Special Feature: Interview with
Author Ann Aguirre
Ann Aguirre is the author of two series: the science fiction Jax Series, urban fantasy Corine Solomon Series, and stand-alone romances written under the pseudonym Ava Gray. Ann has books coming out in April, October, and December of 2009 with more to follow in 2010. She can be found on the web at www.annaguirre.com. She always seems to be giving treats away on her blog, so that's worth a look, too!
Welcome to Electric Spec, Ann. Tell us about your series-the inspiration and the plans for future books. They each come from such different places, though they seem to share tough, damaged heroines who aren't plastic beauties.
In the Jax books, I explore the idea of whether second love can be as powerful as the first...when the first was happy and fulfilling. Have you ever noticed the way a heroine's prior love interests are typically demonized? Once she meets the hero, she's supposed to forget she ever loved anyone else. She's supposed to realize that the sex with the new man is better than anything she's ever known before. The new man must be, in all ways, superior to the old. But what if he's not? Is the heroine allowed to miss the love she lost? Can that occur without destroying her current relationship? That's the sort of thing I explore in the Jax series. It's intense and heartbreaking sometimes, but nothing worth having ever comes easy, I think.
With that series, I also explore the idea of an anti-heroine. There have been plenty of anti-heroes over the years, from CS Friedman's Gerald Tarrant to Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas the Unbeliever, but fiction is underserved in the anti-heroine department. I wanted to write a female character who is best be described by one of my readers:
"Jax is a terrifically unique heroine. She has no vanity, no desire for domestic bliss, and she's self-centered as hell. In one scene, she actually leaves the hero to die in order to save herself - and not because he asked her to, either. Another thing that makes Jax unique is her love of jacking into grimspace, which provides her with a source of independent joy that will always keep her from collapsing into the kind of romance heroine who only needs her hero to find happiness, which usually requires gleefully abandoning her every commitment to fit into his world." -Racy Romance Reviews
In the Corine Solomon books, I explore the idea of two people loving each other desperately, but apart from their shared history, they don't belong together. What happens when you want something that's not good for you? What happens when two people aren't soulmates, destined to be together? What happens when a relationship between them is difficult and raw and every inch gained is a struggle? Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth battling to make the pieces fit? Well, you'll have to read the series to get my take.
On another level, I wanted to write an urban fantasy series devoid of fur, fangs, and fey. Living in Mexico gave me some excellent ideas of what to offer instead, so I began to write. Corine is different from Jax in what drives her. Whereas Jax lives for the thrill, Corine always has been-and always will be-searching for the place she belongs.
The Jax Series in particular intrigues me. You took elements from urban fantasy and applied them to science fiction. The books truly feel cross-genre. Did you do this to broaden appeal?
Yes, I did. I thought that since urban fantasy is a much broader, more robust market that I should be able to bring some of the traits that make it popular to SF and engage more readers. This has been successful so far, as I have a number of readers who read no other science fiction.
I noticed in an excerpt on your website that you switched between male and female points of view. Do you prefer writing from the female or male POV, and do you plan to ever write a book entirely from the male side of things?
When I'm writing romance, I think the reader needs to know both sides, so they can feel what each character is going through. It enriches the book and the reading experience. I've actually spoken with my editor about a possible project wherein I'd write a male protagonist, but that's a long way off, if it ever happens. I have a lot of work to do yet.
You have four books in three genres due in 2009! How do you wrap your head around that in order to meet your deadlines?
Most of the work is already done, actually. I have only three books left in my various contracts, and one of those, KILLBOX, is more than half finished. I take it one step at a time and make sure I stay on schedule by writing Monday through Friday. I treat it like a day job, and I write three thousand words a day. Generally, I complete my work in the mornings, and have the afternoons free for other endeavors. I answer emails, Twitter, chat with friends, or work on revisions / edits / proofs for other books. I'm very conscientious about meeting my deadlines.
And which books are coming out this year?
BLUE DIABLO (Corine Solomon, book 1), April 7, 2009
DOUBLEBLIND (Jax, book 3), October 2009
SKIN GAME by Ava Gray, December 2009
What are the recurring themes in your work? For instance, I've picked up on "learning to love-not only others, but the self." Do you feel any responsibility toward approaching your readership with a message?
While I do think that a positive self-image is vital before anyone can truly love another, no, I'm not a writer with a message. Any themes that come through my books is purely incidental, though I'm happy to be considered profound. My goal as an author is to take readers from this world for a little while and immerse them in mine. I only want to entertain, and if I do that, then I am beyond content.
Plotter or pantzer?
Pantser, though we prefer the term "organic writer". (grin)
Do you write any short fiction? Why or why not?
So far, you can find any short fiction I produce on the Free Reads page of my website. I'm busy enough writing novels that I don't have time looking for homes for short stories. I did get invited to participate in an anthology, though, so eventually you'll find one of my stories in The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance. Otherwise, keep watching my Free Reads page.
I've noticed you tend to stick with crisp, short chapters. Is this a deliberate pacing decision or just how you naturally write?
That style is Jax's voice. It fits her narrative and it offers a fine vehicle for the fast-paced plot. I don't write that way in other books. My chapters are dictated by the character in whose POV I'm writing, so you can expect whatever best fits their personality.
,b>What are your favorite books and magazines lately? Do you stick to your genres or read all over?
I get Locus delivered to my home. Otherwise, I don't much like magazines. Too many pictures.
As for books, well...it would take forever if I made this exhaustive because books are my great love. I do read across genres. Some of my favorite authors include:
Mystery: Julia Spencer-Fleming, James Lee Burke, Casey Daniels
Science fiction: David Brin, Neal Stephenson, Jack McDevitt, Connie Willis, CS Friedman, Douglas Adams, Walter Jon Williams
Fantasy: Jeri Smith-Ready, Sharon Shinn, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Neil Gaiman, George RR Martin, Pauline Alama, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris
Romance: Anya Bast, Lauren Dane, Eileen Wilks, Nalini Singh, Lara Adrian, Eve Kenin, Nora Roberts, Bonnie Dee, Amie Stuart, Connie Brockway, Larissa Ione, Carrie Lofty, Anne Stuart, Linda Howard...
Whew. I have to stop. Just too many to list.
I've got to ask...you really were a clown?
Yep. I dressed up in the big shoes, put on the makeup, and drove to various gas station grand openings. You should've seen the looks I got from other drivers. Once there, I passed out balloons and hot dogs to children. This was especially traumatic because I'm sort of afraid of clowns.
Your bio claims: [Ann] grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico. This corn field was somewhere besides Mexico?
I grew up in the Midwest, so yes, the cornfield was elsewhere.
Are you bilingual, and if so, have you written any fiction in Spanish? Is speculative fiction popular in Mexico?
I'm close to bilingual. I do all my business here in Spanish obviously, from shopping to paying bills, and we speak Spanglish in our house. I might say something in Spanish, and the kids will reply in English, or vice versa. Sometimes we use English adjectives in an otherwise Spanish sentence. It works for us.
No, spec fic is not popular here, apart from the school of magical realism, as written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabel Allende. I have read them both-they're very gifted-but I do not write as they do.
Since you're published widely in the US, I assume you like to keep in touch with your American readership. Do you have plans to travel north this year to any conferences or conventions?
Yes, I'll be in the States for three events this year. In April, I'll be in Orland for the Romantic Times Convention. In July, I'll be in Washington DC for the RWA Conference. August will find me in Austin, Texas, enjoying my first ArmadilloCon. Check my website for more info.
Thanks so much for your time. We look forward to reading the next installments in your series!