When I saw a unicorn on the back cover of Allison Pang’s A Brush of Darkness, I though it wasn’t going to be dark enough for me. I was wrong. Not only is Allison’s series featuring fae brilliant and dark urban fantasy, I ended up adoring the miniature unicorn. I loved the book so much it made the VBC Best Books of 2011 list.
Allison brings a clever plot, unique world, fascinating characters together and spices it with dashes of humor and sex. Basically, it’s some badass urban fantasy. The second book in the Abby Sinclair series will be out in a few months (pre-order A Sliver of Shadow), but I needed a fix of Abby, Ion and Phin. Luckily, Allison was willing to indulge my questions.
Vampire Book Club: Just how does one make a demon with horns so damn sexy we keep forgetting he isn’t human?
Allison Pang: I think part of it is because we see him through Abby’s eyes. She doesn’t focus so much on the antlers and hooves, so the readers don’t either. Obviously there are going to be physical differences, but that’s one of the main reasons that love scene at the end had to happen…because true attraction/sexy factor isn’t always about what a person looks like. And even if it is – in Brystion’s case, it’s a mask…no matter what sort of humanoid form he takes on, the darker side of him is always going to be there.
Vampire Book Club: For a series with a miniature unicorn and an enchanted iPod, Abby Sinclair’s story is a dark one. How do you strike the balance between heavy and witty?
Allison Pang: It’s tough sometimes. Usually the first few iterations of the book drafts are much, much darker than what goes to print. I have to go back during revisions and add the snarky bits. (And I don’t know if I always succeed at this. Abby is sometimes a tad too glib about things, although sometimes I’m actually poking fun at myself with her words. Occasionally I’ll break the fourth wall on purpose.)
Phin actually comes in very handy for this. I usually make sure he’s around in some fashion for scenes that do get dark – simply because he can get away with making observations and comments that the other characters can’t. (And at this point, people expect him to be obnoxious, that’s actually okay.)
Vampire Book Club: If we gave Phin $50 would he spend it all on cheap beer?
Allison Pang: Possibly. Most likely it would be on rum, bacon and wombat porn.
Vampire Book Club: Can we sweet-talk you into a little insight into A Sliver of Shadow?
Allison Pang: Sure. It takes place about 6 months from where A Brush of Darkness leaves off. Abby’s coming into her own as the Protectorate’s TouchStone, trying to figure out how to live with her elvish prince bodyguard, learning how to control her ability to Dream…and stuck babysitting for Moira’s son.
When an elf shows up claiming to be the newly appointed Protectorate of Portsmyth, shenanigans ensue.
Vampire Book Club: Some of the names, particularly those of the fae, are unique in Brush of Darkness. How do you select names?
Allison Pang: I just go with whatever feels right for the character at the time. I don’t actually make too many of them up directly – although for some reason, both of Abby’s love interests *are* made up. Brystion…I’m not sure where it came from, to be honest, but you’ll notice Abby tends to call him Ion more in the second book. Partially because Brystion started to seem too formal given their history and also because I’m lazy. LOL.
Talivar – the elvish prince – again, just sorta pulled that out of nowhere, although he was actually based on a character I ran in a PbP game on my online forum. Same name and overall look, but completely different persona.
Vampire Book Club: Will we dive into fae politics in the next book, A Sliver of Shadow, because the leaders definitely had a touch of crazy.
Allison Pang: Big time. Abby’s gonna get some face time with the Queen of Faerie…let’s just say she’s not the most stable of people and leave it at that.
Vampire Book Club: Everyone fawns over Phin, but we also adore Abby and Ion. (Mmm Ion.) Did you know the sidekick would get so much love?
Allison Pang: Actually…no. Phin wasn’t supposed to talk – until he did, about halfway through A Brush of Darkness. And then it just went downhill from there. (And he was also loosely based on another character from an online game as well – just a larger, more obnoxious version. *ahem*). But I was a bit surprised that he became as popular as he did – I think most of that is because he’s sort of the anti-unicorn. (I’ve also gotten some flak for it too, but that’s a pretty small percentage.)
Vampire Book Club: Care to remind the Phin lovers why Abby and Ion should be favorites?
Allison Pang: Because Phin is mostly comedic relief – as fun as he is, I think he only works well in small doses. I’ve had requests to write him in his own little series and I don’t know if I could. He needs a straight man to play off of.
And really, without Abby, there wouldn’t be a story at all. There’s a very good reason Phin shows up when does and it has to do with her past. And Ion? Well, for a character, he keeps his secrets pretty close to his vest, but I’d argue that Phin’s levity would be fairly useless without the darkness of the main storyline.
Vampire Book Club: A Sliver of Shadow hits shelves in February. What are you working on now?
Allison Pang: I’m finishing up the third Abby book, which should be due out in October 2012. I’ll be shifting gears a bit after I turn it in to try my hand at more of a straight epic fantasy/steampunk type story.
I’m also starting up a webcomic/graphic novel project for fun, which should start being posted this spring. (You can check it out over at SadSausageDogs.com, although the site isn’t really up yet.)