Patricia (“Patty”) Briggs is a writer that needs no introduction. Author of traditional fantasy novels, Patty turned her skills to the growing Urban Fantasy genre back in 2006 and started a little series about a shapeshifting mechanic named Mercy. Three years and three NY Times bestsellers later, Mercy has become one of the most beloved heroines in the genre today.
I have been a reader of Patty’s books since middle school (my favorite? When Demons Walk), and absolutely love her Mercy Thompson books–they’re in my top 3 favorite Urban Fantasy series’ of all time. Bone Crossed was one of the most highly anticipated books of 2009 from SFF and romance readers alike, and in my opinion was the best book of the series so far! Needless to say, I’m a huge fan. When offered the opportunity to meet up with Patty and interview her–IN PERSON!–I pretty much had a massive coronary. We’ve never interviewed anyone face to face (the anonymity of the internet is so alluring!), but we would not let inexperience stop us intrepid Book Smugglers! Of course, I quickly accepted (with encouragement from the oh-so-cheeky Ana) and promptly began freaking out about what questions to ask, what to wear (in honor of Mercy, I went with my pink wolf shirt), and the mechanics of conducting an in person interview without the safety net of a keyboard and monitor.
Me, with the *really* bright tie-dyed wolf shirt and kickass “Mercy’s Garage” patch from Patty!
This morning was the big day–and I’m proud to report that the interview was awesome. Patty is one cool, sweet, amazing woman, and I managed not to say anything too stupid or droolingly fangirly (I hope!). Not to mention the interview was incredibly informative. Want to know about Adam and Mercy’s relationship and where it might go? Will Sam find inner peace at last? Which preternatural creatures may star in the next Mercy book? How the Alpha and Omega books fit in with the Mercy timeline? We have these answers, and many, many more.
Since this is a pretty big event, we are bringing you the interview in two parts–Part I is below, and Part II will go up tomorrow. We’re also giving away another copy of Bone Crossed–details are below. Without further ado, I am proud to present you with our very first (and hopefully not the last) in person interview. Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you Patty Briggs!
Thea: First and foremost, thanks so much for taking the time to chat!
Bone Crossed is your newest novel and the fourth installment in your bestselling Mercedes Thompson series. Everyone loves your series, from fantasy fans to romance fans. When you began writing Moon Called (book 1), did you anticipate how successful and well loved this series would become?
Patty: I knew it was going to be bigger than the fantasy novels just because Urban Fantasy is doing better than standard fantasy was. I had no idea it was going to do this. I had a wonderful phone call that for years I had saved on my cell phone (but eventually my cell phone died); one of the head honchos at Penguin called me up and I wasn’t there to answer the phone, and she left me this wonderful message that basically said, “Wow! We’re really surprised you did that well!” [laughs] It was much more polite than that, and she didn’t mean it that way but that’s essentially what she said, and I thought, “Well thank you!” But truthfully no, we had no idea. I just got hit by the good publishing fairy.
Daniel Dos Santos did these awesome covers, aren’t they beautiful?
Thea: They are gorgeous, and really distinct. They don’t look like anything else out there.
Patty: Because the covers were so awesome, they bumped Moon Called up their list. (The way publishing works is they have a list of books that comes out every month, in order of how well the publisher expects the book to do–the first book is hardcover, if it’s not hardcover, then it gets the glittery stuff and advertising push and on down) When the team got a look at the sketch that Daniel did for Moon Called, they said “We need to put glittery stuff on this!” and pushed the book up to number one! Which is awesome. It got the glittery stuff and the media push, and it came out at a really good time, about two weeks before [Laurell K.] Hamilton’s Micah. And I think people looking for Micah early saw this on the shelf and picked it up and they liked it! And I think that’s what happened, and it was really cool. I’m very happy, it means I can write two books a year. And that’s really fun.
Thea: Bone Crossed is your first hardcover, and it’s a big jump! It’s very cool and must be exciting.
Patty: It scared me to death when they told me they were gonna do this in a hardcover, I thought, Oh I’m gonna lose so many readers. But it doesn’t seem like it! At the book signings, the hardcovers are easier to sell than the paperbacks!
It’s a beautiful book too. People say don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I’m a reader, and I can tell you that a book with a beautiful cover is more fun to read. And if it’s a good book, that’s even better!
Thea: Definitely! I love that Urban Fantasy is getting this bigger push and we’re seeing more hardcovers. So, on to Mercy. I love Mercy, and she’s one of my favorite Urban Fantasy heroines because she is so level-headed and the way she knows how to stand up for herself without crossing the line into annoying bravado territory. Part of this stems from the fact that she is a Walker in a world surrounded by much bigger and badder creatures. Why did you decide to make Mercy an outsider as a walker as opposed to a werewolf, or some other paranormal creature with an arsenal of superpowers?
Patty: When I write I start with little things and then implications. I was under contract to write a paranormal Urban Fantasy with a female protagonist, with a complicated love life that involved werewolves and vampires. She herself didn’t have to be a werewolf or vampire, but she had to be a part of the supernatural community. And that’s what they gave me, because that’s what was doing well. My editor asked me if I could write a book like this, and I said, “YEAH! I’d love to!” My editor and I exchange reading lists, and she knew what I liked to read before she asked me. I like under-powered characters. As a writer they’re more fun, because it’s easier to get into danger and the risk is obviously much bigger, and they have to be smart to get out of it. They can’t just bully their way through, and it makes, for me, a much more interesting story.
So I thought: wolf…coyote. I thought, wow OK! And that automatically meant that she had to be Native American, because coyotes are a native species. Werewolves and vampires are European, well in my world they came over here, and in folklore they’re European. So I thought, OK, she’s a shapeshifter coyote. She’s Native American and that works because Native American mythology has tons of shapeshifters. That’s just a given, that the Native American world is much more cohesive than the European world. Europeans traditionally try to say or think they’re different from everything around them, and Native Americans say no we’re all the same, we’re all part of the same whole.
The mechanic part came in because we had two dead Opal GTs in the backyard that my husband was working on and we had VWs for years. We had this awesome guy who was running a VW repair shop who used to help us out all the time because we were too broke to pay him to fix the car. He’d sell us the parts at his cost and tell us how to fix the car. And when my husband ran into trouble, he could call up and he’d tell him what to do. I mean, these guys were just terrific, and very good people. And they had awesome stories, and we had some fun things going on. So, I thought, OK, she’s a Volkswagen mechanic, and everything else comes from that. What kind of person would do that, and you get…
Thea: Yeah, like in the first chapter she’s all grimy and she can never get the grease off her hands, her t-shirts are dirty, etc.
Thea: So, Mercy’s learning a little more about what it means to be a walker. In book 2, I think, she first sees a ghost and starts talking to her, which is actually abnormal, right?
Patty: Right, I try to make it clear that she always saw ghosts, and she thought everyone else did too. It’s not until a little bit later that she figures out, wait that’s weird!
Thea: Are we gonna meet another walker at some point?
Patty: Absolutely. She’s not unique–there are more walkers out there, they’re good at blending in, as she is. And they’re aware of her. They knew her father, and they’re aware of her, but they kinda want to see what she’s gonna do. And they’re not really organized, you know they’re pretty laid back and yeah she’s gonna run into one of them. I don’t know if it will be in the next book, which is, we have a title for it! SILVER BORNE–and I’m gonna deal a lot with Samuel in this one because I think he’s suffered enough. Of course he’s gonna suffer some more [laughs] but I think we’ll bring things straight in the next one.
Thea: Speaking of Samuel, let’s talk about the triangle. There was Adam and Sam and Mercy–something we’ve noticed on our blog is that most folks were rooting for Adam. But there was lots of love for Sam too! In Bone Crossed I kinda got the feeling that there was something still between Mercy and Sam, as she wondered if love would be enough for them. Is there ever gonna be backtracking that way?
Patty: No, I don’t think so. Mercy is pretty straightforward. You know it’s funny when you write, because really until I wrote Iron Kissed I REALLY didn’t know who she was gonna pick. But once she picked him, I thought “Oh yeah, that’s absolutely right”. She’s always kinda known that. She just didn’t want to say no to Samuel because she was afraid what would happen because he’s so fragile right now, and she knows it. And that was part of it. And also because bone deep she’s really still a little scared of Adam. Samuel she grew up with, and she knows him inside out and backwards–she thinks. She’s finding out things she didn’t know about, and who wouldn’t when you’re that old, you know he puts up a good front! But Adam is still a little bit of an unknown, and it’s like any relationship. That really happens, as you change the relationship you go “do I really know you as well as i think i do?” so there’s some of that too. But no, I’m not gonna backtrack on that. I think that Sam will find his. Maybe.
Thea: Or at least be happy?
Patty: Or at least he’ll find a happier place!
Thea: On that note, in Cry Wolf, we actually see Sam and he’s such a mess! I mean, I knew he was kind of damaged from the Mercy books, but I never saw how much of a mess he was and how scared everyone was for him. So that’s pretty cool with crossing over…
Patty: I have a great time doing this second series in the third person. I can tell you a lot more about Some of the things that are going on and I really enjoy it.
Thea: It definitely adds another layer of information that we wouldn’t ever see from Mercy’s perspective. Back to Bone Crossed for a second–there’s Stefan who comes back big in this book. Everyone loves Stefan and the vampires!
Patty: I love Stefan. He’s really fun to write too because he really is a very good person in a really horrible situation, and he’s been there for a long time. He really loves Marsilia, and he really believes in what she’s trying to do and he really loves her. And she really destroys him in this book.
Thea: Oh gosh, yeah.
Patty: It’s really horrible as a writer to go “YES!!!!” [laughs] But happy content people don’t make good stories, and they aren’t necessarily strong people either because they don’t have to be. I would like to be a happy content person and I would never want to star in a novel!
I really hate thousand year old critters that feel like they’re 20. Because I really think there’s a lot of stuff in there–and Marsilia and Stefan and Andre grew up in the renaissance in Italy, which was a scary place to be. There’s all sorts of these machinations going on, and I figured, they’re STILL going on, so that’s where that comes from.
Thea: So can we expect more from the vampires in the next book?
Patty: Next book I have an awful lot going on. I bring out lots of witches in the next book, and I do Samuel and werewolves and the fey. So the vampires take a second seat until the next book. That’s the good thing bout a series–there’s always a next book!
Thea: I love the fey too, hanging out with Zee and at the local bar, and in this book we meet Baba Yaga, and it’s really cool. I’m excited to see them again!
Patty: I love the opportunities the fey give me for cameos. And I can bring [Baba Yaga] back or not, because it’s ok.
Thea: So your universe has vampires, fey, ghosts, werewolves, walkers and witches. So they’re the next supernatural creature to take the stage in your next book?
Patty: Yeah, they’ve always been in the background, and I’ll showcase them in the next book. I’m still working on Hunting Ground (book 2 in the Alpha and Omega series), so this is all in the ether right now. I always reserve the right to change it if I have a much better idea or a better way to do it! [laughs]
Thea: Of course! Do you do any research for your characters and supernatural creatures?
Patty: I get this question a lot, and I really hate to say yes because research implies you sit down and work. I grew up with fairy tales and stories like this. My mother was the librarian at my elementary school, and I can’t remember not knowing fairy tales. My sister was four years older than I am, used to read them to us so we didn’t have to go to be earlier. My mom would say “Your lights!” And she’d say, “Patty couldn’t sleep so I’m reading her a fairy tale.” “Well ok!” [laughs] So, it’s something I’ve always done. I love fairy tales, I love folklore, I read Katharine Briggs’ Encyclopedia of Fairies for pleasure!
Thea: So, on to Hunting Ground, which is coming out this August. Will it cover Anna and Charles again?
Patty: Yeah, it will cover Anna and Charles again, and the other question I get a lot is will I ever catch up timelines? I really want to because it makes me crazy and I’m sure it makes readers crazy. But yeah, this one still takes place before Blood Bound. I couldn’t just let the wolves ‘coming out’ be offstage. So this book is about Bran bringing the werewolves out to public and they’re not happy about it. He invites them over to Seattle for a conference to discuss the matter–of course we know he’s not going to back down! But he’s gonna tell them what he’s planning to do and that kind of thing. Charles objects, and in the end, Charles and Anna get sent instead of having Bran. Charles is pretty concerned that something is gonna happen to Bran, he doesn’t know what, but something. Could Charles interrupt that? And I just had a great time!
Talking about research, Charles is a pilot and he had to take this little airplane hop over, and I had my husband read it and he said “Nope, that’s wrong!” So I talked to a small plane pilot, and we went out on a small plane to see how it’s done. We took a trip over to Seattle in January and looked around at seeing the sights and what good places there were to hold things…
Thea: Everything seems to happen in Seattle, pacific northwest, that’s where all the supernatural creatures are! [laughs] I need to go!
Patty: Actually there are, you need to see the Troll bridge. Type in “Troll Bridge Seattle” on the internet. But yeah, it makes sense from a standpoint being that some places just don’t have the facilities for a bunch of European werewolves, staying in rinky-dink hotels. And Bran doesn’t really want to bring them into his territory anyways, and Seattle is the nearest big town. Spokane’s not quite big enough. I have a short story coming in Strange Brew, which is a St. Martin’s anthology with Jim Butcher, about a witch and one of the wolves from the Emerald City pack, so that’s a little easter egg.
Thea: Oh how cool–I’ll keep an eye out. There’s also an overwhelming response to Bran, from Cry Wolf because he’s so powerful, and are we ever going to explore his relationship with Leah?
….TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW!
Yes, I’m terrible, leaving you with this cliffhanger. You want to know about Bran? Or if wedding plans are in the cards for Mercy and Adam? Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our interview with Patricia Briggs, where she talks more about Mercy, her fantasy novels, and her influences!
The fabulous Patty in our impromptu conference room!
Patricia Briggs lives in Washington with her husband, children and six horses. For more information about Patty and her books, check out her website: www.hurog.com.
And now for the Giveaway!
We are offering one more copy of Bone Crossed for a lucky winner. The contest is open to everyone, and will run until Tuesday at Midnight PST. To enter, leave a comment either today or tomorrow! We’ll announce the lucky winner on Wednesday.