Today, we’re excited to share an interview with D. Gabrielle Jensen, author of the Fia Drake, Soul Hunter series! The second book, Whiskey and Ink, releases Friday, March 26. Check out the rest of the book tour details here.
Let’s jump in!
Can you tell us a little bit about the Fia Drake, Soul Hunter series?
Fia Drake was groomed from childhood to be a bounty hunter but she’s not hunting drug dealers or bank robbers. She’s hunting condemned souls that were released from Hell just like generations before her have done. This trio of books focuses on a moment when her ordinary becomes something else. She starts seeing things that don’t look right, even in her world, and has no choice but to dig into it, find out what’s going on. Especially when her employer, who has been anonymous for seven years, steps into the light, asking for her help finding the human enemy who has put a target on her back. As is the case with a lot of urban fantasy, the Fia Drake series intermingles elements of paranormal fantasy with a whodunit mystery and a smoldering romance.
What is a soul hunter exactly?
Generations of youths are trained from early childhood to identify and apprehend malevolent souls released from Hell. They are bounty hunters. Every culture has them; each one handles their hunters differently. Fia was raised in a very clandestine atmosphere where all of her training was need-to-know. She was taught what she needed to know when the nuns in charge of her grooming determined it was beneficial to her training. Early on in her story, Fia meets a woman named Zari who was trained in a very different manner. Raised in a remote village in Haiti, Zari’s training was an open, communal effort. Everyone in her village was responsible for the hunters in some way, either through directly training them in hunting skills or through basic education that she–and others like her–missed out on by not attending “regular” school. Zari spent some time helping Fia fill in the missing pieces left by her training.
If you were a soul hunter, what would be your weapon of choice?
I think I would choose the same weapon I’ve given to Fia for the same reasons. A crossbow is easier than a compound bow but quieter than a firearm, while maintaining a safer distance than a sword or knife. I am not sure I am built for hunting but Fia didn’t think Max was either. To that end, I’m not sure Max thought Max was.
Where did the story idea come from? Was there anything specific that inspired it?
I was given a set of parameters for a short story challenge. Female-presenting, humanoid heroine with dragon-like characteristics. I put together a name and an appearance. Fiammetta means “Little Flame” and Drake is a breed of dragon. She has flaming red hair and a scar on her arm caused by boiling oil that resembles scales. I first met her on a hunt. She took out a target and the process went awry. I didn’t even know, at that point, what she was hunting. When I figured out it was the souls of the damned returning to earth, I got very excited. I have always had a fascination with religious mythology. It started with the ancient Greeks and expanded into other cultures’ traditions, including Christian mythologies, specifically the Old Testament stories. Getting the chance to write a story in that realm was immensely exciting.
How long have you been writing in general?
I started telling stories before I could write them. I wrote my first story of memory when I was six. When I got to be eleven or twelve, I would buy a packet of loose leaf paper at the start of every summer and spend the vacation filling them with a story. As I got older, I had less time so I wrote fewer stories but it has always remained a passion for me.
Do you know how many books will be in the series? Can you give us any hints on the next book(s)?
I have set it up as a trilogy. The next book, the title for which has not yet been announced, will be the conclusion of this story arc. I have a few other short stories in the wings but I don’t have anymore novels planned. That is not to say I won’t ever revisit this world but it is not in the plans at the moment. As for the last book, while Fia has learned to care for Max and enjoys having him around, she pushes at him, trying to convince him she, and her world, is bad for him. In the third book, he discovers why. When the human enemy was gunning for Fia, she knew she needed to draw them out and stop them. Then they raise the stakes by attacking Max and Fia’s newfound circle of allies and she almost loses herself in her quest for vengeance. The trilogy is written as an expanded three-act structure so the book slated for September is the climactic third act.
Do you have any other future projects you can share about?
I have several ideas I want to start working on when I finish this series. I’m not sure which one is going to take precedent. I am a pantser, which is writer slang for someone who flies by the seat of their pants in creating a story. I think because of that I tend to be more character-driven so it will depend on which characters speak to me the loudest going into the next story.
I can say that a lot of my writing is inspired by music and songs inspiring me, right now, are Don Henley’s “All She Wants to Do is Dance,” and Lindsey Striling’s “Roundtable Rival.”