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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Interview with Author Jenna Black!

This week the second Nikki Glass book, Deadly Descendant, released! Jenna Black is one of my favourite authors and I have been patiently waiting for this one. The debut in the series, Dark Descendant, was just soooo good! I have the new release on my Kindle and just need to read a couple of other books before I can start it. I can't wait!

So with a new book out I asked Jenna if she would be my guest again! The following interview is the result! I hope you enjoy it!


Amber - Welcome to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you here as a guest! Could you start things off by telling us a little about your upcoming release, Deadly Descendant?

Jenna - DEADLY DESCENDANT is the second book in the Descendant series, featuring Nikki Glass. Nikki, a descendant of the goddess Artemis, finds herself on the hunt for an immortal serial killer who apparently uses a pack of dogs as his murder weapon of choice. She's used to hunting people like deadbeat dads, so she's in over her head tracking a serial killer, but she may be the only one who can stop him from killing more innocent people.

Amber - How did you come up with the idea for the Nikki Glass series? Was it a long process or did it just come to you?

Jenna - It was actually a pretty long process. I'd written a partial novel back around 2003 wherein there were immortals whose immortality could be stolen by their descendants, but that story wasn't working for me. (To date, it's the only novel I've started but not finished.) When I wanted to write a new urban fantasy series, I decided to try playing with the kernel of the idea for that previous novel, and that's how Nikki Glass and the Descendants were born.

Amber - How do you pick the names for your characters? Do they have any special meanings?

Jenna - As a general rule, the names for my characters just pop into my head. I rarely go through any special process to pick them. There's just a certain name that "feels" right for a certain character.

Amber - You must do a lot of research for your books? Anything interesting or is it boring google time?

Jenna - I actually try to avoid doing too much research. My ideas flow much more freely if everything is coming from within me, and doing research puts me in a kind of analytical mode that isn't conducive to creativity. (I also find that I don't have the patience to be a good researcher.) That said, I spent a TON of time on Google Maps researching the settings for DEADLY DESCENDANT. I looked at maps, and also did virtual walk-throughs of neighborhoods using the street views. I could "walk" in neighborhoods I might hesitate to approach in real life and get a real good visual feel for where my characters were.

Amber - How many Nikki Glass books will there be? Does she have a long story to tell?

Jenna - I don't have a specific number of books in mind. I just signed on to write two more novels and a novella, and I'll figure it out as I go.

Amber - What else is next? Are you working on any other projects you would like to tell us about?

Jenna - I have a new YA series in the works, the first book of which, REPLICA, is due out in spring of next year, though no firm date has been set yet. It's a dystopian story set in the relatively near future in which corporations have taken over the United States and are run like hereditary monarchies. One of these corporations has invented a way to create what amounts to backup copies of human beings, called Replicas. My hero, Nate, is the heir to this state's "throne," and when he is murdered, his Replica and Nadia, the girl who's destined to be his bride in an arranged marriage, must find out who killed him before an innocent man is railroaded for a crime he didn't commit.

Amber - You have written some amazing books and I really miss Morgan Kingsley and the Guardians of the Night. Will we ever see them again?

Jenna - There are no plans for any further books in either of these series at the moment. However, with the rise of self-publishing, it is possible I could return to one of my past series in the future.

Amber - Which of your characters is your favourite? Why?

Jenna - My absolute favorite is Gabriel, from SHADOWS ON THE SOUL. I always love morally ambiguous characters, and Gabriel's the most morally ambiguous of them all. It was such a challenge taking a character who had done such horrible things in SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS and making him into a sympathetic hero. And it was also a challenge to make him into a sympathetic hero without completely defanging him--he was too dark to ever be a straight-up good guy. A close second is the Erlking, from the Faeriewalker series, again because of his moral ambiguity.

Amber - Are there any of your books you would like to add or edit to? Anything you would like to revisit and do again?

Jenna - I'm generally not much of a tinkerer. I used to be when I was a beginner, but nowadays I get to a point where I am done with my books and no longer in the frame of mind to think about changing them.

Amber - What are the good times and bad times of being an author?

Jenna - All of my worst times as an author have to do with self-doubt. Once upon a time, I thought that once I'd published a book or two, I'd become confident in myself and in my writing. However, that's far from the case. I know now that the self doubt never goes away, and that's a shame. Every time I see a negative review or get a rejection, the little demon pops up its ugly head and shouts "See? I told you you're not good enough!" I really could do without the little pest, but I've learned to live with it.

The best part about being an author is receiving messages from my fans. I always like to hear from my fans, but when someone writes to me and tells me that my book has in some way made his or her life better, even if it's just by providing an escape for a few hours, I get all tear-eyed with joy. Books have always been such a solace to me during the difficult times in my life, and knowing my books can have that effect on other people reminds me why it's worth it to battle the demon of self-doubt every day.

Amber - How long on average does it take you to write a book? Do you have a process you follow? or do you just start at page one and see what happens?

Jenna - It's hard to give a definitive answer, both because it varies and because in the publishing process, there's a lot of waiting time between phases. But if what you're asking about is first draft only, I'd say it usually takes me about three months. Just keep in mind that a finished first draft is a long, long way from being an actual finished book. I usually have a basic concept of what's going to happen in the book--the beginning, middle, and end--but I don't know much about what's going to happen in between those major plot points. Except when I do. LOL One of the things I've noticed is that my writing process is wildly variable from book to book. I'll write a book where I've outlined the whole thing scene by scene, and then follow it up with something where I'm winging it the whole way. Figuring out what process is going to work for the current book is one of my big challenges when starting a new project.

Amber - What paranormal creatures are you dying to fit into a story but you haven't managed to fit in yet?

Jenna - I love werewolves, but have yet to come up with an idea for a werewolf story. I always like stories where people have to battle their inner demons (sometimes literally!), and werewolves lend themselves easily to that kind of story.

Amber - Is there a paranormal creature you just don't like, and would never use in your books?

Jenna - I've learned never to say never, so no, there's no paranormal creature I can say I would never use in my books. For just about every paranormal creature (or element) I can think of that I generally don't like, I can think of an exception or two, so I guess the answer to this question on the whole is just "no."

Amber - Did you always want to be an author? Why did you decide to write something Young Adult and paranormal?

Jenna - I have pretty much always wanted to be an author. My very first "book" was an autobiography I wrote in fifth grade, complete with a construction-paper cover and illustrations. I gravitated to science fiction and fantasy during high school. I can't say for sure when I developed that particular taste, but I think it was around the time I read and fell in love with the Lord of the Rings. As for writing young adult, that kind of snuck up on me. I hadn't really read any young adult until Rachel Caine started writing the Morganville Vampire series. I'm a big fan of hers, so I had to read those books "even though" they were young adult. I loved them as much as I loved her adult books, so I started venturing out into other young adult books, and I was thoroughly hooked. Then one day I was trying to develop an idea for a new series, and I couldn't seem to come up with anything that worked. I had a world in mind, but I couldn't find a story to set in it, at least not one I was excited enough about to write. But when I thought about making the heroine a teen, suddenly, the story came to me. That's how the Faeriewalker series was born.

Amber - Would you ever be able to write a book together with another author? If yes, which author would you like to work with and why?

Jenna - I honestly don't know. Many years ago, I wrote a couple of short stories with another author and enjoyed the process. However, I might be a little too set in my ways now to be able to give up control like that.

Amber - Alot of authors have 'soundtracks' for their books. Is there any music influenced your books?

Jenna - I'm not one of those authors. I write in silence. I used to write with music in the background many years ago, but now I prefer not to.

Amber - What have you been reading and watching lately?

Jenna - I most recently finished FAIR GAME, by Patricia Briggs. I absolutely love the Alpha and Omega series, and devoured this book. Before that, I read an ARC of GIRL OF NIGHTMARES, by Kendare Blake. It was fabulous--a more than worthy sequel to ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD--and I feel privileged (and maybe a bit smug) to have gotten an early look. As for what I'm watching . . . I spend a lot of time watching TV and knitting in the evenings, so I'm watching a lot of shows. My favorites right now are The Voice, Justified, and Awake. (How's that for variety?) I also really, really loved the first couple episodes of Touch and am looking forward to watching the series.

Amber - What's your favorite paranormal movie of all time?

Jenna - Hands down, that would be The Princess Bride. It's possibly my favorite movie of all times. Something about its combination of sweetness and humor really hits a chord with me. When I'm in a bad mood, I often turn to The Princess Bride to try to cheer myself up.

Amber - Thank you so much for being a guest on Amberkatze's Book Blog! I hope you will come back again ;)

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Victoria said...

I love Jenna's YA but haven't read her adult books yet. I'm sure I'll love them. Thanks for the excellent interview.

Aurian said...

Thanks for the lovely interview ladies, I enjoyed reading it. And I wish you good luck with the new release! The series is on my wishlist.