B&N: Who were some of your earliest writing influences?
Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Anne McCaffrey, Mary O'Hara, Stephen King--I have always read omnivorously, but these are the authors I remember being most transported by as a child. I found a great deal of comfort in Twain and the Bard, and McCaffrey and King gave me complete and utter thrills. They were reliable authors. I remember O'Hara's Thunderhead and Green Grass of Wyoming trilogies very fondly and intensely too, as well as Ursula le Guin. I can still quote passages from some of the Earthsea books from memory.
B&N: How did you derive the idea for the Jill Kismet series?
I was tired of paranormal or urban fantasy novels where the main character had an adversarial relationship with law enforcement. I thought it was a little unfair, and that seriously, if there were things that went bump in the night that the cops couldn't deal with, they would be more than happy to have someone working on it. So Jill grew very naturally out of that desire--it is law enforcement she's doing, basically.
B&N: Perry is an incredibly complex villain, one who veers between contempt and fascination. How do you as an author keep that balance and not turn your villain into a caricature?
While I'm writing Perry, I don't stop until I've hit a scene that makes me, personally feel a shiver of loathing. If my flesh isn't crawling while I'm writing him, I stop and I go back and I dig deeper and do it again. Each time I finish writing him, I want to go take a hot shower and scrub it away, or I haven't done it right.
I've encountered manipulative, hurtful people before--who hasn't? And in writing Perry, I tap that part of myself that isn't very nice, that recognizes when I'm facing a hurtful, manipulative, or sociopathic person, and sets to work anticipating and playing the game so I don't get hurt. It makes one feel that loathing shiver, because it's not a happy place to be in, and nobody reasonable, compassionate, or well-adjusted wants to be in that place. But it is a great defense against those types of people, a suit of armor. Perry exercises that, for me--and I suppose you could say he exorcises it as well.
B&N: What do you feel are some of the major differences between the Jill Kismet and Dante Valentine series?
I get asked this a lot. The difference is ontological, I think--Danny Valentine endures. It's what she's good at. Jill, however, is out to even the score. Jill arrogates to herself the power of judge, jury, and executioner. She's also less "broken" than Dante. Dante's a very broken character, a very intense character who has to smack her head against the brick wall several times before she even admits there's something in her way. It was exhausting to write her for that reason; when I write Jill I tend to get an adrenaline rush and sympathetic body aches from all the damage she takes.
B&N: A slightly unfair question, but if you had to choose between your characters, would Jill or Dante be your favorite?
Well, I think I'd most like to have long philosophical conversations with Dante, because she's very well informed and well-read. In an alley fight, however, I think I'd like to have Jill at my back.
B&N: Why do you think butt-kicking heroines continue to be so important in popular culture?
think it's the utter transgressiveness of it. There's a very real
expectation of passivity placed on women in our culture, in a
thousand little ways from birth onward. The incredible strides we've
made in feminism and breaking glass ceilings are wonderful, but there
is certainly plenty more to be done; as long as the double standards,
the expectation of passivity, and the violence against women endure,
we will still have work to do.
Angry, or even just aggressive, heroines are transgressive characters. They are appropriating a right to self-defense we don't think of as traditionally female. "Butt-kicking" heroines do not behave the way a great deal of cultural pressure and assumptions tell women it's OK to behave. In that transgressive space lies a great deal of their appeal. Of course, a female character has to be "butt-kicking" in exactly the right way, or accusations of her being "cold" and "unfeminine" (just to pick two of the most mild unflattering epithets) rise like mushrooms. So, these heroines are great, they're busting down walls and expectations, but I'm always looking at what's coming next, how much work there still is to do.
B&N: When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do for fun?
Fun? What's that? Just kidding. Well, I read, I watch movies, I hang out with my children. I go indoor rock-climbing; I'm not brave enough for the outdoor version yet. I write poetry, I take pictures of gas meters at night. I study Latin or the Eastern Front in WWII, or whatever other subject currently holds my fancy. I have fun doing just about anything, really. The world is a garden of delights.
B&N: What should readers, new and old alike, expect overall from the Jill Kismet series?
Silver-coated ammunition. Bullwhips. Questions about the nature of Hell and human beings, questions about violence and the ethics of violence (if there are any). Snarky humor, gallons of bloodspatter, and a cracking good story. Always, first and foremost, it's about the cracking good story.
NOOK owners: go to shop, and search “Lilith Saintcrow” to download her books.
You must be a registered user to add a comment here. If you've already registered, please log in. If you haven't registered yet, please register and log in.