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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Twilight Thursday

Welcome Author
Jocelynn Drake

Jocelynn Drake

Trying to maintain a regular guest author features on this blog keeps all three of us hopping, and I'm always on the search for new authors. This search takes me to the friends list, and author lists that other authors place on their websites as well as those larger sites. I discovered today's author through YA Author, Rachel Vincent's Website. Why am I telling you this? To demonstrate the importance of those "friends links" and that they will work, to show that people do read them and will follow the links and that people like me will follow those links when searching for new and different authors to share with readers.

Why does all this matter? Because it's my job to help your TBR pile grow exponentially, and today's guest will do that, without a doubt! Her Dark Days series began in 2008 with Night Walker, continued in 2009 with Day Hunter and Dawn Breaker, and charged through 2010 with Pray for Dawn and her latest, Wait for Dusk which will be on store shelves soon, if not already available.

Night Walker introduces us to Mira, an "unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows," through her own eyes. That's right, this series appears to be Mira's reflection on her own life, from the moment she meets Danaus - a human vampire hunter - and her subsequent battles against the Naturi. Mira is a very interesting character, and while you can learn about her, Danaus, and all the other creatures she interacts with on Jocelynn's website, it's best to read the series, since you'll be getting all of your information straight from Mira herself. Pray for Dawn, however, is told from Danaus's pov.

Before I send you on to consult Mira's and Danaus's journals, I'd like to share my interview with Jocelynn:

ME: Almost anywhere you go in the US, Independence Day is celebrated with parades, firework displays, cookouts and music – sometimes on July 4th and sometimes earlier depending upon what day of the week the 4th falls on. What celebration plans are going on in your area, and when will they happen?

JOCELYNN: My family had a party at my house on the Fourth of July. It was a cookout with lots of good food, conversation, laughter, and fireworks. We only had two fires break out, which I take as a good sign for the first party at my house.

ME: What kinds of festivities would a traveler find at this celebration? What sights, sounds and smells might he or she encounter?

JOCELYNN: In truth, the Fourth of July is always spent with my family doing a cookout. I’ve never attended any other kind of celebration. The biggest event that most people will see are fireworks displays once the sun goes down.

ME: What about you and your family? What plans do you have for celebrating Independence Day?

JOCELYNN: My family had a party at my house on the Fourth of July. It was a cookout with lots of good food, conversation, laughter, and fireworks. We only had two fire break out, which I take as a good sign for the first party at my house.

ME: Is there any favorite treat that you must consume during an Independence Day celebration?

JOCELYNN: For me, no Independence Day celebration is complete without watermelon. It’s the perfect summer treat and I look forward to it all year.

ME: In many areas, people like to purchase their own fireworks and set them off – snakes, bottle rockets, and sparklers among others. What’s your opinion on fireworks – take them or leave them? Which ones are your favorites?

JOCELYNN: I love fireworks. I love the big explosions in the sky with the broad array of colors followed by the shower of golden sparks.

ME: A day some might consider as equally important is Bastille Day on the 14th commemorating the storming of the prison fortress, Bastille, in 1789 when the French people stormed the fortress, putting an end to “the tyranny of King Louis XVI’s monarchy”. Celebrations are beginning to be held in major cities across the country celebrating French history. One of the largest celebrations in the country happens in Milwaukee, WI (4 day long festival beginning with a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille, complete with a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica) a tradition starting 27 years ago makes it one of the city’s oldest festivals. Is Bastille Day celebrated in your area? If so, how? What sights, sounds, and cuisine will travelers stumble upon?

JOCELYNN: No, Bastille Day is not celebrated in my area.

ME: Are there any other festivities that take place in your area that a traveler might enjoy local culture and traditions? If so, what are they and where would a traveler go to find them?

JOCELYNN: There is a heavy catholic population where I am from so the summer is filled with church festivals. Every weekend is loaded with them from the middle of June through the middle of August. The festival range from the small with a few games of chance and games for kids, while others have rides and are more like large carnivals. There is always lots of food like hot dogs and cotton candy.

ME: We’ve had our fun, now let’s put the focus on your writing. While there are many genres to choose from, what specifically brought you to romance? Why this genre over the others?

JOCELYNN: I am not strictly a romance writer. The Dark Days series is an urban fantasy novel with romantic elements. The relationship between the main characters takes a slow, natural progression over several books. It felt natural to include it because relationships are just as important in a book as the major plot points and other elements of character development.

ME: Even though the popularity of the romance genre continues to grow, it’s still not always a highly respected genre. What, in your opinion, is the reason for the continued interest in the genre and for the lack of respect it receives?

JOCELYNN: I think the continued interest in the genre is because it is constantly growing and morphing to meet the needs of the reader. It is a genre that is constantly attracting new readers through the fresh stories that people are telling.

On the other hand, I think there is an old stigma in that romance stories are these cookie cutter tales about two people who fall in love when the stories have far more depth and creativity to them that most are willing to give them credit.

ME: A holiday we didn’t discuss above is Parents’ Day. What traits, in your opinion, make for a good parent? Have any of these traits, been inspiration for a character’s personality and actions in your stories? If so, how? Which character(s), which trait(s) and why?

JOCELYNN: Honesty, dedication, compassion, and patience are all great qualities to be found in parents. While my main characters may struggle at times with honesty and patience, I am happy to report that they are very dedicated to their beliefs and are compassionate people.

ME: For a writer, inspiration can be found everywhere and in almost anyone, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits, events or situations that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, Pray for Dawn, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?

JOCELYNN: There was no driving inspiration in particular for Pray for Dawn beyond a need to tell Danaus’s story. In this particular book, I change the storyteller from Mira, the vampire, to Danaus, the vampire hunter, in an effort to not only allow the reader to see the world through his eyes, but to also give Danaus a chance to face and battle his past, which has haunted him most of his life.

ME: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)

JOCELYNN: Mira is a nightwalker that is more than six hundred years old. She has the special ability to control fire. She stands around five foot, six inches and likes to wear black leather. She has extremely pale skin, red hair, and lavender eyes. She is generally serious, but is also sarcastic with a little bit of a quick temper.

Danaus is a nightwalker hunter that is nearly 2,000 years old. He has the special ability to boil a creature’s blood within its body. He stands close to six feet tall with shoulder-length black hair and dark blue eyes. He is also very serious and doesn’t like to talk much. Mira and Danaus frequently butt heads on matters as they are both too stubborn and secretive.

I pulled the curtains closed, but she didn’t visibly relax again until I took a couple steps away from the window. She slowly stood with her arms crossed over her stomach.
“How is it you’re awake?” I demanded.

“A gift from a friend,” she said, regaining her grin.

“Ryan.” The warlock’s name rumbled from somewhere in my chest and crawled up my throat, coated in frustration and anger.

“Your warlock is slowly proving to be useful.” She sounded indifferent, but I knew better.

“How? What has he done?”

“Nothing that concerns you.”

I frowned at her, which only caused her smile to widen. I didn’t trust either of them and it didn’t bode well for anyone if they were suddenly working together. “You’ve been with Ryan all this time.”

Mira chuckled, leaning against the corner of the wall. She shoved her hands into the front pockets of her jeans and stared at me. “You make it sound so sordid. Jealous?”

“You’ve been missed. The lycans stopped me today in their search for you.”

“Yes,” Mira frowned. “Barrett was kind enough to leave a somewhat scathing voicemail on my phone today. Apparently you’ve been busy. I spent the better part of an hour reassuring him that I hadn’t been kidnapped or killed.”

“You disappeared without a trace,” I reminded her.

“I’m a nightwalker; it’s what we do.”

“Did you even bother to take Gabriel with you?” Previously she had not traveled without, but following the death of her other bodyguard Michael, I sensed a hesitance to bring Gabriel along on her travels.

“I’m not helpless.” Her narrowed eyes began to glow again, but this time it was from anger. I had no doubt Mira would tear out my throat if I pushed her too far. She wasn’t known for her patience.

“But Tristan is. Did you even bother to tell him that you were skipping town?”

“He’s not helpless!” she snarled. She pulled her hands out of her pockets and pushed off the wall toward me. “She just taught him to be that way.” There was no question as to who “she” was. Sadira had made Tristan more than a century ago and Mira before that. She had kept Tristan weak and dependent upon her, as if to ensure that he never left her the way Mira had.

“I never asked for this,” she continued, her eyes darting away from me for the first time as her hands balled into tight fists. She hadn’t. Mira valued her independence, her lonely existence. She had told me once that she had never made another of her kind and that she never would. Yet, she was now saddled with another’s child because she couldn’t bear to see Tristan tormented by her peers. And to make matters worse, she had started a family with at least two other nightwalkers in an attempt to protect them and add some more security to the city.

“Doesn’t matter. You’re his Mistress now.”

“Who are you to lecture me about my duties, hunter? Tristan is mine and none shall harm him.” Her powers suddenly filled the room like a cool wind sweeping in laced with the scent of lilacs. We stared at each other, the tension building to the point where the muscles in my jaw began to tick. I was waiting for her to twitch first. I wouldn’t strike first.

And then just as suddenly, the energy flowed out the room. Mira took a couple steps backward and shook her head, looking somewhat confused. I knew her thoughts had to be the same as my own. How had we pushed each other so quickly to the point of nearly tearing the other’s heart out? She looked up at me and her grin seemed sheepish. She had almost lost control. Mira had come in here to seduce me, not kill me.

“Why are we fighting?” she softly began, one corner of her mouth quirked in a playful smile. “Let’s go back to bed. You’re tired.”

“Out, Mira!” I shouted, pointing toward the door. It was all just a game to her.

“Fine,” she sighed. “I’ll go play with James.” Mira scooped up what looked like a cloak that had been draped over one the chairs by the door. She wrapped it around her before she slowly strolled out of the room, her hips swaying.

“Call Tristan!” I called after her before she shut the door.

I drew in a deep breath through my nose and slowly released it as I rolled my shoulders. I didn’t completely relax until I felt Mira enter another room farther down the hall. By the thrum of power seeping from that direction, I was willing to bet it was Ryan’s room. The warlock would keep her occupied while I caught a few hours of sleep.

ME: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes, even if the author did not intend this to happen. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these characters gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? Is there the possibility for them to get their own story? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)

JOCELYNN: I have a very long list is secondary and tertiary characters – far too many to name here. Some of my favorites include the nightwalkers Tristan and Valerio.

For more on Tristan, Click Here.

For Tristan’s short story, Click Here.

For more on Valerio, Click Here.

Pray for DawnBLURB: “Pray for salvation…
Pray for daylight…
Murder has pulled Mira out of the shadows and back into the living world…

As the fire-wielding enforcer of the Nightwalker Coven wrestles with the mind-destroying ghosts of her dark past, the slaying of a senator’s daughter in Savannah threatens to expose her kind to the brilliant light of day. The dawn of chaos has come. The naturi have broken free of their eternal prison to feed on the defenseless and unbelieving of an unprepared Earth.

Mira and Danaus—vampire and vampire slayer—must unite to prevent the annihilation of their separate races. But for Danaus the challenge is intensified, for he must also fight the bori who covets his soul. And Mira, the Nightwalker he must protect—whose power is the Earth’s last hope—is rapidly going insane.”

Want to check out the excerpt? Click here for an excerpt courtesy of Harper Collins.

Don't forget to check out these other titles by Jocelynn:
Nightwalker Dayhunter Dawnbreaker Unbound
and don't forget the latest installment to the series:
Wait for Dusk

2 Moonbeams (comments):

Sheila Deeth said...

Loved the interview. I've often wondered about these books. Nice to learn a bit more and decide, yes, I probably would. Now to work on the book budget...

Carrie said...

Thanks for stopping by Sheila!