Posts tagged with: Bear Claw Crime Lab

Jessica Andersen & The Nightkeepers’ Last Stand

Today is an exciting day and also a sad one.  Having Jessica Andersen in the Lair is always a pleasure, but she’s here to talk about Spellfire, the last book in the her wonderful Nightkeepers paranormal romance series.  I love these books, as many of you know, and while I’ll be glad to see the Nightkeepers triumph (at least, I hope they will!), I’ll miss knowing there’s another book ahead.  Spellfire is a Romantic Times Top Pick, with a 4.5-star rating, so the series is ending on a high note.

Welcome, Jessica!  How did you feel when you turned in the manuscript for Spellfire, knowing it was the last Nightkeepers book?

Sad. Drained. Giddy. In dire need of a pool boy bearing a scorpion bowl … yet elated at the same time, because I’m really, proud of this series and how it came around to (in my opinion, anyway) a really satisfying conclusion. 

 It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing these books since 2006 (the launch book, Nightkeepers, came out in June of 2008). So much has happened, both in the world at large and in my own small corner of it, that it boggles the mind. Not the least that the first book acknowledged my fiancé, the last book is dedicated to my amazing husband, and they’re most definitely not the same guy!

I’m love how this last book of the series brings it home. And whenever I get sad, knowing I won’t be writing another Nightkeeper book, I look over at my shelf. It helps knowing that I can visit them any time, both on the page and in my head. That’s the awesome thing about books!

I know I’ll be visiting them on the page again.  Please tell us a bit about Spellfire.

 This is Rabbit and Myrinne’s story … It had to be, really, because even though Rabbit wasn’t in the original outline, the eight-book series wound up not just being about the Nightkeepers’ war to save mankind from the 2012 doomsday, but also about Rabbit growing up (and blowing stuff up).

 He started out as a snotty teenager who just appeared out of nowhere in one of the first few scenes, and tried his darnedest to steal every book along the way. Now he’s all grown up (and then some, rwor!), and his love of self-destruction has the potential for some very big consequences.

 As for Myrinne … well, I know lots of readers aren’t so sure about her as Rabbit’s heroine (I wasn’t either, until I got to know her better), but she’s come a long way, too, baby. She’s finally got the magic and power she’s always wanted, only to find that it comes with responsibilities she never even dreamed of. And where the Nightkeepers are almost always stronger together than apart, it seems impossible to believe that she and Rabbit can put the pieces of their relationship back together before the end date … or that they should even try.

What has writing the Nightkeepers you learned about writing a series?

Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Okay, not really, because there’s nothing simple or stupid about these books. However, I did learn the importance of focusing the camera lens on the moments that are most important to the main characters of the current book. Yes, everyone’s lives are marching forward as time passes, and yes, it’s important for me to know what’s going on in the other characters’ lives, but in books as long and complex as the Nightkeeper books, it can’t all fit on the page.

 Also in terms of simplifying, I’m currently working on a trio of books that are set in the same story world as each other, but don’t really have overarching plot connections. Partly it’s because that’s the way these books are writing, and partly it’s because I want readers to pick up one of these new books having never read the prior ones, and be able to dive right in. Which isn’t necessarily true for the Nightkeepers.

While writing this series, you’ve also written the terrific Bear Claw Crime Lab books. How did you juggle these projects so successfully?

Aw, thanks for saying I’ve been successful at it! It was a struggle sometimes, I’ll admit, especially given that I alternated writing the two series.

 Usually I would stop in the middle of writing a Nightkeeper book to write the outline and first three chapters of a Bear Claw book, submit that for approval to Harlequin, finish up the Nightkeeper first draft, submit that to NAL, write the rest of the Bear Claw book, and submit it just in time to do the first round of revisions on the Nightkeeper book. It was crazy!

I think I’ve said it here before, but I’ll say it again: Fonts are my friend. I always wrote the Nightkeepers in Times New Roman and the Bear Claw books in Courier New. It was a visual cue that helped tell my brain whether I was writing a paranormal or a romantic suspense. That, as much as anything, helped me keep things straight!

That’s a cool idea!  Does not having another Nightkeepers book ahead feel strange? 

Everything feels strange right now, but in a good way. After years of writing four to six books a year while also running a small horse farm and freelancing as a science editor—and basically sleeping six hours a night and never taking a day off—I’ve dropped back to writing two books a year, doing a bit more editing, living in a great little house with my hubby and a couple of cats, and taking nights and weekends off to mountain bike and do family stuff. Which is just …weird. But good weird, you know?

 As for writing-weird, yes and no. It’s strange not to be in the Nightkeepers’ world anymore, but at the same time, I’m in such a different mental space than I was when I started writing these books. The writing I’m doing now is better for who I am now, if that makes any sense.

Besides, if and when I feel the urge to cause some literary mayhem, Mayan-style, the new opportunities in e- and self-publishing might give me an outlet to write, say, the stories of Patience and Brandt’s twin boys, all grown up in a near-future storyline …

Is there anything in particular you would like readers to take away from this series?

This is definitely one of those ‘you can see the author in the stories’ deals, as each of the books deals, in one way or another, with the concepts of being an outsider and finding your place in your community, family, and/or relationship.

 It’s something I’ve struggled with most of my life, and something I think lots of us can relate to. I can’t say that I’ve come up with any great take-home on the topic, but if my last few years are anything to go by, I can say this: huge, tremendous, die-for-you love—the kind that we write about and read about—exists, even for an outsider. And you don’t have to be a magic user to find it.

 What are you working on now?

 Ahh, that’s the question, isn’t it? Well, I guess I can ‘fess up now, because there’s an excerpt of the new book at the end of SPELLFIRE.

 I am … wait for it … going West! Yep, writing as Jesse Hayworth, I’m going to be doing contemporary Western romances about a Wyoming cattle station-turned-dude ranch, the three-generation family that runs the place, and the guests that come through. The first book, SUMMER AT MUSTANG RIDGE, is in production for a June release from Signet.

Although it’s a departure from the Nightkeepers and Intrigues, I think some of the same voice comes through in the strong heroes and heroines. In this case, though, they’re working on their own little corners of the world rather than trying to save the whole thing. 

Thanks as always for the opportunity to celebrate the new release with the Banditas!

 For more about Jessica and her work, visit her website.

Jessica is giving away a copy of Spellfire to one commenter today.  So tell us, what series have you enjoyed, and what did you find satisfying about their conclusions?  If you read westerns, either contemporary or historical, which ones do you like, and why?