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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011

Please welcome Darynda Jones to The Qwillery for the second in our 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews.

Darynda: Thank you so much for having me at The Qwillery today!

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Darynda:  Probably my absolutely-must-have “skeleton key”. Or, well, I call it a skeleton key. It’s an outline that answers four basic questions: Where are we? What time of day is it? What major event happens in this scene or series of scenes? And in what order does the story unfold? It is like a road map and I am utterly lost without it.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Darynda:  So very many people. I love everything from Stephen King to Julia Quinn. And they were both huge influences, giving me permission to bend the rules a little, to have fun. I’d also have to say Janet Evanovich and Mary Janice Davidson. I’ve always wanted to be able to write like Stephen Hunter. He wrote the book that the movie Shooter with Mark Wahlberg was based on called Point of Impact. His writing is amazing. His heroes are to die for.

OH! And I can’t forget Terry Pratchett. Of all the people I’ve ever read, he is the one who taught me to not only bend the rules, but break them and grind them into dust, just do it with exquisite style and breathtaking prose. (I haven’t actually reached that pinnacle of existence yet, but I’m working on it.)

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Darynda:  I plot like there’s no tomorrow, baby. I barely start a book without three distinct outlines.
1. The Skeleton Key that I spoke of earlier.
2. The Outline: This is a brief synopsis of the entire book. It is usually about 5-9 pages long and is what I send my editor for approval before actually starting the book.
3. The Detailed Outline: This is where I take the skeleton key, plug the outline into the appropriate areas, then add any details I’ve come up with including specific scenes, little extras I want to reveal here and there, funny lines or situations I want to use, and even internal and external motivation. These outlines usually run between 40 and 60 pages, but remember that part about adding scenes? Yeah, by this point I’ve already written a nice chunk of the book.
Next, I take the final detailed outline, copy and paste it into my manuscript, and delete as I go. This way I never stray far from the conceived story. I don’t wander around aimlessly, wondering where I’m going. I know exactly what is coming next, and very often, if it’s a “hard” scene (meaning I’m too lazy to write it at that moment), I’ll jump to another scene. I don’t get bored and/or stuck very often and I rarely pull my hair out by its roots. I’ve tried pantsing it. It wasn’t pretty. I had writer’s block by the time I got to page three.

NOTE: Let me just say that I write ALL over the place. I do not write linearly in any way, shape or form. By having such a detailed map of where I’m going, I can write on chapter two one day and chapter nineteen the next. Another (possibly more important) advantage to this technique is that there’s never a dull moment. Each scene has a purpose. Each scene moves the story forward. This makes the book tight, the pacing strong, and the story smooth. Just sayin’.

TQ:  What inspired you to write First Grave on the Right ?

Darynda:  Mostly desperation. As an aspiring writer trying to catch New York’s eye, I wanted something different, something that would grab an agent’s and editor’s attention. Thankfully, Charley did just that.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for First Grave on the Right?

Darynda:  I did quite a bit of research on law enforcement procedures and went to a couple of workshops. One was a chapter meeting in which the State Medical Examiner spoke. That was an eye-opener and a half. I learned so much about policy and procedure, like who can and cannot step onto a crime scene before the medical examiner is finished, and I got to see a real autopsy. I’ve never been the same. I also read books on police procedure and private investigations as well as keep a couple of friends in law enforcement on speed dial. Oh, and I watched a few episodes of Magnum, PI. That was hard. ;)

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?

Darynda:  In one scene, My heroine Charley is basically undercover, trying to get a bad guy to confess. I love this scene because her inner thoughts just ramble and are so at odds with what is going on around her and the extreme danger she is in. While she is trying to play the damsel in distress, she is thinking about what a jerk the guy is and how he’s clearly overcompensating with the expensive suits and manicure, etc. It’s just fun and the tables are turned on her so quickly and tragically. But still her thoughts run amok.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Charley Davidson series? Will there be any short stories or novellas set in Charley's world?

Darynda:  Interesting you should ask. I actually just completed a short story for a new romance/women’s fiction website St. Martin’s Press is going to launch soon. I was thrilled to be invited on its maiden voyage and can’t wait to see it go live. (The site, not necessarily my story.)

And as for how many books, right now the sky’s the limit. While I’m currently contracted for three and have just finished the final round of revisions for Third Grave Dead Ahead, the third installment in Charley’ story, we are looking more long-term with the project and hoping for this to be a long-lasting and well-loved series.

TQ:  What's next?

Darynda:  Well, since I just finished up Third Grave, we are turning our efforts to the first in a YA series I also sold to St. Martin’s Press, the first of which is titled Grimsight. It’s about a how one teenaged girl’s life is irrevocably changed when the grim reaper starts high school in her home town. I’m really excited because it’s such a fun story. And, yes, it’s also about a grim reaper, just in a very different way.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Darynda:  Thank YOU!!! I’m so excited to be here and appreciate the opportunity so much.


Darynda's Books

First Grave on the Right
Charley Davidson 1
(February 1, 2011)
Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011
A smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This is a thrilling debut novel from an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.


Second Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson 2) will be released in August 2011.


About Darynda

Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011
Winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, Darynda was born spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. After the Golden Heart final, she pimped herself as best she could, landed an amazing agent and sold to St. Martin’s Press in a three-book deal. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at http://www.daryndajones.com/.



Links:
Website: http://www.darynda.com/
Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/darynda.jones.official
Twitterhttp://twitter.com/Darynda


The Giveaway
 
THE RULES
 
What:  One commenter will win a hardcover copy of First Grave on the Right.
 
How:  Leave a comment telling The Qwillery black, white or gray? Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.
 
You may receive additional entries by:
 
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
 
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
 
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
 
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
 
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.
 
Who & When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Tuesday, February 15, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.
 
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - February 2, 2011

Please welcome author Ben Aaronovitch to The Qwillery for the first in our 2011 Debut Author Challenge interviews.

TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Ben:  I wouldn't know about interesting but somewhat, shall we say, autistic about counting the words I write. I have an EXCELL spreadsheet on which I not only do a daily log (with a progress graph) but gives a percentage of each chapter completed, average writing speed (total) average writing speed (last 7 days) and estimated completion date based on both averages plus it constantly updates the minimum daily word count required for me to complete on time. Like I said, just a tad obsessive.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Ben:  Generally my influences are quite wide; Andre Norton, Heinlein, Azimov, Moorcock, Ballard, Aldiss, Wyndham, LeGuin, William Gibson, Bujold, Cherryh, PKD and Sir Terry Pratchett (obviously). Non SFF, Umberto Eco, Bill Bryson, Rupert Graves, PD James, Jeremy Brett, Ed McBain (in particular for the Peter Grant books) and Elmore Leonard.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a panster?

Ben:  I go with whatever is working at the time and give thanks when I reach my word target by the end of the day. It's always good to have at least a scaffold when you're writing but you mustn't mistake the scaffold for the final building. Also if you're writing anything with a mystery component than you must keep track of where your stories gone so far.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Midnight Riot / Rivers of London?

Ben:  I find ideas sort of sneak up on you. One minute I was happily ignorant of Peter Grant's existence and then - bang - he's taking over my life.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Midnight Riot / Rivers of  London?

Ben:  There are two directions for research. The first involves spotting something interesting in your travels, or reading or whatever and filing it away for future use. The second is more directed - for that I usually start with an internet sweep to establish what's available online and how reliable it is, if it's a location I try and visit the place, if it's an organisation I look for sources (official or otherwise), I buy books for preference, so I write in them, but if that's impracticable I have reading privileges at the British Library and the London Metropolitan Archive. Museums are also very useful since they also serve as research facilities, the London Museum particularly useful for me of course.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the book?

Ben:  The ghost chase in Chapter 13.

TQ:  How many books are planned for the Rivers of London series?

Ben:  I intend to write these books until I run out of ideas or they tell me to stop - whichever comes first.

TQ:  What's next?

Ben:  Cool jazz in Soho. A faceless man. Some old style London gangsters. Women who love music too much. Some history. Rooftop chases by moonlight.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ben:  Very nice of you to have me.


Ben's Books

Midnight Riot / Rivers of London
Rivers of London 1
(Del Rey - February 1, 2011)
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - February 2, 2011
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.


 
You can read my review of Midnight Riot / Rivers of London here.
 
 
Moon Over Soho
Rivers of London 2
(Del Rey - March 1, 2011)
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - February 2, 2011
BODY AND SOUL

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

 
UK Covers 
Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - February 2, 2011


About Ben
 
Ben Aaronovitch was born in 1964. He had parents, some brothers, some sisters and a dog named after a Russian cosmonaut. He also had the kind of dull childhood that drives a person to drink, radical politics or science fiction.
 
Discovering in his early twenties that he had precisely one talent, he took up screenwriting at which he was an overnight success. He wrote for Doctor Who, Casualty and the world's cheapest ever SF soap opera Jupiter Moon. He then wrote for Virgin's New Adventures until they pulped all his books.
 
Then Ben entered a dark time illuminated only by an episode of Dark Knight, a book for Big Finish and the highly acclaimed but not-very-well-paying Blake's 7 Audio dramas. Trapped in a cycle of disappointment and despair Ben was eventually forced to support his expensive book habit by working for Waterstones as a bookseller.
 
Ironically it was while shelving the works of others that Ben finally saw the light. He would write his own books, he would let prose into his heart and rejoice in the word. Henceforth, subsisting on nothing more than instant coffee and Japanese takeaway, Ben embarked on the epic personal journey that was to lead to Rivers of London (or Midnight Riot as it is known in the Americas).
 
At some point during the above, the most important thing in his life happened and he became a father to a son, Karifa, whom he affectionately refers to as 'The Evil Monster Boy'. The Evil Monster Boy will be reaching university age soon, so all donations will be gratefully received.
 
Ben Aaronovitch currently resides in London and says that he will leave when they pry his city from his cold dead fingers.

Ben's & Peter's Links:

The Folly: http://www.the-folly.com/
Twitter:  @Ben_Aaronovitch

Peter's Blog: http://westendblues.blogspot.com/
Peter's Twitter:  @PC_Peter_Grant

The Giveaway
 
THE RULES
 
What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback of Midnight Riot.
 
How:  Leave a comment telling The Qwillery whether you like the US Covers or UK Covers better? Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.
 
You may receive additional entries by:
 
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
 
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
 
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
 
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
 
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. In addition please leave a way to contact you.
 
Who & When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, February 9, 2011. Void where prohibited by law.
 
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
Interview with Darynda Jones & Giveaway - February 8, 2011Interview with Ben Aaronovitch and Giveaway - February 2, 2011

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