Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dancing Through The Graves with Darynda Jones




Today is more a spotlight than a guest blog. This lady made the mistake of wading close enough to the ship for me to cast a line and reel her in. Thankfully, she was as excited to join us as I was to have her on board. Celebrating (and pimping, cause that’s what we do!) her sophomore release SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT pull up a rum keg and settle in for some interesting characters who literally live on the edge of life. I give you award winning author, Darynda Jones!


Thank you so much for having me on Romance Writers Revenge!!!


I’m so honored to be here and to have the opportunity to talk about the Charley Davidson series. It’s basically about a female PI who was born with a rather odd job title. She’s the grim reaper. With her special set of skills, she solves mysteries for both the living and the dead, and of course attracts all kinds of trouble in the process.


On Tuesday the second in the series came out, and I’ve been over the moon. And a little exhausted. SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT picks up one week after the first in the series, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, takes place and starts off running. There is a missing woman, a string of murders, a dark love interest who is butting heads with Charley through the whole book, and several unfortunate attempts on Charley’s life.


I will say that the books are pretty fast-paced with multiple plots running at the same time, but the story lines are not hard to keep straight. One of the things I set out to do with this series was to create a female character that readers could root for. I’m hoping Charley is that character. She is part Buffy, part Stephanie Plum, and part Lorelei Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls. And let’s face it, with that combination, she’s bound to get into any number of disastrous situations. As a magnet for trouble, both eliciting it and causing it, she has to use her smarts and sarcastic wit to get out of a plethora of tight situations.  


In First Grave on the Right, which came out in February, Charley discovered the identity of an entity who has followed her all her life and who shows up at the most opportune times, mostly to rescue her from whatever mess she’s gotten herself into. Turns out this man of mystery is just as much of a mystery now as he was when she first discovered him, and in Second Grave, there is no limit to the amount of grief he causes her. Each time they meet, the struggle begins anew and the heat index rises. But that tends to happen when dating the son of Satan.


Writing the second novel in the series turned out to be a bit trickier than I’d expected. Any book in a series has to read as a stand-alone. No ifs, ands, or butts. So bringing in all that back-story without boring those who read the first one took some time. I’m certain my editor has a few more gray hairs thanks to me. But one thing I did learn through all of this is not to mess with my “process.” I’m a plotter. Period. When I even try to write without plotting, I get about three pages in and then get stuck. So for me, pansters are these mad, mysterious creatures who surely glow in the dark and can eat chocolate without gaining an ounce. I find them fascinating. You know, like fireflies. But, again, I do not mess with my process. I have it down pretty pat.


First Grave was my third complete manuscript. It won an RWA Golden Heart in 2009 and sold to St. Martin’s Press in a three-book deal along with a YA series, the first of which comes out in April 2012, also a three-book deal. (I have a spectacular agent. J) First Grave has also sold to CBS for the CW. And more recently, First Grave was given starred reviews from the Library Journal and Booksense while Second Grave had the honor of getting a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. Woot! And THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD is coming out next Janurary.


 This has been such a fun series to write, and I hope it’s just as fun to read. Charley is a handful, but along with her best friend, Cookie, her detective uncle, Bob, and a skeptic skip tracer who has her back more often than she’d like to admit, she is able to solve cases for both the living and the dead while functioning at almost a normal level. Normal being a subjective term.


Thanks SO much again!!!

Winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, Darynda was born spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. After the Golden Heart final, she pimped herself as best she could, landed an amazing agent and sold to St. Martin’s Press in a three-book deal. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at www.daryndajones.com.

Darynda is being extra generous today! Up for grabs to one lucky commenter is a signed hardcover copy of SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT! How do you feel about jumping into the middle of a series? And what would you do if you suddenly found yourself filling the job of grim reaper?

EVEN MORE BOOTY: MacMillan Audio has also offered a FREE AUDIOBOOK COPY of SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT to one lucky commenter as well. So that's TWO prizes you have a chance to win! Comment away!



2nd Chance said...

Well, I am a mad mysterious creature. I may glow in the dark, I never noticed. But man oh man, I wish the chocolate thing were true!

Wow, you're on a fabulous ride and I'm pea green with envy! I don't imagine you have time to catch your breath! I'm scurrying over to my Sony store and see if I can get these books, right now!

I mean anyone who can get the Bo'sun to actually read a paranormal must be incredibly fabulous! Son of Satan, eh? ;-)

You know, that should be a drink... Well, Darynda, what would you include in a Son of Satan? I can always add it to the bar menu, seein' as I am the ship's bartender!

Donna said...

Darynda, welcome -- and congrats on all your success! It sounds like such a fun series (I've read excerpts at Heroes and Heartbreakers).

I love what you say about not messing with your writing process. It's tempting to try to change it, especially when other folks are so devoted to what works for them. But it just makes things worse!

I jump in the middle of series all the time. I didn't use to, but that was when I was younger and had time to be fussy. LOL I can usually pick up the info I need to enjoy the story, and that's what I care about.

Again, congrats -- I'm looking forward to reading your books!

Marnee said...

Thanks for coming to the ship, Darynda!

I saw your debut in February, but I was up to my ears in my infant. Things have slowed down and I've started writing and reading again so I'll be sure to add you to my Kindle List. :)

The Grim Reaper. How cool is that? And I love that she's able to help victims find justice for themselves.

As to jumping in the middle of a series... I did that with the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I read Vishous's story first, then went back and found the others. I definitely didn't regret that, though the last stories haven't really made me happy.

Best of luck on the release and on your upcoming YA series!

Bosun said...

Don't you love how she throws in that "They've been picked up for TV" as if that's not a major flip out squee moment? LOL! Though I'm sure she's squeeing on the inside. I'd never be able to play that so cool.

LOVE these covers. And Chance is right, I rarely pick up paras, but I fell in the love with the excerpt for this first book. And when you added Lorelei Gilmore to her description, you sealed the deal. Kiddo and I are HUGE Gilmore Girl fans.

I jumped into Jo Beverly's Rogues series back in the day, picking up book 5 without knowing about books 1-4. But it was obvious I'd missed something and I must have spent months tracking down all the stories in that series. Well worth the effort.

I must have details on the new YA books. Kiddo has finally caught the "What else can I read?!" phase and I'm happy to supply this habit.

Bluestocking said...

I read First Grave and really enjoyed it -- it was my first foray into paranormal romance after a couple of years since I've been on a historicals-only diet for so long. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the series. And a YA deal on top of it? Amazing!

carrie spencer said...

Morning Darynda - and my favorite group of pirates!

Darynda, your book is next up in my TBR pile - looking forward to reading it! I'm sure it will be awesome. And YA? I'm sure it'll be fabulous as well. Keep up the great work!


Bosun said...

Heya, Bluestocking! I just flipped back to Historicals after a contemp phase but I'm sliding Darynda's books into the mix. Thanks for stopping by.

The Webmistress is in the house...err...on the ship!! Morning, lady. *passes Carrie a brownie*

Leslie Langtry said...

Great post! Just uploaded your first book to my kindle - LOVE THE SHOES!

Bosun said...

Oh, I got the low-down for you, Assassin. Alexander McQueen's. $900. Put those on your Christmas list!

Hellion said...

I'm a little OCD about series--I usually like to read the first one first; however, I did recently start a series on book 3 (because the premise was the most amusing to me) and then read book 2. I was fine. I'm still looking for book 1. They were contemporaries, so no paranormal backlore which I find more difficult to leap into the middle of. For instance, I don't think you could read an Anita Blake book without reading the prior ones first. Hell, sometimes I think you need to reread some of the books to remind myself what the heck happened. But there are so many strings going on, it's no wonder I feel that way. In the Stephanie Plum series, you can read whichever book out of the series and be fine. *LOL* You won't be lost at all. I think it just depends on the series. :)

As for being a Grim Reaper, I'm not sure I'd dig it myself. (I find the premise of this series hilarious and fascinating and can't wait to read them, but Death and me are not what I'd call friends.) I wouldn't want to be the person who everyone was frightened of all the time, hurt grieving families, be the one who feels responsible that the dead person isn't finished living yet. I'd be a horrible Grim Reaper. I'd be asking the Boss to let them have more time living. I'd be on probation or fired.

Marnee said...

$900 for shoes? I'm glad I don't live anywhere I have to be that fashionable. I definitely haven't got the stomach for it.

Now, the $50 Saucony Originals I just ordered? Very excited.

The shoes are cool, though. If I were the sort to wear skulls. As it is, I'm more likely to wear Scooby Doo or the whale shirt I own that says, "Save the Humans."

Bosun said...

LOL! Marn, you're like the Disney version of Chance's granola-ness.

I wear Saucony shoes! They've totally saved me knees. (No gutter jokes on that one, wenches.)

Janga said...

Congrats on all your success, Darynda! Like Bo'sun, I'm not much of a para reader, but I am a big mystery fan. I do love Mary Stanton's books. I must check yours out (making a note to do so).

And, like Hellie, I much prefer to read series in order. If I do read one out of order, I usually go back and reread them all in order once I have the earlier books.

Hellion said...

Marn, you’re like the Disney version of Chance’s granola-ness.

This is so true. *LOL*

And yes, I saw how Darynda dropped that little CW bomb without so much as a gloat. Seriously, I'd be sending out save the date cards to all my friends to watch the show. *LOL*

Sin said...

And I like reading books out of order. I'm weird. I think there's only one series I ever started the beginning and that was Kim Harrison's Hollow series and that's just because only the first book was out.

Sin said...

Congrats on your success, Darynda! How exciting! I love to see books turned into TV series. I think turns people who wouldn't usually read into readers.

Bosun said...

That reminds me, are you worried at all about what they'll do to your characters on a TV show? I know True Blood is all the rage right now. I've never read the books, but I hear a lot of grousing about what the TV writers are doing with the characters.

2nd Chance said...

I remember listening to Jim Butcher talk about the scif channels adaptation of his Dresden Files and how odd it was to see the actor they picked to play Harry. Wasn't the Harry he pictured, but the guy was so good, he sold Jim on it. Same with the female lead.

From what I recall of Charlaine Harris, she said the same thing basically. The televisions series really took on a world that was separate from her written series.

BTW, neither were complaining!

Would you? ;-)

P. Kirby said...

"Your heroine..." Ugh. Stoopid fingers.

P. Kirby said...

Where True Blood is concerned, I find that I actually prefer the tv show, which is campier and waaaay sexier, to the books. I haven't seen the Dresden adaptions. I wonder if they're on DVD.?

I've picked up a few books midway through a series. Whether or not they are readable seems to depend on how the author handles exposition, and whether there's an overarching story arc that is integral to the book's plot.

You're heroine sounds like she isn't the usual angry, bitter UF heroine. *Perks ears up, goes looking for books.*

Bosun said...

The True Blood books aren't as sexy? I had no idea. And I don't mean who they cast in the parts so much as what they do with them. You've created these characters who live in your brain as one thing so if other writers make them something else, I'd have a hard time letting go.

But then I'm a control freak and for a pretty check I'm willing to shut up and be happy. LOL!

Hellion said...

I don't think authors seem to have the same sort of irritation about characters or slight stuff changing if their book is made into a movie/TV. Probably some do, but whenever I see this stuff, the author is always HAPPY with the changes made and agreed with them, and it's always nitpicky fans like me going, "WHAT? The scene with Dumbledore dying was completely anti-climatic! That's the dumbest thing I've ever seen!"

I've heard book readers complain about how Eric in the Sookie series is now behaving. (There is an Eric in the series, right?)

Hellion said...

I've also heard once authors release their books to the "wilderness", they let them go because they know no other revisions can be made and they have to move on. Maybe that's part of the reason why they don't mind these sorts of changes. They've let the book go??

Okay enough of this.

P.Kirby mentioned that this heroine didn't sound like the typical bitter-angry heroine--and I was thinking the same thing. (I think it's because of who she compared the heroine to: Buffy, Stephanie, & Lorelei--none of those are what I'd call bitter heroines. They're more upbeat. I think this is part of the draw--dark action, perhaps, but without the bitchy Eeyore stuff.)

Bosun said...

I think there is. LOL! These days, you don't have to watch a show, you can just follow the convo on Twitter. LOL! I keep reading that some guy is acting all nice and not bad boy when he was a bad boy? I admit, if I watched it, that would irritate me. LOL!

A series would be different than a movie. If they're using my characters and the scripts are brand new, as in not reproducing the scenes I've already written, then I could deal. But I can't watch the Nora Lifetime movies without wanting to throw crap at my TV.

Bosun said...

When she named those three female characters, I instantly thought "Smart!" with a "Sarcastic!" right behind. I adore smart, sarcastic women. (Which is also why I love this crew. *g*)

Ashley Young said...

The books are amazing April 2012 can't come fast enough I am a huge fan of the Audiobooks I recommend this series to everyone its sexy and fun an compelling and a fast read because you just can't put it down. I hope the CW make a show I think it would really be amazing!

Nikki L said...


I fell in love with Charley during an ice storm that kept me trapped in my home last February (oddly enough on the release day of the book). I was able to finish that book on my Kindle while wrapped in a very warm blanket on my couch. And I've been eagerly anticipating Book 2 for, what feels like, forever.

So excited for you and thoroughly enjoying your second release as much as the first!


P. Kirby said...

On adapting books to the screen. For me, I think the issue isn't whether changes are made in the interest of fitting the media, but rather...does it suck. I.e., I don't much care what artistic changes are made (as I get my royalty/option check), just so long the results aren't Razzie horrible.

Not that my stuff is ever likely to get made into a movie/series. One can dream, though.

Darynda Jones said...

Wow, what a wonderful crew!!!! I'm sure this is the most successful ship on the seas. Thank you so very much for having me!

As for the YA series, it is about a girl whose life is irrevocably changed when Death starts high school in her small town. :) So, you know, everyday stuff. It will be a trilogy and I THINK (big on the THINK) the first one (which was called Grimsight) will be called Death and the Girl Next Door. LOL.

And the TV thing may or may not happen. Unfortunately, the sell alone isn't a guarantee, but I'm hoping they do make the pilot and it gets picked up. I'm not worried about what they'll do to the characters so much as curious as to who they will get to play them and what they will do with the story. I can't wait! CBS already has a writer so I'm hoping, hoping, hoping it gets produced.

And one thing a writer has to take into consideration is the medium in which the story is being produced. Writing is very different than the visual world of film, so MOST writers understand that. I remember when Ann Rice threw that fit because they got Tom Cruise to be Lestat and threatened to pull the plug on the whole thing. I just felt it was very unprofessional and embarrassing. Then after she saw the film, she was all, "Oh, he was great." And, no, I'm not a TC fan. It was the principle. I would never allow a film producer to tell me how to write my books and I would never tell him to make his films. But I also have this blind faith in people, LOL. They have to REALLY screw me over before I can say to myself, "Hey, maybe I shouldn't be friends with that person anymore." hehehe

And, no, 2nd Chance, I would NEVER complain!!! Hahaha

p.kirby, Charley is definitely not the usual UF heroine, which is why I think they chose not to market it as UF but chose instead paranormal mystery.

OH and LOL bo'sun on the Nora movies!!! That cracks me up. Yeah, again, you just have to let it go and have faith that they made those changes for a reason, either visual or timing or whatever. There are places in a script where things MUST happen. Like right in the middle, exactly halfway through the movie, tv show, whatever, there MUST be a major plot twist. It's called the tent pole and happen on exactly page.... (middle) of the script. So there are other things that have to be taken into consideration Script writing is an entirely different animal than novel writing, but they can compliment each other and the writers can learn from one another. I love it all!!!!

Wow, this is the longest reply I've ever written. Hahaha. Sorry shipmates!

Bosun said...

We're a long-winded crew. No need to apologize. LOL! My problem with the Nora movies is strictly from a fan POV. I mean, they took the dog out of Tribute. HOW can you take the dog out? LOL! But then I'm not a fan of the other Lifetime movies, so it's more the network I don't like.

I can't imagine getting to see your world come to life on the screen. Even if it's just based on your world and looks different than what you imagine, it would still be so cool.

I didn't know that about Ann Rice. Huh. I actually liked that movie, but then Brad Pitt was very pretty.

2nd Chance said...

I imagine it's a lot like fanfic...I mean, I think it would be incredibly flattering to have people love my universe so much they take off and create stories of their own. And it seems with movies, it's much the same way.

I agree, I wouldn't try to tells someone how to write a song, or sew a costume...and screenwriting is a whole new ballgame!

Now, let me pull my industrial sized blender out and get it set up so we can get some booze into this thirsty crowd!

Hellion said...

You need a "tent pole" in the middle of your book? You know I've not heard it quite termed that way--and suddenly I have about a dozen dirty jokes whipping through my brain at the same time.

Viki S. said...

I jumped into the middle of series a couple times and have not had a problem. I have also asked authors their opinion on jumping in and most have been very helpful.
I would not like being a reaper. I'd find it difficult to come to grips with.
Thank you for the giveaway.

Hellion said...

The Anne Rice cautionary tale is actually a good one. I don't think I'd mind who they cast--except Bradley Cooper, who I think looks like a weasel, but I imagine I'd get over it--but if they changed like a major plot point, I think I'd be annoyed. Like if my book was about the devil--and they changed him to a minor demon or something.

Bosun said...

Hey, Viki. Thanks for dropping by. Having a direct link to authors with all this social media is a bonus. For the firt 15yrs or so that I was reading Romance, I never imagined being able to chat with my favorites in any way.

Darynda Jones said...

@Hellion!!!! That's too funny. Actually they only call it that in scripts, but yeah, it's a funny term.

Darynda Jones said...

HAHAHA! Yes, Brad was very pretty in it. *snerk*

And I wanted to back up and say, I do understand why authors get upset if they completely change the story. I mean, why did they option it in the first place if they were going to change it? Weird.

Na said...

I used to just jump in the middle of a series but now I am much more disciplined about starting with the first book especially if the story is strongly connected. If it's a standalone I might opt to read it instead but only if the story line interests me and the others don't. I hav eaccidently read a "standalone" that was part of a series and liked it so much I started at the beginning.

If I found myself filling in for the job of grimp reaper, I'd be terrified and want a hero to hurry up and do the job for me. I'd rather be in the sideline in this case.

Hellion said...

It might only be a screenwriting term, but I suddenly see a romance-writing blog coming out of this. *LOL* Since the middle of the book seems a pretty optimal place for the characters to have sex...and screw everything up.

Not that all sex scenes happen in the middle of the book. Some happen in the very beginning or at the end of the book. But usually there is something that happens in mid-romance book that CAUSES a tent pole...that pretty much has never changed.

Darynda Jones said...

I did that with Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, na. I unwittingly started with book three then went back to the beginning. Love that series so very much!!!!

And that would make a hilarious blog, Hellion!!!! LOL

2nd Chance said...

Am I the only one who sawthe term tent pole and giggled?

Joan Swan said...

I LOVE Darynda and I LOVE Charlie and I LOVE these books! I drive 250 miles each way to work and would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE an audio of SECOND GRAVE to keep me company!

Darynda Jones said...

Joan!!! Thank you so much and good luck!

@2nd Chance... I seriously doubt it. *snicker*

Danielle Gorman said...

I'm not the biggest fan of jumping into series in the middle but I have done it before not realizing.

I can't wait to read this book. I love this series. Charley cracks me up.

2nd Chance said...

Okay, as for the jumping into the middle of a series? I pretty much won't do it. If I find a book that really sparks interest and I realize from the backcover notes that it is part of a series, I will find the earlier books before I start reading. And I read so fast, if it's a huge series and I really want to read them all? I want them all before me before I even start.

I did that with Simon R. Green's Nightside series. Saw number five or six and though they sounded interesting. Went back to number one, read it, then bought all of them. Eleven, I think?

Bosun said...

I've seen the "tent pole" reference on a plotting diagram somewhere and cannot for the life of me remember where. I can see it in my mind clear as day. Looked like a clothes line. Gah!

Does it count as jumping into a series if I've only ever listened to book 6 in the Happy Potter series? *g*

Di R said...

Darynda~ This sounds like a great series. I cannot wait to get my hands on it.
I would NOT like to be a grim reaper, and I would be terrible at it.

I bought an anthology for one story in it. It was part of a favorite sereis-and it ended up that all 4 stories were from series. As a result of it, I glommed the author's backlist.


HistoricalRomanceJunkie Rita said...

Hey Darynda and friends,

To answer question 1- I am a stickler for book order, but because of my blog, I find myself trying books from all types of authors at different phases of their series. Sure, i'd be nice to try book 1 of every seires I've ever read first, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way. If the book is good, I can get over the whole reading out of order thing and will most likely double back and read book 1 when my TBR pile died down.

Question 2- I'd freak out. Death always scares me even though everyone who tries to comfort me about it says "you shouldn't be afraid".. So to actually carry out the duties of the grim reaper would totally suck. I am not sure I could even handle it. But freaking out would be on the list somewhere after the brief, childish idea to torment (just scare, not kill) my old high school enemies popped into my head.

I had the opportunity to talk with Darynda during the RomCon Rumble and enjoyed out chat and learning more about the series face-to-face. So of course I'd love to win either copy of the book! Thanks for the giveaway!