Thank you for joining us. I had the pleasure of meeting Darynda Jones this summer in Orlando at RWA Nationals.
Here’s the inside goods on Darynda:
Winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, Darynda was born spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. After the Golden Heart final, she pimped herself as best she could, landed an amazing agent and sold to St. Martin’s Press in a three-book deal. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at www.daryndajones.com.
Welcome Darynda! Thank you for letting me interview you.
Thank YOU! It was so nice to meet you this summer.
Give the readers a crash course in all that is you.
Well, I’m a Leo. I like long walks on the beach and coming up with seemingly unexplainable ways to murder people. I’ve had serious ADD issues since I was a child. I love coffee and would probably OD on chocolate if I bought enough at any given time.
What was the first story you ever wrote and what was the premise?
The first manuscript I wrote and almost finished was a post-apocalyptic story about a group of teens who bore a remarkable resemblance to the members of Van Halen and were trying to escape the tunnels of a huge government fallout facility decades after World War III had destroyed the surface of the earth. It was a science fiction version of The Warriors and destined to be a classic.
Did you always want to write romance?
Everything I have ever written, everything, has had romance in it. Like in First Grave, it may not be the focal point of the story, but it is a HUGE chunk of it. I feel romance is imperative, for me anyway. It makes everything better, more important. Think of movies like Die Hard, The Terminator, Spiderman. Even rough and tough action movies need a little romance in them. I just love it!
What is your all time favorite love story and why (Movie or book)?
Wow, this is way too hard. I love with a passion Julia Quinn’s THE DUKE AND I and Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s THE WOLF AND THE DOVE. (I know, I keep dating myself.) And what about JR Ward’s DARK LOVER and Judith MacNaught’s WHITNEY, MY LOVE? There are just so many and I am such an eclectic reader.
What is the strangest event that has influenced your work?
My brother, Quentin. He’s very strange. He says things that have a way of working their way into my books. It’s crazy. Oh, but you want an event.
Okay, well, this will be a weird and morbid one and probably way too much information, but maybe the odd thing that happened to me after my father died. I was six when he passed away and it wasn’t long afterward that I started writing stories. I mean really writing. Before, I’d tell stories and make up little plays, but after his passing, I became immersed. I’m sure it was escapism for me, but it’s so strange how much it affected everything about me and shaped my imagination. Oddly enough, every story I wrote for the first few years of my life was about a girl whose father had died. Hmmmm… Surely there’s some Freud in there somewhere.
What’s the one thing you’ve wanted to share about yourself, but the topic never comes up?
My deep love of chocolate. Wait, no, that actually comes up quite often. Perhaps the fact that I have the most beautiful sons ever. They are so amazing, but I’m biased. \
I’d like to do a speed round of one to two word answers. Ready, go!
What is your favorite:
Song? Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult (LOL)
Character? Simon from Julia Quinn’s THE DUKE AND I
Cemetery? Any of the ones in New Orleans. (Above ground tombs. Very cool!)
Thank you that was fun.
If you could meet one of your own characters, which one would you pick and why?
My heroine in the Grave series, Charley Davidson. She is so sassy and sarcastic but has a truly compassionate spirit. I really love her.
Please, tell us about First Grave on the Right from St. Martin’s Press.
Better to see dead than be dead.
-Charlotte Jean Davidson, Grim Reaper
I’d been having the same dream for the past month-the one where a dark stranger materialized out of smoke and shadows to play doctor with me. I was starting to wonder if repetitive exposure to nightly hallucinations resulting in earth-shattering climaxes could have any long-term side effects. Death via extreme pleasure was a serious concern. The prospect led to the following dilemma: Do I seek help or buy drinks all around?
This night was no exception. I was having a killer dream that featured a set of capable hands, a hot mouth, and a creative employment of lederhosen when two external forces tried to lure me out of it. I did my darnedest to resist, but they were fairly persistent external forces. First, a frosty chill crept up my ankle, the icy caress jolting me out of my red- hot dream. I shivered and kicked out, unwilling to acknowledge the summons, then tucked my leg into the thick folds of my Bugs Bunny comforter.
Second, a soft but persistent melody played in the periphery of my consciousness like a familiar song I couldn’t quite place. After a moment, I realized it was the cricketlike chime of my new phone.
With a heavy sigh, I pried open my eyes just enough to focus on the numbers glowing atop my nightstand. It was 4:34 a.m. What kind of sadist called another human being at 4:34 in the morning?
A throat cleared at the foot of my bed. I turned my attention to the dead guy standing there, then lowered my lids and asked in a gravelly voice, “Can you get that?”
He hesitated. “Um, the phone?”
“Well, I’m kind of-”
“Nevermind.” I reached for the phone and grimaced as a jolt of pain ripped through me, reminding me I’d been beaten senseless the night before.
Dead Guy cleared his throat again.
“Hello,” I croaked.
It was my uncle Bob. He bombarded me with words, of all things, apparently clueless to the fact that predawn hours rendered me incapable of coherent thought. I concentrated super duper hard on concentrating and made out three salient phrases: busy night, two homicides, ass down here. I even managed a reply, something resembling, “What twirly nugget are you from?”
He sighed, clearly annoyed, then hung up.
I hung up back, pressing a button on my new phone that either disconnected the call or speed-dialed the Chinese takeout around the corner. Then I tried to sit up. Similar to the coherent- thought problem, this was easier said than done. While I normally weighed around 125 . . . ish, for some unexplainable reason, between the hours of partially awake and fully awake, I weighed a solid 470.
After a brief, beached whale-like struggle, I gave up. The quart of Chunky Monkey I ate after getting my ass kicked had probably been a bad idea.
In too much pain to stretch, I let a lengthy yawn overtake me instead, winced at the soreness shooting through my jaw, then looked back at Dead Guy. He was blurry. Not because he was dead, but because it was 4:34 a.m. And I’d recently had my ass kicked.
“Hi,” he said nervously. He had a wrinkled suit, round- rimmed glasses, and mussed hair that made him look part young-wizard-we- all- know-and-love and part mad scientist. He also had two bullet holes on the side of his head with blood streaking down his right temple and cheek. None of these details were a problem. The problem resided in the fact that he was in my bedroom. In the wee hours of dawn. Standing over me like a dead Peeping Tom.
I eyed him with my infamous death stare, second only to my infamous fluster stare, and got a response immediately.
“Sorry, sorry,” he said, stumbling over his words, “didn’t mean to frighten you.”
Did I look frightened? Clearly my death stare needed work.
Ignoring him, I inched out of bed. I had on a Scorpions hockey jersey I’d snatched off a goalie and a pair of plaid boxers-same team, different position. Chihuahuas, tequila, and strip poker. A night that is forever etched at the top of my Things I’ll Never Do Again list.
With teeth clenched in agony, I dragged all 470 throbbing pounds toward the kitchen and, more important, the coffeepot. Caffeine would chisel the pounds off, and I’d be back to my normal weight in no time.
Because my apartment was roughly the size of a Cheez-It, it didn’t take me long to feel my way to the kitchen in the dark. Dead Guy followed me. They always follow me. I could only pray this one would keep his mouth shut long enough for the caffeine to kick in, but alas, no such luck.
I’d barely pressed the on button when he started in.
“Um, yeah,” he said from the doorway, “it’s just that I was murdered yesterday, and I was told you were the one to see.”
What’s favorite scene?
In one scene, Charley is basically undercover, trying to get a bad guy to confess. I love this scene because her inner thoughts just ramble and are so at odds with what is going on around her. While she is trying to play the damsel in distress, she is thinking about what a jerk the guy is and how he clearly tans too much, etc. It’s just fun.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Well, book two in this series, SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT, comes out in August and three, THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD, in Feb of 2012, but I also have a young adult series coming out in April of 2012, the first of which is titled GRIMSIGHT.
Darynda, I’ve had a wonderful time interviewing you. I wish you the best. We hope you’ll come back again.
Thank you so much for having me!!!
First Grave on the Right is available HERE NOW from St. Martin’s Press.
Learn more about Darynda:
Authors website: www.darynda.com
And now for the CONTEST:
1 lucky winner will receive a print copy of First Grave on the Right, eligible worldwide, deadline Feb, 7th 2011 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Contest is void where prohibited by law. To be entered write the word Grave in your comment.
Update: 2/14/2011 Micaela is the winner and has been contacted.