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Guest Author & Giveaway: Jennifer Estep on Gin Blanco and Character Evolution

Hello everybody!

We welcome to the blog today Urban Fantasy/YA author Jennifer Estep. Jennifer is the author of the Elemental Assassin series: the first two books are Spider’s Bite (reviewed here by Ana) and Web of Lies. Venom, the third book, came out on Sept. 28. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while the fifth book (untitled) will be released in October 2011.

(She also sold a wicked-sounding young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a 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 finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more. Sounds awesome doesn’t it?) .

Anyway, to celebrate the release of Venom we invited Jennifer to talk about the evolution of her main character Gin Blanco and how she’s changed over the course of the books. Plus, we are giving away a set of the first three books to one lucky winner.

Please, give it up for Jennifer Estep:

Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Ana and Thea for having me on the blog today. Thanks, guys!

Some of you might know me as the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can con-trol the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elemen-tals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

So Ana suggested that I talk today about my heroine Gin Blanco and how she’s changed over the course of three books.

For those of you who don’t know, Gin is an assassin known as the Spider. She kills people – a lot of people – in the books. At one point, Gin quips that she’s killed more people than the common cold. Not exactly, but she’s definitely not shy and retiring either. That hasn’t really changed much from Spider’s Bite to Venom. Gin is still as sassy and sarcastic and strong as ever, and all of the books are filled with lots of action, lots of fight scenes, and lots of bloody deaths.

So what has changed? Well, Gin retired at the end of Spider’s Bite, due in part to the urging of her murdered mentor. She’s not necessarily retired from being an assassin, but she has quit killing people for money. Starting in Web of Lies and continuing through Venom and the rest of the series, Gin takes on what she calls “pro bono” jobs. In other words, helping out folks whose problems only have one solution – a bloody, permanent one that involves Gin using her silverstone knives.

These days, Gin doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty if it’s for a good cause, like in Web of Lies when she helped out Warren T. Fox, an old friend of her mentor’s who was being driven off his land. In Venom, Gin finds out that someone she knows is being stalked by a serial killer – and that the whole situation is sort of Gin’s fault to begin with. Guilt can be a powerful motivator, even for an assassin.

Gin is also changing in her personal life. Not to give too many spoilers away for what happened in Web of Lies, but Gin opened up her heart to someone and got pretty badly burned in the process. In Venom, she’s trying to regroup and wondering what to do about a new guy, Owen Grayson, who’s showing interest in her – whether or not she wants to try to have a real relationship with someone new and whether Owen can really accept her for who and what she is. After all, most guys would be a little leery about getting involved with a former assassin.

Then, there’s Gin’s long-lost baby sister Bria. At the end of Spider’s Bite, Gin found out that Bria was alive after thinking her dead for years. In Web of Lies, Gin struggled with how she felt about the revelation – and whether she should try to find Bria. After all, most people would be a little leery if they found out their big sister use to kill people for a living. Now, in Venom, there’s another twist to the Bria situation. I won’t spoil it here, except to say that Gin has to confront a lot of things about her past and the night her family was murdered.

In many ways, Venom is a turning point in the Elemental Assassin series. Gin makes some big decisions in this book – about her sister and especially about what she’s going to do about the Fire elemental who murdered her family. Relationships between Gin and the other characters deepen or take new turns, and of course, I take readers to new places in Ashland, including a riverboat casino called the Delta Queen. All of these things will drive the story arc into the fourth and fifth books in the series.

I don’t know that there’s a softer, kinder Gin in Venom, but I do think that she’s a little more open and a little more caring and a lot more interesting. Hopefully, readers will agree.

What about you guys? How do you like to see characters change over the course of a series? Who are some of your favorite fantasy characters?

Giveaway details:

We have ONE set of the first three books (Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies and Venom) in the series to giveaway to one lucky winner. Leave a comment answering Jennifer’s questions for a chance to win. Contest is open to residents of US and Canada ONLY and will run until October 9 at 11:59 PM (PST). Only one entry per person please! Good luck!

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  • Amanda Isabel
    October 7, 2010 at 4:22 am

    I don’t think I have a favourite fantasy character – or characters. I like female characters who fight and grow to develop a type of wisdom, I suppose, but their actual selves elude me right now.

    I think character development in fantasy series is hard – fantasy is written with certain “types” in mind, and it is hard to break that type when it works well. So development in fantasy series, I think, always deserves recognition.

    I personally like the development of a character on a book-by-book basis. I like each book to address a particular aspect of the character, so I can watch her grow in that way.

    Kudos to the development of Gin – a great series, and excellent plot-based development!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Edie Ramer
    October 7, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Wow! What a great summary of the books! I know her books are wonderful!

    I do like to see characters develop over the course of a series. Otherwise they get stale and I get bored.

    My favorite fantasy characters are the dust bunnies in the Jayne Castle books. I’m waiting for all the combined animal hairs in my house (like small tumbleweeds) to start doing something intelligent. But, nope, I keep ending up getting out the vacuum.

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Amanda — I know what you mean. I think it’s especially hard to develop characters in epic fantasy, where you often have a cast of thousands. In those types of books, it’s difficult to give all the characters page time to start with, let alone show their growth/development. And thanks! I appreciate that.

    Edie — Thanks! I appreciate that. I know what you mean. As much as I loved the first several Stephanie Plum books, I quit reading the series because it seemed like Stephanie never grew as a character — or was ever going to decide between Ranger and Joe.

    I haven’t read Castle. She’s one of many authors that I need to add to my TBR pile …

  • Marie
    October 7, 2010 at 7:49 am

    I LOVE THIS SERIES! Jennifer, thanks for the great new UF heroine! I love the secondary characters, although the series plays more like an ensemble cast, you know? Loved Finn from the start, but LOVE Owen!!!! So…when’s the next one coming out?

    I love when strong characters change over time. Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs), Joanne Baldwin (Rachel Caine), Lee Mallorough (Moira Moore), Rafael and Elena (Nalini Singh) to name a few that have changed during story arcs. Usually, the core personalities are there, but there are other aspects that come to the forefront, possibly due to a situation or another individual, making the hero see something formerly mundane with new insight. These changes, for me, keep me coming back for more.

  • Robin K
    October 7, 2010 at 7:52 am

    I love it when the heroine learns and adapts. I hate whiners. It is awesome “watching” a heroine become kick-ass and independent. Dakota Banks Mortal Path series features an assassin that is awesome to watch grow and change.

  • Rhyan
    October 7, 2010 at 7:53 am

    I have so many I love it’s hard to choose. But i think it would be the D’Artigo sisters fromYasmine Galenorn’s series. I know there are three of them. But it would be the one who is the lead in the current buck I am reading. But there are so many to choose from. Faythe from Rachels Vincents series would be at the top as well.

  • Rebecca
    October 7, 2010 at 8:01 am

    I love this series! What a great contest too! I was thrilled to hear about the ya.

  • Greg L
    October 7, 2010 at 8:03 am

    I tend to like see changes in character that show a realisation that actions have consequence… And changes that alter how I see the character as a reader … An example of what I mean would be the character of Jamie in GRRM ‘ Game of Thrones or Spike in Buffy

  • Jody W.
    October 7, 2010 at 8:10 am

    So now Gin’s rationale is “He needed killin’!” That’s great! I would have to say one of my favorites is Mercy Thompson (Briggs) but I’ve also got a soft spot for Sookie — more in the books than on TV. On TV I adored Chloe Sullivan on Smallville but I had to quit watching due to extreme suckiness of the program, so I have no idea if I’d still adore her.

  • Ruth T.
    October 7, 2010 at 8:17 am

    The characters need to grow and change as the book/series continues, I don’t want the same character on page 1 on page 300, I wont continue if there is no growth.

    In the growth department my top pick is Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series, Jane started out book 1 Tempest Rising as a push over, runner of danger or fainted at the first sign of trouble, and she emerged from book 1 and evolved into a more confident person and started to hold her own in book 2 Tracking the Tempest.

  • Amy P
    October 7, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I have mad love for this series! They just keep getting better and better. I love it when a heroine finds her inner strength, whether it be something physical (like her hidden ability to kick ass) or mental strength that adds another level to the character.My favorite fantasy characters are usually the secondary characters that end up stealing the show like Jenks from the Hollow’s series. That little guy cracks me up!

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Marie — Thanks! Glad you are digging Gin and the gang’s crazy adventures. TANGLED THREADS will be out April 26, 2011. I’ll also be posting some more free short stories on my website, probably after the first of the year.

    That’s a great list of heroines. I love seeing characters grow and change too.

    Robin — Several folks have mentioned that series to me. I’ll have to check it out.

    Rhyann – Galenorn is another author that I’ve been meaning to try, and it seems like a lot of folks are buzzing about Vincent’s series now that the last book is out.

    Rebecca — Thanks! I appreciate that. And I hope you enjoy the YA book when it comes out next year.

    Greg — I loved Spike on Buffy, and he’s a great example of a character who grew of the course of two TV series.

    Jody — Hey, she is an assassin after all. Her worldview is a little skewed. LOL. I loved Chloe on Smallville. I always wanted Clark to forget about Lana and hook up with Chloe.

    Ruth — I haven’t heard of Peeler’s series. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 8:32 am

    Amy — Thanks! I appreciate that. Ah, Jenks. He’s definitely my favorite character in the Hollows series. Sometimes, I wish that he and Bob the skull from the Dresden series would team up for their own book. It could be called Bob vs. Jenks or something like that. LOL.

  • Bookworm134
    October 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

    One of my favorite fantasy characters has to be Phèdre from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel Series. She is an amazingly strong women who just lives her life the best she can. Merry Gentry from the LK Hamilton Series is another favorite. I just love her spunk and they way she thinks. Which leads me into my favorite character change over the course of a series is Anita Blake. She goes from hating all vampires/wereanimals and shooting them on sight, to dating/protecting/loving them. Talk about a prejudice reversal. Thanks for the contest!

  • CrystalGB
    October 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Hi Jennifer. I love to see characters grow in a series. I like how they become stronger, more confident and more in touch with their emotions.

  • SylviaSybil
    October 7, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I like it best when the evolution seems natural and it’s only when comparing the character from book 5 to the character from book 1 that you realize how far they’ve come. Too much change can look forced or traumatizing. Although the sudden change can be done well. In Magic Bites, Kate Daniels is a binge drinker, but towards the end of that book there’s a situation where being drunk almost gets her killed. After that we never see her having more than one drink in an evening. It’s not really spelled out, but when you see her sipping her beer slowly and savoring it, compared to the first book when she was slamming it down as fast as she could, you realize how profoundly that affected her.

  • Chelsea B.
    October 7, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I don’t have a favorite, but it is interesting to watch your favorite characters grow into stronger versions of themselves! I love characters who have you rooting for them 🙂

  • Jen R
    October 7, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I don’t have a set development progression that I like to see characters take in the path of a series but it does need to be natural to what they experience & there has to be some growth/change for it to be realistic.

    My favorite characters are definitely Faythe (Rachel Vincent), Mercy (Patricia Briggs) & Rachel(Kim Harrison). I am personally super disappointed in the development of Anita Blake 🙁

    Thanks for the super contest, I hope to win but even if not will probably be scooping these up as my interest is piqued by the lovely character profile you have written.

    Cheers- Jen

  • Sue R
    October 7, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Who are some of your favorite fantasy characters?

    I enjoy seeing characters mature throughout the series. It shouldnt be sudden. It should be a gradual change though. Some of my favorite characters are Kate Daniels from Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews, Harry Dresden from Changes by Jim Bucther and John Taylor from The Good, the Bad and the Uncanny by Simon R. Green.

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Bookworm — Carey is another author that I’ve heard good things about. I’ve heard a lot of positive buzz for her whole Kushiel series.

    Crystal — Me too.

    Sylvia — I think it’s interesting to take a look back like that too. I’ve just finished doing revisions for the fifth Elemental Assassin book, and I know how much Gin has changed from the first book. I hope readers like the direction that I’m going with her.

    That’s another series that I need to get caught up on …

    Chelsea — That’s what makes reading worthwhile, isn’t it? 😉

    Jen — I like Rachel from the Hollows series a lot too. I’m a few books behind though so I need to get caught up on those.

    Thanks! I hope you enjoy the books.

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Sue — I like the Dresden series a lot too. I think Butcher is really good at juggling all the various plot threads from book to book and still having the characters grow and change. I haven’t read Green, but I’ll have to check him out.

  • willaful
    October 7, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I love to see change, except when it undoes/destroys something good that came before. It can still work, but it’s a lot harder.

  • Laura
    October 7, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Most of the time, change is good. If characters don’t change, there really isn’t any reason to keep reading because nothing really happens.

    Terry Pratchett has several main characters and I enjoy each of their stories. Grrm has fantastic characters and events in his stories, the Dresden Files are also great. 😀

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Willaful — I don’t mind if something gets destroyed along the way, as long as the author uses that to make something even better happen. Sometimes, making things worse for a character can make for a more interesting story — and a greater reward in the end for the character.

    Laura — I really like Pratchett’s DiscWorld series. Good Omens by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is also an interesting read (it reads more like a Pratchett book than a Gaiman one). I also enjoyed the first book in Pratchett’s YA series, especially the Wee Free Men.

  • Barbara Elness
    October 7, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I like to see characters grow – it can be in accomplishments/skills, or learning from past mistakes or just adapting to life changes.
    Some of my favorite Urban Fantasy characters are Jeaniene Frost’s Cat & Bones, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan, Jaye Wells’ Sabina Kane, Kelly Gay’s Charlie Madigan and of course, Gin Blanco.

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Barbara — Thanks! That’s good company to be in. 8) I really like Frost’s books too. I’m looking forward to the next Cat and Bones story.

  • Lillian
    October 7, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I love watching characters develop over a certain length of time. In my opinion, the best character development comes when he or she is faced with a choice that really tests their beliefs and how far they’re are willing to go for something or someone. I also like it when an author reveals something unexpeted about the character that changes the reader’s view of him or her, but still manages to make sense with the character’s overall personality.

    My favorite fantasy character is probably Mercy Thompson, she undergoes a lot of development, but my overall favorite character would have to be Patrick Kenzie from Dennis Lehane’s Kenzie & Gennaro mystery series. I have really enjoyed watching Kenzie develop his character through all of the problems he has to face. He’s quite the tough cookie, yet still manages to retain his humanity among the lowlifes he’s forced to deal with.

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Lillian — I definitely agree. It’s always good when an author makes a character either put up or shut up. Lehane is an author that I’ve been meaning to try for forever. Him and James Lee Burke …

  • Chicory
    October 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I’ve never commented here before, but when I saw Jennifer Estep was the guest, I had to say hi- and congratulations on having the new book out. 🙂

    As for changing characters from urban fantasy, lately I’ve been reading Rob Thurman’s Leandros Brothers series (Okay, it’s the Caliban Leandros series, but I wouldn’t want to make Niko jealous.) Cal has developed a lot over the series, both in letting more people into his life, but also becoming more ruthless. It makes you really like him and fear for him at the same time.

  • LSUReader
    October 7, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Strong character development is the main reason I’ll keep up with a series. I care about these folks, so I want to see how they grown and change over time. Are you familiar with Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series? I love how she returns to different characters over the course of the series and allows her readers to keep in touch with them. Two of her werewolves—Elena Michaels and Clayton Danvers—are my favorites. From 2003’s Bitten to 2009’s Frostbitten, they undergo many changes.

    Thanks for giving us Gin. The Elemental Assassin series is a gem.

  • cories5
    October 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Congrats on your new release!

    Part of the allure of a series is seeing how the characters grow. Not only do characters grow in the space of one book, they can do so in many books.

    Some of my favorites include Mercy Thompson, Harry Dresden and Sam Vimes (from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series). Well, I suppose Carrot exhibited character growth, too, but I think Sam is the one who changed the most.

  • chey
    October 7, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    How do you like to see characters change over the course of a series?–I like to see them learn from their mistakes and not keep repeating them.
    Who are some of your favorite fantasy characters? — Elena and Jeremy from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld books.

  • Tina
    October 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Since I won’t read a book unless I like the characters, character development is a really important factor in whether or not I’ll stick with a series. I think the reason I’ve been so impressed with the Kate Daniels series is because Kate grows throughout the series but she also remains true to herself. It’s like watching a friend gradually change over a period of time, even if you read all of the books in one sitting. It’s believable so it works. I also really like the development that’s happening with Beka in Tamora Pierce’s current triology. I’m really interested to see what she’ll be like when the series reaches it’s conclusion.

    Thanks for the chance to win! I’ve heard great things about these books but I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

  • Jasmine A S
    October 7, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Wow, that series sounds truly wonderful. If only I had more time to read!

    One of my favourite series characters is Mercedes, in Patricia Brigg’s Mercy’s Garage series. I love how over the course of the series she learns how much more she has to loose, and how to fight for it. 😀

  • Priya
    October 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I don’t think I really have a favorite fantasy character- I just tend to like strong, females who have a sense of themselves and can admit to their mistakes.

    I like to see characters grow wiser- I don’t like it when their history repeats itself or when they act completely illogically. Some authors tend to give strong females weak sides which show when they make stupid decisions in regards to males. The decision will be defying common sense and completely idiotic, but they’ll decide to make it anyway. Novels like those irritate me, and I almost always put them down instantly.

    Also, learning to have more faith in oneself and growing stronger (whether it be mental, emotional, etc) however they need to is also nice to read.


  • J
    October 7, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    I like it when characters are changed by the events of a series, it means that they faced difficult decisions.

    I’m eagerly awaiting a copy of the most recent book with Tiffany Aching, the 4th sequel to Wee Free Men, so she’s my choice. And she has grown so much from the first book.

  • Tiah
    October 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I get very bored with a series if the characters don’t change or develop. Awesome giveaway, thank you!

  • Ruby
    October 7, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    I think that Mercy Thompson is my favorite character, which surprises me because I don’t normally like tattooed characters. I expect them to be either tough-talking chicks or vamps. Mercy’s more girl next door and I like that about her.

    My favorite kind of character tends to be one who, at the beginning of a book or series, has a view of herself (or himself) that is very different from the way that the world sees her (or him). I like to go with them on their journey to self-awareness.

  • Pam S (pams00)
    October 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    I don’t have any fav fantasy characters really. I don’t like the ones that complain a lot or act totally hopeless. At the same time I don’t like the ones that seem overly independent and non caring either.

    pams00 @

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    October 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    How do you like to see characters change over the course of a series? I like to see them get tougher and stronger and caring. Who are some of your favorite fantasy characters? I like Edward from Twilight, Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Vincent from Beauty and the Beast. Please enter me in contest.

  • Cathy M
    October 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I have a lot of great series that I enjoy reading because I love to watch the characters evolve.

    One of my favorite fantasy characters is Lady
    Lyssa in Joey W Hill’s, Vampire Queen series. Through out the six books, some stories center totally on Lyssa, and some just give us a quick flash as she interacts with others in her world.

    For me, she has gone from an almost unlikeable character to someone that has endless depths to her, and is definitely never predictable. I love that we get to see both her fierceness and her gentleness with those she loves. She is definitely evolving, and I find that fascinating.

    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  • heatwave16
    October 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I love to see a character change over a series. People evolve over time, or at the very least we are suppose to. Unless the whole series happens in like a week…I would accept the character to have their views of life changed by what they have experienced.

    I’m a big fan of Rachel Morgan (Kim Harrison’s Hollows) & Anita Blake


  • Anonymous
    October 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I really like it when characters become more independent or if what they are going through actually affect how they see or feel about the world. For example, if a character is supposed to be kind and cheerful, but circumstances have made it necessary for them to do things they wouldn’t normally feel comfortable doing, they should feel something, go through emotional turmoil, or else the story just feels unrealistic and pointless.

    I love Rose Hathaway from the Vampire Academy series. (:

  • Ni8ht 0wl
    October 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    I like it when a character starts off really stubborn yet having a strong and intelligent character and then seeing them learn how to open up to people slowly and reasonably (coz sometimes some characters just change without any reasonable situations that force them to change).. it’s like “huh?! why does s/he suddenly think and act that way?” I like it better when there’s a really deep and challenging situation that presents itself to the character that radically changes his/her life.

    My favorite in fantasy so far in terms of dynamic characters are Katsa and Po in “Graceling” I love how both of them changed and kind of switched their way of how they viewed the world when the event happened to them. It makes the story sort of real because I think that how they reacted to the situation can be related to real life for some people. =)

    I so want to win this! She’s just my type of heroine. ^_^

  • Bella F.
    October 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    hi Jennifer!
    I haven’t read Gin Blanco’s story yet but it sounds exactly like my kind of books :mrgreen:
    One of the main reasons I adore reading series is because of the changes and growth I get to see in characters, and I like to see how changes translate into them finding their calling, their true love, or/and their place in the world, as well as learning more about their pasts. Some of my favorites in fantasy are Georgina and her friends in Richelle Mead’s Succubus series, Seth,Niall, Leslie, and Irial in the Wicked Lovely series, and I LOVE Mercy and all the peeps in Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series!
    Looking forward to read and add Gin to the list:D

  • SaraC
    October 7, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I love seeing characters change and evolve. If they stay the same old same old, I get bored of the series and stop reading.

  • JenM
    October 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    One of the reasons I love UF is that you really see the lead character develop over the course of several books. I can think of several series that I just stopped reading because the lead character didn’t change or grow.

    I think one reason many people (myself included) are so hooked on Kate Daniels is that over the course of the series, although she is still tough as nails, she’s slowly opened up and let other people get close to her. She’s afraid she’s going to get them all killed, but she can’t seem to help herself. It makes her so much more human than she seemed in the beginning of the series.

  • Monna
    October 7, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Personally, I prefer to see character development over time. Realistically, a character doesn’t just go through some massive change overnight and wind up completely mature and ready to kick some bad guy butt. The more gradual the growth, the more I appreciate the character’s struggles, which is why I love reading a series rather than a stand alone.

    While I have so many favorites (Mercy Thompson, Rachel Morgan, Rose Hathaway, etc.) I’d say some of my favorite fantasy characters come from Jacqueline Carey. She does an excellent job of showing the growth of a character over an extended period of time in each of her series. (Plus, its Jacqueline Carey, ‘nough said.)

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 8, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Chicory — Thanks! I appreciate that. Thurman is another author that I’ve been meaning to try … And I love ruthless characters.

    LSUReader — Thanks! I appreciate that. You know, I read Bitten and really liked Elena’s character — but not Clay. He just didn’t work for me as a hero. I thought he was selfish for turning her into a werewolf when she didn’t know anything about that world to start with. Of course, if he hadn’t done that, there wouldn’t have been a story to start with. LOL. But I just didn’t like him as much as I did Elena.

    Corie — Thanks! I like how Pratchett’s characters can be so wacky and still change over the course of a book too.

    Chey — I haven’t read much in Armstrong’s Otherworld series, but I liked Exit Strategy by her — her suspense book about an assassin.

    Tina — I haven’t tried Pierce’s books yet, but I’ve seen lots of good reviews for them. I’ll have to add them to my TBR list.

    Jasmine — Everyone seems to be buzzing about the Mercy series right now …

    Priya — I like to see characters grow stronger as well, whether it’s in their magic or just more confident as a person.

    J — I really liked the Wee Free Men. I need to get caught up on that series.

    Tiah — Me too.

    Ruby — It is all about the journey, isn’t it? We can start out not liking a character but come to care about them by the end of the story.

    Pam — I don’t mind independent characters, but I hate characters who are too whiny and angsty.

    Victoria — I’m more of a Spike fan, but I really liked how Angel changed in his own show and how the relationships between Wesley, Cordelia, etc. evolved as well.

    Cathy — I haven’t tried that series, but I’ll have to add it to my list. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Heatwave — Yes, but sometimes that evolution doesn’t always happen. LOL.

    Joana — I like Rose from the Vampire Academy series too. I’ve only read the first two books, but Rose grew up quite a bit just in those books.

    Ni8ht Owl — Thanks! I appreciate that. And I LOVED Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I think Katsa is a really great heroine.

    Bella — Thanks! I hope you enjoy the Gin books. I haven’t read Mead’s Succubus series, but I really like her Vampire Academy YA series.

    Sara — I agree.

    Jen — That’s another series that everyone seems to be talking about right now.

    Monna — I have to have character growth or I tend to get bored with the story. Everyone seems to love Carey’s novels. I really need to start her Kushiel series.

  • Lisa B.
    October 8, 2010 at 7:02 am

    I’ve been hearing so many great things about this series that I’m somewhat embarrassed to say I haven’t read any of the books yet. But they’ve been on my radar. Even though sometimes it’s difficult to watch a character progress, I love a good character arc. It’s interesting to see which way characters will turn or what will change for them as each book goes.

    My favorite fantasy characters are of course Katniss and Peeta (from the Hunger Games) and I’m just getting into Chess from Stacia Kane’s series.

  • Tynga
    October 8, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I like to see them grow of course, but I don’t like when the growth is to quick, because it’s not believable. MY biggest pee vee is when a character (either books or TV) sucks pretty much the whole book with w/e their talent is and then sundenly, at the end, he/she becomes all mighty and saves the day.
    Some of my favorite characters are Faythe from Shifters series by Rachel Vincent, Rose from Vampire Academy & Cat from Night Huntress series.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Julie Swaney
    October 8, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Some of my favorite fantasy characters – Mercy Thompson(Patricia Briggs), Faythe Sanders(Rachel Vincent), Rachel Morgan, Ivy, Jenks(Kim Harrison),Elena,Clay and Jeremy(Kelly Armstrong), Sasha and Hunter(L.A. Banks), Kitty Norville(Carrie Vaughn)

    I love to see the characters develop thru out the series.

    jellybelly82158 at gmail dot com

  • John J
    October 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I like to see characters become…stronger. More aware of themselves. I guess a better way would be to give some examples.

    What I don’t want to see: The House of Night series. The heroine went from interesting to being a major whore who was full of herself. She progressed in such a bad way for me, and it just didn’t work. Even teenagers evolve into more self conscious people as time goes on. They usually don’t get worse, and getting worse is NOT appealing.

    What I do want: Diane Duane’s (fabulous) young-wizards series, which has been around forever. While the books (smartly) don’t follow a specific chronology, each one has the main characters – Kit and Nita – becoming smarter and more dynamic. They flesh out with their increasingly complex wizarding world, and it just works.

    Favorite Fantasy Characters:

    Nita and Kit (Diane Duane’s Young Wizard’s series)

    Briar, Sandry, Daja, and Tris (Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series)

    Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle)

    I love that they are all strong and complex characters that have a variety of relationship types. They are just awesome.

  • Rose
    October 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Wow, I really love your books! I loved your Bigtime books also. I agree with so many of the previous posters that seeing the growth in a character is what keeps me interested. If the book has an extreme climax event, than the hero(ien) should show that growth in the next book. Frequently that is what has me so excited to open the next volume in a series. I am so interested to see how my favorite characters have changed.

    I have many that I love but to mention a few, and to agree with other posters, I would say that Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs) and Briar, Sandry, Daja, and Tris (Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic series), show tremendous growth over the series(es).

  • brit
    October 8, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I like having characters change over time, it gets frustrating when characters have all of these major events in their lives and it doesn’t affect them at all.

  • Christine
    October 9, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Hi Jennifer!
    I have been hearing nothing but wonderful things about your Elemental Assassin series. I just love the idea of a deadly female assassin! 😈

    I’m looking forward to your upcoming YA series as well! I read YA for my own pleasure, plus I have two daughters with whom I love to share and discuss books with. In fact, my youngest who is 11, is sort of at a turning point where she’s outgrown a lot of the middle school books, yet a lot of the current YA is too mature for her. I’m hoping Touch of Frost might be a fitting series for her come next year!

    My favorite fantasy heroine is Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson. I have admired Mercy from the very beginning of her series simply because she acknowledges her strengths and weaknesses and tries to avoid being careless. When she does do things that get her into trouble, it’s because she is putting someone else’s safety ahead of her own. For someone who keeps to herself, she sure does put herself on the line to help others. I admire that.

    I enjoy witnessing the growth of a character throughout a series. I like when she (or he) becomes more content with who they are–both their strengths and weaknesses and that they find their “place” or “purpose” in their world that also leads them to some sense of belonging and some happiness, too. Hopefully they get to rid the world of some evil along the way and yeah.. killing some bad guys always helps! LOL!

  • Jennifer
    October 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    For me a huge element in a good book(and series)is the characters, including how they change. Changes that I like to see in characters is how they learn from experiences, especially how they learn to trust people and be more accepting or caring sometimes…I especially like books where characters learn, in their own way, what it means to be brave and when a character learns more about themselves and this changes them. Anyways, I like books that are moved forward by the characters more than the events, and one of my favorite fantasy characters is Katsa, from the book Graceling, by Kristin Cashore.

  • Karissa
    October 9, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I absolutely love this series. I love it when characters gradually get new and interesting powers and strengths (which Gin is). I also love to see characters find a place in their lives where they are genuinely happy; oh and I love to watch them kick butt 🙂
    One of my favorite heroines is Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 10, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Lisa — No worries. It always surprises (and humbles) me that folks read my books in the first place since there are so many great books out there already. I keep hearing good things about Kane’s series. Another one to add to the TBR pile …

    Tynga — Yeah, I think it’s important to have a character grow slowly throughout a book or over a series a books — not suddenly have them become Superman. I really like the Cat & Bones series too. I’m looking forward to the next book.

    Julie — Vaughn is another author that I keep meaning to read …

    John — I’ve only read the first House of Night book, but I did think the world building was interesting. I liked the mix of mythology and Native American traditions. I haven’t heard of Duane before. I’ll have to check out those books …

    Rose — Thanks! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed my books. I keep hearing Pierce’s name. I really need to check her out …

    Brit — I agree.

    Christine — Well, I would say that my YA will be for slightly older readers, say ages 13 and up. (The kids in my book go to a rich boarding school, so there is some drinking, cursing, and references to sex.) But it’s definitely a girl power book — kind of like Veronica Mars meets the movie 300.

    Jennifer — Graceling was one of my favorite reads last year because Katsa does all the things you describe. She learns how to stand up to her uncle, falls in love with Poe, and protects the little girl. That really was a great book.

    Karissa — Thanks! I’m glad you are digging Gin’s evolution and growth.

  • Christine
    October 10, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Jennifer, thanks so much for the scoop about your YA. It’ll be one for me and my 15 y.o. teen to read then! My 11 y.o. will have to wait a bit … 😉

  • Jennifer Estep
    October 11, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Christine — You’re welcome. I’ll be posting more info about the series on my website after my blog tour for VENOM wraps up.

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