A chat with Katie MacAlister

Katie MacAlisterWe are pleased to welcome with us today Katie MacAlister, author of many urban fantasy novels, including both the Silver Dragons and the Aisling Grey series, which are two of my favorite funny, light-hearted fantasy romance series.  Her latest novel, Steamed: A Steampunk Romance hits shelves today. Katie will be stopping by throughout the day to respond to comments and questions, and we’ll be giving away two copies of Steamed. So, make sure to thank her for stopping by for a chance to win.

SB Frank: Welcome Katie, let’s start off on the topic of humor in fantasy. Can I ask who are some of your favorite funny fantasy authors or series?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsKatie MacAlister: I tend to lean toward books that mix fantasy with other elements, like mystery, romance, etc. Some of my most beloved authors do that with ease — people like Charlaine Harris, Judith Merkle Riley, and a mystery writer who wrote a very humorous series that blended fantasy with wacky characters: William Marshall’s Yellowthread Street series.

Hm… I’ve never read Marshall. I’ll have to add it to my reading list. Out of the scores of novels and stories you’ve written, do you have a personal favorite character or series?

Usually I’m fickle enough that I am most smitten with the characters in the last book I’ve written. However, there are a couple of characters that I have an abiding fondness for, and usually it turns out that those are the characters that I wrote to satisfy myself: Jim the demon dog from the Dragon books, Christian from Sex and the Single Vampire, Jack from Steamed, and Baltic from an upcoming Light Dragon book.

Ah, Jim, the demonic Newfoundland. He steals the show for me, too. What is it that you like most and least about the act of writing a novel or story?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsWorld building is the best part of writing, hands down. I love creating a new world, working out a mythos that makes sense, and indulging in my (sometimes unbridled) love for research. I will happily research mythology of various cultures for weeks while setting elements into place in my worlds.

The least favorite part of writing is a tossup between plotting an outline, and entering the edits that I’ve made on a hard copy. Honestly, there is nothing more tedious than going through a printed manuscript, and entering all the edits into the Word file. It’s mind-numbingly tedious and usually makes me so sleepy, I have to stop and go do something else.

Wow, I was actually expecting your favorite thing to be creating your trademark wacky characters, though they are often tied up in the world setting and it’s clear you have fun with that, too.  I understand that you got your start as an author by cutting your teeth on a software book. Were you a software expert prior to becoming an author? A technical writer? How did that come about?

Alas, I was experienced in both reviewing and beta testing software, although I wasn’t a writer. One day a publisher asked me to write about my field of knowledge, and giddy with delight, I accepted. Although writing the software books was pretty dull, I am grateful for them because they made me realize that I really did want to write fiction, instead.

The day that the first software book was finished, I swore I was going to write a romantic historical mystery, and that’s exactly what I did. By the time I was done with that, I realized I had absolutely no knowledge about how things worked in the fiction world, and set about educating myself. But I knew I wasn’t going to go back to non-fiction — I just had far too much fun building worlds and tormenting characters to return to that.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSpeaking of tormenting characters, Steamed has two main characters, Jack Fletcher and Octavius Pye, who alternate as first-person narrators. Was it fun to write both sides from first person? Is it something you’ve done before? Something you plan to continue? Do you have a contract or release schedule planned for other novels in the series?

When I set about writing Steamed, I knew I wanted to have both narrator’s perspectives in the book, and actually started writing it third person to accommodate that. But it just made both Jack and Octavia too distant, so I switched to dual-first person. I mentioned this to my editor Laura, and she was hesitant about the idea. She felt readers that would be confused about the dual voices, but I knew that Jack and Octavia’s voices were going to be distinct enough that readers would be able to tell right away who was narrating each chapter.

So I toddled off and wrote the book, and waited to hear what Laura thought of the dual POVs. Luckily, she fell as madly in love with Jack as I was, and she actually wanted more scenes from his POV. So I went back and adjusted a few things, added some new Jack bits, and voila! It worked.

We did ask the lovely production team to make some custom elements for the chapter heads so that it was clear before the reader even got to the text who would be narrating a chapter.fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

I’m really pleased with the results of the dual POVs. I’ve always worked hard to make readers feel like they knew what a hero was thinking in a solo first person book, but there is an inevitable amount of distance that comes from filtering events through one person’s eyes, so this gave me the chance to really bring Jack straight to the reader.

I’ve done one other male first person POV book — “Stag Party” in the Ain’t Myth-Behaving anthology. I loved writing for the hero in that book so much, and his voice was so strong (I had intended to write it from the heroine’s POV, but he just took over), that I wanted to repeat the experience with Jack.

As for whether that will continue in subsequent steampunk books… it’s quite likely. I’m not sure at this point if the next book will be a continuation with Jack and Octavia as main protagonists, or if they will be secondary characters as the storyline continues to unfold, but there will be more steampunk books. In fact, I really need to sit down and write out an outline for one, because that’s going to be the next book I write. Urgh. Plotting!

There always seems to be a dearth of romantic comedies starring zombies, but in the recently released My Zombie Valentine, you manage to fill the void admirably. I especially love when the man-eating head goes home with the precocious… heh heh …anyway… Oh, yes, is this a continuation of a character from previous short fiction? A story you plan to continue either in short fiction or in a future novel?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsBring Out Your Dead was originally published in the Just One Sip anthology, published some years ago. I wrote it because readers were clamoring for the villain in a couple of my vampire books to have his own book, but he really wasn’t cooperating so far as a story was going. I really had intended to match him up with a secondary character in Sex and the Single Vampire, but she absolutely refused to let me do that. So I found someone else for Sebastian, incorporated some characters from previous books, and hoped that would satisfy the readers who wanted his story.

Unfortunately, when Just One Sip came out, I got letters telling me they wanted more Sebastian, so I keep bringing him back in secondary roles, just to satisfy them.

As for the revenants… I get requests for them to make a reappearance as well. I’m not sure that’s wise, given that I’ve just written a story that will launch a new series featuring liches and necromancers, and everyone knows zombies and liches don’t get along.

I know I always try to keep mine separated.  Honestly, I never even realized that Sebastian was the same character until you said that, though it’s obvious in hindsight.  Now, I have to go back and reread the story.  My Zombie Valentine. Well worth reading. Thanks so much Katie for stopping by today and throughout the day to respond to comments and questions as well as for donating two copies of today’s released fun-filled steampunk adventure (that I enjoyed reading very much): Steamed, for two lucky commenters to this post.

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. I haven’t read much of the recent type of book marketed as Steampunk but the idea of a romance in a steampunk setting sounds interesting.

    Please enter me in the drawing.



  2. I have not read any stempunk but would like to give it a try. Please enter me into the competition.

  3. I have read one steampunk book (Soulless) and thought it was really fun. This book looks great! I will definitely be adding it to my wish list! thanks!


  4. I haven’t read much steampunk either and most of the ones I’ve read have been very dark but your books tend to have a lot of humor in them so I’d like to give Steamed a try. Are you planning to write more vampire books?

    Please enter me in the contest

  5. I love Katie MacAlister’s Aisling Grey books, would be very interested in reading a steampunk book by her!

  6. I just discovered steampunk last year and almost had a heart attack… there are people that love exactly the same style i do?! Wickedness… and now I’m seeing novels about it too. Be still my thundering heart. Please enter me as well

    Thank you

  7. I love steampunk and this book sounds like its awesome! Can’t wait to read it

  8. I love the Dark Ones and the dragons so this book is definitely going on top of my TBR pile. Please include me in the giveaway!

  9. Great inerview, I’ve read most of Katie MacAlister’s books and find they are a lot of fun!

    Really looking forward to Steamed, I’ve always liked steampunk graphic novels and love the art a or designs in the pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style. Looking forward to seeing if anything like that is in the book!

    Question to he author:If you are answering questions, did anything visual inspire you in the writing of this story?
    I loved the new Sherlock Holmes it had some great steampunk-looking scenes.

    So happy that it’s a dual POV I usually enjoy those.

  10. oh yes, and enter me into the contest too!

  11. I have been checking out another blog because of the featured Steampunk novels. I have not read one yet but I am interested to see for myself what it is all about.

    Please do enter me!!!

  12. I love her books. Excited about this one.

  13. This book has caught my eye. I am really curious to read this one. I have it on the list here to get. It sounds really interesting and now after reading this I think I want it more! I like the idea of two narratives. I like seeing different views in a book.

    Please enter me for this wonderful chance to win Steamed!!!

  14. Congrats on your release. I havent read Steampunk yet but since I loved your other books, I am excited to start with Steamed. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I have never read any steampunk, but I’d really like to read this one..Please enter me for it.

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  16. I love the cover of the book Steamed, it has got me looking forward to reading the book even more!

    patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

  17. I have never read any steampunk books, but your book sounds really interesting…will check it out. Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  18. Seems I’m late. Really enjoyed this interview, fav KM book is Zen and the Art of Vamps, had me cracking up!

  19. Steampunk sound interesting. Please enter me!
    cfisher1504 at gmail dot com

  20. I too am new to Steampunk. I love the style though, the mechanics, the clothes. Very cool.


  21. I only just started to get into steampunk when I saw soulless and wanted to see what else this type of genre had to offer even though some would consider soulless a different genre. I hope you will enter me!!!

    Emma Michaels

  22. I have your Aisling Grey series, and I’m incredibly excited to get a look at Steamed!


  23. Anonymous /

    I’ve only read a couple of steampunk novels. Soulless and Heart of Veridon. Both great reads in different ways. I’ve added Leviathan and after last nights trip to the bookstore a copy of Steamed to the pile waiting to be read. Had to track it down in the romance section.

    After visiting the authors website and reading some sample chapters, I’m going to have to track down a copy of Ghost of a Chance too.

  24. I’ve read a good bit of Katie MacAlister. I can’t wait to dig into something new. Thanks for the drawing!

  25. Please don’t include me in the contest ‘coz am not in the US. Am just having a nosey at Katie here. I’ve only just heard about steam punk books so I don’t really know much about it. But I got the feeling that I am about to discover this new ?genre?. I would also like to ask Katie if she patterns her characters after real people around her? Family? Friends? Exs? Celebrity personalities? Like I said, I’m nosey :)

    Re-posted your contest at: http://contests-freebies.blogspot.com/2010/02/win-steamed-at-fantasy-literature.html

  26. I have yet to read anything in the steampunk genre but would like to. Please count my name in on the giveaway.

    Thank you,


  27. I’ve been looking forward to Steamed since you first mentioned it on your blog. I’m very excited that it is finally out so I can get a copy. Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us all a chance to win a copy.

  28. And the winner is….Amanda Robbins! Congrats. Drop me a note via the fanlit contact page within 5 days, and I’ll get your prize sent to you straight away. Hope you enjoy the book. Thanks to Katie for the wonderful interview, and thank you readers for participating.

    Fanlit contact:

  29. I am so looking forward to reading this new book. Please count me in.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  30. Great stuff! I can’t wait to get my hands on this (so fingers crossed!)
    Thanks, Katie and FL!

  31. We one more winner, since there were two copies to give a away.

    The second winner is Melissa (My World…in words and pages)

    So Melissa and Amanda contact me via the fanlit contact page:

  32. I’ve never read steampunk before and now I’m intrigued!


  33. Steam punk is my targeted ‘new genre ‘ for 2010 so Steamed is definitely on my TBR list. Though I must admit I’m really attracted by the sound a demonic Newfoundland!

  34. I just got MacAlister’s “Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang” in the mail and can’t wait to start it. Not sure if I’ve read any books that classify as streampunk yet but “Steampunk” is on my wishlist. These new genres pop up faster than I can keep up. But as long as I see authors names I recognize, I’ll give them a spin.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com


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