Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi.
Be sure to read our reviews at OBS for:
Angel’s Ink (The Asylum Tales, Book #1) here.
- Dead Man’s Deal (The Asylum Tales, Book #2) here.
- The Asylum Interviews: Trixie (The Asylum Tales, Book #0.6) here.
Blood by Moonlight here.
Jocelynn Drake: I grew up a heavy reader. I love books. I would read anything I could get my hands on. When I was 12, I read a retelling of Robin Hood. I loved the book, but I walked away feeling something was missing – as in a strong female character. I spent that summer sitting on my bed, rewriting the story of Robin Hood so that it now included a strong, independent female character. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it. I never thought that I wouldn’t be able to write a whole book, or tell an intricate story with fully developed characters. There was just this driving urge to put the people and events dancing in my brain onto paper. Many years and pages later I find that I’m still addicted to the written word.
Heidi: What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Jocelynn Drake: One of my favorite things about being an author is hearing back from readers who had been touched by something I wrote. I’ve received numerous emails and comments about how Mira from the Dark Days series or Gage from the Asylum Tales got them through a particularly rough time in their life. When I started writing, I never showed my work to anyone and never expected to reach other people. Yet, now I’ve been given this amazing gift to be able to reach out to people that I’ve never met all around the world and help make their life just a little bit brighter.
Heidi: What advice can you give for aspiring authors?
Jocelynn Drake: I have only the same advice that I’ve heard a hundred times over but it’s some of the best advice: Sit down and write. You only get better with practice. You need to write hundreds of pages and thousands of words before you start finding the right words and putting them in the right order. Being an author takes a great deal of determination and perseverance. In the end, you only become a great with practice.
Heidi: How does writing the Dark Days Series differ from writing the Asylum Tales?
Jocelynn Drake: I created the Asylum Tales to be completely different from the Dark Days Series in almost every way. I loved writing Mira and Danaus, but when I started working with Gage & Co., I needed it to be as different as possible. The Dark Days Series is what I think of as a “closed world” in the way that all the magical creatures are hidden, while the Asylum Tales is an “open world” in that everything is out in the open and has been that way for a few centuries. By making everything open, it allowed me to worry about other things than whether a human caught sight of a pixie flying down the street. When something is hidden in the Asylum Tales, it’s very special. It also allowed me to incorporate more of the stranger magical creatures from myths and stories.
Of course, one of the biggest differences between writing Dark Days and the Asylum Tales is the fact that the narrator is a man in the Asylum Tales. After writing 5 books from a woman’s point of view, I thought it would be interesting to try urban fantasy from a man’s point of view. While both Mira and Gage have a similar attitude toward dealing with bad guys, Gage’s internal monologue tend to be a bit different as well as how he deals with his emotions. But all in all, I’ve had a lot of fun working with Gage.
Heidi: When you started writing The Asylum Interviews:Bronx, was it your intent for it to be a prequel to a new series? How did the second prequel, The Asylum Interviews: Trixie, come to be?
Jocelynn Drake: When I sold the new series to my publisher, they requested two novellas that could be released before the first novel. This was to be a great opportunity to ease readers who had enjoyed the Dark Days Series into the new world of the Asylum Tales. The new world is extremely large and complicated with a number of new creatures. Both novellas allowed me to introduce chunks of the world as a way of hooking readers and getting them intrigued enough to pick up the first book. My other goal was to give backstory on my two main side characters: Bronx and Trixie. With everything going on in the first novel, I knew that I wouldn’t have a lot of time to talk about how they met Gage and their history, but the prequel novellas were the perfect chance to tackles those items.
Heidi: I’m really enjoying the time I’ve spent with Gage and his friends in Low Town. What has been your favorite part about writing The Asylum Tales so far?
Jocelynn Drake: I think it might be the seemingly endless possibilities that come with working in this strange and very open world. Every time I start a book, I’m excited because I know that this is an opportunity for Gage to meet some strange and rare creature that doesn’t often appear in a lot of urban fantasy novels. In one of the novellas, I got to play with a family of gargoyles. In Angel’s Ink, Gage met a member of the Grim Reaper’s Union. In Dead Man’s Deal, Gage meets a Lorialet and something really scary. I think I just love working with so much of the unknown and letting my imagination run wild.
Heidi: As I’ve mentioned in my reviews of The Asylum Tales books, I absolutely love the name Asylum for a tattoo parlor. Where did you get such an ingenious name for Gage’s business?
Jocelynn Drake: I usually agonize over naming places and people. Names have to have the proper feel for the person or location as well as have their own interesting undertone. Asylum carries with it a lovely double meaning. Asylum – as in a place of security and refuge – works because that is what the tattoo parlor is for the three tattoo artists, particularly Gage and Trixie. But it can also be like that for the people who are coming into the shop for their assistance. It’s a safe place for them to go get the help they need for their problem. And then of course there’s the Asylum definition that means a place for madness and that is fitting as well since insanity tends to find a home at the tattoo parlor as well.
Heidi: I also found the idea of Gage putting potions in his tattoo ink so he can give his clients an array of benefits, cursing an ex, luck, attractiveness, to be a lot of fun and of course having endless possibilities. Where did that idea stem from? And, of course, if you could pick one potion for Gage to use on you, what would it be? What would the tattoo design be?
Jocelynn Drake: The idea for doing a story about a tattoo artist was born out of an amusing conversation I had with a pair of tattoo artists while I was getting a tattoo. I was close to finishing up the Dark Day series and I was trying to decide what to work on next. One tattoo artist suggested that my next story be about a tattoo artist. Something about the suggestion, mixed with all the bawdy stories they told about their own tattooing experiences, stuck in my head. Of course, since I’m completely addicted to the paranormal, I had to add magic into the story just to give it a little more kick.
About a year ago, I wrote an interview with Trixie (Gage’s girlfriend and tattoo artist at Asylum) and she mentioned a tattoo that my mind keeps turning back to. Sadly I can’t remember the proper name of it off the top of my head, but it gives the recipient heightened awareness of his surroundings. In our constant rush through this world to accomplish a million things before we collapse into bed each night, I think our awareness of our immediate surroundings has been hindered. We’re focused on what we have to do while at the same time hammered by information through constantly being plugged into the internet and social media. I wonder if being plugged into the internet constantly has partially pulled the plug on our awareness of the world immediately in front of us. The tattoo would make you more aware of life in front of you. It could help you react a little faster to avoid that fender bender, or maybe just help you realize that several of the people you blindly pass during the day could use a hug.
Heidi: You paint a vivid and interesting world in The Asylum Tales, full of magical creatures, several such as gorgons, minotaurs, and satyrs, rarely make it into books. Of all the creatures common and rare, which is your favorite?
Jocelynn Drake: I don’t know if I have a favorite, or if I can just pick one. There are so many characters within the series that I am in love with. It doesn’t seem as if I have a favorite creature, so much as favorite characters because I love their personalities so much. I adore Chang, but that’s just Chang being the wily little devil that he is. It’s not because he’s a ####. (What? You didn’t think I was just going to blurt it out, did you?) I like Lorialets because of how much I’m sure each and every one would drive Gage insane with their slow, dreamy ways. I also liked the satyrs because they’re always having a good time no matter what their doing. I also introduce a new fey creature in Dead Man’s Deal that I’m falling in love with but only because it manages to scare Gage.
Heidi: At the end of book two of Asylum Tales, Dead Man’s Deal, we find Gage’s life has really taken a turn that he never expected it to take, but one that feels must happen for the progression of the series. What can we expect in the future installments now that this change has occurred? How will this affect Gage’s relationship with Gideon? Trixie?
Jocelynn Drake: Without giving anything away, I have to say that Gage has to find a way to work and live his life within this new change. There’s a lot of adaption for him because of this and he doesn’t always manage it very well. I think that this is actually going to be a positive for his relationship with Gideon, as they develop a new respect for each other. Both are survivors in different ways and they learn to help each other more.
As for his relationship with Trixie… I’m still thinking and working that out.
Heidi: And something I’ve been wondering since the end of Angel’s Ink…. Will we see the time that Gage is sent to serve in the Underworld played out in the books as it occurs or will there be a time lapse?
Jocelynn Drake: It is something that I am actively considering as I make plans for any future books. I would like to show the time that Gage is forced to spend with Lilith in the Underworld. If anything, Gage is a tricky creature and he’s good about having an ace up his sleeve. I’m curious to see what he can do when he’s up against such a creature. I’d also like to see more of the world from the other side.
Heidi: Anything else you’re willing to tell us about book three of The Asylum Tales?
Jocelynn Drake: After the horrors and tension of Dead Man’s Deal, I’m taking a step back from the Ivory Towers while Gage deals with some problems a little closer to home. I’m still in the early stages of writing the book, so I’m trying to decide what tattoo is going to be the focal point and which new creatures to introduce. Do you have any suggestions for creatures you’d like to see more of?
Heidi: Hmmmm there are so many creatures out there to choose from…. I think a sphinx would be really cool or to take something classic, but add a twist, making it the exact opposite of how it’s normally viewed… like a unicorn for instance. Instead of being the beautiful white creature we expect, it could be dark and almost sinister.
Heidi: I’m finding that I’m really enjoying this series. Do you have an idea in mind for how many books will be in the Asylum Tales when the series is complete?
Jocelynn Drake: I don’t know how many books will be in the Asylum Tales. It’s designed to be open-ended, so I think it will run for as long as I have interesting stories to tell about Gage and his world, and as long as people want to read about Gage’s adventures and his friends.
Heidi: Thank you Jocelynn for such a fun and informative interview! I have really enjoyed this time with you and I’m sure our readers will to! And, I look forward to seeing what kind of trouble Gage will get into next!