OBS reviewer Heidi brings us, just in time to celebrate the release of the latest book in the Charley Davidson series, an all new interview with NYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones! Here they discuss her writing, the inspiration behind her stories, urban fantasy, her favorite books and more. Enjoy and be on the look out for Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, today!
- Be sure to read our review for Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet here.
Heidi: How did you get into writing? Was there a certain book you read or a moment that made you think…’I want to write’?
Darynda Jones: 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.
Heidi: Why urban fantasy/paranormal romance? What was the first thing you read in that genre? What were your initial thoughts? What do you think draws people to the paranormal genres?
Darynda Jones: The first thing I read in terms of fantasy and horror was Edgar Allen Poe. Let’s just say his stories made an impact. And of course I read Stephen King and Anne Rice. But the first UF/PNR I read was actually Patricia Briggs’s Moon Called from her Mercy Thompson series. I fell hard.
The thing about this genre is that it’s limitless. The only limits are those of your imagination. That fact makes the genre so much fun to write in. It’s like a playground of possibility. If there is a drawback, I can’t think of one. Years ago, everyone said PNR was going to die. How much further could it possibly go? But look at it now. It tops the charts over and over. Readers can’t get enough and that makes me happy.
Heidi: Do you look to your own life for subject matter? Are your books the product of your life experiences and fantasies? Or something else entirely?
Darynda Jones: Aspects of my life sneak into my books occasionally, but for the most part, it’s all made up. That being said, I’m sure that everything I see and do affects what I write. How can it not? Perhaps a news story I saw seeps into a case my heroine is working on. It’s all fodder.
Heidi: Beyond your own works, what is your favorite book of all time and why?
Darynda Jones: This is the hardest question anyone can ask me. If I had to choose just one, I would still choose The Duke and I by Julia Quinn. It’s historical romance without a hint of paranormal aspects anywhere, but that book taught me so much. I think it was a timing thing. I was working on my first manuscript when I read it and suddenly so many things clicked for me. Her writing was fresh even though it was historical romance. Her hero was dark even though it is a Regency set piece. Her heroine was fun and independent even though those traits were not valued then. I loved everything about this story and reread it often.
Heidi: When I read First Grave on the Right, I couldn’t help, but be reminded of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. Since then I’ve read many comments to that affect as well. For the record I think Charley would totally kick Steph’s ass if she got the chance!! Are you familiar with Steph? What do you think when people compare the two? Like it? Hate it?
Darynda Jones: I am very familiar with Steph and thank you! I love that you think that. LOL. I can’t imagine what Janet would think of the comparison, but I am exceedingly honored. I love what she did with Stephanie. Her quirkiness and penchant for trouble are so fun. So the comparison is humbling and appreciated.
Heidi: I absolutely love the funny quotes you put at the beginning of each chapter in your Charley Davidson books. I think my favorite is still “If it has tires or testicles, it’s gonna give you trouble.” I know that the majority site bumper stickers or t-shirts as their source. How do you find them all? Do you have a topic in mind and search or do you see something funny and decide to save it for later? Do you ever make any up on your own (besides the Charley quotes, of course)?
Darynda Jones: I now keep a running list of favorite quotes like that. Sometimes people send them to me and they go right into my file. If I stumble across something funny or overhear something that has me giggling, I will write it down and save it, too. Nothing is sacred. I do make up my own occasionally, but for the most part, they are already out there.
Heidi: I just finished reading the latest installment of your Charley Davidson series, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, which I love by the way. But I have to ask….Reyes….son of Satan….where did that come from? What was your inspiration for his character?
Darynda Jones: Thank you! 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!
Heidi: Of all the characters you’ve written, who do you most relate to?
Darynda Jones: Charley. Our minds are quite similar.
Heidi: Please tell our readers more about Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet and the storyline that drives it?
Darynda Jones: Sure! In Fourth Grave, sometimes being the grim reaper really is that. Grim. And since Charley’s last case went so awry, she has taken a couple months off to wallow in the wonders of self-pity. But when a woman shows up on her doorstep convinced someone is trying to kill her, Charley has to force herself to rise above. Or at least get dressed. She quickly realizes something is amiss when everyone the woman knows swears she’s insane. The more they refute the woman’s story, the more Charley believes it.
In the meantime, the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, has been cleared of all charges. He is out of prison and out of Charley’s life, as per her wishes and several perfectly timed death threats. But his absence has put a serious crimp in her sex life. While there are other things to consider, like the fact that Albuquerque has been taken hostage by an arsonist, Charley is having a difficult time staying away. Especially when it looks like Reyes may be involved. Just when life was returning to normal, Charley is thrust back into the world of crime, punishment, and the devil in blue jeans.
Heidi: Everything seems to be wrapped up in a tidy bow at the end, but I know that things aren’t always what they seem. Have we truly seen the last of the demon possession? And, will Charley ever make up her mind about Reyes? Will we get to see Donovan in the fifth installment? What can we expect in the next installment?
Darynda Jones: Great questions! Things are never neat and tidy in Charley’s world. There are always demons afoot. But I can say that, yes, Charley will make up her mind about Reyes and quite soon. I haven’t quite decided what Donovan’s role will be in Fifth or if he will even be in the book, but in this installment, we will learn exactly how far Reyes is willing to go to protect our girl.
Here is a quick blurb:
Charley Davidson may not look like your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper, but she has vowed to reap grimness wherever she goes despite this unfortunate fact. Sadly, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. Since he is her main suspect in an arson case, she has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth. But when dead women start appearing in her apartment, one after another, each lost, confused and terrified beyond reason, Charley has no choice but to ask him for help, especially when it becomes apparent that her own sister Gemma is the serial killer’s next target. With Reyes’s ability to observe incorporeally, surely he can find out who’s responsible. Even if he can’t, arsonist or not, he is the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what came at her. But he wants something in return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she is willing to pay.
Heidi: With a genre that is so heavily populated with vampires, it’s great to find a series as fresh and new as The Charley Davidson series is. Do you think that vampires are starting to die out (pun not quite intended)?
Darynda Jones: LOL, again, they said that of the genre years ago, and especially of vampires. I think the shine might lessen someday, but I honestly believe vampires will have their own subgenre like westerns or mysteries. I just don’t think they are going anywhere fast. They are too sultry and alluring and each series has its own set of rules, so it’s like getting something new with each one.
Heidi: Do you feel any competitive pressure from movies and TV shows such as Twilgiht and True Blood to broach the topic of vampires? And, no, the fact that they all stemmed from books is not lost on meJ
Darynda Jones: Competitive pressure? Not even a little. The way I see it, it’s like we are all on the same team. Each one feeds into the other, nurtures and supports. I am all for Team PNR. The more the merrier.
Heidi: I’ve heard that you’ve sold the TV rights to the Charley Davidson series to CBS. First of all, is that true? If so what does that mean for fans? Has there been any rumblings about when it would hit the air? And,of course I have to ask….if you could pick anybody, who would you like to see portray the characters in Charley’s world?
Darynda Jones: Yes, the rights sold to CBS for the CW, actually, and it happened over two years ago. These things take so much time, and I haven’t heard a thing as far as if or when it will go into production. I hope it does! As far as the actors, I will definitely leave that up to the experts, though I would love to see Jason Behr have the chance to play Reyes. And I could totally see Jessica Alba as Charley. The problem is that everyone has a different vision of the characters, so there will be readers who are not happy. I am just hoping that if it does hit the small screen, the readers will give the actors a chance.
Heidi: I absolutely adore this series and wasn’t sure with your new YA series, if you’d be continuing with Charley. So needless to say I was ecstatic to see a fifth book in the works. Do you have any idea how many books the series will entail when it’s all said and done?
Darynda Jones: No idea. It’s open-ended right now, but I do have an end in mind when it comes to that, and a spinoff started. LOL. So, I have a backup plan, and it’s a pretty great one! I’m really excited, but I do want the Charley series to continue for a long time.
Heidi: If you were to write another series about a supernatural being, what would it be?
Darynda Jones: Well, since I have four stared already (I am always starting new stories), I can tell you one has a dragon and one has a fire starter. The other two are kind of top secret. My own creations. 🙂
Heidi: What can you tell us about your new YA series, Darklight? Is it hard to maintain both series? What are the struggles you face adjusting from writing from mature adult to young adult?
Darynda Jones: Since I write with a young voice anyway, it’s not all that different to switch from one to the other. And it’s no harder to maintain for me. Writing is hard work no matter what you’re into. It’s just a matter of switching focus. Thankfully, I’m ADD, so that’s not a problem. The Darklight series is about a girl whose life is irrevocably changed when the Angel of Death starts high school in her small town. I actually wrote the first in this series years before I wrote First Grave, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Heidi: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! I really appreciate it and I’m already chomping at the bit to read the fifth installment of Charley Davidson, The Fifth Grave Past the Light…it could be a long wait for me. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and look forward to talking to you again!!
Darynda Jones: Thank you so much for having me! This was a fun interview.