Interview: Adrian Phoenix

Today, Literary Escapism is excited to welcome Adrian Phoenix, author of the Makers Song series as well as the recently released Black Dust Mambo, to the floor.

The dark pieces of vampire rock star Dante Baptiste’s past are violently emerging, and it is only a matter of time before the Fallen discover he is the creawdwr they have sought for thousands of years. The destruction he left behind in Oregon threatens to reveal his identity as Fallen Maker and True Blood, exposing the young nightkind to shadowy predators — mortal and supernatural — who will do whatever it takes to win his favor…or destroy him.

When beautiful FBI special agent Heather Wallace went AWOL on assignment, she chose irresistible Dante over the shady government forces that now stalk them both. Heather has her own secrets of the past to uncover, but she is also the only one who can hold her nightkind lover together when his dangerous quest for the truth threatens to send him over the edge. And as she and Dante fi ght for their survival, she realizes they must work together to protect their future — before his mysterious destiny tears them apart….

Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a signed copy of Black Dust Mambo and a signed set of the Maker’s Song series to two lucky readers.

Thanks so much for having me. I’m looking forward to meeting your readers.

Literary Escapism: In A Rush of Wings there are many points of view. Did you ever have a hard time keeping the characters straight?

Adrian Phoenix: No, I didn’t. The characters are all very clear-cut and individual, so I didn’t have a problem with keeping them straight. The more important aspect was the timeline. While Dante and other nightkind were Sleeping, I focused on the actions of characters who could move about in daylight.

Literary Escapism: The CCK (Cross Country Killer) had a pretty dark/crazy mind. How were you able to get into his character? Were there any tricks you found especially useful to get into the right frame of mind and to pull you out again?

Adrian Phoenix: At the risk of sounding pretty dark/crazy, the CCK (Elroy Jordan) was easy to write and a lot of fun. Getting into his character was a breeze because his mind was all impulse and slip stream thoughts and I could go with him where I wouldn’t with any other character. Plus, he had a sense of humor. A warped one, yes, but still – a sense of humor.

I’ve also read a lot of books and done research on serial killers and the law enforcement agents (FBI and police) who hunt them, so all of that was very helpful in understanding the mindset of the CCK.

Literary Escapism: Vampires are difficult to make unique, and yet you were able to put your own spin on them. Was this something that you found challenging? Or is this just how you’ve always thought that vampires (nightkind) should be?

Adrian Phoenix: Thank you so much! My spin on nightkind is just how I’ve always thought vampires should be. What’s also important is how they are viewed by the people in their world. The mortals (for the most part) don’t believe in vampires any more than the majority of people do in our world. But the nomad clans view nightkind as a part of nature, as night elementals.

Literary Escapism: Which do you find is more central in your writing: the characters or world creation? Why?

Adrian Phoenix: The characters are central in my writing. I always begin with a character and spin a story and a world around that character as I figure out what shaped him/her, and their response to the world around them. For me, characters are everything. As a teenager, it was always character-driven stories that won (and broke) my heart. If there isn’t a character I can identify with or root for, worry about, lust over, the story just doesn’t appeal to me as much. I’ve read good stories where the ideas or setting were central and enjoyed them, but character-driven stories are the ones I always remember.

Literary Escapism: It’s hinted at in the beginning that Heather has a contentious relationship with her father. Are readers going to get to learn more about that?

Adrian Phoenix: Yes, definitely. In the second book, In the Blood, readers not only meet Heather’s bipolar sister, Annie, but her father, James William Wallace, as well. And learn about a twenty year old mystery surrounding the murder of her mother.

Readers learn more in the third book, Beneath the Skin, also. Heather’s father plays a key role (and not in a good way) in the upcoming fourth book, Etched in Bone.

Literary Escapism: Lucien’s dedication to Dante is impressive. It’s clear that he really loves him. Will Dante ever be able to forgive him for holding back secrets? How will this affect their relationship in future novels?

Adrian Phoenix: Dante’s trust in Lucien has been shattered and that is going to take time and effort to repair. He still loves Lucien, but he no longer trusts him. This definitely affects their relationship – which goes through drastic changes due to desperate events in In the Blood when Lucien is captured and imprisoned by the Fallen. These events are continued in Beneath the Skin, when Dante is determined to find his father and bring him home.

But despite his love for Lucien, Dante knows they need to start all over in their relationship. He doesn’t know how fathers and sons are supposed to behave.

Literary Escapism: Have you always had an idea as to where the series is going? Do you know where it is going or is the storyline evolving as you write?

Adrian Phoenix: Seriously, it’s a little of both. I haven’t always known where the series was going—I had some general ideas and directions, but nothing was set in concrete. With each book in the series, the storyline has both evolved and revealed more of itself – which is absolutely thrilling. I just love it when I see something taking shape that I hadn’t consciously planned, then realize the roots had been planted in the first book. Love it!

Literary Escapism: What drew you to writing urban fantasy as opposed to other genres?

Adrian Phoenix: I didn’t choose a genre per se. I created the characters first, visualized the world they lived in, the world which had shaped them, and started writing. When I was done, I realized I’d written an urban fantasy novel. In my mind, I was writing Dante’s story. Just so happens it’s urban fantasy. ;)

Literary Escapism: The attraction between Dante and Heather was actually kind of surprising to me. They don’t really seem to have that much in common on the surface. What would you say draws these two together emotionally?

Adrian Phoenix: Dante and Heather have a few things in common on the surface – he’s in a band and her sister once fronted a band, and Heather went to her sister’s gigs whenever she could. So they have music, physical attraction, intensity of drive, focus. But I get what you’re saying – she’s an FBI agent and he’s a nightkind goth/industrial musician.

But they both have deep and compassionate hearts (despite all of Dante’s damage), loyalty to friends and family. Dante is drawn by Heather’s determination to rescue him even as he’s rejecting her efforts to do so.

This paragraph is from A Rush of Wings, when Heather is asleep in the arm chair and Dante is watching her:

“Asleep, curled and warm, she wasn’t a cop or an FBI agent, but a woman with heart; a woman with steel for a spine. A woman, so far, true to her word.”

Heather’s honesty and heart drew Dante. As did the silence he felt whenever he was near her, hushing the voices raging inside his head.

And it was Dante’s heart and willingness to sacrifice himself for those he loved that drew Heather emotionally. She wanted to be a voice for him too, to help him find redemption for a past he couldn’t even remember.

Literary Escapism: Trey is an interesting character, very sc-fi in how he’s always attached to wires. Will the series ever go into more detail about him?

Adrian Phoenix: Thanks! Yeah, the world of The Maker’s Song series is near-future, so there are various bits of sci-fi stuff littering the background. LOL. Yes, you’ll eventually see more about Trey, but not really until Etched in Bone.

Literary Escapism: Who would you say is your favorite character to write about in the Maker’s Song series?

Adrian Phoenix: I love them all and this question will get me in trouble, so we’ll keep it hush-hush. Dante – the story’s focus and catalyst. He has a special place in my heart. Heather, Lucien, and Von follow on his heels.

Literary Escapism: Dante takes his music very seriously. Are you the same with the types of music you listen to?

Adrian Phoenix: I love music and use it as an emotional soundscape when I’m writing. I don’t think I’m as serious about it as Dante, though. He’s making his living from his music!

Literary Escapism: Will Dante eventually remember everything about his past? Do you have any plans of writing about the events that have occurred in Dante’s past outside of the Maker’s Song series or as companion novellas?

Adrian Phoenix: I honestly don’t think Dante will ever remember everything about his past. I think he’s too damaged and, honestly, that just might be a blessing. His past is dark and brutal and heartbreaking. I have considered writing about the events that he lived through as separate short stories, but those events are so grim and bleak (with a few bright moments, especially with Chloe), I’m not sure how entertaining they would be.

You learn more about Dante’s past in each book.

Literary Escapism: Does your mood ever affect the direction that your stories take?

Adrian Phoenix: No, but the mood of the characters does. ;)

Literary Escapism: Will there be more exploration into Dante’s powers? I’m really intrigued by this blue glow he’s got going on. How did the creation of Dante’s powers come about?

Adrian Phoenix: Yes, you learn a ton more about Dante’s creawdwr gifts in the books following A Rush of Wings. And how he uses them. (Not always with the results he intended.) I don’t want to say too much more about his powers in case it spoils certain elements of the story for new readers.

Literary Escapism: Could you tell us a little about your new series Hoodoo?

Adrian Phoenix: You bet! This series is a bit lighter, more humorous, and focuses on hoodoo, loa, loup garou, and magic instead of gorgeous vampires and fallen angels and twisted killers. Black Dust Mambo even offers a wet boxers contest. Here’s the back cover copy from the book:

“There will be times, girl, when all your magic ain’t going to be enough, times when it will seem to dry up like mud under the noonday sun, or even make matters worse . . .”

Kallie Riviere, a fiery Cajun hoodoo apprentice with a talent for trouble, finds herself smack-dab in the middle of one of those times her mentor warned her about when she visits New Orleans to attend the Hecatean Alliance’s annual carnival: her hard-bodied conjurer hookup ends up dead in her blood-drenched bed. And he was killed by something that Kallie would never dream of touching –the darkest of dark juju, soul-eating juju – a black dust hex that may have been meant to kill her.

Now Kallie has to use every bit of hoodoo knowledge and bayou-bred mojo she possesses to clear her own name and find the killer – even as that dark sorcerer hunts Kallie and her friends. But Kallie’s search for the truth soon leads her in a direction she never anticipated – back home to Bayou Cyprés Noir, and to Gabrielle LaRue, Kallie’s aunt, protector, and hoodoo mentor . . . who is looking more and more like she just might be the one who wants Kallie dead.

Literary Escapism: To the average person, Hoodoo sounds remarkably similar to Voodoo. Could you explain what the difference between these two are and what made you decide to use Hoodoo instead of Voodoo?

Adrian Phoenix: The main difference is that Voodoo is a religion, with priestesses (mambos), priests (houngans) and devoted practitioners who participate in ceremonies to summon the loa (natural spirits and those of the dead), while Hoodoo is a system of folk magic following the same belief system as Voodoo, including the same gods/loas/saints.

With hoodoo, there are no priests or priestesses or ceremonies, just root doctors and root workers (also known as conjurers) working out of their homes and/or botanicas. Root doctors/root workers are consulted by members of their neighborhoods and communities for spells/cures/potions when ill (or feeling a tad cursed or full of bad luck) as often as a person would visit the local pharmacy.

Laying tricks and foot magic, breaking/making hexes, creating natural medicines and cures for illnesses of all kinds–heart, body, and soul. Poppets (voodoo dolls) are made for positive purposes as well as negative. To keep love and passion alive, to disperse negative energy and draw in positive. Candle magic. Divination with cards and shells and bones.

I chose Hoodoo because I’m more fascinated with folk magic, pure and simple. ;)

Literary Escapism: What kind of research did you do for Black Dust Mambo? Was there any particular legend or folktale involving Voodoo, or any topic really, that you drew inspiration from or have a strong pull towards?

Adrian Phoenix: Not only did I do a ton of reading (and you can check out titles on my suggested reading list on the Black Dust Mambo page on my website). I also paid a visit to Lucky Mojo Curio Co., which specializes in Hoodoo supplies and books, but offers other occult items as well. The woman who runs it, Catherine Yronwode, is a hoodoo and has been one for many years. She also offers a correspondence course in Hoodoo, which I plan to take. In the meantime, I’ve bought many potions, oils, powders, herbs, and other ingredients and have been learning to put together mojo bags, make spelled incense and potions – doing some hands-on work so I can have a better feel for Kallie’s work and world.

I’m fascinated by everything about southern Louisiana and its culture – Hoodoo, Voodoo, Marie Laveau, the bayous, gators, ghosts, cities of the dead – everything.

I’m currently working on the second Hoodoo book, Black Heart Loa, which will be released July 2011. The fourth Maker’s Song book, Etched in Bone, will be out February 2011.

It’s been a pleasure being here! Thanks so much!


Want to purchase Adrian’s novels?

Maker’s Song

  1. A Rush of Wings at Book Depository / Amazon
  2. In the Blood at Book Depository / Amazon
  3. Beneath the Skin at Book Depository / Amazon
  4. Etched in Bone ( February 2011) at Book Depository / Amazon


  1. Black Dust Mambo at Book Depository / Amazon
  2. Black Heart Loa (July 2011)


Thank you Adrian for taking the time to visit Literary Escapism!

Contest Time! Kathryne has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of Black Dust Mambo and a signed set of the Maker’s Song series to two lucky winners. All you have to do is answer this question: Have you read the Maker’s Song series?  What is your favorite part or would interests you about the series?  Are you looking forward to Black Dust Mambo, why?  Or simply ask Adrian a question. Please indicate which prize you would like to be entered for.

As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat (remember, these aren’t mandatory to enter, just extra entries):

  • +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
  • +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
  • +1 If you are a follower of Literary Escapism on Facebook and/or Twitter
  • +10 Purchase any of Adrian’s novels (listed above) or any novel through LE’s Amazon store or the Book Depository sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: jackie AT literaryescapism DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries.

There is one thing I am adding to my contests now…the winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.

The contest will stay open until July 27th, at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the Research Randomizer and the List Randomizer.

I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.


  1. I am not entering the contest but I wanted to post my favorite part of *A Rush of Wings* =)

    There is a part in the book when Lucien comes down from flight “in a rush of wings” sound movement. I thought the use of the words to describe this was brilliant and love that it was the chosen name for the book :) It made that scene more heartfelt for me. Am not sure why but it just did.

    Very awesome author, I can’t wait for more books from Adrian :)

  2. I have not read any of her books yet. But from what I have heard they sound great and like something I would love. Thanks for sharing. I am really looking forward to picking up her books. I love all paranormal based ideas and am always looking for new ones.

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  3. I haven’t read the books yet but sure will grab them if I see them in the bookstore. (which is highly unlikely). I have comment on the review ‘Good in Bed’ so there are 2 entries in total. Thanks for this giveaway! :)

  4. As my wife, Dawn mentioned above we are reading the Makers Song series. We are very interested in your Hoodoo series as it will be something new to us and it will be interesting learning about Hoodoo. I must admit I didn’t know about Hoodoo as being different from Voodoo. I just assumed it was all the same so to learn there is a difference is intriguing.

    My wife forgot to list which prize she was entering for so please enter her in the signed set of the Maker’s Song series.

    I would like to be entered in the Black Dust Mambo book.

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