Intergalactic Editor-in-Chief, Edmund Schubert, recently interviewed fantasy novelist, Faith Hunter. Faith has a new novel out—Mercy Blade—which debuted this week at #24 on the NY Times bestseller list.
Edmund – Faith, tell us a bit about yourself.
Faith – I am a fantasy writer, born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. As Faith Hunter, I write urban fantasy (Jane Yellowrock series, also known as the Skinwalker series) and post- apocalyptic dark fantasy (Rogue Mage series). Under the penname Gwen Hunter, I write action adventure, mysteries, thrillers and one novel in the category of women’s fiction. As Faith and Gwen, I have 22 books in print in 26 countries. I make jewelry for relaxation, mostly with stones, pearls, and copper. For fun I RV with the hubby and the two Pomeranians to Class II and III rivers, where we kayak whitewater. Ummm. By we I mean the hubby and me. The dogs stay in the RV, in air-conditioned comfort. Don’t think I’d let them on the water, or that they would go if I did. They are definitely frou-frou doggies.
I am one of the founders and contributors of magicalwords.net, a forum for writers and readers, about writing and all things fantasy. And I have several websites: www.faithhunter.net, www.gwenhunter.com
Edmund – Most of your novels, as both Faith and Gwen, are set in Louisiana and in the Appalachian mountains. Why do you tend to pick those locales as settings?
Faith – New Orleans, even after the devastation of Katrina, is unlike any place in the US. It’s a vibrant, friendly town with old and new, rich and poor, black and white, sitting cheek-to-jowl. It smells and feels old-world rich and old-world poor, nearly European in its energy, yet full of life and industry and an intense, organic passion. It smells of coffee and food and you can hear music everywhere. I adore it!
The mountains are full of history and mystery. The folds of earth, the dangerous terrain, make great places to set action scenes. And then there’s that whitewater. I just looooove researching in the Appalachian mountains!
Edmund – You have two series. Tell us about the worlds your novels are set in.
Faith – The world of the Rogue Hunter series is our world in every way except for a tiny shift in the historical timeline – when Marilyn Monroe was staked by the Secret Service in the oval office while trying to turn the president of the US. Word got out that “things that go bump in the night” were real. Vamps and witches came out of the closet, forever changing society and culture. Jane Yellowrock appears modern time—literally, walking out of the mountain forest naked, wounded, scarred, with no memory of humankind. She is a full-blooded Cherokee and a Skinwalker—the title of the first book of the series—who hunts insane vamps and dispatches them.
The Rogue Mage novels, featuring Thorn St. Croix, are set in a post-apocalyptic world, one hundred, five years after the great disaster struck. And while the apocalypse started out as many of the world’s religions expected, with the appearance of angels, it didn’t end up the way anyone had predicted. After billions of humans had died of the plague the angels brought, and then of war with demons and Darkness, the first generation of PostAp babies were born with the gift of magic. Thorn St. Croix is a stone-mage. And becomes a battle-mage as well.
Edmund – Describe a typical day of writing.
Faith – I am so boring. I mean really boring. My day is utterly mundane. Up at 8-ish. Take the dogs out. Check email and do important but less-than-creative work, like pay bills. Then I start the creative part of my day. To get into the mood and flow of the work-in-progress, I rewrite the previous day’s pages, which can take a few hours if the word and page count was good. I stop for email and brunch. Then I write new content, usually about 6 to 8 hours on the new stuff, which makes my work day 8 to 10 hours. Supper at 8. TV and dogs and hubby get attention. Bed at midnight. Except when I’m on the water, kayaking. Then the schedule goes all to heck!
I also work at a hospital lab on weekends, two 17 hour days. I do this for the benefits, and because I have a love of the job I trained for.
Edmund – Are you an outliner / planner or pantser (someone who writes by “the seat of her pants”)?
Faith – I am an outliner, for sure. Lately I’ve begun to call it OOPS – the Organic Outline ProcesS. It’s an outline of the plot points and the resolution. The organic part is what happens inside the character’s head and heart during the process of the unfolding of the plot. That is always such a surprise! And that surprise factor keeps me writing.
Edmund – You have a new book out, Mercy Blade, the third Rogue Hunter novel. Your main character, Jane Yellowrock, is a skinwalker, meaning that she can change into the shapes of other animals. But you added a unique twist to the character – the voice of Beast. Tell us about Beast and Jane, and how you came up with the idea of them.
Faith – I’ve always heard voices. The story-telling voices not the other kind. Well, maybe the other kind too. J Anyway, Kim Harrison and I were having tea and sharing ideas for new books and series and I bounced the idea of the series off of her. Then I read the first Temple Grandin book and I was hooked on the way the animal brain works as opposed to the way the human brain works. I began to remember the old Tarzan movies. You know, Me Tarzan. You Jane. Beast was born, and became both Jane’s greatest strength and her greatest challenge.
Jane is one tough cookie – a conflicted, capable loaner. She is violent, broken, tender, loving, giving, solitary, a Cherokee skinwalker—possibly the last of her kind. She is … complicated, partially because her own history is lost to her in a version of traumatic, protective amnesia that left her isolated from other humans. She is a modern woman. She is a warrior woman who accidentally did black magic once, very long ago, and now has the soul of a mountain lion inside with her—her Beast. Beast wants to be alpha. And Beast is not always happy to be sharing her body. I thought the series would be a way to unravel who Jane is, but is seems she is growing more complicated! Welllll… Her love life is certainly growing more complicated…
Edmund – If you had to describe Mercy Blade in one word.
Faith – Action! But I’m a novelist, not a poet, so I’ll add to that if you don’t mind. Jane is torn in new and different ways with the appearance of weres on the world stage and in her life. She has an unwelcome houseguest Evangeline Everhart. Rick, her sometimes boyfriend, goes missing. (But is he undercover again or is he in trouble?) Bruiser is always there. But something isn’t right with him either. And then there’s the Mercy Blade (what is he?), and the weres, and the Grindylow, who is a different kettle of fish altogether. It’s not a laidback read. It’s intense, energetic, and has multiple twisted plotlines. As a novel, think of a fast-paced paranormal thriller.
Edmund – What is the next book?
Faith – Raven Cursed is next. I just turned it in to my editor. But after Raven Cursed, I have nothing under contract. My future is dependant on the readers and how faithful they are to the series. Fans make or break books, and writers live on their joy and their love of books. If fans buy books and tell their friends to buy books, then a writer gets contracts. So far, Jane Yellowrock is selling, If I do my job well and the fans like it well enough to do theirs, then there will be more books in the series. All I can do is hope!
Edmund – What advice do you have for writers looking for that first big break?
Faith – Two things. First, www.magicalwords.net, a site dedicated to writing and to fantasy, hosted by a number of excellent writers: David B. Coe, Misty Massey, AJ Hartley, Stuart Jaffe, a certain Edmund Schubert, and lil’ ol’ me! Second, How to Write Magical Words, a Writer’s Companion. It’s available at Amazon and from the publisher, at www.bellarosabooks.com
Thank you for having me here, Edmund!Edmund – Thanks for visiting with us, Faith.
To learn more about Faith, please visit her at her website: Faith Hunter www.faithhunter.net