Diana also advises me that the next book in the series will likely release around the same time next year and has a working title of Crimson Wind.
Here is a small excerpt from Diana's bio from her website -
I have a fascination for the Victorians, weather, geology, horses, plants and mythology, I like spicy food, chocolate and cheesecake, and I have an odd sense of humor. (Or so I’ve been told. Often.) Incidentally, the Pharaoh is in fact my real name, and oddly enough, is of British origin.You can discover more about Diana and her books and writing at her website and at her Ad Libs blog. Diana has agreed to drop by and answer any questions you may have (well almost any) so please say hi or leave a comment. I'd also like to share a copy of Bitter Night with one lucky commentator, so if you don't have a specific question for Diana, you can leave a comment about your favourite fictional witch or series (more giveaway details at the end of the post).
Some of my current favorite sf/f writers are Ilona Andrews, Carol Berg, C.E. Murphy, Patty Briggs, Lynn Flewelling, Rachel Caine, David Coe, and Anne Bishop.
With no further ado I welcome Diana Pharaoh Francis...
SFG: With two successful fantasy series already in print, you have your first urban fantasy novel Bitter Night releasing next week. What spurred you to tackle urban fantasy? What is it that you like most about the genre?
Bitter Night, it just felt right to write.
As for what I like most about the genre . . . Hmmm. I’m not entirely certain I can pick just one thing. Of course I like magic. And I like the fact that I can use pop culture and slang and real places. I think what’s really captivating to me is how to make the story work in the real world setting. That this sort of thing could really be happening right under our noses and we just don’t know it. It’s the mystique of magical possibility.
SFG: Can you give us a quick overview of Bitter Night and the over-reaching story arc for the series?
Bitter Night is the story of a woman who gets transformed against her will into a powerful magical predator and is enslaved into the bargain. She’s been fighting against her chains for years, and now she’s got to decide what’s more important—her freedom, or joining forces with the witch who made her in order to save their friends. Because the Guardians of the earth have decided that humanity has encroached too far; magic is suffocating and soon there will be none left, and all the magical creatures of the world will die with it. So they have decided to go to war. They’ve summoned all the witches to serve as generals in their army and when Max’s witch refuses, Max has to decide if revenge is what she wants most.
SFG: I love the world-building in Bitter Night with the Sunspears, the Shadowblades and the covensteads. Tell us a little about this world and how you created it.
When I started thinking about Bitter Night, I knew there would be witches and I knew there would be rules for them. I also knew that they would have daylight and nighttime warriors. That’s where I began. And then with the Guardians and the rich world of folklore from all over the world, the world just sort of wove itself together. I wanted fire to play an important role, so I picked locations where fire is truly life threatening. I wanted the Shadowblades and Sunspears to be incredibly powerful, and yet not invulnerable. I’ll admit to a little wishful thinking with the whole massive calorie requirements for the Spears and the Blades. Of course, that becomes an achilles heel when they don’t have access to the food they need. Additionally, I wanted the witches to be of the scary variety—they are ruthless and ambitious and they do some pretty horrendous things in the name of good (though they define the nature of ‘good’ and you and I might not agree with that definition). I wanted also to take advantage of all the disasters in the world—from earthquakes to hurricanes to collapsing bridges and sinking ships. I wanted to explain those things and make them part of the story.
What I wanted was a world that was truly rich with magical possibility, and yet one that could really exist inside of our own world without any of us knowing about it. Of course, that all changes, or it soon will . . .
SFG: Without giving away any spoilers can you describe a scene or moment in the book that you are most proud of?
If I’m forced to pick one, I suppose it would be the very last scene with Giselle and Max. There’s resolution there, but it doesn’t go against either character. There’s compromise, but it’s only as far as either can go. It’s entirely believable and to me, satisfying.
SFG: What are your long-term plans for this story universe?
Essentially I want to push it forward and show the war, its cost, and its fallout. I want to show how these characters manage during the disaster—the breaking apart of the world as they know it. How will they deal with it? How will they survive and how will they put their lives back together when magic returns full force to the world?
SFG: Your Crosspointe Chronicles fantasy series also has magic as a central theme. Can you share a little about the series and where it is heading?
I love Crosspointe. It’s this wonderful place of chaotic magic where people think they know how the world works, but they are really blinded by prejudice, tradition and fear. Add in a good dose of intrigue, stubborn, flawed characters, and varying ideas of what’s the right thing to do, and you end up with what I hope are rich, compelling stories that drag you in and won’t let you go.
As for where the series is heading . . . I write each on of them to stand alone. The larger political intrigue ties them together, but each story is about individual characters. Certainly there are cameos as characters step onto the pages of other stories, but the books have been very separate. That trend continues in The Hollow Crown (due out in June). I envision two more books in the series after that. In this resolution, many of the original characters will return. I don’t want to say too much more than that. I’m afraid of spoilers. I can say that in The Hollow Crown, things take a serious turn for the worse in Crosspointe.
SFG: You teach at the University of Montana Western. Do you have any interesting student or faculty stories about your alternate career as an author that you can divulge?
I have such fun teaching, but I don’t tend to talk about the people or the students. I wouldn’t want to break a trust. I can say that I have had some terrifically talented and fun students over the years.
SFG: The FAQ on your website has answers to a lot of the usual questions so here a few that hopefully don’t appear there.
a. If you could be any paranormal creature, which one would you be and why?
A dragon. I’d want to be fierce and firebreathing without a fear of heights.
b. If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Take more chances—don’t be so worried all the time.
c. In a few words tell us five things about yourself that nobody knows (until now).
- I know how to castrate pigs, sheep and cows (okay, not cows, but you know, little bulls).
- I’ve eaten beef tongue. And heart.
- I have a secret yearning to sing in musical theater.
- I don’t like rollercoasters.
- I have a morbid sense of humor (actually, that’s one that people may know about).
- And a sixth one, just because, Pharaoh really is my middle name. It’s not made up at all.
Thank you Diana!
So I hope everyone is motivated to add Bitter Night to their TBB lists, but for one commenter.I am giving away a copy of Bitter Night to anywhere that the Book Depostory ships.
- Leave a comment/querstion for Diana or tell us about a favourite fictional witch or series.
- Open to anyone anywhere that the Book Depostory ships.
- Remember to leave a way to contact you.
- Blog, tweet, post, etc., about the guest spot and contest for an extra entry.
- Giveaway ends Monday, October 26 at 11:59 PM EST. I'll post the winner on release day.