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Talking with Faith Hunter about Jane Yellowrock's Tenth Adventure

Faith Hunter launched Jane Yellowrock's adventures in 2009 with the urban fantasy Skinwalker. In April, Jane Yellowrock hits a major milestone with the release of her tenth full-length novel, Shadow Rites.

Amazon Book ReviewWe touched base with Faith Hunter to talk about Jane's future, the Big Bads in Jane's life, Beast, and Hunter's new spinoff series that hits shelves in August.

Amazon Book Review: Book ten for Jane Yellowrock! What do you think readers want to know most as they pick up Jane's new adventure, Shadow Rites?

Faith Hunter: Jane Yellowrock's life is fascinating to me. She is charming and obnoxious and funny and she can solve problems in so many, variable ways. And then there's that whole backstory thing… Slaying vampires is child's play for a skinwalker like Jane. But handling the complicated politics of New Orleans' supernatural players is another situation entirely. Her big mouth and "slash first, think later" attitude can be problematic.

In Shadow Rites, Jane is keeping the peace between visiting groups of witches and the resident vamps, when trouble comes knocking on her doorstep. Her house is magically attacked, and the wild chase to find her assailants unearths a mystery that has been buried deep.

A missing master vampire, presumed long deceased, is found chained in a pit...undead, raving mad, and in the company of two human bodies. Now it's up to Jane and the Youngers to find out who kept the vampire hidden for so long and why, because the incident could tip already high supernatural tensions to an all-out arcane war.

Jane has had to learn to rely on other people—namely her comrades in Yellowrock Securities. How has this changed her and her reactions to danger?

I never expected the Younger brothers. They were a total surprise. When the series started out, I had thought it would be Jane, Rick, and Reach, not partners exactly, but working closely together. But then Reach let his computer/hacking/investigative services go to the highest bidder. And Rick… [Heaves a big sigh] Rick betrayed Jane. I was not expecting that. When the Youngers appeared I was so excited! You brought up a very important part of the evolution of the series—Jane's reactions to danger. I might have expected her become protective of the Youngers, and throw herself into more danger to keep them safe. This happened only one time, and the Youngers gave her a hard time about it! Now, oddly, Jane is allowing them to stand up for themselves, to fight beside her, to have her back, and to take care of business. I adore them, and I am really happy with what has happened with Jane!

Jane's relationship with Beast has grown stronger as the series has progressed, and your readers seem especially excited about this. How do you think this reflects Jane's overall growth as a character?

Jane is one of the two-souled. She accidentally did black magic when she was five years old, and stole the body and soul of a mountain lion. This other soul gives layers of depth to Jane, layers not present in other characters I've written over the years. I knew that Beast would push Jane to grow and change, but I didn't expect that Beast would grow and develop too. It's been a happy surprise to see her emerge and evolve, and I've enjoyed it as much as the readers have!

Jane has been in so many tough scrapes and ultimately survived. Is it a challenge to make the next Big Bad even bigger and badder than the previous ones?

Oy. Actually, I already reached that Bad-Guy-Glass-Ceiling in book four, Raven Cursed. The bad guys in that novel were so horrible that I've never created anything worse. It was hard at first to deal with that issue of wanting to outdo myself, but I realized that humans are more horrible than any creature of the night, and letting them be the true evil has been the saving grace—or rather, the saving horror—of the Jane Yellowrock novels.

Some collective nouns—like a leap of leopards, a murder of crows, or a knot of toads—are fun descriptives of the nouns themselves. What collective noun would you make up for a group of vampires?

Okay, that brought on a spate of giggles! A fang of vamps? But seriously, I do have a few I've used. A "blood family of vamps" is my favorite.

Jane is on book ten now. Do you have a series finale in mind?

Yes and no. (I know. What do you do with writers who can't seem to let a character go…?) For the original Jane Yellowrock series, it will likely be over with book twelve. That's the yes part. But then…there are these other characters, like Molly and Angie Baby and the Everhart sisters, who might need a chance to tell their stories. So while I will likely end the Jane series, as her life pertains to New Orleans and being the Enforcer to the Master of the City, I'm not killing her off. Her tales and the escapades of her friends might go on.

In August, you're launching a new series with Blood of the Earth, which features Nell Ingram. What drew you to Nell as a series-anchoring protagonist?

SoulwoodI love broken characters. Jane is broken for lots of reasons—the loss of her parents, extended family, and tribe. The death of the men who killed her father, and what that awful event did to her spirit. Her loss of 170 years or so of her own personal history. Nell? Nell is broken in other ways. She grew up in a cult, she was "married" at age twelve, so her sexuality, her assessment of her place in the world, and her view of her own self-worth has always been skewed from what most American women feel about themselves. She is fiercely independent, and because her magic is so dangerous, she has kept to herself. She has been alone for so long that she has become insular and marginalized. I think most people feel marginalized in some way or another. I know I do. So When Nell appeared on the page broken and marginalized in these ways, I wanted to know why it happened, and how she might grow. And I am having a ball with her! She doesn't carry fifty pounds of weapons like Jane, but then, Nell doesn't need to. Her magic is such that she can take care of business all on her own, without guns and steel. I hope my fans enjoy her first adventure in Blood of the Earth!

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