Laurell K Hamilton is celebrating the 25th anniversary of GUILTY PLEASURES which includes the release of the amazing and powerful Anita Blake into the world among other things. She has expanded that world almost yearly ever since with the newest addition being SERPENTINE. She has also created an entirely new universe to host Merry Gentry.
Hamilton has hit it out of the park again with SERPENTINE, her newest addition to the Anita Blake canon. The newest book hits all of your favorite book stores tomorrow (August 7th) so get your copy fast! Short summary with no spoilers:
A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita’s fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it’s the first trip she gets to take with just wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it’s not all fun and games and bachelor parties…
In this tropical paradise Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.
When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowout within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse–her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There’s a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that’s rendering those around her helpless in its thrall. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret–if she survives at all, that is…
Laurell K Hamilton took a few minutes from her book signing tour to talk to us about SERPENTINE, Anita Blake, Merry Gentry and more. University Book Store is hosting her in Seattle tomorrow (August 7th) for a Q&A and book signing. Be one of the first to get the new novel, meet Hamilton and even ask a question or two. Get more info on time and location here you even get a copy of the book with the ticket price.
Earle Dutton (ED): What was the most challenging part of writing SERPENTINE? What do you most dread and most enjoy about starting a new novel?
Laurell K Hamilton (LKH): The inside of my own head is the biggest challenge, especially at the beginning of a novel. The start is oddly where the idea is strongest, but it also the most fragile, the place where I have to believe my story, my characters will catch me when I step off into that blank space. It is both one of the most thrilling moments as a writer and one of the scariest. It’s like climbing up that first hill on a roller coaster. I wanted to ride the ride, but now it seems like an awfully big hill, and then the plunge and I have to trust to the mechanics of it, the physics of it, that I won’t crash and die. Writing is like that for me, but it’s my ideas, my characters, my own skill, my muse, that I have to believe in, every time I sit down to that first sentence. Some mornings I can’t wait to get started. Some days I feel like I’m hooked up directly to the holy fountain of inspiration. Those are the days that get you through the other days. The bad days are when the personal demons come in flocks like harpies. My good angels are still there, but somehow I can’t hear them above the negative screeching. Sometimes I have to fight my way to the paper and those first words so that the muse will come and look over my shoulder, so that we can begin.
ED: I loved this novel. I noticed that compared to some of your recent Anita books, SERPENTINE had more interpersonal tension and development and less sex. Was that on purpose?
LKH: Thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, and no. If the plot and character development had offered opportunities for more sex without interrupting the mystery I would have written more. But I did purposefully show some of the work that goes into having a successful relationship, and that even for Anita it doesn’t always run smoothly. Some things that readers have told me they are taking away from the books made me feel I needed to show the behind the scenes work more. I felt it was important to show the communication and listening skills that it takes to maintain a happy, fulfilled relationship.
ED: You spend a lot of time on character development and you have a ton of characters. How do you track them and all of their components?
LKH: Most of my characters are like good friends. I’ve been writing Anita and the gang for over twenty years. You don’t have trouble keeping track of friends you’ve known for that long, you just know them. Now, too many new characters added all at once can get confusing for me, and for some reason I don’t always remember people’s heights and other physical details, but once I’ve written a character long enough they’re mine.
ED: How many hours of weapons training and research do you have under your belt? Tell us about what you learned while writing SERPENTINE.
LKH: My first martial art was judo in college, since then I’ve tried quite a few. I have no idea how many hours. I never found anything that spoke to me like judo did though, or writing deadlines and family life made it impossible to peruse to the degree I wished. I started back in with boxing and MMA a few years back. Injuries forced me to stop, but now I’m back in the dojo for good I hope. I’ve completed my second level in Filipino Martial Arts, FMA, with an emphasis on kali which is sword, knife and stick. I’ll be testing for my third when I get home from tour. After a year of kali I’ve started training in Jeet Kune Do, JKD, and Silat. I try to go to the gun range regularly, and am hoping to add more in-depth classes to those I’ve already taken.
ED: How does it feel to celebrate the 25th anniversary of GUILTY PLEASURES? What is your favorite part of that novel?
LKH: Blessed. Every book has a 25th anniversary, but most of time no one cares except the author and publisher. It’s rare for a book to stay in print that long, and to have a series that’s been running that long with a growing audience is almost unheard of. My favorite part of GUILTY PLEASURES is the sound of Anita’s voice, how clear and strong it is, and that this book helped make it okay for women to be strong, independent, and kick ass. I love the first time we see Jean-Claude on stage. This was Edward’s first appearance, too. So many characters that I, and fans have come to know and love started here.
ED: If you could go back and give your younger self (perhaps 25 years ago) a piece of advice about your writing career, what would it be?
LKH: Even if I could do it, I wouldn’t do it. I’m a big believer that you have to learn your lessons both good and bad along your path. If I could give myself advice I might take away a lesson that helped me get to where I am today. No, no messing with the timeline.
ED: Is there any chance that Anita Blake and Merry Gentry will meet in an upcoming novel?
LKH: No, unfortunately I made the worlds separate, so unless someone can cross from one dimension to another they can’t meet.
ED: You are a very prolific writer. Do you get any time off between projects?
LKH: Not much usually, but I did just skip a year. There was no Laurell K Hamilton book last year. I needed some time after I completed CRIMSON DEATH. It was a huge book and I made a serious mistake when I set the second half of the book in Ireland, because I’d never been there before. I had to visit Ireland for the first time while I was researching a book to set there, that I was already writing. I will never, ever do that to myself again. If it’s a country I’ve never been to, then I’ll visit and start my research and push that book down the pipeline. CRIMSON DEATH was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written, because of that. I needed some down time. I needed to lie fallow and let my muse and me recover from the process.
ED: What is your favorite part about meeting your fans?
LKH: Being in a room full of people that love my characters and my world as much as I do.
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