Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Interview: Ilona Andrews

I fell in love with Ilona Andrews' voice last year when I read Magic Bites. After reading Magic Burns (releasing April 1st), I have a feeling this will be an enduring affair. I'm delighted to present an interview with the authors behind the books! (Ilona's also agreed to swing by and answer any reader questions, so put your thinking caps on!)

Who is Ilona Andrews?

Ilona: Ilona Andrews is an international woman of mystery. Actually most of our fiction is written by my husband Gordon and I. His first name is actually Andrew.

Gordon: Gordon is the name I chose to be called when I became an adult. I was in the Navy for four years and nobody there actually called me by my first name. And when I met Ilona, she called me Gordon as well.

Ilona: A Southern Russian woman habit. For Kate Daniels series the publisher suggested a female pseudonym, so we glued our two first names together.

For those of you unfamiliar with your work, how about a quick summary of what these books are about?

: The books are set in alternative Atlanta. The world is battered by magic waves: they
come and go as they please. When magic is up, cars stall, guns don't work, and mythical creatures rampage through downtown. When magic is down, magic users lose their power and defensive spells vanish. Magic hates tall buildings and chews them to rubble, so the world is in ruins, but people are resilient and they work around it.

In this world lives Kate Daniels. Kate likes her sword a little too much and has hard time controlling her mouth. But she also has some interesting abilities that frequently make her a target.

In the first book, MAGIC BITES, Kate's guardian is murdered, and she must choose to hide or to pursue his preternatural killer. Hiding is easy, but the right choice is rarely easy. In the sequel, MAGIC BURNS, out this April, Kate is trying to protect a little girl during a magic wave of catastrophic proportions.

Do you plan to write a specific number of Kate Daniels books?

Gordon: It depends on whether or not ACE decides to continue the series.

Ilona: We're under contract for four and have it thought out to five, but like Gordon said, it's mostly up to the publisher at this point.

How does the whole writing with another person work? Do you have a system, or do you duke it out until one of you wins?

: I don't think it's all that confrontational. We discuss it but it's a collaboration, not a contest of wills. I always thought it was very similar to a marriage. It's about compromises, figuring out who is good at what, and compensating for each other's weakness.

Ilona: We have occasional arguments, but we've been together for a while and we generally think along the same lines. Gordon typically is better with plot resolution than I am and I'm better with setting, for example.

Talking about duking it out - there are several awesome fight scenes in Magic Burns. Did you choreograph those or did it just come out as you were writing? Who's the fight-scene expert?

: We always choreograph fight scenes to make sure they make sense.

Ilona: Gordon studied judo while in Japan. We're both familiar with firearms and some basic sword fighting. Mostly choreographing fight scenes requires a lot of research. But yes we do actually get in the middle of the floor and try to figure out the most likely move or the easiest target. One of the things I hope people will keep in mind is that these fights are there for entertainment purposes only. We do take artistic liberties in the name of coolness.

Gordon: In practice it's very difficult to decapitate a person, for example. Pulling a sword out of the body takes a lot of strength, because of the suction involved.

Kate has an interesting history, which we get more info on in this book - did you work all that out way in advance? Or has some of it come as a surprise to you, too?

: No, we have it all planned out. We are so sad.

Soooooo, you have this uber-sexy/scary as heck shapeshifter, Curran, in your books. Why do you think so many readers react so strongly to him?

: He's a strong dependable guy who has responsibilities. He takes care of his people and he'll do what he says he will do. That's what a man supposed to do. Both he and Kate are autonomous. They have their own lives and histories, but even though they started from different places, they arrived to a somewhat similar world view. Unfortunately, they disagree on their methods and it's interesting to see them interact.

Ilona: Curran's an interesting character. He's not a bad boy or an anti-hero in a strict sense of the word. He's powerful and dangerous, but he isn't unreasonable despite what Kate might say. I think that if you were his friend and you were in trouble, he'd drop everything and come to rescue you no matter how dangerous the situation might be. He is Beast Lord, however, and has been one for quite some time. When one commands a thousand shapeshifters, one tends to develop certain arrogance.

The whole magic wave vs tech wave stuff is really interesting. Any background on how you came up with the concept?

: I think as humans, it would probably very difficult for us to have both magic and technology. When I was younger, I read a book (sorry, don't recall the name now), where there was a god Tech. He was a very small god, who started out when the first bow was made. Other gods made fun of him. But the more humans developed, the stronger he grew until he finally became incredibly powerful. On the funny side, when he appeared, he always looked like Clark Kent. And magic and technology mix makes such a cool world.

Ilona: There are so many stories where the magic is going out of the world. Tolkien's work, for example, explores that theme. And it always made me so sad to read about it. I mean, we yearn for magic. Look at the film industry – we basically use cutting edge technology to create magic on screen. It's an integral part of being human: to want a touch of something mystical and unexplained. It seemed natural to bring about "reverse" apocalypse: magic is back with a vengeance. There are some cartoons that played with that theme and we both really enjoyed them.

Gordon: Thundarr the Barbarian.

Ilona: Heman. Guys on mechanical eagles with swords.

Gordon: Magic that never was and technology that never will be.

Ilona: We've officially outed ourselves as total geeks.

Gordon: Yep.

I hear you're in an anthology next year with some very kewl people - can you give us hints about what your story's going to be?

: I heard Nalini Singh is going to be in that anthology. How cool is that? Our story will be about Kate and hellhounds.

Follow up question - do you think readers unfamiliar with your world will be able to dive into the novella and understand it?

: We'll try to write it so they can.

Getting back to Kate and Curran (not that I'm obsessed or anything), are these two ever going to get up close and personal? (I'm torn whether I want this to happen or not. The push/pull between them is just so fascinating.)

: I'm sorry, you'll just have to read it. Thank you so much for having us over!

Gordon: Thank you! We enjoyed it.

A huge thank you to Ilona and Gordon for the interview! Here's the link to their website if you'd like to read excerpts and find out more about the series.

And now, feel free to grill Ilona! (Maybe if we work together, she'll let something slip...)


Ilona said...

I am far too crafty to let things slip/ ~_~

Anonymous said...

This is awesome!!!
Ms. Nalini-I have no idea how you keep getting this wonderful interviews. Thank you so much!

Ms. Ilona-Thank you for doing this-despite not letting anything slip. Hehe.

Wendy said...

Hi Ilona & Gordon! love the interview. I just recently wrote a review on Magic Burns and I loved it! Can't wait to read more. :-)

meljean brook said...

I love these books. Love. LOVE.

Fantastic interview!

Ilona said...

Re: Alice - I R tricksy

re: Wendy - Thank you! I emailed it to my publicist when it went up (I was going to say thank you but I am not sure if I am allowed anymore...)

re: Meljean - :makes Jedi signs: you want to send me your next book... you want to send me your next book... nalini, you also want to send me your next book...


Nalini Singh said...

Well *rubs hands in glee* we may be able to set up a for Kate/Curran secrets *muwahaha*

Missy S said...

Excellent interview!! :) I always love hearing about Curran... *sigh* But I didn't know the Tech from the Tech god. I'll have to find that story. Very awesome.

Something you don't expect to read every day:

"Pulling a sword out of the body takes a lot of strength, because of the suction involved."

And I like the way you think, Nalini... too bad I have nothing to trade for Kate/Curran secrets!!

Ilona said...

Re Nalini: I will consider it a fair trade.

Ashley said...

Ms. Ilona:
Thanks for the interview!! It was an interesting read and I'm looking forward to the third book in the series!
I have to admit tho, part of the reason I love this series is because I live in Atlanta and I can imagine a lot of these scenes. And the one reference to the University of Georgia simply made my day... I'm such a geek.
I'm really hoping to see more Curran/ Kate interaction in the next book. You keep teasing the reader with little snippets of dialogue here and there.
I can't wait till the next book!!!

Sweet said...

I'm supposed to be getting my copy of Magic Burns tomorrow. It seems like I've been waiting forever. I can't wait to find a quiet place and just curl up and read away !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great interview, I do have a question that I didn't ask last week at RT. How does the pack feel about Curran pursuing Kate ? I know they must be aware of it. Or is that covered in Magic Burns?

Ilona said...

Re: theloststarling

I used to work for a law firm whose corporate office was at One Alliance Center, right in the center of Buckhead. Hehehe. Such a purty building... it WAS because I wrecked it! :smash-smash-smash:

:sits on rubble: Mmm, satisfying.

I tried to incorporate Atlanta landmarks, but sometimes they wouldn't cooperate. I really wanted to put witches into Centennial park and as I was being chauffeured around it on my way from airport, I realized it was too small. It had to have an emergency expansion.

re: sweet.

Heee. Do you think he would tolerate being told no? There would be some friction, but if it goes that way, and I am not saying it does (cause Nalini didn't give me the book bribe yet), I would think it would be a very unwise thing for any Pack member to tell Beast Lord who he can and can't have in his bed.

alanajoli said...

I would *never* have guessed that you were a pair of writers. Beautifully done on making the voice consistent throughout!

Christine said...

Fantastic interview! Thanks, Nalini! :)

Ilona & Gordon: I enjoyed reading on how you work together. I sure hope you don't choreograph those fighting scenes on the good carpet. I imagine blood stains are tough to get out. ;o)

I love your insight on the human yearning for magic. To me there is nothing more entertaining and captivating than a book or film that can turn fantasy into something so realistic.

Best wishes with the release of Magic Burns next week! I haven't yet read Magic Bites... but I *do* have it on my TBR pile and it is getting bumped up!

*looking at comments*
Nalini ... check
Ilona & Gordon ... check
Meljean ... check

... where's Ms. Harris? ;)

Shaymless Aymless said...

Great interview. I think I need to add Magic Bites and Magic Burns to my TBR pile. There's always move *shoves books around to make space to more books*. In fact I have a whole be bookcase (mostly filled to TBRs) to fill.

Nalini Singh said...

"Pulling a sword out of the body takes a lot of strength, because of the suction involved."

Melissa, yes, that was something new to me too! Do we dare ask how Gordon knows this?

Ilona said...

Re: sword

Bayonet training :P

Despite his smexy exterior, my husband did four years in the US Navy and then, after he met me, four years in the Army. (He thought about the Navy but I dug my heels in) He's a veteran of the first Gulf War and had finished his commitment just as the second was getting underway.

Missy S said...

re: sword

"Despite his smexy exterior"? I've always had a thing for a man in uniform... instead I marry the Navy brat. Ah well... he's really cute too. :)

Sarai said...

This was an awesome book Love me some Kate and Curran. I am sliding more towards Derek though I think he has a lot of potential.
Great series can't wait for 3!!!!

Enchanted by Books said...

Great interview! I haven't read the books yet but I have the first one in my TBR and I am dying to try it!

Wendy said...

Ilona, you're very welcome! Saying "thank you" is not allowed, but what it is allowed is an ARC of the next Kate Daniels book. Ahem.

Jenny Schwartzberg said...

FYI for Atlanta readers. Check out Tom Deitz's books which are set in Georgia and some, especially the Gryphon King, around the U. of GA.

Ilona, I enjoyed the interview and Magic Bites.

Jackie (Literary Escapism) said...

Ahhh....I was going to start Anya Basts' new one before getting to the next Ilona Andrews, now I'm not sure which one I should start. So many good little time.

I love these interviews you do. It seems like you always ask the questions the readers are more interested in. I can't wait for the next one.

felinewyvern said...

I too am an Ilona and wonder if you had as much trouble as I did whilst growing up with the name?
Mostly mispronounciations or outright using the wrong name (Fiona being a popular alternative I was given :D)

Ilona said...

Hi Ilona.

I'm Russian and I was named after Ilona Massey. My name has been mispronounced in following ways:

Ilonia, Elona, Alona, Elonia, Llona, and Lorna. There was more but I forgot them all. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Ilona!

That's so weird, saying Ilona i mum is the other Ilona that commented. She had the same trouble as you with name pronouncing, so she decided to afflict her only daughter (me) with the mispronouncable name too! She named me after Ayla from the Earth Children's series by Jean M Auel.

Your books sound fascinating! I'll have to put them on my to be bought list ;)

Anonymous said...

Thank`s for the interview link:-).
The deleted scene from "Beat of Temptation" is wonderful Nalini!
I really love your kind of writing and I´m curious what`ll come next....

~ Eva