If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, then you won’t want to miss our interview with Strange Angels series author, Lili St. Crow! Learn about the latest Strange Angels book, Defiance, get St. Crow’s take on writing for adults versus young adults, and see what book St. Crow recommends you read this year. You can also check out an excerpt from Defiance here!
Lili St. Crow is the author of several urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels, and the young-adult Strange Angels series. She has been writing since second grade and has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She currently resides in Vancouver, Washington, with two children, three cats, a dog, and various other strays.
Q. Can you tell us about your latest YA novel, Defiance?
A. Defiance is the fourth book in the Strange Angels series; it’s the book where Dru Anderson stops listening to authority and starts making her own decisions about how to resolve situations. Which goes about as well as you might expect, given that she’s stubborn and knows how to use assorted weapons and firepower.
Q. How do you think Dru, Defiance’s protagonist, has evolved and grown over the course of the Strange Angels series?
A. It’s been interesting to see her go through the process of grieving for her father and her childhood, and taking her first few steps into the ambiguity and gray areas of adulthood. The whole series is really about growing up, and the supernatural elements just heighten the tension. Dru has gone from being a very self-isolated, introverted character to a girl who is very invested in her friends—she’s caring for other people and learning how to let them in. That caring has a price, and part of growing up is learning how much of that price is acceptable, and how much you want to pay.
Q. Were you anything like Dru when you were a teen?
A. Oh, no. Well, except for the self-isolated bit. I was tremendously internal as a teen—I suppose I still am. I was forced to be.
Dru is lucky, I think, in that she never questions that her parents and her grandmother loved her. That’s a rock-solid foundation for her. I never had that, growing up. Dru as a character has a very solid place to stand even when things she loves are taken away from her, because she has that experience of being absolutely, undeniably loved by her parental figures.
Q. What’s your favorite moment from Defiance?
A. I think my favorite moment would have to be Dibs bolting out from the shower, wearing only some soap. The mortification of that moment is hysterical, and it’s very teenage. Of all the characters in the series, I think I like Dibs most. He’s the one I’m rooting for in every scene he appears in, which is strange because he’s a secondary character at best. I think it’s the fact that he is so frightened, and doing what he has to anyway. There’s a great deal of bravery in feeling the fear and doing things anyway.
Q. Your website says that there will be five books in the Strange Angels series. Do you know how it’s going to be resolved yet?
A. Book 5, Reckoning, is already finished. I looked over the copyedits just a few days ago, as a matter of fact. So I know exactly what happens. I knew from the middle of Betrayals (the second book) what was going to happen and where. It was just a question of getting there.
Q. You write quite a few adult series along with Strange Angels. What’s the biggest difference between writing for a YA audience versus an adult audience?
A. The only difference for me is having to go back and remember what it was like to be a teenager. I have to go back and remember what it was like to be that young, with no sense of perspective because I hadn’t lived long enough to acquire any, with the hormones screaming, unable to drive or do anything to truly escape my situation, with most (if not all) of my time disposed of for me by adults. Revisiting that, especially when one had a difficult adolescence, is very emotionally draining.
Other than that, there is no difference. Young audiences want the truth, they want good fiction just like adults, and they hate to be “talked down to.” I just do the best I can to tell the truth in a good story, and the rest takes care of itself.
Q. In your essay for Ardeur, the Smart Pop anthology on the Anita Blake series, you talk about Laurell K. Hamilton’s impact on the urban fantasy genre. Did Hamilton’s Anita Blake character inspire Strange Angels’ Dru in any way?
A. I don’t think so. Dru was more inspired by Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip’s young characters, and Sara Louise from Katherine Paterson’s Jacob Have I Loved. I think it’s Paterson’s Sara Louise who in a strange way was the genesis of Dru, I reread that book recently and was reminded of how much I love Sara Louise for fighting so hard to be true to who she is, even with all her uncertainty and fragility.
Q. You write a lot of book series! How do you manage to keep track of and find time to work on them all?
A. Well, the success of my attempts to do so varies. When the deadlines get crunched, I sometimes forget to bathe or eat. I’ll feed everyone else in the house, including the cats, but forget to feed myself.
But seriously, the time makes itself. Writing is a priority for me, and it’s what I feel I was designed and built to do. I don’t have to force myself to sit down and do it—every day at the keyboard is more like I’m getting paid to do the one thing that makes me feel most alive.
Still . . . I really wish I had one of Hermione Granger’s time devices. Or a Tardis. That would help.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. I just finished copyedits on Reckoning and Angel Town, the last book in my Jill Kismet series. I’m currently working on the first book of a steampunk/alternate London series, Bannon & Clare, and I have a couple other projects I can’t say anything publicly about yet. Things are just amazing right now.
Q. If you could tell us to read one book this year, what would it be?
A. Oh, that’s a hard, hard question. I read voraciously and omnivorously. I might have to go with Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning. I read it recently and it changed the way I view a lot of things, including some trauma from my past. The idea that it is the meaning one accords to events that can help one surmount them is very powerful.
Thank you for inviting me!