In celebration of her newest release, The Brimstone Deception, urban fantasy author Lisa Shearin stopped in for a brief interview. Please help me welcome her to That’s What I’m Talking About.
TWITA: Welcome to That’s What I’m Talking About! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. We are here to celebrate the release of The Brimstone Deception, the third title in your SPI Files series. Can you share with us a little bit about the book and series?
LS: Thank you so much for inviting me! Yes, I had a great holiday season—family, friends, and lots of writing. The SPI Files series is a bit like the movie Men In Black; that is, if MIB featured supernatural creatures instead of space aliens. Makenna Fraser is a small-town girl from the mountains of North Carolina. She’s a seer, meaning that she can see through any glamour, veil, shield, or ward supernatural criminals can use to disguise themselves. It’s a rare talent, and one that gets her a job at SPI (Supernatural Protection & Investigations). They’re the people who protect humans and law-abiding supernaturals from supernatural criminals—and keep all of it hidden. Basically battling the creatures of the night while keeping humans in the dark.
In The Brimstone Deception, there’s a new designer drug on the streets called Brimstone. The drug enables users to do what Mac does, namely being able to see every supernatural creature sharing the sidewalk, train, or office with them—sights your average human simply can’t handle without going off the deep end. Drug cartels (supernatural and otherwise) are battling for control of the drug and its production pipeline—a pipeline that leads straight to Hell itself. The active ingredient is molten brimstone fresh from Hell, meaning a rift to the underworld must be open somewhere in New York. And when—not if—the cartel loses control of it, the denizens of Hell will be surging through that rift to take a big bite out of the Big Apple.
TWITA: I absolutely love the idea of a vast supernatural population living unknown among the humans. I also love that your heroine, Makenna, isn’t some superstar, kicka$$ warrior, yet she holds her own. What were your inspirations for creating such an immensely detailed world? What type of research do you do to bring to life some of your more unique characters?
LS: SPI is a worldwide organization, but it headquartered in New York in a subterranean complex beneath Washington Square Park. The New York area is simply chock full of fabulous locations for the action in the books: the abandoned subway tunnels beneath the city, North Brother Island in the East River, a gala exhibit opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Halloween night, and in my next SPI Files adventure which I’m writing now, I’ll be using Bannerman’s Castle on the Hudson River. Google it. This place rocks!
TWITA: Which of your supernatural creatures was your favorite to create and write about thus far?
LS: Two of my favorites are the Russian werewolf Yasha Kazakov and the goblin Rake Danescu. Yasha is one of SPI’s drivers and trackers. In a city where there are more supernatural bad guys than parking spaces, a reliable drop-off and pick-up guy is a necessity. Even better was one who had no problem turning a rampaging monster into a hood ornament. And should a simple collar turn into a cluster, Yasha’s always happy to take the fight beyond the driver’s seat—especially during the full moon. He wears fatigue pants and a selection from his never ending collection of t-shirts. Two of my favorites are: “In case of emergency, lift shirt, pull.44.” and “Don’t run. You’ll only die tired.”
I use the same goblin race in my SPI Files books as I do in my Raine Benares series. My goblins are everything you’ve heard that they’re not—tall, sleek, and sexy, with enough charisma to make you not only drink the Kool-Aid, but happily stand in line for it. Goblin hair is dark and often worn long. Their skin is pale gray with a silvery sheen, with human-sized ears the end in a nibbleable point. And they sport a pair of fangs that aren’t for decorative use only. Rake Danescu is a goblin dark mage who owns and runs Bacchanalia, an upscale and very exclusive club that bills itself as the complete adult entertainment experience. Yep, it’s a sex club.
TWITA: Additionally, I adore the camaraderie and humor Mac shares with her coworkers. Her wit and snark make even the most dire situations enjoyable. However, I have to ask… what is, or rather what isn’t, going on with Mac and her partner Ian? Will we learn more while reading The Brimstone Deception?
LS: You’ll definitely learn more about Mac and Ian—and Mac and Rake in The Brimstone Deception. I’ll say no more so as not to give away the fun.
TWITA: I actually listened to the first two books on audio and enjoyed them immensely. Johanna Parker’s southern drawl is the perfect fit for Mac. Do you have any say in who narrates your titles? Do you listen to the books once they are finished? Do you find you have a large following of audiobook fans?
LS: I actually got to select the narrator for the SPI Files books! I thought Johanna did such an amazing job with Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, that I desperately wanted her to voice Makenna & Company. Johanna and I talk before they begin production on each book to clear up the pronunciation of any funky names.
TWITA: What are your future plans for the series? Is this an open-ended series or do you have the overall story arc/ending in sight?
LS: The SPI Files series is completely open ended. I’m writing the fourth book, The Ghoul Vendetta, right now, and have at least three more in the chute ready to start. And as I write more books, I come up with more ideas. Mac & Company will be around for quite some time.
TWITA: You are also known for your wonderful Raine Benares series. Would you like to share a bit about that series with our readers?Do you have any other series or stories that you are working on? If so, would you give us a hint?
LS: I have a brand new Raine Benares book coming out near the end of January—Wedding Bells, Magic Spells—that picks up soon after the action of the sixth Raine novel, All Spell Breaks Loose. Here’s the jacket copy:
Name: Raine Benares
Job: Seeker, bride, peace talks referee
Problem: Back-stabbing diplomats, bride-hating mother-in-law
I’ve successfully destroyed the Saghred (AKA, a legendary soul-sucking rock). I’ve sent an evil goblin demigod to the Lower Hells. I’m coming to terms with my burgeoning new powers. I’m marrying super sexy paladin Mychael Eiliesor. You’d think I could handle a wedding and meeting my soon-to-be mother-in-law without another calamity brewing.
You’d be wrong!
The new, thankfully non-psychotic, goblin king is willing to come to the table to discuss a peace treaty. The Isle of Mid is the site of these delicate negotiations, meaning all hands on deck for Mychael and his Conclave Guardians. When the head of elven intelligence (and my wedding guest) Duke Markus Sevelien is nearly assassinated upon his arrival, I suspect my mother-in-law will be the least of my concerns. Sabotaging the peace talks is the first salvo in a treacherous and deadly new apocalyptic plot.
Mychael and I might not make it to the altar after all!
TWITA: What genres do you enjoy reading? Who are your “go-to” authors?
LS: I love paranormal thrillers. I adore Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, David Golemon, and James Rollins. I also really like James Patterson’s NYPD Red books.
TWITA: Lisa, it was wonderful to have you stop by during such a busy time. Thank you!
The agents of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) know that fighting evil is a full-time job, especially when a new designer drug—with mind-blowing side effects—hits the streets…
It’s called Brimstone. And after the first few hits, you’ll see every supernatural beast sharing the sidewalk, train, or office with you. After that, you’ll start seeing the really scary stuff.
I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for the SPI. And the collateral damage caused by Brimstone is something I’d like to unsee: dead drug dealers missing their hearts—and souls. Because your local pusher doesn’t stand a chance against the new cartel muscling its way into New York. And since the drug can only be produced with magic and molten brimstone fresh from Hell, that means a rift to the underworld is open somewhere in the city.
And when—not if—the cartel loses control of it, well…
It’s going to be Hell on earth.
The Brimstone Deception (SPI Files #3)
Stop back later today for my review of The Brimstone Deception.