Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
First of all, Roxanne, thank you so much for having me today. Boy, I always fumble with the “tell us about yourself” question. Well, I’m J.D. Brown and J.D. stands for Jennifer Danielle. I’m originally from the Chicago area but moved to southern Wisconsin after college. I miss the city though and hope to move back there someday. The country is just too quiet for me. I write Urban Fantasy mainly because it’s also my favorite genre to read - along with Paranormal Romance - and I can’t imagine trying to write something I wouldn’t enjoy reading. I don’t think it would work out very well, LOL. The appeal of Urban Fantasy for me is that it usually takes place on modern-day Earth, but still has all the magic and mystery of fantasy. Our world is so vast and complex, I don’t feel the need to travel to a new realm or parallel universe to get that same sense of escape. I can just sit back and focus on the characters and their story.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires that fascinates you so much?
I love how versatile vampires can be. There’s such a wide range these days, from mindless killer monsters in horror, to the much more human type that can eat food and walk in the daylight and have a conscious. A vampire can be almost anything we want them to be and discovering how the author chooses to use them and mold them into their own creation is always one of the things I look forward to in every vampire themed book I read. My vampires in Dark Heirloom, for example, are a hybrid species. They’re the offspring of humans and nephilim who went on to gather in numbers and create their own customs, fight their own wars, and build their own history in this world they share with us.
What inspired you to write this book?
In a nutshell, I was attempting to write something I wanted to read that I felt I wasn’t getting from other books of the time. There is a quote that goes “If there is a book you want to read that hasn’t been written yet, write it yourself”. I took that quote to heart. What I wanted was to experience more of the paranormal world and less of the human world. I read paranormal books because I like paranormal characters, so why were so many of them written from a human’s point of view? I set out to change that with Dark Heirloom and wrote a book that is entirely about the vampires and their world.
Please tell us about your latest release.
Dark Heirloom is the first book in the Ema Marx series. Ema is a young woman going through a long brush of bad luck. Her mother’s depressed and senile, her boyfriend’s been cheating on her, and her bills keep piling up. But all of that gets swept away when she’s kidnapped and turned into a vampire. Ema being Ema, she can’t even be a normal vampire. She’s stronger and more powerful than the others and she has a heritage that breaks all the rules the vampires have lived by for so long. Some would really enjoy using Ema for their own agenda, while others are threatened by her existence and want her dead.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I love all my characters, but I’m absolutely taken by Jalmari, the vampire prince. He’s so in-your-face and a little too confident and pompous for his own good. His attitude is just so much fun. But his firm hostility is actually a mask that he works desperately to keep in place day after day. On the inside, Jalmari is a complete train wreck. He believes himself to be a pathetic, worthless, and powerless spec of dirt not worthily of the throne he’s inherited. He holds impossible standards for himself and can’t see what a truly amazing vampire he is. So he’s angry all the time, LOL. Oh, he also radiates sexual energy where ever he goes. Can’t forget about that part!
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
Most of the time, the characters just appear in my imagination already with their own personality and conflict. I do keep a binder full of character sketch worksheets but it’s mostly just a record of the facts in case I forget and need to look something up later. I’m one of those authors who has conversations with her characters and have learned to let them dictate the story once in while.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
I researched a lot of original vampire folklore from around the world and found that I really enjoy researching when it’s about a topic I‘m interested in, LOL. It also amazed me how far our modern stories and media has come from he original vampire lore. Someday I’d like to write a book using those original myths.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
Oh Jesus, this is embarrassing but… I tasted blood. It was my own blood, so no worries. I just wanted to able to able to describe the taste accurately, haha.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
The vampire world exists right there with our human world, it’s just kept a secret. They have their own territory boarders, their own government, their own customs and traditions. Because they live so long, their ways don’t change as rapidly as ours do.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
Ema, the heroine, has a few characteristics in common with me, though I think they’re somewhat exaggerated for entertainment. She has my sarcasm and humor and stubbornness. She’s petite like I am and she really enjoys modern comfort. She’s laid back and down to earth and easily friends with everyone. I’m sure people who know me well can pick out several other elements.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
I used to think that I suffered from writer’s block all the time until I matured in my craft and came to understand how my unique creative process works. I’m a plotter, but I’m not always able to plot on paper. I have to let a scene or idea or block of dialogue, etc. percolate in my head for a while before it becomes solid and the details take root. But once everything falls into place in my head, I can easily crunch out a whole chapter or two in a few short hours and then keep the momentum going. Stopping no longer freaks me out. I’ve learned to embrace the stops and let the magic work in my brain.
I think when you feel like you have writer’s block, the best thing to do is not to dwell on it. It’s easy to convince yourself you’re not good enough, that you can’t even form a coherent sentence, and quickly spiral down from there. This is a trap though, and the only way to pull yourself out is to give yourself an honest break from writing, but still keep the positive aspects of the story with you in your mind. You never know when or where inspiration will strike, and often it hits when you’re not looking for it.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
It wasn’t until I wrote “The End” on Dark Heirloom that I sat back and said holy cow, I just wrote an entire novel. That was when I knew I never wanted to stop writing books and that I truly was a writer.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
Oh, coffee! I’m a caffeine addict. Admitting it is the first step, right?
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
I love art in all it’s forms; music, dance, theater, film, painting, sketching, graphic design, etc. I try to surround myself with if, even the areas where my talents are lacking. I especially love to read and have a very broad reading pallet. I was the only kid in my class who read Great Expectations, Animal Farm, and The Scarlet Letter cover to cover (not just the cliff notes!) and enjoyed it. My English Lit teachers loved me because I liked to read. They’d let me work ahead or nap in class, knowing I probably already finished the book and understood it all.
What was the last amazing book you read?
I think it depends on your definition of amazing, haha. I’m currently obsessed with Darynda Jones and Cassandra Clare. But my favorite literary authors are Anne Rice and Orson Scott Card. I loved Card’s Ender’s Game series. I also love some of the more ancient classics, Shakespeare and Homer. I would read their works just for the challenge. I swear I’m not just dropping names here, lol. I told you my tastes are broad. I occasionally read the backs of my shampoo bottles too.
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
As long as no one’s bothering me, I can read anywhere comfortably. But I do have a dream of someday renovating a room in my house and turning into a library/cozy reading room/writing den. It would be made of glass and surrounded by nature so I can nature watch in there too without being bitten by my arch enemy, the mosquito.
What can readers expect next from you?
Book two of the Ema Marx series, titled Dark Liaison, will be out sometime next year to continue Ema’s story.
Where can readers find you on the web?
The best way to keep up with me and everything related to Dark Heirloom is via my Facebook fanpage at http://facebook.com/authorjdbrown
You can also learn more about Dark Heirloom and read the first five chapters for free on my website at http://authorjdbrown.com
My blog is at http://authorjdbrown.blogspot.com
And I do the Twitter thing @AuthorJDBrown
Readers are welcome to send their comments or questions about the book to DarkHeirloom@gmail.com or they can send me a message on Facebook. J
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Absolutely. I’ll leave with you an excerpt of Chapter One. Thanks again for having me, Roxanne. It was a pleasure and I had a lot of fun answering your questions.
A scream tore from my throat. The rapid slap of my sneakers against asphalt echoed through the alley. Wind ripped my hair and coat back as if trying to halt my escape. A chain link fence rose in the distance as I neared the end of the alley. Shit. I could have sworn this one opened to Clark Street.
I froze. My heart pounded in my ears. Tears fell as I closed my eyes. Please, please, God…
His heinous laugh drowned out my ragged breath. Caught at a dead end, I had no choice but to turn and face him. He stood in the shadows, the darkness of his attire blended in with the night. Only the glow of his emerald-colored eyes gave him away.
Think, I shouted to myself. What does he want? My purse? My money? With a shaky hand, I pulled my wallet from my bag and flung it at him. He shifted his weight, dodging the wallet in one simple move. I stared like an idiot as it landed in the gutter behind him. Why is he chasing me if he doesn’t want my money? What else could he want?
He grinned, bearing a set of abnormally sharp, fluorescent-white teeth. Who the hell is this freak? He stepped toward me. My fists clenched as I stepped back. He took another step forward. My back pressed against the cold metal of the fence. Tears blurred my vision and fell as ice melted through the back of my coat. Chills rolled down my spine, sending a quiver to my lip. I swallowed the lump of panic building in my throat. “Leave me alone!”
He kept advancing, his eyes locked on my face, his gait slow with one foot in front of the other, like a cat. I shoved a trembling hand in my purse in search of my pepper spray. He snatched my wrist and yanked me to my knees. The contents of my purse spilled and scattered.
“What makes you think I want anything from you?” he sneered.
My chest heaved as I pushed myself up. From the corner of my eye, I glanced at the mouth of the alley, now behind me.
He scoffed. “You think you can run? Go ahead, mouse. Run.”
I was almost to the street when a thick shadow dropped from the sky. Two rock-solid fists shoved my chest. I fell backward. My head hit the pavement. Stars danced in the periphery of my vision as I struggled to sit up, but my limbs moved in slow motion.
Two hands, each finger adorned by a silver ring, gripped my shoulders and lifted me. My back hit something solid and cold—a brick wall. My feet dangled above the ground. He held me at eye level; his sour breath churned my stomach as his face inched closer to mine.
“I know what you’re thinking.” His voice was deep, smooth, as he rolled his R’s. “You’ve done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, once you kill one rat, you have to kill them all. Even a little mouse like yourself.”
My blood drained at the utterance of the word kill. I squirmed in his grasp. “Please, don’t hurt me.”
He clenched my jaw with one hand as his fingernails dug into my skin. I cried not from the pain, but from fear.
“Would you like to know a secret?” His hot breath caused bile to rise in my throat. “Only you disgusting rats can see our eyes glow. I’m sure you knew that already. I’m sure your mother told you the stories. I’ll bet you didn’t listen to her. I bet you thought they were just fairy tales and bad dreams, hmm?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. I concentrated on finding a way out of his grip, hoping his guard would slip while he continued his monologue.
“You know, when you find one rat, there are a dozen more in the nest.” He tightened his grasp. “Where’s your rathole, eh little mouse?”
“Let me go!” Pain manifested in every inch of my face. My jaw throbbed and my head spun. A stiff ache cut through my spine. Fear and cold shook my core. Exhaustion weighed down my struggling limbs. I just wanted it to end.
He studied my face for a moment, a frown tugged at his lips. “Very well.”
He released my jaw then reached back under his jacket. The sound of sharp metal being unsheathed pierced the night as he drew out a long silver dagger. My eyes widened at the emblems engraved on every inch of the blade and handle. I recognized them as Norse in origin. I also recognized the precise way in which he held the dagger level with my left rib cage. He’s going to stab me in the heart.
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The Speculative Salon:
Genre: Urban Fantasy
“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?
Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run; there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst, Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.
The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…
About the Author:
J.D. Brown graduated from the International Academy of Design and Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her two Pomeranians. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, her writing is influenced by the multicultural urban society of her youth which she continues to visit each summer. J.D. loves paranormal characters; from vampires and werewolves, demons and angels, to witches and ghosts. Her writings are often a combination of suspense and romance. J.D. enjoys helping and promoting her fellow writers and leads an active life on the web. She also writes erotic romance for the MuseItHOT division under the pen name Danielle Ravencraft.