Ilona Andrews

Read more about Ilona Andrews.


Interview By: Zollyanna

Date: October 12, 2007

Ilona Andrews's Web Site

Interview

Hello Ilona and Gordan,

The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview

We would love to get to know you.

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?

Ilona: Let's see, I'm female, thirty-one, married, two children, 2 dogs, three cats. I was born in Russia and I speak with an accent. I'm a legal secretary by day and writer of Urban Fantasy by night. And that pretty much covers it.

Gordon: Well, I am 37, married to Ilona and coincidentally have the same # of children and pets as she does. I am from the Appalachian Mountains of N.C. but misplaced my hillbilly accent some time during my travels in South East Asia. I served in the Navy and the Army and now I am an H/R Coordinator for a firm in Savannah, Ga. Also, I have the strength of ten because my heart is pure.

How does it feel to co-write a book with your spouse?

Gordon: Like marriage, it is about cooperation and compromise while supporting the other person and realizing that many their strengths compliment or make up for your weaknesses.

Ilona: I can't imagine what it would be like to write one without him. I would give up somewhere around page 10.

How did you come up with the idea for Magic Bites?

Ilona: It's been so long, I'm not sure I remember. I think we were batting ideas around and I might have told Gordon about a mythical Slavic creature and we decided it would be a neat story.

Gordon: We ripped it off from Kolchak the Night Stalker. Ilona, can I say that? Ilona: No. Who is Kolchak?

If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?

Gordon: I would be Mahon the Bear of Atlanta, he is strong and steadfast. He is utterly devoted to the pack and has a moral code that is unshakable. Also he is completely and fiercely loyal to Curran.

Ilona: I would be Ravena. Ahhh, the power to melt men into a pile of goo with a mere look.

What's your favorite genre to read?

Ilona: I really enjoy science-thrillers like Relic and Codex. Although I have been reading a lot of paranormals lately.

Gordon: Heroic Fantasy and Detective novels.

Who or what influences you when you write?

Gordon: David Gemmell and Robert B. Parker. I also very much enjoy the graphic novels of Frank Miller and Alan Moore. Also anything in the Vertigo line, ie Hellblazer, Preacher, Lucifer.

Ilona: Everyone and everything. People, books, anime, films, art, architecture, planes. I will occasionally stop and wait as several radically different things glue themselves together into something in my head.

What do you do on a typical writing day?

Ilona: Aha! This is the part where I say that I leisurely stroll to my nearest coffee house, where I sit with high-tech laptop in a bohemian setting. No such, luck, heh. I get up at 5:30 a.m., I write a little. Either Gordon or I make breakfast, we feed the kids, Gordon leaves for work, I leave for work, kids walk off to school. Then we congregate at 5:00 p.m., when I make dinner. We eat, watch a Daily Show recorded on Tivo, do homework, then I write some more after kids go to bed. And that's my typical writing day. Occasionally I play World of Warcraft instead of writing.

Gordon: I am at the gym by 05:00, come home eat and hang out with Ilona until it is time to get ready for work. We contact each other via email during the day. Then we get home and it is pretty much what Ilona said.

When you have writer's block how do you break free?

Gordon: I go back to a book that had a profound influence on me and reread it. For instance A Clock Work Orange by Anthony Burgess or Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein. Sometimes it is something I read as a teen like Hotel New Hampshire or A Catskill Eagle.

Ilona: Typically when I have writer's block, it stems from one of three causes:

  1. I'm trying to force the narrative into the wrong direction. A subconscious part of me knows that what I am doing is wrong and is preventing me from proceeding. In those cases, cure is to let it sit for a little while, while I come up with an alternate route. Also I tend to talk at Gordon (not to, at) continuously in this stage. Anybody else in his place would tell me to shut up, but he loves me and, as he said, his heart is pure.
  1. I'm running on empty. This happens when I've been writing non-stop for awhile. There is only so much you can take out before you have to put things back in. Solution for me here is to read something, watch a movie, play a video game.
  1. Something is happening in my life to cause enough stress that I can't concentrate on my work. Being worried about money might be able to short-circuit the output, or being stressed out over illness of a family member. I have no idea how to deal with that last one.

Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?

Gordon: We have an odd project in the works, which we are calling the Wal-Mart Story, because it is Urban Fantasy but is devoid of vampires or werewolves. It is just its own weird thing and we're hoping to find a home for it.

Ilona: He gets to talk about interesting stuff. I guess I will do the marketing thing (takes a deep breath):

Magic Burns continues roughly two months or so after the events of Magic Bites. Kate is working as a liaison between the Order of Merciful Aid and the Mercenary Guild. As the city is grappling with an impending flare, a magic wave of enormous magnitude, Kate finds herself in the position when she must leverage the life of a little girl against the safety of the city.

We have an excerpt up at http://www.ilonaland.com/kate2.html. Come check it out.

Please tell us what you have planned next?

Ilona: Plan? Do we have a plan?

Gordon: I am going to Barnes and Noble tonight to buy more graphic novels and drink overpriced fancy coffee while I read them.

Ilona: I'm going with him! He promised to buy me more Meljean Brook and Nalini Singh books if I buy him more Grimjack.

In 5 years, where do you see yourself? -In general and in you're writing career

Gordon: I hope we are living in Canada and being full time writers and as much time with our teenage daughters as they will allow us, and I want to work in a comic shop just for fun.

Ilona: Writing full time and chasing off boys who will be besieging our daughters.

Who is your perfect hero/heroine? And why?

Ilona: That's a difficult question to answer. I am not sure I have one. I think heroes and heroines should be flawed, because perfection is not very interesting.

Gordon: The reluctant hero who is drawn unwillingly into events he or she has no previous knowledge of but must now sort out and save the world or whatever. They must adapt the new situation and overcome almost insurmountable opposition. Also in a nut shell Badger from the old First Comic series is still my favorite.

What do you do for inspiration?

Gordon: I would watch a movie probably.

Ilona: I watch anime, I read, I look at art.

Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?

Ilona: I would like to write a rrrrromance! With men in pooffy shirts and feathered hats.

Gordon: A by-the-book mystery, no magic just a two fisted wise cracking hero and perhaps some dames as well.

Ilona: He said dames, hehe.

What type of book have you always wanted to write?

Gordon: I think we write what we would like to read.

Ilona: I don't really think about it all that much. I guess I just sit down and write and try to categorize it later after it's done.

What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?

Ilona: Lots and lots of research. The internet is really an invaluable search tool. Most of the research revolves around weapons, locations, occasional completely random bits of information.

I like research, but research isn't writing. Writers will do all sorts of things to get out of writing. They will read a dictionary if given a choice. It's very easy to get carried away with research, because putting words down is hard work and research is easy. I remember I had to make up a leather outfit for Kate for the first book, and I spent hours on biker outfitter sights, trying to find a perfect leather jacket.

Gordon: Books are good, for example we are going to the store tonight to get book on Hindu mythology for the 3rd Kate book.

Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?

Gordon: You have to have deadlines, otherwise you will not sit down and do what you know you have to, I am a procrastinator by nature so it helps me.

Ilona: Help.

When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Ilona: I have the whole story on the website J. It's far too long to reiterate. I don't know that any particular specific person ever said to me, "Hey, you should try submitting this." For me it wasn't really a step, but rather the natural culmination of the writing process. I do know that a number of people have been extremely supportive of my efforts. Charles Coleman Finlay, who is a fantastic writer, in particular, always encouraged me to keep trying.

Gordon: What she said.

What would you like to tell your readers?

Gordon: I am so happy that you enjoy the books, we will continue do make them as long as you read them, and if one sucks, tell us.

Ilona: Thank you. Thank you so much. Being a writer is a lot more stressful than I had thought, but your emails make it all worthwhile.

What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?

Ilona: Best advice - Keep Writing. Worst Advice - Keep Writing.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

Gordon: We normally have it planned out with a beginning and an end so I guess it is pretty structured.

Ilona: Outline

Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?

Ilona: I used to be an active member of OWW. I met most of my writing friends at http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/. It was a tough learning experience, but it was worth it. Unfortunately, I barely have time to sleep anymore, let alone crit. L

Gordon: She pretty much answered it.

What was your first published work and when was it published?

Gordon: A weird story about Col. Sanders that I wrote for an English language paper while I was a student in Japan. That was back in 1988, so I had not yet met Ilona who was still a pre-teen (I am so old).

Ilona: It was a short story called "The Third Wish" in now defunct - I think - ezine Alternative Realities. We were paid $5.00

What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?

Ilona: We have everything.

Website: http://www.ilonaland.com Email: Ilona@ilonaland.com Blog: http://ilona_andrews.livejournal.com MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/ilona_andrews Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/unicorn-lane/

:falls down exhausted:

How can readers find out more about you and your books?

Ilona: They can read excerpts on our website, they can come and hang out with Gordon and I at the blog, or they can read the reviews :) Either way, come on down, guys, we'd love to have you.

Thanks Ilona and Gordan for taking the time to chat with us.

Zollyanna