If you follow this blog, you’ll know I fanned out over Alexis Hall’s first urban fantasy–the brilliant, hilarious and sexy Iron & Velvet. After reading and loving the book, I asked him to talk to me about writing on one our Friday conversations. Now, to celebrate the release of the sequel Shadows & Dreams, we invited him back to tell us about the book.
Alexis has a great writing voice, which you will hear momentarily. I absolutely love that this series is F/F . And even before reading the latest book, I find myself with a full set of the Very Strong Opinions about whom Kate Kane should end up with that Alexis describes below.
Congratulations on your release, and take it away, Alexis!
Thank you so much, and thanks to you, dear reader, for stopping by.
First off, there’s also some kind of contest type thing happening as part of my blog tour (a Rafflecopter giveaway). I had a bit of trouble choosing a prize for this one because most of the things Kate likes (booze, cigarettes, knives, women) are illegal to ship internationally. I thought about a fedora, but then I remembered people had differently shaped heads and there was no point sending somebody an item of clothing they wouldn’t be able to wear. So, basically, that leaves coffee and Bovril and nobody likes Bovril except people from the North East of England. I’m therefore going offer 250g of Jamaican Blue Mountain, the nicest coffee in the known universe, purchased from a wonderful speciality shop, ground or beaned to your specification. If you don’t like coffee, I’ll replace it with an equivalently lovely tea. I’ll also throw in a hard copy of Iron & Velvet (or the other thing I wrote) if that’s the sort of thing you’d like. I can even scribble stuff in it, thus reducing its re-sale value … or, y’know, not do that. I’ll announce the winner a handful of days after the end of the tour.
I’ve always felt that part of the pleasure in reading this sort of book – the kind where a badass heroine finds herself thrown into a world of mystical weirdness – is having Very Strong Opinions about which of the supernatural hotties she should ultimately wind up with.
Eve is very different from the other romantic interests in some ways, and quite similar in others. Like the rest of them, she’s based on some very clear and well-established archetypes (she’s one part Batman, one part Christian Grey). Unlike the others she’s, well, a perfectly ordinary human.
Eve is a strong presence in Iron & Velvet, I thought it was important to make sure that Kate had been in at least one serious, long-term relationship that wasn’t with Patrick, and it’s kind of traditional for a certain kind of hard-drinking, emotionally withdraw protagonist to have had their heart broken by a recent relationship. I wanted Eve to show up sooner rather than later (because never-appearing mysterious exes mildly annoy me) and Shadows & Dreams seemed like a good place for her to make her debut appearance.
I felt that there was a difficult balance to strike with Eve. On the one hand, there’s a nasty tendency for paranormal series to completely lose interest in anybody who’s just an ordinary human, and I wanted to have a character who redressed the balance a little. On the other hand, it’d sort of undermine the whole point of the exercise if the only full human in the book who was directly involved with the supernatural wasn’t noticeably limited compared to the people who actually do have superpowers.
Fortunately, genre convention gave me a certain amount of leeway here. The Kate Kane series operates off of what you might call action movie physics, and there’s an extent to which the amount of punishment a completely mundane human can take depends as much on dramatic necessity as anything else. Still, I tried to make sure that she came across as rather less indestructible than Julian or Tara, and more dependent on her wits and her gadgets.
On the subject of gadgets, it might be worth pointing out that Eve’s presence adds another element to the already kitchen-sinky setting. Specifically, it adds a low-key level of science-fiction, comic book technology which – I hope – fits reasonably well alongside all of the other wacky stuff in the setting. Of course, technology being what it is, half of the stuff she uses will probably look laughably obsolete by this time next year.
Eve’s relationship with Kate is a complicated one, and again I hope it comes across right in the book. My hope is that their interactions show a difficult mixture of resentment, betrayal, sexual chemistry and residual affection. I tend to ship Kate with whoever I’m writing at the time, and at the very least I hope that her interactions with Eve in this book encourage readers to at wonder whether those two crazy kids might get it together again someday.
Alexis Hall was born in the early 1980s and still thinks the twenty-first century is the future. To this day, he feels cheated that he lived through a fin de siècle but inexplicably failed to drink a single glass of absinthe, dance with a single courtesan, or stay in a single garret. He can neither cook nor sing, but he can handle a seventeenth century smallsword, punts from the proper end, and knows how to hotwire a car. He lives in southeast England, with no cats and no children, and fully intends to keep it that way.
About Shadows & Dreams
Second rule in this line of business: be careful who you kill.
My name’s Kate Kane. And right now, I don’t know which is more dangerous: my job, or my girlfriend. My job makes me the go-to girl for every supernatural mystery in London. My girlfriend’s an eight-hundred-year-old vampire prince. Honestly, I think it’s probably a tie.
A few weeks ago, I was hired for a simple missing person case. Next thing I know, I’m being arrested for murder, a vampire army is tearing up London, and even my dreams are out to get me. Something ancient, evil, and scary as hell is on the loose and looking for payback. The vampires are in chaos, the werewolves are culling everything, and the Witch Queen can’t protect everyone.
Which means it’s down to me. And all I’ve got to hold back the shadows is a stiff drink, a quirky sidekick, my creepy ex-boyfriend, and the woman who left me for a tech startup. It’s going to be another interesting day.
You can read an excerpt and, y’know, cough, buy the book, if you want, at Riptide Publishing.