(By day Anthony Francis studies human and other minds to design intelligent machines and emotional robots; by night he writes fiction and draws comic books at the collision point of hard science and pure fantasy. He was inspired to study artificial intelligence by Douglas Hofstadter, to become a writer by Isaac Asimov, and to write urban fantasy by Laurell K. Hamilton and Richard P. Feynman. He got his Ph.D in AI and his brown belt in Taido from Georgia Tech; he currently supports his out-of-control reading and writing habits by working at the Search Engine That Starts With a G. Anthony lives in San Jose with his wife and cats but his heart will always belong in Atlanta.)
I'm Anthony Francis, the author of Frost Moon, an urban fantasy published by Bell Bridge Books. When I started writing Frost Moon, I decided to create something I would want to read - an adventure that was magical and sexy and fun, but with a little edge of realism that made the magic more believable. A novel with a heroine who herself was magical and sexy and fun, but who didn't begin her adventures already endowed with the power to dispel the forces of the darkness with her quick wit and kung-fu grip. Someone who had every reason to go diving into the world of magic - but who dives in out of her depth and has to learn to swim. So was born Dakota Frost, and the alternate Atlanta of the Skindancer series.
So what is Frost Moon about? Someone is skinning the tattooed every full moon - and Dakota Frost, Atlanta's best magical tattooist, has just met a werewolf who is either the killer ... or possibly the killer's next victim. Tall, edgy, and beautifully tattooed herself, Dakota Frost can bring her marks to life through the magical art called skindancing, a skill which makes her the object of many people's desires. The killer wants her ink; the werewolf wants to be inked. A man-in-black wants to protect her; a young orphan wants to be protected by her. A skeptic wants to challenge her skill; she wants to meet that challenge. And it's all going down in Atlanta just before the full moon.
I had fun writing it, and I hope you have fun reading it. But I hope you get more out of it than that. The surface of Frost Moon is a just-ever-so-slightly over-the-top action adventure universe, but beneath that surface are two firm principles. The first principle is that if magic was real, then magic would be real, woven in deep with Nature's laws. In the Skindancer universe, magic was hidden in secret for centuries by wizards pretending to be scientists; but the counterculture movement of the 1960's it began to break free, creating Dakota's world where vampires work with the police to maintain law and order and magical tattooists get licensed at City Hall.
The second principle is that if I didn't make it up, it should be as accurate as possible. Almost all the places in Frost Moon are real parts of Atlanta - not just the bookstores and restaurants and nightclubs but also the more obscure touches, from the statue of Lord Buckhead in Storyteller Square down to the keypad leading to the APD offices on the upper floors of City Hall East (I had a friend go check). And if some nefarious person were to, say, inject a shifter with silver nitrate to thwart their change, I can guarantee you that the hypodermic filled of silver nitrate will look like it's actually filled with silver nitrate and not with mercury ... and that the injection will have more of an effect on the shifter's life than just delaying the shifter's change until the next chapter.
And I can also guarantee that Dakota herself will change. She's tall, cocky, on the edge of arrogant; but the first time someone faces a real fight it can change you. Frost Moon leaves both scars and gifts on Dakota's body, psyche and life, and I'm going to enjoy exploring how those change her in future books.
I hope you enjoy them too.
-the Centaur, Wednesday March 17, 2010
FROM DEBRA-- Anthony must slave in the real world of computers but he will be checking in during the day to hear what you guys think of world building and how important you think accuracy is to readers! And of course to see if you have any comments about his “girl” Dakota Frost.