Interview with Darynda Jones
Interview with Darynda Jones
Affaire de Coeur's
June Calendar Girl
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious RITA®, a Golden Heart®, and a Daphne du Maurier. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.
When you write, do you outline first, or are you a pantser?
While I dream of being one of those morning writers who gets up at 5 am and is super productive, writing until noon, I inevitably find myself up at all hours to meet a deadline. I get my best writing done in the evening until about midnight.
I am a plotter to the extreme. Again, I’d love to be able to just open a new document and start writing, but after 20 books, I have come to accept that my brain simply does not work that way. I will get about 50 pages in and get stuck, almost irrevocably. Therefore, I plot. I am in love with James Scott Bell’s Write your Novel from the Middle. It’s pure genius and is what I use now when I begin a new project.
What type of characters do you like to create?
The questions should be what type don’t I like? They are all fun to write, but I do have a very specific type for my protagonists, and that is they must not take themselves too seriously. Life is too short for that. If my heroine can’t laugh at herself, she is not the heroine for me.
But to address a more specific characteristic, I try to make all of my characters multi-dimensional. No cardboard cutouts. They must have depth or they, even the bad guys. They must have a rich backstory and appropriate motivation for everything that they do.
Tell us about your new book or series.
Well, the last in the Charley Davidson Series, Summoned to Thirteenth Grave, came out earlier this year, so now I am on to a brand-new series with a super savvy heroine who is the new sheriff for a small town in New Mexico. Unfortunately, her first day on the job turns out less than stellar when she is faced with a wanted fugitive holed up in her town, a missing teenaged girl, and an abducted rooster named Puff Daddy. Add to that her childhood crush suspected of murder, and she is ready to hang up her badge before she even has a chance to break it in. A Bad Day for Sunshine releases from St. Martin’s Press in April 2020.
What motivates you for a perfect writing day?
The characters. Even though I plot like there’s no tomorrow, my characters still surprise me and take me off in directions I didn’t see coming. I love to see what they will do when I paint them into a corner. And if I know an especially fun scene is coming up, I will write faster just to get to it.
How/where do you get your plot ideas?
Absolutely everywhere. I can barely watch a commercial on TV without getting a book/series idea. I look at everything around me and think that all-powerful question, “What if?” I have dozens of projects outlined and hundreds of others scribbled down here and there. It can actually be a hindrance when I’m trying to finish a book and am bombarded with idea after idea. I’m like a squirrel who sees something shiny every day, especially when I’m on deadline.
What is the most difficult thing about creating and developing characters?
Hmmm, I think the most difficult thing is actually waiting to write their story until you know them well enough to do it justice. It’s hard. You know the basics—gender, height, hair color—but you need to really know them to be able to write their stories. What happened in their pasts to bring them to their present situation? Who hurt them? Who supported them and forced them to question their own actions? What would they do in a particular situation, yes, but more importantly, why would they do it? What shaped them? All characters have flaws. The question is, why? We are all products of our pasts. We must understand our characters’ pasts to create empathy in a readers for them. Without that empathy, we have cardboard. No one wants to read about cardboard. It’s more painful that watching paint dry.
What is your favorite thing about being an author?
Writing! Okay, for realsies, it’s getting to make up stories. Who doesn’t want to do that for a living? As cliché as it sounds, it really is a dream come true.
How many books do you currently have out on the market and what genres do they fall into?
I have 17 books out now, two done and ready for the world, and one that is under my bed and will probably stay there forever. I have two series out now, both paranormal, though one, The Charley Davidson Series, is adult, and the second, The Darklight Trilogy, is young adult. And the first book in the new Sunshine Vicram Series will drop early next year. It is mystery, although I will say that all of my books are comedic as well.
Will you be attending any book signings or conventions?
Always. In 2020 I’ll be at RARE in Edinburgh, Scotland, at ARRA in Australia, at RWA and several other conferences and conventions. I’ll also have book signings with all of my releases. Though I tend to stick close to my home state of New Mexico, we are planning a bigger tour for A Bad Day for Sunshine.
Pass on some words of wisdom, please, to aspiring authors.
Firstly, wisdom is a relative term, but I would like to say that I have been writing since I was five. No, I was not a child prodigy. I simply began making up stories at a very young age. But I didn’t sell my first book until I was 44 years old. And even though I’ve hit every list there is, I still take writing classes regularly. Never give up. Never stop learning.
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