Wednesday, July 28, 2010

INTERVIEW: Jocelynn Drake

This week's interview is with Jocelynn Drake who pens the Dark Days series, a masterful weaving of vampires, politics, war, and magic with just a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. This year sees the series having back-to-back releases with Pray for Dawn on June 29 and Wait for Dusk just yesterday on July 27. Now, without further adieu, enjoy!

(1) So, I guess I may as well start with the basics: how exactly did Jocelynn Drake break into the publishing world?

The same way that most people got a break in the publishing world: a great query letter and a lot of patience. Not long after I finished writing Nightwalker, I started sending out query letters to agents. They showed a lot of initial interest, but commented that the book was just not there yet. So, I kept trying until after two years, I queried a wonderful agent that was willing to take a chance on me. From there we tweaked Nightwalker and sent it out to editors. Within three weeks, we had a contract offer.

(2) Is writing a full-time job or have you got an alter-ego thing going on à la Clark Kent?

Sometimes writing feels like a full-time job because it does demand a lot of hours. However, I do still have a day job that I work part-time in the mornings to help pay the bills. During the day, I am a financial analyst that writes articles about the stock market and at night, I write about vampires.

(3) Your first series deals with Mira – a vampire with the unique ability to control fire – as her world teeters on the brink of a war between nightwalkers and their ancient enemies the naturi. What inspirations led you to develop your mythology?

I don’t know if there were any particular inspirations that led me down the road to creating the world of the Dark Days series beyond an overactive imagination and reading too many fantasy novels.

(4) Mira is not your average run-of-the-mill heroine; she’s pretty powerful and kickass, but as the story develops she’s revealed to be a lot more complicated than at first thought. How did Mira come to be exactly?

I’ve had Mira rattling around in my head for a long time. She is a tough, powerful creature, but her life and the circumstances that she’s survived have made her into what she is. She’s had a very dark past with losing family, and being betrayed by people that she’s trusted. This makes her a very complicated and volatile character to work with.
(5) Now, Danaus. How would describe your hero?

Danaus is a difficult character to get talking because he is very stoic and likes to hold things in. He clings hard to his beliefs because they are what give him direction and balance in a constantly shifting world. However, he is very loyal to those he sees as his comrades and he has a very deep sense of honor to him.

(6) The relationship between Mira and Danaus has this whole love-hate thing going on. Has it be hard setting the development of their relationship?

I have been very particular about the pacing of their growing relationship. These are two very old, stubborn creatures that started out on opposite sides of the battlefield. I couldn’t have them jumping into bed in the first or even the second book just because readers wanted that love affair. I needed the relationship to have a natural and cautious flow to it.

(7) How exactly did you come up with your characters? Are any of them based on real people?

My characters are not based on real people, but just my own wild imagination.
(8) How long, in a perfect world where your publisher gave you whatever you wanted, do you envision the Mira series being?

In a perfect world, I would like to finish the series in nine books to give me ample time to tie up some loose ends. However, it is looking more likely that the series will be finished in six.

(9) What about outside of Mira’s world; do you have any plans for non-Mira/Nightwalker books?

Yes, I am currently working on plans for other series within the urban fantasy genre, but they are still in the early planning stages.

(10) Your last publication, Pray for Dawn, just recently came out on June 29. What can you tell us about this book?

PRAY FOR DAWN is a book that takes a closer look a someone from Danaus’s past while bringing up the question of what a person would do to maintain and achieve their freedom.

(11) Rumor has it that this book shakes up the narration style, that Danaus’ POV is given a chance to shine. What brought about this change? Was it difficult to pull off?

PRAY FOR DAWN is actually told from Danaus’s POV instead of Mira’s because I think a lot of fans were beginning to wonder what was going on in the hunter’s head. It was also easier to show his struggle with his past by writing through his POV. It was not as difficult to write from his POV as I had expected and it was a nice break for me.

(12) Will there be more such narrator changes to come in future books, perhaps even beyond Mira and Danaus?

There is always the possibility, but Mira will always be the POV that I fall back on as the main storyteller.

(13) And now just yesterday Wait for Dusk hits the shelves on July 27. What can you tell us about this book?

WAIT FOR DUSK also tackles someone from Mira’s past as she struggles to bring order to the chaos that is claiming Budapest following the escape of the naturi. At the same time, Mira and her companions must escape the plotting of the members of the Coven if they hope to remain alive.

(14) And, ok, I’ve got to ask: what is up with, um, the new cover designs? (Specifically Wait for Dusk)

The art department went in a new direction with the covers in hopes of attracting more and different readers to the series. At the same time, the series has shifted gears slightly and the covers help to reflect that.

(15) What sort of research is done per book? Any particular texts you rely on? Could you break down your research process?

The only research that is completed for each book is specific to the location that I have the book set in. For PRAY FOR DAWN, the book is set in Savannah, Georgia so I went down to the city and explored it for a few days so that I could get a good feel for the setting where all the action would be taking place.

For WAIT FOR DUSK, the book is set mostly in Budapest, which meant a lot of online searches for interesting locations as well as different travel guides to help with maps, routes, neighborhood, as well as finding a hotel for Danaus and Mira to stay in.

(16) Finally, some random questions about you:
a. What are your hobbies aside from writing?
I play video games, go Geo-caching, and read.
b. Could you please describe your dream day?
A dream day would be getting up and slipping right into the story that I’m working on with no interruptions and no delays.
c. If you found a genie, what would be your three wishes?
I would wish for more time to write books, more time to read books, and a two week vacation in Fiji.

And there you have it folks. Be sure to check out the Dark Days series, especially its newest installments out this summer. You can also keep yourself up to date by visiting Jocelynn online here.

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