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Debut Author Interview with Darynda Jones

First Grave on the RightUsually 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.

You can find Darynda at and on Twitter @Darynda.

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.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Carolyn
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 06:16:03

    I’d already bought this book, so don’t enter me in the contest.

    Just wanted to say ‘hey’ to the author. I’m looking forward to a good read.

  2. Pamk
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 06:39:54

    one thing that cover sure catches the eye. I looked then did a double take lol. Sounds like an interesting read. Am adding to my tbb list.
    scrtsbpal at yahoo dot com

  3. jody
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 06:47:26

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read such unqualified praise for a book, but First Grave On The Right is getting raves everywhere I look. Congratulations, Darynda!

  4. BethanyA
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 07:13:03

    The cover caught my eye, as well. Congrats on your splendid debut. Hope I win!

  5. Lori S.
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 07:33:03

    Wow. Sounds great!

  6. fairyfreak
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 07:48:29

    Sounds like a neat book. Love the cover!

  7. helen
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:04:16

    Sounds like a neat book.

  8. becca
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:09:04

    Please enter me in the contest! Now that the book store I work for has pretty much stopped getting shipments, I depend on blogs like this one to help me find good books. I’ve been pretty much burned out on paranormals, but this sounds like one that could break that block for me.

  9. Missy Ann
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:32:43

    It sounds… interesting. I’m trying to keep an open mind. I have to admit the heroine’s name and the cover are making me lean towards a pass on this one. Hopefully I’m just being nit-picky and I’ll love it too.

  10. Rene
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:32:45

    Please enter me in the contest. This sounds like a fun book.

  11. Camilla
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:35:55

    Please enter me, this looks great..I am also tired of the urban genre weres etc..this looks very new!

  12. Reneesance
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:42:09

    Please enter me this book sounds right up my alley! I’ve got it on hold at the library but there’s a huge list and I’m impatient!

  13. kathybaug
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:47:06

    Please enter me. I would love to read this.

  14. Tweets that mention Debut Author Interview with Darynda Jones | Dear Author --
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:52:29

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cheeky Girl Sabrina , dearauthor. dearauthor said: We are gving away 2 copies of @darynda's First Grave book on the blog today. Read her interview & leave a comment […]

  15. Babs
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 08:58:44

    I can’t wait to read this title — it is on my wishlist but I’m on a self-imposed “no buying books until I get through some of my to read pile” kick…so sad. 8-(

  16. liz talley
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:00:05

    Don’t enter me as I’ve already read it. I don’t typically read paranormals, but this book was on the lighter side so I really, really liked it. It’s a balancer for paranormal fans who are burned out on vampires and werewolves, and perfect for the average reader because it’s more paranormal chicklit with a side of sexiness.

  17. Jody
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:10:13

    I went to my local Barnes and Noble for this book yesterday, and they did not have a one on the shelf. Why am I not surprised?
    Please enter me in the contest!

  18. stacie williams
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:19:04

    hello i would love to win the book it sounds great

  19. Teri C
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:36:08

    I don’t think I would want a make out session with death (unless he was really hot and hunky then that would be a great way to go) But I must say that end cap was very attractive. Thank you and I would love to be entered for an audiobook.

  20. Tweets that mention Debut Author Interview with Darynda Jones | Dear Author --
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:36:37

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by rissatoo, dearauthor. dearauthor said: NewPost: Debut Author Interview with Darynda Jones […]

  21. Kaya H
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:37:22

    Wonderful Interview. I love the concept of this book, and I cannot wait to read it. There are such great things said about it so congrats. I would love an audiobook, thank you for asking ;)

  22. Darynda Jones
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:40:35

    Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone. I had so much fun writing this puppy! :)

  23. Sandy
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:49:01

    I bought the book almost on day one via Audible (don’t enter me inthe giveaway). I love listening to a good book while crafting. I loved it! I was wondering if Garrett will ever have a chance with Charley? It seems he was a bit intrigued with her ‘skills’. I am really on the fence with that pairing but mostly because Reyes needs more face time. I’m looking forward to the next installment!

  24. Carin
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:49:19

    Don’t enter me in the contest, because I’ve ordered a copy. I don’t usually buy books, especially not a hardcover, but some friends and I got to talking about it, then found a great coupon and decided to buy it together.

    I was shocked to see the book was about twice as expensive to buy in the store compared to ordering it online (from the same retailer). I ended up ordering it online, but had first looked for it in the store. I had to ask for help finding it and it was in the mystery section. Mystery?

    And then Liz Talley above says “paranormal chicklit with a side of sexiness”. I’m not sure what I’m getting, but I’m still looking forward to reading it. :)

    By the way, reading the excerpt on the author’s website was what sold it for me!

  25. rissatoo
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:55:35

    I’ve been reading some great reviews and interviews for this book, so it’s already on my ‘to-be-bought-as-soon-as-I-have-the-money-(why-are-there-so-many-good-books-out-there-now???)’-list. ;)
    Sure hope I’m a “random commenter”!

  26. Karen
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 09:56:58

    Enter me please!! Sounds like a good book!!!

  27. ArkansasCyndi
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:04:25

    I am dying to read this!! Put me in the drawing please.

  28. Alice OQuinn
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:06:07

    Please enter me! I have Kindle…

  29. Marley Smith
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:08:08

    ph please enter me. Book looks awesome and i love good read

  30. Michelle Drew
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:15:23

    With everything I heard and read about the book – can’t wait to (hopefully) dive in very, very soon!

  31. Shyangel
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:20:46

    Please enter me I really would love to read this book :)

  32. Kelly Mueller
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:23:27

  33. DarkBloodyVamp
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:32:05

    Been hearing so many good things about this book! Need to read it! :)

    Thank you for this giveaway and please enter me in the contest.


  34. Stephanie
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:35:57

    Please enter me otherwise I will have to wait until its out in paperback (or I find it from the used book store)


  35. Donna B
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:38:23

    I would love to get a copy of the book – in any format! I have a nook, but my TBB pile is a mix of hardback and paperback. Please enter me in the contest. I have been looking at this book for days, but have found that wiggling my nose won’t work – it hasn’t appeared before me…. It looks like a great read, and I can’t wait to get it!!

  36. cathy dadin
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:51:40

    I’d love to win this book.

  37. Karen
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:53:17

    Looks like a great read to me! It’s going on my kindle wish list… unless someone gifts me a copy? ;-)

  38. SallyAnn
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 10:57:32

    This looks like a good read or listen books!

  39. Jeanne
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 11:14:57

    Way to go Darynda!

  40. Leslie Karen Witwer
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 11:42:57

    Ooooooo, pretty. If it reads as lovely as it looks (and I have heard nothing but high praise) this will be my new favorite.

  41. Sarah
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 11:45:22

    I would love to be entered in the contest. I read a part of this book on J.R. Ward’s FB page, and it was awesome! I can’t wait to actually read the entire thing!

  42. Aimee Rye
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 12:00:33

    I am so eager to read this book! First off the cover draws you in. Love it. And secondly, it has already been getting such good press from other readers. That means this book is sure to be a WIN.

  43. Danielle Gorman
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 12:16:28

    I can’t wait to read this. Looks so good. I have had on my wishlist for months now.

  44. Susan Laura
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 12:23:18

    Congratulations on the book! The cover is very eye-catching – it would definitely stop me in the store.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  45. Meoskop
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 13:24:47

    Worth the praise it’s getting. Would have ordered the whole series immediately if this wasn’t the first book. Wanted more as soon as I closed the cover, wanted people to bitch about character points with! A fun read, easy breezy and beautiful.

  46. Brandy
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 13:47:56

    Don’t enter me because I have a copy. I don’t normally buy hardcover books because I have an almost non-existent book budget, but couldn’t resist this time. I was excited to read a book that wasn’t vampire or werewolf and love the idea of a female Grim Reaper. When will the next Charley book be released?

  47. Julie M.
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 14:24:05

    This one was already on my radar. I’d love to win it!

  48. JenM
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 15:18:40

    The cover of this book first caught my eye, then the buzz, but it’s the synopsis that has me really wanting to read it. I’d love to win a copy, especially in ebook format since I hate reading hardcovers.

  49. Sandy D.
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 15:40:13

    Ooooh yeah, as the proud new owner of an e-reader I can now try and win a digital book! Sounds like a good one.

  50. JoanneO
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 16:14:00

    I’ve got this on my wishlist for when I have more money. Please enter me in the contest – thank you.

  51. Jami Gold
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 16:15:18

    I’ve heard only good things about this book. Wow, and what a pedigree of people helping behind the scenes. Fabulous!

  52. Maureen McGowan
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 17:09:17

    I cannot wait to read this book. If I win, I’ll pay it forward and giveaway one, too. :)

  53. Shayera
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 17:12:09

    I loved this book. It’s a great funny and fast read. I’m very much looking forward to the next two books. (And I really want a pair of those shoes.)

    (Please don’t enter me, I already have a copy of the book.)

  54. Lorenet
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 17:18:15

    Love the cover & can’t wait to read the book!

  55. Sara Horney
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 18:26:15

    The cover of this book totally caught my eye. I look forward to reading it.

  56. Melissa (Books and Things)
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 18:33:35

    I’m curious about this book! Thanks for the chance to win!

  57. Kerensa
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 18:40:11

    I remember hearing about this book on PM when it sold. Sounds very fun!!

  58. peggy h
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 19:37:20

    Would love to win this book! Sounds fun! Thanks!!

  59. Lindsey
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 19:58:57

    Ahh, I’ve been wanting to read this book so badly. The only reason I haven’t bought it yet is the price point. >.<

  60. Sarah Baker
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 20:00:51

    I hope I’m not too late to enter the contest! I love your writing, Darynda, and can’t wait to see the other books come out. You go, girl!!

  61. Lynn S.
    Feb 10, 2011 @ 22:18:14

    Love that shoe.

    I’m missing the Harper Connelly books, maybe this will help.

  62. Micaela
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 00:02:04

    *waves as she walks in* HI :)

    A.D.D a lifetime of distractions…

    well if you want more of that go get this amazing book…..

    *wink as she makes her way out*

    ( not here to win just here to share the love)

    Good luck everyone…..

  63. eva
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 03:34:45

    The book sounds interesting so if I’m not to late I’d like to enter the contest. Thank you!

  64. Darynda Jones
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 10:08:59

    Thank you so much for stopping by, everyone. For those who asked, Second Grave is coming out in August, so not TOO far off.

    Thanks again!!!

  65. Jessica Hansen
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 12:31:11

    Yes, I’m still holding out in hopes that I’ll win :) I’m praying to the book gods that they bless me with a W.

  66. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 13:10:14


    That. I put a hold on it at the library because I couldn’t justify $10.99 for an ebook.

  67. Katherine
    Feb 11, 2011 @ 20:14:36

    Ooooooh. I think I’m probably to late. Sad face. I really want to read this book. And I’ll cross my fingers on the off chance that I could still win.

  68. Nadia Lee
    Feb 12, 2011 @ 06:19:33

    I love the cover. Very eyecatching and pretty.

  69. J Baxter
    Feb 13, 2011 @ 09:03:19

    Seems fascinating. Would love to read it

  70. Jane
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 07:19:07

    Thanks for visiting with us Darynda. The winners are – (please email me jane at dearauthor dot com and let me know which format you want: Kindle or epub from Kobo).

    Alice OQuinn: 2/10/11 10:06 Please enter me! I have Kindle…


    Marley Smith: 2/10/11 10:08 ph please enter me. Book looks awesome and i love good read

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