by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week we have a review of popular fantasy author Keri Arthur’s new book, Who Needs Enemies–a mystery/fantasy novel. We also have an interview with Keri, and at the end of this post you can enter to win an e-book copy of Who Needs Enemies!
Who Needs Enemies by Keri Arthur
Who Needs Enemies is the first book in a new series by fantasy author Keri Arthur. This one is my favorite kind of book, a combo mystery/fantasy and it is only available as an e-book.
The main character Harriet Phillecky is a rare part elf, part siren and wanted by neither race, but she doesn’t care. A successful news photographer turned paranormal investigator, she now has a ‘family’ of friends that include fun loving and loyal ogres who constantly raid her refrigerator and take over her TV, a dragon who drinks too much, and her business partner in investigations–a former cop named Ceri.
When her only elven relative she has any contact with, her Uncle Lyle, asks her to investigate the disappearance of a siren, she finds herself unable to refuse. She also finds herself investigating an accident involving her dragon friend Keale who slammed into a helicopter killing the people on board. Too many things about the accident don’t add up. She’s determined to get to the bottom of this to prevent her friend from spending years in prison.
Turns out that Lyle was in love with the siren and he soon becomes a suspect in her murder. Evidence also leads Harriet to relatives she’d rather forget. Though she’d rather run from it all, her entire existence and the lives of her friends are threatened so she faces all sorts of obstacles to hunt down the killer and find the truth about what happened to Keale. Who Needs Enemies is set in Australia and it was fun not only getting to know a new fantasy world, but also a new country.
This is my favorite kind of book–one that combines mystery and fantasy. There are a lot of twists and turns, and a well done mystery. The characters are wonderful and I look forward to getting to know them better in future books. If you are looking for a fun read, full of adventure, fantasy and mystery don’t miss Who Needs Enemies. Harri is tough and loyal, the ogres are a riot, and how can you not love a book that has Dragons! I also love her siren brother! What more could you ask for.
Keri Arthur Interview:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Keri: I’ve actually been writing since I was a teenager, but I didn’t really get serious about it until my daughter was born. I figured babies did nothing more than drink and sleep, so I’d have plenty of time to write. HA!
KRL: When was your first book published and what was it?
Keri: My first book was published in 2001—eleven years after I decided to get serious about my writing. That book was Dancing with the Devil, and it was published with a small US e-press called ImaJinn. I ended up publishing 12 novels and 1 novella with them, all before the Riley Jenson series was sold. Bantam recently purchased the paperback rights for the 12 ImaJinn novels, and is re-releasing them this year and next.
KRL: Why did you choose to write fantasy novels?
Keri: I’ve always loved the fantasy genre, but I was useless at writing the more traditional stuff. Believe me, I tried. They sucked. Lol. It wasn’t until I read Mercedes Lackey’s Children of the Night that something clicked. I hadn’t even realised urban fantasy was a genre–but from that point on, I knew that’s what I wanted to write.
KRL: This book is the first in a new series-what made you decide to write a fantasy novel with such a strong mystery slant to it?
Keri: Most of my books have some sort of mystery element to them. Over the years (and many, many series), my protagonists have been either private investigators or some form of cop. I’m not sure why, but I just can’t seem to write a novel without mayhem, murder and investigations happening 🙂
KRL: How different was your process in writing a book like this opposed to your other series?
Keri: The process was different in that Who Needs Enemies was initially written with a male protagonist and in third person. I basically just wanted to have a go at writing a whole book from a male viewpoint, and my hubby was my sounding board when it came to what a male would–and wouldn’t–think and do. I also wanted to write something that was lighter in tone to my published novels. It was fun to write, but as much as I liked the story, I really didn’t think it would go anywhere because it was very different to anything else I had written at that point.
When I decided to dip a toe into the self-publishing waters last year, I thought Harri might make a good start, but I also knew it needed a major rewrite. So it became first person, female point of view (mainly because the hubby was now an ex, so I no longer had my sounding board). The overall process itself was really no different to all my other novels though. I do a draft, let it sit for a few weeks, then I go back and edit. Once that’s done, it’s handed over to my beta reader, who checks the big picture stuff, then I do another edit. Once that’s done, it’s handed over to my editor (or in this case, my agent, who did the initial editing before handing it over to a copy editor)
KRL: I’m glad for the change–I love Harri! Please tell us about the main characters and how they came to be?
Keri: Most of my characters just happen, which sounds weird, I know. I’m not a planner–I generally don’t to outlines and I certainly don’t do character profiles. I usually start a novel with an image or a scene in my mind and the characters seem to develop from there. I do tend to like outsiders; though–most of my characters are either half-breeds or have some sort of talent that sets them apart from society. Harri was one such character; I didn’t actively set out to make her a half breed siren/elf, but by the time I’d written the first chapter that is what she became. Kaij and Ceri weren’t actually planned either, although when I swapped Harri from male to female, I did want to give her an ex as well as a close female friend.
KRL: How did you come up with the story idea?
Keri: I have a very weird imagination. Seriously, as I said before, I don’t plan things; I just roll with the storyline, and make sense of it all once the first draft is done.
KRL: What kind of research did you have to do?
Keri: My first instinct was to say I don’t actually do much research, but when I think about it, I probably do more than I’m actively aware of. I certainly research myths and legends, then twist them to suit story needs (the sirens, for instance). When I have a character do something (like picking a lock or doing close body fighting) then I’ll search the net for details and videos so I can describe things realistically. I also have books on body trauma, police procedures, forensics, etc. So I do research, but generally it’s done as I’m going along.
KRL: How did you come up with your mythology? Some of it is quite different than anything else in the vein I’ve read, like the Dragons having a human form.
Keri: As I said, I like twisting myths around, and I’ve always loved novels that feature shape-shifters. I’ve also always loved dragons. It seemed natural to pair the two together 🙂
KRL: I know you have more than one successful fantasy series with big publishing houses, what made you decide to self-publish with this one?
Keri: My current publisher (NAL) did want Who Needs Enemies, but I really wanted to test the self-publishing waters. Time will tell whether that was a mistake or not!
KRL: How has that been different for you from your other publishing experiences?
Keri: While the book went through the same process of edits and copy edits, it’s been different in that I’ve been more involved with the cover and release process. Unfortunately, it also means any mistakes made are my responsibility.
KRL: Do you anticipate ever releasing this book, or future ones in the series in print?
Keri: It depends on demand–and if the print on demand process gets cheaper. Right now, it’s a little expensive.
KRL: What different series are you currently still writing?
Keri: Right now, I’m writing the last book in the Dark Angels series, copy editing the soon to be re-released Circle of Desire, and doing the edits on the 3 books in Spook Squad series that are being re-released next year. I’ve also just handed in Fireborn, the first of the Souls of Fire series, which is out June next year. And somewhere along the line I have to write the second Harri novel.
KRL: How do you manage to keep so many different series going?
Keri: I’m not sure! This year, with all the edits and copy edits I’ve done on the 12 ImaJinn books Bantam are re-leasing, I’ve just been rolling from one series to another. At one stage it got to the point where I was writing in third person on a first person book–and using the wrong character names! It’s not usually that insane though–I generally have a few weeks breathing space between series, so that gives me plenty of time to get into the right ‘head-space’
KRL: What is your daily schedule like for writing and all that goes with it?
Keri: I usually read emails over breakfast (although I am notoriously bad at replying) but writing itself doesn’t usually happen until the afternoon (once I’ve gone to the gym, walked the dogs, and had lunch). I aim for five pages a day/30 pages a week and can generally get the first draft done in three months. Whatever edits roll in are done on the weekends, unless the turn around time is tight.
KRL: Have you started on the next book in this series yet and can you tell us anything about it yet?
Keri: I have started it–I have a whole seven pages of it, in fact.
KRL: Anything else you would like to share?
Keri: If anyone wants any more information about my books, they can head to my website: www.keriarthur.com
Watch for a review & giveaway of Keri’s brand new fantasy novel Darkness Splintered next week right here in KRL.
To enter to win an e-book copy of Who Needs Enemies, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Enemies,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 23, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out more fantasy book reviews in our fantasy and fangs section.