Monday, 5 December 2011

Interview with Jennifer Estep + Giveaway

Today I am very happy and honoured to welcome to the blog Jennifer Estep, wonderful author of such terrific series as the Elemental Assassin UF series, or the Mythos Academy YA series or even the phenomenal Bigtime series, which I just discovered recently. I loved the first book in the Bigtime series (Karma Girl - you can read my review here) so much that I wanted to make you discover this gem of a series many don't know yet, so read on, discover a new favourite series, and there is a holiday giveaway waiting for you as well at the end! ;-)

Stella: Hi Jennifer, I'm so very happy to welcome you to Ex Libris! :-)

JE: Thanks for hosting me on the site. I appreciate it.

Stella: When most people hear your name, they think of the Elemental Assassin series, but you also pen two other series: the Mythos Academy, a mythological YA series, and the Bigtime series. Could you please introduce these series to those readers who aren’t yet familiar with them?

JE: Of course. The Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series focuses 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.

Touch of Frost and Kiss of Frost, the first two books in the series, are available now, along with First Frost, a prequel e-story (Stella: First Frost is free at Amazon right now!), and Halloween Frost, a short story in the Entangled e-anthology.

I also write the Bigtime paranormal romance series. The Bigtime books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love. Books in the series are Karma Girl, Hot Mama, and Jinx. A Karma Girl Christmas, an e-story, is available as a download.

Stella: A special holiday themed novella was released recently in your Bigtime series: A Karma Girl Christmas. What can readers expect of this small bite of fun story?

JE: A Karma Girl Christmas is a 14,000-word holiday story that is told from the first-person point of view of Carmen Cole, the heroine of Karma Girl, the first book in the series. Here’s a little more information about the story:
It’s Christmas time in Bigtime, New York, but society reporter Carmen Cole isn’t in the mood to celebrate since her husband, Sam, has to go on a business trip and might not make it home for the holiday. But Carmen has plenty to keep her busy, since she moonlights as Karma Girl, a member of the Fearless Five superhero team.

On Christmas Eve, Carmen, as Karma Girl, is assigned to guard toys, clothes, food, and more that are intended for needy children and their families. But an ubervillain also has his eye on the toys and plans to steal and then sell them to the highest bidder. Carmen will have to use all her empathic powers just to stay alive, not to mention make sure Christmas is a happy one for all the kids who are counting on her. It’s all in a night’s work for a superhero …

A Karma Girl Christmas takes place after the events of Jinx, the third book in the series, but it can also be read as a stand-alone story. I just wanted to write a fun holiday story for fans of the Bigtime series, so that’s what I tried to do with A Karma Girl Christmas. Hopefully, everyone will have as much fun reading the story as I did writing it.

Stella: Now that I discovered the Bigtimes series and became a passionate fan I’m constantly wondering about the future of this series. Can you tell us a bit more about your plans regarding the Bigtime series? When will the next novel be released and whose story will it be? Please tell me there will be a next novel!!

JE: I do have a fourth Bigtime book written called Nightingale. That one is about Abby Appleby, an event planner who is mentioned in Jinx and A Karma Girl Christmas. I’m hoping to e-publish the book sometime in 2012. It just depends on my writing schedule. Right now, I’m pretty busy with my two other series, so we’ll see how it goes. But I do hope to write more books and stories in the Bigtime series.

Stella: I loved the tongue in cheek funny and colourful world you built in your Bigtime series, do you remember what inspired the series? Were you always a comic book/superhero movie fan?

JE: I’ve always liked superheroes and the idea of people having these amazing powers and using them to do good things. But over the years, I started to wonder why the folks closest to the hero never figure out his or her secret identity. So I thought what if there was a reporter who could figure out the secret identities? What if she discovered her fiancé was cheating on her with her best friend and that the two of them were her town’s resident hero and villain? What if she devoted her life to unmasking heroes and villains as a result of that betrayal? That was sort of the beginning of Karma Girl and the rest of the Bigtime series.

As for the world building, I thought it would interesting to write a superhero story that was just fun, with this bright, vivid city, outrageous situations, and characters that were a little campy and over the top. So that’s what I did.

Stella: Which shows had an impact on you?

JE: I remember watching the old Batman TV show with Adam West and the Wonder Woman TV show with Lynda Carter when I was a kid. I always thought it would be so cool to be Wonder Woman because she has a tiara, shiny bracelets, and an invisible jet. Over the years, I’ve watched a lot of the superhero TV shows, cartoons, and movies. I just like the genre and all the different interpretations and ideas of superheroes and villains.

Stella: If you were a superhero, what would be your superhero name? (and I have to ask about your flashy costume as well since they are such an important detail in the Bigtime series)

JE: I would probably be something like Book Girl or the Whimsical Writer or Authorama. My costume would probably have an open book as my logo, and I’d probably try to use my powers to convince folks to read more and support their libraries and bookstores.

Stella: ... and what would be your powers?

JE: I’d love to be able to have superstrong wrists and be able to type incredibly fast. Both of those powers would definitely come in handy. LOL.

Stella: Carmen loves to play with her Rubik's Cubes while thinking problems through, do you have one? Have you every managed to solve one?

JE: I don’t have a Rubik’s Cube, although I’ve played with them over the years. Unfortunately, though, I could never solve one.

Stella: A Karma Girl Christmas was your first Christmas novella, how did you like the experience? Will you consider writing more holiday themed short stories? Were they as much fun to write as they were to read?

JE: I enjoyed writing A Karma Girl Christmas. It was a lot of fun to revisit the world of Bigtime. I like reading holiday stories, especially this time of year, and I hope to write some more holiday stories in the future.

Stella: Christmas is fast approaching, let’s get in the holiday spirit: could you tell us about one of your favourite Christmas traditions or memories?

JE: Actually, I usually get my tree early every year, and one of the things I like doing best is decorating my Christmas tree on Thanksgiving morning while the Macy’s Day Parade is on television. I think it’s a fun way to start the holiday season.

Stella: Food and eating always have a special place in your novels, so I am curious: do you have a special Christmas recipe you could share with us?

JE: I like eating, and I like writing about food. LOL. I love hot, crusty cornbread, and my grandmother recently showed me how to make it the way that she does. Unfortunately, she doesn't use exact measurements, so I've had to guess a little at this. Also, the cornbread is great to use in your holiday stuffing and dressing recipes. Enjoy!

Grandma's Cornbread

Self-rising cornmeal
Shortening (like Crisco)
A cast-iron skillet

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Coat your skillet with a layer of shortening so the cornbread will not stick to the skillet. Put the skillet in the oven to melt the shortening.

In the meantime, put 1 cup of cornmeal into a bowl. Starting with about 1/4 cup of buttermilk, add the buttermilk (and more if needed) to the cornmeal and stir until it forms a smooth, thick batter.

Note: How much cornmeal and buttermilk you need will also depend on what size skillet you are using. If you are using a large skillet, you may need more than 1 cup of cornmeal. The measurements don’t have to be exact, as long as your batter is smooth and thick.

When the shortening has melted, remove the skillet from the oven, and pour the batter into it. Put the skillet back into the oven and bake at 500 degrees F until the edges of the cornbread are golden brown. Then, put skillet on top rack and broil until the rest of the top is browned. Remove from oven, flip the cornbread out onto a plate, and serve immediately. Enjoy with butter or a drizzle of honey, if you like.

Stella: Please complete these sentences:

- Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without ... decorating a Christmas tree, shopping for fun, quirky presents for my family, and plotting to surprise them with unexpected gifts.

- Reindeers to Santa are like ... sidekicks are to Superheroes.
Stella: Jennifer, what shall we expect from you, what is next on your schedule?

JE: Next up for me is BY A THREAD, the sixth book in my Elemental Assassin series that will be released in March 2012. WIDOW’S WEB, the seventh book, is tentatively scheduled to be published in September 2012.

Also, DARK FROST, the third book in my Mythos Academy series, will be out in June 2012.

Folks can visit my website at for excerpts and more information about my books. Happy reading, everyone!


Jennifer has generously offered an ebook copy of A Karma Girl Christmas to a lucky commenter!

All you have to do is

1) tell us: if you were a superhero, what would be your superhero name? Or what would be your superpowers?

2) leave me a way to contact you in case you win (e-mail address, Twitter handle, etc.)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 12 December 2011!

Good luck!

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