Welcome to UTC! First, let’s get to know you a little bit better! Who is Jenn Bennett? Tell us five interesting things about yourself that readers wouldn’t know about you!
Thanks so much for having me on your blog! Five things about me. Let’s see… 1) When I was younger, I worked for no less than four different national bookstore chains, holding every job position from minimum-wage Bookseller to Buyer at the corporate office. 2) Hand puppets—the ones painted on the sides of people’s hands—give me the willies. 3) Smith Tea No.39 (Fez) is my current favorite tea in the whole wide world (iced). 4) I was born in Germany, have lived in nearly a third of the 50 United States, and one of my favorite cities to visit is Hong Kong. 5) I spend a lot time struggling with what Buddhists call Mindfulness.
So let’s start by talking about BANISHING THE DARK, which is the last book in the Arcadia Bell series. Could you tell us a bit about this book? How does it feel closing out a series and saying goodbye to some beloved characters?
BANISHING THE DARK is the fourth and final book in the series, in which Cady (a magically talented tiki bar owner) and her boyfriend, Lon (photographer, demon, supersexy dad to one awesome teenage boy), take a trip across California, looking for the key to her less-than-normal origins. Saying goodbye to characters who’ve lived in my head for four years is pretty damn hard, frankly. I made the decision to end the series last year, when I was about halfway done writing BANISHING THE DARK. It was time. I wanted to move on to new projects. But it was a bittersweet decision, and one I still think about.
In what ways do you feel that Cady and Lon have changed/grown over the course of the series?
Cady started out in survival mode, thinking that if she just kept quiet, laid low, and kept everyone at an arms-length, she could get by. By the time the series ends, she’s matured into someone who’s willing to risk everything to protect her newfound family in Lon and Jupe. She’s not afraid of her magical talents, and she’s not willing to settle for “just getting by.”
You’ve also released the second book in the Roaring Twenties series called GRIM SHADOWS. This is interesting because it involves an archaeologist and a curator! In getting these details and facts right, how much research did you have to do for this book?
My younger brother is an archaeologist, and I’ve always been fascinated with Egypt—which is an important part of the story in this book. When I was a kid, instead of going to summer camp, I went through student volunteer programs at our local museum. So the research for this was totally fun and right up my alley, interest-wise. What was difficult was searching for accurate information on the de Young Museum in San Francisco, where my heroine, Hadley, works. Because of all the earthquakes that have hit the city over the last century, the museum was destroyed and changed locations a few times. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent sifting through archives, just so I could see what the administrative offices looked like in 1928, or to find out if they would’ve had a woman on staff in Hadley’s role. (Yes, they would have!)
I fell in love with Lowe Magnusson in his book. What qualities do you think every hero should have?
Lowe is a favorite character of mine. I like him because he’s confused his knack for inventing outrageous stories with feeling like he must lie to people he loves—and to himself. On the surface, he’s a charming scoundrel who treats everything like a game. But inside, he’s struggling with the death of his parents (in quite a different way than his brother Winter did, who is the hero of BITTER SPIRITS). He’s trying to be his own man, independent from his brother, and deep down he wants to be doing something important with his life—something that he can be proud of. He just goes about it the wrong way. I like that he’s flawed. Every hero should be, I think. I like my heroes to be these things: flawed (but willing to change), courageous (but not afraid to admit when they’re scared), honorable (even if they’re a criminal), proud (but not too proud to beg), and able to love the heroine for who she is—not what he wants her to be.
I have to say that I love your imagination! There doesn’t seem to be a limit to what your mind can conjure up! Where do you draw inspiration for your books?
Thank you! All of this is merely what bounces around in my strange little head. Everything around me is fodder for my books—including, but not limited to my friends, what I read online, where I’ve travelled, movies I love, and that weird lady at the grocery store.
Have you had time to read for your own personal enjoyment lately? If so, what book would you recommend to your readers?
I read every day. It’s just as important to my writing process as the actual typing in my manuscripts. I read everything, but what I enjoy the most is romance (all kinds), low fantasy (not high), and young adult (all genres, including contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery). I just read WE WERE LIARS, and it was brilliant, compelling, and heartbreaking. This summer, I’m most looking forward to WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (Outlander series) and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.
What’s next for Jenn Bennett?
Right now, I’m writing the third Roaring Twenties book, GRAVE PHANTOMS (Bo and Astrid’s HEA). It should be out in Spring 2015. The biggest release of my career will also be out next autumn, THE NIGHT OWLS, which is a character-driven, contemporary teen romance about two different kinds of artists, an anatomy illustrator and a graffiti artist. It’s my first hardcover book, and my first book to be translated into another language. My goal is to be able to write at least one teen book and one or two adult books a year. I feel like I’m just getting started, so who knows what’s down the road.
It’s the Roaring Twenties in foggy San Francisco. Prohibition is on, inhibitions are low, and dark magic is rolling into town…
Archaeologist Lowe Magnusson is packing something everyone wants. The djed amulet, a priceless Egyptian artifact, will fetch Lowe a hefty paycheck from one of San Francisco’s wealthiest. But when the handsome Swede runs into his patron’s uptight daughter, what he once considered easy money becomes maddeningly complicated…
Cursed with deadly spirits as her constant companions, curator Hadley Bacall must keep calm to hold her dangerous specters at bay and prevent them from lashing out at anything—or anyone. Trouble is, Lowe is driving her crazy, but her father needs the artifact he’s transporting. While Hadley can feel the amulet’s power, she can’t fathom the destruction—or the desire—it’s about to stir up.
This is a scene in which the hero, Lowe, is trying to talk the cool, proper Hadley into riding on the back of his motorcycle:
Before she could protest, he called out to the kitchen, informing them that he’d be home later. Then he shucked off his tuxedo jacket and exchanged it for a leather one, snagged from a coat rack. “This way.” He steered her into a hall that led to a covered side porch. On the other side of the railing stretched a driveway packed with cars. But Lowe was striding toward a poppy red motorcycle.
“What are you doing?”
“Dusting off the passenger seat,” he said, brushing a small plank of wood that floated above the back tire. The rickety thing looked to be held in place by a few spindly scraps of metal and a couple of nuts and bolts.
“I’m not riding on that. Are you crazy?”
“Don’t call her a ‘that.’ This is Lulu, and she’s a custom-made Indian motorcycle. Goes ninety miles an hour on a straightaway. But no need to worry—I don’t push her like that in the city. Besides, Astrid rides with me all the time on the second seat.”
Lulu? How ridiculous. “My dress—”
“Will be protected by that million-dollar fur of yours. Just pull it tight around your legs so it doesn’t get caught up in the wheel.”
“There are several respectable cars here. Surely we can take one of them.”
“Thought you wanted to be treated like a man, not a princess.”
She stared at him for a long moment. Her emotions hovered between frustration and fear.
“Come on,” he urged. It’s perfectly safe.”
She highly doubted that.
A dangerous smile tugged at his mouth. “I’ll go slow.”
Ms. Bennett is giving away a signed copy of any one of her books in print,
reader’s choice, US/Canada only
(unsigned copy to international readers, anywhere that Bookdepository.com delivers).
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