Last week I was honored to be a part of a phone interview with Darynda Jones! Dark Faerie Tales along with nine other blogs (listed below) were able to ask Darynda two questions each about her newest release, Eighth Grave After Dark, and about her series as a whole. The interview is long so it has been cut down for length, make sure to check out the participating blogs for more of this fun interview! The eighth novel in the urban fantasy Charley Davidson series will be released on May 19, 2015 from St. Martin’s Press.
A HUGE thank you to St. Martin’s Press for today’s giveaway! One lucky winner will win the NO REST FOR THE DEAD prize pack which includes a branded coffee mug plus the entire Charley Davidson series!! This contest is for US addresses only.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author DARYNDA JONES won a RITA Award for best first novel for First Grave On The Right. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Jones lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.
Want to read more from Darynda Jones?
Rachel from BittenbyBooks
Shannon from CocktailsandBooks
Kimberly from CaffeinatedBookReviewer
Mary from TheBookSwarm
Scandal from ScandaliciousBookReviews
Mary from BookHounds
Kate from AllThingsUF
Kelly from EffortlesslyReading
Natasha from WickedLilPixie
Moderator: Darynda Jones, author of the Charley Davidson series, is with us today. Darynda, do you want to give us a quick hello and background on the series and the new release?
Darynda Jones: Thank you so much for being here. I write the Charley Davidson series. It’s about a female private investigator who was born the Grim Reaper. She solves cases for both the living and the dead. The new book, Eighth Grave after Dark, comes out May 19th. It is, obviously, the eighth in the series and we’re really excited about it.
Kate: I was wondering– this might be silly – but, do you come up with the quotes at the beginning of the chapters? Or are they like actual real shirts that you see or signs or whatever? Because they’re hysterical.
Darynda Jones: That’s not a bad question at all. It’s awesome. I actually do not come up with most of them. I come up with maybe one or two a book. But, for the most part, they are real T-shirts and real bumper stickers and real signs and Internet memes that have been forwarded 1,000 times. They’re out there. I didn’t come up with them, unfortunately. I wish I were that clever.
Kimberly: Is Reyes Farrow anyone that you know in real life? How did you come with such a yummy character?
Darynda Jones: Actually, it started out kind of as a different project. When I originally came up with him, I had written—okay. In the first book, there’s the scene where Charley thinks back and where she very first saw Reyes when he was in high school. I wrote that scene years before I actually wrote First Grave, and then I stole it out of this other thing. But that scene was inspired by the lovely and talented Jason Behr, who is just so gorgeous. And that’s where I came up with that. Then I don’t know, Reyes just kind of evolved
Kristie: My question is after the death of Charley’s father in the last book, and she’s so upbeat normally, is this going to really kind of bring her down a little bit for the next book in Book Eight?
Darynda Jones: Actually, one of the things that is helping with that that, because I didn’t want to bring her down very far, between Seventh and Eighth is the longest timeline between books. Eight months have passed when we get to Eighth Grave. So, there’s that. She’s kind of had that time to heal. They’re still trying to find his killer and what’s going on, and they figure that out in Eighth Grave. That’s one of the mysteries that’s going on. But also he’s still there every once in a great while incorporeally, so she still has him in a way. You know, he’s not totally gone. So that’s helped a little bit too. So, yeah, she’s still Charley in Eighth.
Natasha: You know, I’m going to ask, Mr. Wong. First, where did he come from? And when is he going to speak?
Darynda: Okay. First, I’m not telling; and second, we learn everything about Mr. Wong in Eighth Grave. His entire story comes out. I will say it was so funny. One of my beta readers was reading the book before it went to my editor, and she sent me this e-mail that was just, oh, my God, over and over and over and over. She’s like I just got to the part about Mr. Wong. I’m so in love. It was just the greatest thing. So, I think that–I think you will be pleased. I think that the readers will be pleased because he turned out to be a very, very neat person.
Rachel: My question is what is your favorite scene from any of your books?
Darynda Jones: My favorite scene, I actually have one, and there’s a reason. It’s actually, believe it or not, and this is going to sound kind of morbid, but it is the torture scene in Third Grave Dead Ahead. The reason is because I knew going into that book that that scene was going to happen. I knew from the time I was writing First Grave that that scene was going to happen, and I had just worried over it and worried over it because I didn’t know if I could pull it off. So, when I pulled it off, and I–you know, it’s not perfect, but I did okay. I was just so thrilled that I pulled that scene off and that it turned out exactly the way I wanted it to. It’s kind of like when you go to draw something, and it never looks quite like you want it to, you know? I just really wanted this scene to have a certain feel to it and then have a certain emotional turmoil. So, that is actually to this day my favorite scene because it was my first really true obstacle.
Scandal: If someone were new to your books, like a paranormal rookie let’s call them, what would you want them to know or take away from the Charley Davidson series? How would you introduce them to it?
Darynda Jones: I would introduce them how I did whenever we opened, that it was a female investigator who was born the Grim Reaper. But, I would also add that they’re more lighthearted than most paranormal books. And they’re more humorous. Charley is completely irreverent to almost every situation. She doesn’t take a lot of things too seriously, except for her job to help people and to help the departed be on their way. So probably something like that, just to let them know ahead that it’s not quite as dark as others, but, it has dark moments.
Shannon: My question is going to kind of throw out that I have read Eighth Grave. So, Charley’s not quite as funny in this book as she has been previously in the series. Is that impending motherhood? Is it just she’s growing more comfortable with her marriage to Reyes? What brought all that about?
Darynda Jones: Basically, I’m a plotter and I plot every book down to every last moment before I start writing it. I could not get this book figured out. I had the hardest time with Eighth Grave. Basically it was due and I was still working on the outline. I’m hoping that my editor doesn’t actually hear this, or my agent. I just had the hardest time figuring this book out because I knew all the stuff that was going to happen, and I felt like this is kind of the end of a period of time, and Ninth Grave is going to be like a new beginning in a way. So I wanted to bring in everybody I possibly could and to revisit these characters that we hadn’t seen in a while. I flat could not figure out how I was going to do that. I was sitting there talking to one of my assistants, and she happened to mention—If this is too much of a spoiler, we’ll edit it out. But she said, you know, Uncle Bob and Cookie need to get married, and this light bulb, oh, my God. Why did I not think of that? So that’s how I started the book, opened with their wedding, and that way I could bring everybody in. I don’t know why that didn’t even occur to me. So then I’m figuring that part out and then trying to figure out how I’m going to stall everything else that I had planned for this book. That’s honestly what it was, is that it took me so long to figure the book out, and I didn’t have as long to write it as I normally do. When you have to rush a book, you’re not as clever, you’re just getting the facts down. So I feel that the book suffers for that, and I do apologize. But, I like your explanations better.
Shannon: Well, because her tone totally works. I–just with everything that happened in the book, you would expect the tone to take–I was like, oh, I hope she doesn’t lose that little sarcastic wit that she always had with everything else that happens.
Darynda Jones: Yeah. Okay. Well, thank you. I’m glad.
Kate: I was wondering since now you mentioned that you’re a plotter, how far ahead do you plan your plot? Like, how–and how many books do you have planned for Charlie?
Darynda Jones: When I was writing Sixth, I came up with Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth. I had the main ideas for those. Normally, I don’t really go that far ahead. It’s normally when I’m writing the previous book, that’s when I kind of come up with the next one. I’m working on Ninth right now, and actually just a couple days ago came up with the main plot of Tenth. When I wrote First, I had First, Second, and Third all figured out. So it just depends at where I’m at. How long is the series? It’s ongoing, and we don’t know how far or how many we’re going to have. But I will say that I do have an ending. I know how I want it to end, the whole series, and I have a spinoff planned too. I’m hoping that even when Charley does come to an end that I can do the spinoff. But I will say also that I love writing Charley, and I hope that she doesn’t end for a long time. I hope people don’t get sick of her because I love writing her.
Kelly: So, are there any parts in the series where you’re like I can’t believe I just wrote this? Like, will anyone like it?
Darynda Jones: Oh, absolutely. Oh, yes. In fact, I have to tell you. There’s a huge scene in Eighth Grave that I was absolutely terrified to put in there. I thought this is too much. It’s too much. It’s just ridiculous. Nobody’s going to believe this is really going to happen. When I sent it to my editor, I asked her. I put little notes in my manuscript to her, and I’m like, okay, this next scene, you got to be honest and tell me if it works or not because I’m really iffy on it. I’m kind of on the fence. She wrote me back, and she said that she loved it. It was so exciting. So it’s in there, I’m hoping that it doesn’t freak anybody out. There’s probably one scene a book that I really worry about and that I wonder if I didn’t really screw up and it’s going to be the end of my career type thing.
Kimberly: You’ve answered some of this because you said you’re a plotter. And you said you knew what you were going to do in the third book and that kind of thing. But, from the beginning of the series, has your–has the series changed from what you originally intended? Is–has it veered off in any direction maybe because of the characters?
Darynda Jones: It actually has. It’s changed immensely from my original idea. Basically, it was just going to be Charley doing her thing and solving mysteries, and it really wasn’t going to evolve as far as paranormally and the supernatural world. The more books I wrote, the more I kind of dipped into that and gave a little bit more and gave a little bit more. The readers were just so fantastic and it was like the bigger the world got, the more they loved it. So it’s really evolved, even with Charley. I’m working on Ninth now, and it’s getting bigger and bigger and I’m hoping that it just continues to grow. But definitely the supernatural worlds that I’m putting in were not originally part of the plan as far as where Charley was from and what she really is.
Kristie: I have kind of a two-fold question. You mentioned a possible spinoff in the future. When will that spin–in your planning, how far away is that spinoff going to be? And who is it going to feature? And is that character one of your favorite characters throughout this series? Or is this somebody that you’ve grown to love?
Darynda Jones: I haven’t been telling people this, but, I love that you asked it. I do want to do it someday, so I thought maybe if I put it out there people would really want it. My plan was to have both the Charley series and the spinoff going at the same time, but because of timelines it wouldn’t have worked. Even my agent was against it. She was like no, you’re just going to have to wait until the Charley books end and then do the spinoff. Of course, the way my mind is so chaotic and all over the place, I’m already working on the books for this spinoff that can’t happen. I will say that from Eighth Grave they happen probably about 19 years later, if that gives you an idea of who it might be about. It’s Charley and Reyes’s daughter, and it’s her story. It does feature a character who I’ve introduced who I’m absolutely in love with. Osh, or Osh’ekiel, is going to be in it too. So that’s going to be their books later on down the line. Keep your fingers crossed.
Mary: I was a huge fan of Dead Like Me. Were there books that inspired you to write Charley or TV shows?
Darynda Jones: I don’t know as far as books. You know, believe it or not, this is going to sound horrible but I didn’t really read that much paranormal before I got published in paranormal. Now I read almost all paranormal, I love it so much. But I didn’t really read it before then. Honestly, I read historical romance, like, forever. That’s all I read. I’ve written since I was little, and I realized growing up that I have always written either paranormal or science fiction. So I don’t think hardly any of my stories were just normal. I think that’s part of it. Also, just a general love of anything paranormal. I’m a huge fan of Joss Whedon. I love Buffy and Angel and all of them. When I originally came up with Charley, that was my plan. I wanted just an ordinary world, an ordinary woman, with a little bit of Buffy in her. Of course, that has grown and expanded. But, if anything I would probably say Buffy.
Natasha: If you could hang out with any of your characters for a day, who would you choose and why?
Darynda Jones: I would love to say Reyes, but I’m happily married for 32 years now. So, I better not. It would be a tossup between Charley and Cookie. I would say probably Charley. I love Cookie to death, I absolutely adore her. But Charley because if she were real, could you imagine what you could learn from her and just seeing into her world? It would be insane.
Shannon: You always make great–such great secondary characters in this series. I mean they almost have sometimes more of a center stage than Charley or Reyes do. Do you think if you didn’t have those strong secondary characters the series would be like it is today?
Darynda Jones: Oh, absolutely not. I think secondary characters are so important. It’s interesting that you mention that because, you know, writers can get in trouble when they fall more in love with their secondary characters than their main ones. Their secondary ones kind of overshadow and take over the story. So there’s kind of this line that you have to keep there, this balance that you have to keep in the story to make sure that they don’t take over. I mean Charley and Reyes, as wonderful and awesome and hot as they are, I just think the series wouldn’t be nearly what it is without Cookie and Uncle Bob and Garrett and Mr. Wong and Amber and all of them. They all make this incredible force, they all play off each other so well, and I just love writing them. I love figuring out what they’re going to do next. So, I would say definitely not. They’re very important.
This giveaway is provided by St. Martin’s Press!
One lucky reader will win a branded mug plus the entire Charley Davidson series!
Available May 19, 2015 from St. Martin’s Press
About this Book:
Sometimes I wonder if the purpose of my life
is to serve as a cautionary tale to others.
Charley Davidson has enough going on without having to worry about twelve hellhounds hot on her trail. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape onto our plane, and they’ve made Charley their target. And so she takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Of course, if hellhounds aren’t enough, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.
Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley’s tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full…but also tied. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders like evil sentries, so Charley has been forbidden from leaving the sacred grounds. Luckily, she has her loyal team with her, and they’re a scrappy bunch who won’t let a few thirsty hellhounds deter them.
While the team scours the prophesies, searching for clues on the Twelve, for a way to kill them or at least send them back to hell, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. Their presence is comforting. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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