by Jesus Ibarra
We are honored here at KRL to be able to interview Urban Fantasy author Rob Thurman! We also have a review of her latest book, Doubletake, and a chance to win a copy (details at the end of this post). While chatting with us Rob shared some exciting information that there is going to be a Doubletake commercial during the March 9 episode of Supernatural for those living in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas! A longer version will be on her website after the March 9 airing.
Doubletake by Rob Thurman
Rob Thurman brings Cal Leandros and company back in the seventh installment of the Cal Leandros series giving them all family reunions of some kind. Cal is confronted with his Auphe heritage (inter-dimensional monsters that the monsters in this universe fear) once again when a half-breed failure comes back trying to get Cal to rebuild the murderous race. Niko’s Romany heritage also comes back to haunt him when his absent father comes looking for a favor that he really can’t refuse. All while, the brothers’ best friend Robin Goodfellow, the pansexual puck, has his own family reunion in which a lottery is held to see who will continue their race. Rob Thurman manages to tie all these plotlines together and resolve them amazingly well. It makes the reader feel like this was just another day in the life of Cal Leandros and his extended family.
Rob Thurman decided to have the three major protagonists all have some sort of family reunion and honestly, I can’t decide which reunion was worse. Cal having an extremely gross proposal thrust upon him by his half-brother is extremely unsettling. But then there is the somewhat graphically described deranged sex orgy that was the Puck reunion, and Niko’s douche father asking the brothers for a favor after having left Niko as a child with an abusive mother. The plotlines are well done and Rob’s trademark wit comes shining through in Cal again. This time it isn’t really the bonds of the brothers being tested as in other books, but more Cal’s bond to humanity or lack thereof.
Since the last book, Cal had to become more Auphe (the monster part of him) in order to regain his memories. He embraced this part of himself fully, sort of making him a hybrid where he is able to turn the switch on his more brutal nature off or on. Cal is changing, getting a bit more impulse control for the most part, and it is interesting to see how this new opponent forces Cal to realize that he has to change in order to win.
Most authors start to lose steam after book five or six in a series, and a few even call it quits. Thankfully, this does not happen to Rob Thurman. Somehow, she recharges her series by giving Cal an extremely dangerous adversary. By having this new character Rob successfully builds an atmosphere of dread, with the reader not knowing if any of their favorite supporting characters may come to an end. This is especially evident when we finally find out what happened to our beloved seer George (Cal’s one true love interest from the beginning of the series)–that was just brutal. I am hoping that Cal learns what happened to her and to see how this affects his character development.
I also have to say that I am again impressed with how Rob Thurman interprets and remakes some classic mythology monsters into cool contemporary creatures for the brothers to fight. It’s a relief from the three overused myths: werewolves, vampires, and faeries. I completely loved this book. I am also extremely excited to see where Rob takes the series especially since she recently tweeted that she was going to continue this series until someone makes her stop. Pick up this book–you will not be disappointed. While you’re at it pick up all the series, because frankly they are a must read for any urban fantasy lover. Visit Rob Thurman’s website.
Interview Rob Thurman
Jesus: What attracted you to writing in the Urban Fantasy genre?
Rob: Truthfully, two things attracted me to the UF genre. Guns and the f-bomb. I liked high fantasy as well, but my natural instinct when a monster tries to gut me is to say damn, shit, g**damn, or, of course, f***. And I couldn’t picture mercenaries with swords fighting off armies of trolls doing that (however, other fantasy writers came along and proved my lack of imagination there). And, then there are the guns. I like gun fights. I love Quentin Tarantino movies. The juxtaposition of violence and humor in the same moment works so well when delivered with a bullet. Plus, if I’m going to fight monsters, I want distance and guns…and grenades, flame-throwers, explosive rounds, and the occasional anti-tank rocket delivery system.
Jesus: What about Cal is the easiest to write?
Rob: His sarcasm is by far the easiest. That comes as naturally to him as breathing.
Jesus: You are seven books in and I recently saw a tweet where you said it’s getting difficult to include enough backstory for Cal in book 8; is that always a challenge? I ask because I feel like you have done that really well in each book.
Rob: It’s always a challenge to include enough to catch up readers who might not have read the entire backlist without overloading them with information. It’s been doable up until now. But at book 8 there is so much backstory that I feel I should just give up and start doing as the comics do—put an asterisk that says ‘See Madhouse’, ‘See Deathwish’, etc. When you worship the action/character torture god, there are so many pivotal events that change the development of the character in very major ways (as seen in Blackout) that eventually, yes, it becomes difficult.
Jesus: I have always been impressed with how you find these sometimes obscure monsters and turn them into cool contemporary monsters for the brothers to fight; is this a conscious choice?
Rob: Very much so. My world takes the view that all mythology is like a celebrity rag—there may be a seed of truth, but ninety percent of what humans have collected in books is wrong. Face it…if monsters did exist, they damn sure wouldn’t sit down with Homer and give him an interview about their lives, their race, and all their convenient weaknesses for humans to use against them. That means that for me, as the writer, I can rewrite mythology in its entirety. And that is damn cool.
Jesus: I know you are extremely active on Twitter (I love your timeline, it is extremely entertaining) and are really good about responding to fans; how do you feel about the level of access people can have to you in general?
Rob: It’s fun for the most part, but it also is such a time-suck from writing itself. But everyone tells you that you have to do it or your fans will lose interest. Often I find myself spending more time on social networking than on actual writing some days. It’s like a second job. Writing is the first job, social networking second, promotion third, keeping track of sales and various other things fourth. Being a writer is like having four jobs and only being paid for, say, one-third of a real job. But I love my fans because they are intensely loyal to the Cal series and some to my other series (I really do need to get all of my fans to be loyal to all my series as I need money to buy food. Starvation makes writing difficult.).
Jesus: I know you love to tweet while you watch television shows; what are you currently watching?
Rob: Actually nothing at the moment, but I’m a fan of Shameless, Justified, Dexter, Supernatural (I have to be as we’re constantly compared). Most of my comments are on shows that are wholly bad…in all the ways there are to be bad. I love mocking bad movies and Sci-Fi is loaded with those, but I love commenting/semi-mocking good movies or TV as well. I was a definite MST3K fan in the day. Most friends hate watching movies with me as it doesn’t matter if they’re good or bad I will do a running commentary throughout them.
Jesus: I also have to compliment you on how well you write a male in his twenties, it is uncanny. How do you do it? Does it come naturally, or do you have to get yourself into that mind frame?
Rob: Nope, it comes naturally. It’s odd as I am such a femme female. I’m all about the clothes and the jewelry, but apparently inside I sound like a snarky guy in his twenties. Sarcasm knows no gender boundaries. And you don’t have to have a d*** to write a character that does.
Jesus: You also wrote another book series not set in the Leandros universe, the Korsak Brothers series, and I know you have a mainstream thriller coming out in July; do you find it difficult to write in two different genres?
Rob: No, it’s not that different. I still have sarcasm, action, surprise twists. The only difference is the monsters change from supernatural to genetic. Sometimes they don’t change at all—it’s the difference of one supernatural monster versus a world of them. The mainstream thriller, All Seeing Eye (July 31st) has psychics and ghosts.
Jesus: In this book we see Cal get a bit darker, and have to rein himself in a couple of times. Will Cal continue to get darker in order to beat Grimm now that Grimm is out to remake the Auphe?
Rob: Mmm, that I can’t tell. Too much of a spoiler. Grimm won’t be in book 8 however (off plotting world domination, but he’ll be back). Book 8 will be told half in present time and half twelve years ago when Cal was eleven and Niko fifteen (see Nightlife for time anomaly information/change in age difference…hey, that works!). So in book 8 you see Cal and Niko before they’re fully formed into the characters they are today, although Cal did bite someone in kindergarten, not due to family issues at home, but just to see what he tasted like.
Jesus: Will Cal ever know what happened to George? This by the way, made me incredibly sad.
Rob: I wouldn’t have put her in Doubletake if she wasn’t going to show up later at some point. I think it’s a positive scene. You see Georgina has grown stronger. That she can change people’s thoughts now. Make them forget or see things that never happened. One issue with George is that Cal’s life is so very violent and she has her peace, goodwill, what will be will be, Dalai Lama thing going on, that she simply couldn’t survive in his life. If she continues to grow even stronger, maybe she can.
Jesus: Will Cal ever get another sort of relationship like he had with Delilah or will he be too occupied with Grimm to even think about it?
Rob: Well, he met a prospect, very quickly, in Doubletake in the black-market. But it is difficult to find time to squeeze sex in when someone is trying to kill you every other page. We’ll see.
Jesus: And is Delilah eventually going to come back and bite in Cal in the ass so to speak?
Rob: Someone’s ass is going to get bitten…just a matter of whose it will be. Delilah isn’t going anywhere. She plans on ruling the entire werewolf mafia and she is well on her way.
Jesus: Finally, I wanted to say thank you for writing such a great character and book series.
Rob: Thank you for a great interview and feel free to bleep any language you feel too naughty.
To enter to win a copy of Doubletake, simply email KRL at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Double”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 10, 2012. U.S. residents only.