If you’ve been following us on Twitter, then you might have started seeing a lot of #CMC15 tweets. If you haven’t, well guess what, you’re going to see a lot the next time you visit Twitter. Literary Escapism is one of the featured bloggers for Coastal Magic Convention 2015 and we get the extreme pleasure of showcasing some of the fabulous authors you’ll get to meet if you join LE in Daytona Beach next February. Yes, I said next February…in other words, start planning your winter escape and come join LE in Florida!
For this month’s #CMC15 feature, I talked with the fabulous Jeanne Stein, author of the award-winning Anna Strong urban fantasy series. Her character, Anna Strong, received the 2008 RT Reviewers Choice Award for Best Urban Fantasy Protagonist, was nominated again in 2011 for Crossroads, and was named one of Paranormal Fantasy’s Top ten Ass-Kicking Heroines by Barnes and Nobles’s reviewer, Paul Goat Allen in 2013.
My name is Anna Strong. I am a vampire. How I became one is the reason for this story. I tell it all the way it happened. It may not be what you expect.
She’s a bounty hunter–tough, beautiful, and trained for the unexpected. Until the night she’s attacked and left closer to death than she can imagine. She awakens to an indoctrination into a dark new world where vampires walk among us. But this time, a tight grip on a .38 won’t stop what she’s hunting for.
Existing between the worlds of the living and the dead, Anna is torn by her love for two very different men. Max, a DEA agent, all too human, and vulnerable. And Avery, a Night Watcher who’s joined Anna in pursuit of the rogue vampire who changed her life that terrifying night. Now, as her two worlds collide, fate plunges Anna into the ultimate battle between good and evil where survival is not just for the living..
Jeanne is also co-author of the Fallen Siren series along with Samantha Sommersby.
Emma Monroe is a Siren, cursed by the gods and bound to earth to atone for an ancient failure. She’s had many names and many lives, but only one mission: redemption. Now that she works missing persons cases for the FBI, it could be just a rescue away. Unless her new partner leads her astray.
Special Agent Zack Armstrong just transferred into the San Diego Field Office. He’s a werewolf, doing his best to beat back the demons from his dark and dangerous past. As a former Black Ops sniper, he’s taken enough lives. Now he’s doing penance by saving them.
Emma and Zack’s very first case draws them deep into the realm of the paranormal, and forces them to use their own supernatural abilities. But that leaves each of them vulnerable, and there are lines partners should not cross. As secrets are revealed and more women go missing, one thing becomes clear: as they race to save the victims, Emma and Zack risk losing themselves.
Interview with Jeanne Stein
For those of my readers unfamiliar with the Fallen Siren series, can you give us a brief look at this series and what readers can look forward to? Something we haven’t seen yet?
Samantha and I pitched the series as Angel meets Without A Trace. In our case, “Angel” is one of the original three sirens cursed by Demeter for losing Persephone to Hades. Her curse includes being banished to live on the earth as a mortal until Demeter deigns her forgiven. One way Emma, our protagonist, tries to redeem herself is by saving women in jeopardy. In this incarnation, she works in the FBI’s Kidnapping and Missing Persons Bureau.
The main source of inspiration was a painting that Samantha has depicting Persephone and Hades.
Why Emma and Zach? What was it about these two that drew you to them and want to tell their story?
The idea of one of the original sirens forced to live as a mortal forever and striving continually to redeem herself seemed a perfect mix of mythology, mystery, the paranormal, a bit of romance and plain old police procedural. Emma does not have “super powers” although she can insert herself into someone’s mind to discern the truth of a situation. She has to use the power sparingly, however, because Demeter is always watching her and she does not approve of Emma doing anything that will ease her way on earth.
Another part of the curse is that Emma cannot allow herself to experience true love. That, too, is denied her. Of course, it becomes problematic when her partner, Zack, a werewolf with dark secrets of his own, becomes alarmingly attracted to Emma, and she to him. Emma is well aware that giving in to any feelings she may have for Zack will have disastrous results—for Zack. In Reckoning, she thinks Demeter is finally allowing her to show Zack how she feels. What happens after, though, proves her wrong.
Can you introduce us to a few of the side characters that we’ll be meeting or who will play an important role to/for Emma and/or Zach?
My favorite secondary character is Kallistos, although he plays a major role in Reckoning. He is an age old vampire king who once had an affair with one of Emma’s sisters. He finds Emma the perfect sexual partner—not only because of the physical attraction they have for one another, but because he knows there can be no permanent happily ever after for either of them. He accepts how she feels about Zack, Emma has been honest about it, and he realizes he is a substitute for who Emma really wants. But he is willing to accept all that and in the course of the series, we see he is developing real feelings for Emma. Which may or may not work out well! :-)
Another of my favorite characters is Liz—a powerful witch and Emma’s best friend. She uses her powers to “dampen” Emma’s natural siren attractiveness. Her spell makes Emma look plain and keeps men from falling in love with her on sight. She also helps by reminding Emma that Demeter is always watching. She, too, knows how Emma feels about occasionally of the dire consequences that befall Emma’s lovers.
Was there any character that didn’t make as big of an impact on the story that you thought they would? Was there a character who stayed on the page longer than you thought they would?
I can’t think of the first but definitely Kallistos, who had a walk on in Cursed, has become a major player. He just insisted on playing a bigger role and won out!!
The Anna Strong Vampire series is on hiatus for the moment, but she’ll be back. She’s married to Frey now and has a child (his) that she’s crazy about. But she also made the acquaintance of one of the most famous of vampires, Dracula, and it’s destined that their paths will cross again. There’s always trouble brewing in the world of vampires and mortals!
Since creating your world in The Becoming, has there been anything you’ve regretting starting or wish you had started sooner? Was there something that worked out great in The Becoming, but now you wish you had done differently?
There are a couple of things. I should have tweaked the mythology more. I like that my vampires have adapted to sunlight but the little things, like casting no reflection, make no sense when I’ve said vampires have souls. I’ve been able to work with the not being caught on film thing by saying their pictures can be captured digitally. But basically, once you set the rules of your universe, you have to stick to them! I am happy that I stuck to the needing HUMAN blood to survive, though. No rats or dogs need apply!!
What are you working on? What do readers have to look forward to?
I’m working on several things. Samantha and I are plotting the next novella that we hope to release six months after Reckoning. That’s our plan. A novel and a novella a year. Then it will be on to book three. For Anna, I’m solidifying a plot for her next adventure. And I have a couple of stories I’m working on for Anthologies. No rest for the wicked!
What was it about the fantasy genre that drew you to write in it? Was there a certain book that captured your imagination and lead you to think you could do it or did it come to you naturally?
I’ve always loved fantasy—but there are two books that stand out for me. The first is Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin—I really think that was the first urban fantasy. Then Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire stoked the vampire fire in my head! Add to that a love affair with Buffy and Angel and all things Joss Whedon, and the rest is history!
What are you most looking forward to at Coastal Magic?
Connecting with readers. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about this con from EVERYONE who’s ever attended. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get on the wagon! I’m also looking forward to spending time with you and Carol Malcolm. AND I get to be a fan girl since some of my favorite writers will be there, too. I have a feeling this Coastal Magic will be one for the books…no pun intended!!!
Meet Jeanne Stein!
Jeanne Stein is the national bestselling author of The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. She also has numerous short story credits, including most recently the novella, Blood Debt, from the New York Times bestselling anthology, Hexed. Her series has been picked up in three foreign countries and her short stories published in collections here in the US and the UK. She lives in Denver, CO where she finds gardening a challenge more daunting than navigating the world of mythical creatures.
Want to purchase Jeanne’s novels?
Anna Strong Chronicles
Fallen Siren (writing as SJ Harper)
Thank you Jeanne for taking the time to stop by Literary Escapism!