Kimberly asked that I try to give a behind the scenes look at the Dark Days series. Let’s see what I can do without giving away too many delicious secrets.
The Dark Days series technically started as a writing experiment. I had been playing around with some strange versions of some fan fiction; playing in other people’s worlds but introducing my own characters. I liked toying with vampires and other dark creatures. They had all the great emotional turmoil, but proved to be more durable than the normal humans. At the same time, I was creating my own vampire short stories, but I wasn’t all that happy with the results. The characters kept turning out too dark with too few redeeming qualities – there was nothing for the reader to really relate to or sympathize with.
So, one day I decided that I would write a short story in first person, but the storyteller would not focus on him/herself but actually tell the story of another character – a vampire hunter with a dark past and even darker abilities. I had the scene all laid out. I knew what was going to happen, what the tone would be, what the setting would look like. And then disaster struck. Mira opened her mouth.
I hadn’t intended for it to happen, but Mira is a larger-than-life character, and as soon as she stepped onto the screen, her personality took over. Mira is the culmination of several characters I had created through fan fiction, short stories, and just idle bits of daydreams I had had over the years. So when she opened her mouth, I knew exactly what she sounded like, what she believed, and how she acted. I knew her like she was family, and maybe in a strange way, she is family to me.
Unfortunately, when I started the story with her, she quickly took over, revealing that she had her own tale to tell, and Danaus was just going to have to come along for the ride, damn it! But I have no regrets. Mira is a ton of fun to write. She’s got a great view of life, even if it is a little dark. I love her relationship with Danaus, even when they are trying to kill each other (and I promise that that relationship will grow even more interesting over the next few books).
But back to the short story. When it was finished, I handed off to a good friend, who quickly read it. His response? He handed it back to me and simply said, “You’re not done yet.” He was addicted to the characters and the world I had created – the greatest compliment a writer could receive. So, I buckled down and I wrote what became Nightwalker and a good chunk of Dayhunter. I fell in love with this world and decided that I just couldn’t keep it to myself. After numerous rejections over a two-year period, I finally landed an absolutely amazing agent, who then snagged me the best editor in the whole world – and no I’m not exaggerating.
I will admit that the naturi were not the original villain in the series. When I finally got a publisher, my editor revealed that she didn’t care for my original villain, so the villain came out and the naturi were created. But one perk of my editor is that she lets me set the pace of the relationships within the series. I don’t like when two opposites just suddenly fall in love and everything becomes harp music and roses. These two opposites have two clashing opinions that they’re grasping to. They need time to adjust and bend a little bit. I like to think of it as a slow burn, and even then there’s no promise that everything is going to work out.
Kimberly asked me one other question that I’m struggling with: What do I want my readers to get out of these stories? Well, the first and foremost is a wonderful roller-coaster ride with some characters that you come to care greatly for. That adventure is the most important. I guess the second is more risky. I want the reader to pause and take a good look at the dark side and how easy it is to make a dark decision for what seems like a very good reason. It’s a slippery slope and every once in a while, we’re all bound to fall.
Looking ahead to the future of the series: I am contracted for six books plus one novella that is slated to come out at the end of August. However, I still have many more stories that I would like to tell. It’s all a matter of how many books my publisher is willing to publish. I hope that Mira and Danaus will be around for many more books. I’ve got a lot more trouble for them to get into. I am also hoping to introduce a couple other storytellers if only so I can give Mira a small break. There have been some requests to hear a book from Danaus’s point of view and I’m trying to accommodate that request. Keep your fingers crossed that my editor likes it.
Visit Ms. Drake at her website: http://www.jocelynndrake.com
Thanks so much for accepting the challenge and sharing with us Jocelynn! :)
In addition to this behind the scenes look into the Dark Days series, Ms. Drake’s fabulous publicist at HarperCollins is sharing a release day set of Dark Days. That’s Nightwalker and Dayhunter! The giveaway is open to readers worldwide and the winner will be drawn the morning of April 28th, 2009, release day for Dayhunter. Just leave a comment here on this post to be entered.