Interviewing Darynda Jones

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There are some authors I would love to interview and Award winning author Darynda Jones was high on that list. When I was able to interview her there was a small explosion of happiness as her Charley Davidson series of books are some of my favourites. The sixth book in the series, Sixth Grave Past the Edge, was released earlier this year in June and I loved it. Characters are developed, complications resolved and new ones created so much so that the seventh book’s release later on this year can’t come fast enough.

The interview below the cut is full of spoilery goodness, absolutely full of them. This is a warning to you all – all the books including book six are discussed. Saying that I am of the firm opinion that spoilers are good for the soul so click away!

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Throughout the series Charley Davidson has always had a very strong moral compass and she will always go out of her way to help those she can. Was this always something you wanted your main protagonist to be like? What can we expect in terms of character development from Seventh Grave and No Body?

I knew from the beginning she’d be pretty awesome, but I really didn’t know she would put herself in so much danger for others. That came about quite organically and I love her for it all the more. In Seventh Grave, we learn a great deal about Charley’s celestial beginnings, about what she is. Of course, knowing what she is only bodes more questions, but her background is rather amazing. I can’t wait to explore it further.

As a character Charley is incredibly funny and in all your books there is so much humour. Do you find it easy to write these scenes?

I didn’t at first. I put a lot of pressure on myself, worried I couldn’t be funny enough to pull off what I wanted to pull off. Unfortunately, I feel that first book shows it. But I learned to trust in my instincts. It’s much easier now in that I hardly think about it. It comes forth naturally when I’m in Charley’s head. I wish I were that funny in real life.

At the end of Sixth Grave on the Edge we discover that the ‘daughter’ in the prophecies refers to two separate people. When did you decide to do this? Because as a reader I didn’t see it coming at all!

Yes, that came to me as I was writing the fourth book in the series. I thought, “How fun would it be to have all this hubbub NOT be about Charley after all?” Some of it is, naturally, but it’s because of who/what she is and what she does that sets forth the events described in the prophecies.

Reyes Farrow is sexy, fiercely protective of Charley and an incredibly nuanced and complex character. What inspired you to make him like this? And why did you decide to make his father Lucifer?

Ah, yes, the testy son of evil incarnate. When I created him, I wanted a being who was, for all intents and purposes, stronger and more dangerous than Charley. I wanted him to have an advantage over her, or so Charley believes. But in having him be from the bad part of the universe, I also had to root any dark action he might take as a product of something out of his control. I needed a balance, so I gave him a horrible upbringing, both in the underworld and here on earth. That gives us the empathy we need to root for him while we go through those rough first interactions. Or at least I hope so! IMHO, judging a person by his father is unfair. Reyes is a great guy; it just took a little coaxing to get it out of him. I love the depths behind those sparkling brown eyes, the layers that keep us guessing. He was not an easy character to figure out initially, but all the hard work has paid off.

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In Sixth Grave on the Edge, Charley addresses Reyes with a term of endearment, something that has never happened to him before and with each book he is trusting Charley a little more and sharing more of his past with her. What can you tell us about Seventh Grave and No Body in terms of his character development?

In terms of their relationship, Reyes is going to greater lengths to keep his girl safe, and Charley is not happy about it. She trusts him with her life, or course. She just doesn’t trust him with HIS life. At more than one point in the story, she is worried he will do something to put himself back in prison, this time deservedly, so she goes to ridiculous lengths to stop him, often putting herself in unnecessary danger. And guess who is unhappy about that? So, in Seventh, there is a lot of push and pull but as always their love grows stronger by the moment.

The relationship between Charley and Reyes is very physical (and hot!) and they have a healthy sexual relationship with each other. What made you decide to include these scenes in the books?

The readers!

In First Grave, I’d set the scene so nicely for sex that I just had to throw it in. But in Second, there simply wasn’t a place I could put one without it being forced and unnatural. There is still sexual tension to the extreme, just no actual sex scene. That being said, I heard quite quickly from a few of my beta readers who were none too happy about that. They wanted the sexy and they wanted it now. Since then, I’ve heard from hundreds of readers who want more. I do have the occasional reader who is put off by the explicitness of the sex scenes, but for the most part, readers can’t get enough, and this is a sexy series. It is a natural development. I never, ever force a sex scene where one doesn’t belong. If it fits, it’s in. (And, yes, I am aware of the double entendre there. 🙂

As far as sex scenes in general, I made a conscious decision when I started writing seriously (as in toward publication) years ago to go big or go home. I wanted romance in my books. I wanted them hotter than hell no matter who reads them, and I never make excuses for them or apologize. The stories are sexy and deserve a little one-on-one. So far the only one in my family to complain is my mother-in-law. My father-in-law, on the other hand, is one of my biggest fans!

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At the end of Sixth Grave on the Edge Jessica is dead and refuses to cross through Charley. What do you have in store for the relationship between the two of them?

While Jessica isn’t in the book that much, she does experience a rather nice arc that brings hers and Charley’s relationship full circle. I actually love that development.

Sixth Grave on the Edge and all its predecessors are tightly plotted novels which left me as the reader guessing and speculating until the very end. Do you plot your novels meticulously before you start or can vital elements of the story change as you write?

Both, actually. To say I am a meticulous plotter is almost an understatement. I have 3 distinct outlines before I start a Charley manuscript, or any manuscript for that matter. My final outline is usually between 40 and 60 pages long. But even with all of that, I make changes as I write. Some things just don’t come to me until I’m actually in the story and writing the scene. Some of my best ideas pop into my head out of the blue. It’s a very fluid and elastic process.

Your supporting characters are extremely well thought out and rounded. Is it easier for you to create these secondary characters as opposed to the main protagonists?

What a great question! In almost every project I start, the female protagonist is probably the easiest to flesh out. Next comes the secondary characters. And sometimes they are even easier than my protagonist, but in every project I’ve ever started, the male protagonist, aka the love interest, is the hardest by far. It takes me much longer to figure him out. I’ve decided it’s because men are stubborn.

I love the relationship Cookie and Charley have. They trust and support each other without question. How important is Cookie’s support and love to Charley? And what more can you tell us about Cookie’s relationship with Ubie?

It is everything to Charley. She is just as important to her as Reyes and I love that. I have a sister that plays that role in my life and she is my everything. I adore my husband and I’m positive I couldn’t live without him, but my sister is my heart. That is what Cookie is to Charley. And now Cookie has Ubie. In Seventh, they are still in the early stages of dating. Their relationship is still growing, but I think they are both in it for the long haul. Their love for Charley and concern for her wellbeing is a binding element and serves to strengthen their attraction for one another.

Do you know how this series of books is going to end? I for one hope that the end is in a long, long time! Are you currently working on future books in this series or on something else?

The series is ongoing, so I have no idea how long it will run. I hope for a long time as well! But I do have a spinoff planned when the final story hits. Right now I’m working on Eighth Grave After Dark, a novella called A Lovely Drop that is coming out with a group of great authors. The bundle is called Twelve Shades of Midnight. And I have another series I’m working on altogether. It is historical fiction, but don’t worry. There are lots of murders, a hot detective, and female protagonist who is so feisty, the papers have a name for her. (They just aren’t aware of the fact that the person they are reporting about is a woman.) Fun to be had by one and all!

Thank you so much for having me! ~D~

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The pleasure is definitely all mine!

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