Today we will be putting the tough questions to Jen and Éric Desmarais, a writer couple that co-wrote Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers.
He is an urban fantasy author who has been writing for 14 years.
She is a romance author who has been writing for 14 years.
They have been writing together, officially, since January 2021 (two years). Unofficially, They've helped each other with writing projects for over a decade.
Their blog is nearing its 9th birthday. In that time, The Travelling TARDIS and How I Taught My Dragon have been nominated for a combined five Aurora Awards.
Éric has 6 solo novels with Renaissance Press and a 7th coming in fall 2023.
Jen has a game published with Renaissance Press, a short story in Nothing Without Us Too (published fall 2022), and a solo novel coming out in fall 2023.
Together they have written 3 books and a short story compilation.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
-Jen and Éric, what first attracted you to this genre?
The big attraction to urban fantasy was the ability to ask, “what if our world had…?” and then layer fantasy, suspense, and action elements. For romance, it was more the joy and excitement that comes with a new relationship and in knowing that the genre traditionally ends happily.
-Who were your favourite authors at the time?
Seanan McGuire and Tamora Pierce are always our favourite authors.
-Name two of your favourite books, and why they are your top picks.
The last one I read and the next one I’m writing. But, if we had to choose books we could read over and over without getting bored, they would have to be … There’s too many. We can’t pick just two.
-Are you plotters or pantsers?
As a writing team, we had to be plotters. The months before we write a book, we discuss it obsessively, and write down every idea we have. When we’re ready to start, we organize all the ideas, giving us a detailed outline of the book down to the chapter level. This both makes sure the book flows well and gives each writer their favourite parts of the book.
-What is your favourite virtue in a character?
My favourite virtue in a character is always kindness. I feel like there’s a lack of it in the real world and its something I want to see more of. What makes a truly interesting character isn’t their virtues, but their flaws. My favourite of those oscillates between self-confidence and self-doubt.
-What is your favourite evil characteristic in a villain?
I enjoy villains who are relatable and have almost reasonable motivations behind their actions. (Think Thanos.) I also enjoy villains who aren’t necessarily people, but forces of nature. (Think earthquake.)
-What is your idea of happiness?
As sappy as it sounds, getting excited over a project with my partner is my idea of happiness.
-What are your ideal writing conditions?
With kids, there is no ideal. There is only idea.
Jen wrote a large portion of Assassins! on her phone while nursing Pegasus (nickname) to sleep each night.
-Where or when do you feel most inspired?
After talking with my partner about the book… At 1 am… In bed.
-What do you appreciate most in your friends?
Patience, kindness, and a proper appreciation of geeking out over a subject.
-Where would you like to live?
Westmeath, Ontario (the fictional one in our book)
-If there was one recommendation you could give to authors starting out, what would it be?
Get words down on the page and then it won’t seem so intimidating.
Don’t listen to writing advice.
-What are the characteristics you believe make a great urban fantasy romance story?
A sense of falling in love at the same time as the characters, a sense of wonder from discovering the magical world, and a good “battle couples” fight scene.
-Can you give us a synopsis of Assassins!?
Kennedy Fairfield just graduated in the class of 2002, and is now trying to find her purpose in life, or at least a job in her field. When she saves Jason Johnson, the leader of a secret Community of supernatural people called Aetherborn, from an attempted assassination, they embark on a whirlwind epic romance and adventure.
For Kennedy and Jason to discover why people are disappearing in time to save her friends, they'll have to face teleporting assassins, grumpy wizards, gossiping hags, mafia robots, and secret military groups, all in the city of Westmeath, Ontario, which has more secrets than residents.
The first book of four in The Gates of Westmeath series.
-Are you working on anything else at the moment, or have the germ of an idea for another story you’d like to titillate your audience with?
We’ve written book 2 in the series, as well as a collection of short stories set in between the two books. We also have an impressive quantity of jot notes for books 3 & 4. Jen’s book Crushing It (fall 2023), is a spinoff of Assassins!, and she’s already written the sequel to that one too. Éric’s 4th book in the Elizabeth Investigates series is coming in fall 2023, and he’s wrestling with a standalone novel that is older than his oldest child.
-Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish you all the best of luck in your writing endeavours!
Thank you so much for the interview!
Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers, is an urban fantasy romance set in a fictional city called Westmeath, Ontario. It includes superheroes, mafia robots, underwear models, and of course, assassins.
Release date: September 15, 2022
Publisher: Renaissance Press
Here are Éric's:
And here are Jen’s:
If you enjoy urban fantasy, why not check out Afterdeath, by Benoit Chartier: https://www.trode.ca/product/ya-afterdeath/
Would you like to read another interview? Our publisher interview with Edentu Oroso of Mindfield Publications might be right up your alley! https://www.trode.ca/mindfield-publishings-edentu-oroso/