Burn the Night, the final chapter in Jocelynn Drake's Dark Days series, is just one week away. And I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek. Let me tell you, it was awesome. You can read all about it in my gushing review. If you have never read this fantastic series and you are a fan of dark Urban Fantasy, I urge you to check out the first book Nightwalker. In the meantime, for those of us who are already fans, Jocelynn was kind enough to sit down, chat about the books, and answer some of my burning questions.
Jen: We’ve seen Mira lose a lot of people who were close to her over the course of the series. But the hardest to bear was Tristan. Was it always your plan for him to die?
Jocelynn: Tristan was always a difficult character for me, which is probably why I loved him so much. He was never supposed to live in the first place. He was one of the rare characters I created purely as a writing technique. I needed to give more depth to Sadira and one way to do that was to show how she acted with Tristan and his reaction to her. When I finished Nightwalker, I did a quick body count and was surprised to find that he was still alive. I kind of scratched my head and thought that maybe there was something more to him than I initially seen.
With time, Tristan became more to Mira. He was family. He was the closest thing she would ever have to a brother and he also had the feeling of being a son. He was someone that she saw as having a lot of potential if only he could get over his past with Sadira. In him, I think Mira saw a lot of what could have happened to her.
I’ve seen that a lot of people don’t care for Tristan. It’s my impression that they see him as weak. In my mind, he was simply broken. He was what Mira was 500 years before Nightwalker. He simply needed time and encouragement to grow.
Tristan’s death was not in my original plot outline. However, as I got near the end of the book as I was writing, I realized that I needed something else to twist the knife in order to set Mira off in a blind rage. I think, in my gut, I knew what needed to be done but I just wasn’t ready to accept it. Tristan’s death was one of the most painful I’ve ever written. I had known him for a long time and I believed in him. I didn’t want to let him go, but I did. And I cried.
Jen: I always felt like something more was going to happen with Michael’s body. Did you ever intend to pursue that or did I make it all up in my head?
Jocelynn: Lol. That one, I fear, is going to haunt me for the rest of my life as I failed to tie that one up at the end of Burn the Night.
Yes, I will admit that I had plans for Michael. That was back in the early planning stages of the series and I had some things I wanted to get done with the series and Michael was going to be a launching point. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t go in that direction, but I also wish I had had more time to go back and deal with Michael.
My original plan was to send Mira and Danaus on what I was personally calling “the date book.” Mira’s friend from Dayhunter – Alexandre – was going to invite her to her wedding in Portland. At the same time, werewolves would be disappearing from her pack. Agreeing to help, Mira and Danaus would go investigate as well as attend Alexandre’s wedding. Chaos and tenderness would ensue. At the end of the book, Mira would be alone and feel a tap on the shoulder. She would turn and see Michael. Alive! And then there would be Aurora, queen of the naturi. The book would end with her being kidnapped.
The next book would focus on Danaus and Jabari trying to free her, while Mira tried to escape Aurora. The story behind Michael was to be that the naturi found his body before his soul escaped, so they captured his soul and stole his body. Aurora would reanimate him while holding his soul captive. Mira would have to find a way to kill Michael in order to save him from a lifetime of servitude to the naturi.
In the end, I dumped the entire plotline because it interfered with other plans I had as well as I couldn’t properly reconcile all the conflicting points of view I would need to tell the story. I am currently thinking of writing a short story to deal with the question of Michael.
Jen: We waited a very long time for Mira and Danaus to act on their feelings for each other. But now that they’ve crossed that bridge, we’re entering into some great new territory with the love scenes. How do you feel about writing those? (You do a great job with them, by the way.)
Jocelynn: Thank you so much! I know a lot of readers were unhappy with me because I took so long to get them together. And then more were unhappy when Mira had sex with someone other than Danaus. I’m evil like that.
I will admit that I had always planned it that way. These were two very old and very stubborn characters. It takes time to build trust and to tear down old beliefs. I didn’t want them jumping into bed too quickly or it would have just seemed unnatural and forced. I think there is one thing that always reassured me. Back when I was just getting into paranormal fiction, I read a great series in which the author built up the love affair. The main character didn’t finally have sex until the sixth book!! By that time, I needed a cigarette when they were done. I liked the long, natural lead up to that moment. It had been worth waiting for.
I like writing those scenes. It’s actually not too different than writing a fight scene as everything needs to be carefully choreographed. It’s always a little odd to find myself staring off into space, trying to think of new, interesting positions, and then realizing “Gee, I’m getting paid to think about sex.” So far, my editor hasn’t had any critiques for those scenes (for which I am grateful) and I just try not to think about my parents reading those scenes.
Burn the Night was definitely my favorite book to write. While I enjoyed the heavy tension that built up between Mira and Danaus, I think by book six I was just glad to finally put in those tender moments between them. I liked that they were finally comfortable with their feelings for each other and were willing to show it through a comforting touch, a caress, or a kiss to the temple.
Jen: I read somewhere that you said Mira’s story would have had a less happy ending, had the series continued. Would you reveal any of what you had planned?
Jocelynn: Wow! I’ve got to learn to keep my big mouth shut. No, just kidding. Since I have no plan to write those books, I guess I can spill. In Pray for Dawn, I set out what I thought Mira and Danaus needed to be happy. Danaus needed his soul and Mira needed a family.
The plan was for the seventh book to focus on the struggle following the Great Awakening. At the end of that book, Mira and Danaus would hug while standing in a crowd of people. Danaus would jerk in her arms and Mira would feel something sharp in her chest. She would pull away to find a long knife sticking out of Danaus’s chest. A human had approached from behind and stabbed Danaus through the heart. Despite Mira’s offer to turn him, Danaus refused and he would die in her arms. Book seven would close with Danaus dead and Mira burning the city.
In the eighth book, Danaus is back but different. Mira is just blindly happy that he is back and doesn’t question it, but her friends do. It turns out that the bori that holds part of his soul has stolen his body. He’s manipulating Mira so that he can take control of the city and the nightwalkers. After nearly killing Knox, Mira finally believes that it’s not Danaus’s and destroys the bori and Danaus’s body. This book was simply going to be a study in how dark Mira could become in the name of love and whether she could come back from it. Mira would get some final closure as she would see Danaus’s ghost one last time and know that he was at peace.
For the final book, Mira had to face her father (who I wasn’t going to deal with until now). As she begins to research her own family roots and what happened to the gods, she very reluctantly begins to fall for a human. During the final fight with her father, Mira loses her powers and turns back into a human. Eager to live a “normal” life, Mira marries the human and leaves Savannah. The book closes with her sitting in the same Crete cemetery you see in Dayhunter where she spoke with Jabari and Danaus. She meets with Valerio, who begs her to let him turn her back into a vampire. She says no. Not only does she have a happy life with her new husband, but she’s already with child. She had her family. Valerio accepts her wishes and leave. The book closes with Mira smiling as she snaps her fingers and a little teardrop of fire appears. It’s a happy-sad ending. Mira finds love and happiness, but it’s sad because it’s not with Danaus.
This closing would leave the door open for a 20-years-later story that would focus on her kids.
Jen: Do you have any plans to pursue another story in the Dark Days world, featuring another character?
Jocelynn: I will admit that notes exist. Scenes have been written. But will the book ever be completed and published? I don’t know. A part of me has always wanted to do something with Nicolai. I’ve just had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that ever since he was moved to Savannah, he just didn’t fit. I don’t know if we were both restless or what, but he definitely needs his own story and his own mate. I would also love to do something with Valerio. He’s such a sexy character. Stefan is even a temptation, but we will have to see. My year is currently booked with a new series so it might take me a while to circle back around if I ever have the chance.
Jen: Now that the series is over, what’s next for you?
Jocelynn: Burn the Night is the final book in the Dark Days series. However, I’ve got a couple things in the works at the moment. The first proved to be a surprise to me as it seems that I wasn’t quite willing to say good-bye to the Dark Days world just yet. I have finished a novella that is actually a prequel to the entire series. The Dark Days series mentioned an intense relationship that Mira had with Valerio a long time ago before she met Danaus. In the books, it’s obvious that there is a lingering tenderness between them and a number of my readers request a look at Mira’s past with Valerio. The novella is set about 200 years before Nightwalker and details a short adventure between Mira and Valerio, which I think gives a good insight into their relationship. I don’t have a release date yet, but it will be available only as an e-book. Keep tuned in to my blog and Twitter for updates on its release.
I am also hard at work on the first book in a new series. This is a totally new and exciting world. After working in a closed/hidden world, where humans were in the dark, I decided to throw the doors open on this one. In this world, magical creatures live along side of humans, but they are all lorded over by powerful witches and warlocks. In an effort to get ahead in this world, many people will turn to the tattoo artists, who, for the right price, can give you love, luck, or revenge with the right tattoo and potion. The series centers on a skilled tattoo artist and his co-workers as they struggle with their hidden pasts and the interesting customers that come through the door.
Before I go, I want to acknowledge that we were supposed to do a phone chat with Jocelynn over the weekend but we canceled with very little notice. She was so very gracious and understanding. She's a very classy lady and fabulous author.
Thank you so much, Jocelynn, for taking the time to chat with me! I can't wait to see what everyone else thinks of Burn the Night
Labels: by Jen, Interview, Jocelynn Drake