Urban Fantasy author Amanda Bonilla is chatting with me today about her fantastic Shaede Assassin books. I loved Shaedes of Gray –and I promise you Blood Before Sunrise is just as good. Please help me welcome Amanda to the blog!
Jen: Thanks so much for chatting with me, Amanda. I am such a fan of the Shaede Assassin series.
Amanda: Thanks for having me, Jen! I have to say, I’ve been pimping your blog and Tumblr account to everyone I know. You know just what I like to see! 😉
Jen: Tell new readers a little about the books and the main character, Darian.
Amanda: The Shaede Assassin Series takes place in Seattle. The city has become the new royal seat for the Shaede Nation (creatures who can become shadows once the sun sets) and because of that, the supernatural population has boomed. My supes don’t live out in the open, meaning, most humans don’t know they exist. The main character, Darian, is a Shaede and an assassin. She’s bitter, jaded, and carrying an atomic bomb’s worth of attitude. She’s been living the past century completely shut off from the world. She’s only known about the supernatural world for a short time. Her former lover, Azriel, had her convinced that she was an anomaly and no others like her existed. She’s slowly learning how to form relationships, and since she’s well-practiced at keeping others at arm’s length, she’s having a hard time opening up.
Jen: I am completely, totally 100% in love with Tyler, so I’ll admit I am biased. How would you compare and contrast him with Xander, the other man who is a potential love interest for Darian?
Amanda: Tyler is great. I really like giving males care-giver roles in my stories. I tend to make them more emotionally stable than my leading ladies. Ty is really great in that his reason for existing is to protect. Xander, on the other hand, is an aristocrat, and used to getting what he wants. I wouldn’t say he’s an uncaring character, because truly, he’s concerned with his people and his kingdom. But Xander can be pretty selfish and he’ll admit it freely. He doesn’t care who he steamrolls to get what he wants, and he’s not above being manipulative. While Ty can appear to be laid-back, he’s okay with getting down and dirty to protect those he loves. Tyler isn’t flashy. He’s crazy powerful, but he doesn’t feel like he has to prove himself to anyone. Piss him off, though, and you better watch out!
Amanda: When I started this series, I wanted to take this closed-off character and explore what it would be like to see her scrape bottom and then fight her way to the top. Darian has no idea how to live her life. For decades she’s just been going through the motions. She’s going to have to make a lot of mistakes before she can learn her lessons. She’ll definitely grow and mature over the course of the series. The one thing I love about writing a first-person series is that rather than having her character arc span the course of one book, I get to stretch it out over the course of many books.
Jen: You do such a great job of fleshing out the characters, even the secondary ones like Raif (who I also Love with a capital L.) Which character do you most enjoy writing for and why?
Amanda: Thanks, Jen! I love Raif with a capital “L” too! He’s definitely one of my favorite characters to write. He’s so dry and pragmatic. I always picture him with this, “Really? You think that’s a good idea?” expression on his face. There’s something about writing Darian, though, that’s really cathartic. Her personality is nothing like mine and she doesn’t take shit off of anyone. I’m such a non-confrontational person; I’ll pretty much do anything to avoid it. Darian gets right in the face of confrontation and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. I love that about her.
Jen: In Blood Before Sunrise, you expand the world building quite a bit. How much of the world and series development did you have in your head when you started writing the first book and how much developed as you were writing?
Amanda: I wrote SoG completely from the hip. I had no idea what was going to happen until I typed the words on my keyboard. Whenever I needed to flesh out the world-building, I’d take a break and sketch it out on paper. I’ve got a family tree that shows the Shaede and Lyhtan lineage and how/where they branch off from the same tree. For Blood Before Sunrise I had to really flex my world-building muscles and create a Fae-related history. I like to create my own mythology, though. It can also be tough. Writing the “rules” of the Jinn and the way they bind themselves to their Charges (which will show up in Crave the Darkness, Shaede Assassin 3) has been my biggest challenge so far. I had to make sure that it was precise and to the letter. I hope I haven’t painted myself into a corner anywhere!
Jen: SoG focused on the Shaedes. BBS on the Fae. Will you continue to delve into more supernatural races in future books?
Amanda: I like to explore the world building involved with different supernatural characters. I plan to put the spotlight on a different species with each book. I have a very overactive imagination, so I’ll keep throwing out new supes until my brain sputters out. Which I’m hoping won’t be for a while. 😉
Jen: How many are you planning to write in the series at this point?
Amanda: I’m currently contracted for three books, but I could easily write at least seven in the Shaede Assassin series as well as a few spin-offs. I really want to write a book for Raif and I’m hoping that someday I’ll get the chance to do it!
Jen: OK, tell the truth, if you could change the name of the first book would you do it?
Amanda: Honestly, no. There is the occasional confusion over the spelling, and of course there’s the connection to another certain book with a similar title. Someone emailed me a month or so ago to ask if I’d titled my book the way I had to capitalize on the other book’s popularity. That really cracked me up. I wrote SoG in 2009 and the title seemed really fitting for the tone of the story. Darian starts out as this slightly unlikeable, gray area character. Frequently, book titles will be changed several times between the first draft and production. I’m glad the title stuck.
Jen: Earlier this month, you released a prequel novella about Darian’s transition to life with Azriel. I am making my pitch for your next novella. Another prequel, this one a Ty POV of when he bound himself to Darian. Any chance? I would totally buy that.
Amanda: Jen, your wish will totally be granted! 😉 I’m working on a novella right now that takes place between books 2 and 3 and is told from Tyler’s POV. I’m writing a flashback so readers will get to see that first meeting between Darian and Tyler and they’ll also get a firsthand account of why he feels compelled to bind himself to her from the first moment he lays eyes on her. I’m SOOOOO excited for this novella!
Jen: OMG, OMG, OMG. When?
Amanda: Not until February. :’( I’m really excited about it, though. Hope I can pull off the male POV. And I’ve never written a sex scene from guy’s perspective, either. I’m going to have to visit your tumblr often for inspiration. 😉 It’ll be a tough job, but I’ll soldier through! Hehe.
Jen: I am so excited about this. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions and for the giveaway! I hope BBS is a great success!
Amanda: Thanks again so much for having me as a guest, Jen! And keep those Tumblr posts coming! LOL!
Amanda is giving away a print copy of Blood Before Sunrise, which is out July 3rd. To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This one is US/CAN only. To learn more about Amanda Bonilla, you can visit her website or follow her on Twitter.