by Terrance Mc Arthur
This week we are excited to have not only a review of Faith Hunter’s new fantasy novel Black Arts, but also an interview with Faith. At the end of this post are details on how to win a copy of Black Arts.
Black Arts by Faith Hunter
In Black Arts, Faith Hunter’s latest book in the series, Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting vampire hunter with a mountain lion trapped inside her soul, and is metaphysically chained to Leo, the master vampire of New Orleans. This is a ticklish situation for her, and she doesn’t want him to know she is bound to him. Leo has a security job for Jane, running things for a high-stakes vampire event, but she has her own problems: Molly is missing. Molly, a witch, used to be Jane’s best friend…until Jane killed her sister. On her way to make peace, maybe, Molly disappears and her large witch husband thinks Jane is to blame…but her children just want Mommy back and they like cuddling with Aunt Jane.
This is more of a “whydunit” than a whodunit, because the baddies act like baddies and you know they don’t look like rosy sardines (red herrings). There is mayhem, betrayal, cyber-skullduggery and large amounts of weaponry. There is also a big, bad creature that does a lot of damage and leaves. Its nature is hinted at, so there is a good chance it will return in another installment of the saga.
Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series has elements that attract loyal readers. Jane is a take-no-prisoners warrior (She wants to take prisoners, but she forgets when they’re trying to kill her in the middle of the battle). She has a quirky set of friends and semi-adversaries, a weapon-savvy employee and his computer-savant parolee brother who had better not get caught doing the things Jane needs done. There is also a mercenary leader who wants to work with her even less than she wants to work with him, and the missing friend’s magic-with-a-flute-or-a-wet-whistle husband to provide ammunition for her wit.
The back-story of a deprived childhood and not understanding why she was different builds sympathy for Jane. Also, there is a game of Find-the-Title, where the title of each chapter turns out to be a phrase or sentence tucked into the text of that section of the story.
Knowing some of the earlier books helps understand characters, motivations and in-jokes, but Black Arts stands out on its own as a did-that-just-happen, how-did-she-do-that, I-didn’t-see-that-coming bounce house of a paranormal-action-thriller. Besides that, on the cover of Black Arts, Jane looks like Angelina Jolie in black leather…which works for me!
Interview with Faith Hunter
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Faith: Since tenth grade. Please don’t make me count back that far! However I was professionally published by a traditional publisher in 1990.
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called? Can you tell us a little about it?
Faith:Death Warrant came out in 1990, from Warner Books, under the name Gary Hunter and was co-written with Gary Leveille. It was a police procedural, quite dated by now and not very well edited, but it was my foot in the door and I took it!
KRL: Have you always written fantasy? If not what else have you written?
Faith:No way! I never had the voice for the fantasy that was published prior to the early 2000s. Under the name Gary Hunter–Police procedurals. Under the name Gwen Hunter thrillers and mysteries and a medical thriller series. I have something like 30 books to my name now.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Can you tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.
Faith:All the Jane Yellowrock books are set in southeast. I live there and travel there and it’s a wide ranging area with mountains, swamps, beach, gulf, low country, deltas, and lots of history to build upon. I believe in writing with what I know and what I have lived, so the character does things I have done and lives where I have lived. Yes – I research heavily.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Faith:Story and character is what I am after. If readers take something else away, that is lovely, but not my intent.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Faith:I’m a workaholic, writing about 50 hours a week. I start in the morning and work until I’m done, blending a minimum daily quota of six pages a day (when I’m crafting a new book) with daily chores, exercise or yoga, visits with family (my parents are ageing) and trips to white water paddle.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Faith:Totally an outliner on plot. Not an outliner on character at all.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Faith:I really have no preference, but after 8 p.m. is my least favorite time to write.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Faith: Yes. It was a lot harder to get published back then. A LOT harder.
KRL: Future writing goals?
Faith:Keep writing. Keep getting published. Stay healthy so I can do both!
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Faith:I research extensively. I started white water kayaking as research for a book, and have used it in several novels and shorts. I started making jewelry and used it for a Gwen hunter stand alone and a Faith Hunter series – the Rogue Mage series. I still make jewelry and sometimes give it away at signings.
KRL: What do you read?
Faith:Extensively in many genres, mostly thrillers, mysteries, all sub genres of fantasy, and some romance. I don’t read much nonfiction except as research, and abhor biographies.
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Faith:I haven’t been to the movies in years, though I do watch them at home. TV? My faves are NCIS (both versions) Intelligence, Castle (which means TVoing one or the other), Elementary, Big Bang.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Faith:Don’t give up. BICHOK (Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.) And read analytically. Also, go to www.magicalwords.net, a site I help create, dedicated to writes and readers of Fantasy.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Faith: Nope. This was fun!
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Faith: You know? I’m pretty out there with info. There is not a lot that is secret about me. Maybe someone new might not know that I collect orchids and animal skulls. I have a lovely collection, very Georgia O’Keefe.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
KRL: How do you compete in an overcrowded market?
Faith: Making the fans happy. Seriously. Books as often as I can churn them out, lots of shorts and a few novellas, paying attention to them by way of social media all the time.
A few more series specific questions for Faith:
KRL:You have created several varieties of vampires: the Naturaleza, who drain their victims without a thought but have little psychic power, and Mithrans, who are more the glamour-type. What story-needs led to this split of natures?
Faith: Humans are always dividing and subdividing into like-minded groups and putting their own needs and beliefs before others. Conservative, liberal, religious, nonreligious, animal and environment loving people, blasé about the world people, all want the others to not-exist, or to be forced to adopt a different point of view. It’s sad. But it’s human nature. How much stronger would that autocratic, demanding selfish nature be if the ones with that attitudes lived for centuries. SO it was more human-nature based that storyline based.
KRL: Some passages of the Jane Yellowrock series seem like a catalog of weaponry and neck-armor. Were you always around guns and knives, or are you just really good at research?
Faith: Jane is a hunter. She had to know her weapons—how to maintain them and how to use them. I have lots of friends who hunt, who are former military, and who own and use weapons. Research is easy!
KRL: What part of Jane’s world is the most fun for you to use in a story?
Faith: Her indecisiveness about love. I mean really. I am sooo ready for her to settle on a guy! (Hint: she picks a guy in Broken Soul, out in October 2014.)
Check out KRL’s review of the previous book in this series, Blood Trade.
To enter to win a copy of Black Arts, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Black,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 8, 2014. U.S. residents only.
Check out more fantasy book reviews in our fantasy and fangs section.