Guest Post – Jennifer Estep, Author of Spider's Bite – Plus a Contest!

Jennifer Estep is the author of the paranormal series, Bigtime. Three books were published in the Bigtime series, including Karma Girl, Hot Mama and Jinx. Now she’s changing gears with an extremely gritty urban fantasy about an assassin named Gin. The first novel, Spider’s Bite (which is available next week), received favorable advance reviews and Jennifer has just sold books four  and five in the Elemental Assassin series.

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Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to Tia for having me back on the blog. Thanks so much, Tia!

So today, Tia asked me to talk a little bit about what it’s like to change genres as an author.

As some of you might know, my first three books – Karma Girl, Hot Mama, and Jinx – were part of my Bigtime series. The paranormal romance series was basically a comic book spoof, set in a city full of sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love.

But I have a new book – Spider’s Bite – coming out on Jan. 26. It’s the first book in my Elemental Assassin series and focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who runs a barbecue joint in her spare time. Spider’s Bite (and the Elemental Assassin series overall) is as dark and gritty and violent as the Bigtime series was goofy and campy and over-the-top.

Yep, I’ve gone from penning light, fluffy paranormal romances to writing dark, gritty urban fantasy books about an assassin. And you know what? I didn’t find it all that hard to switch genres.

I know a lot of writers struggle when they switch genres. They struggle with the voice, the characters, the setting, even the plot. So why didn’t I? Well, for one, paranormal romance and urban fantasy aren’t all that different. Authors cross over from one genre to the other all the time. I’m certainly not the first. It’s not like I went from writing sci-fi space operas to historical non-fiction. Now that would be a big leap.

But mainly, I think that the reason I found it so easy to switch gears is because the Bigtime series and the Elemental Assassin series have a lot of the same core elements in common. Both feature sassy, kick-butt heroines, a cool magic city/world, and lots of action/fight scenes. (I really love writing fight scenes.) Everything in the Elemental Assassin books is just dark, gritty, and bathed in shadows, instead of being dazzling, neon, and candy-coated like in the Bigtime books. I still think the Elemental Assassin books are a lot of fun, though, just in a darker, different way than the Bigtime books are.

I really didn’t approach writing Spider’s Bite that much differently than I did Karma Girl or any of the other Bigtime books. Once I created my gritty southern metropolis of Ashland and figured out what kind of magic/powers I wanted my heroine Gin Blanco to have, I could concentrate on giving her a really strong, tough voice and persona to match the dangerous world that she lives in. Once I got Gin squared away as a character, the rest of the book just flowed.

Now, of course, I know that some folks won’t like the switch. I’m fully prepared to get e-mails from readers who are disappointed by my change from light paranormal romance to gritty urban fantasy. But I had been wanting to write a darker story for a while, and Spider’s Bite gave me the chance to do that. Not to mention that the darker urban fantasies and paranormal romances are what seem to be especially popular with readers right now. I do hope that fans of my Bigtime series will give Spider’s Bite and the rest of the Elemental Assassin series a chance – especially since I think that I’ve done some of my best writing to date in them.

And I don’t want to stop at urban fantasy. I’d love to write a contemporary romance, a really elaborate heist book, an epic fantasy young adult, and even a western one day. Yeah, my muse is all over the place – and that’s just the way I like it. 😉

What about you guys? Do you like it when an author switches genres? Why or why not? Share in the comments.

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As an added incentive to comment, Jennifer is giving a way a copy to a random commenter. This contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

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31 thoughts on “Guest Post – Jennifer Estep, Author of Spider's Bite – Plus a Contest!

  1. Tia Nevitt

    I followed Tad Williams from Fantasy to Steampunk and back again, so I guess I don’t mind. If I like the way an author presents a character and unfolds a story, I’ll generally try anything they write unless they delve into something like dark horror or other genres that I avoid.

    As a writer, I’ve written high fantasy, epic fantasy and what I call an Austen fantasy. Now I’m working on a time travel historical, plus I have a partially completed Christian novel. So I drift around as well!

    I’d love to read your YA epic fantasy! I think if you truly want to find wonder these days, that’s the genre in which you will find it.

  2. Tad Williams is one of those fantasy authors I’ve been meaning to try for forever now. Maybe someday …

    I agree that a lot of it has to do with the characters/story and just the voice in general. Lisa Kleypas is one author who writes in more than one genre. I enjoy her historical romances, but I absolutely love her contemporaries — the first-person voice that she uses in the contemporaries just works better for me.

    I’m getting more and more into YA books these days. Graceling by Kristin Cashore was one of my favorite reads last year. I totally agree there still being a lot of wonder in that genre.

  3. Chicory

    Jennifer, I am looking forward to reading your new book. (Since it’s just on the verge of coming out, I no longer feel bad about failing to track it down.) I really enjoyed Jinx.

    I think whether I enjoy someone switching generes depends a lot on what aspect of the author’s work I most like. If I adore someone’s epic world-building and they suddenly switch to contemporary, I’ll have trouble going with them. But if what I fall in love with is voice, I’m less likely to mind a switch. That said, I had the dickens of a time getting past Megan Whalen Turner’s change in her Anatolia series from first-person narrative to third-person.

    Vivian Vande Velde is a young adult author who can write anything and I’ll love it. She writes fractured fairy tales, ghost stories, regular fantasies, and a contemporary novel about dealing with grief.

  4. Hi, Chicory! Oh, no worries. It’s been more than a year since Jinx came out now, so I expect that I’ve fallen off most people’s radar. I hope you enjoy Spider’s Bite. 😉

    You make some good points. For me, I would say the most important thing is an author’s voice. If I like it in one genre, I’ll probably like it in another genre. Lee Child does the same thing in his Jack Reacher books — some are first person, some are third. I personally prefer his first-person voice.

    I had not heard of Velde. I’ll have to look her up on Amazon. Thanks for the tip!

  5. Peaches

    You haven’t fallen off my radar! I still read the Bigtime books over and over. I really can’t wait to read Spiders Bite, I can’t wait to see where you go with this new genre, but I do admit that I am a little worried. The fluff and fun of the Bigtime novels were what made them fun.

    I am still going to read it, and because I think you are a great writer, I will read this book, and totally believe I will love it as much.

  6. Hi, Peaches! That’s so nice of you to say. 😉

    I will warn you that Spider’s Bite is quite a bit darker than the Bigtime books. But I still think Spider’s Bite is a lot of fun too — just in a darker, grittier way than the Bigtime books are.

    Anyway, thanks for giving the book a chance, and I hope you enjoy it!

  7. Spider’s Bite is quite a bit darker, but you can still tell that Jennifer Estep wrote it. And there’s a Bigtime easter egg!!! Just a little one, but it made me laugh.

  8. Debbie Johnson

    I can’t wait till your book is released I have been following all information I can find. I am partially disabled and have to spend most of my day in bed so I read a ton of book (they are my lifesaver) it is getting harder and harder to find a good read and this one has me really exicited. I will be counting down the days.
    I wish you good luck and hope you have many more great books to come. I will most certainly be a supporter.

  9. Donna S

    If I like the author already I dont mind if they switch genres. I dont read just one genre anyway. The storyline and if I like how they write is much more important than a genre title.

  10. Tia — At some point, I might do a contest with the Easter egg. Maybe in my newsletter or something …

    Debbie — Thanks so much! Be sure to check out my blog then. I’m doing several guest blogs over the next few weeks — so many that folks will probably get sick of hearing about Spider’s Bite. LOL. I hope you enjoy the book.

    Donna — I agree.

    Also, I wanted to mention that I have free bookmarks to give away for Spider’s Bite (and Jinx too). If anyone wants some of those, just send me an e-mail at jennifer@jenniferestep.com, and I’ll tell you how to get them. I do ask folks to send me a self-addressed stamped envelope to help cover the cost of the postage.

  11. J

    I find that if I like the world the author has created in one genre, I like them in others as well. Usually they are sci-fi and fantasy crossings, like Lois McMaster Bujold or Simon R. Green, but there are some mystery authors as well.

    I’ve also found I like Jack Reacher as narrator better than the 3rd person books, though both are good.

    I’m looking forward to reading Spider’s Bite!

  12. Tia Nevitt

    Ooh, the newsletter easter egg contest would be fun!

    I’m with the consensus. Genre doesn’t matter to me. I know some authors use different names to write under different genres, but I honestly wish they wouldn’t. Because they may be the one getting me to read a new genre.

    Offtopic — we’re going to meet a puppy tonight for possible adoption. Things may get crazy in the Nevitt house if we come home with a puppy.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Oh, and don’t forget we have threaded conversations here. I threaded this one just to demonstrate!

      1. Peaches

        I adopted a puppy almost two years ago. Best decision I ever made. My girls, my husband,and I all adore her.

  13. J — Me too. All the Reacher books are good, but I like the first-person ones much better.

    Tia — Good luck with the puppy. We had to put our dog of 19 years to sleep. It’s been more than three years now, but I still miss him. Someday, though, I’ll have another dog …

    Peaches — Dogs really are a joy, and is there anything cuter than a wiggling puppy?

  14. Raven

    I think the deciding factor for me is plot. If I like an author’s writing style, I won’t really care what genre his or her next book is in, but if the plot of that next book doesn’t interest me, I won’t read it. That’s true even if the next book is in the same genre.

  15. Deborah Blake

    I follow the authors I like, no matter what they write–although sometimes I won’t like the books of one genre or another.
    As a writer, I have 5 pubbed NF books and am working at getting pubbed in fiction. The 1st novel I wrote was a paranormal romantic suspense with a humorous voice, the 2nd a paranormal romantic comedy, and I just finished an urban fantasy.
    So I say: go for it!

  16. van P.

    Can’t wait to read Spider Bites!

    I agree with you guys, i read whatever the author i follow writes 🙂 but yes PLOT is verry important!

  17. Tracey D

    Hi, Jennifer.

    You’re a new author for me but your books sound really good. I like dark urban fantasy and Spider’s Bite is right up my alley.

    I look forward in reading your other works, too.

    1. Peaches

      Tracey, you are going to love her!

  18. CrystalGB

    Hi Jennifer. If I like the author’s writing, I will read her/his work no matter what genre she/he writes. Spider’s Bite sounds great.

  19. I just wanted to say thanks again for the nice words about my books. I hope everyone enjoys Spider’s Bite!

    If I really like an author, I will usually follow him/her from genre to genre as well, as long as I like the new genre they are writing in. The plot doesn’t necessarily matter to me that much, as long as it fits in with the genre.

  20. I love it when I can see a different side to an author.

    I’ve heard such great things about Spider’s Bite!

  21. Hi 🙂
    Thank you for sharing here Jennifer. I love gritty urban fantasy!
    Thank you also for the short story SPIDER’S BARGAIN.
    All the best,
    RKCharron

    1. You’re welcome. I actually plan to do a free short story for each one of the Elemental Assassin books so there will be more free reads to come. 😉

      1. Peaches

        Yay!!! (too excited? LoL)

        1. I’m glad you’re looking forward to the series and hope you enjoy it as much as you did the Bigtime books. Happy reading! 😉

  22. Karen W.

    If I like an author’s writing and voice, I’m definitely interested in seeing what they can do in different genres. It’s good to switch things up to keep them fresh sometimes. 🙂

    I’m really excited about SPIDER’S BITE, Jennifer! I enjoyed your “Big Time” series and love urban fantasy!

    1. Thanks, Karen. I hope you enjoy the book! 😉

  23. Tia Nevitt

    I’m closing out this contest now and I’m putting up a post, so if you subscribed to this comment thread by email, be sure to check back and see if you’ve won.

  24. Wanda

    I would love to be entered in this draw. Thanks!

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