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Thursday, August 18, 2011

“First Frost” by Jennifer Estep w/Bonus Q&A (Reviewed & Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order “First Frost” HERE
Read An Excerpt HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Jennifer Estep has a Bachelor’s degree in English & Journalism, and a Master's in Professional Communications. Her bibliography includes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, the Mythos Academy YA urban fantasy series, and the Bigtime paranormal romance series. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and other writing groups.

ABOUT FIRST FROST: I am Gwen Frost, and I have a Gypsy gift. It’s called psychometry—that's a fancy way of saying that I see images in my head and get flashes of other people’s memories off almost everything I touch, even guys.

My gift makes me kind of nosy. Okay, okay, maybe a lot nosy—to the point of obsession sometimes. I want to know everything about everyone around me. But even I don't want to know the secrets my friend Paige is hiding or the terrible loss that will send me to a new school—Mythos Academy—where the teachers aren't preparing us for the SATs, but to battle Reapers of Chaos. Now I have no friends and no idea how my gift fits in with all these warrior whiz kids. The only thing I do know is that my life is never, ever going to be the same...

FORMAT/INFO: First Frost is a prequel short story, available as an e-exclusive. Narration is in the first-person, exclusively via the protagonist Gwen Frost. It is self-contained, but leads into the Mythos Academy series. First Frost was released on July 1, 2011.

ANALYSIS: Having read and enjoyed Touch of Frost, the opening volume in Jennifer Estep’s new YA series, I was very much interested in the prequel short story since its events are alluded to in the first Mythos Academy novel.

First Frost occurs a few weeks before Touch of Frost, introducing readers to Gwen Frost, her gift of psychometry, and the events that led to Gwen’s admission into the Mythos Academy, where kids between the age of sixteen and twenty-one are trained in various arts (magical, martial, etc.) to become defenders of humanity against the Reapers of Chaos who are trying to free their master Loki.

Since First Frost is referenced to in Touch of Frost, the prequel short story is not required reading, but it does explain a crucial part of Gwen Frost’s background. Plus, First Frost is fun to read, leads directly into Touch of Frost, and provides readers with a taste of what to expect in the Mythos Academy series...

NOTE: I will be reviewing Touch of Frost in the forthcoming weeks. In the meantime, included below is a short Q&A with Jennifer Estep which talks more the Mythos Academy series, its mythological roots, the future of the series and more...

BONUS INTERVIEW — Q&A with Jennifer Estep:

Q: Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions Jennifer! Let’s begin. After writing a paranormal romance series and a dark urban fantasy revenge saga, why did you decide to write a YA series next?

Jennifer: Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I appreciate it.

I just had an idea for a story that I thought would work better as a YA book than as an adult book. Plus, YA is one genre that everyone seems to be reading these days—teens, adults, parents, teachers, etc.—and that everyone gets excited about. There are so many great YA books and authors out there, and I wanted to add my story to the mix. Plus, you always want to grow and stretch yourself as a writer, and I thought writing a YA book would be a way to flex my creative muscles. So far, it’s been a fun challenge.

Q: Could you tell us about the inspiration(s) behind the creation of the Mythos Academy series and the world within it?

Jennifer: I’ve always loved mythology and the idea of all these gods, goddesses, heroes, monsters, and more battling it out. I remember watching the old Clash of the Titans when we would have movie days at school, and over the years, I’ve read and watch a lot of mythology-based stories, everything from The Iliad and The Odyssey to Xena: Warrior Princess and the movie 300.

One day, I just thought it would be cool to write my own mythology story with my own characters, myths, magic, and more, and put my own spin on things. That was the beginning of Touch of Frost and the rest of the Mythos Academy series.

Q: Can you tell us more about the protagonist Gwen Frost and why she is written in the first person?

Jennifer: I thought it would be interesting to write a story about a Gypsy girl who’s shipped off to a new school and is faced with all these things that she doesn’t really believe in, like gods, goddesses, Reapers of Chaos (my bad guys), and mythological monsters. Gwen is definitely skeptical about all the magic mumbo jumbo, as she calls it, that goes on at Mythos Academy, but she quickly realizes that monsters and Reapers of Chaos do exist—and that she’s been gifted with magic that can help stop them.

All of my books so far are first person. It’s just the narrative voice that I like the best and the one that really lets me get inside my heroine’s head.

Q: While Gwen is obviously the star of the show, I felt you did a very good job with the supporting cast—Daphne, Carson etc. Which supporting character has surprised you the most and who should readers pay attention to in future volumes?

Jennifer: Thanks. I appreciate that. I have my core group of four characters—Gwen; Daphne Cruz, a Valkyrie; Carson Callahan, a band geek and Celt; and Logan Quinn, a deadly Spartan warrior. The relationships between them will be a big part of the books.

Also, I think folks will like Vic a lot. Vic appears in the latter part of Touch of Frost, and he’s a really bloodthirsty character who wants to kill Reapers of Chaos more than anything else. Plus, he’s got attitudes and opinions to spare. Vic was just a really fun character for me to write.

Q: There’s a lot of mythology in the Mythos Academy. How did you decide which mythology to use in your series?

Jennifer: I’m using a lot of Greek and Norse mythology since that’s what I’m most familiar with. I picked the gods, goddesses, warriors, monsters, and more that I thought were interesting—the ones that I thought I could put my own spin on and that would fit in well with the overall story that I wanted to tell about Gwen—and how she’s stronger and more of a warrior than she ever thought she could be.

Q: Earlier you mentioned the Reapers of Chaos who are the ‘bad guys’ of the series. Their chief is Loki, who was recently portrayed by Tom Hiddeston in the movie Thor. What did you think of Hiddleston’s performance and how does your interpretation of Loki differ/compare to the movie version?

Jennifer: I thought Hiddleston did a good job portraying Loki. He was very sly and sneaky and definitely had that conniving, trickster air about him. He was very convincing—everything he said was perfectly reasonable even though you knew that he was only out to help himself. Hiddleston’s Loki is the kind of character who will lure you in and make you think that he’s on your side—right before he stabs you in the back. I’m looking forward to seeing Hiddleston as Loki again next year in The Avengers movie.

Readers don’t get to see Loki in First Frost or Touch of Frost, since he’s locked away in his mythological prison. But I would say that my Loki is definitely much more in-your-face, hardcore evil. You know he’s the bad guy from the very beginning, and he’s not shy about wanting my heroine Gwen dead—and wanting his Reapers of Chaos to do the job for him.

Q: What did you think of the other Norse mythology portrayed in the Thor movie? How does it compare to your own interpretation in the Mythos Academy series?

Jennifer: I thought it was definitely more of a comic book-type movie than a mythology movie, but it was supposed to be that way. I enjoyed seeing the writers’ and filmmakers’ take on Asgard, Thor’s hammer, and things like that. I thought it was an entertaining movie.

Most of the action in my books takes place on the campus of Mythos Academy, which is located in the fictional town of Cypress Mountain, North Carolina, supposedly not too far away from Asheville. So it’s definitely more of a private school setting as opposed to this grand, magical city that you see in the movie Thor. But I hope that folks enjoy my take on things.

Q: Regarding the Mythos Academy series, how many volumes are planned and what’s the release schedule look like?

Jennifer: Right now, I’m under contract for three books—Touch of Frost, Kiss of Frost, and Dark Frost. There is also a prequel e-story to the series called First Frost. I’m hoping to write five or maybe even seven books in the series. That will let me finish out the main story arc with Gwen and her friends battling Loki and his Reapers of Chaos.

First Frost is available now along with Touch of Frost. Kiss of Frost, the second book in the series, will be out on Nov. 29, and Dark Frost will be released in 2012. So the books will be out fairly close together.

Q: Will you be releasing any more short stories like First Frost?

Jennifer: I hope to write at least one short story to go along with each one of the Mythos Academy books, but it depends on my writing schedule and the time that I have available. I’m going to try my best, though.

Q: Lastly, can you tell us a bit about Touch of Frost (book 1) and Kiss of Frost (book 2) and what readers can expect?

Jennifer: Of course. 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.

In Touch of Frost, Gwen is getting used to going to a new school and trying to figure out how she fits in with the other warrior whiz kids, as she calls them. Gwen doesn’t think that she belongs at Mythos Academy, but when a girl is murdered in the Library of Antiquities, Gwen decides to use her psychometry magic to figure out who killed the girl and why. She gets into a lot of trouble along the way. Basically, Touch of Frost features myths, magic, monsters, and mean girls.

In Kiss of Frost, Gwen deals with the fallout of what happened in the first book (which I won’t spoil here), and the various ways that her relationships with the other characters grow and change—especially with Logan, the love interest. Also in Kiss of Frost, Gwen realizes that a Reaper of Chaos is trying to kill her, and that if she doesn’t figure out who it is, the Reaper just might succeed...

Happy reading, everyone! ;-)


Bastard said...

Will read the interview later, but I have Touch of Frost with me, will read it in a couple of weeks. Looking forward to Spider's Revenge.

Mihir said...

You can read the Q&A B. it won't spoil TOF. It does give a good idea about the series background. I'm hoping Spider's Revenge is a good climatic book which will end Gin's revenge saga. Though the author has been contracted for books 6 & 7, I hope ends this arc well as otherwise I'll have to try to motivate myself harder to continue the series.


Bastard said...

I'm with you Mihir, I'm looking forward to close the Mab arc and interested in what direction the series will go on next. I fear that anything more in the Revenge Saga as you call it might stagnate the series, so really looking forward to it's conclusion. I don't know if you read the sample chapters at the end of the last book, but it seemed quite promising.


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