Darynda Jones e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (Aug 2011)
Darynda says she 'can't remember a time when she wasn't putting pen to paper'; for example at the tender age of seven she created 'fantastical stories for Barbie and Ken to enact with plots that were horridly inappropriate to repeat in polite company'. Real life intruded and she married, had a couple of kids and then tried college on for size. Eventually though, her desire to write resurfaced and by 2002 she had one goal in mind - a publishing contract.
Her debut novel, First Grave on the Right, was released earlier this year to rave reviews from critics, fellow paranormal romance authors and readers. She introduces paranormal fans to Charlie Davidson, private investigator extraordinaire as well as occasional consultant for the police and oh yeah, the Grim Reaper. Dead people hang around her all the time; she's their conduit to the other side. And some of them who aren't quite ready to ascend, like murder victims, sometimes ask her to track down their killers. Of course, she takes on cases for live people too.
In the new release, Second Grave on the Left, Charlie's trying to track down the missing friend of her best friend and Girl Friday, Cookie, as well as continuing her desperate search for escaped con Reyes Farrow, who also happens to be the Son of Satan, not to mention Charlie's incorporeal dream lover.
Q: Charley's job as a PI keeps her plenty busy as does channelling souls to Heaven - so why have her involved with the shadowy entity she's named Big Bad (aka the Son of Satan), rather than a human love interest?
A: To be honest, I wanted him "badder" than Charley. She is such a great quirky character with just enough bad girl to make her interesting. I wanted him to be just a bit more powerful, a bit more wicked and mysterious. And I wanted her love interest to be someone who always kept her guessing. She has to stay on her toes to keep up with Reyes, and I like that. She is never completely sure where she stands with him.
Q: The entity that resides within the human form of Reyes Farrow was there the day Charley was born and has protected and loved her since that moment. Doesn't Reyes' thing for Charley go against the job description Satan had in mind for his boy?
A: LOL, it goes VERY much against his job description, which has not made Daddy happy. Reyes pretty much had to give up everything to be with Charley, but he is also risking his very existence. I wanted his sacrifice to be great and to mean something in the grand scheme of things. Satan definitely had plans, and Reyes has tossed them all aside for one girl. Now he is just as much of a target as Charley is. *insert evil laugh*
Q: Is it safe to say that if Charley and Reyes ever do manage to get together in the biblical sense the result could literally move Heaven and Earth?
A: Why yes it is. :)
Q: Charley has a penchant for naming everything - (i.e.) her breasts are Danger and Will Robinson and her jeep Misery - where in the world did this character trait come from?
A: Well, I name all my cars, and when I was writing First Grave, my car was named Misery. Top that off with the fact that one of my brothers drives a cherry red Jeep Wrangler, and voila! Misery was born. As for the rest, I'm not sure how I came up with the naming of body parts and the like. I just think Charley is such a quirky character she would do something silly like that. It's in her nature. And I would imagine she had some pretty serious identity issues growing up the grim reaper. So I also saw it as her trying to get a grip on her own identity, her desire to know who she is and what her purpose in life is. And just for the record, I got an A+ in psych 101, as I'm sure this deep adventure into characterization proves. Hehehe.
Q: What came first for you in imagining the Charley Davidson series, the concept or the characters?
A: The characters. Actually, Charley. I was laying in bed one morning and thought, "What would I get if I took Buffy, threw in some Stephanie Plum and tossed in a healthy dose of Lorelei Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls?" And that is Charley in a nutshell. It took me much longer to figure out SHE was the grim reaper as opposed to another character in the series, but it was such a perfect match. What would it be like to grow up the grim reaper? What would it feel like to help the departed so they could cross? Or to have them cross through you? There were just so many possibilities.
Q: Each chapter in both novels begins with a quote from T-shirts or bumper stickers like 'Don't Go Buying Trouble. It's Free And It Knows Where You Live', 'Never Be Afraid To Dart Around In Public Humming The Mission Impossible Theme' and 'Grim Reapers Are To Die For'. Did you borrow any of these from actual shirts or stickers or are they strictly Charley's invention?
A: Many of them are borrowed and some are Charley's very own mantras. I had to do a lot of research and talk to several experts to see if I could even do that, but I have been assured it is perfectly legal. I love it when I know who coined the quotes and I can credit that person, but so many are just floating around in the cyber verse with no known authors. Then there are those I steal from friends. I've warned people, anything they say or do around me is fair game.
Q: What's with the love/hate relationship between Charley and skip tracer Garret Swopes, whom you introduced in your first book as the ultimate woo-woo sceptic?
A: First, woo-woo sceptic? I love it. And I needed someone to rub Charley the wrong way, to be the ultimate sceptic who just pushes all her hot buttons, so Garrett Swopes was born. He proved to be the perfect tool for me to explain what Charley is without tons of exposition. As she explains her path to him, she explains it to the reader. And they will always be more than "just friends," though not by much.
Q: The third book in the series - Third Grave Dead Ahead will be released early next year - you probably don't want to give away a single spoiler so I'll just say that I can't imagine all of Charley and Reye's "business" being concluded in a mere trilogy - right?
A: Ha! You're good, and you're right. In fact, by the time I am done with them in Third Grave, you may wonder if they will ever have a happily ever after. They will, just not for a little while yet. They are too fun to torture. I will say that Third Grave is a little hotter than its predecessors, so there is plenty of heat to keep the story going.
Q: Have you found your niche in paranormal mysteries or are there other genres you might one day explore?
A: Well, I also write young adult and have a YA coming out next year, also from St. Martin's Press. But almost everything I write has a paranormal twist. I absolutely love it. The possibilities are only limited by the writer's imagination. As long as he or she can convince the reader to suspend disbelief, the worlds and situations are never-ending. So I definitely want to stick with everything paranormal for the moment. I'm just having way too much fun!
Thank you so much for having me!!!To learn more about Darynda Jones, her books and blog, and to enjoy fun extras like Deleted Scenes, visit DaryndaJones.com.
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