A big welcome to Jaye Wells who is here to telling us about Fresh Blood in Urban Fantasy and celebrating the release of Dirty Magic, The Prospero’s War #1 (published on January 21, 2014 by Orbit). Check back later today to read Julia’s review!
Calling a novel an “urban fantasy” these days can get you a mixed-bag of reactions. Some will automatically dismiss it as a romance novel tarted up to look like Laura Croft. Others will give you a blank look and ask you in a whisper if it’s like Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray. Fans of the genre might ask if it’s more of the same or if you’ve somehow managed to bring something new to the table.
The truth is that urban fantasy is probably the least helpful genre moniker ever created. When you say most of the other genre names people have a pretty good sense of what they’re getting. But if you’ve never heard the phrase “urban fantasy” then you’re not going to know what the heck it is.
When I pitched my new Prospero’s War series, I was well aware of these issues. I also knew that the genre has become incredibly flooded over the last few years. It’s getting harder and harder for authors new to the genre to break in. In addition, several established authors who helped make the genre what it is have closed out (or are about to) major series. So, to my mind, it was the perfect time to try to bring some fresh blood, so to speak, into the genre.
I’ve long been a fan of police procedural TV shows. I love the set up of stand-alone mysteries get solved in a show while also seeing the main characters’ story arcs and relationships weave through each season. So I figured why not do this with an urban fantasy twist?
My main character in the Prospero’s War series is Kate Prospero, who was raised in a coven that sold dirty magic potions on the streets of fictional Babylon, Ohio. After she walked away from the covens, Kate joined the police force. However, her past has always hung over her head, and she’s been looking for a way to prove herself as a cop. In the first book of the series, Dirty Magic, she gets entangled in a case run by the Magic Enforcement Agency, a federal agency that is trying to bring down the major covens in Babylon. She talks her way onto the task force and helps them track down the source of a dangerous potion. In doing so, she’s thrust right back into her old life since many of her family members, friends, and even former lovers are still involved in the dirty magic trade.
This set up allows me to have the task force working on a major case in each book while also building Kate’s relationships with both the task force and her estranged friends and family. In addition, we get to see the impact her work has on her personal life. The twist of adding magic to the world of police procedurals also allows me to play with a lot of tropes of procedurals and urban fantasy in a new way.
In addition, Kate isn’t your typical shoot first, ask questions later type of UF heroine. She’s a cop so she’s bound to certain rules of conduct, but she’s also seen so much in her life that she’s fairly jaded. She has street smarts leftover from her time in the coven, which also makes her the perfect cop to try to bring them down because she understands the inner workings of that criminal underworld.
Since the books are as much police procedural as they are UF, I have been calling these books “speculative crime fiction” or “Rust Belt fantasy” to distinguish it from UF that has come before it. However, there’s plenty of urban fantasy-style world building and quirky magic-related characters that will appeal to fans of the genre.
Dirty Magic by Jaye Wells
Available on January 21, 2014 by Orbit
The last thing patrol cop Kate Prospero expected to find on her nightly rounds was a werewolf covered in the blood of his latest victim. But then, she also didn’t expect that shooting him would land her in the crosshairs of a Magic Enforcement Agency task force, who wants to know why she killed their lead snitch.
The more Prospero learns about the dangerous new potion the MEA is investigating, the more she’s convinced that earning a spot on their task force is the career break she’s been wanting. But getting the assignment proves much easier than solving the case. Especially once the investigation reveals their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier—on the same day she swore she’d never use dirty magic again.
Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should be never say never.
Read an excerpt
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About the author
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