By Nate Kenyon
I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Yasmine Galenorn and ask questions about her upcoming book, COURTING DARKNESS:
Your new book, COURTING DARKNESS, is (correct me if I’m wrong) the twelfth in your bestselling Otherworld urban fantasy line. Can you tell us what you find the most exciting about writing such a long-running series?
Actually, COURTING DARKNESS is book ten in the series—I’ve written book eleven—SHADED VISION, and will be starting on book twelve in a month. COURTING DARKNESS comes out 11.1.11. SHADED VISION will be released 2.7.12.
I love getting to know the characters and watching them evolve—that’s one thing I love about writing a series. I get to be part of these characters’ lives for the long haul. I get to see what happens as they grow and as the months/years roll by. I also love the world building. Each book expands the worlds I’ve created. It’s like being an adventurer—in each book I explore a little further into the environments I create, along with the mythologies and cultures of the worlds.
How about the biggest challenges with a series? Do you ever feel like you’ve reached the end with the characters, that there’s nothing more to say or do? Or do they grow along with you?
Keeping the series fresh is probably the biggest challenge—not telling the same story over and over. It’s much easier with my Otherworld Series than the Indigo Court series because I have three main characters in my OW series and I round robin through their POVs with each book (I write first person). So it’s almost like writing three series in one.
As far as reaching the end with characters—I have come to that point before. The Chintz ‘n China paranormal mystery series—while I’m proud of the work I did on it, I realized I just couldn’t write that world, or that character, any more. We came to an end. Same with the India Ink books. The Indigo Court Series is finite and I do see an ending after five books (I’m writing book 3 now).
On the other hand, with my Otherworld Series, I don’t see this series ending for a while unless sales take a nosedive and no more contracts are offered. I’ll be starting book twelve soon, and I’m contracted through book fifteen at this point, and I can still see it continuing beyond that.
How do you keep track of all that’s happened in prior novels? I’m sure fans will point out any mistakes, if they happen!
Keeping consistent is vital—though you can never be perfect. Hence my “research notebooks from hell” that I have for each series. They save my butt—these bibles for each world. And there will always be mistakes made, so when they happen you either roll with it, or you find a way to incorporate it into the next book. And trust me, you’re correct—readers definitely point out mistakes.
My subconscious usually does a pretty good job. And when I think of things that need to be addressed in a future book, I jot the ideas down, put it in the “Notes” file for that particular book, and when I start writing it, I look through all the notes I have before I begin.
Do you have a favorite scene from COURTING DARKNESS?
Several, but they’d all be spoilers. Actually, this was a very hard book to write, and one of my favorites. It’s also the darkest book of this series. There were times when I had to get up from the keyboard and clear my head—to take a break. This book has one of my worst villains in it—Hyto—who is Camille’s dragon father-in-law (she has three husbands…yes, simultaneously). Having a sadist hanging around in your mind isn’t all that fun.
You’ve written a lot of novels. Do you have a strict writing schedule? Tell us a little bit about your process.
I work 55-80 hours a week, total. Sometimes more. Seldom less. I get up, I turn on the computer, I get dressed, grab caffeine and breakfast (usually eaten at the computer), and get to work. I work off and on all day and most evenings. And work involves everything from writing to research to promotion. I write three books a year so there isn’t much downtime, or even much time for downtime. That’s another reason I like writing series—I know the characters, I know the world.
What do you find most intriguing about the urban fantasy genre? What draws you to it?
I always knew I wanted to be a fantasy/SF writer from the time I was young, but back then, urban fantasy didn’t exist. When I first encountered it, it encapsulated the best of two worlds to me—I love juxtaposing fantasy with so-called reality. For me, the blend allows me to create a vibrant, new world—a merging of what is familiar with the unknown. My voice lends itself to writing contemporary, but one that is skewed. And I love writing skewed. I love writing dark fantasy, playing in the shadows.
Do you do a lot of research? How do you blend fact with fiction, and are there unique challenges with that, particularly within your genre?
Actually, I have an extensive background in mythology, magic, and fantasy, so a lot of the research has already been done. But yes, there is always research to do. I usually do research as I need—and it’s all too easy to fall pray to the research bug. Every writer I know gets lost in the research. The key with writing a magical/fantasy world set within the ‘real’ world is to seamlessly blend the elements. I use a lot of mythological references, but I create just as many. And I’m always getting questions on whether this or that creature was something I created or not. Which tells me—if the reader can’t discern what’s actual and what isn’t—then I’m doing my job.
According to your website, you are a practicing shamanic witch. How does your “real” life bleed into your work?
When people ask me about the merging of my paranormally-focused reality with my fiction, there’s really no easy answer. In my perception, life itself is a paranormal experience. Every inch of my life is touched by my spiritual path, every aspect of nature seems magical to me. Science and magic blend in a mystical dance in my world. And yet…this paranormal white noise exists mainly in the background, a part of my very being without always being on the surface. So…does it bleed into my work? I don’t know if I could stop it from doing so, but I think it’s more in my voice. In my books, magic is real, but real in a fictional way. You might say that I base some of the magic/paranormal aspects of my worlds in the reality of my life, but that’s only the bare skeleton—not the end result of the books.
Tell us what’s next for you. Do you see these series expanding beyond your current contracts? New projects on the horizon?
I’m contracted through book 15 of the Otherworld Series, and book 5 of the Indigo Court Series, and I’m currently writing book 3 of the Indigo Court Series, and will be starting on book 12 of the OW Series after that. So, I have about two more years of contracted work at this point.
After that, I foresee the OW Series lasting several more ‘cycles’ (every three books is another cycle in the series), as long as my readers keep buying them and my publisher keeps giving me contracts. While the main story arc that I started with is drawing closer to an end, other major arcs have started, and the characters are far from done with me.
On the other hand, the Indigo Court Series—I currently plan on ending at book 5. The world and storyline are far more finite than that of the Otherworld Series. After that, I have plans for a new series. Which I’m not talking about yet. 😉
NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, AND PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn writes urban fantasy for Berkley: both the Otherworld (aka Sisters of the Moon Series) for Berkley and the Indigo Court urban fantasy series. In the past, she wrote mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and nonfiction metaphysical books.
Yasmine has been in the Craft for over 30 years, is a shamanic witch, and describes her life as a blend of teacups and tattoos. She lives in Kirkland WA with her husband Samwise and their cats. Yasmine can be reached via her website and on Facebook and Twitter.