UFI welcomes Anthony Francis Author of The Skindancer Series. Thanks for Joining us!!
What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview?
Let’s see … I like cats and sushi and dance clubs, and I can make an odd noise with my throat that sounds like a spacecraft landing. And I have a metal plate in my arm from when I blocked instead of ducking while preparing for a karate tournament.
What do you enjoy doing on your down time?
What’s down time? Seriously, on my down time I love scouring bookstores for books that spark ideas for future stories, and then lugging my stash to coffeehouses to read them. Before I broke my arm, I also enjoyed karate and hope to get back into it.
What is your Favorite part of writing?
Creating new world worlds filled with the fantastic and wonderful – science, magic and everything in between. Then I like creating interesting characters, tossing them into the setting, and seeing how they deal with something outside their experience.
Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write?
Attending the Write to the End group at Mission City Coffee is a must. We write for 20 minutes, everyone reads, and we do it again, usually three times for a total of an hour of writing every Tuesday night. FROST MOON was largely written at this group back when we met at Barnes and Noble at Steven’s Creek.
Beyond that, I try to take a couple of hours out almost every night to either research or write, usually by reading over dinner and writing at a nearby coffeehouse or bookstore. I usually get more researching done than writing so I have to be disciplined. As I write this I’m at the Coffee Society in Campbell right now, about to start writing.
And every November I participate in National Novel Writing Month – a challenge to write 50,000 words of a new novel in a month. FROST MOON and BLOOD ROCK both came out of Nanowrimo, which I’ve succeeded at five times. I now plan my year around starting a new novel every November and finishing the draft before it rolls around again.
What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Genres?
Patricia Briggs and the Mercedes Thompson series, Laurell Hamilton and the Anita Blake series, and Jim Butcher and the Dresden Files. I’ve read maybe a half dozen others but those three are ones that really stuck out in my mind.
How would you pitch The Skindancer series to someone who has not heard of your books before?
It’s about a woman who fell in love with the beauty and power of magical tattoos and then found her art has exposed her to the magical Edgeworld inhabited by vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night, all set in a very real Atlanta.
Can you tell us a little bit about the world that The Skindancer series is set in? The basic philosophy of Skindancer is that if magic was real, then magic would be REAL — and would have real effects on our world we could see. But magic in our world seems hidden, invisible — why did that happen, and how is the Skindancer world different?
In the Skindancer series, magic was the hidden treasure of secret societies and cultures, and was actively suppressed by wizards infiltrating the sciences. But the counterculture of the 1950s through 1970s, affected magical societies just like the rest of society.
When people began experimenting with sex, drugs and rock and roll, they began experimenting with magic too. Magic burst into the open. Wizards were exposed. Vampires became a force of law and order. And werekin were persecuted.
The series is set 30 years after this explosion of the “Edgeworld” between the magical and the normal, and Dakota Frost is a chemist-turned-tattoo-magician whose prominent place in the Edgeworld puts her right at the crosshairs of people on both sides.
Do you have a favorite scene in Blood Rock?
Without giving away spoilers for the book, my favorite scene is Dakota under the bridge. In that moment, she realizes she doesn’t need her home, money or car to survive, and that she can indeed do anything if she learns to rely upon herself.
Which character was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?
Cinnamon, and Cinnamon. She’s a treasure. She literally shoved her way into a scene I was writing in FROST MOON, pushing through a crowd to confront Dakota, and refused to leave the book. She was so alive I just had to let her take over in FROST MOON.
Cinnamon is really fun to write, but she’s such a complex character it’s hard to keep all of her threads in my head. I can easily have her come off too sullen, to smart, to scared, too tough—and she’s a mix of all of these. With her I have to take care to get her right.
Oh, and she speaks a broken dialect of English peculiar to the werehouse. My good friend Keiko O’Leary is trained as a linguist, and she reads each book in the Skindancer series to help keep Cinnamon’s dialect consistent. We have a five-page document called “The Rules” where Keiko mined FROST MOON for examples of Cinnamon’s speech and developed a consistent framework for her grammar. The very final stage of each Skindancer book is to review the werekin speech and make sure it is consistent.
What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you?
I’ve written 2/3rds or so of the third Dakota Frost book, LIQUID FIRE, and I plan many, many more in that series. I’m a bit scared to say how many as the prospect is daunting, but I will tell you I have a spreadsheet called “The Grid” which charts the plot of the series from October 26, 2006 to March 31, 2013, and I have written the last line of the last book, so I know where I’m going. Here’s hoping I continue to enjoy writing Dakota!
I’m planning a YA spinoff featuring Cinnamon called HEX CODE which will be my project for this November’s National Novel Writing Month. I have rough plans for three novels in this series; the next two have the working titles BOT NET and ROOT USER. I’m strongly starting to suspect that the trilogy is my preferred form of writing.
I’ve also written a draft of a steampunk novel called JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE which I hope to be sending out to beta readers this October. The first short story in this universe, “Steampunk Fairy Chick”, will be released as part of the UnCONventional anthology early next year, and I’m working on an interactive fiction in the same universe called “Watch on a Tangled Chain”.
I’m working on a young adult science fiction novel called STRANDED, set in a far future universe where Earth has been assimilated by a massive alien civilization and humanity is split between pure human refugees who have fled it and fantastic genetic constructs who have embraced it completely. I’ve been writing in this universe since I was a teen, and have several (non-YA) novels in progress — probably the closest to completion is my 2002 National Novel Writing Month entry with working title DELIVERANCE, but I’m also doing active research on my planned 2012 Nano entry, THE COMPASS COLONY.
I also enjoy writing and drawing comics. My webcomic, fanu fiku, is on hiatus while I finish the first Dakota Frost trilogy and complete the first Jeremiah Willstone book, but every year I participate in 24 Hour Comics Day, a challenge to complete 24 pages of a comic from scratch in 24 hours. I haven’t had quite the success at this that I have had at National Novel Writing Month, but I and my good friend Nathan Vargas are determined to help us (and others!) succeed by putting together a 24 Hour Comics Survival Kit which we’re hosting at Blitzcomics.com.
Whew. That’s a lot. I guess I better get back to writing! Thanks for the interview!
Dr. Anthony G. Francis, Jr. is a science fiction writer and computer scientist who started writing urban fantasy because he likes it. The Dakota Frost series combines Anthony's love of hard science, fantastic magic, alternative culture, and strong, feisty women.
Even though the siren call of computing eventually pulled him out to the San Francisco Bay Area, he still chose to set the Dakota Frost series in Atlanta, Georgia, where he spent nearly half his life and which he has learned to love like no other place on Earth.
When not making computers smarter or writing science fiction and fantasy, Anthony blogs about his life, his writing and his research at The Library of Dresan
. He also writes an occasionally updated webcomic, f@nu fiku
. He currently lives in San Jose with his wife
Find Anthony and his books
August 16, 2011
Dakota Frost is back, and the ink is about to hit the fan-again.
Graffiti comes to life in the dark heart of Atlanta’s oldest cemetery, slaying one of the city’s best loved vampires before the eyes of his friend Dakota Frost. Deadly magick is at work on the city’s walls, challenging even the amazing power of Dakota’s tattoos to contain it. The hungry, graffiti magick loves to kill, and the Edgeworld is no longer safe from its own kind.
Dakota begins a harrowing journey to save those she loves and to discover the truth behind the spreading graffiti-even if that truth offends the vampires, alienates the werekin and creates police suspicion of her every action.
Saving Atlanta may cost her everything, including custody of her “adopted” weretiger daughter, Cinnamon. But failure is not an option. If the graffiti isn’t stopped, Cinnamon could be the next victim.
March 1, 2010
In an alternate Atlanta where magic is practiced openly, where witches sip coffee at local cafes, shapeshifters party at urban clubs, vampires rule the southern night like gangsters, and mysterious creatures command dark caverns beneath the city, Dakota Frost's talents are coveted by all. She's the best magical tattooist in the southeast, a Skindancer, able to bring her amazing tats to life. When a serial killer begins stalking Atlanta's tattooed elite, the police and the Feds seek Dakota's help. Can she find the killer on the dark fringe of the city's Edgeworld? Among its powerful outcasts and tortured loners, what kind of enemies and allies will she attract? Will they see her as an invader, as a seducer, as an unexpected champion ... or as delicious prey?
5 Winner's will receive
1) Leave a question or comment for Anthony =)
2) Please leave where you live in the comment so I know what copy you are eligible for.
3) Must leave an email address so I can contact you.
- One Print Copy each of Blood Rock
*Print copies only available for US and Canadian Residence
20 additional winners will Receive
-One PDF Copy each of Blood Rock
Giveaway Ends 8/31/2011 at 10pm EST
Winner will have 48 Hours to reply to my email or I will pick another
Winner chosen randomly with the help of random.org