Badass Book Reviews is super excited to welcome Jenn Bennett, author of the incredible urban fantasy series “Arcadia Bell!” The series currently includes two books and a novella and the third book, Binding the Shadows, releases tomorrow, May 28th. Jenn has stopped by today to talk about Arcadia and Lon (and of course Jupe!) and to give us a peek into her newest novel. Be sure to pre-order your copy today! Come back tomorrow for our early review of the book, our favorite in the series.
The Magical World of Arcadia Bell
BadassBookReviews: Welcome to our blog, Jenn, and congratulations on your newest release! Do you have anything special planned for Binding the Shadows’ release day?
Jenn Bennett: Thanks for having me on your blog! For release day, I’ll be doing what I’ve been doing for the last month: holed up in my office writing Arcadia #4, madly trying to make my deadline. And maybe collapsing in a heap.
BaBR: Could you give us a short overview of the series, just in case some of our readers haven’t experienced Cady’s world yet?
JB: Arcadia (Cady) is a mage—or a magician, as she calls herself—who co-owns a demon-friendly tiki bar on the coast of Central California near Big Sur. Her parents were infamous occultists accused of murder, so Cady’s been living under an alias all her adult life. The books start when she teams up with an Earthbound demon, Lon Butler, to solve a mystery surrounding her family, and ends up forming a bond with with Lon and his teenage son, Jupe.
BaBR: Without giving away too much, can you tell us about your favorite scene in Binding the Shadows or maybe about the one that was the most difficult to write?
JB: My favorite scenes are the quiet ones with Cady and Lon—when they are teasing each other, or fighting about why he brought a gun when she told him not to, or when he’s jealous of some random guy she dated. The most difficult scenes to write were the last couple in the book. Those nearly killed me, and I cried a little every time I had to re-read them for copy edits, etc. Even now, just thinking about them makes me a little verklempt!
BaBR: Your Earthbound demons are identified by halos that only other demons can see. It’s a very interesting play on the traditional demonology and angelology lore. How did you come up with this idea for your world?
JB: I like it when mythologies are shaken up, I suppose. In Cady’s world, demons aren’t necessarily the bad guys. They are like everyone else: some demons are good, some bad, but most of them are a little of both.
BaBR: Speaking of the demons, each one has a different knack or talent. Is it fun coming up with different knacks for your characters? Do you ever worry about running out of new knacks?
JB: I love dreaming up new knacks, especially ones that are little different, like Hajo’s death-dowsing knack, or Kar Yee’s fear knack. I try to really get inside my characters’ heads and think about how those knacks would impact their lives—how they would change their personalities. And that’s more interesting to me than the knack itself. For instance, Hajo is constantly sensing dead bodies everywhere he goes: rats in the sewers, dead birds, graves. All that death depresses him, so self-medicates with drugs to dull his knack. And being constantly exposed to death makes him feel vulnerable, so acts like an ass to make himself feel stronger and tougher.
BaBR: There are so many fabulous things in the Arcadia Bell series, but my co-blogger AH is absolutely in love with Lon Butler’s house. Did you base it on a real house or a picture or drawing you’ve seen? What inspired you to use the beautiful California coastline as a setting?
JB: It’s partially based on my love of midcentury modern design sensibilities, and you can see elements of what influenced it in James Mason’s house in NORTH BY NORTHWEST, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater house. As far as where it’s located, I really wanted to pick a locale that would be unusual for an urban fantasy—Cady is an unusual heroine, and she needed to be in an unusual setting. I ended up gravitating toward Central California, just north of Big Sur, with its craggy coastlines and interesting towns like Carmel (La Sirena) and Monterey (Morella).
BaBR: Cady and Lon have a beautiful relationship built on mutual trust and respect. They are actually one of my favorite UF couples of all time! Did you plan to bring them together right from the start or did the roguish Mr. Butler worm his way in as you were writing?
JB: Wow, thanks! I specifically wanted to write about Lon and Cady as a couple throughout the books. I wanted to avoid a love triangle, and instead have tried to bring conflict into their relationship in a more natural way—insecurities about each other’s pasts, their age difference, the fact that he’s a single dad raising a teenage son from a previous marriage. Those things were more interesting to me as a writer than “which man do I love more?”
BaBR: We can’t mention Cady and Lon without bringing up Jupe! He has definitely become a standout character in the last book and novella and his “relationship” with Kar Yee is a hoot and a half. Will Jupe continue to develop his knack and slowly become an even more prominent figure within the books or will Cady continue to try and keep him out of the more dangerous parts of her life? You’ve made passing mention of a Jupe spin-off in the past. Is this something that may actually see the light of day?
JB: I would absolutely love to write a Jupe spin-off, but I haven’t had time to seriously consider it yet. The next book actually has entire portions written from Jupe’s POV, so readers will get a closer look into his wacky mindscape. I think Cady wants more than anything to protect Jupe, but he’s a stubborn kid. He’s going to get himself into danger. As far as Kar Yee, she’s one of my favorite underused characters. There’s a full Kar Yee back-story inside my head, and I’ve considered writing a novella about her and Hajo. We’ll see.
BaBR: Cady’s parents are some kind of interesting. Without spoiling anything, will their legacy continue to affect Cady in the coming books? Will Cady begin to tap into her Moonchild abilities more as well?
JB: Yes and yes!
BaBR: Cady brings the baggage with her family and Moonchild powers to their relationship, but Lon also brings his sordid past with the Hellfire Club. Will their members continue to have an influence in Cady and Lon’s life?
JB: The shadow cast by the Hellfire Club, and especially by Ambrose Dare, is a long one and exceedingly hard to get out from under. But in the next book, CROSSING THE ÆTHYR (May 2014), readers will meet a new Hellfire member, and Cady will find out that they’re not all monsters.
BaBR: Speaking of Lon’s baggage, do you have plans for his ex-wife to factor more heavily into the story at any point? Will we see her drop by to visit Jupe or Lon? Just for fun, who would you put money on if she and Cady ended up throwing down?
JB: Readers will find out the answer to these burning questions in BINDING THE SHADOWS, so I won’t spoil any of the fun.
BaBR: Did you base Cady or Lon physically on anyone? They both have some very distinguishing characteristics, from her two-toned hair to his old-school mustache. Who would you cast for their roles if your books were adapted for the big screen?
JB: Many readers have told me Lon reminds them of Johnny Depp, and I’ve got no argument there. My husband says Josh Holloway (Sawyer from LOST). I sort of picture Cady as a heavy metal version of Aubrey Plaza, or a younger Christina Scabbia from the band Lacuna Coil.
BaBR: How many books do you have planned in the Arcadia Bell series? I’ve seen the title of the next book announced as Crossing the Æthyr, but have you already started to write this next adventure? Do you see yourself releasing more novellas in the future as well?
JB: Yes, I’m currently writing Arcadia #4, CROSSING THE ÆTHYR—almost finished!—and it will definitely answer all the questions left dangling in BINDING THE SHADOWS. Right now, I’m crazy busy trying to finish this while also concentrating on other projects. As soon as I come up for air, I’ll have an answer!
BaBR: Do you like to read urban fantasies or do you try to stay away from the genre you write in? What genres are you most drawn to? What books are currently on your personal “To Be Read” pile?
JB: When I’m writing urban fantasy, I don’t read it—I really don’t want to be influenced by things other people are writing in that genre. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of historical romance (Sherry Thomas, Laura Kinsale, Joanna Bourne), some genre mashups (Meljean Brook, Kristin Callihan) young adult (Lalini Taylor, Stephanie Perkins). I just started reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series after falling in love with HBO’s GAME OF THRONES. And I can’t wait for the next Diana Gabaldon book.
BaBR: After the release of Binding the Shadows, what is next on your plate? Could you also share a little information about your new “Roaring Twenties” series coming in 2014 from Berkley Sensation?
JB: The “Roaring Twenties” project is a series of historical paranormal romance novels set in 1920s San Francisco. Think fog + seances + magical curses + mystery + 1920s decadence + the kinds of characters you are already used to seeing from me, just with more swoon-worthy romance and sexual tension! My editor called the first book “f***ing delightful.” That pretty much sums it up, I think. Each novel focuses on a different couple, but they’re all in the same universe and center on the same family—the Magnussons, a family of Swedish immigrants who’ve acquired wealth in San Francisco via bootlegging and other illegal activities—so you’ll see main characters from the first book popping up as secondary characters in the second book.
BaBR: Thank you for stopping by Badass Book Reviews today, Jenn, and good luck again with your newest release and upcoming series. I, personally, loved Binding the Shadows and cannot wait to read more very soon! That ending was killer!
JB: Thank you so much! Nothing makes me happier than readers who love my characters as much as I’ve loved creating them.
** Remember readers, Binding the Shadows — the newest “Arcadia Bell” book, releases tomorrow on May 28, 2013 and is now available for pre-order at your favorite retailer. Come back tomorrow for our early review where gushing will ensue! **
Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win one copy of Binding the Shadows by Jenn Bennett. This giveaway is open to all readers as long as Book Depository ships to your country. The contest will run from 27 May until 12:00 AM on 3 June.
About the Author
Jenn Bennett is an award-winning visual artist-turned-author. Born in Germany, she’s lived and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the US, and the Far East. She believes rebellion is an under-appreciated art form, has conjured more demons than you’ve had hot lunches, and likes her fairy tales like she likes her coffee: dark. She currently lives near Atlanta with her film-geek husband and two very bad pugs.
Find Jenn Bennett on the web:
In the third book in this beloved and “riveting” (Romantic Times) urban fantasy series, demon-friendly tiki bar owner Arcadia Bell discovers more about her own evolving, and possibly destructive, magical abilities when her bar is the target of a demonic crime wave.
Renegade mage and bartender Arcadia Bell has had a rough year, but now the door to her already unstable world is unhinging. When a citywide crime wave erupts, Cady’s demon-friendly tiki bar is robbed by Earthbounds wielding surreal demonic abilities that just flat-out shouldn’t exist. With the help of her devilishly delicious boyfriend, Lon Butler, Cady sets out to find the people who wronged her—but her targets aren’t the only ones experiencing unnatural metamorphoses. Can Cady track down the monsters responsible before the monster inside her destroys everything—and everyone—she loves? If she survives this adventure, one thing is certain: it’s last call for life as she knows it.
Read an Excerpt!
I scrambled through the second-story window and balanced on a square section of slanted roofing above a portico on the first floor. Lon followed, biting out obscenities. I’d never seen him move so fast. Fire is a good motivator.
We hugged the outer wall of the house, flanking both sides of the open window. A sharp night wind whipped my hair around my face and shoulders as I butted my shoulder against the siding.
Where is Merrimoth now? I thought.
“Left the room to search for the gun,” Lon said in a low voice.
I quickly surveyed our surroundings. A small balcony lay to our left, a couple of rooms away. I risked a glance below and got queasy watching the tide crash and foam around an outcropping of jagged rocks.
Merrimoth’s contemporary house was built on stilts over a lonely expanse of Pacific coast. The shoreline that stretched in front of us was studded with crags and driftwood and endangered sea otters, and maybe the occasional wet-suited surfer seeking a thrill. I was neither sea otter nor surfer, so I figured I had a one percent chance of surviving a dive into the threatening waters below.
Long strands of golden brown hair fluttered around the back of Lon’s neck as he leaned against the house and listened. Light from the still-burning fire radiated from the open window, creating dancing shadows that deepened the long hollows of his cheeks.
Like Merrimoth, Lon Butler is an Earthbound: demons on the inside, humans on the outside—with the small exception of a wispy halo of light that ﬂoated around their heads, marking them as “other.” When Lon was transmutated, his demonic halo morphed from the usual nebulous gold-speckled green cloud to an eruption of flames that licked around his head and shoulders. He also sprouted a pair of spiraling ram-like horns, which were currently making a disconcerting knocking sound when he leaned his head against the house.
“He thinks he’s spotted where the gun landed,” he whispered.
Lon’s damned Lupara. The vintage short-barreled shotgun was intimidating, illegal, and would occasionally misfire when dropped. He’d only managed one shot before Merrimoth took possession of the gun a couple of minutes ago. I’d shocked Merrimoth with charged Heka—natural magical energy kindled with electricity—causing the gun to fly out of his hand, and he retaliated by inexplicably creating a wall of fire across the room. Which is why we were now standing outside the window above a rocky shoreline when we should be sitting down to dinner.
Ambrose Dare, the very rich and very powerful head of the Hellfire Club, sent me here to put a metaphysical leash around Merrimoth’s neck after hearing reports that his Number Two Earthbound had gone mad. Not usually
my business or concern, but Dare was busy at some holiday fundraiser, and I was getting paid to care.
“We can’t stand here forever,” Lon said in a low voice.
No, we damn well couldn’t, but the alternative wasn’t exactly appealing. We could jump back inside the window and I could try to summon enough Heka to bind Merrimoth—hopefully before he found the gun or set us on fire. I longingly glanced at the nearby balcony. It was several feet away and connected to our roof by a slim ledge of cedar.
“Would it hold us?” Lon asked.
I tested it, easing the toe of my shoe on the ledge. Seemed strong enough, though it was awfully narrow. “I don’t know . . . .”
“Try to bind him again.”
“You think I’m not?” I whispered hotly.
My inherited moon power was stronger than it’d ever been, now that I was using it regularly, but that didn’t mean I understood the mechanics behind it. All I knew was that it damn sure didn’t work in the daytime, and—like the cable in Lon’s house on the cliffs—it often went on the fritz during storms.
Lon exhaled in frustration. Clever eyes studied mine as his index finger and thumb moved in unison to smooth the thin pirate mustache that trailed around his mouth and framed the matching triangle in the center of his chin. “Bind Merrimoth,” he finally said, “and I’ll do that thing you like later.”
“It’s not like my power reacts to the reward system,” I said, then added, “What thing?”
The corner of his mouth quirked. “On the chair.”
“You mean that thing you like?”
“We both like,” he corrected. “Win-win.”
I snorted a soft laugh. “I don’t think you understand the concept of bargaining.”
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