Interview: Jennifer Estep

Jennifer EstepToday, I am excited to welcome back Jennifer Estep as we celebrate the release of her third Elemental Assassins novel, Venom.

It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer . . . who is about to save her life.

Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of Venom to one lucky individual.

Literary Escapism: The third book in the Elemental Assassin series is coming out soon. Could you start off by telling LE’s readers a little about this newest installment?

Jennifer Estep: Basically, in Venom, Gin faces her deadliest enemy yet – Elliot Slater, a super-strong giant who works for Mab Monroe. Gin is also wrestling with the fact that her former lover Detective Donovan Caine has left her, and she’s wondering if she really wants to get involved with sexy businessman Owen Grayson. And to top it all off, Gin also has to deal with the reappearance of her long-lost baby sister, Bria, who just happens to be a police detective.

There’s a lot going on in the book, and a lot of the relationships between the various characters develop and change in what I hope are satisfying ways for readers. It really is the pivotal book in the series since Gin makes so many decisions about her future. I just hope that readers will like the choices that Gin makes – and the butt that she kicks along the way.

LE: Do you know exactly what is going to happen to Gin in the End? Or are you still deciding what the resolution to the series is going to be?

JE: I know what’s going to happen to Gin at the end of book 5, since I’ve already written that one. LOL.

Seriously, though, I did loosely plan out the story arc for the first five books. I knew the things that I wanted Gin to accomplish in these books and how I wanted her to grow and change as a character. I also knew the mission that I wanted her to take on at the end of book 5 (although I’m not going to spoil it here.) I think I’ve delivered a satisfying story and resolution to the series – and I hope readers agree with me when Tangled Threads and book 5 come out next year.

LE: Is there a set number of books that is planned for this series? If there is, would there ever be a possibility of making it open ended?

JE: Right now, I’m under contract for five books. These five books will let me finish out the major story arc of who killed Gin’s family, how Gin gets her revenge on that person, and who Gin ends up with romantically. I know as a reader that I hate it when some series/plot lines go on forever, and I thought it was important to give readers a complete story with these five books.

I’d love to write more books in the series beyond these five, and I already have an idea for book six (if there is a book six). The great thing about Gin is that she can always get into more trouble. But whether or not the series continues will depend on sales, like everything else does. So if you like the books, I hope you’ll tell your friends about them.

LE: In your previous interview here at LE you stated that you’ve always been a fan of reading about assassins. Does this mean that when you started writing the series that you didn’t have to research assassins? Or did you still look into what constitutes the job of assassin?

JE: I didn’t do a lot of research about assassins. The beauty of writing fantasy is that you can make up the whole thing. LOL.

Basically, with Gin, I wanted to write the assassin that I wanted to read about – someone who was tough and smart and still a little vulnerable too. Someone who was okay with being an assassin and all the bloody things that she has to do in order to survive. I had this idea in my head of how I wanted Gin to be, and I went with it.

Actually, I didn’t read any books about assassins when I was writing the series. Whenever I’m writing a new book, I don’t read in the genre that I’m writing in because I don’t want to be influenced by someone else’s work. So when I’m writing an Elemental Assassin book, I won’t read any other urban fantasies or assassin books. I’ll read contemporary romance or something else instead.

Instead of doing research, I spent most of my time focusing on the magic and world building. I really wanted to make the Elemental Assassin books different from other urban fantasy books on the market, and I wanted to give Gin and the bad guys some different and hopefully interesting powers. To me, writing fantasy is all about the world building and bringing the setting, characters, and magic system to life for readers – making folks think that these characters and powers really could exist, if only our world was a little bit more like Gin’s.

LE: I was wondering if any of your characters emulate real people? Any real life characters who you just had to put into your books?

JE: I don’t really base my characters on real people, but occasionally, I’ll take a quirk from someone that I know and work it into the story. For example, my grandmother hates wearing socks. Seriously, the woman will walk across the yard barefoot in January. So that’s why Jo-Jo Deveraux, the dwarven Air elemental who heals Gin, never wears socks. My grandmother also likes the color pink, just like Jo-Jo does.

Using little quirks like that is how I can give a shout-out to my friends and family and give my own little subtle tribute to them.

LE: Besides being a kick ass assassin, Gin is also a fabulous cook. Is Gin’s love of cooking something that you and her have in common?

JE: I do love to cook, and I’m totally addicted to the Food Network. I wish I had more time to cook. Plus, my mom loves to bake, and we’re always talking about the recipes that we want to make.

I like to write about food, and making Gin be a great cook was a way for me to indulge that. Besides, I thought Gin’s love of cooking fit in well with her character and the fact that she runs the Pork Pit barbecue restaurant. Folks can find a couple of the recipes that Gin makes in the books my website. Scroll down until you see Gin’s Recipe Box:

LE: In every book there seems to be a ton of revelations regarding Gin’s past, and what she thought she knew about it. Are all of these surprises leading up to a big one?

JE: I do have some more surprises planned for Venom, Tangled Threads, and book 5, although they don’t necessarily lead up to one big surprise.

I don’t want to give too much away, but in these books, you’ll see just how big a role that Fletcher Lane, Gin’s murdered mentor, played in making her the Spider and shaping her relationships with other characters.

LE: How long does it take you to write an Elemental Assassin novel?

JE: Well, it depends on how busy I am with work and other book projects. I do work a full-time day job, so that factors in. On average, I’d say that it takes about three to four months for me to write a rough draft, then revise and edit the subsequent drafts until the book is as good as I can make it. After that, the book gets sent off to my agent and editor so I can get their thoughts on the story and any revisions that might need to be made. If you add in doing those revisions, it’s probably closer to six months.

LE: Do you think that the series could be made into a t.v. show or a movie? If so, who would you like to see playing your characters?

JE: I’d love to the books made into a movie or TV show. I think Jennifer Garner would be a great choice for Gin. Garner can do tough and vulnerable at the same time, which is exactly what Gin is.

I could see someone like Bradley Cooper or Ryan Reynolds playing fun-loving Finn, and I think Daniel Craig or Clive Owen would be a great choice for sexy businessman Owen Grayson.

LE: Finnegan Lane seems to always have a different lady friend on his arm. Is Finn ever going to stop being such the ladies man?

JE: That’s actually something that I start to address in Venom. Finn is getting his own love interest, and the relationship between Finn and his lady friend builds up slowly from Venom to Tangled Threads to book 5. I think readers will be happy seeing Finn struggle with his emotions a little bit. ;-)

LE: Are you working on any other projects or do you have any other upcoming releases you would like to tell us about?

JE: Tangled Threads, book 4 in the Elemental Assassin series, will be out in May 2011, and book 5 will be released in October 2011.

I’ve also sold a young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.

I think folks who like my Elemental Assassin series will like the Mythos Academy books too. The voice is very similar – I just had to tone down the sex and violence a bit. LOL.

SPOILER ALERT: Some of these questions/answers may be a bit spoilerish…please proceed at your own risk. *grin*

LE: In Venom, Gin gets a new love interest. (excuse me while I do my happy dance) He seems to really accept Gin for everything that she is. Could it be that Owen is too good to be true?

JE: I wouldn’t say that Owen is too good to be true, but in Venom, readers will find out exactly why he’s so interested in Gin – and I hope everyone will be pleased by the connection between the two of them and how their relationship develops.

LE: Gin seems to be going the pro-bono route. Will she ever go back to being an assassin for hire?

JE: I’m not going to completely rule that out, but probably not. Gin certainly doesn’t need the money. LOL. Besides, as the series progresses, we see Gin do more and more pro-bono work – and we see her realize that maybe this is what she should have been doing all along.

LE: Will Gin’s sister ever be able to look past Gin’s being an assassin?

JE: That’s actually something that I address in Tangled Threads, book 4, and it’s something that continues over into book 5. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but Gin being an assassin is definitely an issue for her sister Bria – especially since Bria’s a police detective. All I’ll say is that Bria’s reaction definitely isn’t as harsh and high-handed as Detective Donovan Caine’s was, but Gin’s profession is going to cause some problems between the sisters, especially in Tangled Threads.


Meet Jennifer Estep!

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin code named the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a bar be cue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ash land. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.

Contact Info
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter

Want to purchase Jennifer’s novel?

  1. Karma Girl at Amazon or the Book Depository
  2. Hot Mama at Amazon or the Book Depository
  3. Jinx at Amazon or the Book Depository

Elemental Assassin

  1. Spider’s Bite at Amazon or the Book Depository
  2. Web of Lies at Amazon or the Book Depository
  3. Venom at Amazon or the Book Depository
  4. Tangled Threads at Amazon or the Book Depository
  5. Spider’s Revenge at Amazon or the Book Depository
  6. By a Thread at Amazon or the Book Depository (February 28, 2012)
  7. Widows Web at Amazon or the Book Depository (August 21, 2012)

Mythos Academy

  1. Touch of Frost at Amazon or the Book Depository
  2. First Frost at Amazon or the Book Depository
  3. Kiss of Frost at Amazon or the Book Depository
  4. Dark Frost at Amazon or the Book Depository (May 29, 2012)


VenomThank you Jennifer for visiting Literary Escapism again.

Contest Time! Jennifer has graciously offered to give away a signed copy of Venom.  All you have to do is answer this one question: Who can you see playing Gin and/or Finn on film? Or simply ask Jennifer a question?

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 Jennifer’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 September 28th, 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 think that a good actress to be Gin would be Evangeline Lilly, thats the person I think of when I read the book.

    I follow on twitter.

    posted a review for spiders bite on goodreads.

  2. Hi, everyone! I just wanted to drop by and say thanks to Jackie for having me back on the blog. ;-)

    Ladytink — Unfortunately, my old publisher decided not to continue with the Bigtime series after Jinx. I have a fourth book written and hope to maybe publish it as an e-book someday. But I’m so busy with the Elemental Assassin series right now and my new YA series (and my day job), that it’s on the back burner.

    Laurel — I really liked Lilly on Lost. I think she would be a good choice for Gin too.

    Sandy — I would love to continue with the Elemental Assassin series beyond book 5. I already have an idea for book 6 that I think is pretty cool. But, of course, whether or not the series continues is going to depend on sales, like everything else in publishing does.

  3. I think Kate Beckinsale would make a good Gin. She did a great job in Underworld, and I think she has the right moves.

    I can’t wait to read Venom, I need to find out what happens to Gin next.

  4. Actresses I can see playing Gin: Oliva Wilde, or Mila Kunis (she was good in The Book of Eli)

    Can’t wait to read Vemon :D

    +1 LE facebook fan/ twitter follower

  5. Hi Jennifer! I don’t have an idea who could play Gin (or Finn) – I’m quite new to your books and I love the first one, but I need to read more before I can answer your question…book 2 is already waiting for me and I hope I can read on soon!
    wish you all the best

  6. Van — I haven’t seen The Book of Eli, but I’ve heard good things about it. Thanks. I hope you enjoy it!

    Melanie — Cool. I hope you enjoy Web of Lies and Venom even more than Spider’s Bite.

  7. For Gin and Finn, I would cast a couple of the cast from NCIS –Cote De Pablo and Michael Weatherly. And though you didn’t ask, I have a few ideas who I would cast in some of the other roles:

    Jo-Jo — Dolly Parton
    Sophia — Brenda Vaccaro
    Fletcher — Ralph Waite (just thought of this one)

  8. I loved Spider’s Bite and I’m just about to start Web of Lies, so I have to admit, I didn’t read all of the interview because I wanted to avoid the spoilers. However, I did notice the title of your new series Touch of Frost and after reading the synopsis, I thought that was a particularly brilliant title. Did you come up with it or was it a suggestion from someone else?

    +1 commented on Venom review
    +1 commented on Twelve review

  9. Purple Ranger — I think Michael Weatherly would be a good choice for Finn.

    Jen — I came up with that one, although I was calling it A Touch of Frost to start with. My editor suggested we shorten it to just Touch of Frost, which I think flows better. I think we’re going to call the second book Kiss of Frost, but that’s still up in the air right now.

  10. I love this series! I just recently read Spider’s Bite and bought Web of Lies over the weekend. Love the characters and everything about it!

    As for who should play Gin and Finn. No clue. Someone new. I feel like I’ve been seeing the same faces all over the screen and none of them is right for how I see the characters.

    + 1 Jackie, for an extra entry I’m posting a link to the contest on my blog.

    + 1 I’m also a follower on Facebook.

    + 1 Commented on review for Venom

  11. the guy that plays on The mentalist simon baker would make a good Finn if he was younger lol.
    What is your YA about and when will it be released?
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com
    I follow your blog, twitter, and facebook.

  12. Pam — I really love Baker on The Mentalist. He’s flirty and tortured at the same time.

    The YA series is called Mythos Academy. The first book — TOUCH OF FROST — will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.

  13. You didn’t ask for these casting suggestions, but how about Kate Mulgrew as Mab Monroe? And Dwayne Johnson as Eliot Slater? And for some reason, I’m picturing Robert Englund as Warren Fox.

  14. Hi Jennifer!
    First of all I love your books and I can’t wait for Venom! My question to you involves the covers of your books (they are absolutely gorgeous). Do you get any input at all on the covers or are you blessed by the cover fairies? Either way they are awesome!

    +1 Twitter:

    +1 Follower of LE on Facebook (Jessica Spettoli) and on Twitter (@jmspettoli)

  15. I haven’t read any of these books yet, so I don’t know! I’m adding them to my wish-list though!

    I follower LE on FB.

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  16. I don’t really keep up with current actresses but Gin would definitely have to have the athletic thing going on. Jen Gardner I can see! I really love this series!

    +1 follow LE on Twitter (@scorpio1m)

    jenma76 at hotmail dot com

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