Dark Faerie Tales is honored to have author Jocelynn Drake drop by for an interview about her new novel, Angel’s Ink! The first book in the Asylum Tales series was released yesterday, Tuesday, October 16. Angel’s Ink is an entertaining novel about warlocks, tattoo artists with strange and magical creatures. Click here to read an excerpt.
Jocelynn Drake, urban fantasy author of the New York Times bestselling Dark Days series, was born and raised in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, Ohio region. After gaining her Bachelor of Arts degree in the literature, she pursued a career in the financial industry, where she wrote articles and gave interviews regarding the stock market. When not at her desk, she is most likely to be found playing video games, watching movies, or hanging with her family. In 2012, she launched a new urban fantasy series entitled The Asylum Tales featuring a warlock tattoo artist. All her novels are published through HarperCollins.
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DFT: Could you start things off by telling us a little about Angel’s Ink?
Jocelynn: The Asylum Tales is a completely new and strange world. Humans live in a world surrounded by every magical and mythical creature we’ve ever run across in a story. Your next-door neighbor may be a werewolf, your office cube mate could be an ogre, your dentist is a siren, and your favorite bartender is a minotaur. What’s more, this is normal for you. In this world, everyone needs a little help every once in a while. Maybe it’s some good luck. Maybe your love life needs a boost. That is where a good tattoo artist comes in handy. With a magic potion added to the ink, the tattoo artist can help you woo your sweetheart or maybe hex your ex.
The series focuses on Gage Powell, owner and tattoo artist at Asylum Tattoo Parlor in Low Town. Gage, along with fellow tattoo artists Bronx (a troll) and Trixie (an elf), help people with their troubles while trying to stay out of trouble as well. Unfortunately, that’s not very easy for Gage, because he’s a former warlock from the Ivory Towers – the dark rulers of this world. The members of the Towers are still hunting for Gage because he left them. Dodging witches and warlocks, Gage tries to help his friends without losing his own head in the process.
In Angel’s Ink, Gage attempts to help a woman who’s dying, but she gets a little more help that she bargained for. Gage has to quickly fix his mistake while avoiding his old mentor from the Ivory Towers who is out for his head.
DFT: Could you tell us about your main characters in Angel’s Ink?
Jocelynn: Gage Powell is the main character and storyteller of The Asylum Tales series. He is the owner of Asylum Tattoo Parlor, an accomplished tattoo artist, and a former warlock of the dreaded Ivory Towers. He’s generally a good guy, but he has a knack for finding and stepping into trouble.
Bronx is another character who appears frequently in the series. The troll is a tattoo artist and is one of the first employees hired by Gage. Over the past few years, he’s become a close and trusted friend of Gage. Bronx is the calm, level-headed person of the group. He’s more likely to stop and think about a situation instead of just rushing in – he’s leaves that to Gage.
Trixie is an elf, but she’s hiding her true identity because she’s got a group hunting her. Gage knows that she’s really an elf but can’t admit it because then she’ll know that he’s really a warlock – and that’s just bad. Trixie is also a tattoo artist and works at Asylum. Trixie is sweet, funny, and loves to give Gage crap, which he usually deserves.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
Jocelynn: I have to pick just one? Nope, can’t do it. I love so many of the characters in Angel’s Ink, and it’s so hard to pick a favorite. I love watching how they all interact with Gage in their unique ways. I love Bronx’s calming influence over Gage and the tenderness between Gage and Trixie. I love Chang because he is this adorable, wily black market seller who can get his hands on ANYTHING and has a twisted sense of humor. I love Sofie because she’s so good at aggravating Gage. And I have an extra soft spot for Gideon because he has this secret that I can’t tell but Oh My God! Yep, love Gideon.
While I worked on both the first and second book in the series, I found myself looking forward to certain chapters because these characters were returning to the page and they are so much fun to work with.
But overall, I probably love Gage the most. He is so much fun for me to play with. He’s a good guy with so much potential and power at his fingertips. Despite not being “human,” he’s the most human character I’ve ever worked with. He’s fallible and he’s not trying to be perfect. He’s just trying to live and have a normal life with friends and a girlfriend and a job he enjoys. He’s also fun because he rarely censors the comments that come out of his mouth and that’s just dangerous.
DFT: Do you have a favorite scene or line in Angel’s Ink?
Jocelynn: I don’t have a favorite line in particular, but I do have two scenes that I adore. They both relatively minor but I still chuckle to myself when I think about them. The first is when Gage is in a bad part of town, looking for his former tattooing mentor Atticus Sparks. Gage is already have a bad day and as he’s passing through town he gets hassled by a pack of werewolves. Instead of keeping his temper, Gage casts a spell on the alpha werewolf that … well … it isn’t something a powerful werewolf would want to be turned into.
The other scene is Gage’s visit to black market seller Chang. Gage wanders through Chang’s warehouse as they talk and readers will get a glimpse at all the goodies that Chang has accumulated over the years – among them are a flying carpet and a gorgon’s head. It’s a relatively short scene, but it was so much fun working with Chang.
DFT: How much research went into creating this series?
Jocelynn: I’d have to say that I did a fair amount of research for the Asylum Tales. By the time I decided to do a series on a tattoo artist, I was already getting my third tattoo. I had made friends with a couple artists, so I was asking them a lot of questions on vocabulary, techniques, and just collecting their own personal stories about things that have happened while they tattooed people. Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.
Other than the tattooing, I did only minor research into the various creatures that appear in the series. I would look into their basic mythology, and choose small bits from it before adding more of my own unique touches to make the world mine.
DFT: What is your favorite part about writing this series?
Jocelynn: I think the thing I love most about The Asylum Tales is that anything can happen. The Dark Days series was limited in the number of creatures that could appear and that everyone was in hiding. With the Asylum Tales, all the doors have been thrown open and the story is only limited by my own imagination. Over three short stories and two novels, I’ve encountered vampires, shifters, goblins, ogres, minotaurs, trolls, sirens, incubi, elves, pixies, faeries, hobgoblins, Vestal Virgins, succubi, and so much more. It’s an insane place that constantly keeps you on your toes. Despite the fact that Gage has lived there his entire life, there are still creatures that surprise him. I guess I just love playing with the impossible.
DFT: Do you have a long-term plan or goal for this story universe?
Jocelynn: Yes and no. When I wrote the Dark Days series, I had a very specific goal in mind from the first book. I knew where I was headed the entire time, even if I wasn’t always sure of how I would get there. For the Asylum Tales, I’ve got a list of ideas. Gage is walking toward three paths: the dark wood; the epic, world-changing road; and the smaller, life-altering path. I am laying the ground work for each in the first couple of books, but I will soon have to choose which road Gage will finally choose. Right now, there are a lot of things that could happen in the series and I’m having a hard time settling on just one.
DFT: Do you have a particular writing process or ritual?
Jocelynn: I don’t know if I’d call it a ritual so much as a habit. When I sit down at my computer, I pull up both the manuscript and the plot outline so I know where I am in the story and where I’m headed. After a quick glance at the outline to see what I’m going to be working on, I’ll pull up my music. I guess my one quirk is that I need the right music to match my mood for that day’s writing. Usually after writing the first few chapters of a book, I start pulling together playlists for that book. For Gage, I tend to listen to a lot of Shaman’s Harvest, Theory of a Deadman, Violent Femmes, Blue October, and Foo Fighters.
DFT: What influences and inspirations (both literary and non-literary) do you draw from while writing?
Jocelynn: Funny enough, when I’m writing, I try to block out anything I’ve ever read and admired. When it’s time for the words to hit the page, it’s just me, Gage, and the blank page. The world slips away completely so that I can find my own voice, my own thoughts. Those influences are limited to my subconscious.
As for writers I admire, I love Richard Kadrey’s voice and I love Kim Harrison’s dynamic for working with a large cast of characters. I love Simon Green’s amazing imagination when it comes to creating the world in his Nightside series. I love Raymond Feist’s character development and plotting. I love the humor of Kerrelyn Sparks and Lynsay Sands.
As for the classics, I love Oscar Wilde, Mary Shelley, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alexander Dumas, and Jane Austen. Great writers, great storytellers.
DFT: Which genre do you prefer to read? Do you have any favorite authors or series?
Jocelynn: When I get the time to pick up a book, I tend to read a lot of urban fantasy, but I will occasionally slip over into historical romance. I also love fantasy. But I will try just about any genre. I love a good story and that’s what’s most important.
Authors I love: Richard Kadrey, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Simon R. Green, Raymond Feist, Kerrelyn Sparks, Lynsay Sands, Pamela Palmer, Oscar Wilde, Mary Shelley, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alexander Dumas, Jane Austen, Vicki Pettersson, Rachel Vincent, Dani Worth, Eve Silver, JR Ward, Amanda Quick, Johanna Lynsay, Elizabeth Hoyt, Christine Feehan, and many many more.
DFT: What can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?
Jocelynn: I am in a quiet period at the moment. I have just handed in the second book in the Asylum Tales series and a new short story in the Blood by Moonlight anthology is getting ready to come out this month (Oct. 23). At the moment, I am looking ahead to a potential third book in the Asylum Tales series while toying around with a few other stories that are trying to grow. I am also contemplating a pair of novellas featuring characters readers will meet in Angel’s Ink. I am thinking that by the first of the year, I will have a more solid plan as to what I will be working on during the next couple of years. But don’t worry. More books are coming.
DFT: If you were to get a tattoo for an extra boost, what tattoo would you get and why?
Jocelynn: I would get a “perfect weight” tattoo. After getting the tattoo, my body would reduce or expand to be the perfect portion for my height and body shape. No matter what I ate, I would always be the perfect weight. I am a lover of junk food and have poor restraint. I’d like to be able to eat without worrying over my weight.
DFT: What is your favorite faery tale? Why?
Jocelynn: I think that my favorite faery tale is the story of Beauty and the Beast. It’s a beautiful tale of love blooming from what is inside of a person, moving beyond the superficial. It isn’t about princes or castles. It’s about love and the heroine saving the hero.
DFT: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.
Jocelynn: Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a pleasure to talk to readers.
Available October 16, 2012 from Harper Voyager
About this Book:
Buyer beware . . .
Looking for a tattoo—and maybe a little something extra: a burst of good luck, a dollop of true love, or even a hex on an ex? Head to the quiet and mysterious Gage, the best skin artist in town. Using unique potions—a blend of extraordinary ingredients and special inks—to etch the right symbol, he can fulfill any heart’s desire. But in a place like Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires happily walk among humanity, everything has its price.
No one knows that better than Gage. Turning his back on his own kind, he left the magical Ivory Tower where cruel witches and warlocks rule, a decision that cost him the right to practice magic. And if he disobeys, his punishment—execution—will be swift.
Though he’s tried to fly under the radar, Gage can’t hide from powerful warlocks who want him dead—or the secrets of his own past. But with the help of his friends, Trixie, a gorgeous elf who hides her true identity, and a hulking troll named Bronx, Gage might just make it through this enchanted world alive.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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