Mystery, danger, supernatural beings and a strong female lead to bring it all together. These are the things that make up the novels of E.J. Stevens. The acclaimed author sits down with LuxeLifeATL to discuss her past works, upcoming novels, writing a strong female lead character in her genre, and her experience at this year’s DragonCon.
How long have you been writing? When did you start on your first novel and what made you choose to write in the paranormal and urban fantasy genres?
I’ve been writing professionally for 7 years, but I have enjoyed writing my entire life. I started writing my first published novel, the first book in the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal series, in 2010. The book was inspired by an experience I had while walking my dog. I was passing by a small cemetery in the woods when I was encountered the strong scent of a man’s cologne. I spun around, but there was no one else in sight. That’s when I began to wonder about the different ways in which a person might experience a ghostly visitation. I went home and immediately began working on a novel about a teen girl who began to sense ghosts, initially through smell impressions that gave her clues about the deceased and what they wanted from her.
Where do you find most of your inspiration for your tales?
I’ve done extensive research into folklore and mythology, and I have a love of dark folktales. The creatures in the world of Ivy Granger, including the Ivy Granger Psychic Detective series and the Hunters’ Guild series, are all inspired in some way by the monsters found in traditional folklore.
What authors have been your biggest influences?
As a child, I was ravenous for stories of the supernatural and of the macabre. My biggest influences are Edgar Allan Poe, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Arthur Conan Doyle. The influence of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskerville’s will be most evident in my upcoming Victorian horror series, the Whitechapel Paranormal Society, releasing in 2017.
Out of all of your books, which one was the most fun to write and which was the most challenging?
The novella Club Nexus was the most fun to write. The story captures one night in the supernatural underworld of Harborsmouth’s Club Nexus and is told as four interwoven short stories in a Roshomonesque fashion. Iced, Dusted, Jinxed, and Demonized are each told from a different point of view, that of an Unseelie faerie, a rogue vampire, a human, and a demon. The overlapping stories posed an enjoyable puzzle to solve, giving the reader a bit more insight into the events with each story, and I enjoyed writing from the point of view of characters other than the heroine Ivy Granger.
My most ambitious project was the first novel in the Hunters’ Guild series. Hunting in Bruges required in-depth historical research and a research trip to Belgium. Interweaving the bloody events of Belgian and French history into the Ivy Granger world and populating the quaint canal city of Bruges with supernatural monsters was a wonderful challenge. Immortal faeries and undead vampires are the only logical explanation for the nocturnal battles and feuds that span centuries, right?
Ivy Granger is the main character of your ongoing series. What do you keep in mind when writing a fantasy series while creating a strong female lead that may be inspirational to young female readers?
While Ivy is indeed the most popular, all of my series, the Spirit Guide series, Ivy Granger series, Hunters’ Guild series and upcoming Whitechapel Paranormal Society series, feature a strong female protagonist. I believe that representation is important in fiction, and populating my stories with strong female characters is intentional. I like to send the message that we do not always need saving. In my books, the princess is the one to save the day.
You were in attendance at this year’s DragonCon in Atlanta; What was it like getting to meet up with not only fans of your work, but also fellow fans of your genre?
I’m frequently on tour, but I never tire of meeting fans and new readers. Dragon Con was a wonderful experience. I was on over ten panels this year, and I was amazed at the enthusiasm from fans at every panel, no matter how early or late in the day.
What is your most memorable moment from a convention or book signing?
I once had a grown man run to my table shouting, “Squeee! E.J. Stevens!” and proceed to tell me how much he loved my books. He was bouncing from foot to foot and his enthusiasm was as contagious as it was surprising.
I’ve published 15 speculative fiction books, but I am still surprised when I learn that someone has traveled a long distance and waited in line to see me. These interactions are what inspire me and drive me to continue to write every day.
You’ve recently finished and released Ivy Granger’s latest adventure with Hound’s Bite. What can we expect from your next novel?
In Hound’s Bite, Ivy has returned from Faerie, but her homecoming is cut short when she realizes that she has accidentally allowed a terrifying supernatural foe to follow her into the human world. Ivy must rally her allies to defend the city of Harborsmouth against its greatest threat—the Wild Hunt.
Tales from Harborsmouth, an Ivy Granger world anthology, releases in February and contains a story that will shed light on what happens to the demon Forneus when he faces a nest of vampires in Hound’s Bite.
Ivy Granger returns in July 2017 with the novel Blood Rite and must face the repercussions of her battle in the novel Burning Bright. When monstrous creatures resembling circus clowns are reported on the city streets, Ivy must enter the smoldering remains of Harborsmouth’s carnival and survive a ghost from her past.
2017 will also see the release of my Victorian “dreadpunk” horror series, the Whitechapel Paranormal Society. Eeper Weeper is scheduled to release in June and One for Sorrow is scheduled to release in September.