Today I’m so excited to host Rebecca Chastain, author of the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series. The second book of the series is now available! So don’t miss it 😉
Lillian: Welcome Rebecca! Tell us a little about yourself.
Rebecca: When I was in college, I took a Recreation and Leisure course. (Did you know this major existed? I didn’t until my third year of college.) In the class, the professor introduced me to the idea of “discovery events.” Basically, a discovery event is a new endeavor undertaken or an experience tried for no other reason than to see if it’s something you like. For example, to complete my assignment, I attended a home and garden show (I had neither a home nor a garden at the time) and took a dance lesson. Both were fun, and since then, I try to include a healthy dose of discovery events in my life, along with, of course, a steady diet of books, movies, video games, gardening, and time with friends, family, and pets.
Lillian: That sounds like an awesome class! What inspired you to become a writer?
Rebecca: As long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with books, and for equally as long, I’ve entertained myself with made-up stories, but it wasn’t until the seventh grade when I realized I could become an author. It was the first time I wrote down my story ideas and took my silly fantasies seriously—and I instantly fell in love with writing and decided to make my passion into a career. Naturally, I thought I’d finish up school, have a few books published, and be a wild success by the time I was the ancient age of 18.
Since I didn’t complete my first novel until a year after college, my career trajectory veered a little off course, especially since that first novel was over 1,000 pages long and complete rubbish. It took another decade and about 6 more novels before I started to feel like my writing held up to my inner critic’s exacting standards, and a little longer before I was ready to publish.
Lillian: Is there an author or book that influenced you?
Rebecca: I read a lot growing up, and to pinpoint a specific author who influenced me would be a flawed endeavor, but I can give a brief list: Deborah and James Howe, Lloyd Alexander, Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and Robert Jordan. My current fan favorites and influences are Jacqueline Carey, Kim Harrison, Ilona Andrews, Naomi Novik, Ann Aguirre, and Brandon Sanderson.
Lillian: Your series is unique and I like that! Where do you get your ideas?
Rebecca: Ideas often lurk on the fringes of conversations—that offhand comment that blossoms into a full-book idea in my head. They’re also found somewhere in the bristles of my toothbrush, in the dirty dishes as they’re loaded into the dishwasher, and in the dust collecting on the blinds and windowsills. Basically, they’re there, waiting for a moment of nonlinear thought to jump in and prod the muse into asking, “What if?” If these sources fail, ideas are often found in a blank word document and a free-write session, where I ramble to myself, creating more absurd and fantastical scenarios until I land on something I like.
Lillian: Is there anything in your series based on real-life experience or is it purely imagination?
Rebecca: Ha! Yes! Madison Fox’s world in A Fistful of Evil and A Fistful of Fire bears a distinct resemblance to my world. She lives in my former apartment, works in a facsimile of my former employer’s offices, and is the illuminant enforcer of my city, Roseville, CA. She even has my cat, though his name has been changed to Mr. Bond, which is a name Madison would have picked, rather than the name my husband picked, Mack Fu. For good or bad, though, the rest is made up: Niko and Dr. Alex Love are both a figment of my imagination, as are all the evil creatures plaguing Madison’s world, so the trade-off might be worthwhile.
Lillian: What was your favorite part to write?
Rebecca: I love writing Madison and Niko scenes. Niko is everything Madison wishes she could be as enforcer, plus he’s drop-dead sexy and a nice guy. When Madison gets in Niko’s presence, her brain tends to take second seat to her hormones, much to her frustration. Any scene that makes Madison squirm is always a blast to write, especially these scenes where she struggles to cling to her dignity and her brain cells. A close second favorite are Madison and Alex scenes, in which her heart is tied up in her attraction, making all her emotions so much more intense.
Lillian: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there anything you would change about your series?
Rebecca: Nothing major. I wrote A Fistful of Evil years ago, though it was only published last year. It’s a novel that contains pieces of me from who I was (as a person and as a writer) from that first draft. If I sat down to write a brand-new urban fantasy series today, it wouldn’t look anything like A Fistful of Evil, and I think that would be a shame, especially because I wouldn’t have had the chance to return to the world for A Fistful of Fire. But minor things? I’d change “Brad Pitt” to a different celebrity name, but only because I realized with A Fistful of Fire that I like a lot of “B” names, and with Bridget, Mr. Bond, and Brad, there’s already plenty of B’s.
Lillian: Is there a character or theme from your series you’d like to go back to?
Rebecca: In a world where the main character literally wields “good” energy to kill “evil” energy and creatures, I deal a lot with the theme of good and evil on many different levels in the first two books, and I know it’ll be a central theme in the third book, too.
Lillian: What project are you working on now?
Rebecca: You mean when I’m not doing everything possible to get A Fistful of Fire in front of every ebook reader in the world? ☺ Actually, the bulk of my time lately has been spent on my next novel: Many years ago, I wrote Tiny Glitches, a romantic adventure that sits somewhere on the line between magical realism and paranormal romance. I’ve polished the novel during several editing rounds over the years, and I’m making a big push now to complete my final edits before sending it to beta readers. The goal is to get it out in the next few months before turning my attention to the third Madison Fox novel.
Lillian: What is some of the hardest criticism you’ve had to deal with since becoming a published author?
Rebecca: A lot of the criticism is subversive. As an indie author, a lot of people still assume self-publishing means subpar or, well, let’s be honest here, crappy and self-indulgent. I get a lot of well-meaning people who respond to my career as if it’s either a hobby or a stepping stone to “real” publishing.
Lillian: Best compliment?
Rebecca: The best compliment? I’m easily flattered, so emails, Facebook messages, or tweets from people telling me they liked my novels is more than enough to make me dance around my office and celebrate.
Lillian: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with aspiring writers?
Rebecca: Follow your passion. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s selling/trending now or what you think you should be writing. Don’t fall into that trap. You’re going to spending months or years with each project; make sure each novel is a story you love, and a story you would want to read.
Lillian: Anything you would like to share with your fans?
Rebecca: I’m ridiculously grateful every day that I have fans. Thanks to all the wonderful readers who like the stories I’ve spun from my imagination, I get to spend every day doing exactly what I’ve dreamed of doing since I was in grade school. I’ve got so many stories waiting in the queue that I can’t wait to write and share with you!
Lillian: Now for the hard questions 😉 Favorite color?
Lillian: Favorite movie?
Lillian: Favorite TV show?
Lillian: Favorite place to write?
Rebecca: My office
Lillian: If you had to choose just one book, what would it be and why?
Rebecca: I feel I could reread this book a dozen times, and learn more about the craft of writing and storytelling each time. Plus, I adore the story. 😀
Lillian: Last question and possibly the most important…what brand of cereal best describes you and why?
Rebecca: Frosted Mini-Wheats — I’ve got all the trappings of being healthy, with enough sweet indulgence to be fun.
Don’t Miss the Madison Fox Series, books 1 & 2 Available Now!
Madison Fox just learned that her ability to see souls is more than a sight: It’s a weapon for fighting evil. The only problem is she doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing.
On the positive side, her money problems are over, she’s possibly discovered her purpose in life, and her coworker is smoking hot. On the negative side, evil creatures now actively hunt her, and deadly experiences are becoming the norm.
When she thinks it couldn’t get worse, a powerful evil sets up shop at a local hotel’s video game convention, and it’s got its eye on more than the gaming geeks: it is hungry for Madison’s soul. Madison needs to become an expert illuminant enforcer overnight to save her job, her region . . . and her life.
If Stephanie Plum fought evil with magic, it’d look a lot like this.
Madison Fox survived her first week as California’s newest illuminant enforcer, defending her region against imps, vervet, hounds, and one lascivious demon. If her grumpy boss, Mr. Pitt, was impressed, he hasn’t told Madison. In fact, there’s a lot her boss has been closemouthed about, including the dark secret haunting his past.
But Madison’s problems are just igniting. Neighboring regions report an uncharacteristic flare-up of evil, fire-breathing salamanders blaze unchecked across the city, and Black Friday looms. Trapped doing cleanup amid mobs of holiday shoppers, Madison watches from the sidelines as dubious allies insinuate themselves in her region.
As suspicions kindle and the mysterious evil gains strength, Madison must determine who she can trust—and whose rules to follow—before her region and career go up in flames.
Sizzling with adventure and sparking with magic, A FISTFUL OF FIRE is fused with Madison Fox’s trademark blend of humor and ass-kicking action.