Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guest Post & Giveaway - Jennifer Estep

Jennifer Estep is my guest today and Venom, the exciting third book in her Elemental Assassins series has just released. Assassins are a staple of fantasy but not so much in urban fantasy and Jennifer is her to tell us about her choice of profession for her character.

For those that would like a taste of the series, Jennifer has a couple of free stories about her assassin on her website -
Spider’s Bar­gain: This is a short story that takes place before the events of Spider’s Bite, the first book in the Ele­men­tal Assas­sin series. In Spider’s Bar­gain, Gin Blanco takes on a cor­rupt cop, but only one of them will be left stand­ing in the end. Click here to read it.

Web of Death: This short story takes place after the events of Spider’s Bite but before the begin­ning of Web of Lies. In Web of Death, Gin Blanco’s retire­ment is inter­rupted by some unwanted guests. Click here to read it.

Web of Deceit: This short story takes place when Gin is a teenager. It’s told from the point of view of Fletcher Lane, Gin’s assas­sin men­tor, and focuses on Gin’s first solo job as the assas­sin the Spi­der. Click here to read it.
Venom: Book Synopsis
It’s hard to be a badass assassin when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current mission is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic when I need it most. To the public, I’m Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends, I’m the Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker—Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I’m a cold-blooded killer . . . who is about to save her life.

I have a copy of Venom to give away. To enter just answer Jennifer's question at the end of her post. Welcome Jennifer and please put the stiletto's and garrote's away.

Why Assassins Should Not Be Whiny

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Doug for having me on the blog today. Thanks, Doug!

Some of you might know me as the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin code¬named the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a bar¬be¬cue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

The first two books in the series are Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies. Venom, the third book, came out on Sept. 28. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while the fifth book (untitled) will be released in October 2011.

I’ve also sold a young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.

So Doug asked me today to talk about why I chose to write an assassin character, especially a female assassin character. For those of you who don’t know, the heroine of my Elemental Assassin series is Gin Blanco, a semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Gin is smart, sassy, sarcastic, and tough as nails, and she prefers to kill first and ask questions later, with the help of her silverstone knives.

So why write about an assassin? The truth? Because I got tired of reading about all the whiny assassins out there. Seriously.

I’ve always loved reading about assassin characters, especially in fantasy literature. But in a lot of the books out there – fantasy and otherwise – it seems like all the assassin does is moan and groan about how eeevil he is, killing people for money. The assassin is all angsty and conflicted and bothered by what he does. Yeah, maybe you had a bad childhood or are being forced to kill people by a secret government agency, but dude, quit whining and just get on with things already.

Every time I would read a book about an overly conflicted assassin, I wanted to reach into the pages and shake the character. Because really, it seemed to me like there was an insanely simple, easy solution to the whole problem – quit being an assassin! You kill people for a living – surely you can escape from the secret government agency or your mob boss or whomever.

I wanted to read about an assassin who was cool and sarcastic and a total bad-ass. Someone who knew that she wasn’t the best person in the world but wasn’t too broken up about her profession either. Someone who realized that there were worse people out there than her and that maybe she could do a little bit of good along the way. Eventually, I decided to write my own assassin character with my own magic system, and Gin Blanco and the city of Ashland were born.

Now, I’m not saying that Gin is completely cold-hearted. She’s fiercely loyal to the few friends and family that she has. But if you get in her way or threaten the people that she cares about, then she’s going to put you down – hard – and sleep just fine that night. And yeah, Gin had a traumatic childhood and it still haunts her, but she’s not going to let her feelings get in the way of what needs to be done. She’ll sharpen her knives, slug back a gin and tonic, and get down to business.

As for why I decided to write a female assassin, well, I’m female so that’s the perspective that comes easiest to me. I think women are just as strong and smart and cunning and conflicted as men. Plus, the urban fantasy genre is full of great heroines, and I wanted to add my own to the mix. Whether they’re assassins or librarians or something in between, strong, smart, sassy heroines are the kind of characters that I like reading about, and those are the kind of characters that I like writing. Enough said.

What about you guys? Who are some of your favorite assassin or fantasy characters?


  1. Leave a comment responding to Jennifer's question to enter.
  2. One name will be drawn at random. Open internationally (by Book Depository).
  3. Giveaway runs until Midnight, Thursday, October 14.  
  4. Leave a way for me to contact you.
  5. Links to this post on your favourite social media sites, blogs, etc., would be appreciated.


  1. Great post! I hope I win!!

    One of my favorite assassin/fantasy characters is Katsa from Graceling.

  2. At the moment my favorite assassin is Monza Murcatto from Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  3. Oh that was a very interesting interview and I must admit that I had the same problems when reading Assassin characters.

    If an assassin has been doing his/her work for this long, then they must sleep well at nigh, personal demons aside.
    Whiny doesn't work for me either, although tortured and angsty is a must XD

    I know I am going to sound incredibly dorky for a girl, but I have to say my favorite assassin was the first one I read about, when I was a little girl stealing my brother's comic books, Elektra Natchios (from the Daredevil Comic Series).
    There's no words to describe my love for this character, especially in it's original form...

    Thanks for the chance to win this! :)
    And for hosting this interview!


    Twitted this: http://twitter.com/yllektra/status/26436600279

    Good luck to everyone entering!

  4. hi nice give away my favorite assassin/fantasy characters is nikita from nikita la fame/nikita


  5. Tiah -- I loved Graceling too. I really hope that Cashore writes another Katsa book.

    Buddy -- I haven't heard of Abercrombie. I'll have to check him out.

    Yllektra -- A little angst is okay. Even Gin has a little angst. And being tortured -- literally -- sort of comes with the assassin job. I just don't like characters who dwell on the angst or beat themselves up all the time. I just don't think it's that much fun to read.

    I really like Elektra too. I haven't read many of the comic books, but I thought Jennifer Garner did a good job as her in the movie.

    Mersagr -- I liked Peta Wilson as Nikita, and I'm also digging the new show on the CW. I didn't know about Shane West as Michael, but I'm really starting to like him.

  6. Nakitta in every format including the original book and movie. Next is Kelley Arnstrong's but for the life of me I can't remember her name. She is one kickass Canadian.

  7. Hi! Loved the post!

    I'd pick Katsa as well. She's quite an interesting character.

    carianmoonlight at gmail dot com

  8. I would love to win.
    Please enterme.

  9. Rhyan -- Nikita is cool. Maybe you mean Nadia Stafford? I *think* that's the name of Armstrong's assassin. I read the first book and enjoyed it. I need to get the others ...

    Silent Raven -- Katsa is such a great character -- so tough but still vulnerable at the same time.

  10. I like Harry Dresden. Can I still enter?


  11. Ren -- I like Harry too, although Bob the skull is my favorite. LOL.

  12. I love Gin of course, but some of my other favorites are Jaye Wells' Sabina Kane and Jeaniene Frost's Cat Crawfield.


  13. That is one of the best things about Gin, she's not angsty or whiny.:]

    As for other favorite assassin, X-23/Laura Kinney from X-Men and for fantasy Mercy Thompson.


  14. I just started your series and I got hooked immediately..lol. I am on Web of Lies now but I have already fell in love with the characters. I haven't read many Assassin books so other than Gin I would say Cat is probably one of my favorites.

    akascrapaholic [at] gmail DOT com

  15. Maliha from Dakota Bank's Mortal Path books is a fantastic assassin.

  16. From novels Ian Fleming's James Bond. Unlike the movie Bond Flemming's interpretation always appeared more comfortable with the killing aspect of the job. It was a job to him.

    In comics Deadshot. Its the combination of his willingness to kill and death wish that makes him fun and interesting for me.

  17. I love La Femme Nikita and Cat from Jeannine Frost who is a vamp assassin. Gin is a great one too. Seems I gravitate to female assassins. Wonder why lol.
    Would love to win this book. This is one of my favorite series right now.

  18. For some reason Im having a hard time coming up with many, but I know I have read more out there. The ones I can think of that I really liked are - Cat, Gin, and Nadia Stafford

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  19. I love Fitz from Robin Hobb's FarSeer Trilogy.

  20. Barbara -- I keep meaning to try Wells' books too ...

    Sadie -- Thanks! Although I'm not sure I could even write about a whiny assassin ... I'd probably kill her myself halfway through writing the book. LOL.

    Jamie -- Thanks! I'm glad you are enjoying the books.

    Robin -- I haven't read that series. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Shadow -- I LOVE James Bond, both the books and the movies. You're right, he is a deeper character in the books, although I thought Daniel Craig did a really good job in Casino Royale.

    Pam -- That's so nice of you to say. I'm glad you are enjoying Gin's crazy adventures.

    Donna -- That's good company for Gin to be in.

    Sara -- I keep meaning to try Hobb and that series ...

  21. Cat and Bones from Jeanine Frost's make a really good team. Although I guess that only applies for the first book huh? Anyways, they are great characters :-)

    Stephanie G

    Paranormal Haven

  22. I LOVE Nadia Stafford from the series by Kelley Armstrong. In many ways my love for that series is satisfied by the Gin Blanco series. There's something about their characters that I like reading about.

  23. I can't come up with another assassin (my mind is blank at the moment), but I absolutely love Gin!!! I've read book 1 and can't wait to read more about the world you created! it's sooo interesting :) and I hope the blurb for book 4 is coming soon *gg*
    greetings, Ina

    inale87 at gmx dot at

  24. I love Simon from Linda Howard's Death Angel - he's totally unapologetic about what he does. He actually tries (and almost succeeds) to kill the heroine, then falls in love with her - only Linda Howard could manage to make him even the slightest bit sympathetic.

    jen at delux dot com

  25. One of my favorite fantasy characters is Kate Daniels from the Magic series by Ilona Andrews. I love that girl! She's hardcore and awesome.

  26. My very first thought when I read the question was Muerte/Morty from Undercover Blues, an under appreciated movie with Kathleen Turner and Dennis Quaid. I also liked Peta Wilson in Nikita and Gin in Venom (haven't read the others yet).

    Fantasy characters: Kate Daniels and Curran, Harry Dresden (liked the new interpretation of Bob on the short lived Dresden Files)Mercy Thompson and the whole crew in Patricia Briggs' work and Harris' Southern Vampire series.


  27. My favorite fantasy character is Joanna Archer from the Zodiac series by Vicki Pettersson.


  28. I still like the (old) Anita Blake, vampire assassin. Remember in those early books? She was a wicked, fearsome, ”I can do no wrong” killer. I have to agree with others who have mentioned the former TV series, La Femme Nikita. Peta Wilson was an excellent spy/assassin. But my current favorite is definitely Gin Blanco. Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing her with us.
    (Email in profile.)

  29. 'Hatter', 'Hatter Madigan'

    from 'the looking glass wars' books by Frank Beddor



  30. the guy from the 'deception point' by Dan Brown.

    forgot his name, sry.


  31. Definitely Sabina Kane & Nikita. I do love the new show on the CW. I never saw the original, but this has been pretty good.


  32. Great interview. My favourite fantasy character is Lord Soth from the Dragonlance series. He is beyond cool, and his backstory is just fantastic. He is also like an assassin, in that he can point to someone and say 'Die' and well, they do!


  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. My favorite assassin/fantasy character is Kylar from Brent Week's night Angel trilogy.

    spamscape [at] gmail [dot] com

  35. Nikita is a really neat assassin character.


  36. Great post and great interview

    I like Logan from Joe Abercrombie. I love this men.

  37. Great interview!

    My favourite assassins are Elektra (from Marvel) and Leon (from The Professional).

    jennifer.thorburn (at) gmail.com

  38. Leon from the Professional - and Selene from Underworld :)


  39. I love Gin...Harry Dresden...Cat Crawfield...Jill Kismet...There are some great characters out there....I cant wait to read about Gin's next adventure!!!
    Please count me in:)
    havebookwillsurvive at gmail.com

  40. I have just finished Graceling and I love Katsa what a great book.

    Thank you for this giveaway:-)



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