Usually these interviews are run by the awesome Alyson H but I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to ask a few questions of Darynda Jones, debut author of First Grave on the Right. Darynda was our Brenda Novak auction winner. When Darynda sent me the book for reading before the interview, it was accompanied with cover quotes from the Grand Dames of paranormal romance: JR Ward, MaryJanice Davidson, Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter. This is a must read for many folks.
First Grave on the Right is your first published novel, but is it your first book?
Actually, it's my third. I finished two other manuscripts before starting First Grave. The first was a historical romance that has been gainfully employed as a doorstop (we're so proud) and the second was a YA which has since sold to St. Martin's Press as well.
What do you think readers will like most about First Grave on the Right?
Charley Davidson. She is my heroine and she is smart and sassy and just a tad accident-prone. She also has a serious ADD problem, but that could be contributed to all the coffee she drinks.
I also hope readers will like the pace. Things move pretty fast in Charley's world. It's a quick read and one I hope paranormal and mystery readers will enjoy.
Did you base the creation myth of your world on any particular existing mythology?
I sort of took mythology and lore and challenged it. While I use the loveable and ever-popular grim reaper, I tweaked and molded the idea of it until I'd created a feisty, fruity version.
Charley Davidson is a mix of bravado and nerve and while the tone is lighthearted, she’s attracted to a lot of dark things like the big bad in her life and the place that she lives. Was it difficult balancing the two spectrums?
Oddly enough, no. I had such a wonderful time with her quirks and the darker stuff just kind of flowed. You know those sweet "n salty snack bars? Yeah, like that. I love it when writers merge lighthearted and edgy. When I read something and want to laugh and cry at the same time. The emotional impact is effective, deep, and long-lasting.
You were a Golden Heart winner, was this the same book? Did a lot change between now and the GH?
Indeed, this is the same book. So very much has changed, it's unreal. The final alone garners so much attention, I knew I had to take advantage of it. I was fortunate enough to get an agent before the awards ceremony. When it won, my agent had several requests, so she sent it out immediately. It sold about a week later.
To say I live in a different world now would be an understatement. First Grave was released February 1st, and we have had just an overwhelming response. I am so grateful to all the readers and those who are practically selling First Grave to anyone who will listen. What a terrific group of readers.
And JR Ward has just been amazing as well. Besides the wonderful words of praise she heaped upon the project, she is hosting me on her forum for a live chat tomorrow night. And while it might seem dazzling and resplendent, I doubt I'll ever earn the title of diva, so it lies somewhere along the lines of surreal and humbling.
There’s versions of grim reapers/death figures in every culture. What sorts of things did you incorporate in this book? Anything you avoided?
There is a version in a few cultures where the entity actually kills people. I hardly wanted my heroine to be a serial killer, and fortunately in most cultures the entity simply "escorts" souls to the other side. This is what I went with, incorporating my own twists, naturally. Charley not only assists the departed in their "unfinished business", she is the portal through which they cross.
Special thanks to Darynda for being with us. Dear Author is going to sponsor a giveaway of First Grave on the Right in digital form from either Kindle or Kobo (because those are the places I can gift a digital book). Two random commenters will win.