Interview: Jacqueline Carey on Magical Creatures, Series Fiction & the Agent of Hel Playlist

November 1, 2013 Author Feature, Interview 8

I am beyond excited to be able to bring forth with much enthusiasm and trumpet sounding a marvelous interview with Jacqueline Carey! – the author of the Kushiel series and her new urban fantasy trilogy Agent of Hel. I seriously enjoyed the first two books and highly recommend them to any fans of urban & paranormal fantasy!

Agent of HelMy review of Book One: Dark Currents
My review of Book Two: Autumn Bones

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Hello Jacqueline! Thank you so much for joining me today. I am delighted to have you – and must say I thoroughly enjoyed Dark Currents! (reading thru Autumn Bones right now). It was of course a chore wrestling the book back from my 1yo son constantly.

Thanks for having me here!  I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed Dark Currents, and apparently, your son has good taste!

So diving right in…
Do you think starting the Agent of Hel series will be as long as your Kushiel series?

No, I think it will just be a trilogy.  Due to the more episodic nature of these books, it could have run longer, but I made the choice to play out my endgame in the third volume, which I’m currently finishing.  One of the ways in which I wanted to take a fresh approach to urban fantasy is by juxtaposing a realistic small town community dynamic against the paranormal elements; however, to a certain extent, that means there’s only so far I can escalate the stakes.  There’s a limit to the body count you can rack up without straining credulity and undermining the whole premise.  So three books it shall be!

Could you tempt our readers by giving us a short character dossier on the main set of characters? I’ll start us off!

Lurine: Sexy when wet, hell really just sexy all the time. B-movie starlet, Lamia, top of the scaly food chain. Ex-babysitter to Daisy, longtime family friend & self appointed protector.

Daisy:  Hot-tempered hell-spawn, struggles with the Seven Deadly sins, liaison between the Norse goddess of the dead and mundane authorities.  Has a magic dagger capable of killing the immortal undead; occasionally just wishes she were a normal twenty-something year old young woman.

Cody:  Werewolf cop on the down-low, loyal to his clan, Daisy’s childhood crush and partner in paranormal investigations.  Has to shave twice a day.

Stefan:  Mysterious member of the Outcast, banned from heaven and hell and condemned to a lifetime of immortality subsisting on human emotion.  Has a tragic backstory, makes Eurotrash style look good.

Lurine:  Your description is great; I won’t try to top it!

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with series fantasy. I love it when I love it – but there is so much out there – that it can be intimidating to start a series that already has 10 books in it. Do you read much series fantasy? What are some of your favorites?

While I try to stay current in the genre, I don’t get as much chance to read for pleasure as I’d like.  Guy Gavriel Kay is a favorite I often recommend to fans of my Kushiel’s Legacy series for his use of history and mythology.  In terms of urban fantasy, I’ve enjoyed Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, although I suspect I’m not up to date.  An old favorite that I consider underrated, and that first showed me that me fantasy could be written in a lyrical style, is Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy.

It seems to me that by writing this new series it will place you in a nice position to draw in new readers to your existing books.  Do you have any plans for giving young adult fiction a try as well?

At the moment, no; although I think Santa Olivia and Saints Astray, with their near-future dystopian setting and teenaged protagonists, could have been released as young adult fiction.  And maybe they should have been!  We’ll never know.

If you could be one of the mythological or magical creatures in the world you’ve created what would you be?

Lurine!  Who wouldn’t want to be Lurine?

I noticed your character Daisy loves music. I especially enjoyed how she describes each song she happens to be listening to. I have always loved Nina Simone. My friend always called her stuff “that I want to kill myself music.” Because she always sounded so sad and heartbroken. Do you personally like jazz/blues? Do you by chance have a playlist for Dark Currents or Autumn Bones?

Yes, I love jazz and the blues.  I didn’t keep track of everything I listened to in search of the right numbers to speak to Daisy’s mood, but here’s her personal playlist over the course of the first two Agent of Hel books:

“Good Morning Heartache,” Billie Holiday
“Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” Nina Simone
“Salt Water Blues,” Bessie Smith
“Walking After Midnight,” Patsy Cline
“The Swamp Boogie Queen” album, Katie Webster
“At Last,” Etta James
“Stormy Weather,” sung by a bartender
“I’m a Little Mixed up,” Koko Taylor
“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” Big Mama Thornton

Why do you think it is so many readers gravitate towards reading books written by authors of the same gender?

There’s a widespread perception that women are drawn to books that highlight the relationships in a narrative, which female authors are more likely to feature, while men are drawn to books that emphasize the action, which male authors depict in more vivid detail.  I don’t think it’s necessarily true, certainly not across the board – the best writers deliver on all fronts – but I think it creates a cultural default.  

What are some of the challenges you faced in writing urban fantasy? What was your
approach to bringing a fresh new characters and creatures to UF readers? *Personally I love the Outcasts!*

It’s hard to find new territory in a subgenre that’s so densely populated.  One approach was the idea I mentioned above of juxtaposing aspects of ordinary everyday life with the paranormal, which I think resulted in some imagery that’s very fun and fresh, whether it’s Lurine lolling in her swimming pool or a frost giant driving a dune buggy.  And yes, I was determined to make one original contribution to the paranormal pantheon, which are the Outcast; emotional ghouls banned from the afterlife.

Dark Currents touched on some possibly sore points for women. Were you nervous about writing some of the issues that you raised as plot points?

Well… perhaps I should have been, but I wasn’t; not after the issues I dealt with over the course of Kushiel’s Legacy, which goes to some very, very dark places.

I have to know – is Daisy’s tail furry or forked? I can’t remember reading a description on what it actually looked like or it’s length. I simply must know! (*edited in after interview…I have now read Autumn Bones and know what her tail looks like! So you’ll have to read to find out! *evil laughter*)

Y’know, I kind of want readers to have the fun of discovering that for themselves, since I withheld a description for over a book and a half!  There’s a symbolic purpose to the late reveal.  But for the record, it’s finally described in detail on p. 315 of Autumn Bones.

Lastly, since I’m all about confessions. Do you have one for us? It doesn’t necessarily have to be book related. Sometimes I peak at the last few pages. Doh!

I just mentioned on Facebook today that, unlike some authors, I never write in my PJs.  This is true.  But I do occasionally post on social media in a bathrobe!

Thanks again for agreeing to the interrogation! *prods you back towards the writing cave*

On my way!


Autumn Bones

New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Carey returns to the curious Midwest tourist community where normal and paranormal worlds co-exist—however tenuously—under the watchful eye of a female hellspawn……

Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home. Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel.

Not only has Daisy now gained respect as Hel’s enforcer, she’s dating Sinclair Palmer, a nice, seemingly normal human guy. Not too shabby for the daughter of a demon. Unfortunately, Sinclair has a secret. And it’s a big one.

He’s descended from Obeah sorcerers and they want him back. If he doesn’t return to Jamaica to take up his rightful role in the family, they’ll unleash spirit magic that could have dire consequences for the town. It’s Daisy’s job to stop it, and she’s going to need a lot of help. But time is running out, the dead are growing restless, and one mistake could cost Daisy everything……

Autumn Bones (Agent of Hel #2)

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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8 Responses to “Interview: Jacqueline Carey on Magical Creatures, Series Fiction & the Agent of Hel Playlist”

  1. Anne

    So sad there’s only one more book. The world Carey builds here is so rich, I could easily imagine twice as many as there will be.

    I don’t get the whole tail fascination. From reading reviews on Amazon, I know there’s a lot of people out there wondering about the tail, and while mildly curious, I didn’t need more details.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      See and here I am relieved that its a trilogy. I feel like she’s doing a great thing here. Not like she can’t go back and visit this universe she’s created. But she could say start another trilogy story arc in the same universe but with other characters. So that way readers could pick up that one without having to read this one – though of course I’m sure they would want to!

      You were able to picture the tail or didn’t really feel the need to huh? I guess I just wanted a complete picture. I could tell she was building up to it. So we get the description in book two. So you already read Autumn Bones as well? Wasn’t that beginning such a hoot? haha.

      I haven’t checked out other reviews yet – I’ll definitely have to take a peak around.

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I adore J.Carey for doing an adult fantasy trilogy. There is so much long series fiction out there. I love knowing that I’m going to get closure on this series soon. If there ends up being another trilogy in the same world thats fantastic – but I like it that it sounds like she’s going to close the story arc for these main characters in this set. Awesome yes? Yes!