Ever since I first stumbled across it at Borders, Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionists series has maintained a permanent place at the top of my urban fantasy shelf. Her take on the genre is fresh, exciting, and always provides lots of laughs (and some lovin’, too). This week saw the release of Devil’s Luck, a novella chronicling the misadventures of my personal favorite Disillusionist, Simon. I’m lucky enough to have both Carolyn and Simon with me today to talk about fashion, friends, and all the Disillusionist dirt you could hope for.
Carolyn and Simon, I’d like to welcome you both to A Book and a Short Latte. I’ve been itching to meet you both since I first read Mind Games.
Thanks Shortlatte!! We’re glad to be here, aren’t we Simon? *kicks grumbly Simon in the shin*
The Disillusionists series is unlike any other urban fantasy I’ve come across. There’s something viscerally engaging about the evolution of supernatural elements from the ordinary human sensory experience, yet it still offers the cathartic impossibility of the traditional magic and creatures type urban fantasy. What first gave you the idea for the world of the Disillusionists?
I love how you put that question. Actually, I’m not just saying that, because you captured two things that were important to me.
One, it was important to me that the magic, with the highcaps, could feel like it could really happen, which is why I liked the idea of making it a genetic mutation, just a bit more of the brain being used. (Cathartic possibility!)
Two, as far as the actual disillusioning, it’s a little taken from reality. For example, I used to have this friend who was slowly going insane—conspiracy theories, voices, the whole deal. It was really terrible, and sad. And whenever I’d hang out with him, afterwards, I’d feel a little crazy and wired, too, as if I’d soaked up his crazy energy.
You hang out with somebody who’s intensely angry or depressed or incredibly light and happy, and it greatly affects you. So in a that way, I think zinging already happens on a very minor scale. Could internal darkness be weaponized? Could a person deliberately attack another person in that way? Probably not, but that was the germ of the idea.
As you continued to develop the backdrop of the series, which popped out at you first: the worldbuilding, or the characters?
I would say they evolved together, the world evolving in relation to the characters, the characters evolving via the world. Sort of like an ecosystem!
What about you, Simon? What did you first think when Carolyn pulled you into this crazy world of hers?
Oh, it has its definite upsides, especially now **eyes Fawna ** And hey, nobody has killed me yet, including Carolyn, so I count myself lucky. And, I appreciate the wardrobe. I wouldn’t want to dress like a boy scout, like Packard.
Carolyn, as readers have learned, you certainly don’t pull any punches when it comes to your characters. Without giving anything away, did you always know how things were going to play out, or did your characters keep some secrets from you when you first began to write the series?
I usually have possibilities in mind with characters, on a long term basis and I play around with them as the books progress. So things that happened were vague possibilities, but one of many. At one point, I thought Justine and Shelby could become nemeses in book 3, but I nixed that. Also, bringing Cubby back as a villain. Nixed. I’m not the kind of author where characters tell me what to do, though I get ideas, sort of out of the blue, and I suppose that’s similar. I think it’s all just the subconscious.
Simon, care to tell us a little bit about the first time you met Packard?
I met Packard at a card game. Do not play poker against Packard – he’ll win every time. Not that I care – I would’ve lost everything I had with or without him there that night. And he glommed onto me. You know Packard – a real connoisseur of messed up people. Not that I’m messed up.
How about your relationship with Justine? You two seem to have forged a reluctant alliance despite yourselves. Admit it: she wormed her way under your skin, didn’t she?
Hah! You know I gave her a very hard time at first. I think if you know my story, you can see why her health fears rubbed me exactly the wrong way. However, yes, okay! she’s not so bad.
Carolyn, while I’m sure we’ll all admit that your series is set apart from others in its genre, which of your urban fantasy peers are you hooked on? Any books from other genres that we should be checking out?
LOL you are too kind. My UF peers – early on, I loved the work of Kelley Armstrong, and the earlier Laurell K. Hamilton. Today there are so many authors doing exciting work, it’s hard to recount them all. Jenn Bennet, Nicole Peeler, Sierra Dean. And in PNR, the great Kresley Cole.
I don’t read as much UF as I should – I relax by reading outside of my genre.
Shortlatte, I should ask you: what new authors are you recommending these days?
Well, they don’t really count as new at this point, but I’d be amiss not to mention two of my UF faves. If you aren’t reading Rob Thurman’s Cal Leandros series or Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye series, you really should be.
As far as newcomers to the genre go, I love Clay and Susan Griffith’s The Vampire Empire series.
Ooh, I have the first of Rob Thurman’s series. I need to move that way up on the roster, I think. Thanks for the rec. The Vampire Empire I hadn’t heard of at all. That is a great title. Intriguing.
What about you, Simon? Have any literary favorites that you’d like to share?
Simon shrugs. I like a lot of different stuff.
Carolyn: Simon won’t tell you this, but he LOVES Hemingway. As well as Patricia Highsmith and Pat Barker. Simon is secretly a very big reader.
I tend to collect quotes, especially from authors. Do you have a favorite quote, Carolyn?
Wait, a quote I made up, or a quote I like that’s somebody else’s?
I’d imagine it would be too hard to pick just one of your own. How about a favorite quote from another author?
Oh, good, I prefer that. Here:
“If you ever looked at me once with what I know is in you, I would be your slave”
~Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights.
KILLS ME!! I love this quote in an unholy and unwholesome way!!!
Sometimes when I’m reading a novel, the elements are so vivid that I can’t help but conjure up a soundtrack to accompany the action. Carolyn, if you had to pick five songs for the Disillusionists Movie, what would they be?
That is SUCH a hard question! I don’t even know if I can answer it, because the trilogy to me is like a vast country with all sorts of different terrain, and different moods. What would you pick?
Bouncing my own question back at me, Carolyn. I see how it is. Here are my votes for the Disillusionists soundtrack.
Adam Lambert- A Loaded Smile: The atmosphere this song creates is just the right amount of haunting, and I think it addresses Justine’s confusion (in Mind Games, in particular) regarding where her love life seems to be heading
Arctic Monkeys- This House is a Circus: Justine and companies’ adventures often reach a cacophony of hectic frenzy, which this song perfectly conveys. Not to mention, with all of those Disillusionists in one room, it’s bound to be a bit of a circus.
Beck- Nausea: For a hypochondriac like Justine, a song dedicated to nausea seems fitting.
The Dead Weather- Die by the Drop: For those darker moments in the series, this song makes clear the cold, hard fact of what the Disillusionists are all about: disassembling a person one bit at a time.
Kings of Leon- Sex on Fire: Because honestly, how else should we describe those steaming scenes between Justine and Packard?
I’m loving these picks. Very creative and a couple I must check out on YouTube. This is so much better having you pick the soundtrack.
Glad that worked out, then. How about you, Simon? What’s queued up on your play list right now?
I love Nine Inch Nails. Also, Carolyn won’t tell you this, but while she was writing the first three books, she was first drafting by hand, and every day when she would sit in her chair to start work, she HAD to play this one Led Zeppelin collected works CD that starts with Kashmir, or she felt she would have a bad day of writing. She also listened to a lot of Elliott Smith and Aimee Mann.
Simon, after a long wait we’ve finally gotten to hear your voice unfiltered. How do you feel about finally getting your story told? Anything Carolyn didn’t cover that you’d like to share with us?
Hah! I think Carolyn shared more than enough…especially a certain scene, if you know what I mean.
Carolyn, you must be pretty fond of Simon to have given him a novella of his own. How has your relationship with Simon changed since the Disillusionists series started? Any chance of hearing from him again in the future?
I originally created Simon to be a villain, somebody within the group to threaten and hound Justine, but I ended up so liking him, and so did readers. I think that is the problem with making villains 3-dimensional, they can turn into heroes. If I write another disillusionists novella, I’ll probably have Simon in, just because I love how he shakes things up.
Simon, if you could be anyplace right now, where would you be and why?
Simon scowls: Are you going to make me say it?
Carolyn: I will. Anywhere that Fawna is!!
Simon: You will not quit until you make me look 100% sappy.
Carolyn: That is my job, Simon.
Carolyn, if you had to choose any book to live within, what would it be and why?
I’d love to live within the Terre d’ange world from the Kushiel’s Dart series. It’s sort of Medieval but sort of not, and so rich and wonderfully drawn.
So Simon, you seem to be a pretty fashion-conscious guy. Who is your celebrity doppelganger?
Simon: A cross between Elton John and Denis Rodman
Alright, Carolyn, be honest. If you were one of the Disillusionists, what would your power be?
LOL I always have to check about five times that I turned the stove off, sometimes even after I have locked the door to my house and started down the walk.
What would your Disillusionists power be?
I have a remarkable ability to agonize over potential problems before they even materialize. My Disillusionists power would probably result in having a lot more neurotic people running around Midcity wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.
That would be a very devastating power, and one that I could totally and completely relate to. Worry and agonize. It would’ve been funny to have somebody like that.
It’s been a long journey since the series began. Anything you’d like to say to Carolyn, Simon? What are your plans for the immediate future?
Leave me out of the rest of your books! Take the spotlight off me! You and Packard, always trying to analyze me and tell me what to do. Put the camera on somebody else.
Simon, Justine has a fairly faithful sidekick in Gumby. Not that you aren’t fabulous enough all on your own, if you had to pick a sidekick, who(/what) would it be and why?
Simon: I think I might like to steal Justine’s Gumby and write graffiti all over him and give him some piercings and make him be MY sidekick.
Shortlatte, what do you think about that? Don’t you think that would be funny?
Hey, I’m all for giving Gumby a makeover. Maybe add a tattoo or three as well. But I’m guessing our little green friend might want to know where some of those piercings are going, don’t you think?
Carolyn: LOL. I can assure you that the piercings would go in the most upsetting-to-Justine places Simon could think of.
So Simon, what’s your guilty pleasure?
Simon: A peaceful evening reading in bed.
Did you know anything about this, Carolyn?
Carolyn: WHAT?!?!?!?! A peaceful evening reading a book??
Hey, thanks so much, Shortlatte, for having us here! Simon, see? Wasn’t this fun?
Simon: Yes, I’m glad I got to set the record straight on a few things. Thanks, Shortlatte!
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Thanks so much, Carolyn and Simon, for taking the time to stop by today.
Be sure to check out Devil’s Luck as well as the rest of the Disillusionists series (links available below).