Interview: Ilona Andrews, author of Burn for Me

ilonaandrewsPlease welcome Ilona Andrews (aka the writing duo of Ilona and Gordon) to the blog! They kindly answered a few questions about their brand new series, starting with BURN FOR ME, and much more!

Congratulations on the new book! What inspired you to write Burn for Me, and also to launch a whole new series?
I think we wanted to do a PNR set in a world very much like our own. I believe also that it grew out of earlier stories like the Edge or even the Kinsman series. We are fascinated by the idea of magic and technology existing together, sometimes struggling for supremacy like in the Kate books, or in the case of the Hidden Legacy series, co-existing so seamlessly that most people take for granted that they use both in their daily lives. For instance, Nevada playing Angry Birds on her cell phone while using her magic on the husband of a client. Yes, that and Avon offered to give us money if we wrote it. The severity of Ilona’s yarn addiction is matched only by my own affinity for collecting action figures and comics and so we needed the dough. Not sure if I’m allowed to say that but there it is, the ugly truth.

Why do you think readers will fall for Connor and Nevada? What did you enjoy must about writing their story?
I don’t know if they will but I hope they do. We tried to make them likable. Nevada is very strong, maybe not as much physically, but she’s mentally tough and very honest. She has a lot of responsibility and takes her job very seriously. She considers herself an agent of the law and is very diligent about doing the right thing. Connor is perhaps less so. He is powerful but deeply flawed in some ways. He is the head of a House but has no family to speak of. He has chosen instead to surround himself with ex-military types whose loyalty to him boarders on devotion. The law is more abstract to him. Ilona put it best I think when she said that Nevada is a Paladin and Rogan is a dragon. Forcing them to work together, playing them off of each other was probably the best part of writing the story.

burnformeWhat supporting characters did you enjoy writing the most?
Oh, Nevada’s family. We took some liberties with our own family and used some experiences or incidents to create Nevada’s sisters, cousins, mom and the awesome Grandma Frida. Also Bug, he’s a fun character to write. As an ex-military family, I think we did want to comment a little on how veterans are sometimes treated.

Will you tell us a little more about the world, and the magic, of Burn for Me?
It’s a little different from magic in our other books. In this case, magic was introduced to the world via the Osiris serum. We imagined it a little like the weapons of mass destruction discovered and used in the First World War. Rather than mustard gas though, it was a serum that unlocked latent magic talents in the subject. Because there was this huge war going on, they gave it to everybody. The abilities weren’t supposed to be hereditary but it soon became apparent that the powers were being transferred to the offspring of the original recipients. Major governments then attempted to lock up the serum but smaller countries continued to use it, mostly as it was a great equalizer. In the nearly hundred years after the Great War, Houses have arisen. They are almost an aristocracy. They have breed for wealth, magic abilities and attractiveness. They are always headed by a Prime, the strongest magic users of our world. Imagine if you will, the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, or even the Hiltons, but with actual, very powerful arcane abilities. Paris, for instance, in this world could melt the flesh off your bones. They are also celebrities, like pop stars and professional athletes.

What kind of research did you do for the novel?
It seems like we did quite a bit. We researched Hindu mythology, the history of the British Empire circa 18th and 19th century, the Chicago fire of 1871, as well as extensive google mapping of modern day Houston. We wanted it to be as geographically accurate as possible.

What is your writing process like? Do each of you do a little bit of everything or is it more structured?
We plot together. Our desks are very close and we use drop box to pass the manuscript back and forth. We discuss the books all the time, even when we’re doing something non book related like driving or cleaning up the kitchen. I tend to be responsible for male dialogue and some of the fighting or firearms scenes while Ilona does the female dialogue and typing. It goes back and forth between us, with each editing or adding to the manuscript.

What are you currently reading? Are there any books you’re looking forward to in the near future?
We were listening to Jack Campbell’s fantastic Lost Fleet book “Dauntless” on audio in the car on the way to and from Houston. As a USN vet I can tell you that it’s the real deal. Authentic, funny and exciting as heck. At home I am reading Ano Dracula by Kim Newman. It’s a great alternate history vampire story. Vlad is the Prince Consort and Jack the Ripper is killing new born vampire prostitutes in Whitechapel. It was originally published in 1992 but I just stumbled on it. If you’re a fan of Dracula or even Jack the Ripper, I highly recommend giving it a read. As far as looking forward to a book coming out, I will buy the next Spenser book by Ace Atkins who took over after Robert B. Parker passed away and has the voice down pat. Ilona says she would welcome any suggestions.

What’s next?
Ah, that’s the sixty four thousand dollar question. We desperately need to finish Magic Shifts and send it to our editor before she sends professional hit men after us or worse, makes us give back the advance. We need to continue with Sweep in Peace, our, supposed to be weekly free serial, and start on the next Hidden Legacy book. I don’t even remember if it has a title yet. We do have the beginnings of a plot though.

Keep up with Ilona: Website | Twitter

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile situation. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run and wanting to surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

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