Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interview - Jocelynn Drake (Dawnbreaker)

It is my particular pleasure to have Jocelynn Drake as my guest today. Dawnbreaker is the third book in the  Dark Days urban fantasy series and officially releases next Tuesday (Sept. 29). If you are like me, you have been eagerly awaiting the return of Mira and Danaus after the slam bang conclusion to Dayhunter (my review). For more information about the series you can visit Jocelynn at her website or blog. You can read an excerpt of the new book here.

I also have 3 copies of Dawnbreaker to give away to some lucky commenters thanks to the generous folks at HarperCollins/EOS. Details of the Giveaway can be found at the end of the post.

Jocelyn will drop in to answer questions, so if you have something you want to ask her about the new book, the series or her writing life in general, here's your chance.

A big warm welcome to Jocelynn Drake!


SFG: Dawnbreaker is the third book in the Dark Days series. Can you give us an overview of the theme of the series and hit a few highlights for new readers?

Dawnbreaker takes place a couple months after the conclusion of Dayhunter in Savannah where Mira is being hunted by the naturi. They are desperate to capture and destroy the vampire, as she and Danaus are the only ones that could potentially stop the naturi from freeing Aurora, Queen of the naturi, and the rest of the naturi people. While fighting the naturi, Mira is lucky enough to take a hostage that could help her turn the tables on the naturi when she and Danaus finally go to the final showdown at Machu Picchu, Peru. The dawn lies just over the horizon and Rowe is desperate to finally free his wife-queen. The time has come to face the past.

SFG: Mira and Danaus are incredibly engaging characters. How did you go about creating them and what do you have planned in their future?

Mira was the result of many short scenes that I wrote playing around with different character ideas. She changed from being a witch to a vampire to an elf. Her personality shifted as the scene needed it and her background dictated her actions for each event. I worked with her for close to two months before I finally started writing Nightwalker.

Danaus, on the other hand, came a little slower to me. I knew that I needed a vampire hunter that was very strong and very experienced. I needed someone who could go head-to-head with a 600-year-old vampire and survive. He danced around in my subconscious for a few months until inspiration finally struck. I was flipping through a video game magazine when I saw a picture that screamed to me: DANAUS! I ripped out the picture and ran back to my computer where I started writing. Once I had the image in my head, the rest of his character came pouring out of my brain. I still keep the picture on my wall next to my desk.[SciFiGuy Note - I snuck the photo at the left from Jocelynn's Gallery page - yep it's beside her desk - isn't the Internet a wonderful thing!]

What do I have planned for their future? Chaos and violence, my friend. Chaos and violence.

SFG: Your bio says you live in the Cincinnati area, yet you have set Nightwalker and Mira’s home in Savannah. Why Savannah and the south?

 I will admit that I originally planned for the series to be set in Cincinnati, since it was a town that I grew up in and knew intimately. Unfortunately, another author, who shall remain nameless, (*cough* Kim Harrison *cough*) beat me to Cincinnati. And since this author who shall not be named and I have the same editor, I couldn’t sneak by with Cincinnati. So, I needed to stay in a zone that I knew I would be comfortable writing in. In other words, I needed a modestly sized town in the south. West and north offered up a different mentality I didn’t feel that I could adequately replicate. However, I’ve lived my life in the south so it’s something I felt that I could be comfortable writing in.

Savannah sang to me because of her lengthy history, old tales, and great ghost stories. It’s a quiet piece of earth that offers up a fabulous setting for any book. Between visits and research, I’ve truly fallen in love with Savannah as much as Mira.

SFG: What kind of research did you do preparing Dayhunter? Did you travel to any of the locations featured in the novel?

I would have loved to travel to all the exotic location that Mira and Danaus get to see. Unfortunately, my budget doesn’t permit it. I do a lot of research when it comes to writing the Dark Days books. I have to know the locations, this style of the architecture, the composition of the streets (pavement vs. gravel vs. cobblestone), and I have to know local cultures and traditions. It generally involves many hours on the Internet and perusing my growing collection of travel journals and guides. For Dayhunter, I spent a lot of time learning the canals and travel times between the various islands. I learned the different building styles between the islands and tried to get a feel for which were the most crowded. For Crete, I also managed to grab a few travel TV shows along with my journals so I could get a clear feel for the island.

SFG: You also have a prequel novella (The Dead, The Damned, And the Forgotten) out in the Unbound anthology which just released. How does it fit into the story arc?

“The Dead, The Damned, And The Forgotten” is a novella that is set roughly a month before the beginning of Nightwalker, the first book in the series, and it offers readers a glimpse a Mira’s world before Danaus arrives and creates chaos. It gives readers a good look at Mira in her natural habit as Keeper of her domain. You get a clearer view of her sense of responsibility as well as her distance from her own kind. I think the novella is a great way to ease into the series if you haven’t picked it up yet. And if you have read the series, the novella will introduce you to some characters that will be making another appearance in both Dawnbreaker and Pray for Dawn, which is the fourth book in the series.

SFG: What can readers expect after Dawnbreaker? What are your series plans?

Dawnbreaker works to tie up some loose ends in regards to the naturi and, of course, make some new problems for Danaus. The goal of this book was to complete the initial story arc that was kicked off with Nightwalker, and that was accomplished for the most part. There are still two loose threads dangling in the wind for the naturi, which I hope to complete in an upcoming book. Dawnbreaker also raises some new questions about Danaus, which will be answered in Pray for Dawn.

Looking ahead, Pray for Dawn has been completed and I am putting the finishing touches on the rough draft for Wait for Dusk. Both are tentatively scheduled for release in summer 2010. I am currently contracted for a total of six books in the Dark Days series, but I am hoping to keep the series going well past that. I am looking to dig into Danaus’s past, Mira’s origins, as well as the Liege of the nightwalker nation and the Great Awakening. Many awesome things are still to come.

SFG: In your path to becoming a fiction writer what influences led you to write urban fantasy?

Before I started working on stories in the urban fantasy genre, I was reading books from Anne Rice, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Simon Green, and Christine Feehan. Going back even farther, I have been an avid fan of Raymond Feist, Neil Gaiman, and Terry Pratchett. I always knew that I would eventually find a home in fantasy, but I just never expected it to be in urban fantasy.

SFG: How has being a popular and successful novelist affected your career as a financial analyst? Any interesting workplace anecdotes you can share with us?

Not as much as you might think. There isn’t a great deal of overlap between Wall Street and vampires. Most of the people that I work with in the industry are completely unaware that I lead a double life, which is kind of fun. It affords me a degree of anonymity, as well as gives me a chance to make a name for myself in the financial world. Most of the time when a fellow analyst or reporter discovers my other life, they kind of give a double take as if it’s too unbelievable for them to take in.

I don’t have much in the way of interesting anecdotes. Most days it’s just me and my computer as I look over the stock market digging for new trading ideas. The strangest interview I’ve had was with a reporter for a Los Angeles newspaper. As soon as I answered the phone, he asked if I was the Jocelynn Drake that wrote vampire novels. I inwardly cringed, afraid that people we going to start tracking me down at work to get information about my writing life. I said “yes.” He said he enjoyed my books and then proceeded to grill me about the stock market for the next 15 minutes. So sometimes, my writing life does leak onto Wall Street.

SFG: If you were a character in your own series and it was a Naturi, which of the five clans would you be from and why?

Oooo... hard question. Well, I guess since I’ve already got Mira in my back pocket as the Fire Starter, then my favourite naturi clan would be the wind clan. I love their wings and their different types of wings depending on .... well... I’ll get into that eventually in a book. I also love their ability to control the weather. I love it when Rowe stands with his hand reaching into the air as he calls down the lightning. What a rush that has to be to be so in tune with Mother Nature and her raw energy!


Thank you Jocelynn for spending some time with us. Here's wishing for every success for Dawnbreaker!

GIVEAWAY GUIDELINES:
  1. To enter, leave a comment or question for Jocelynn.
  2. If you don't have a specific question for Jocelynn, visit Jocelynn's website and come back and tell us a fact or tidbit you learned about the series from the Dark Days History Page.
  3. Canadian or US residents only please.
  4. Remember to leave a way to contact you.
  5. Blog, tweet, post, etc., about the interview for an extra entry.
  6. Giveaway ends Tuesday, September 29 at 11:59 PM EST.

53 comments:

  1. Hi :)
    Excellent interview. Thank you Jocelynn for sharing.
    Is it easier to write the fourth, fifth, etc books in a series now that you know the characters & their universe so well?
    All the best,
    twitter: @RKCharron
    xoxo

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  2. Hi Doug and Jocelynn!

    I just have to say this is one of favorite series. It's awesome for anyone who hasn't tried it yet.

    How do you keep track of all the different clans between the two fae species and the vampire council, exactly what is the hierarchy?

    Dottie :)

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  3. Doug,

    Gave your interview and contest a shout on my post and under my banner at http://myblog2point0.blogspot.com/ and on twitter @gymmom_027. Well love this series!

    Dottie :)

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  4. Gasp! Danaus is the Prince of Persia?!?!? I LOVE that game :)

    (P.S. I'm in Australia, so don't put me in the contest. But thanks for the great interview, Jocelynn!)

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  5. Hi Jocelynn,

    I love the uniqueness of your world. I can't wait to see what happens next. My question is ... Was Nightwalker your first book that you wrote or did you have others that you used to experiment with your voice and such?

    Thanks so much!
    denlsn@msn.com

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  6. First off, Doug! You sneaky little devil. I completely forgot that I had posted a pic of my writing cave and you found my Danaus! Great job!

    To RKCharron: It's both easier and harder. You know your characters, universe, and rules, which does make it easier, but by the fifth book there's a lot more stuff that I have to remember. I find myself digging through other books for hair color, eye color, and occasions of who said what.

    To Dottie: I don't know how I'm managing to keep it all straight in my head. I guess I spend too much time in that world. In a quick overview: the light clan of the naturi are the most powerful because Aurora is from the light clan. The second would be the wind clan because Rowe is her Consort and from the wind clan. The low man on the totem pole would be the animal clan as they are sort of used as a foot soldier.

    Among vampires, the oldest and the strongest sit at the top of the food chain.

    Erica: Yes, I am an avid gamer. When I saw that pic of the Prince, I fell in love. That was my Danaus. No question about it.

    Lesleen: Nightwalker was my first completed book in the urban fantasy genre. However, I was writing for many years in many genres before that. I did write a number of short and long scenes in the urban fantasy genre experimenting with voice and characters before I dove into Nightwalker.

    Thanks for all the great questions! Keep them coming!

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  7. Hey guys,

    Great interview. Your last question was the one I wanted to ask, so let's see... hmm. Nightwalker is a book I love to keep picking up over and over again in-between other books in my TBR pile. Do you have any books like that for you when you read?

    Thanks and happy writing!
    Rachel M

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  8. Me again! I posted about the interview and the contest over on my blog as well.

    http://pnrbookworm.blogspot.com/

    Happy Wednesday!
    Rachel M

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  9. Rachel M: It's very rare for me to pick up a book I've already read. However, there are a handful of Christine Feehan's Carpathian novels that I tend to do that with when I just need a romance fix. I am planning to reread all of Raymond Feist's books if I ever get a writing break.

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  10. I can't wait to get my hands on Dawnbreaker,I want to know what's going to happen next.
    I like the fast pace of the books,you mentioned Dawnbreaker takes place a few months after Dayhunter..how much time will lapse in Dawnbreaker.Then into the next book.
    Thanks
    elaing8(at)netscape(dot)net

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  11. Elaing8: Errr... Memory straining... Wheels turning.... smoke coming out ears... I think, Dawnbreaker spans about a week or so (maybe less) and there are a couple months between Dawnbreaker and Pray for Dawn. Then Pray for Dawn and Wait for Dusk happen back-to-back.

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  12. WOW great interview. I have never read any of your books. My question would be what do you thing of the electronic readers out there? Do you think it will help the book sellers/writers or hurt?

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  13. Jocelynn,

    What is the Super Secret Project you will be working on?

    chris.einhaus@insightbb.com

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  14. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and answer our questions. I've not yet read the first book of this series, but I do have it in my TBR pile.

    Since we've gotten to see how you think Danaus looks, I'm just wondering how you envision Mira. Any actress/models/game characters for her?

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  15. Malleycc: I will admit that I don't currently have a good feel for the eletronic market. I'm just happy when someone reads my books, whether are paper or electronic. I'm still very old fashioned and prefer the feel of a book in my hands.

    Chris E.: The Super Secret Project I mentioned on my blog? If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret any longer. All I can say is that it's not urban fantasy and it is set in rural Kentucky. It's a project I haven't sold yet and I don't know when I'll finish it.

    Daelith: I think the covers of my books have done a great job envisioning Mira. She's tall, thin, pale, with red hair and lavendar eyes. If I could get any actress to play her, my current favorite is Milla Jovovich. I think she's amazing!

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  16. Great interview! Thanks for your time Jocelynn. And thanks for the contest Doug.

    I don't have a question but I did learn an interesting fact. I now know that Mira has a MySpace page. That's very technologically advanced for someone reborn in 1405. ;-)

    *Jen*
    iiiioneloveiiii(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

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  17. This would be a new series for me, sounds good! tWarner419@aol.com

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  18. Hi Jocelynn, this is of my favorite book series and I can't wait to return to your amazing world in Dawnbreaker.

    As for fun facts from your website: the Naturi are the source of fairy tales, folklore and the mythology of fairies, pixies and other magic folk.


    caity_mack(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  19. Hey!
    I cant wait for Dawnbreaker!
    If you could take the place of any of your characters, who would it be and why?
    Thanks!
    Rachel, Res498@aol.com

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  21. Hi Jocelynn


    I can't wait to read Dawnbreaker. The wait has been driving me mad.

    I was wondering what books are on your TBR shelf.

    hdtermite (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  22. Great interview. Jocelynn's series sounds wonderful. I visited the history page and found out that the naturi are protectors of the earth and all the animal life.

    Crystal816{at}hotmail{dot}com

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  23. Who is your favorite secondary character in your books and why?



    aliciahall0605(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  24. Rachel445: If I could take a character's place, my first instinct would be Mira's place. But I've be seeing the world through her eyes for nearly five years now and I think we could use some space. I think I would like to try taking Ryan's place. I think he would have an interesting view of the world being more than three hundred years old and still technically human. I'm also interested in seeing what that boy can do. We still haven't seen him at his worst yet.

    Carmen R: My TBR pile is massive. Some of the highlights include: the last two Kim Harrison books, the last two Rachel Vincent books, the last two Vicki Pettersson books, all of Jeaniene Frost, Melissa Marr, piles of Jim Butcher, Simon Green, and Raymond Feist, and many many more. I am way behind on my reading.

    Alicia0605: Favorite secondary character? Since I can't say Mira or Danaus, my favorite then would have to be Tristan with Ryan coming in at a close second. Tristan is a great, vulnerable character that you just want to protect and love. At the same time, he had a lot of hidden potential that I haven't had the chance to bring out of him yet. Mira sees a lot of herself in Tristan, which is why she decided to protect him. I know there is a lot of similarity between Mira and Tristan. I'm just waiting for him to step up.

    And before you ask, my least favorite secondary character is a character you meet in Dawnbreaker named Shelly. She is really cool, but she was extremely hard for me to write because she is nearly the exact opposite from my own personality. I just could not get into her head.

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  25. Hi Jocelynn,

    Love the series and can't wait for Dawnbreaker! I don't know if anyone has asked before but I would like to know if you are heading in the direction of having a romantic relationship develop between Mira and Danaus. I love their dynamic!

    Thanks,
    Leah

    leahsimone(at)ymail(dot)com

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  26. Leah: A romance between Mira and Danaus? Can I just plead the Fifth on this question? I mean, do you really really want to know the answer to this question? All I can say without giving anything away is that I can only put the two characters together in a room, if something happens then it happens. I can't force them to do anything. Remember, they are enemies.

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  27. How did you get your idea to change the vampire around a bit? Mira isn't like your typical vampire, she's really unique. How did you get that idea?

    jessbess2505[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  28. Hi Jocelynn. :-D Do you find it difficult to keep a series going? Are you planning another series after this one, or are you looking to write stand alone novels? :-D

    I hope I win! I look forward to being introduced to your work. :-D

    demonhunter32(at)gmail(dot)com

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  29. I'm so glad that you've fallen in love with dear sweet Savannah. I'm a Georgia girl who lives only about two hours from there. The historic area is gorgeous and certainly lends well for book settings.

    Deidre
    deidre_durance at hotmail dot com

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  31. Hello, Jocelynn! I enjoyed your interview. What a beautiful cover on DAWNBREAKER!
    Please enter my name in the drawing. I am a Google Connect Follower and a Google Reader Subscriber. gcwhiskas at aol dot com

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  32. Something I learned from the Dark Days History Page is that Nightwalkers depend on blood for their survival.

    jen4777[at]hotmail.com

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  33. Jessica: To put it simply, I'm a bit of a fire bug. I love burning things and I love making things explode. It seemed natural for me to come up with a character that controlled fire. For my nightwalkers, I just picked what characteristics of mythology I liked and played with the bits that I didn't like. I wanted my vampires to be strong and yet very vulnerable at the same time.

    Demon Hunter: I haven't had any trouble keeping the series going because I have lots of ideas floating around in my head. My problem is finding the time and opportunity to tackle them all. I'm afraid there are some ideas that I will just never get around to. I do have other series planned, but I don't currently have time to work on them. I also have stand-alone novels planned. I am hoping to work on one of them in between books 5 and 6. I hope to write in many different genres on many different and strange topics.

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  34. Thanks Doug and Jocelynn! I was wondering if the Naturi mythology for the Dark Days books is based on a real mythology or your own invention?

    Thanks,
    Abigail

    I posted this on my blog

    http://allthingsurbanfantasy.blogspot.com/2009/09/contests-giveaways-drawn-into-darkness.html

    AllThingsUrbanFantasy(at) gmail (dot) com

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  35. Hey Jocelynn,

    So we know you love the Prince of Persia but are there any other fictional characters (from books, games, etc.) that you absolutely love?

    Jess S.

    fudgeyoureself@hotmail.com

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  36. I haven't had a chance to start reading the series yet - but I am planning to. My question is, should readers start at the beginning so as not to get confused, or can the books in the series stand alone?

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  37. Hi, Jocelynn,

    I enjoyed the interview!

    I just have a comment & it's just that I loved the first book in the "Dark Days" series, just bought the second one, and I'm anxious for the third!

    karenwitkowski AT aol(dot)com

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  38. All Things Urban Fantasy: The naturi mythology was my own invention. I initially wanted to go with elves and traditional Fae mythology, but my editor wanted me to change it. By going with the naturi, I could broaden the scope of the mythology and could also more easily come up with their enemy: the bori.

    Jess S.: Other fictional characters that I love? Sephiroth, Squall, Cloud, and Yuna from the Final Fantasy video game series. I love too many characters from Raymond Feist’s world to list. I love Rachel Morgan from Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. I am also a Batman fanatic. I adore Batman, the Joker , and Harley Quinn.

    Barbara: The books are meant to stand alone. However, I feel that you can get a better understanding of everything that is happening if you read them in order. You might want to try the Unbound anthology, which has my novella as a starting point. It is a great starting point to the series, introduces you to my writing style, and includes stories from four other AMAZING writers.

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  39. Hi Jocelynn & Doug,
    Great interview. I just purchased Nightwalker and Dayhunter. I am waiting for this release to start, I want to read them together. I also picked up the anthology. So my question for you is HOW? Do you have a magical assistant who does all your leg work, because I read your blog daily and I know you are always busy?!

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  40. Anyway, congrats and be sure to take a moment to enjoy your accomplishment.

    Doug, my favorite SciFi guy, I posted a link on my blog. http://ellzreadz.blogspot.com/

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  41. I've had the release date on my calendar for what seems like FOREVER! Can't wait to get the third book, hope Mira and Danaus get together soon...
    -Paige
    trinket82@hotmail.com

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  42. Gosh darn it, I'm in the wrong country again!

    I don't think I have any pressing questions for Jocelyn, I just want to get my hands on this book so I can see more Danaus. And Mira, of course ;-)

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  43. Hi!
    Great interview, thank you for sharing. How do you come up with the names you give your characters and their groups? Is there a significance in the name to the book? For example, how did you come up with Naturi?

    Biki
    chichai_hana(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  44. Howdy -
    I want to say that I think it is funny that both you, Jocelyn, and Jeaniene Frost picture Oded Fehr for your characters, he is quite yummy! I think Oded makes a great Danaus.

    Upon reading your Dark Days history, I learned that Aurora is of the light clan. Which pretty much means that in a fight, Aurora vs. Mira, neither could use fire against the other. I would imagine that when you write that battle scene it will be pretty intense!

    Contact -
    Re-Farina (at) wiu (dot) edu

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  45. Great interview. I love this series and cant wait to see what happens in Dawnbreaker. Thanks for taking the time to do this and answer so many questions.

    Anything else out there in the works besides this series?

    Have you had the chance with your busy schedule reading anything you greatly recommend to others?

    Posted on sidebar here: http://donnasbloghome.blogspot.com/

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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  46. The book sounds interesting.

    kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

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  47. Hi Jocelynn! Do you think my home Hawaii will be a good setting for your novels?

    delilah0180(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  48. Hi, Jocelyn.

    What is your opinion on book trailers, please? Do you think they help in book sales?

    Thanks,
    Tracey
    booklover0226 AT gmail DOT com

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  49. im with RK<< I always wonder if was harder or easier with the next book in a series to write. but actually had not tasked

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  50. I love the picture that the character Danaus was based on - it does a lot to inspire!
    Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

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  51. I learned that Mira is The Fire Starter born in October 1378 & reborn in 1405.

    megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

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  52. Wow Doug! Thanks for snagging that pic! I added it to my guest post just now! :)

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  53. HI :D i really dont have a question, most of them have been asked. :) i just have to say i luv your Dark Days novels. No joke but i just stared reading them Sunday and i just finished Dayhunter today, i couldnt put them down they were great. Now im just happy i dont have to wait so long for Dawnbreaker. :D

    lylaluv93@sbcglobal.net

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