Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome Darynda Jones

Friday February 4, 2011

I'm so excited to have one of my Ruby Slippered Sisters, Darynda Jones, as a guest today. Darynda's debut novel, The First Grave On The Right, released this week from St. Martin's Press. I've read an arc of FG and throughly enjoyed the story, characters and Darynda's voice. I know you will too. She is a hoot!

So let's talk to Darynda.

Darynda~A lot of people ask writers where we get our ideas, and I ask, where don’t we? I thought it would be fun to explore where some of the ideas for the Charley Davidson series came from. First, a quick blurb about the book:

First Grave on the Right

From the publisher:Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light." But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal?circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.
(I love that last line, lol.)
So, we know that Charley Davidson is a private investigator. This arose out of necessity and Charley’s past helping her detective father and now her uncle, also a detective. I wanted her to be able to get into and out of sticky situations. Being a PI places her in all kinds of trouble just when we need it most.

Okay, that was easy enough and not especially creative. But Charley is also the grim reaper. That idea also arose out of necessity. As an aspiring writer, I needed something fresh, something that hadn’t been done a thousand times and yet was enough of a high concept to make it accessible to almost anyone in our culture. So, the grim reaper was born.

At the same time, there are about half a dozen subplots peppered throughout the story. Now those ideas come from much more interesting places.

For example, Charley has a best friend who also doubles as her receptionist. She’s funny and na├»ve and is the best friend a person could ask for. Cookie’s physical description is actually based on a friend of mine who happens to be from Albuquerque. (The series is set in Albuquerque.) And she’s one of those people who would walk across hot coals for you one minute and scold you until you whimper the next. She’s caring and loving and a whole lot of fun. Despite this, Cookie is fiction for the most part. While she is loosely based on this friend of mine, she is very much a combination of other sidekicks from various forms of fiction, like television, movies and books. She’s part Sookie from The Gilmore Girls, part Willlow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, part Alfred from Batman…I could go on and on. Sidekicks are an integral part of character development. Who a character hangs out with says a lot about that character.

So what about Reyes? The super hot, super built mystery guy? Again, Reyes is a combination of so many characters, it’s hard to narrow down just one. He’s a little bit Simon from Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I. That dark and brooding hero who is too sexy for his own good. He also has a little bit of Angel from the Buffy-verse in him. Nobody broods better than Angel. And he’s also very much Max from the show Roswell. Mostly because much of his physical description is based on actor Jason Behr.

And this brings us to Charley. Wow, she is so many characters as well. She’s Stephanie Plum, Charley Daniels, Cat Crawfield, Betsy Taylor, Buffy (naturally) with a little Penelope Featherington thrown in for good measure.

So, how much of my characters are me? I think there is a little bit of the writer in each of his or her characters. It makes them grounded and attainable and human, something all writers strive for in their characters.

I’d like to thank AJ so much for having me!


  1. Ooooh, I can't wait to read this book! Darynda, I heard about you and your book on another blog a few weeks ago (sorry, can't remember now but it may have been Suzanne Johnson's Peternatura?) Anyway, I got sidetracked and forgot all about wanting to read First Grave I'm heading to the bookstore tomorrow for something else I need so First Grave is going on my list. (See? All of this promo is a good thing; we humans have very short memories :)

  2. LOL, Rachel! Don't I know it! The "short" in short term memory is an overstatement in my case. So glad you remembered it though! Hope you like it and thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Rachel you'll love this book.....

  4. Hi, Autumn!

    Darynda, mega congrats on the release of First Grave! I'm growing very impatient as I wait for my copy to wing its way over here. Reyes sounds hawt--I'm looking forward to meeting him. ;)

  5. First Grave sounds like a winner. I enjoyed the interview.

  6. Well, let me throw my $.02 in for the fence sitters. First Grave isn't something I would have read had it not been written by a RS Sister--not into paranormal--but I enjoyed this book. Quirky, poignant in places, and laugh-out-loud funny in others, Charley grabs you from the get-go and drags you along at startling speed. My husband is reading it. Yes, it's that good.

    I have a squeal stored for the minute this book makes it to the Best Seller list--and it will.

  7. Darynda, I need to know. Reyes was so hot, or was it his power over Charley and her reaction to his presence which made him so? No he was definitely hot! Will he be back in your next book?

    And when will Second Grave On The Left be out?

  8. Fun, fun, fun to be here!!

    And, Autumn, I'm sure Darynda will answer your question about Reyes' hotness...but I can testify to his inherent hotness (I loves me a good, brooding, intense hero...with muscles).

    FIRST GRAVE is fabulous, and SO much fun to read! I'm with Gwynlyn, preparing my squeal for the announcement it's hit the bestseller list!

    Congrats, Darynda! Hope you're enjoying the ride!

  9. Swinging by to say hi to Darynda and to Autumn. What a debut week you've had, Darynda, and the characters are fascinating. I think what attracted me most to Reyes was that he would do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g for Charley who puts herself in some life-threatening positions. Which one of us wouldn't kill for a hero/protagonist like this. Great blog, Autumn!

  10. I loved the book. The balance of suspense and humor was perfect to me. And yes, there was major hotness! boyaa! I can't wait for the next one.

  11. Hi Autumn and Darynda! This is my first visit to the site, and what a great place it is. :)

    Darynda, I loved the parallels you drew between your characters and those in the Buffy-verse. I've just started watching them, can you believe it (was living overseas when the series aired), and it's like I have this whole new lexicon for talking to readers and writers now. :)

    Congrats from another Ruby sister on all your amazing success. You're so inspiring to all of us!

    Laura Navarre

  12. Congrats again on your release, Darynda! I loved FIRST GRAVE and definitely looking forward to more Charley and Reyes in SECOND GRAVE.

    I admire the way you're able to write a series that spans multiple books...I don't think I'd be able to do that. Or maybe I just haven't hit on the right idea for it yet. :)

  13. Thank you guys SOOOOOOOO much!!!!! @Autumn, heck yeah Reyes will be back in book two. And three. And four. You get the pic. LOL. And Second Grave will be out in August. Thanks for asking!

  14. Congratulations Darynda. I was intrigued with this book from the moment I saw the title in the GH announcements and it's only increased with time. Enjoy the ride and thanks for so generously sharing each step.

  15. @Micaela, so very glad you liked it!!!

    @Vanessa, thank you so much for ordering it. Sorry it's taking so long, sis!

    Thank you, @Donna! It was very late when I wrote this. Now I see all of my mistakes. Thanks for overlooking them. LOL.

    @Gwynlyn, I love that your Hubble is reading it!!! Tell him I hope he likes it. My FIL is one of my biggest advocates. He loved it!

    @Elisa, thanks to you and Gwynlyn both for the faith! Love you guys!

    @Donnell, thank you again for everything! And, I agree. Reyes is just an all around amazing guy. And def hawt!!!

    @Michaela, woohoo! Thank you so much. So glad you liked!

    @Laura, thank you so much!! Isn't Buffy wonderful? The new words. The new take on old cliches. Love, love, love it. And I love seeing all the Rubies with their shiny new releases. *wink, wink* SO FUN!!!!

    @Cynthia, first thank you! And second, I think you're right. It just takes the right idea. Not all of my ideas are same-character series-friendly. Thanks again!!!!

  16. Thank YOU for putting up with me, Bev LOL.

  17. The second one doesn't come out until AUGUST???!!!!???? Gee. Don't want to wait that long. The book is great. Congrats.
    It's been exciting to watching your journey.

  18. Oh...I did not need to be thinking about hot Reyes tonight! *fanning myself*

    And I agree with Elisa...I loves me a good, brooding, intense hero...with muscles :)