Today I am interviewing Jennifer Roberson, author of the new fantasy novel, Life and Limb, first book in the Blood & Bone series.
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DJ: Hi Jennifer! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Jennifer: I have a BS in journalism, minor in British History, which seems fairly prosaic, but I was very fortunate to do my final semester in London on an American Foreign Studies program. Classes were held three days a week, and the rest of the time I was taking trains all over England, Scotland, and Wales. While born in Missouri, at the age of four we moved to Phoenix and I have been an Arizonan ever since. Currently I reside in Tucson with a collection of cats and Cardigan Welsh Corgis—the Corgi with the tail. I’m also a former rodeo queen and have been a reporter, bookstore employee, advertising copywriter, and doggie daycare handler.
DJ: What is Life and Limb about?
Jennifer: Life and Limb is the first volume in an ongoing urban fantasy series about the End of Days, and two perfectly ordinary young men who are strangers to one another who have been conscripted to join the heavenly host in a battle against Lucifer’s spec ops troops: demons who now inhabit characters and creatures from fiction, history, myths, legends, and folklore. But the angels have agendas, and Gabe and Remi—an ex-con biker and Texas cowboy—must also come to grips with the unwelcome discovery that they themselves are not after all entirely human, even as they climb the steepest of learning curves in an attempt to save the world. It’s myth, and magic; gods and goddesses; angels and agendas.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Life and Limb and the series?
Jennifer: Books, certainly, but also movies and TV shows. I intend it to be a very visceral, visual series, and it harkens to many of the archetypes and themes found in so many shows and films. I call it a “kitchen sink” series in that everything and the kitchen sink will be thrown into the mix, including literature, pop culture, movies, myth, and music. There are homages and references to many favorite f/sf shows. I think readers will sense overtones of popular genre shows such as X-Files, Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, Grimm, Highlander, and others.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Gabe, the narrator, is an ex-con biker expert with guns who was imprisoned for killing a man, which ended his career as a college professor of folklore, though there were extenuating circumstances. He is now on parole, and has learned that he was shaped from birth to one day join the host of heaven to battle Lucifer’s demons and is now, to his shock, being deployed. Gabe’s fun to write because of his snark, sense of humor, and his love of f/sf and pop culture. He is not at all reconciled to his new “mission,” and it’s a difficult transition for him.
Remi, on the other hand, is a Texas cowboy who grew up on a ranch, and rodeos on weekends. Like Gabe, he was always intended to be conscripted into a celestial army, but grew up with no inkling of what was to come. He adores country music and breaks into song quite often, which drives Gabe nuts because he truly cannot stand country music, and Remi is full of various Texas sayings and cowboy philosophy. Like Gabe, Remi is highly educated and holds a doctorate in Comparative Religion. His gift is with edged weapons. Both are widely read in fantasy and science fiction, and make many references made to well-known movies, TV shows, and books.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Jennifer: For me, at this point, it’s the man they both know as “Grandaddy.” Growing up, they believed he was merely an old friend of the family. But Grandaddy is actually the agent of heaven who set them on their individual paths from birth, and the book opens with Grandaddy’s explanation for what’s expected of them now. Imagine Sam Elliott: tall, long white hair, mustache and beard, and wears a Western-style frock coat.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Blood & Bone series like?
Jennifer: As an urban fantasy with Western overtones, it’s set firmly in the world we know. It just happens to be a world where a series of unexpected earthquakes across the globe opened hell vents, and demons came through. Their goal is creating sheer chaos to soften the world for the final battle between good and evil, heaven and hell. The series is set (for now) in Arizona, specifically Flagstaff, a small city in a field of 600 volcanoes stretching across the high desert plateau of Northern Arizona. It combines much Native American folklore, ghost stories, as well as the cultures, myths, and religions of many races. Life and Limb features characters such as a seraphim, Grigori, African Orisha, the Irish Goddess of Battles.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Life and Limb?
Jennifer: I absolutely adored the freedom of being able to refer to pop culture in the form of favorite movies, TV shows, and books. Gabe in particular is a fanboy, and he is liable to quote Mr. Spock, Yoda, and many other fictional but favorite characters. All my other fantasy has been set in worlds of my own devising, and by setting the Blood & Bone series in the real world I’m able to use settings and references most readers are very familiar with.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Jennifer: I hope they’ll be saying they want to read the second volume! Seriously, though, I think the ending may cause some discussion, and I do hope readers enjoy the banter between, and the humor of, two young men from very different upbringings now dealing with their new-found roles in attempting to avert the end of the world.
DJ: Did you have a particular goal when you began the Blood & Bone series? Life and Limb is only the first book, but is there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?
Jennifer: By combining the myths, legends, folklore and religions of various cultures, I’m able to present the opinions and educational backgrounds, as well as the foibles, of two men who are very bright but also down to earth as they try to sort out how everything fits together in the run-up to Armageddon. Gabe and Remi have been quietly prepared for the battle since childhood, but they are perfectly normal young men who do not just shrug and say “Okay” when faced with the trappings of fantasy and folklore and go on about their lives. They question their roles even as they learn their missions. Their specific educational background and personal gifts and talents slowly merge to form a whole, but seamless it is not.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Life and Limb that you can share with us?
1) “Dipshit. Idiot. Dipshitiot.”
2) “I’m about as confused as a goat on Astroturf.”
3) “When Latin evolved as a language all those 4,000 years ago, I don’t think it was ever intended to be spoken with a Texas accent.”
4) “Mustard is the forgotten condiment.”
DJ: Now that Life and Limb is released, what is next for you?
Jennifer: I am currently working on Sinners and Saints, Volume 2 in the Blood & Bone series, scheduled for publication in March 2021. Next year I will also complete the eighth volume in my Sword-Dancer series, Sword-Bearer.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Roberson/e/B000APEU2O
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.roberson.cheysuli (I am very active on FB and discuss all manner of things, from books, writing, TV and movies, and dogs and cats.)
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Life and Limb the Blood & Bone series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Jennifer: Leather-clad, long-haired, badass Gabe rides a motorcycle, and cowboy-hatted, country music-loving Remi rides bulls and broncs and a pickup truck. Never the twain shall meet—except that the twain had better if they are to survive.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jennifer: Life and Limb is an origins novel, and readers learn who Gabe and Remi are, and what faces them, even as Gabe and Remi themselves do. No one knows what to expect, neither the characters nor the readers. I wanted to write a first volume where the set-up opens the way for a fast and compelling read.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
Jennifer: You are most welcome, and thank you for asking really cool questions!
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***Life and Limb is published by DAW and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
A biker and a cowboy must stop the apocalypse in the first book of the Blood and Bone modern western fantasy series.
His voice was rich, a much loved baritone, as he handed his seven-year-old grandson a gun.
“It’s time we had a talk, you and I. You won’t remember it, but you need to know it, and one day, when it’s time, I’ll call it up in you. You’ll know who you are, and what you’re intended to do. You’ll be a soldier, boy. Sealed to it. Life and limb, blood and bone. Not a soldier like others are, for it’s not the kind of war most people fight on earth. But because we’re not ‘most people,’ you and I, it will be far more important. The fate of the world will hinge upon it.”
Now no longer that wide-eyed child, Gabe is fresh out of prison, a leather-clad biker answering Grandaddy’s peremptory summons to, of all places, a cowboy bar in Northern Arizona. He is about to find out just how different he is from “most people”—and to meet the stranger with whom he will be sealed: life and limb, blood and bone, conscripted to fight an unholy war unlike any other.
For the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
When he does.
And Gabe, thrown into the unlikely company of a country-music-loving rodeo cowboy from West Texas, an ancient Celtic goddess of war, an African Orisha who sings volcanoes awake, a Chinese goddess of mercy, Nephilim, and Grigori, finds himself fighting a battle he was bred for, but wants no part of.
About the Author:
At the age of 14, with the oblivious confidence of adolescence,
Jennifer Roberson informed her mother she was going to write a book. Her mother, equally book-obsessed, told her to go for it.
Roberson did. And submitted the manuscript. And received her first rejection slip.
Fifteen years later, DAW Books published Shapechangers, the first novel in the 8-volume Chronicles of the Cheysuli, and a career was born. In the 38 years since then, working closely with DAW’s Hugo Award-winning editor and publisher Betsy Wollheim, Roberson has written three bestselling fantasy series, including the Cheysuli novels, the 8-volume Sword-Dancer saga, the Karavans books, and in November 2019 debuts Life and Limb, the first volume in the ongoing Blood & Bone modern fantasy series.
Roberson also collaborated with fantasy bestsellers Melanie Rawn and Kate Elliott on World Fantasy Award finalist The Golden Key.
Novels in other genre include three historicals from Kensington:
Lady of the Forest and its sequel, Lady of Sherwood, reinterpretations of the Robin Hood legend with emphasis on Marian’s role; and a Scottish novel based on the documented 18th-century Massacre of Glencoe, Lady of the Glen.
Roberson has also published an historical romance, romantic suspense, and Western, and the fantasy short story collection Guinevere’s Truth + Other Tales. The DAW and Kensington novels are available in all formats including Audible recordings. Non-fantasy novels and the short story collection are available via e-book format.