The Readers’ Writers: NYT bestselling author Jennifer Estep

DA Kentner

Jennifer Estep holds a bachelor’s degree in English and journalism and a master’s in professional communications. Southern-born and raised, Jennifer admits to a love of food and a preference for honey on her corn bread.

Jennifer debuted in the world of published books with what would become the Bigtime books, a paranormal romance series set in fictional Bigtime, N.Y. The author likens the series to “female-centered comic books without the art.” The Elemental Assassin series takes place in the Southern metropolis of Ashland, a community rife with giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – including assassin and restaurant owner Gin Blanco, with the power to control stone and ice, and a love of sharp objects. Both of these series are for the over-18 reader. 

For the young adult (YA) reader, Jennifer developed the Mythos Academy urban fantasy series. The stories focus on 17-year-old gypsy Gwen Frost, who has the gift of psychometry, and her education at the Mythos Academy, a school for descendants of ancient warrior societies. 

“Crimson Frost,” the fourth book in the Mythos Academy series, is Jennifer’s latest release. The story features a potential relationship between Gwen and handsome Logan Quinn. The fact Logan’s father would just as soon see Gwen become a soon forgotten memory of life might be a bit of a stumbling block. Landing in jail on their first date for allegedly helping the sadistic Loki escape from prison. … Sure beats dinner and a movie, but how do you plan a second date from behind bars?

Jennifer employs an easy-to-read style of writing in all of her work. Her characters are well-drawn and interesting, and the plots original with just enough twist to keep readers turning the page.

Q. What was the inspiration behind the Mythos Academy series?

A. I’ve always enjoyed mythology and all the stories of the gods, goddesses, warriors, and creatures battling each other and going on these epic quests. I remember watching the old “Clash of the Titans” movie whenever we would have movie days in school, and I read things like “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” for class assignments over the years.

One day, I thought it would be cool to write my own mythology story with my own characters and magic, put my own spin on things, and tell the story that I wanted to tell. So that’s what I did, and that was sort of the beginning of my Mythos Academy series. So far, I’m having a blast writing the books.

Q. The assassin Gin Blanco began as a killer for hire, but seems to be evolving into more of a vigilante or seeker of vengeance. Why did you decide to change her motivation for killing?

A. I’ve always enjoyed reading about assassin characters in fantasy literature because they can be everything from cold to calculating to crazy. It just seems like there are so many different stories that you can tell with assassin characters.

With Gin Blanco, I wanted to start out with a character who was cold, reserved, and closed off, even from her friends and family. But as my Elemental Assassin series has progressed, Gin has opened herself up more to her friends and family, and that’s one of the things that has changed her focus a bit. Gin is still an assassin, but now she’s more of an assassin-with-a-heart-of-gold who helps folks who can’t help themselves.

Q. Fantasy stories require worldbuilding - the construction of the locale, environment, demographics, society the characters interact in. You have stated that you sometimes find authors spend too much time on worldbuilding and not enough on the plot. What do you think the proper balance is?

A. Worldbuilding is a big part of any fantasy book. I think one of the fun things about writing fantasy books is coming up with a town, city, castle, or whatever and then dreaming up all of the magic, creatures, and more that live in that place and how they interact with each other.

However, plot is equally important. You can have a really creative magic world/system, but without strong characters and a strong plot, it’s really just an empty town, city, or castle. It’s important to strike a good balance between your worldbuilding and the characters who drive your plots forward and hopefully keep readers engaged in their adventures.

Q. With three active series, are you planning to branch out into other stories in other worlds? If so, what do you have in mind?

A. I have a couple of ideas for new fantasy books/characters/series that I would like to explore. I think it would be cool to maybe write a YA series with more of a fairy tale or epic fantasy feel. I’d also like to write in some different genres and maybe try my hand at a spy thriller, a heist book, or maybe even a Western someday. I have more ideas than I could ever possibly have time to write.

DA Kentner is an award-winning author.