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Friday, October 18, 2013

Multi-Blogger Interview: The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite ones. I know that I'm not the only one. So I was ecstatic when Bastard, Kristen, Maja & Melissa agreed to be a part of this interview. This series has captivated all of us & my heartfelt thanks to all four of them for their time, enthusiasm & answers. So read ahead to see what each of them thinks about this amazing series (WARNING: Mild spoilers for books 1-5 so don't read ahead if you haven't read the books yet and dislike spoilers!)

Q] Thank you to all of you for agreeing to participate in this interview. Could you tell us how each of you discovered this wonderful series? 

Kristen: Thank you for inviting me to participate! Kate Daniels is one of my favorite series, and these are books I love to discuss. I discovered the Kate Daniels series the way I’ve discovered many of the books I’ve enjoyed over the last few years—by recommendations from other book bloggers. Angie from Angieville in particular was influential in making me want to pick up these books; her enthusiasm for series she loves is contagious and she has excellent taste!

I’m very grateful that many people who recommended me the Kate Daniels series told me I had to read the third book even if I wasn’t crazy about the first two. While I did enjoy the first book, I may not have picked up the next two books quite as quickly had I not been so eager to read this amazing third book I kept hearing about—and I was completely addicted to the series for life once I did!

Maja: I discovered Kate the same way I discovered all my urban fantasy series at the beginning – it was recommended to me by a friend on GoodReads. By the time Kate came my way, I’d already read so much UF in such a short time, my head was practically spinning 24/7. But even amidst all that great UF, she clearly stood out.

Melissa: Thank you for inviting me to share about a series I’ve fallen in love with.

Aaah, well… I was a late comer to the Kate Daniels series. I…was slacking and can kick myself for taking so long. Although, the good side, I was able to go right to the next book with no wait for the first 5 books. Now, I’m with the rest of the world waiting for the magic Ilona and Gordon create.

It took about…three authors and three bloggers, one of which gifted me Magic Bites, to guilt me into loving these characters and world with them. Now, I’m thankful to be part of this amazing circle of fans.

Bastard: Well I discovered it through you, Mihir. That’s the short, the long, and the boring answer. Oh, I used my computer with internet connection.

Not that I wouldn’t have discovered it without your help on my own eventually, of course. So don’t even think of gloating, or I’ll hunt you down.

Q] Among the six books released so far, which one is your favorite and why? 

Kristen: It’s a really close call between Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds, but I’m going to have to go with Magic Strikes. This was the book that completely hooked me on reading the series, and it’s also the one I found most riveting from start to finish. Kate’s sense of humor and narrative voice pulled me in from the first page, and I loved reading about her interactions with all the other characters from Andrea to Curran to Saiman. I also really liked the focus on the Midnight Games, and all of the fight scenes kept me on the edge of my seat even though I often find lots of action scenes dull.

Plus Kate finally, FINALLY, revealed why she was so worried about traces of her blood and filled in more of her history. I really loved how Ilona Andrews handled the mysteries surrounding Kate—as Kate began opening up more to the people around her in the books, she also began opening up to the reader by disclosing more information about herself.

The short version: I loved everything about Magic Strikes and consider it one of my favorite books in the world.

Maja: Oh, that would be Magic Bleeds (book 4, for those of you who don’t know). First, a very superficial reason: it’s the longest. More time with Kate equals more happiness on my part. Aside from that, it is by far the most emotional and the most satisfying of them all. The stakes are high, the emotional investment is huge, and Kate is clearly at her best, even when she’s drugged and bleeding. I think this is where I truly understood Kate as a character for the very first time and I got to see the absolute best side of her.

Melissa: Hmm, each has its own specialty to it. But, for some reason I’m partial to the area fighting in Magic Strikes. Not only was there amazing action, we got to see many characters step up with their special gifts, Saiman in his true form, and Curran with Kate getting a bit more complicated. But, Kate proves herself a true Alpha with the leadership she has over the crew that goes in to the fighting ring. This one also raises the stakes for Kate and her history along with the story line.

Bastard: I think it has to be without a doubt Magic Strikes. For me it carried the same weight that Grave Peril did for The Dresden Files, which coincidentally is the 3rd novel in the series too. It’s my “acid test” novel when I recommend the series to others; I implore them to at least read until book 3 and decide from there if they want to continue or not. Of course, most seem to enjoy them since the beginning, but for those who don’t and are fans of urban fantasy, please give until the 3rd novel a try.

Magic Strikes just took the series to another level, and to me it’s where the series took a big leap in quality and interest. And of course, the action was fantastic in this one with lots of kickass scenes. It didn’t stop with Kate alone; the supporting cast stepped up too solidifying the Kate Daniels roster. If there’s one thing that can rival the action here, it’s the great character interaction. Magic Strikes delivered on the series potential and cemented the series among my favorites.

Q] The series’ main antagonist Roland hasn’t made an appearance yet but there are many theories about him and his past. Do you have any theories bout him or if you had to guess his identity, what would be your most educated one? 

Kristen: Magic Bleeds dropped a lot of hints about Roland’s identity and ever since reading the scene where Kate tells the story of the first vampire, I’ve been convinced that Roland was formerly known as Nimrod. Kate connected Roland’s story to both the Bible and writings by Jewish scholars, plus she says that Roland has a son she refers to as Abe with two sons known as Jacob and Esau. That in itself seems fitting with a king from the Old Testament whom Abraham is supposed to be descended from.

Nimrod is also associated with the Tower of Babel, and given that Roland’s known for building towers, I suspect he was the builder of the Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel is also supposed to have resulted in numerous languages, and one of Kate’s abilities involves power words, which makes me wonder if perhaps these words are so powerful because they were from the first language before the fall of the Tower of Babel.

Maja: To say that I have a right to make educated guesses in this case would be pure insanity. I have a huge amount of knowledge on Greek mythology because it’s impossible to get a Master’s degree in literature in Europe and avoid it, but everything else I know comes either from Ilona and Gordon, or Kevin Hearne. But at the end of the day, I don’t think it matters that much. And I’m still not convinced that we know all there is to know about him. Remember Erra mentioning moments of sentimentality?

There were a few hints here and there that opened up the possibility of him being a bit more nuanced; not the Big Bad we all think he is, or not only that. After all, everything Kate thought she knew about her family ended up being wrong, or at least a matter of perspective, so why not this too? I don't know, perhaps it's just my idealistic nature shining through, but I have a feeling he might surprise us somehow. After approx. two thousand pages of nothing but stories about him, each more terrifying than the last, my hope is that things won't be quite as straightforward as we expect.

If anyone can pull it off, it's Ilona and Gordon. Oh, and I do hope he has a sense of humor. It must run in the family.

Melissa: There is a great deal of mythology in the world Kate lives in. We see many of it come to life through each book. And each book is a new major player in powers. As to who or what Roland is, I’m not sure. I hate to admit it but I don’t know enough about mythology to make an educated guess. But man, am I looking forward to Roland's showdown with Kate, Curran, and their pack.

Bastard: Honestly? I haven’t given it any thought. I’ll let others theorize and guess at his identity, but I really don’t care that much to try and figure out who he is. While it might be fun, ultimately I feel it’s a foolish errand. But to each his own. When it’s revealed, I’ll try and look back at all the hints and evidence that was there, but otherwise, I’m quite content to not dwell on it. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Q] Now with Kate Daniels being such a fantastic POV character, it’s no wonder that the series has so many fans. However the authors have also created a wonderful side cast. So who’s your favorite character besides Kate in the series and why? 

Kristen: One aspect of the series I love is that the secondary characters are so well-developed with their own personalities. It’s tough to pick a favorite, but I think my current favorite secondary character is one of the newer ones: Roman, a volhv of Chernobog. On the surface, he is the stereotypical villain. He is the servant of a god Kate refers to as the god of “Everything Bad and Evil,” and he even looks evil according to both Kate and Andrea. Yet he’s actually a personable, fun sort of guy with a sense of humor who treats being a servant of darkness as a 9 to 5 job. I love this combination of darkness and light and think it makes him a really unique, interesting character.

(This answer may be cheating a bit since much of what I know about Roman is from Gunmetal Magic, the spin-off book about Andrea, instead of one of the Kate-centered books, but I was intrigued by Roman when he was first introduced in Magic Slays and glad to see him show up again.)

Maja: Oh, that would be Aunt B. She is such a strong presence and she takes over the scene whenever she shows up. I enjoy her machinations so much, and even more, I enjoy that she’s extremely violent, but also this loving, grandmotherly type at the same time. I adore Derek too, of course. He is a fascinating character and the more we learn about him, the more I love him.

Melissa: So many love Curran, and the banter he carries on with Kate is amazing. And I love that it doesn’t fall flat with being a couple. But as the side cast…gah, that’s hard! I very much enjoy Derek. He’s come a long way, and still has a far stretch to go in life. I even found I really enjoyed Roman and Hugh in the latest books. I have to say the personality of all the characters is very strong, and is part of the magic to love here.

Bastard: I’d be tempted to say Curran or maybe Derek, but I still have to go with Julie. I’m a big fan of hers. I have a love and hate relationship with kids in novels, as some can be quite the little shits and annoying as fuck, but I really have a soft spot for those that I find to be awesome. And Julie certainly falls into the latter. I also like when kids kick some ass.

I really like her attitude, though I’m aware we’ve barely begun scrapping the surface of Julie’s character, I think there’s some real potential here and a lot more to her than we’re aware of at the moment. When the authors were considering making a spin-off, Julie was my choice for it.

If I’m recalling correctly, I think they even tried making one. They were going Young Adult with it, though I don’t think that’s necessary, nor would it be my preference. Don’t see the need for avoiding making an adult urban fantasy novel merely because the protagonist is a kid. But we’ll see what role she plays in the future. After the events of Magic Slays (book 5), I’ve been very curious of what’s going to happen with her; storyline’s brimming with potential in my opinion.

Q] What moment in the books so far has been the most surprising or most enjoyable? 

Kristen: There are a LOT of surprising and enjoyable moments! I think the moment that stuck with me the most was when Kate used her power to save Curran in the arena toward the end of Magic Strikes. Kate’s been trying to hide that she’s Roland’s daughter her entire life, yet she does this with Hugh d’Ambray watching, knowing it will give away her secret. It’s already a very tense scene, wondering what will happen to Kate, but I think it also showed a lot about the changes she’s undergone since the first book in the series. But I’m also partial to the intense Kate vs. Hugh swordfight in Magic Rises!

Maja: The fights in the Midnight Games (book 3) were an absolute delight! That’s when the series went from great to absolutely perfect for me. It’s the starting point of my addiction. :)

Then there is Kate’s fight with Erra (book 4) in front of her apartment. Where else can you find a fight that starts with a tea and a fairly pleasant conversation?

Melissa: Each book has an amazing scene or whole happenings that have caught my attention. I think the most surprising moment is the first time we see Saiman in his true form. I never thought that was what he was.

Bastard: I don’t think there’s much to surprise me at this point, but I’d say the most enjoyable moment for me was when Kate took control of the Pack when Curran was indisposed (book 4). It was a fantastic example of awesome scenic violence. Little to no talk, hard hitting, fast moving bloody action and violence in a way that displayed how much of a badass Kate is, and I don’t think anything before or after has really compared. Quite frankly, I’m disappointed in how rare it is to find these kinds of scenes in fiction, portrayed in this manner. So I take a lot of joy when I come across them, and cherish them.

Actually, I might have been a bit surprised on how deadly efficient Kate was against the Pack. Not because I questioned Kate’s skills, but I would’ve thought she would hold a bit back. But man did she fuck some characters up in there, some permanently and without prejudice. I was in reading bliss.

Can we get more of that? Thanks.

Q] If you had to ask one question to Ilona & Gordon after reading all the books, what would it be? 

Kristen: That’s a tough question! Part of me would like to ask them about Roland’s identity, but I’d really rather wait and read it when it’s revealed in one of the books. I’d love to know more about their research, how they choose myths, and how they decide to incorporate them into the story since I love how they tie different mythologies into the books. I’d also like to ask them about their approach to writing fights since they have a rare gift for writing memorable clashes. I’d be interested in learning more about on their collaborative process and how they handle disagreements about what should happen in the books. But I guess what I would most want to know is…

When can I read the next book?

Maja: Is it stupid to hope for a spin-off series with Derek at its center? No, seriously now, they are so present on the internet and so good to their fans that they pretty much answer all my questions before I even think to ask them.

Melissa: I’ve probably missed the answer to this in my reading, but wanted to solve it for my own peace of mind. At the end of Magic Strikes, Kate lost a lot of blood in that cage and had made blood spikes that dissipate into black dust. Is this all the blood she lost, or some of it and if some of it what happened to any of the blood left behind?

Bastard: Why the heck did you try to end the series prematurely?! Please don’t do it again.

I mean, after Magic Slays was published it seemed like the plan was for a spin-off novel and two more novels in the Kate Daniels sequence to finish it up. But anyone who’s been following the series could tell that there was no way to close the series appropriately within those limits. I don’t know what led to those circumstances, but I’m just glad we get a bit (a lot?) more of Kate Daniels for the time being.



Kristen's Bio - Kristen Bell is a web developer at the end of the Internet, aka rural Maine. From this corner of the web she writes Fantasy Cafe, a site dedicated to discussion and reviews of fantasy and science fiction books.

Maja's Bio - Maja is a 29-year-old mother and philologist, owner of The Nocturnal Library book blog. When she's not accompanying her favorite characters on their exciting journeys, she's usually at home, baking muffins and thinking about linguistics, which is both her job and her favorite thing in the universe. She mostly reads and reviews Young Adult literature, but Urban Fantasy will always be her first choice.

Melissa's Bio - A fantasy reader looking to escape from the mundane paper shuffle of daylight. Dark falls and I get to enjoy the many journeys through fantasy worlds of all sorts (along with lunch hour). I have a family who shakes their heads at me, as I always have my nose buried in a book, and two German Shepherds at my call. I prefer to live in my own version of the world, no matter how weird and distorted it is -- there is always magic there to explore, hence the blog name My words and pages.

Bastard's Bio - Bastard from Bastard Books and other crap, always hated reading until he got bored one Summer and decided that a fantasy novel would go nicely with a beer six pack while relaxing on the beach. Now he reads as much as he can, whether he's bored or not; whether he has a beer at hand or not.

NOTE: Kate Daniels series cover montage courtesy of Paranormal Book Lovers. Roland (Shadow) picture courtesy of Shadowthief. Wereanimals picture courtesy of Adam Syborski. Kristen, Maja, Melissa & Bastard's pictures courtesy themselves. All other pictures courtesy of Ilona Andrews.


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Hahaha, seems like most of use loved the same book the most. Awesome interview. Loved hearing others thoughts. :D Thank you for having me by Mihir! :)

And I thought you were going to join in as well?

The Reader said...

Hi Melissa,

Glad you enjoyed it & yes Magic Strikes seems to be consensual best it seems :)

I have a feeling though Magic Breaks (book 7) might just top that in some way.

Naah, it didn't seem right for me as an interviewer to jump in. I think it works great this way :)


Ilona Andrews said...

::waves:: Gordon and I terribly flattered. I honestly don't know what to say. Thank you for reading the books and thinking about them. It makes everything we do worthwhile.

Kristen: "I’d love to know more about their research, how they choose myths, and how they decide to incorporate them into the story since I love how they tie different mythologies into the books. I’d also like to ask them about their approach to writing fights since they have a rare gift for writing memorable clashes. I’d be interested in learning more about on their collaborative process and how they handle disagreements about what should happen in the books. But I guess what I would most want to know is… When can I read the next book?"

We choose mythologies somewhat organically. For Magic Burns, we knew we wanted to have the cauldron, which locked us into Celtic mythology. For Magic Strikes, when it became apparent that we wanted to have a jewel in the center of the story, for some reason both of us defaulted to Jungle Book. There is this gorgeous story about Mowgli finding the lost treasure guarded by an ancient cobra, so we thought why not India? Such a rich mythology and for some odd reason, so seldom used. Andrea is a hyena, so Egyptian mythology was geographically plausible. As to the fight scenes, like sex scenes, they are only interesting if there is emotion involved.

Magic Breaks is currently scheduled for mid-summer 2014.

Maja: Is it stupid to hope for a spin-off series with Derek at its center?

No, it's not, but it probably wouldn't happen in the near future. Derek is also a difficult view point character. Damaged, stubborn, funny, independent. He would be hard to write well.

Melissa: I’ve probably missed the answer to this in my reading, but wanted to solve it for my own peace of mind. At the end of Magic Strikes, Kate lost a lot of blood in that cage and had made blood spikes that dissipate into black dust. Is this all the blood she lost, or some of it and if some of it what happened to any of the blood left behind?

Yes, she used up all of the blood she had for the spikes. She had very little control over her powers at that point, so she just spent whatever she had.

Bastard: Why the heck did you try to end the series prematurely?! Please don’t do it again.

Well, it was planned as trilogy. Then it became seven books. Now it's ten. I wouldn't say it was a premature ending. :)

mk said...

Oh, I really enjoyed this post! I LoVE Ilona Andrews books!!,

The Reader said...

Many thanks for stopping by & answering the questions Ilona :)


Blodeuedd said...

Great post everyone :D

I do love these books and yes I neeed to know about Roland

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Thank you again Mihir.

And thank you Ilona for stopping by to answer and share. :D It's great to learn a bit more of the series and the making with the myths. :)


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