Coffee Time Romance has the privilege to welcome the award winning and talented author, Jordan Dane, here to share her interesting news with us. Hello Jordan. Congratulations on your upcoming novel, No One Heard Her Scream, due out in April 2008 with Avon Harper Collins.
The book features a great cast of characters. Do you invent them in preparation or do they come alive as you write?
First, let me thank you for the privilege of chatting with you. It’s an honor.
As for my characters, Publishers Weekly also had great things to say about them, especially the men. I worked in the energy industry for 25+ years (the more male dominated areas) and without me knowing it, the men I met must have rubbed off on me. (Lord, help me.)
Many times my characters come to me before the story does. They get me up in the middle of the night. I have pens and paper all over the house to capture these moments. I also tend to write myself woven into every character to some extent, which is really scary when you read my bad guys. (Maybe I should invest in a shrink.) But as an author, I pull from my life’s experiences to create my voice, plus add a heavy dose of imagination. And I change voice for each character when I’m in their unique point of view. (I call this ‘channeling my characters’. Yes, I hear voices. Does that scare you?)
I note that there are many in-depth references made about organizations such as the F.B.I. and the S.A.P.D. How did you obtain the information? Was it by independent research or did you approach the federal office and the police department?
I’m a freak for research. You would not believe how much I do. And I particularly love forensics. I’ve taken online courses in it and have a small library that I use for reference. Where I live, we are also getting a new crime lab and I can’t wait to take a tour.
For every book, I’ve got a cast of technical advisors. Some have been with me for a while now, like my weapons/paramedic/fireman guy who used to do hostage rescue in South America. A very colorful character. But others I find as I have the need. In NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM, I had a former Houston homicide detective as my advisor. He gave me the particulars for how the State of Texas does things too. Each state has its own rules. I try to stick to the facts so my work rings true for law enforcement people who may read it. I’ve had a lot of compliments from detectives on my crime scenes and those endorsements are special to me. I admire law enforcement types so much. But there are times I may deviate from fact for the sake of fiction. Thankfully, those times have been few and far between.
I also took a course with my local police dept – a Citizens Police Academy – with over 45 hours of workshops, tours, and other fun things. We even had a day at the firing range where we blew up stuff with the bomb squad, watched the K-9 unit work and fired all sorts of weapons. My technical advisor for NO ONE LEFT TO TELL was a lieutenant who taught that class. (He became one of my secondary characters too.) He knew I wanted to use a flash bang in my story, a diversionary grenade device used by police tactical teams (SWAT). He set one off near me so I could feel the effect. And in my world and his, this was a good thing. Most people might not think so. I also did a ride-along at night and now have a whole new appreciation for what the men and women of law enforcement do to keep us safe.
Your wording is artistic, notably, your creative use of wording setting-off sound effects, ricocheting of bullets being fired, for example. Do you run scenes and sounds in your imagination, making the sounds out loud as you type, pronouncing the words?
This is an interesting question. And also the first time someone has read my book that noticed this. Kudos! I take great pains to select each and every word that goes on the page. I’m after efficiency so the writing is sparse yet effective. I’m after an atmospheric quality to my work without sacrificing pace to do it.
The brand slogan I use is – Take a Front Row Seat to Suspense – and that was purposeful. I wanted that brand to give insight into how I write, putting the reader front and center. I love triggering the reader’s senses. I also read my work aloud for the cadence aspects of my narratives and dialogue. And I write my stories as if they are movies unfolding in my head. Thanks for asking this question.
Please describe a typical day as an author.
My life is weird. I’ll admit it. I get up early with my husband (who makes me breakfast BTW) so we can chat, read the paper, and when I need to, we talk about plots. I write from around 9am until 4pm, then hit the blogs and chat with my online friends before dinner.
Then I usually edit the work I’ve written that day when I’m in bed—or I read other people’s books. I edit and edit, layering in the emotions and discovering the character’s motivations as I go. When I’m done with a project, I rarely have to go back over it. I can write a book from concept to final product in a range of 6 weeks to 4 months. And when I’m done, I’m ‘jonesing’ to get into another book. Stories fill my head and I feel a strong pull to the computer. Very strange!
When I wrote SCREAM, I did it during the 6-weeks I was home recuperating from major surgery while on medical leave. (Yes, I sacrificed a body part to write my book.) When I was done, I knew I had something. You can read about this in my FIRST SALE story on my website.
Please tell us one of the things you like doing to relax.
I love watching movies with my husband and we’re raising Koi. Guess you could say I’m a fish wrangler.
Detectives are generally portrayed as loners and tough characters, invariably letting their guard down. Intriguingly, your main detective, although struggles with a personal problem while working on homicide cases on a daily basis, has the ability to demonstrate a warm and tender side to their character. Was it your intention to construct a character with complexities, outside of the norm?
Again, another great question that shows you devoured my book. I heart you. I LOVE creating characters that have real depth to them. I particularly wanted my woman detective to deal with her job after her life was shredded by violence when her sister was abducted and killed. The Natalee Holloway case inspired this idea—the destruction of a family in crisis. And I also had a friend share a story about her sister who was killed and the murderer never found. That one act completely defined my friend’s life. So I wanted to examine what that might be like for a woman cop who must deal with the family members of a victim in the course of performing her duty. I like to call Becca my girl next door with a gun. I wanted her to be your best friend, daughter, sister, lover—someone you would call friend. And to some degree, even the toughest of us has a soft underbelly. That’s what is most endearing and memorable.
In my next book NO ONE LEFT TO TELL, Raven Mackenzie is a detective too, but she collects Disney DVDs (a connection to her dead father) and she explores her spirituality after they find a dead body in a church. Her subtle look inside of herself was a thread through that story that I had intended from the beginning, but I loved making the journey with her. So yes, I love creating characters off the beaten path, because they are alive in my head that way.
You portray your bad guys’ elements of violence quite graphically, to precise detail and balance that the scenes flow freely on the pages. Do you grapple with the details or are the scenes simple to conjure and write?
A bad guy is the hero of his own story. I think it’s important for my readers to understand what that means. By getting into my antagonist’s head, the reader will have more appreciation for how diabolical he or she can be—the depths of his or her depravity. And if I do this correctly, my readers will be that much more fearful for my protagonists or applaud when they defeat the bad guy. It’s a tapestry of suspense that is woven together from the start. I’ve heard it said “write what you know” but I think it’s better to “write what you fear.”
I push the limit on taking a gritty look at the seedy underbelly of humanity. It’s not always pleasant and the bad guy doesn’t always pay for his sins, but I do have a certain amount of redemption in my stories. For the most part, my world is restored at the end—at least, my take on that restoration. Yet I never want the reader to assume it will always be that way. I like having creative license to explore my craft.
I walk a fine line with how much graphic violence I portray. For example, in NO ONE LEFT TO TELL, I start the book with a hit man getting hunted in the dark, stalked by someone worse than he is. I stay in the point of view of the man who dies at the end of that scene, but I chose to portray it in an unusual fashion to take the edge off the graphic violence. And the way I chose to write it came from my experiences as a child taking care of wounded wild animals. I wondered—when a rabbit becomes prey to a wolf, does it go into shock at that moment? Does it realize what is happening or does its mind mercifully take it somewhere else? That question inspired my take on the opening hit man scene of TELL. And many people have commented on it.
Is there a question you hope to be asked that interviewers have never asked? If so, please feel free to reveal the question and the answer here.
I’m new at this interview thing, so I’ve not built up a lot of experience. But I get people asking about my current work, yet not as much on the new series I’m writing. I’m really jazzed about my new “Sweet Justice” series. Authors are usually on to other projects by the time certain books get released. I never realized that before. But I’d love to be asked about my upcoming work. And I’m glad you did.
I sold three more books to Avon in May 2007 and I just finished the first book in that romantic thriller series. I’m so excited about it. Here is a sneak peek of the first book and at the thriller series:
“An illusive web of imposters on the Internet lures a deluded teen from her Alaskan home and launches a chain reaction collision course with an unlikely tangle of heroes. This is the initial driver to a new 3-book series from suspense author Jordan Dane and Avon HarperCollins. With an international setting, these romantic thrillers will focus on the lives and loves of three women—a bounty hunter operating outside the law, an ambitious vice cop, and a former international operative with a mysterious past.”
I used to live in Alaska (10 years) and I love that the story weaves in and out of that setting. And I really think I’ve hit a break through in my writing with this book (#4) that I’m tentatively calling EVIL WITHOUT A FACE. It’s an ambitious plot and very fast paced, based on a real crime that happened in 2004 in Florida. My cast of characters are amazing and fun to write. I love being in their world. I’m writing book#5 THE WRONG SIDE OF DEAD—feeling like I’ve come home to old friends. This series electrifies me.
How can readers get in contact with you or learn more about you?
Email me via my contact page on my website at www.jordandane.com. And I’d love it if readers would join my direct mailing list. I reward this behavior with special offerings & contests and my quarterly newsletter has excerpt teasers and other fun stuff. I also blog on MySpace at www.myspace.com/jordandanebooks or you can find me on Crimespace at http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/JordanDane.
Plus, I have my “Story Behind the Story” for SCREAM—digital pics and excerpts of the locales I picked for my debut novel and what these venues meant to me. I put the setting of this book in my old hometown of San Antonio, an amazing city of diverse culture.
Would you like to share any further information with us about your books, events and endeavors?
My events are always changing, but I keep them updated on my website under appearances. I’m also having a Sneak a Peek Contest for NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM that starts on Mar 11 and continues through my release on March 25. Anyone can digitally browse my book (up to 20%), a special event HarperCollins is doing for me. Come to my website contest page for more details posted on March 11. There will be a keyword trivia game (based on the excerpt) and readers will get a chance to win my signed debut book and a key chain alarm. (If that can’t hear you scream, they’ll certainly hear this honkin’ key chain alarm.)
Plus I will be speaking at the Romance Writers of America annual conference in San Francisco in July. I’ll be on a panel called “Bad Boys and Naughty Girls of the Thriller Genre” with NYT bestsellers Allison Brennan and Cindy Gerard, debut medical thriller author CJ Lyons—and a special treat, my editor, Avon’s Executive Editor Lucia Macro.
And I’ll also be moderating “Sex and the Single-title” panel. I love this conference but set in San Francisco will make it even more spectacular. Details are on my website.
Thank you very much for spending time with us here at Coffee Time Romance. We wish you continued success.
And thank you for having me. It’s been my pleasure.