Hey guys, guess what?!? Scorpion Trap released today!!!
Once upon a time I was a newbie blogger. I had a dream of some day getting the chance to talk to the most amazing authors of our day. I would just get to sit and bask in the glow of their genius. I never thought that I would actually get the chance this soon. Or that it would be with the amazing Pippa DaCosta! It was better than I could have expected. So you should all go buy her book to say “Thank You For Being So Awesome!” I’m only kind of kidding. Scorpion Trap is the fourth book in the series, so you really should buy the first three too.
Okay, I’ll stop rambling now. Here is just a bit of insight into the brilliance that is Pippa DaCosta:
Abby: In See No Evil you blew our minds with your visions of the Duat. What exciting new world building can we expect from Scorpion Trap?
Pippa DaCosta: Scorpion Trap takes Ace and Shu out of their comfort zone and dumps them in Egypt. I absolutely loved writing the location. If I can squeeze any of my personal experience into my books, I jump at the chance. I went to Egypt many years ago and visited some of the sights mentioned in Scorpion Trap. Who would have guessed that over ten years later the taste, the heat, and the smells, would all find their way into Ace’s story. But as for the little nuggets of ‘fantasy’ world building, it’s difficult to say without drifting into spoiler territory. I can say that we learn more about Isis, her past, and how the gods must have lived long ago. One of my favourite aspects of Ace’s world is how he talks to the magic of the old world through ancient buildings. We see a lot more of that in Scorpion Trap too.
Abby: Rumor has it that we will get to see more of Curtis Vance. Is this true? Is there a chance The Heartstone Thief will be the start of a new series?
Pippa DaCosta: I love Curtis. I think he’s one of the nicest anti-heroes I’ve written, which is saying something! The Heartstone Thief took a long time to write compared with my other series’. The world building and the story arc are vast but because of the foundation already in place, there is definitely potential to continue the story into more books. I did deliberately leave a few little threads dangling with the hope that I could go back to the series later. I can’t say when a sequel will happen, but I have a new notebook (I buy a new notebook for every new story) and my notes in place, so I do hope that I can return to Curtis Vance sometime this year.
Abby: Speaking of things we can expect to see in the future, we have a few hopeful ideas. Will we get to read more Science Fiction from you? What are the chances that there is a delightfully violent vampire series bouncing around in your mind?
Pippa DaCosta: Okay, well, clearly you’re reading my mind as I have a little secret project I’m working on that is a scifi AND fantasy mash-up, and it has vampires (and shifters and fae – because if I’m going to put vampires in space then I might as well throw everything else in there too). It sounds as though that will deliver pretty much everything you want. If you’re after more scifi such as Girl From Above (as are the many, many readers who email me weekly!) then I really can’t make any promises. I would love to continue writing in that world but the characters all went through such a steep character arc that I don’t think any new plot idea could better the existing four books. If a new idea comes along – as it sometimes does with old characters – I’ll jump at the chance to go back to Girl From Above. So yes, new books coming, with vampires and space (whoo hoo!), but probably no new books from any existing scifi series’.
Abby: Which of your characters has the most unpublished back story? Can you share any details with us?
Pippa DaCosta: It has to be Shukra – the demon sorceress from the Soul Eater series. Cursed to Ace’s side (kinda like his reluctant sidekick – don’t ever tell her I said that) she has masses of backstory. We know her as the blackest soul Ace has ever hunted in Duat. A soul so black, so evil, that he personally tracked her down. That’s bad, with a capital B. There’s a little mention in Serpent’s Game (book #5 – currently in the first draft stage) where Ace explains his first official job as an investigator for hire. One of Shukra’s demon-pals decides to lord it over medieval London. Shukra tries to warn her old drinking buddy but it doesn’t go well, and ultimately we end up with the Great fire of London (it’s interesting to note that Ace doesn’t come out of that job all squeaky clean either 😉 ). Shukra has been tamed a bit since then, but she has so much backstory that she could almost have her own spin-off series – if villains were allowed to have their stories told. Unfortunately she has a black soul for a reason. I don’t think her backstory would have a happy ending!
Abby: It isn’t easy to write morally ambiguous characters that readers will not only find believable, but will champion as well. Yet, I believe that all of your main characters are like this while still being vastly different. What’s your trick to balancing the haunted with the monster?
Pippa DaCosta: I write very close to the ‘acceptable’ line when it comes to anti-heroes, especially for urban fantasy which often centres around a heroic wise-cracking main character. As soon as I began this writing journey, I knew I wanted to do something different with the genre. I wanted to dirty it up, make it real. Muse was the first of my characters to really walk that line between heroic and gritty. Her being half-demon gave me some leeway to play with her darker side. Something as simple as sleeping with two of the male leads in the first book of a series. That just doesn’t happen in urban fantasy. She has since been called the Jessica Jones of urban fantasy, and I think that’s true, especially considering her abusive past. No doubt about it, when we join her in Beyond The Veil #1 Veil Series, she’s about as screwed up as they come. To make a character feel real, as an author, it’s my job to build them up, give them layers. Those layers turn them from cardboard cutouts into real people. If they’re too good or too bad for no apparent reason, then that’s not going to be interesting or entertaining. I need to give the characters reasons, motives, for being as they are. They each need a killer backstory and a weakness. Muse has a lot of power, but she’s crippled by her past. Akil is a fantastic villain, but it’s not until the second book in the series (Devil May Care) when we see him at his lowest, that we really begin to feel for him. Stefan starts out heroic, but it quickly goes wrong. Curtis Vance from the Heartstone Thief isn’t just a thief, he’s had to survive on the streets, later being picked up by a whore-house madam – his past is perhaps the most tragic of all. Every main character has depth to them, a reason why they are who they are, and it’s often brutal because life isn’t all fluffy bunnies and rainbows. By the way, fluffy bunnies and rainbows have no place in urban fantasy unless they’re mutant bunnies and rainbows with rabid leprechauns waiting to chew off the hand attempting to steal the gold.
Abby: Now for a critical question. We need you to settle one of our oldest debates. Who is better Team Akil or Team Stefan? Please note that I’m Team Stefan, and I’m greatly outnumbered. I would appreciate all the help I can get. 😉
Pippa DaCosta: Ugh, this is a tough one. Oh my gosh, yah know what, I love Akil. Who wouldn’t, right? BUT, Stefan goes through hell in the Veil series. Literally and figuratively. He fights every single step of the way. He only ever wanted to be the good guy. He never asked for anything, just the chance to prove himself. Besides Muse, he has the most incredible story and for that, I think I’m team Stefan. Still, Akil. Yah know. Akil is what he is. Complicated and yet simple at the same time, devilish, bad… so very bad and yet alarmingly good – or was it all for his own machinations
Abby: Possibly the most important question you will ever be asked about your writing. At least in my opinion, because weapons are important. If you lived in one of your worlds, what would be your signature weapon?
Pippa DaCosta: Oh, if I had to pick an existing weapon, it would be Alysdair from the Soul Eater series. That sword is epic. It EATS SOULS. Dude! C’mon. But if it’s my random choice, probably a crossbow. I’ve dabbled in archery (and fencing). Swords are too predictable and all up-in-your-face slashy, plus a gun beats a sword. So I’m going with a crossbow. You don’t have to get too close to use a crossbow. And some throwing knives tucked down the boots. You can never be too careful.
Abby: Since you told us anything goes, would you say tequila or vodka is better for inspiration?
Pippa DaCosta: Ah-ha, this is where I prove that I’m the exception to the rule that authors drink copious amounts. I don’t drink alcohol (that one time at London Book Fair shall not be mentioned). Or, perhaps, what I should say is that I’m an impossible lightweight. One whiff of tequila and I’ll be asleep on the table, or the floor, I’m not fussy. So neither would be great for inspiration. At least, not for me. Although I do sometimes get ideas from dreams, so there is that. *Ace says vodka.
Abby: Lastly, I feel the need to warn you that I’m mostly asking this just because the other MacHalos didn’t think I would. But it needs to be asked. Would you say that you were born awesome, or were you genetically modified post-birth to mass produce written pieces of glorious scrumptiousness?
Pippa DaCosta: Definitely genetically modified. I blame my genes. I’m part gypsy, part Irish, part Jewish. Lots of parts make a very unusual whole. That sounds so wrong, but you get the idea.
A very special thank you to Pippa for agreeing to answer a few questions for us! And to all the MacHalos who contributed to these interesting questions.