kidnapped by a spy branch of Adrianglian government and they offer him a chance to settle an old score. He can’t pass on the opportunity. There is one catch – he must pretend to be a noble. I can’t talk too much about what William is or isn’t because it might spoil the book.
Bookpushers: There is a strong focus of romance in On The Edge. The romance between Declan and Rose is very focal to the story. It has smoking hot tension, and the humorous banter between the two make for light hearted relief. Is there a particular scene, between Rose and Declan, that’s the most memorable for you?
Ilona: Probably the pancake scene. It was their first chance to spar and they both handled it in such a silly fashion.
Bookpushers: What is the economic set-up in the Weird? Given that nobility is a profession, how are politics handled? Can leaders only be elected from the nobles or can then come from commoners?
Ilona: Nobility is not hereditary. Basically, you have to serve the requisite number of years in the civil service or military service, apply for a specific post, and take tests. The person with highest test scores wins the position and the title of the noble that comes with it. Tests range from professional knowledge to the psych profile. There is such a thing as hereditary aristocratic families – they are bluebloods. A blueblood is not necessarily a noble, although a lot of them win nobility through effort and service.
Bookpushers: Like Declan?
Ilona: Yes. Declan is a blueblood and a noble. Rose doesn’t really know how the Weird works, so her view is a bit skewed. She thinks that nobility is hereditary and automatically assumes that Declan is a spoiled rich kid.
Bookpushers: Will we see more of the Weird in Edge 2?
Ilona: Yes, Edge 2 is more about the Weird and the Edge. It’s kind of a mirror image of the first book.
Bookpushers: You have posted on your website a lot of free fiction. One thing in common is that most of them tend to be gritty and somewhat dark – yet end with the reader feeling good. Do you find it difficult to write more of the cotton-candy type stories?
Ilona: You know, I don’t think I ever wrote a cotton-candy story in my life. It’s just not my schtick.
I remember I was going to my friend Jill Myles that On The Edge light and fluffy, and she told me, “Ilona, your villain eats people.”
And I said, “But the rest of it is fluffy.”
And she said. “No.”
And that’s the end of part one, folks. Thank you to the awesome Ilona for her time. We will be putting up part two very soon with a giveaway. Maybe…probably. Ok! It’s a certainty.