By Virna DePaul
Prepare yourself for Jordan Dane’s incredible young adult novel, ON A DARK WING…
The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for.
And Death would be my willing teacher.
Five years ago Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.
Now she’s the target of Death’s Ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death is with him because of her.
Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.
“Jordan Dane is a fresh new voice in young adult paranormal fiction.” ~P C Cast, New York Times Bestseller of the HOUSE OF NIGHT Series
“Jordan Dane novels have guts, heart, and a wicked sense of humor.” ~Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Bestseller
Recently, I interviewed Jordan Dane, a wonderfully talented and gracious writer I had the pleasure of meeting in person a few years ago. Here’s what Ms. Dane had to say about her writing journey, her story, and her upcoming release.
You write adult romantic suspense and now young adult books that lean towards dark subject matter, with death being a recurring theme or plot point. Can you tell us a bit about your voice and why you decided to write in both genres? Is it easier or harder for you to write about younger characters?
I saw a growing trend in the young adult market, but I was also influenced by a Wall Street Journal article on dark YA. After I read some of those books mentioned in the article, I was hooked on YA. Kids aren’t the only ones reading YA. The cross genre nature of these stories, with the mind-blowing imagination it takes to write them, appealed to me too. A side benefit is that I get to explore my own teen experiences and infuse those feelings into my stories. I think we all remember our first kiss or what it felt like whenever we didn’t fit in. Many things go into my YA voice. I don’t try to force my “teen speak,” I’ve always been a bit of a rebel, and since I never had kids, I relate more to being a kid than a parent. I LOVE writing YA and finding a voice for the central characters of my stories. The process is different from writing for adults but it seems to come easier for me. Not sure why that is, or maybe I’m afraid to uncover the answer.
In your upcoming release, ON A DARK WING, your ten-year-old protagonist cheats death at a high a price that still haunts her five years later. Did the protagonist’s initial age pose any special challenges for you in the story? Were any other elements of the story particularly tricky?
The intro is a quick flashback to her being 10, but Chapter 1 sets her in high school at 16. The tragedy that happened to her at 10 defines everything she does. Her mother died in a car crash that she survived and she played a part in why her mother had to be in that car. Her survivor’s guilt is intense and she hasn’t been able to move on with her life. In her near death experience, Death has never forgotten her and crosses her path again with his own agenda.
How long did you write before publishing your first novel? Since then, how many books have you published? You seem to be very prolific. Is it difficult producing the number of books you do?
I began writing in 2003 and sold in 2006. I had a day job in the energy industry, but wrote every day after work. Before I sold, I could write 2 books a year with a full time job and heavy business travel. My books were first launched in 2008 and to date, I’ve sold 11 books—with 4 being YA and the rest adult thrillers. I’m working on a new series for Harlequin Teen called – THE HUNTED. More on this series later. As far as being prolific, some books come easier than others. I’ve written books ranging from 6 weeks to 7 months. Now that I’m writing full time, it’s easier to immerse myself into each project with a daily word count to keep me on track with my deadlines, but since I thoroughly enjoy what I do, writing is a complete joy for me. It never seems like work.
Is ON A DARK WING linked in any way to your first YA novel, IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS?
No, both of these books are standalones, although IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS has seeds planted for a sequel. There’s never enough time to write all the stories in my head.
Both your protagonists in your YA novels are female. Do you plan to write a male protagonist? Do your novels have a romantic element?
Great. Thanks for asking this. I really love writing the male point of view. I’ve done it in my adult thrillers and I plan on doing it more in my upcoming HUNTED series. I’ll have a cast of characters in varying teen ages, but there will be two main teen boys who take center stage. One is 15 and the other is 18—completely different types of boys too. That should be fun. And as for the romance, I usually have elements of romance in my books (adult and teen) because I think that’s a real slice of life. I love the complexity of the differences in gender and the potential for conflicts between the sexes.
How graphic are your YA novels in terms of violence or sexuality? Why do you think YA readers are often drawn to darker elements in stories?
I consider my books edgy or gritty, so I push the envelope on the creep factor, but I am always aware that sexual content and graphic violence can be too much for the YA genre. IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS had edgier content than ON A DARK WING, but I write with the pace and basic craft of a paranormal thriller for teens. I’m discovering that my style of writing—and what I learned from writing adult thrillers—is something a little different and new to teen readers. That makes these books fun to write too.
As for why dark YA is popular with teens, I can only speculate and talk about how these books affect me. I love the world building, the imagination, and the cross genre nature of these novels. Everything from contemporary thrillers to paranormal to dystopian apocalyptic future worlds can really expand the reader’s mind with possibility too. What’s not to love about that?!! Pitting a teen against formidable odds and having them overcome them is a powerful message—that it’s okay to be different, you just have to find your own way in life.
Is there a message in your novels you want readers to grasp?
Oh my gosh, yes. There’s always a message. Several. I love complex stories with layers of emotion and underlying messages that are subtle. Teens are smart savvy readers. Authors don’t need to hit them over the head with a message, but I can’t tell you how it touches me to hear from young readers, especially in the early hours of the morning, when they write to tell me how much my book meant to them and they got what I was trying to say. My YA books are more complicated and I don’t pull any punches or simplify what I do for younger readers. For the kids who “read by the pound” and fly through books so they can finish 1,000 in a year (or some crazy number), my books will be lost on them, unless they take time to think about the underlying themes. I can tell the ones who get my books by their insightful reviews. There are some amazing young readers out there. They are the very reason I write YA.
What are you reading now?
For adult books, I just finished Australian thriller author James Houston Turner’s upcoming 2012 espionage thriller – GRECO’s GAME. I loved the book. I’m also reading fellow KILL ZONE blog mate – Joe Moore’s THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY that he co-wrote with Lynn Sholes. I’m thoroughly enjoying that on my e-reader.
For YA books, I’ve started Brett Battles’s YA book – HERE COMES MR TROUBLE. Brett is a fellow blog mate of mine too. Can’t wait to see how his book ends. Michelle Gagnon and I started a group blog of thriller authors who write dark YA. Michelle has her first YA series coming out in 2012. Our new blog is here, and we have some amazing authors. A book that I finished not long ago was written by another ADR3NALIN3 blogmate – Ilsa J. Bick – who wrote ASHES, an apocalyptic zombie thriller series. A book I recommend. So many books, so little time.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Since writing is the only thing I control—and it’s something I LOVE—it’s not as challenging to me as the business end of things. All the social media promo can be daunting, even though I love certain aspects of it, like staying in touch with readers. I’ve dropped most of my dealings with Facebook. I truly dislike the invasion of privacy that Facebook imposes on its members and it’s an ineffective marketing tool, in my opinion, but I’m a big fan of Twitter. Besides my new YA group blog ADR3NALIN3, I also am a member of another group blog – THE KILL ZONE – and have learned a lot about writer’s craft, publishing trends, the e-book explosion, and other shenanigans from those authors. In my experience, group blogs that post daily build on traffic without all the extra work of maintaining a blog on my own. It’s a much better use of my limited time away from writing.
How has your writing process changed as your career has developed?
I actually love how every book is different now, as far as creating it and devising plots. From my early on crime fiction & forensics research, I now open my mind to the imagination of writing paranormal and find that I watch the science channels more, like NOVA. The strangest plot combinations suddenly turn into a storyline. It’s incredibly fun and writing for the young adult market has tapped into my inner child, a notion that has never been far from the surface for me.
What are your thoughts on marketing and the e-book revolution?
Oh my, this is a HUGE question. I write a lot about this on THE KILL ZONE. I would highly recommend anyone interested in publishing trends, author craft, and other musings, to follow the 11 authors on KILL ZONE. I’m a member, but I’ve learned so much. You can find that blog, here.
I think the digital age will evolve into more potential for authors. I’m excited about the options authors have today. I’ve also narrowed my online promo to those methods I have found work best for me—methods that don’t drain too much of my time from writing. I’m a big twitter person and love my group blogs where I can spread the wealth on the workload. The daily blogging spread across multiple authors makes it easy and we all benefit from the increased traffic.
I also posted a blog article on what I’ve learned on my upcoming virtual book tour at this link. My tour is hosted by YA Bound and starts Dec 19 with a live chat on Jan 5th where we will announce the grand prize winner. Here’s the link for the blast tour schedule that will cover 54+ blogs – so you can see what the tour stops were. Run the right way, virtual tours can be quite effective to create book buzz.
Can you tell us a little about the next writing project you’re working on?
I sold a 2-book series to Harlequin Teen called THE HUNTED. Since we are still debating the titles, I can’t share my ideas with you on those, but these books will be my first series for YA.
In my research for these books, I found that conspiracy theorists have linked the CIA, the UN, and the Pentagon to a phenomenon known as “Indigo or Crystal Children,” a concept heavily queried on the Internet with 166,000,000+ websites and resources to research the topic. Indigo kids have been featured on mainstream TV (including CNN’s Anderson Cooper in 2007) and in dozens of newspapers and movies. Like my adult thrillers, real life has also inspired my YA novels.
A teen boy—unknowingly born with the psychic abilities of an Indigo—dies and is brought back to life. When he’s tethered to Death, the encounter will awaken and magnify dormant powers he never knew he had. This series will be about his dark journey to reclaim his soul by saving the innocent lives of the special children he’s destined to protect.
For more information on Jordan’s books, please visit her website.
HarperCollins launched Jordan Dane’s suspense novels 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 set for January 2012. Formerly an energy sales manager, she now writes full time. Jordan and her husband share their San Antonio residence with two cats of highborn lineage and two very lucky rescue dogs.