Begun in 2008 with the release of Phoenix’s debut novel, A Rush of Wings, and continued with In the Blood, Beneath the Skin, and the recently released Etched in Bone, the storyline revolves around the sensually super-charged relationship between former FBI special agent Heather Wallace and vampire goth rock star Dante Baptiste, who is so much more than he seems…
Baptiste isn’t only one of the sexiest characters in all of genre fiction – he is aptly described in Etched in Bone as “badass and beautiful” – he is one of the most complex characters as well.
Sexy male bloodsuckers are nothing new to fantasy fiction. There’s Jean-Claude, the master vampire from LKH’s Anita Blake saga, Anne Rice’s Lestat de Lioncourt, Eric Northman from Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire saga, Kim Harrison’s Kisten, etc. But Dante Baptiste…. he’s a rock star, the hypnotically beautiful front man for the industrial/goth band Inferno. Dante is portrayed in In the Blood as: “…this preternatural beauty, this Medusa of heart-stopping loveliness…”
In her latest, Etched in Bone, Phoenix flexes her storytelling muscles with an intriguingly structured novel. Although the story begins and ends on the same day – and features some heart-stopping plot twists – she goes back in time and chronicles the events that lead up to the, ahem, jaw-dropping event. Without giving anything away, Dante and Heather – on the run from the Shadow Bureau and holed up in Club Hell in New Orleans – come face to face with a worst-case scenario… A word to the wise: the cliffhanger at novel’s end will have you pulling out your hair. (Thank God I shave my head.)
If you consider yourself an urban fantasy fan and you’ve yet to discover this immensely entertaining saga, I suggest you, well, rush out and pick up A Rush of Wings. The Maker’s Song isn’t just a great series – it’s arguably the very best urban fantasy series on the shelves right now...
I recently had the pleasure of talking with urban fantasy’s hottest
– and most underrated –
writer, the incomparable Adrian Phoenix.
PGA: When did you realize
that your destiny was to be a writer?
PGA: How hard (or easy) was it to get A Rush of Wings published?
AP: Actually, it was easy! I feel very fortunate, especially since A Rush of Wings was my first novel. It took a year of sending out queries to agent and editors before landing a top New York agent. He absolutely loved the book and he sold A Rush of Wings in a two-book contract to Pocket. I know I’m lucky, that I was in the right place at the right time – especially when I hear from gifted writers who can’t get an agent or editor to give them a second look.
PGA: No luck involved – you’re an amazing writer. You know how much I love you and your novels – The Maker’s Song is arguably the best paranormal fantasy saga I’ve ever read – but your novels are soooo under-rated. I’ve been spreading the good word for years – and I have seen you and The Maker’s Song mentioned more and more in discussions concerning elite paranormal fantasy writers and series – but with the pop culture success of comparable sagas (Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire saga turned into an HBO show, etc.) do you sometimes feel like Cinderella before the glass slipper?
AP: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support and the love you give the books, Paul. And I’m thrilled that more and more people are becoming aware of The Maker’s Song – with a lot of help from you and my devoted readers. (Thanks to all of you!) Sometimes I *do* feel like Cinderella before the glass slipper. I know the glass slipper is out there and I’m hoping it’ll find its way to my foot. Of course, I try not to think about that too much. It’s possible the glass slipper will never find its way to me. As long as I can keep writing and keep getting the books published and out there, I can live with that. But I’ve got my foot extended, toes pointed, just in case!
PGA: What would the glass slipper be for you? Seeing The Maker’s Song saga being made into major motion pictures? Winning a Nebula or Hugo? Seeing new works released in hardcover?
AP: How about all three? I’d love to see The Maker’s Song saga on the big screen as long as the writing was good (and I’d hope to participate in that process). That’d be pretty damned awesome. Seeing new works released in hardcover would be pretty sweet too. But I think the biggest thing would be knowing that even more readers were delving into Dante and Heather’s world and falling in love with it. That would be the biggest cookie of all.
PGA: I’ve recommended your novels to countless friends, neighbors and of course all of the regulars on BN.com’s Paranormal Fantasy forum and every single one of them have become obsessed with the story of Heather and Dante. I’m not exaggerating here – every single person I know that picks up these books inevitably becomes a rabid, “can’t-wait-‘til-the-next-book-is-released” fan. Do you have any crazy stories about “super fans”? Have any expecting women named their sons Dante, anyone tattooed themselves with fallen angels, or camped out in front of your house waiting for an autograph?
AP: Paul, you totally rock! I don’t really have any crazy stories about “super
fans.” One gal in England asked if she could get a jpg of the INFERNO logo for
a tat. So I sent it to her. I thought that was damned cool. I have had fans who
knew I would be going into a bookstore to sign stock (they’d been informed by
the store owner) and wait for me – a pleasant experience! I had an amazing
experience at a motel in California when I was driving home from Comic Con (18
hour drive). Turned out that the desk clerk’s brother was a big fan, so she
asked me if I’d sign an autograph for him. I had an extra copy of Black Dust Mambo with me, so I signed that and gave it to her for her brother. That was
the first time anything like that had happened before! Kinda intoxicating,
PGA: The character of Dante Baptiste has been called the sexiest male in paranormal fantasy – and that is saying something! Did you base this character from an amalgam of real life people (and if so, who?) or is he entirely imagined?
AP: Wow! I’m really honored! With all the sexy male paranormal characters out there—again, wow! I find that pretty damned exciting. (Dante on the other hand would snort.) Music was more of an inspiration for Dante than anything else – The Downward Spiral by NIN in particular. Listening, I couldn’t help but imagine a character singing those songs, imagining who he was, what had shaped him. I see Dante’s body being like Brandon Lee’s in The Crow, but as for Dante’s looks – imagined.
PGA: Etched in Bone is the fourth book in the saga – how many more are you projecting?
AP: The saga is open-ended at this point. I hope to continue with it as long as there’s a compelling story to tell. I love theses characters!
PGA: Do you have an overall ending in mind?
AP: A generalized one, but one that has been changing with each book. I can’t wait to see which direction it will go.
PGA: How hard is it to write two different series (the Maker’s Song and Hoodoo) at the same time?
AP: I have to be careful not to toss in too many sub-plots into the Hoodoo books. I start delving into character histories and branching out in several directions, then I need to rein myself in and remind myself that Kallie’s books are lighter, less complicated. Once I get the rhythm—no problem. I usually re-read the previous book in each series to catch the flow again.
AP: Yup, it is. I’m having fun with it and I hope to keep these stories and adventures going – again – as long as there are stories to tell.
PGA: Music plays a hugely significant element in these novels. What are some of your favorite bands and/or songs? And what are you listening to right now?
AP: Nine Inch Nails (obvious to anyone who reads the books and is familiar with the band), Muse, Rammstein, C.C. Adcock, Queens of the Stone Age, How to Destroy Angels, Saints of Ruin, are some of my favorite bands. “And All That Could’ve Been” by Nine Inch Nails is a song that gets me every time, twists a knife in my heart, along with “The Great Below” also by NIN. Right now, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack from The Social Network.
PGA: Yeah, "And All That Could've Been" is a great tune... Hey, thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Adrian. Don’t take this the wrong way – but I love you.
AP: Dude, I totally love you back.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.