I’m thrilled to welcome Kristi Charish, who was gracious enough to answer my probing questions about her upcoming release, Owl and the Japanese Circus, The Adventures of Owl #1, (published on January 13, 2015 by Pocket Books) . . . and herself. *winks*
1. Having a human heroine in a world of monsters is rare. Is Owl really 100% homo sapiens, and if she is, do you plan to keep her that way?
YES, Owl is really 100% human. When I started out I wanted to get away from the chosen one syndrome. Too many fantasies and UF’s I’ve read recently (Kim Harrison’s series for one) start off with a ‘normal’ish character who finds out they’re the chosen one/not entirely human etc. It’s been done really well by other authors already and I didn’t think I could add very much to it. There’s also that insidious side that niggles me when it comes to female protagonists with superpowers- that they couldn’t possibly survive their circumstances without super powers because they’re female. Not always the case, but I’ve seen it before. I wanted Owl to be someone who despite being normal said, ‘screw it, I’m going to play anyway.’ Who knows what will happen to Owl as the series continues- a lot depends on how many books there are- but the human origins will stay.
2. Owl is a gamer. Are you? If you are, what’s you’re favorite RPG (say WoW, say Wow . . . *chants*)?
I am totally a gamer and my obsession of choice is RPGs! All time favorites include Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 (man they did some amazing stuff with in game story-telling). I love strategic game play but my biggest draw in any videogame is story. Recent favorites include Far Cry 4 (worlds worst/most awesome yogis ever), South Park: The Stick of Truth (it’s like playing through the best South Park episode ever), and I’m almost done my second play through of Dragon Age Inquisition (140 hours last time I checked).
I am ashamed to admit I don’t play WoW (hides head under keyboard in shame). Not because it doesn’t look up my alley but because I don’t know anyone who plays. All my friends who are into MMOs are playing League of Legends
, and WoW seems like one of those games that’s that much better with conversation and in game companions. Having said that, if there are any teams willing to let a WoW first timer tag along I’m in! I also need to get in on the DAI MMO…
3. Captain is a seriously cool (and useful) cat. What was your inspiration in creating him? Was he based on some preexisting mythology?
Ok, I may have written my house cat, Captain Flash, into the book. Shameful but there you have it. He is a ragdoll, not a Mau, but is
too smart for his own good (Opens cupboards, helps himself to the kibble bag, turns himself into a 20lb cannon ball first thing in the morning…). Instead of hunting vampires he hunts and destroys my socks (photo of the furry wonder included below).
The vampire-hunting thing I based off the existing mythology that Egyptian cats were guardians of the underworld. It’s just that in this case, instead of herding escaping spirits back to the afterlife, the Mau cats chase and eviscerate vampires.
4. Owl’s been on run since shortly after she began doing work in the supernatural community. Now that she’s got a steady job with one of them, is that going to offer her some protection, or will she still be constantly dodging creatures who figure the dead can’t tell tales?
Without giving away too many spoilers, lets just say some old problems will be replaced by new ones. Being dragged kicking and screaming further into the supernatural world is going to garner some serious notice (this is Owl after all). As for as some of her old problems? If you think for one second Alexander isn’t waiting on rotting, lily of the valley baited breath for the first inkling of an opportunity than you haven’t learned a lot about vampires…and Owl has a bridge to sell you. You can put a little toll booth on it and everything
5. You yourself are a mythological creature–the Writer Scientist. A background in genetics, cell biology, and molecular biology would obviously be useful to a SFF author, but you clearly also know your stuff in the history and mythology/folklore departments. How did you become such a renaissance woman?
Ha! I don’t know if I’m a renaissance woman but there are more of us artsy scientists than you think! One of my idols, Hedy Lamarr, who is best known for her career on the silver screen was the inventor behind spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology- think torpedo control during WW2 and more recently Wi-Fi. Yes. A 1940’s screen star is the brain behind Wi-Fi.
One of the biggest misconceptions about science is that it’s all memorization. What it really involves is a lot of artistic, outside the box thinking because research scientists are asking questions that do not yet have an answer. Coming up with ways to answer those questions involves a lot of educated guessing (after all, that BSc degree starts with BS) and the more creative thinking mind you have the better.
In my case, I’ve always veered towards Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Adventure (reading, movies, video games) and historical fiction (Tai Pan and King Rat by James Clavell are two of my all time favorites and I recently binge watched Marco Polo on Netflix in one shot). I do remember an incident where I was studying for organic chemistry one Sunday afternoon while my roommate ran a D&D game in the kitchen. I couldn’t resist. I managed to pass organic chem (or more accurately didn’t fail as badly as everyone else, meaning I got a B) and spent a lot of time creating stories and reading up on D&D lore. I’ve kept up my interest in both myths and RPG’s since.
6. What can you tell us about Owl’s next adventure, OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS, coming Summer 2015?
First, the release date has been moved to Jan 2016 (last time I checked), BUT the book is handed in and ARCs will be available this summer. Unfortunately I can’t say too much about the plot for OWL AND THE CITY OF ANGELS except it sees Owl settling into her new job as a contract thief for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa (with mixed results) when he sets his sights on a trio of artifacts sitting in a Los Angeles recluse’s private collection. Owl is sent to fetch them and finds out that the City of Angels is anything but.
7. Congratulations on getting signed for a second Urban Fantasy series! What can you tell us about it?
Thanks! It was an awesome surprise. I’ll be working with Anne Collin’s (who edits Kelley Armstrong’s books) at Random House Canada and the first book is slated to come out May 2016. As for the book? Kincaid Strange isn’t your average Voodoo practitioner.
For starters, she lives in Seattle. With the new restrictions and regulations in place for raising the dead- and the fact that the Seattle PD have dropped her paranormal consulting contract- Kincaid and her roommate, the ghost of deceased 90’s grunge rocker, Nathan Cade, resign themselves to running semi legal séances up at the University for students with more money than sense and desperate for guitar lessons. That is until the dead bodies start piling up and Kincaid has to find a serial killer before the blame finds it’s way to her doorstep.
Bread or Chocolate? Bread.
Thor or Loki? How can you not pick Loki? (Jessica says: That’s what I’m screaming.)
UF or PNR? UF- Adventure over romance any day. (Jessica says: Me TOO.)
Sudoku or Crossword? Crossword. Numbers have scared me ever since Math (AKA Magic Numbers) 101.
Favorite Disney Princess? Merida, AKA the chick with the bow.
Favorite supernatural creature?Dragon. Got to love a monster that can end a conversation in one gulp.
Favorite carbonated beverage? Beer.
Celebrity crush? Toss up between Balthier from Final Fantasy XII and Fenris from Dragon Age 2 (both voiced by Gideon Emery)
Favorite fairy tale? The original Little Mermaid – not the ‘Disney’fied one.
Favorite 1980’s song? Can you really have only one favorite 80’s song? iTunes insists it’s Billy Idol’s ‘Cradle of Love’ but there are many, many more.
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Fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Linda Hamilton will flock to the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world.
Ex-archaeology grad student turned international antiquities thief, Alix—better known now as Owl—has one rule. No supernatural jobs. Ever. Until she crosses paths with Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon who owns and runs the Japanese Circus Casino in Las Vegas. He insists Owl retrieve an artifact stolen three thousand years ago, and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: he’ll get rid of a pack of vampires that want her dead. A dragon is about the only entity on the planet that can deliver on Owl’s vampire problem – and let’s face it, dragons are known to eat the odd thief.
Owl retraces the steps of Mr. Kurosawa’s ancient thief from Japan to Bali with the help of her best friend, Nadya, and an attractive mercenary. As it turns out though, finding the scroll is the least of her worries. When she figures out one of Mr. Kurosawa’s trusted advisors is orchestrating a plan to use a weapon powerful enough to wipe out a city, things go to hell in a hand basket fast…and Owl has to pick sides.
Thanks again to Kristi Charish for stopping by and answering my questions! Be sure to keep an eye out for my review of Owl and the Japanese Circus–will post soon!