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Devon_MonkDevon Monk is an urban fantasy author on the rise. She writes the popular Allie Beckstrom series and has published many short stories. She also has a not so secret passion for knitting, which you can learn more about on her personal website.

Q1: What draws you to write urban fantasy?

DM: The draw for me on one level is the chance to explore the unknown, the strange, the dark, the beautiful, mixed and contrasted with the more expected reality of day-to-day life. On another level, I like the fast-pacing, humor, mystery, magic, and relationship aspects of it. Plus, urban fantasy is a blast to write!

Q2: What was the first piece you ever had published?

DM: I did some articles and stories for a local outdoors magazine, but my first published fantasy was a short story, “Chosen Bond” in a now defunct magazine, Distant Journeys. The $10.00 check is framed in my office.

Q3: What did it feel like?

DM: It felt like I was standing in line to ride a rollercoaster and suddenly it was my turn, and the gate lifted, and I lucked out and got the front seat. I was so excited, I grinned for days.

Q5: How long have you been writing? What keeps you writing?

DM: I’ve been writing with the goal of publication for about 18 years. I keep writing because I love it. I love to learn. Writing has taught me so much about not only the world and the power of story, but also about myself.

Q6: Who are some of your influences? (Authors, Personal Friends, Teachers, etc.)

DM: Oh. Hard question. I grew up reading the authors my parents read: Roger Zelazny, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Heinlein, Zenna Henderson, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Henry Kuttner. I particularly loved Zelazny, McCaffery, Bradberry and Kuttner. I later discovered Raymond Chandler, and fell in love with his prose too. I think all of these authors have influenced my writing.

Q8: There are three books in the Allie Beckstrom series, with a fourth one, title Magic on the Storm, set to be published in May 2010. How many more books will you write for this series?

DM: At the moment I’m contracted for six books. If readers like them well enough, and they sell well enough, I hope the publisher will pick up another three books, bringing the series to nine books. I originally had nine books in mind for the series, but as I’ve been going along, I’ve discovered there are a lot of other things I could explore in Allie’s world. So who knows? I’d like to write at least nine, and if luck is with me, maybe even more.

Q9: Which of the books is your personal favorite and why?

DM: Great question! Magic in the Shadows was my hands-down favorite. I had so much fun writing it and discovering new characters I really enjoy. I think the book digs into the dangerous, exciting side of magic, and Allie continues to grow and learn and become stronger and face tough challenges. Then I wrote Magic on the Storm and it immediately became my favorite. More magic, more danger, more betrayal, more unrequited love and action, action, action. It is still my favorite so far, but then, book five isn’t done yet!

Q10: When did you first start to create the interesting magical system and was there any particular inspiration for it?

DM: I was asked to write a short story for an anthology with the theme of magic and business. Short stories take a lot of world building even for a small amount of words. So I knew I’d have magic, it would need to cost something, it would be a part of the “mundane” world, and something would be at risk because of magic. When I decided magic could be a natural resource like natural gas, coal, or electricity, that’s when it all started falling together.

Q11: What made you tie magic to pain?

DM: Everything in life has a trade off, and I wanted my books to reflect that reality. I knew magic had to cost something, but it needed to be a price anyone—the rich, the poor, the young, the old—could pay. And it needed to be something people didn’t want to pay. Pain, whether just a small ache, or a crippling agony, fit the bill nicely.

Q12: Is Allie Beckstrom based off of anyone in real life?

DM: A lot of people ask me that—it’s a good question. She’s based off of all the strong women who I’ve known who have found that strength isn’t necessarily swinging a sword or shooting a gun. Strength is the ability and courage to take every challenge that comes your way and go forward, even if you’re afraid, even if you don’t know if you’ll get through it, even if you don’t know how to do it, and somehow still maintaining your grace and humor.

Q13: Do you feel that, as a woman of action, Allie serves as a role model?

DM: I feel that Allie, as a strong woman, could be seen as a role model. She’s more than willing to step up and handle anything that comes her way, but isn’t trying to be anyone’s definition of kick-ass, or strong, or tough. She’s not letting other people tell her who she is. She just tries to do what is right for her heart and soul, and along the way, tries to help the people who she cares about, too.

Q14: The relationship between Zayvion and Allie has become more and more equal as the series progresses, with Zayvion pushing Allie to become self reliant. Do you think romantic partners today could take some tips from that attitude?

DM: I think any relationship is best when there is mutual respect. I think it’s best when both partners can stand on their own two feet, yet also rely on and trust each other to be there if they need them. So, um, yes.

Q15: Do you think that being a woman author has made getting published harder or easier for you?

DM: Who knows? Publishing is a hard business, and I personally, haven’t experienced degradation toward my gender. The only way to find out if it would have been easier to be published if I were a man, would be to somehow go back in time, change my gender and then make all the same choices and actions I have made along the way. And if I ever had a time machine, that’s not what I’d do with it!

One thing I do know is good story trumps all, and cares not one whit if you are male or female.

Q16: Do you see Urban Fantasy as a genre that will appeal to both men and women? Why or why not?

DM: Early on, I assumed my target audience was women, maybe in the twenty to thirty year range. I was so wrong! I’ve received fan mail from thirteen year old girls, sixty-eight year old men, and every age in between. I think the blend of action, paranormal, humor and relationships makes urban fantasy a fun read for everyone.

Q17: Where do you think the future of fantasy is going?

DM: I don’t know, but I hope I’ll be writing it!

Q18: Urban fantasy as a genre has increased tremendously in the past few years. Is that good or bad, and why?

DM: I think it’s fabulous! I know urban fantasy will continue to grow and morph and change, and I can’t wait to see where it will go.

Q19: What are you working on right now? Any other series or stories in the works besides Allie Beckstrom?

DM: I am working on another series, but it’s not under contract yet so I don’t want to give anything away. It’s not urban fantasy but I think it’s something urban fantasy readers will really enjoy. Keep your fingers crossed for me, ok?

Thank you so much for the questions! I really enjoyed being here!

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For more information about Devon Monk and her writing visit devonmonk.com or follow her on Twitter @DevonMonk

You can purchase Magic to the Bone and the rest of the Allie Beckstrom series through Amazon, Borders, and Powell’s Books.

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bookgiveawayAs a special event just for the readers of A Working Title, Devon has kindly offered to send a signed copy of her newest book, Magic in the Shadows, to one lucky commenter. You have 48 hours to comment on the interview using the form below, and on Wednesday morning I will choose one lucky commenter using Random.org. This event is open to all participants, including international readers.

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MagicToTheBoneMagic to the Bone by Devon Monk
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Roc (November 4, 2008)
ISBN-13: 978-0451462404

Allison Beckstrom knows well the first rule of magic: “When you use magic, it uses you back.” Every spell you cast or glyph you shape exacts a price from you, usually in some form of pain, be it a headache, a cramp, or a cold. In Allie’s case, she sometimes also loses pieces of her memory. The bigger the magic, the bigger the pain. Some magic users don’t want to pay that price, so they Offload it, put it on someone innocent in order to avoid the pain themselves. Then it’s up to people like Allie to bring them to justice, using a technique called Hounding.

With the help of magic Allie increases her five senses, allowing her to track the taste and smell of a particular spell or magic user. As a Hound she ends up in some very dangerous situations, but this is one woman who won’t let pain or peril stop her. Not only is she dedicated to preventing the misuse of magic, she’s also got something to prove, specifically to her CEO father, Daniel Beckstrom. As the inventor of the system that allows magic to be used like any other natural resource, her father has become a wealthy and powerful man. But he’s a man with seemingly no conscience, capable of Offloading spell prices onto others without blinking an eye, used to ordering Allie around and making her do what he wants.

This is book is very well set up. The magic system is interesting and unique, allowing us to imagine what the world would be like if we could turn magic on with a switch, the same way we turn on the lights in a room. Easily accessible, and free to use, at least in monetary costs. Tying magic to a price you must pay in pain leads to interesting moral dilemmas, such as how much pain are you willing to pay to use the spells you want? What if you could make someone else pay for you, whether they wanted to or not? These are old questions dressed up in a new package, and the results are very exciting.

Allie Beckstrom is a young woman with some issues. She’s got daddy issues, and poor little rich girl issues and love life issues. On top of all that, she has to keep a journal just in case magic makes her pay part of her memories. But her sheer determination to do things her own way and in her own time makes her a compelling character. Allie is not a physical fighter; she must use her knowledge of magic and her deductive skills to solve the cases she takes on. Of course, there still manages to be lots of action scenes in this book.

The rest of the characters are fascinating in their own right. When she meets a man named Zayvion Jones, Allie first thinks she cannot trust him. But as he goes out of his way to help her over and over, he starts developing as a character and as something more for Allie. He’s also a character of color, although which non-white nationality he comes from isn’t explicitly stated. Allie’s best friend Nora is also a complex woman. She chooses to live away from magic, out in the country where the power systems for magic haven’t reached yet. She and Allie are closer than sisters in some ways, and she’s a constant steadying force in Allie’s life.

Overall, this book honestly kicks ass. Magic to the Bone has a unique system of magic, an interesting and sometimes very flawed heroine, and a great cast of supporting characters. Devon Monk has done a great job of making herself stand out in the extremely popular Urban Fantasy genre. If you like smart, funny, and dangerous heroines, read this book. I’m very much interested to see how Allison Beckstrom will develop as the series progresses.

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Check out Devon Monk’s website or follow her on Twitter @DevonMonk

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Author of the WeekNext week’s Author of the Week will be urban fantasy author Devon Monk. Don’t miss it on Monday, November 9th! Three reviews will cover her Allison Beckstrom series, Magic to the Bone, Magic in the Blood, and her newest release, coming out tomorrow, November 3rd, Magic in the Shadows.

As an added bonus, Ms. Monk will be offering a signed copy of Magic in the Shadows to one lucky commenter on her interview. You’ll have 24 hours to comment, then I’ll announce the winner Tuesday afternoon. This book giveaway is open to international participants as well. I’m really excited about this giveaway, and I hope to see lots of great comments next week.

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