Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Giveaway & Chat with Jocelynn Drake

I loved her Dark Days series. Now Jocelynn Drake is back with a new story to tell.  Today she is here to talk about her new Asylum series and its latest novella, The Asylum Tales: Trixie. Please help me welcome Jocelynn to the blog.

Jen: Give everyone a little rundown on the premise for the Asylum series.

Jocelynn: The Asylum Tales series focuses on the adventures of a former warlock-in-training turned tattoo artist, as he tries to help his friends and loved ones without getting killed by the witches and warlocks who inhabit the Ivory Towers. In this new world, everything is out in the open and none of the creatures are hiding. With creatures like werewolves, vampires, elves, and minotaurs as your next door neighbor, poor humans need a little help at times to get ahead. This is where the tattoo artists can give you a hand. With the addition of a potion to the ink, the tattoo artist can improve your love life, give you good luck, or maybe help hex a cheating ex.

Jen: This is a first person male POV. That's not unheard of in Urban Fantasy, but not nearly as common as a female lead these days. Tell me about the decision to base the series around a guy.

Jocelynn: When I started to think about creating a new series, my first rule was that it had to be completely different from my Dark Days series. With that in mind, some of the first decisions were easy: open world (versus Mira’s hiding vampires) and lighter tone (Dark Days was understandably dark). Once I decided that I was moving away from vampires, Gage immediately came to mind. My storyteller, in my mind, has always been a male. I love the female-lead stories and they are great to write, but I think using a male POV was partially about stretching my own storytelling skills and partially about leveling the playing field. The majority of first person Urban Fantasy stories are from a woman’s POV and I am getting worried that they guys are starting to take it too easy. It’s time for guys to get back into the game and kick a little butt. Can’t leave it to the women to clean up all the messes of the supernatural world! 


Jen: I know a male POV isn't really new for you. (I loved Danaus's book.)

Jocelynn: When I started writing the Dark Days series, my plan was to tell at least one book from Danaus’s POV. I always saw the series as having two lead characters and it was natural for Danaus to get a book. I hadn’t initially intended to wait until book 4 (PRAY FOR DAWN) for it happen, but I had to get a few things in the series settled before I could tell his story. Danaus’s book was hard to write, but not because he’s a guy. Danaus just doesn’t like to talk much and doesn’t like to show what he’s thinking so it wasn’t easy to get into mind. But it was interesting seeing the world through his eyes.

On the other hand, Gage has been so much fun to write! I can see him in my mind. He’s got my brother’s smirky grin and the same sarcastic, dirty sense of humor that most of my male friends have. Working with him is a lot like sitting around with my friends and listening to them talk. He is very much an open book to me and his mouth frequently gets him into trouble.

Gage is similar to Mira in that they have some impulse control issues when they are angry or their friends are threatened. But where Mira was ready to burn or kill anything in her path, Gage just wants to knock heads and scare. Gage isn’t a killer by nature and he’s paying for some of his hesitance in his dangerous world. Unlike Mira, Gage also has a close network of friends that he relies on. This gives him a stronger foundation to stand on when things get ugly.

Jen: Let's talk a little about the novellas. What was behind the idea of kicking the series off this way?

Jocelynn: The decision to lead with some prequel novellas is actually two-fold. With the growing popularity of e-readers, e-novellas can be put out relatively quickly and at a relatively low expense for the publisher. As a result, we can keep the prices low for readers. Each novella comes in around 80-ish pages (at least they do in my Word Doc) and includes an excerpt for the first full-length novel, ANGEL’S INK. These inexpensive novellas are a great way to allow readers to try a new series and/or author without hurting their wallets. For $2, a reader gets about 100 pages that are a fantastic introduction to brand new, crazy world. Hey, everybody loves a bargain!

The real selling point for me when my publisher suggested it was that it gave me a chance to ease readers into this new series. The Dark Days series was very similar to the real world, except that it contained vampires and werewolves. The Asylum Tales is … really different. By creating two prequel novellas, readers get the chance to meet Gage, learn about his world in nice bite-sized chunks, and learn how he meets and hires his two friends Bronx (a troll) and Trixie (an elf). The novellas are not only a way of easing readers into this new world, but they also let me show little portions that I might not be able to touch on in the main novels.

Jen: The tattoos and the magic behind them play a huge role in the series. Tell us a bit more about how that all works.

Jocelynn: There are two types of magic in this world – at least in how it relates to how humans use magic. The first kind are the spells, enchantments, curses, and hex that use words, hand motions or wands, and a good dose of magic energy out of the air. If you are a human and you use the first kind of magic, then you are a witch or warlock. When you first exhibit this ability, you are taken from your home and thrust into training with a mentor in the Ivory Towers. This is NOT Hogwarts. You don’t make friends, live in houses, or play games while riding a broomstick. You learn magic or you die. Life is hard, ugly, and painful here. Only the strongest and smartest survive, but the end result is that you become one of the most powerful creatures on the planet. The world lives in constant terror of you and for good reason. 

(If you are a non-human and can do this kind of magic, such as an elf, then you keep your head down and don’t catch the attention of the Towers, or you will be killed.)

The other type of magic falls in the potion category. Anyone can do this kind of magic because it doesn’t require an external magical force. All the magic lies in the ingredients. Housewives, doctors, your next door neighbor the trash collector can all do potions. If you can mix the ingredients correctly, then you can do a potion. Some potions can be eaten or drunk, but most need to be added to the bloodstream, which is why they are generally the domain of tattoo artists. A good potion added to some ink can help improve your life. Most potions have a shelf-life of either months or a few years before the effects wear off. All tattoo artists are trained and licensed in both tattooing and stirring potions. They are also tested and monitored by the Tattoo Artists and Potion Stirrers Society (TAPSS).

Warlocks and witches also use potions, but not to a heavy degree. They have no love for tattoo artists and see them as the dregs of society. Meanwhile, tattoo artists in Gage’s world have a somewhat higher place in society. You would keep your favorite local tattoo artist on speed dial like you would maybe your doctor or dentist.

Jen: Without spoiling too much, what can you tell us about the Ivory Towers?

Jocelynn: The Ivory Towers represent the true horror of Gage’s world. There are still countries and wars between these peoples, but those wars seem small compared to the things that the warlocks and the witches are capable of. The Ivory Towers are home to the warlocks and the witches. It is where they live, study, train, and plan. There is one on every continent and they are hidden from everyone that doesn’t live within the Towers. The warlocks and witches devote their lives to the study of magic, removing themselves from the rest of society so that they can’t be tainted. They see themselves as above the rest of the world, believing themselves to be an entirely separate, evolved race than regular humans.

When you see a warlock or witch, you don’t speak to them. You run. You hide. You pray. If you get in their way, they will kill you. If you try to stop them or question them, they will kill you. And there is no punishment for them. No one can stop them.

And so far, Gage is the first one to ever try to leave. He’s escaped, but there is a price to pay.

If you would like to read more about the rise of the Ivory Towers, click here to read the essay that Gage has written. (It is a PDF)

Jen: And Trixie will play a big part in the stories to come, yes? 

Jocelynn: Trixie will play a somewhat large role in the story. When the first novel ANGEL’S INK opens, she has been Gage’s friend for a couple years and has worked for him at Asylum during that time. In the first novel, you’ll learn more about why she is hiding the fact that she is really an elf and learn why she had been on the run. I’m also happy to say that she is quite fond of Gage and Bronx. 

Both Trixie and Bronx have a wonderful grounding effect on Gage. They help to keep him calm and centered when things are going crazy. They are there to watch his back when things go bad. They are there when loneliness threatens to swallow him up. And they are there when he’s feeling lost in a world he is trying so hard to be a part of.

No matter how hard Gage tries, he is an outsider on all sides. The Towers hate him because they see him as a traitor. If the rest of the world finds out he is a former warlock, they will try to kill him because they will only see him as one of the group that has been persecuting them for centuries. Trixie and Bronx simply see him as Gage, a tattoo artist with a knack for getting into trouble.

Jen: How many books are you contracted for in the series? Will there be any more novellas?

Jocelynn: At the moment, I am contracted for two full-length novels, two novellas, and one short story that will appear in an upcoming Halloween-themed anthology. The current release schedule is:

July 3 – The Asylum Interviews: Bronx (novella) 
September 4 – The Asylum Interviews: Trixie (novella) 
October 16 – Angel’s Ink (novel) 
Later in October – Halloween Anthology short story 
Summer 2013 – Book 2 in The Asylum Tales series

The door is wide open for more novels and novellas if the series proves to be popular. I would definitely like to write more novels for the series and I wouldn’t mind writing a novella for Gideon or Jack – two characters you will meet in the first book.

Jen: Can you give us a little snippet from Trixie to whet our appetite?

Jocelynn: Sure! This snippet is actually the opening for The Asylum Interviews: Trixie novella. To set this scene and novella up a bit: Gage gets a call from his ex-girlfriend Jo and is invited to see her band play. Now that Jo has moved back to town, it seems that she’s gotten herself into a bit of trouble but she doesn’t want to involve Gage. However, he is more than happy to jump in with the help of Jo’s friend Trixie when it looks like Jo has more trouble than she can handle.

   This woman could kiss. Her lips were lush pillows and the things she could do with her tongue made my toes curl. Even the nip of her fangs made the blood roar in my ears. I would have paid anything at that moment to be in a bedroom rather than a cramped, stuffy coat closet.
   I reluctantly pulled away from Jo after I hit my head on the closet rod for the fourth time. Her lean body was molded against mine as I pressed her against the back wall. She shifted, rubbing her pelvis against my groin. My eyes rolled back into my head as a fresh wave of pleasure/pain swept through my body, briefly wiping away the thought that had me pulling away from her in the first place.
   “Don’t stop, Gage,” she murmured. Her hand slipped up from my shoulder to cup the back of my head. As she tried to pull me back down, I released her ass and slammed my right hand against the wall beside her head, bracing myself so that she couldn’t recapture my mouth.
   “If we keep going, you’re going to find your pants around your ankles in another minute,” I threatened through clenched teeth. On second thought, it wouldn’t take as long as another minute.
   “Mmmm … a quickie.” Her voice was a delicious purr as she ground her body against mine.
   “Jo, sweetheart, there’s no such thing as a quickie between us.”
   Why the hell did we stop dating? With her sweet body pressed against me, her hands trailing over my chest and down to my ass, I really couldn’t think of the answer to that question. Sex with Jo had always been surface-of-the-sun-hot and we rarely argued. She also didn’t ask a lot of questions, which was perfect with me. So she was a blood-sucking predator. I was a former warlock-in-training. No one was perfect.
Jo’s hands stopped their roaming and I could feel her sigh. “True. And we’re going on soon. The guys wouldn’t appreciate it if I held them up.”
   The guys. That would be the reason why we split. The band—Dead Playthings—had gotten popular and they started traveling farther and farther away for gigs. Jo and I had started seeing less of each other and neither one of us had been so enamored that we felt the need to try to make a long-distance relationship work. So with a hug and a wish of good luck, we had gone our separate ways roughly two years ago.
   “Besides, I thought this was just a quick ‘hello.’ Nothing complicated,” I said.
Jo gave a little snort. “Since when has sex between us been complicated?”
   “True.”
   “No hard feelings?”
   I leered at her, knowing she could see it despite the fact that it was pitch-black in that tiny closet. Her excellent night vision had come in handy on more than one occasion. I felt her hand creep down my chest to slide between where our groins were pressed together. Her long fingers slipped along my rock-hard dick, squeezing a groan from my throat.
   “Well, I don’t mind a few hard feelings,” she said with a chuckle.
   “You’ve got them.” I leaned forward to capture her mouth again , when someone knocked on the door. I tensed, waiting for the door to be jerked open and bright light to wash over us, but it never happened.
   “Jo, we go on in ten,” announced a deep voice. I thought it was Royce, the lead singer, but I couldn’t be sure. I hadn’t talked to the man in more than two years, but if it was him, I had a fresh reason not to like him.
   “Fuck,” we grumbled in unison.
   “Jinx! You owe me a pint,” Jo giggled.
   “Ha. Ha. We better get going.”
   Jo grabbed my shirt, keeping me from pulling away from her. “Are you sticking around for the show? We could talk afterward.”
   I grinned, grabbing her ass again. “I’m all for that.”
   “No, I mean talk-talk, not talk-fuck.”
   I stiffened, squinting in the darkness as I tried to see her face. “Is something wrong?”
   “No! Why does something have to be wrong for me to want to talk to you? We talked while we were dating. Besides, we’ve hardly talked in two years. I thought we could catch up.”
   I stared at her for a couple seconds, wishing I could see her expression but it was lost in the blackness of the closet. “That’s fine. I’ve got a friend here with me. I’ll introduce you.”
   “Sounds good. Now, get out of here. I’ve got to fix my makeup,” she said, pushing me away from her and toward the door.
   I stepped out of the closet, squinting against the bright light. Her band mates glanced up at me for only a second before returning their attention elsewhere. I turned and gave her one last kiss before heading out of the backstage area to the front of the venue. Pausing before a mirror for a second, I wiped off the last remnants of her lipstick and straightened my clothes. Luckily, my current hairstyle was already short and messy. There wasn’t much I could do about the bulge in my pants, but that would pass.
   Bronx was still sitting at the high-top table we had procured before someone had come out to fetch me. The troll gave a knowing little smirk and raised his glass to me as I approached like some conquering hero. I shook my head at my coworker and friend, but I couldn’t wipe the stupid grin off my face to save my soul. But then, Jo always had had a way of putting the grin on my face. 

Sound good?? Jocelynn is giving away three copies of The Asylum Tales: Trixie. This is the second novella, but it absolutely can be read as a standalone.  To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  A big thanks to Jocelynn Drake for taking the time to chat with me today!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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19 Comments:

At Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 12:23:00 PM CDT , Blogger Joanne said...

Jocelynn is a new author for me. This book sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the great excerpt and interview.

e.balinski(at)att(dot)net

 
At Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 4:35:00 PM CDT , Blogger pamerd said...

Hi

I love Jocelynn's books! I have read Bronx (first novella) and loved it. I am looking forward to Trixie's books and then of course Angel's Ink.

Thanks for the chance
Pam
tpibrew@msn.com

 
At Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 9:32:00 AM CDT , Blogger Sherri W. said...

Sounds great, and I love the excerpt. I have to agree that it is a bit odd reading a male's POV (especially with a romance scene). :-)

How was it writing the male POV during "intimate" relations.

urbangirlreader(at)gmail(dot)com

 
At Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 9:52:00 AM CDT , Blogger Allison said...

Officially on the TBR mountain, sounds like a fun series! Great interview :)

 
At Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 1:14:00 PM CDT , Blogger erin said...

thanks for a great post and congrats to Jocelynn on the new release! I love the premise of this series and it was already on my radar :)

 
At Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 8:32:00 PM CDT , Blogger April said...

Very intruding about a male voice!

 
At Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 9:36:00 PM CDT , Blogger Amy said...

I loved the Dark Days series, so I would definitely like to give is series a shot, I like novellas as they give a background and a taste of things to come and you can determine whether the story will be of interest as a reader.

 
At Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 6:05:00 AM CDT , Blogger Jessica@a GREAT read said...

How different would you say the worlds are from this one to your Dark Days world?

 
At Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 11:44:00 AM CDT , Blogger Sariah said...

Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the chance.

 
At Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 6:07:00 PM CDT , Blogger JenM said...

I've already read Bronx and I'm definitely looking forward to the first full-length book. From what I've read so far, I think it's going to be a great series.

 
At Friday, September 7, 2012 at 2:14:00 AM CDT , Anonymous bn100 said...

I enjoyed the interview and excerpt.

 
At Friday, September 7, 2012 at 6:01:00 PM CDT , Blogger Jocelynn Drake said...

That was probably the hardest part of writing from a guy's POV. I am hoping that I'm somewhat authentic in that section. Of course, Gage has always been enthusiastic in sharing his thoughts and moods with me. :)

 
At Friday, September 7, 2012 at 6:03:00 PM CDT , Blogger Jocelynn Drake said...

More than the difference of night and day. I think there's more magic available, more creatures, and a more open attitude since the people have been dealing with the other creatures for their entire lives.

 
At Friday, September 7, 2012 at 6:49:00 PM CDT , Blogger Vinny K said...

Great interview, it definitely got me even more interested in the upcoming release.

 
At Friday, September 7, 2012 at 8:52:00 PM CDT , Blogger javacatz said...

Can't wait for Angel's Ink!

 
At Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 12:44:00 AM CDT , OpenID leiaaurora said...

Im super excited for Angel's Ink. :)

 
At Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 1:59:00 AM CDT , Blogger kazza16 said...

Jocelynn's Dark Days series is awesome. I'm sure this one will be just as good! Aussie readers say Hi!

 
At Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 1:09:00 PM CDT , Anonymous Auntie April said...

You became one of my top five favorite authors with your series Dark Days! I have no doubt that this series will have an amazing "WOW" factor, and make me totaly obsessed with the characters too! Ilove that you write from the first person pov. You have a unique way a letting the reader actually "become" the character! To think, feel, I'm very excited about this series!

 
At Saturday, September 8, 2012 at 9:08:00 PM CDT , Blogger elaing8 said...

Loved the Dark Days books. And really looking forward to reading this series.

 

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