Interview: Jocelyn Drake

NRR: Can you share with us when you got started into writing?

I was about twelve years old and I had just finished reading a wonderful retelling of the story of Robin Hood.  I loved the story, but had walked away wishing that there had been a strong female character that could keep up with all the boys.  I spent that summer sitting on my bed, rewriting the story of Robin Hood in an old notebook so that it included a strong, fearless female character that could keep up with Robin Hood and the rest of his merry band.  

From that moment, I was hooked on writing.  I spent almost all of my time creating stories about high school romances and fantasies about elves and mermaids.  I wrote down whatever came to mind, never believing that I could one day do it for a living.  For me, there is just this deep love of wondering “what if?”  I need to daydream about places and people and creatures that may have never existed but in my mind.   I love the written word and the way certain perfect combinations can draw an emotion out of a person you’ve never met before.  That kind of power is intoxicating.

NRR: How were you inspired to write the Dark Days series?

The Dark Days series has started as a short story experiment.  I had no intention of getting into the mix of writing about vampires.  The initial idea came as two parts.  First, I had been playing with this female character that had been dancing about in my head for a while.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with her so I placed her in some fan fiction just to see how she would behave around others without having to go to the trouble of creating an entire would.  I wrote three stories (which will never see the light of day) where she changed from a witch, to an elf, to a vampire.  Her name moved from Miranda to Mira.

Second, I was toying with the idea of storytelling.  I wanted to write a short story from first person point of view (POV) but I wanted the story to be about someone other than the storyteller, particularly a male vampire hunter.  I was flipping through a video game magazine and an ad for a new game caught my attention.  The artist had perfectly captured Danaus.  I ripped out the beautiful image, ran to my office, and started typing.  

And when the storyteller opened her mouth to speak, I heard Mira’s voice in my head as clear as day.

I wrote the short story and handed it over to my friend to read.  When he finished it, he handed it back to me and simply said “You’re not done yet.”  He wanted a book.  I hadn’t considered it until he suggested it.  So, Dark Days lovers, you have my friend Joe to thank for the existence of the series.  

NRR: Burn The Night is the 6th book in the Dark Days series.  What would you say has been the easiest and the most challenging putting this series together?

Oddly enough, the actual plotting of the series has been relatively easy.  While one or two books have given me some minor problems, overall, I have known most of the time where I wanted to go with the series and how I needed to get there.  Getting to know the characters has also been relatively easy.  They’ve all been willing to open up to me in their own way, seeing their weaknesses and their strengths.  I have really loved spending time with them.

One of the most challenging has been in the details.  The books take place in a lot of locations I have never been before.   I have done a ton of research to make sure that the places are not only accurate, but have crisp description that pull the reader into the story so that they feel like they are actually at that distant locale.

Another challenge has actually been with my main character Mira.  She started out as a very hard, cold, hot-tempered character.  It has proven very difficult to take some of that cold, hard edge off of her and get her willing to take a chance on someone that could completely break her heart.  I think I’ve also struggled to get her to slow down and think about her decisions before rushing into a situation with emotions high.

NRR: What is a day in the life of Jocelynn Drake like?

Err… not that exciting.  On a normal day, I roll out of bed and stumble into my office.  After opening the blinds, I sit down at my computer where I check email, blogs, news, social networks, and the like to get a feeling of what’s going on.  This takes about an hour (or rather an hour of goofing off) before I pull up my music player.  Aware of what scene I am working on that day, I pull up some music to match and then launch into writing (if I’m lucky).  I write until I either finish the chapter I am working on or hit a good word count.  Throughout the day, I keep up on Twitter and Facebook, possibly blog or write a financial article for Forbes.

After that, I squeeze in food, time with my cats, and then either a book or TV.

Yay!  The glamorous life of the writer.  I try to shower on a regular basis, I generally don’t change out of my pajamas until late in the day, and I rarely leave the house.  While I occasionally miss interaction with people in person, I will have to say that I do love my life.

NRR: Which actors could you see playing Mira and Danaus?

Wow, hard question!  I have to admit that I am a huge fan of all the sci-fi/action movies that Milla Jovovich has done and I think she would do an excellent job as Mira.  As for Danaus, I think in my mind I will always have the image of the video game ad, though the cover of Pray For Dawn is very close. The only actor that has come closest in appearance would be Oded Fehr as he appeared in The Mummy movies.

NRR:  What is your guilty pleasure?

Guilty Pleasure?  That’s hard to say as my life is pretty boring.  How about sleeping as late as I want, or afternoon naps (yep, I’m really into sleep)?  I can’t live without my streaming Netflix or my PlayStation 3 (I’m addicted to the Final Fantasy series).  I also have a somewhat unhealthy love of chocolate and my Mini Cooper.

NRR: You have built such an intriguing world in your Dark Days series. How long does it take for you to put one of these novels together?

My usual answer to this question is “How long do I have until my deadline?”  I have written a book in less than three months, but I like to take close to six months to finish a book when possible.  I feel like the most painful part is the plotting as all my books are outlined ahead of time and that’s a lot of time spent with me staring at the wall, wondering what Mira and Danaus will do next.  The best part is always the surprises that appear along the way of writing the book, things that pop up that I didn’t think of when I had been outlining the book. 

NRR: Can you share with us the storyline of Burn The Night?

Burn The Night is the final book in the Dark Days series and it is my attempt to tie together all the loose threads that have built up over several books.  Aurora, the Queen of the Naturi, is determined to not only squash the rebellion of her sisters, but also destroy Mira while exposing the world to the existence of all the other creatures of the world.  Mira and her companions must stop Aurora, while protecting their secret.  As a result, she is forced to form an unlikely alliance in hopes of protecting those she loves.  To make matter worse, she must also find a way to finally defeat her father so that she can have her freedom and her love.

The book gives readers a much closer look as Rowe, who has been tormenting Mira since almost page one of Nightwalker: Book 1, while also allowing readers to spend more time with Mira and Danaus before they have to say good-bye.  In the end, I think this may be my favorite book of the series, though there are some characters missing that I still miss dearly.

NRR: What can fans expect to see from you next?

I’ve got a couple things in the works at the moment.  The first proved to be a surprise to me as it seems that I wasn’t quite willing to say good-bye to the Dark Days world just yet.  I have finished a novella that is actually a prequel to the entire series.  The Dark Days series mentioned an intense relationship that Mira had with Valerio a long time ago before she met Danaus.  In the books, it’s obvious that there is a lingering tenderness between them and a number of my readers request a look at Mira’s past with Valerio.  The novella is set about 200 years before Nightwalker and details a short adventure between Mira and Valerio, which I think gives a good insight into their relationship.  I don’t have a release date yet, but it will be available only as an e-book.  Keep tuned in to my blog and Twitter for updates on its release.

I am also hard at work on the first book in a new series.  This is a totally new and exciting world.  After working in a closed/hidden world, where humans were in the dark, I decided to throw the doors open on this one.  In this world, magical creatures live along side of humans, but they are all lorded over by powerful witches and warlocks.  In an effort to get ahead in this world, many people will turn to the tattoo artists, who, for the right price, can give you love, luck, or revenge with the right tattoo and potion.  The series centers on a skilled tattoo artist and his co-workers as they struggle with their hidden pasts and the interesting customers that come through the door.

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