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.