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 naïve 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!