Bitten by Books is excited to welcome author Justin Gustainis today as our featured Guest Blogger! He will be talking with you today and answering questions. Check out the contest at the end of this post! You could win the amazing prize he is offering up today!
Okay, gang, I have a confession to make. (Deep breath) I have, on more than one occasion, committed … urban fantasy.
I didn’t realize it at first, I swear. I just thought I was writing the kind of stuff I like to write, which is also the kind of stuff I like to read: spooky stuff set in the otherwise “real” world. But I’ve finally faced up to my addiction, and now I see it for what it is.
All right, then, let me say it loud and say it proud: I do urban fantasy, and I do it a lot, and I like it!
When I started writing the stuff about five years ago, I wasn’t trying to be trendy, I swear. It just worked out that way – and, boy, am I glad it did. My books about occult detective Quincey Morris and his partner in supernatural crime, “white” witch Libby Chastain, began to reach the market just as urban fantasy was taking off, on its way to becoming one of the most popular genres in speculative fiction.
Near as I can figure, “urban fantasy” refers to fiction set in the contemporary age, and in the real world – with one or two big exceptions. So, maybe it’s the world you and I live in – except vampires are real (whether “out of the coffin” or not). Or maybe it’s a world like ours, except magic is commonplace. Stuff like that. I think the term “urban fantasy” is meant to distinguish the genre (or sub-genre, or whatever the hell it is) from high fantasy, which is set in a world not much like ours, and often on another planet altogether. I’ve always thought that most high fantasy seemed to take place in an idealized version of medieval Europe – with the addition of magic or dragons, and without all the dirt, disease and degradation that characterized the original. But that’s just me.
And not only do I write urban fantasy (Black Magic Woman, the first Quincey/Libby adventure, was published last January, and the second, Evil Ways, is due out at the end of this month. The third one, Sympathy for the Devil, is in progress and on track for late 2009.), but I read it, too. Voraciously. And as the genre (or sub-genre or … see above) becomes established, I’ve been noticing some trends.
#1. Chicks Rule. Most of the successful authors (apart from Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green and Mike Carey) seem to be female, just like their protagonists. And I think that’s kind of refreshing, because unlike, say, romance (even of the paranormal variety) urban fantasy isn’t what you’d call feminine. Most of the books have a fair amount of violence, and some of them have quite a lot of sex (Anita Blake is kind of slut, but I love her. Maybe that’s why I love her). The stereotype used to be, women didn’t write that kind of fiction. I’m glad the stereotype was wrong.
I suppose we all write the gender we know best – our own. I’m having it both ways, with a male-female team of protagonists. I like to think I do right by Libby Chastain, and haven’t had any complaints from female readers on that score just yet. Besides, Libby and I have something important in common – we both like girls (Libby likes boys, too, BTW).
#2. It’s only (super)natural. A lot of the protagonists in urban fantasy have some kind of supernatural powers of their own, which certainly makes life easier if you have to deal with ghosts, vampires, and the occasional werewolf. Hell, at least one of them (Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville) is a werewolf. Rachel Morgan’s a witch; Morgan Kingsley’s an exorcist; Harry Dresden’s a wizard. And so on, and on. Me, I’ve split the difference again. Quincey Morris is descended from a character of the same name in Stoker’s Dracula. He’s well versed in the supernatural, but has no powers of his own. That’s why he’s got Libby watching his back. As a practitioner of “white” witchcraft, she can’t actually hurt anybody – but that doesn’t stop her from sometimes using very aggressive self-defense.
#3. Nothing butt the girl. I was on a panel at World Fantasy recently that discussed this phenomenon, although I had noticed it already. Since most urban fantasy novels have a female protagonist, your typical urban fantasy cover has a rendering of the heroine, seen from the, um, rear. I don’t know how that got started, but it’s become something of a cliche′. More than a few female fans (and authors too) are kind of sick of it, and I don’t blame them. While I appreciate a well-formed female ass as much as anyone (if not more), focusing on the woman’s posterior assets does seem to detract from what makes her worth reading about – her courage, determination, compassion, and all the other things that make for a good hero(ine). I’ve been lucky – my publisher (Solaris Books) has hired Chris McGrath to do the covers of my books. Chris has a distinctive style, but it’s not anal retentive, if you know what I mean. Although the cover of Black Magic Woman shows that Chris and I agree on one thing, at least: Libby Chastain does have a cute ass. It just doesn’t take up ¾ of the cover.
It seems like there’s a new urban fantasy series being introduced every week. I buy every one, and will continue to do so. My TBR pile resembles the leaning tower of Pisa. I hope the market doesn’t get saturated and collapse, the way horror did in the 1980s. But even if it does, there’s always going to be a place for good stories, well told. I hope I’ll still be one of those doing the telling.
Urban fantasy rocks!
Readers be sure to check out Justin’s sites!
Questions and Contest: Now, I am going to open up the internet floor so to speak and let our readers ask Justin some questions. Feel free to post as many questions or comments as you like. He will be popping in and out today and tomorrow to answer them.
Readers, here’s how to enter the contest. You can do ONE or ALL of these things, and each one will give you additional entries at a chance to win. One lucky participant will be chosen to win a copy of Evil Ways his latest novel featuring occult investigators Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain, which will not be publicly available until December 30th. The contest is open to international readers as well.
Please note, the prize stated IS the prize you will receive, there will be absolutely no substitutions or changes the prize is non-transferable. If you don’t want the prize being offered, please don’t enter the contest. If you ever win an electronic copy of a book, please note that it is ILLEGAL to forward, give away or copy it in anyway once you receive it. Doing so violates copyright. If we find out that it has been done, you will no longer be eligible to win any of our contests.
1. Ask Justin some questions. Ask as many questions as you like, you can also start a stimulating discussion.
2. SUBSCRIBE to our newsletter here on the right hand side of the site. This is for new subscribers only.
3. Post the link to the interview here today (http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=2869) at another blog, website, Myspace, Ning Group, Facebook, Yahoo Group (any group where it is appropriate) and you will be given TEN additional entries for a chance to win for every link you post. BUT you MUST come back here to this interview and post those links in one response here in this thread. The more places you post the event, the more entries you get, so spread the word! NOTE: if you post multiple links here, your post will not show up right away. If you don’t see it, don’t keep posting it, we WILL approve your entry later on in the day.
4. Purchase copies of Justin’s awesome books TODAY or TOMORROW and send us a copy of the receipt VIA email (sorry no faxes) for your purchase to: racoo.smith @ gmail.com (no spaces) for TWENTY additional entries. You get TWENTY entries for each one you purchase. Not valid on past purchases. Click this link to buy his most recent books.
Black Magic Woman
Or buy ANYTHING from Amazon today by using the Amazon search box to your right hand side on our site and get 10 entries. Send me a copy of the receipt VIA email (sorry no faxes) for your purchase to: racoo.smith @ gmail.com (no spaces).
Books make GREAT gifts for friends and family anytime!
5. Add us as your friend on Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/bittenbybooks
Add us as your friend on Facebook: http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=614064436
Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BittenbyBooks
Be sure to mention that you are friending us for this contest so we know to enter you!
6. Stumble, Digg or share the post with any social networking sites. There is a button right at the end of this post that says “Share” that you can use.
7. Twitter and ask your friends to re-tweet the URL for this event: http://bittenbybooks.com/?p=2869
8. Read the Bitten by Books review of Justin’s book here:
Then leave a meaningful comment IN THE REVIEW post that shows you read the review, not just a post that says “sounds good” or “nice review”, a couple of sentences would be great! Simply share your thoughts, ideas or opinions and show the author some love.
9. Add Justin’s website to your blog roll or links page: http://www.justingustainis.com/
10. Add Bitten by Books to your blog roll or links page: http://bittenbybooks.com if you leave our link up permanently you will always be entered into our contests automatically. Just be sure to stop by each contest we hold and leave the link to where it is so we can give you your entry!
11. Email ALL of your friends and invite them to come by today! If your fiends come and post here and say you sent them, they get TWO entries and you get TWO entries! They have to tell us who you are so we know who to give the entries to. You can invite as many people as you want and get all the extra entries!
12. Join the The Blood Bank the Bitten by Books Community! here: http://bittenbybooks.ning.com/ then come back here and tell us your username. Be sure to post something about yourself on your blog there.
The contest will run through tomorrow 12/11/08 at 3:00 pm Eastern time to allow our East coast and international readers a chance to win too!
Be sure to include an email and name where we can contact you if you are a winner.
We will be awarding the AMAZING prize and announcing the winner to the Bitten by Books website later. And REMEMBER you can’t win if you don’t play!