Please feel free to say hello, comment or leave a question for Tanya.
Tanya Huff Mini-bio from the Book Jacket:
Although she left Nova Scotia at three, and has lived most of her life since in Ontario, Tanya Huff still considers herself a Maritimer. On the way to the idyllic rural existence she shares with her partner Fiona Patton, six cats, and a Chihuahua, she acquired, a degree in Radio and Television Arts from Ryerson Polytechnic—an education she was happy to finally use while writing her recent SMOKE novels. Of her previous novels, the five—BLOOD PRICE, BLOOD TRAIL, BLOOD LINES, BLOOD PACT, BLOOD DEBT—featuring Henry Fitzroy, bastard son of Henry VIII, romance writer, and vampire are among the most popular. In fact these books are so popular that the have become the basis for the TV series, Blood Ties.
Welcome Tanya! And now on with the interview...
Your new urban fantasy novel The Enchantment Emporium has just been released. Tell us a little about the book. How did you come up with the concept and what made you place the story in Calgary?
You know what, I honestly can't remember where this book came from. I suspect it had something to do with thinking about older women and power and grew from there, adding bits and pieces as it rolled around in my head. As for Calgary, it worked best geographically as movement in this country has always been predominantly east to west. If the story begins in Ontario, which it does, then moving west lead to me think of either Winnipeg or Calgary. Vancouver was a little too far west plus, I've already set four books there (the fifth Blood book and all four Smoke books) so it was time for something new. Once I decided on Calgary, certain internal geographical features like Nose Hill Park became intrinsic parts of the story.
You have said on your blog that The Enchantment Emporium is a standalone novel. Do you have any plans for related stories or other new urban fantasy projects you can tell us about?
Not at the moment. I'm currently working on a new Torin Kerr novel -- although it's not exactly part of the Valor series.
Many of the readers here are familiar with your Blood Books on which the popular Blood Ties television series was based, as well as with the spinoff Smoke and Shadows series. Do you have any plans for more stories in either series?
I've just finished writing two new Vicki Nelson short stories -- one for a Canadian anthology from Edge Publishing and one for "Girls, Guns and Monsters" from Tek.No Books, both probably out in 2010 -- and I'll be writing a new Tony story (there's already two in the Smoke-verse) later this summer. Definitely no new Blood novels and very probably no new Smoke novels.
You were writing urban fantasy before there was such a term. Your Vicki Nelson character predates Anita Blake and Buffy by several years and in many ways could be considered the genesis of the current “kickass” heroine who fights the good fight against the paranormal. What are your thoughts about the popularity of the urban fantasy genre, your place in it, and the predominance of empowered female protagonists?
I enjoy reading urban fantasy so I'm very happy that there's so much of out right now. As to my place in it -- I honestly have no idea where that would be. Somewhere under Charlaine Harris that's for sure. She got a second season. *g* As for empowered female protagonists, I'm all for it. I've always said my base line needs for reading are a kick-ass heroine and witty repartee.
You also have an extensive science fiction and fantasy writing background. Your Confederation science fiction series features female Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr, another strong female character. Tell us a little about the series and the character. The series is also coming to audio book and is narrated by the incomparable Marguerite Gavin who does Kim Harrison’s Hollows books and you had a story in last year’s Hotter Than Hell anthology edited by Kim Harrison. Is this a ‘six degrees of separation’ link to urban fantasy, serendipity or something more deliberate?
Answering your last question first, total serendipity.
The Valor books were never intended to be a series. When I sold "Valor's Choice" it was as a standalone novel and the pitch was "space marines and giant, evolved lizards do Rorke's Drift" but I had so much fun writing it that I just kept going. The second book, "The Better Part of Valor" had its genesis in a Star Trek pitch I made way, way back when that Pocket Books rejected as not being Star Trek enough. Torin, who started out as a Staff Sergeant and was then promoted to Gunnery Sergeant with book three, "The Heart of Valor" was a case of me writing what I knew. I come from a multi-generational military family and we've never produced a commissioned officer. Our current total runs to: three petty officers, a chief petty officer, a master corporal, and a Regimental Sergeant Major.
It was fascinating going over the alien vocabulary with Marguerite (who has done an incredible job!). Discussions of glottal stops only really occur in an audio book situation.
Henry Fitzroy recently won the honour of the sexiest vampire in Vampire Wire’s Ultimate Hawt Vampire Poll of screen vampires (for which congratulations are in order). Who is your favourite screen vampire? I understand you are a fan of the show Supernatural and contributed an essay to a recent book about the show. Tell us a bit about that. Is there an urban fantasy book or series that you would love to see adapted for television?
I think, in all modesty, I'd have to say Henry. Kyle Schmid did such an amazing job bringing him to life that as far as I'm concerned, he's always been Henry -- in spite of Kyle only having been seven when the first book (Blood Price) came out.
As for Supernatural, well, as I've said on a number of occasions, I'd give a kidney to write for that show. Mostly because I'm a member of the WGC and know what I'd have to do and giving up a kidney would be significantly easier.
If there's a producer out there looking for a new property to develop, the Smoke books are available and, given that at least half the action takes place on a television soundstage, they'd certainly be easy to build sets for.
Here’s a multi-part reading question. Do you have a favourite genre that you read? What are you reading now? Do you have a favourite author or authors that inspire you?
If you held me down and forced me to chose just one genre as a favorite -- and I'm assuming we're dividing sf & f into its component sub-genres -- I'd have to say that probably urban fantasy although only by a very small margin.
I just finished Wen Spencer's "Tinker" and "Wolf Who Rules". When I'm writing in a genre I don't read in it but I'm back writing space opera, I have some urban fantasy to catch up on.
As for favourite authors, I have loved everything Terry Pratchett has ever written. Well, maybe not some of his early newspaper columns but, I suspect, only because I haven't read them. I think he's an amazing writer and an enthralling story teller. His command of language is awe inspiring and he has the most insight into human behavior of anyone writing today.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process and routine (where do you feel most comfortable writing, do you set targets for yourself, do you work from an outline or let the story go where it takes you). How do you choose what type of project to work on, i.e., science fiction vs fantasy vs urban fantasy?
Because I've written twenty-four books for the same editor, I'm able to take a few short cuts that others might not. Once I know what I want to write -- what story out of the dozens hanging about in my head at any one time is ready to be written (and that's how I chose, I just write what's ready) -- I write a short proposal, anything from a paragraph to a page. This is pretty much all the overall outlining that gets done although I may later outline specific scenes or action sequences if there's a lot going on.
I usually research for three to five weeks before I start a book.
I sit down in my office every afternoon at one (ish) and write until six (ish) where writing also involves playing spider solitaire, hanging around online, and occasionally practicing the guitar. I can't have music while I'm writing and I drink a lot of green tea and go through a lot of sugarless gum. Because I have high speed internet, I can do spot researching as I need to even if that just means ordering the book with the information I need.
I write like a bricklayer -- each brick has to be in the right place before I can go on. I try for a 1,000 publishable words a day but as I'm clearly not producing 354,000 words a year, that's more of a guideline than an actual rule. Because I edit so extensively as I write, once I finish I generally have to do nothing more than polish before sending the file off to my editor.
Tell us what it was like when you sold your first novel. What was your reaction when you heard the news?
After I hung up, I bounced down the hall making squeaky noises. Fortunately, I was home alone. I'd sold three short stories previously and I'm pretty sure I did the same bounce for the first of them.
This one is for our urban fantasy and paranormal readers. If you could be any paranormal creature which one would you be and why?
Hmmmm, tricky. I think if we stipulate that the change is not determined by the moon and that the intelligence/personality doesn't change with the form, I'd chose werewolf. Say one of Patricia Briggs' werewolves.
Thank you Tanya for visiting SciFiGuy.ca and sharing your time and thoughts! And to all my visitors, I encourage you to add The Enchantment Emporium to your TBR list, you won't be disappointed.