Box Office Poison: Review and Interview with Phillipa Bornikova

BoxOfficePsnBox Office Poison is the second book in Phillipa Bornikova’s Linnet Ellery Series. One of the biggest challenges of any series is the second book, and Bornikova pulls it off with style. Linnet Ellery is a young lawyer who grew up in a world were vampires, werewolves and faeries have stepped out of hiding to take their place in the human world. In Box Office Poison, Linnet and David, a vampire and a senior partner at her law firm, travel from the Big Apple to Tinsletown to settle a dispute among humans and faeries within the Screen Actors Guild. However, the job quickly reveals a darker danger that threatens the faeries’ place in the human world in an exciting blend of intrigue, legal machinations, and Hollywood glamour that is a winning combination.

One of the most pleasant surprises about this series and Box Office Poison in particular is that it incorporates some of the best urban fantasy elements that have made other series like The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher such a hit while still making the series feel fresh and new. Bornikova doesn’t shy away from the hard decisions within the novel, and she doesn’t fall for the easy romance between the pretty human heroine and the powerful, mysterious vampire. Instead, Linnet is her own person from start to finish, following her gut on the case she’s working and holding her own against supernaturals and humans alike. She’s a strong woman, an exciting character, and someone you don’t want to mess with.

Box Office Poison is the second book in a must read series–especially for fans who are looking for a new and exciting urban fantasy series that nods to Harry Dresden while excelling at showcasing the strong and confident Linnet Ellery who brings her own class and style to the genre. A wonderful addition to the urban fantasy genre.

Phillipa Bornikova is a terrific author who graciously agreed to an interview with Amazing Stories Magazine. Please help us in welcoming her to ASM.

Amazing Stories Magazine (ASM): Box Office Poison is the second book in the Linnet Ellery Series, and Linnet Ellery, Esq., is not an ordinary urban fantasy hero. How would you describe Linnet for people who haven’t yet met her? How did you decide upon her profession?

Melinda Snodgrass (MS): I was trained as a lawyer, and it struck me that most urban fantasies don’t feature people with access to the levers of power in society – law, politics, Wall Street. So I decided to try creating a heroine who moved in those circles and was less of an action figure.

ASM: The Linnet Ellery Series, features a new take on vampires, faeries, and werewolves. When developing the premise for the series, did you have any concerns about creating a story world filled with characters types that are so well-known to readers?

MS: I really like vamps and elves so I figured other people would too. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many books that feature the critters. And I figured I had tweaked the myths enough to make it interesting.

ASM: How has Box Office Poison built upon or changed your original vision for the series?

MS: It made me realize that sex is not an essential part of an urban fantasy what ever you might have been told. If the story is engaging enough the protagonist can stand on their own without romantic entanglements.

ASM: In Box Office Poison, readers are immersed within the Hollywood culture, giving them a rare insider’s view of the film industry. What experiences or resources did you draw upon to create such a vivid portrayal of the Hollywood lifestyle?

MS: I worked in Hollywood for a number of years as a screenwriter.

ASM: Was there a scene that was particularly difficult or fun for you to write? What was it about that scene that makes it stand out for you?

MS: I had been planning to have the final climax take place at the Academy Awards from the very beginning, and I couldn’t wait to write that scene. It was a lot of fun.

ASM: Writers often put a little bit of themselves into their characters. Is there a character in Box Office Poison with whom you most identify? Why that character?

MS: Linnet is clearly me. I ride, I was trained as a lawyer. Unlike Linnet I can also sing. She’s a bit of a frog.

ASM: Linnet and David share an affection for each other, but there’s no romantic relationship between them–at least not yet. Given the recent craze of human/vampire romances, did the lack of a romantic entanglement pose any special challenges for you in Box Office Poison?

MS: The David/Linnet relationship becomes a huge problem in the third book which I have delivered to Tor. In fact it drives most of the story. David is in love with her. She doesn’t love him. He’s just her friend.

ASM: Looking back over your career as a whole, who has had the most impact or influence on your development as a writer? In what way has this person influenced you?

MS: That’s hard to answer. There were a lot of people because writing is a profession where they really “pay it forward”. I was encouraged to write by Vic Milan, George R.R. encouraged me to try for Hollywood, and I probably owe it all to Fred and Joan Saberhagen who invited me into their home where I met writers, and realized they were far more interesting than lawyers.

ASM: Most of your work is solidly based in science fiction and fantasy. What is it about these genres that captures your interest and imagination?

MS: I’ve dreamed of outer space my entire life. The first book I remember being read to me by my father was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Once I learned to read I discovered A Princess of Mars, and I was hooked – Heinlein, Norton, Clark, Asimov, etc. etc. Science fiction writers dream big and tell real stories.

ASM: What do you have in store for Linnet Ellery in the future? Any new projects coming out soon?

MS: The third book has been delivered. I’m not sure I will continue with the series. That rather depends on Tor. Right now I just finished a comic script, and I’m working on a new space opera series.


PhillipaBornikova-photoPHILLIPA BORNIKOVA is the pen name of Melinda Snodgrass, a former story editor of a major network television series, an author and editor, a horse trainer, and an oil company executive. She lives in the Southwest.

You can follow Phillipa Bornikova on Facebook and on Goodreads. You can also visit Melinda Snodgrass online at, Facebook, and Twitter.

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