By Karen Harper
Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.
Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.
A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.
They are our future—if they survive…
Jordan Dane recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions for the Big Thrill.
Please tell us about your latest release, INDIGO AWAKENING.
INDIGO AWAKENING is book #1 in the Hunted series with Harlequin Teen (Jan 2013). The story centers on a fifteen-year old boy, Lucas Darby, who escapes a mental hospital and is lost on the streets of LA. As the drugs fade, the voices he hears become louder and beckon him to find them. The last phone call he makes before he disappears is to say good-bye to the only person who really loved him, his sister Rayne. She refuses to heed his warning to stay away and not look for him because it’s too dangerous, but she has no idea how right he is. Lucas is an extraordinarily gifted psychic boy hunted by a faction of a fanatical church (the Believers), people who fear he’s the next evolution and a plague to test mankind. After Rayne becomes a target of the Believers, she’s rescued by a mysterious runaway boy, Gabriel Stewart, who’s even more powerful than her brother with awakening Indigo powers that could get them all killed.
Your adult thriller books started with a greatly successful boom with NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM (HarperCollins) sold in auction and being named as Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2008. Very few authors seem to be able to balance writing adult fiction, young adult fiction and nonfiction, but you seem to excel at all three. Do you have a favorite of these formats?
Fiction is definitely more fun, but I wanted to share my writing epiphanies and connect with other writers through my craft book that emphasizes writing for the young adult market – ONE AUTHOR’S AHA MOMENTS. There are challenges in writing for both the adult and young adult markets in fiction. Getting the YA voice right is not easy. I also see a distinct difference in how I plot both types of books. In adult thrillers, I tend to come up with my characters first, then build a plot around them. But in YA, I had to train myself to devise the premise first and fit the right teen in the story, so my teens from book to book would be different and unique for each plot. Another difference is that when I write for the adult thriller market, my books have tighter narratives and less internal monologue, but in YA it’s important for the reader to relate to the teen voice, so the internal monologue is a key element and there’s more of it. The challenge then becomes a balance of that teen voice and pacing.
YA is a booming market and you are in the midst of a great trajectory. Can you share how you view the increased popularity of today’s YA books? What is the appeal of yours that have made them so successful? In other words, what kind of social network feedback are you getting from your avid readers?
YA is growing in popularity and is setting trends for many reasons. Publishers Weekly did an interesting article on September 13, 2012 – New Study: 55% of YA Books Bought by Adults. YA appeals to a broader audience than teens which is great news for the publishing industry. In the case of HUNGER GAMES, for example, many adult readers didn’t even realize they were reading YA. The story lines are HUGELY imaginative and are very cross-genre. A big concept in YA is called “YA mash-ups” where strange combinations of subgenres are being matched up in extraordinary ways—Sci-Fi/strange science with horror and romance, for example. The romance angle keeps the story line and characters relatable. Romance is a key component. For me, I love how writing YA fuels my imagination. It not only taps into my memories as a teen (Oy!) and allows me to go tripping down memory lane, but it also expands my storytelling. Very cool.
A hard adjustment in being an adult thriller author who now writes YA too is the promotion infrastructure. They are vastly different, so it’s been a challenge to target two audiences, but in many ways, learning what it takes to promo for YA gets me plugged into social media more and I have to get creative. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, group blogs, virtual tours, Goodreads – online promotion is becoming more important than it was when I first started out in 2008. Online marketing skills can help with promoting my adult books too. I’m finding that my adult readers are discovering my YA books and loving them. My debut YA – IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS (HarlequinTeen) – is a cold case murder mystery with paranormal elements. I wrote it with the idea that my adult crime fiction readers might find it appealing and they have. And as my teen readers get older, I’m hoping they transition into my thrillers too. The characters in my Sweet Justice series with HarperCollins are in their mid-twenties and fit into the target market of New Adult that some publishers are embracing. If it sounds like all the pieces to the Jordan Dane puzzle fit together, that is no accident. I think it’s important for an author to have a vision of how they will fit into the future of an ever-changing industry.
I love the wording in some of your great reviews and endorsements: that your books are “thriller country” and my favorite, that your novels are “as cozy as brass knuckles.” How would you briefly describe your new series, THE HUNTED, which launches with INDIGO AWAKENING?
“Dane’s first offering in her new series, The Hunted, is sensational. INDIGO AWAKENING has strong characters and a wild and intense story, matched only by the emotions it will generate within you. Readers will love this book and eagerly await the next adventure. Fantastic! A keeper.”
~Romantic Times Book Review Magazine – 4.5 Stars (out of 5)
Can you give us a couple of “Ahas” from your nonfiction book on writing tips, ONE AUTHOR’S AHA MOMENTS? What inspired you to write that work? As a long-time teacher, I think you must be a teacher at heart to write that book and share so many helpful articles on your website.
I have the utmost respect for ALL teachers, but I could never be one. I’m not patient enough. I just love sharing what works for me. I speak to a lot of writing groups and pass on my thoughts on group blogs, like The Kill Zone, but doing a non-fiction craft book is yet another way to reach out to fellow writers. For writing tips, I also maintain some freebie posts on my For Writers page.
Your website is full of great advice for authors. I’m especially intrigued by “Giving Characters A Unique Voice.” Can you define the way you approach this in your own key characters in INDIGO AWAKENING?
With such a wide variety of characters in INDIGO AWAKENING, I had to pay special attention to absolutely every voice to make each one distinctive. That was a BLAST to do. I love a challenge.
In this new series, I load up the main characters with conflicts and emotional baggage. They’re at odds with themselves and each other. The emotional scars are deep. I also wanted to imagine what it would be like for kids to be faced with life or death choices, without the safety net of parents. They become a family of strangers. In this cast of diverse characters, I make sure there is a variety of cultural and educational backgrounds, accents, street lingo, and gender differences. Even my internal narratives are in the voice of each character. They are real in my head and I hear their voices as I’m putting them in a scene. Crazy, right?
You have been praised for balancing paranormal elements with reality in your work. Is that a real challenge in your YA novels or is that something that comes easily to you?
Put yourself into the tormented nightmare of a Native American boy whose peyote-induced vision quest went horribly wrong and got him separated from his spirit guide. One girl is the only person able to penetrate the veil of that vision. When she touches the boy, she’s sucked into his nightmare where every dream symbol is a clue to a tragic murder. Is he the killer or the only witness?
Or imagine what it must feel like to awaken a frightening psychic power in you, something that makes you a freak and dangerous. How would that power manifest? What does it feel like to course through your body?
I start with a base of research that triggers my writer “what if” questions. Lately I’m a freak for the Science NOVA channel, but I love it when paranormal elements are based on science or something real. It’s scarier, I think. If you had asked me about writing paranormal elements in 2008 when my adult thrillers came out, I would have told you that I’m a crime fiction girl. My how things have changed! Writing any story is about emotion. I’ve tapped into something new and I’m doing it my way, so it fits.
You are so diversified and your author schedule is impressive–conferences, workshops, meet-the-author appearances. So I had to smile when I saw your past career was Energy Sales Manager. Granted that was in the oil and gas industries, but how do you balance promotions for your writing career with time for actually writing and having a “real life”? Any advice?
When I had my energy day job, I still wrote every day, several hours at night and more on weekends. Even with a full time job, I wrote two books a year, submitted proposals, attended conferences and workshops, entered writing contests, etc. As a full time author, I can devote my efforts to my passion to write and it doesn’t feel like work. My advice? If writing is important to you, make time for it. Even if you only write one page a day, that’s progress and you’re working toward a finished book. Learn your craft and be a sponge to absorb new things. Balancing my personal life is harder. Since I love what I do, it’s tough to set it aside when my mind is always plugged into my stories and wild imaginings. Even when I’m watching TV, I might conjure an idea from a commercial. That comes from joy.
Jordan Dane’s adult suspense novels were launched back to back in 2008 after the 3-book series sold in auction. Ripped from the headlines, Jordan’s gritty plots weave a tapestry of vivid settings, intrigue, and dark humor. Publishers Weekly compared her intense thrillers to Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, and Tami Hoag. This national best selling, critically acclaimed author’s debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2008. Dane’s first Young Adult book is IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS (Apr 2011, Harlequin Teen) with ON A DARK WING released January 2012. Her next YA books with Harlequin Teen will be a series – THE HUNTED, release slated for fall 2012 through 2013. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan and her husband share their Texas residence with two cats of highborn lineage and two very lucky rescue dogs.
To learn more about Jordan, please visit her website.
Visit Karen at: www.karenharperauthor.com and follow her on Facebook.