A chat with Ann Aguirre

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWe have with us today Ann Aguirre, national bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy who is also the romance novelist, Ava Gray whose Skin Games hits shelves today. Ann has become one of the more popular fantasy and Sci/Fi writers of recent years. And we are very pleased to have her with us today. She has also graciously agreed to stop by and answer our questions today. So, after reading the interview, be sure to answer questions and let her know which of her books you’d like: Doubleblind, Skin Games, or Blue Diablo.

Stephen Frank: I was looking at your website and I see that you’ve been a former clown. Can you tell us a little about that?

Ann Aguirre: Worst job ever, particularly seeing as I am mildly afraid of clowns. I would look in the mirror and scare myself. I still have residual trauma. But for the details of it, I worked at gas station grand openings, giving out free hot dogs and balloons to the kids. It’s the antithesis of awesome.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsLater this month, we’re having two self-proclaimed fantasy nerds, Lev Grossman and Jim Butcher, visit. So we’re talking a lot about what it takes to be a “fantasy nerd” this month. Do you have any hobbies besides writing Sci/Fi and Fantasy that you think would qualify you as a fantasy nerd?

I don’t think I am a fantasy nerd. I prefer the term ‘gamer geek’, thank you. I’m not really into epic fantasy, unless it takes place in the confines of a video game. Which is why I’m currently stoked to get my copy of Dragon Age.

In Doubleblind, the Ithtorian society has a sort of yin yang feel to it: An ambitious, almost brutal at times, mode of social interaction, juxtaposed with a much softer, zen-like approach to architecture and physical environment, and mannerisms like the wa. Why did you choose to make them this way?

That’s how they are. The Ithtorians have a complex civilization with layers and eons of culture and custom.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Kiss of Teeth were really unnerving. Dare I ask what inspired these creepies?

Nightmares? A few people have commented that the Morgut remind them of the Magog from Andromeda. I did watch that series for a couple of seasons so it’s possible I drew some inspiration unconsciously from them, but there are key differences in physiology and culture.

I hear that Hellfire, the sequel to Blue Diablo will hit the shelves on April 6, 2010. Where are you in that process? Does that date look solid? Any updates there for our urban fantasy fans?

Yes, the book is firmly set for April 6, 2010. I just finished copy edits, which means I have only the galley stage to complete before the book is ready to go. I also just turned in Shady Lady, so the first three books have been written at this time. There are some new characters and big surprises in store for my readers.

And what about Killbox, the next novel in the Sirantha Jax series. Is that still scheduled for October of next year?

There’s some good news about Killbox. It’s been moved up a month for a September 2010 release. So it won’t be quite a full year until the next installment.

In addition to the two series you write as Ann Aguirre, you also write revved up romance novels under the name, Ava Gray, including Skin Game, which hits stores today. Can you tell some of us who may not be familiar with those romance novels, what they’re about and how they compare to your Fantasy and Sci/Fi series?

The differences between my romances and my SF&F are two-fold: first, the primary focus is always the relationship and the beauty of falling in love, and second, the plot will come in to augment the relationship, not the other way around. Let me give you an example. In romantic science fiction, Jax and March are trying to stop a galactic conspiracy and they fall in love along the way. The romance is secondary to the conspiracy. In a futuristic romance, Jax and March fall in love–and while falling in love, they also prevent an interstellar war. It’s a slight but crucial difference.

My Ava Gray books are hot, dark, gritty and violent. I recommend them to readers of romance who are looking for something different, and for spec fic readers who like a strong romantic thread in their fiction. As to what they’re about, in most general terms, it’s about one person with extraordinary powers finding a mate and falling in love.

What other fantasy authors do you have on your bookshelf? What fantasy books and authors do you enjoy reading most?

Fantasy authors on my shelf right now include Lois McMaster Bujold, SL Viehl, Maria V. Snyder, Casey Daniels, Marjorie Liu, Eileen Wilks, Kat Richardson, Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Robin McKinley, Lori Devoti, Moira J. Moore, Jacqueline Carey, Mario Acevedo, Anya Bast, Kim Harrison, and there are more upstairs. These are just the names of authors I could see on my office shelves.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsFrom TJ: Do you have in mind how the love triangle from Blue Diablo will end – or are you guessing along with us?

I didn’t know in the beginning. Now I think I do, but I don’t swear it’s right. Things happened in Shady Lady (book 3) that totally blew my mind, but I went with it because it was so obviously right. So just because I think I know the answer right now, it doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind, based on future revelations. This is a big adventure for me, too.

From Ramona: How many Corine Solomon books do you intend to write (I hope, as many as possible)? And, How is it to live in two parallel universes, one of Science Fiction and the other of Urban Fantasy? What do they have in common/different for you as an author?

Unlike Jax, where I am writing 6 books, no more, Corine has no set end date. As long as the publisher and readers want more, I will happily keep writing them. At this time, I’ve sold three books and those are written. I’d obviously love to do more, but demand will dictate whether or not that is possible. I hope readers will be totally enthralled by book three, making it possible for this to become a long-running series.

For me, it’s wonderful to have two such diverse projects to work on. I would get bored if I was married to one genre and one style. My voice is dictated by my characters, and writing both SF and UF allows me to flex my writing muscles. So that’s fantastic.

Corine and Jax are very different characters; they want different things. So there’s not a lot of overlap, I think. Jax lives for the thrill. Corine wants a place to belong. About the only thing they have in common; they are both survivors.

From Shellie: Which genre do you prefer to work in? And which of your characters is your favorite, or have you connected with the most?

I love the genre I’m with. *g* And I love all my characters when I’m writing them.

Thanks for having me!

Readers, what additional questions do you have for Ann? Remember, she’ll be stopping by to answer them!

FanLit thanks Stephen Frank for conducting this interview for us! 


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STEPHEN (S.B.) FRANK, one of our guest contributors, earned a Ph.D. at Duke University and works in the field of education reform. When he needs a break from real life, he likes to indulge in urban fantasy. He has a particular love for humor, so some of his favorite authors are Dakota Cassidy, Mary Janice Davidson, Mark Henry, Julie Kenner, Katie MacAlister, Richelle Mead and Christopher Moore.

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  1. Hi Ann :)
    Thank you for the great interview.
    I enjoyed learning more about you & your writing.
    I was wondering if you have to change how you write when you write different genres?
    All the best,

  2. Very nice interview, Thank you Ann for taking the time to do this. I love it when an author turns out to be as cool and fun as their writing would lead you to believe they are. I regret that I’ve never gotten a chance to read your work, I’ve always meant to. Both the Jax and Corine books look great, and something I’d really like.

    Now that you are are a successful full time author, and have the publishing and marketing pressures that I’m sure come along with that. Have you found it more difficult to find time to sit down and write than before? What helps you get the creative juices flowing, a special place, a meal, a routine? Thanks again!

  3. Great questions!

    Rob, my voice is dictated by the characters, so yes, it absolutely changes from book to book. Word choice, tense, etc.

    Justin, when I’m drafting, I write my words first thing: 3K a day, 5 days a week. It’s part of my normal routine. In the afternoons, I handle other aspects of the business.

  4. Hi Ann.
    Your books sound great, I got very curious about Skin Games. I was wondering: what do you do when you have a lot of different ideas and no time to write them all?

  5. Nice interview!! Very impressive how you can switch genres!! I still need to read Blue Diablo. Good luck to you, Sue

  6. Thanks Ann – For stopping by and answering questions!

  7. I love her explanation of the difference between a fantasy novel and an SFF novel. I think that’s a good distinction because now we have this new “paranormal romance” genre and that helps distinguish it from “fantasy.”

    We’ve got some paranormal romance authors featured on our site, but it’s always a hard decision about whether or not to include them. We mostly base it on how significant the fantasy subplot is.

  8. Carla, I get a lot ideas from dreams so I make note of the ideas and characters that come to me that way, so they stay relatively fresh until I get time to write them. I keep an idea file at all times.

  9. Great interview, and I liked how you describe the difference between the genres.

  10. Hi, Ann! Thanks for the interview–I’ve stumbled pretty recently onto your work, so happily I still have some backlist to catch up on while I wait for the next installments :) I definitely read quite a bit of science fiction/fantasy when I was younger, but mostly read romance now, and I’m thrilled to find you and other authors who combine elements from both. Congrats on your new Ava Gray releases–must pick up Skin Game!

  11. Very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share!
    I’ve just come across you for the first time this month when a favorite author of mine mentioned your book Skin Game on Facebook.. followed the link and checked out the excerpt, and was hooked from the first line. Will definitely be checking out more of your work when I can.. especially Skin Game! lol

    I’m looking forward to your answer to Carlas answer above!
    Best wishes and thanks again!
    Debbie in NY

  12. Hi Ann, hope you might still see this question: there are three “Skin” titles currently listed on the Ava Gray Books page. Can you say how many you have in mind? Sounds like there are connecting threads through the first two stories for sure.. does the listed release schedule work for you? Or can you (please) write faster? It’s just so difficult once I read the first one, I KNOW I’ll want the next one NOW! lol. Thanks Ann!


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