Darynda Jones and the Grim Reaper….
Posted by Jeanne Adams Oct 31 2012, 12:24 am
Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful All Hallow’s Eve! I know I usually talk about pumpkins and leaves and trickertreating and all that, but I thought I’d change it up a bit and invite The Grim Reaper. Bwahahahaha!
Actually, I’m inviting the wonderful DARYNDA JONES, and her fabulous character, Charley Davidson, AKA The Grim Reaper. Darynda started this journey with a Golden Heart win with FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, then once published hit the USA Today Bestsellers list, and the New York Times Bestsellers list, then won a Daphne du Maurier award and a Rita. Whew! Charley’s been BUSY!
In amongst that, she’s also written a YA called DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which came out earlier this month. The fourth book in Charley’s saga came out YESTERDAY!!! Order it NOW on your Nook or Kindle! WOOT!
(And if I’m slow to comment, it’s probably because I’m reading FOURTH GRAVE UNDER MY FEET! Of course it could also be because I have no power, thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but…I can still read! Since Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys, she’s going to be here even if I can’t be!)
Darynda, WELCOME to the Bandit Lair!
Darynda: Thank you so much for having me!!!
Jeanne: So, first, tell us what got you started in this crazy writing game. Were you like some of the Banditas, writing since you were small? Or did you have one of those epiphanies: “I can DO this!”? Or something entirely different?
Darynda: The making-up-stories part came to me very early. I would pretend to write a story even before I could write, and the minute I learned how to, I started writing stories for real. I would write anything. I started with plays and poetry and advanced to short stories and news stories. If it could be written, I’d do it. But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized I wanted to BE a writer. I thought you had to be a stone genius or have a major addiction to even consider writing as a career. I was neither a genius nor an addict, but a friend convinced me I would write despite these drawbacks.
Jeanne: Okay, I’m snickering over the addiction bit. I guess you don’t mean an addiction to books! Hahaha! We love Call Stories in the Lair. In fact, we’d love to hear BOTH your call stories, for FIRST GRAVE and for DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR!
Darynda: Winning the Golden Heart helped move the sale along quite a bit. Within days of the win, my newly acquired and super savvy agent, Alexandra Machinist, had several requests. And about a week after she submitted First Grave, we had our first offer from Jennifer Enderlin of St. Martin’s Press for a three-book deal. But I didn’t know that because I was in a district-wide meeting.
I was working for the schools at the time as an interpreter, and this was our first day back. So after a few games of phone tag, Alexandra finally got a hold of me and asked if I was sitting down. The offer was amazing and I admit it, I cried. Then I’m pretty sure I slipped into a state of shock, one I stayed in for quite some time. My husband freaked out too. It was funny.
I still had meetings all that first day and I could barely sit through them. It was quite torturous really. And don’t even ask how I slept that night! By the next morning we had a couple more offers, and just before it went to auction, Jennifer swept in with an amazing preempt we couldn’t turn down. Jennifer called me that afternoon so we could meet “voice to voice”. She was so wonderful. I am so amazingly blessed to be working with her. We are currently on our 7th book together, and I am more convinced she is a genius with each one. Both Alexandra and Jennifer are incredible.
As for the call story for Death and the Girl Next Door, again, I was shocked. Jennifer wanted it too! How lucky can one girl be, honestly?
Jeanne: That’s outstanding! I’m a big fan of Jennifer’s, having worked with her on the Washington Romance Writer’s Retreat for a number of years. And St. Martin’s is a wonderful house to publish with! But, with your success with Charley, what made you turn to YA? Or did you already have the YA written when Charley hit big?
Darynda: You guessed it! I already had the YA written. I wrote it years before FIRST GRAVE, but believing it would never sell, I stole a lot of the elements out of it to put in the Charley Davidson series. So I had to rewrite the whole story with an all-new underlying foundation, and believe me, that is FAR easier to say than do. Never again. LOL
Jeanne: *wince* Yep, I’ve “been there done that” so I can empathize. Ouch. Now, for what I really want to know…How did you dream up the absolutely sexy, delicious character of Reyes?
Darynda: Thank you! I’m fond of him, too. Basically, I just wanted a mix of power and bad boy, and who better to carry out that responsibility than the son of evil incarnate? I wanted my hero to be just a TAD more powerful than my heroine. For now, at least. And I wracked my brain trying to come up with a being that would fit in my paranormal world and be able to give Charley a run for her money. I think he does a splendid job! And being the son of the most beautiful angel ever to grace the clouds of heaven? He had to be gorgeous. How could he not be?
Jeanne: *Dreamy sigh* Uh, absolutely. *wipes drool off chin* Sorry. Got lost there for a minute. :> And to completely change the subject so I don’t get any more hot and bothered over Reyes, what does Charley think of Halloween?
Darynda: I asked Charley she said (and I quote), “Halloween is great! I mean, it’s orange! How can any unrecognized holiday that is orange not be great?” In her defense, she does have an attention problem that affects her view of the world.
Jeanne: And what about Reyes? What does HE think about Halloween?
Darynda: Okay, it took a while to track him down (and then I had to stop and stare a bit), but he said Halloween is no different than any other day of the year except for the fact that Charley dresses all sexy sometimes. So that makes it A-OK in his book.
Jeanne: Well there you go! He maybe atypical in some ways, but that is just a typical “GUY” response! Ha! Nevertheless, two YES votes for Halloween! Huzzah! And since we’re on the subject of the spooky and sexy, you must tell us about Lorelei, Jared and Cameron from DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR! Where did this story “come from”?
Darynda: Their story just kind of hit me one day while I was working at the high school in my hometown. I thought how fun it would be to take a bunch of kids and force them to face impossible odds. You know, like a supernatural war on Earth that only they can stop. Fun times, let me tell ya! And the trilogy was born.
Jeanne: Would you like to share an excerpt? Set it up for us…
Darynda: I would love to share an excerpt from Death and the Girl Next Door. This is where our heroine, Lorelei, first meets our hero who is going by the name Jared.
I scanned the distance back to see if Mr. Davis was still standing watch. Instead, I found Cameron Lusk. He hadn’t gone to class. I could see him through the plate-glass windows that lined the front of Riley High. He stood leaning against the building, looking directly at me, a strange expression I couldn’t decipher shadowing his face.
I offered my own glare, completely perplexed. The guy had never shown the slightest bit of interest in me. Then, out of nowhere, I couldn’t turn around without finding him waiting for me, watching, like he was mentally calculating how long it would take to strangle the life out of my body. A cold chill shimmied down my spine with the thought.
And worse, I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t want to alarm my grandparents. They had enough to worry about. The anniversary of my parents’ disappearance always put them in a strange state, as it did me. I didn’t want to call the police. Naturally, they would have to tell my grandparents. And I was nowhere near moronic enough to pretend I could take him. Boys, no matter how lanky, were generally strong.
I jumped at the sound of a male voice behind me and whirled around to slam face- first into a brick wall. My notebook flew out of my arms, launching a ticker tape parade of science notes into the air. They floated down to land in whispery chaos on the ground.
For a second I just stood there in shock until humiliation took hold and surged through me with a fiery vengeance. I could feel my cheeks heating as I looked up. And up. Into the eyes of the offending wall.
It was the new guy. And his eyes were amazing. Dark, steady, penetrating. Penetrating?
“Are you okay?” he asked.
Where’d penetrating come from? I felt my cheeks grow even hotter. “Of course,” I said, glancing down to hide my face and my bruised pride. I tucked a curl behind an ear and bent to gather my notes.
Supernova knelt to help me.
“You don’t need to do that,” I said, even more embarrassed as he scooped up my messy notes before I could get to them. Honestly, why couldn’t I at least try to write neatly?
“I don’t mind,” he said, lifting the drawing I’d done that morning.
I snatched it out of his hand before he could get a good look. He glanced at me but not in surprise at what I’d done. More like curiosity. His dark gaze was startlingly intense. The contrast of molasses- colored eyes and hair made his flawless skin appear almost translucent. The effect was haunting.
I forced my thoughts back to the present. “I’m Lorelei,” I managed at last.
He hesitated as he had with Mr. Davis. After a quick glance over his shoulder, he stood and offered his hand. “I’m Jared.” I almost looked at the poster again. Instead, I shut my eyes as a slow dawning crept over me. I recognized his face. I’d drawn it that very morning. I’d been dwelling on it for three days. It was him. The boy. Only the puzzle was complete, and what a puzzle it was.
Jeanne: WOW, that’s outstanding! Love it! And can’t wait to finish FOURTH GRAVE and start on DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. (It’s my treat for finishing edits!)
Darynda: Thank you! And I’m convinced rewards like that are essential. Edits are hard!
Jeanne: They are hard, but they do make the book better so I’m slogging through. Ha! Now that I’ve plied you with endless questions, do you have one you’d like to ask our Bandita Buddies and Banditas?
Darynda: I do! Here’s my question for the Bandits and your readers. If you met Death in any shape or fashion, and he wasn’t there for YOU, what would you ask?
Jeanne: GREAT question! Okay, Banditas and Buddies, have at it. BTW, Darynda is giving away a copy of DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and FOURTH GRAVE UNDER MY FEET – one to a commenter today, and one will be in the Members Only prize package in November!
(Photos are from my own collection, courtesy of Darynda Jones, Wikimedia Commons and Pinterest Free)
Posted in Charley the Grim Reaper, Darynda Jones, Halloween, Jeanne Adams