Interview with author Celine Jeanjean
- What was your inspiration for The Slave City?
Part of it was simply to continue The Viper and the Urchin series, of course, since this is book 3. The series follows a cast of characters as they get in and out of scrapes and adventures, with much arguing, bantering, and adventure. In this book, the extended team (there’s 5 of them) has to work together officially for the first time, and as the book starts, they’re not much of a team—there’s a lot of tensions and a lot of clashing. But as things start to go very wrong, they all have to put their differences aside and really work together.
I also wanted to take the characters on an adventure to a foreign city, and it was a huge amount of fun creating a new world, with the politics, as well as the very particular setting of having a city split in half over a huge cliff, linking the two parts with a massive staircase.
This very extreme division of the city, cutting it in half, inspired the political makeup of the place, which then also fed the story.
And of course, as always, my writing was very inspired by all the travelling I do – I tend to borrow parts from various countries I’ve visited when creating a new setting.
- Tell us about your main character (s) in The Slave City, Rory and Longinus.
By the time we get to The Slave City they’re firmly friends, but at the start of the series, they clash a lot more! They’re very different –Rory is a pickpocket who lives on the street—she’s scruffy and dirty and has quite a lot of attitude, while Longinus is an assassin who’s afraid of blood (and therefore works exclusively with poisons) and who’s very much a dandy.
When they first meet they don’t get along at all, largely because Rory is blackmailing Longinus into taking her on as an apprentice!
But as they get to know each other better, they become firm friends, finding that for all their differences they’re both misfits in their own way.
Of course, even then they continue to argue and they share a lot of fun banter.
- What was your favorite part about writing this story? Include any ritual or a special place you write when you begin your day in the answer.
I always love writing the scenes where my main characters are together, arguing or bantering. It’s great fun, and it feels a bit like spending time with good friends.
As to the actual writing of it, I live nomadically, so I’ve written The Slave City all over the place: in airports, in bus stations, on trains (one train in particular shook me about so much I had trouble hitting the keys accurately!)
But my favourite place to write had to be in my hammock on the beach on a small island in Thailand. I’d ‘commute’ to work by passing by some grumpy macaques who weren’t too happy at me crossing their turf, tie up my hammock to a couple of palm trees on the beach, and spend most of the day swaying myself with one foot while writing. Not a common writing setup, but it certainly made for perfect inspiration when it came to describing the heat in Azyr!
- How much research did you do and what type? Include the most interesting or most unusual. (Since this is 3rd book you might point out the connections too.)
Most of my research for settings comes from my experiences while travelling. I take all kinds of elements from my travels—it ranges from big things like the cliffs themselves that the city of Azyr is spread across, to little details like the inside of a local shop, the way people talk—all sorts.
I did quite a lot of research to figure out a particular part of the story, specifically the way communication happens between different parts of town. I wanted the technology to feel realistic, simple enough to understand, and of course not too advanced given the overall technology levels in my world.
- If you were pitching this [book], what would be your pitch?
A complicated mission.
A team of misfits that just don’t get along.
What could possibly go wrong?
- What is the next book in the series? When should we look for it?
The next book in the series takes place after the team is back in Damsport, and it’s called The Doll Maker. It’s quite different in feel from The Slave City. This time the design for a lethal weapon has been stolen, and Rory and Longinus had to figure out who did it and why. They’ll have to content with creepy dolls and revolutionary students, although that’s less complicated for them to navigate than the fact they’ve recently become housemates!
It will be coming out late April 2019.
Celine Jeanjean, is French, grew up in England, lived in Hong Kong for half her twenties, and now she floats around the world as a nomadic writer.
When she’s not writing she can be found swimming with black tipped reef sharks, hiking in the jungle, or sitting in her hammock, reading a good book.
Her books feature badass female characters, quirky misfits, and lots of humour and adventure.
The best place to connect with her and keep up to date with what’s going on book wise and travel adventure wise is over at her newsletter:
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