Today on the blog is the fabulous Stephanie Stamm, who is here to talk about a cover makeover for her novel, A Gift of Wings. Here is the old cover:
Now feast your eyes on the new cover by the also fabulous Ravven, who also designed the cover for Kate Sparkes’s Bound.
Continue to feast away while I talk to Stephanie.
El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Stephanie: (1) I just got a Smart TV and have recently become a Netflix addict. (2) I’m afraid of spiders and falling off ladders. (3) I don’t have any tattoos. (4) I love avocados and cilantro, which pretty much makes guacamole the perfect food.
El Space: Guacamole is pretty awesome! Tell us about your book, A Gift of Wings. How many books will there be in the Light-Bringer series?
Stephanie: A Gift of Wings is an urban fantasy set in Chicago about a girl named Lucky who, on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, starts seeing wings on people and gets drawn into a world of angels, demons, and ancient gods. As she joins what is to her a new world, she also pulls half-angel Aidan back into the life he’d walked away from two years before. The book gives us both their stories as they come to understand who they are and what they are capable of.
I envision the series as a trilogy. But I’ve also thought about writing additional novellas exploring the stories of some of the supporting characters.
El Space: Why angels? What do you find inspiring about them?
Stephanie: (1) I’m fascinated by winged beings. I once created a shadowbox art piece for a charity auction that I called “Luna Venus” where I gave Bouguereau’s Venus Luna moth wings. Wings are an ancient symbol of power. Plus, who doesn’t want to be able to fly? (2) I find something compelling about combining the human with the angelic “other.” Playing with the mythology of the angel-human hybrid Nephilim is great fun, because they are both human and more than human. Different angels have different traits and abilities, so I get to play with those as well. (3) I love mythology and fairy tales, and the Judeo-Christian tradition is the one I know best. I decided to create my fantasy world out of that tradition.
El Space: How did you come up with Aidan or Lucky? Who are you most like? Least like?
Stephanie: It’s funny, but Aidan (then unnamed) first occurred to me as a joke. I was just contemplating the bare idea of the story, and I thought, Oh, and one of the characters could be the front man for a band called Icarus. You know, because of the whole flaming wings, falling from the sky thing. My next thought was, Yeah. Why not? I ran with it. And then Aidan had his own ideas about where his story should go.
Lucky took her time in coming to me. I knew some of the things I wanted to have happen to her, but I didn’t know who she was or what her overall story was for a while. That came to me in bits and pieces.
Between Aidan and Lucky, I’m more like Lucky. I’ve lost loved ones—in my case, a much older sister and my mother—to Alzheimer’s, and I lived in Hyde Park—though I was older than Lucky when I did. But her background is different than mine, and she’s braver than I am. Maybe that’s why I found it easier to write the scenes from Aidan’s perspective. The words flowed more easily when I was writing in his voice.
El Space: Now tell us about this beautiful cover and how it came about.
Stephanie: I have you among others to thank for this beautiful cover! 🙂 Awhile back you did a cover reveal for Kate Sparkes’s Bound—an awesome book, by the way—and then later did an interview with Kate. That cover blew me away. It’s just stunning. I had been wanting to get a new cover for A Gift of Wings, because I knew the one I had didn’t really speak to the novel’s genre or target age group. So, I checked out Kate’s cover credit and then contacted the multi-talented Ravven about doing some covers for me as well. She did a gorgeous job with this one and the cover for the sequel, A Gift of Shadows.
El Space: What brought you to the urban fantasy genre?
Stephanie: Reading Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black, among others. In some ways, my attraction to urban fantasy is the same as my fascination for hybrid beings. It’s that sense of the extraordinary hiding or barely hidden right behind the ordinary, everyday world we inhabit.
El Space: How would you finish this sentence: “In the urban fantasy genre, I’d like to see more ______________”? Why?
Stephanie: I know it’s a current buzzword, but I’d like to see more diversity—not just in urban fantasy. I tried to include diverse characters in A Gift of Wings, but I know I could do more in future work. No one book or series will ever be able to include all possible variations, but we could do better at avoiding common tropes and learning about other cultures, etc., so we can write outside our comfort zones.
El Space: Amen to that! What books/authors inspire you as an author?
Stephanie: I have a huge writer crush on Neil Gaiman. I love Neverwhere and American Gods. The man knows mythology better than anyone. Good Omens, which he wrote with Terry Pratchett, is also a favorite—well, it is about angels and demons. I find Kate Griffin’s Matthew Swift series—A Madness of Angels, The Midnight Mayor, The Neon Court, and The Minority Council—completely compelling. Talk about urban fantasy. In her novels, the urban is fantastic and the fantastic is urban. I’m in awe. On the YA front, the Harry Potter books, of course, and the Hunger Games, and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series.
El Space: What advice do you have for authors who want to write urban fantasy?
Stephanie: Read it and read it and read more of it. Then, let your imagination run. What kinds of places and images do you find evocative? And who do you want to people your world? What kind of characters do you love? Mostly, I think, whatever genre we write in, we need to read it. And we need to write what we love. There’s no point in trying to write urban fantasy if cozy mysteries are what light you up. That’s not to say that we can’t explore or write in multiple genres, just that we shouldn’t try to force ourselves into being who we aren’t.
El Space: What writing project are you working on now?
Stephanie: I’m working on the second volume of the Light-Bringer series: A Gift of Shadows. It’s with beta readers now. I’m hoping to be able to release it at the end of the year. My mind is also churning with ideas for the third book.
Thanks, Stephanie, for stopping by the blog!
Looking for Stephanie? You can find her at her blog. A Gift of Wings is available here:
In honor of her cover makeover, Stephanie is giving away a paperback and an ebook of A Gift of Wings. Comment below to be entered in the drawing! Winners will be announced on Monday, August 18.
A Gift of Wings cover courtesy of Stephanie Stamm. Other book covers from Goodreads. Luna moth from fwallpapers.com.