I have in the past mentioned that one of the perks of my job is getting to read early manuscripts for upcoming books. Last year my friend and fellow Magical Words blogger DB Jackson asked if I might read his novel THIEFTAKER, which turned out to be a Revolutionary War era urban fantasy novel.
I don’t *normally* send people emails while I’m reading their books, but I sent David at least two or three during the course of reading THIEFTAKER, saying things like “ACK YOU DID WHAT HOLY *CRAP* DUDE!” and “OMG I did NOT see that coming ALGHGLH!!!” David said he’d never had anybody emailing him while reading, either, so the whole thing was an amusing and novel (er, so to speak) experience for both of us. Anyway, I loved what David had done, so I am now delighted to offer up a little five-question interview I did with him in celebration of THIEFTAKER’s release!
And now, interviewy goodness!
1. I was lucky enough to get to read an advance copy of THIEFTAKER, which I utterly enjoyed. But you’ve gone out on something of a limb with it–it’s Revolutionary War urban fantasy. What made you decide to tackle urban fantasy set in a different era?
This is a far more complicated question than you know — several forces conspired to lead me to this book and series. The original idea for THIEFTAKER came from, of all things, a footnote in a book about Australian history. The footnote discussed the vagaries of 18th century law enforcement in England, including the rise of thieftakers, who retrieved stolen items for a fee. In particular, it discussed London’s most famous thieftaker, Jonathan Wild, who used to have his henchmen steal goods which he would either sell for a profit or return for that finder’s fee. He built an empire for himself on this business model. Reading about him, I thought “What a great idea for a book!” I would have an honest thieftaker, who could conjure, but who had to deal with a Wild-like corrupt nemesis. So from the start this was going to be an urban fantasy, although not a contemporary one.
In my first draft, THIEFTAKER was set in an alternate fantasy world. But when I talked to my editor about it, he suggested turning it into a historical fantasy and setting it in London. Now I should mention here that I have a Ph.D. in history — U.S. History. And my response to his suggestion was that I could see turning it into a historical, but not in London — everyone sets books in London. What if we set this in pre-Revolutionary War America? I had always been fascinated by the late colonial era, when the British Empire in the New World was coming apart at the seams. And given the lack of an established constabulary in the colonies, particularly in Boston, where the books take place, it made sense that thieftakers could have thrived in the colonies.
So there it is — somewhat circuitous, and probably more than you wanted to know. But that’s how I got here.
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(x-posted from the essential kit)