Literatopia: Hi Ilona, Hi Gordon! The fifth book of the Kate Daniels-series will be published in Germany next year. Did you plan to end up with a whole series when you first started writing it or was it something that just ‘happened’? What trials await Kate in “Magic Slays”?
Ilona Andrews: No, we never imagined the Kate books being a seven book series. We were thrilled just to have the first book published; we did not have a plan for a long series. In Magic Slays, Kate will have to deal with being Curran's mate and an Alpha in the Pack, there are duties and responsibilities she never planned or wanted.
Literatopia: Neither of the short stories “Magic Mourns” and “Magic Dreams” have been published in German as yet. Will that change in the near future? And would you tell our readers what these stories are about?
Ilona Andrews: If our German publisher buys the rights, but both of those stories appeared as parts of an anthology with other writers, that is probably why they have not been published in German. Usually anthologies do not do as well as full-length novels, but we really like those stories. Magic Mourns stars Andrea Nash, but is very close to the original Lost Dog story that was later revised into Magic Bites. Magic Dreams is a story of how Jim and Dali get together. Magic Dreams features many elements of Asian mythology and is probably our favorite short story.
Literatopia: The relationship between Kate and Curran is best described as explosive – nerve-wracking for the two of them and hilarious for the reader. Where does this extreme tension between them come from? How much of your own personalities did you pour into the pair?
Ilona Andrews: It is tough for Kate and Curran, because each of them is strong and stubborn, they love each other but have a hard time compromising or conceding anything. I am not sure how much of Ilona and I are in Kate and Curran, Ilona is Russian and like Curran I did grow up in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina.
We don't fight as much.
Literatopia: The ‘courtship displays’ of the shape shifters are very bizarre and still they are recounted in great earnest throughout the story. Where did your inspiration for that come from – did you have some concrete models or did you rely completely on your imagination?
Ilona Andrews: Shapeshifters mostly mate for life, so we thought that there should be some elaborate courtship rituals involved. It would become tradition and part of the Pack's folklore, just as our wedding rituals. The boudas get really creative.
Literatopia: The setting of your Kate Daniels series is dystopic but the reader never gets too much background information about this world. How did this dark version of Atlantas come about?
Ilona Andrews: Ilona and I are both great fans of post-apocalyptic films, even animation and video games. For instance the comic book Kamandi by the late Jack Kirby or the early 80's cartoon Thundarr the Barbarian. I am not sure if those are widely known in Germany or Austria but they were a great influence on me as a child. Ilona attended a school north of Atlanta and our university was not very far. Later as adults we both traveled there for work. It is probably the biggest city in the south of the U.S. and we did not want to set the book in New Orleans. That has been done and done.
Literatopia: It’s the dark humor that makes the Kate Daniels-series so much fun to read. Do you sometimes have to think about sarcastic comments or do they just kind of flow onto the paper?
Ilona Andrews: We go back and forth with the dialogue, Ilona will sometimes tell me she needs a funny line; she is very smart but I have a better sense of humor.
Literatopia: “The Edge” is an action-packed mix of Urban and High Fantasy elements – what inspired you to this wild mixture of genres? After a number of Kate Daniels-books, was it hard at first to get into this completely new world?
Ilona Andrews: We wanted to write a series with a mix of magic and technology, like Flash Gordon or He-Man. We like Urban Fantasy but we are both fans of Sci-Fi and Sword and Planet stories. We wanted to do something different. It was nice to write about a world like the Edge or the Weird that is completely of our own making. When you are little you want there to be fantastic creatures in the forest, a place where magic exists for real.
Literatopia: Some readers were disappointed that Rose and Declan are not the main characters in “Bayou Moon”. Why did you decide to bring in new protagonists with every new installment of “The Edge”? How did your American fans react? ?
Ilona Andrews: A long time ago we wrote a fantasy story called "In the Name of the Realm," which was like a fantasy James Bond story. We knew it would never get published but if we altered it a bit, it was a perfect story for William Wolf. Rose and Declan had their happily ever after, and William deserved to be the hero and get the girl this time. William is my favorite character, much closer to me than Curran. As far as I know, most of our American fans were ok with William and Cerise being the main characters of Bayou Moon. It is really in my opinion a much better book than ON THE EDGE.
Literatopia: Who did the pictures of Broken, Wired and Edge displayed on your homepage? Did you do them yourselves or did you find them on the web?
Ilona Andrews: They are stock images we purchased from sites like Shutterstock. The William and Cerise header was made by Ilona.
Literatopia: In both “The Edge” and the Kate Daniels-series there’s a whole lot of blood spilled. What gave you the ideas for the many abnormal creatures? Do you think Kate’s battle scenes, for example, would look good on the big screen?
Ilona Andrews: Ilona is well versed in Russian folklore, which seems filled with scary blood thirsty monsters like the Upir from Magic Bites. I am the son of an Irishman, therefore Magic Burns was filled with more Celtic mythology. We both are film fans, movies like Underworld, Dog Soldiers, 30 days of Night, were big inspirations. When we write the books, we actually picture them as movies or even cartoons, so I think the books would make great movies or television shows. Really though, with all the magic and monsters, an animated film might be best. Of course, it's not likely to happen, but if it did, we would then retire and live on a beach.
Literatopia: Many German readers don’t know that there is actually a pair of authors behind “Ilona Andrews”. Why did you go for a female pseudonym?
Ilona Andrews: Ilona's is her real first name, her grandmother liked it and she was named after the Hungarian actress Ilona Massey. Andrew is my first name and Andrews is also my Grandmother's maiden name. Our publisher wanted a female name on the books so we just combined our first names. I just go by Gordon from all the years in the military.
Literatopia: How does your collaboration work? Do you each write half of a book or is one of you more of a muse and source of ideas to the other who dies most of the writing? Who’s better at doing the action scenes and who likes to do the love scenes?
Ilona Andrews: We plot it out together than go through the scenes, Ilona will usually write the scene or chapter then I will edit and go over it. With male characters I am responsible more for deciding what they will do and or say. I leave the love scenes to Ilona who gets Jeaniene Frost to help her. J is awesome with that stuff and usually gets final approval of the love scenes, telling us if they are "hot enough."
Literatopia: The description of “Silent Blade” and “Silver Shark” is strongly reminiscent of Science Fiction. Unfortunately there’s not a lot known about the Kinsman in Germany yet. Who are they? And how does Claire, the heroine of “Silver Shark”, manage to kill a man with nothing but her brain?
Ilona Andrews: The world of Kinsmen is a Science Fiction world. It's set in the distant future, when humans colonized the galaxy. As they settled on various worlds, there arose a need for various enchancements to their bodies. Some enhancements were technological in nature: an array of implants with various functions. Their effect ended with the death of the person who carried them. Other improvements were biological and these enhanced capabilities persisted, lingering in the bloodline, changing and mutating into new abilities in the offspring of the original carrier. It was quickly realized that the advantage of these biological enhancements lay in their exclusivity. Thus, the biologically enhanced united and shut down all further biological modification. Now families of these enhanced people, or Kinsmen, as they are known, vie for economic power, like mafia families of the Old World Sicily. Claire is one of these Kinsmen. She is a very strong psycher, trained by the military to kill. She can take control of your brain and thus your body. She can cause a hemorage or even stop your heart.
Literatopia: The warning on “Silent Blade” reads: „Contains a heroine who excels in moving targets, a hero who can’t get into her pants fast enough, and implant-enhanced sex” – is that an accurate description? And might we ask what kinds of implants are used?
Ilona Andrews: They are combat implants. :) Enhanced strength and reflexes. Silent Blade was published by Samhain, which is famous for its creative warnings.
Literatopia: The Kinsman novels have only been published as e-books so far. How do your American readers react to e-books? Will the Kinsman-stories be published in German as well?
Ilona Andrews: So far the reaction to Silent Blade and Silver Shark have been generally positive. The biggest complaint is that they are too short. We would be happy to release these stories in German, if a German publisher was interested in purchasing the rights. Our good friend Bea Kaiser, from Austria, translated the Curran POV's into German and made them available. Maybe we would do something like that again for Kinsmen.
Literatopia: You’ve published short stories together with other authors of Urban Fantasy, such as Jeaniene Frost. Do all of you get on well? Did you get in touch about the contents of the stories you were about to publish together as e-book?
Ilona Andrews: Jeaniene is Ilona's best friend, they talk on the phone all the time. We also know and quite like the very talented Meljean Brook. We don't really know Charlaine Harris, but I am a huge fan of her Sookie series and we were honored to be in a book with her. It makes me think we are almost famous.
Literatopia: There’s a huge difference between the German and the American covers of your books. Which style do you personally prefer?
Ilona Andrews: I like the German covers much better. Really all of our foreign covers have been very nice, have you seen the Spanish covers? Very pretty.
Literatopia: How and when did you start writing? Did you start it together or did one of you start and got the other one to try it as well?
Ilona Andrews: We started writing together in college, helping each other with papers at first. As far as the first book, I was still in the Army, so Ilona would write it while I was gone, which was more often than I liked. It was really her idea.
Literatopia: On your homepage you state that you don’t really take yourselves very seriously – your international success as “New York Times Bestselling Authors” should, on the other hand, be taken seriously. Did you ever imagine your books would appeal to such a mass of readers? How have your lives changed since you first published?
Ilona Andrews: No, we really never thought we would be NYT bestsellers, or even go into a bookstore and see our stuff. It is still fun. We are just normal people though; we are not rock star authors like the television character Rick Castle. We love our messy lives, with our kids and our pets but it is not glamorous. The best thing is that we get to stay home together and hangout. No commute or work clothes and we are home when our kids arrive from school.
Literatopia: You’re pretty busy online, with a blog and a Facebook page. How close are you to your fans? Do you have enough time for some short conversations or is a news-posting now and then all you can squeeze in?
Ilona Andrews: I think we are pretty close with our fans; we enjoy interacting with them online and sometimes in person. We try to answer every email and put stuff on the blog that is not just about the books, but about us as people. Every author has their own way of interacting or not with fans. Before signings we try to set aside time to just drink coffee and chat with folks.
Literatopia: On your page you cite a lot of reviews – have you read them all as well? How’s the general feedback concerning your novels? Did you ever come across a review you were particularly pleased with/ that hurt particularly badly?
Ilona Andrews: We do read reviews of our stuff, though Ilona should not. She lets negative reviews affect her much more, and gets very upset. We are always happy when somebody likes the books or gives us a nice review but you can't please everybody. One review said that our books should be burned, while another accused us of glorifying sexual violence against women in Magic Bites. I did not like that because I felt it was untrue.
Literatopia: Do you have any time left to read yourselves? What kinds of genres do you read? Do you both like roughly the same kind of books or do you have completely different tastes?
Ilona Andrews: We do try and read when we can, Ilona reads romance books and I tend toward hard-boiled mysteries and heroic fantasy. Favorite authors found on our shelves might be Robert B. Parker, Johanna Lindsey, Loretta Chase, David Gemmell, Charlaine Harris and of course Jeaniene Frost. We are big fans of Cat and Bones.
Literatopia: What can we expect from you in the future? Will you continue writing Kate Daniels and “The Edge” or are there new series coming up?
Ilona Andrews: We have another short story for an anthology with Charlaine Harris, and are still working on the Andrea book. At the end of Nov, Fate's Edge comes out. Kate will end at book seven, but there will most likely be a Jim and Dali book in addition. Then maybe it would be fun to give Julie her own books.
Literatopia: Thank you for the extensive interview!
Ilona Andrews: You're very welcome; it has been our pleasure.
Fotos: Copyright by Ilona Andrews
Interview mit Ilona Andrews (german version / deutsche Version)
Rezension zu "Land der Schatten - Spiegeljagd" (Edge, Band 2)