Sunday, January 11, 2009

Vampire Chat with Justin Gustainis & EVIL WAYS Giveaway


"Black magic, witches, and a thoroughly sympathetic supernatural detective team, together with the plot's many exciting twists and turns, make this book a thrilling and enjoyable read."


I was very happy to interview Justin Gustainis when his first novel, Black Magic Woman, came out a year ago. His urban fantasy received great reviews, and he sold more in the series. He's just released another in his Quincy Morris/Libby Chastain series, Evil Ways.

Justin blends crime novel grittiness with fantasy elements in his series, which features an investigator and a white witch who team up to solve crimes. Love Vampires gave his first novel five stars and said, "Usually the protagonists of fantasy novels have some special power or are supernatural creatures themselves but Quincey is human and this story is told from a human point of view."

Justin is also the author of the supernatural thriller, The Hades Project, which Jim Butcher called, "Gritty, darkly fascinating, truly frightening." Since he's a professor of communication of Plattsburgh State College, he's very well qualified to tell us about his exciting series.

If you'd like to win a copy of Evil Ways, just leave a comment. The contest runs through Saturday night and a winner will be chosen at random.

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MARTA: Welcome back to Vampire Wire, Justin! Tell us a little about your new novel, Evil Ways.

JUSTIN: It starts with both Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain in serious trouble – but of different kinds. Quincey is being blackmailed by the FBI into investigating a series of child murders similar to those that occurred in Black Magic Woman, but on a grander scale. Libby is the target of a murder attempt by professional assassins. She escapes, but has no idea who wants her dead, or why. Eventually, Quincey and Libby realize that they are holding opposite ends of the same thread. Both the child killings and the attempt on Libby’s life are part of a scheme by crazed zillionaire Walter Grobius to stage the biggest black magic ritual of all time.

MARTA: You’ve changed the title of your series from Quincy Morris Supernatural Investigation to the Morris/Chastain Investigations. Did you expect Libby Chastain’s role to become so essential?

JUSTIN: Actually, the change was made by my publisher, Solaris Books. But I agree with it wholeheartedly. When I started the first book, Black Magic Woman, I didn’t intend for Libby to be an equal partner with Quincey, but by the time that book was done, I knew that she would be. And Evil Ways bears that out – she is “on stage” as much as Quincey is, if not more.

MARTA: Describe the dynamic between Quincy and Libby.

JUSTIN: I don’t know how many of our readers will recognize the cultural reference, but their relationship is not unlike that between John Steed and Emma Peel in the old British TV show, The Avengers. They respect each other professionally, and they have real affection for each other without it evolving into romance – so far, anyway. There is a certain degree of sexual tension between them, and several readers have asked me if Quincey and Libby are ever going to “kick it up a notch.” All I can say is: keep reading, and find out.

MARTA: I think I read somewhere that you were surprised when your books were categorized as part of one of the hottest trends around, urban fantasy. So what did you think you were writing?

JUSTIN: I don’t much like to put labels on my work, but I realize that it’s necessary, for marketing purposes. My first novel (not about Quincey and Libby), The Hades Project, was horror, pure and simple. The Quincey/Libby books are not quite as hard-edged. When I started the first one, the term “urban fantasy” wasn’t in wide use (as you know, the time span over which a novel is written, sold, and published is usually measured in years). If you’d asked me at the start, I suppose I would have said Black Magic Woman was dark fantasy. I don’t reject the urban fantasy label; I think it’s entirely appropriate for what I’m writing. I just didn’t have it in mind when I started the series. I’ve been tempted to have a T-shirt made up that reads, “I was doing urban fantasy before urban fantasy was cool.”

MARTA: Would you tell us a little about how your education at a Jesuit university has figured in your writing?

JUSTIN: Well, it gave me a working knowledge of Latin, which sometimes comes in handy when I’m writing spells (actually, I began to acquire Latin in high school. Yep, Catholic high school, too. Sigh.). I also learned the necessity for thorough research, no matter what I might be writing about. In addition, there’s a character in The Hades Project, a Jesuit named Eugene Grady, known as “Dirty Eugene.” Drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney, swears like a longshoreman. He’s a good man, Eugene is.

MARTA: When will the third in the series, Sympathy for the Devil, be published? How many books do you plan in this series?

JUSTIN: I don’t have a firm publication date yet, but my best guess would be December. The number of books in the series? That hasn’t been determined; I don’t generally think beyond the book I’m working on. I’m inclined to keep writing about Quincey and Libby, and will probably do so until people get tired of reading about them, or I run out of ways to get them into trouble.

MARTA: Have your students had any interesting reactions to your career as an urban fantasy writer?

JUSTIN: There hasn’t been much reaction. Of course, I don’t usually talk about my fiction writing in class; I don’t think that’s an appropriate use of class time (although I do have copies of the book covers on my office door). Every once in a while, a student will hand me a book to sign. It’s hard to know, in most cases, whether they’re genuinely interested or just trying to suck up to me. But, either way, I’ve sold another book – so, as they say, it’s all good.

MARTA: Why were you drawn to writing stories with supernatural/magical elements?

JUSTIN: I’ve been interested in that stuff ever since I was a kid. Also, I seem to have developed something of a dark sensibility at a young age. When I saw Disney’s Sleeping Beauty as a child, I was probably the only kid in the theatre rooting for Maleficent, the Evil Witch Queen. My therapist seems to find that very interesting.

MARTA: What is your favorite underrated or unfairly ignored novel?

JUSTIN: I’d vote for James Blish’s Black Easter, published around 1968. Blish is better known for science fiction, but this little exercise in demonology gave me nightmares for a week – and I read it as an adult. It was obscure when it was published, and is even more so today. It deserves a bigger audience.

MARTA: Where can readers find out more about your books and your appearances? Can they drop in on your lectures?

JUSTIN: My web site is www.justingustainis.com. I’m not planning to do any signings for Evil Ways. We tried that with Black Magic Woman, and the public stayed away in droves. I think I’m going to wait until my fan base gets bigger. Drop in on my lectures? Sure – as long as they’ve paid tuition. In the immortal (immoral?) words of Xaviera Hollander, “I’ve been selling it too long to start giving it away now, honey.”

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Thanks, Justin, for telling us about your books and writing!

Read an excerpt from Evil Ways, and add Justin as a friend on MySpace.

If you'd like to enter the contest to win a copy of Evil Ways, just leave a comment. The contest runs through Saturday night and the winner will be chosen at random.

46 comments:

Virginia Lady said...

Great interview! I have to find these books. I'm intrigued!

I Heart Book Gossip said...

Love the interview. Im so interested. Count me in the contest.

joder said...

Very informative interview! These books definitely sound like something I'd like. I'll be adding them to my to-read list

Marta said...

Hi, everyone, if you have any questions, Justin will be dropping by throughout the week. You can also check out my earlier interview with Justin (link is in the post above) for info on his first book.

blackroze37 said...

:)

blackroze37 said...

well i love black magic woman, and i hope the it wil have a series that goes far, and i always get a book in advance so i dont go stir crazy

Tanya said...

Loved the witty repartee at the end!

Justin, How are you able stay focused and finish a project (book) from beginning to end? Given your teaching schedule and other demands you may have?

Kindly, enter me for this fab prize!

Deborah said...

Wonderful interview! Evil Ways sounds like a fascinating book!

Kat said...

Thanks for that great interview. Interesting to hear how Justin keeps teaching work and writing work so separate. I find that hard to do sometimes. But then I didn't go to a Jesuit university, LOL

Thanks again

The Not So Closet Geeks said...

I'd love to be entered.

not_so_cg[at]yahoo.com

Connie connie6344@mit.midco.net said...

Hi Justin, It's Connie from Bump in the Night Books!!...I absolutely loved Black Magic Woman and can't wait to read Evil Ways!! I'd love to win a copy!

Wendy said...

Justin,

You have GOT to stop following me around, okay? It's not me, it's you.

okibi-insanity said...

Great interview. I read Black Magic Woman and I love it. I cant wait to read Evil Ways (whether I win it or not). Thank you for the giveaway.

Sue

okibi_insanity@yahoo.com

Book Spot said...

I would love to win a book (and I love the covers, too!).

More schools should have Latin, btw -or so I say after about 6 years of it :)

Lisa said...

Hi Justin,

This is the first I've heard of your books but they sound wonderful and going to check them out. Thanks for great interview.

macbeaner said...

It sounds like a great book! I look forward to adding it to my TBR pile!

80slady said...

Thank you for a great interview!
I love Sleeping Beauty! My faves are Flora, Fauna and Merriweather! And Aurora (Briar-Rose) is my favorite Disney Princess.
AND Maleficent is the BEST Disney villianess!!!!

crazycommamomma said...

I've read so much about this series that I ran to the bookstore last weekend and grabbed Black Magic Woman. Would looove to win a copy of Evil Ways! Great interview, too!

RachaelfromNJ said...

Great interview Marta! I am dying to read this series. Please enter me for this book.

lesleen said...

I have heard so much about this series. I bought the first one this weekend and would love to win the second one. :)

Calamity Jane said...

Awsome interview. I just added this book to my TBR list =) hopefully I'll win it ;P

tetewa said...

Sounds like my kind of series and I enjoyed the interview!

quiltingreader said...

Great interview.

Lexie said...

I put the first one on my wishlist after seeing an earlier interview. Apparently this year's theme for Christmas was 'Buy Lexie anything but books off her wishlist'. At any rate I would love to be entered and only curse the luck that I wasn't able to get in on an appearance.

mindy said...

captivating interview thanks for the giveaway

angelacisco said...

I would love to read this book.
angelacisco at rocketmail.com

Marta said...

Hi, everyone! Wow, lots of demand for Justin's book. (Hmm, perhaps he can come back again and have another contest, or tell us about other contests for his books.)

justinscribe said...

Tanya:

How do I stay focused to get a book finished? I never really thought about it, but I suppose that certain habits I had to learn in grad school have come in handy. There, it's usually "focus or die."

Then, too, the knowledge that one's book is due in a fortnight, and one will have to return the advance if it isn't finished, concentrates the mind wonderfully -- as Dr. Johnson said of something else.

justinscribe said...

Wendy:

Just you remember, young lady: cyber-stalking is still stalking!
:)

Carmen R said...

Sounds like a great series. I will have to check it out.

hdtermite (at) yahoo (dot) com

divaqueenie said...

Sounds super interesting, I'll have to check it out!

mom2anutball said...

Please count me in!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Hey Justin!
In your opinion, why in the past year has Urban Fantasy become so big? There has been an explosion of so many authors and books.

Congrats on all your success!

liane66 said...

Thanks for the giveaway.

kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tanya said...

Justin..

Thx so much for the reply and the insite :) I am so going to adopt that mantra (Focus or Die) to myself ..

justinscribe said...

Hi, KB!

Why is urban fantasy so popular these days? Hmmm. Could it have anything to do with all those hot babes in tight pants displaying their derrieres on the covers?

Nah....

One reason for its popularity, I think, is that urban fantasy offers something for (almost) anybody. Despite those commonalities (i.e., supernatural stuff in a world like ours) that make it a genre (or sub-genre, or whatever the hell it is), urban fantasy is really quite diverse.

You want a vampire protagonist? Got several. Vampires as bad guys? No problem. Male or female protag? Take your pick. Protag who's a witch, wizard, dhampire, werewolf, exorcist, psychic, bounty hunter, or accountant? We got 'em (I made up that last one). Explicit sex scenes? Sure, read Laurell -- um, I mean, yeah, we got those. Little or no sex? Step right this way.

See what I mean? In urban fantasy's house, there are many mansions, to paraphrase a well-known Galileean preacher.

ddurance said...

If the humor Justin uses when being interviewed flows over into his writing, then I'm sure his books contain some sharp wit.

Deidre

K. Cleaver said...

Great interview. I'm interested!

Margie said...

Wonderful interview! Your books sound fascinating! Thank you for the contest.

Wrighty - said...

I liked the humor too! Please include me, I'd love to read this book. Thanks!

5wrights1@verizon.net

taterbug said...

Thank you for the great interview and the opportunity to win what sounds like a great book!

silverhartgirl said...

I loved the interview and would also ,love to read the book

Lori T said...

Great interview and I really hope that this series goes on for a long time.

Please enter me in the contest!

Marta said...

Hi, everyone! Justin, thanks for your take on the popularity of urban fantasy being based on the flexibility of the themes.

I think there maybe something else there...perhaps a desire for an other world as well as a wish for heroes and especially heroines who will protect us. Or with whom we can identify. The more one thinks about it, the more confusing it becomes.

Maybe I'll do a blog asking why people gravitate toward the genre.

Leah said...

Phenomenal interview! I so can't wait to delve into this intriguing series!

Thanks so much for this fabulous give~away! : )))

leahita[at]gmail[dot]com

Viagra Online Without Prescription said...

What a piece of interview!
I think Justin is such a great performer on what is used to do.
I wish there where more artist as good as he is, then we would see much more interesting stuff all over the net and else.