Tangled Threads the fourth and penultimate book in Jennifer Estep’s deservedly popular Elemental Assassin series was released April 26. Gin Blanco and her allies draw ever closer to exacting their revenge on Mab, the powerful fire elemental and criminal leader that dominates the city. Fans should love this latest installment, as the action is non-stop with plenty of thrills and a terrific setup for the fifth and final book in the series Spiders Revenge.
I asked Jennifer if she would be willing to do a guest post talking about the intricacies of plotting out a multi-book series and she was happy to oblige. This series is one of the best urban fantasy series going and I urge you to give it a try. And in order to do that Jennifer has kindly provided a copy of Tangled Threads, to be won in a random draw (simply fill out the form at the end of the post).
Jennifer will be dropping by today to respond to reader questions and comments, so please comment away. Jennifer has also posed a number of questions for readers in her post. Have your say.
Plotting (Not just another assassination)
Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Doug for having me back on the blog today. Thanks so much, Doug!
So today, Doug asked me to talk a little about “the Tangled Threads of plotting” – in other words, how I plan out story arcs for my books. I’m four books into my Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series now, since Tangled Threads was released on April 26.
I like five-book story arcs – that’s what I have planned for the Elemental Assassin series. In the first book, Spider’s Bite, I introduced by heroine, Gin Blanco, aka the assassin the Spider, and the dark, gritty world of Ashland. By the end of book five, Spider’s Revenge, which comes out in October, Gin will confront her nemesis, Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who killed Gin’s mother and older sister when Gin was a kid.
Why five books? Well, I think that’s enough time/words for me to tell a good story and for readers to get really invested in the characters and their relationships, but not so long that folks will get bored waiting for Mab to figure out who Gin really is. As a reader, I’m not the biggest fan of series that just go on and on without closing out any of the story arcs.
Originally, I was contracted for three books in the series, so I knew I was taking a risk thinking about a five-book story arc. So when my publisher offered to buy books four and five in the series, I decided that I would have Gin confront Mab at the end of book five. That way, I could give readers a complete story, something I wanted to do just in case my publisher didn’t want any more books after these five.
I’m not much of a plotter. When it comes to actually writing the books, I’m pretty much a panster. I think of the villain, the main plot points, and what needs to happen in the book to drive the main story arcs forward. Then, I just sit down and write the book. But for the Elemental Assassin series, these were the major plot points that I had in mind for each book that would drive Gin and Mab toward their inevitable confrontation:
Book 1 – Spider’s Bite – Introduce readers to Gin and the city of Ashland.
Book 2 – Web of Lies – Gin finds out that Mab murdered her family.
Book 3 – Venom – Gin declares war on Mab, and her long-lost sister Bria comes back to Ashland.
Book 4 – Tangled Threads – Mab hires another assassin to find and kill Gin.
Book 5 – Spider’s Revenge – Gin and Mab have their big smackdown fight.
I’m not sure exactly why I settled on five books. Three seemed to be too short to tell the story I wanted to, and seven too long. I think the five-book arc appeals to me because you can set up the characters/world in books one and two, and then sort of turn everything on its head in book three, which can drive the story through books four and five. For example, in book three, Venom, Gin declares war on Mab, which sets up the action in Tangled Threads and Spider’s Revenge. Of course, I want to write more Gin books beyond these five, but that’s a post for another day. LOL.
Hopefully, readers will enjoy the story arc and all the adventures that Gin has getting to the end of book five. Fingers crossed, anyway. ;-)
|What about you guys? How many books do you like in a story arc or series? How many books is too few or too many?|
MORE ABOUT JENNIFER
Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue 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.
Books in the series are Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, and Venom. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, was published on April 26, while Spider’s Revenge, the fifth book, will be released in October.
Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old 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 is shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, Amazons, and more.
The first book, Touch of Frost, will be out in August, while the second book, Kiss of Frost, will hit shelves in December. First Frost, a prequel e-short story to the series, will be out in July. Visit www.jenniferestep.com for excerpts and more.