Interview: Darkness Above A Jordan Korento Novel Book One by J.D. Brown - Urban Fantasy - Her parents are legends but they’re losing the war. Now it’s her turn.
Interview with J.D. Brown
Welcome to JB’s Bookworms with Brandy Mulder.
Please tell us about your newest book.
Darkness Above was made possible by the fans of the Ema Marx series. I had ended the Ema series after five books, but no one was ready to let those characters go, least of all me. So I got the idea to write a spin-off series set in the same world. The main characters in Darkness Above are the children of Ema, all grown up and fighting their own battles – literally.
Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing Darkness Above?
First, it was important to me that anyone who *hasn’t* read the Ema series could pick up Darkness Above and start reading it without getting confused. But this meant I had to do the world building like it was the was new, and NOT like I’ve already written five books set there. I had to keep reminding myself “they don’t know what that is yet, Jen, you have to explain it”. It helps that Darkness Above is set in the near future, so I was able to play with it and make it new in some ways.
Second, I knew right away that I wanted to amp up the LGBTQ+ rep in this book. The queer community is very near and dear to my heart. But specifically, I wanted to write a trans woman and give her a happily ever after. The problem? I’m cis. I hired a sensitivity reader and asked my friends in the community to read the manuscript, but I was still extremely nervous. I went back and forth for a long time trying to decide if I would do it or not because I didn’t want to risk accidentally making a mistake that might harm the community. In the end, and with my trans friends’ blessings, I went for it because the whole point is to increase positive representation. Fingers crossed that I did the character and the community justice.
They say Hind-sight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?
Don’t take time off. LOL. I was one of the authors who got lucky and made good money right out of the gate. But I was naïve and thought my books would just continue to sell themselves forever, so I slacked off. Big mistake. When that sales cliff hit, it hit HARD and I still haven’t quite recovered. Never stop writing.
Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much?
You know, it’s funny. Themes are not something I think of while plotting or drafting. But when I’m re-reading my books after the fact, I can point out common themes between them that I didn’t realize were there before. Family and inheritance – in all its varied forms – is the biggest one. How much of our parents’ actions do we take on both knowingly and unknowingly? Where do we draw the line? That sort of thing.
Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?
I like to brag that I read Interview With The Vampire when I was nine, and while that’s true, I was mainly reading Goosbumps and Sweet Valley High with everyone else.
Good luck with Darkness Above, and thank you for being with us today.
Thank you for having me!
Excerpt - Chapter TwoTorrance’s tone—half cheerful, half serious—cut through the bliss of a deep sleep as she shook me awake. “Rise and shine, birthday girl.”
My temples throbbed as I squeezed my eyelids tight and groaned into the pillow. “Ten more minutes.”
“Sorry, no can do.” Torrance yanked the covers away, and I curled into the fetal position against the sudden chill. “I already let you sleep in. Up and at ’em, soldier.”
“Ugh.” My eyelids peeled open, and I blinked to bring the room into focus. The angles confused me for a moment.
“Not my fault you insisted on working. I told you to take the night off.” Torrance offered me a paper cup of water and two generic brand pain reliever tablets. She wore her usual black tank top, cargo pants, and steel toe boots. Her dark shoulder length hair was pulled into a sleek ponytail at the nap of her neck. Torrance was unfairly beautiful with pouty lips, angular cheekbones, and a jawline that gave her features a touch of androgyny.
I sat upright and accepted the pills, swallowing them both in one go before gulping the water. The tip of my tongue ran across my chapped lips as I patted a hand against my auburn curls. My hair was doing that gross thing where half of it stuck flat against my cheek, glued to my drool, while the other half puffed into the air like a poodle’s ass.
“Why am I in your bed?” I asked while handing her the empty cup.
Like all the rooms in the Sword of Somnus Brotherhood dormitories, ours was tiny with two twin-sized beds, two narrow dresser drawers, and a single writing desk between them. I’d fought tooth and nail for this room, though, so I wasn’t about to complain. I just didn’t understand how Torrance’s navy-blue sheets had wound themselves around my legs. My bed stood directly across from hers, with its Buffy the Vampire Slayer comforter neatly tucked into the cheap faux wood frame.
Torrance tossed the paper cup into the wastebasket under the desk and then opened a drawer in my dresser. “You mean you don’t remember climbing in and saying we should be friends with benefits before passing out like a corpse?”
She pulled a pair of clean olive-green cargo pants and a matching t-shirt from the drawer and threw them at me. Since my reflexes were still steeped in alcohol, I didn’t catch the standard issued uniform in time and the clothes hit my face before falling to my lap.
“Sorry,” I murmured.
“No you’re not. Now go take a shower, you smell like vomit.”
I touched a hand to my cheek, where my hair was plastered to my face by something that might have been a little too thick to be drool. “I didn’t actually vomit though, did I?”
Torrance crossed her arms and arched her brow. “What do you think I’ve been doing all day? Mopping the floor because it was dusty?”
My gaze went to the mop and bucket in the corner. Neither of us owned cleaning supplies, so she obviously took it from the janitor’s closet at the end of the hall.
Even though vampires didn’t sleep, and Torrance had to occupy herself while I snoozed, she wasn’t my maid. It wasn’t her job to pick up after me. Especially not bodily fluids.
I winced and apologized again. “Sorry.”
Torrance pointed to our shared bathroom. “You can make it up to me by not being late.”
I nodded and then trudged into the facilities where I tiptoed over the cold tile and stepped into the single-person shower stall. I stripped and washed quickly but took a moment to examine the bruises over my ribs and thighs. I doubted Torrance would have let me fall on my ass during last morning’s party, so they must’ve been from training. None of them hurt. Much.
I dried and dressed, adding underwear, socks, and combat boots to the uniform. After applying ample leave-in conditioner, I used my fingers to separate the soft curls and then pulled them back into a ponytail, securing the locks with my favorite rainbow sequin scrunchie.
Torrance knocked on the door. “Done yet?”
“Just a sec,” I called out.
“We literally have three minutes to get to the Hall. I mean, I’m fast but ….”
I looked at my reflection in the mirror above the sink and sighed. I hadn’t meant to be hungover tonight. The party was supposed to be a small gathering, but every senior cadet and half the faculty had shown up. These days, people were encouraged to find happiness wherever they could, but that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be consequences. I could only hope that talk of last morning’s festivities didn’t reach Head Huntsman Chayton.
Or worse, my father.
“Jordan Korento, I will leave without you!”
I chuckled at the empty threat. Torrance was my bodyguard. She couldn’t go anywhere without me. But for some reason she always acted as though keeping me punctual was part of her job description.
Looking at my reflection again, I drew a deep breath and released it slowly. To be honest, being late to my shift was the least of my worries.
“This is it,” I murmured to myself. “Tonight, I meet my mother.”
I haven’t seen Mom since I was baby, which meant I had no real memories of her. I should be more excited. Other girls would be. Normal girls. But my family wasn’t normal. My father was a vampire king. My mother was a legend; a vampyre queen who’d done some badass shit in her lifetime. And now she was an elite assassin on her way home after twenty years of training.
No pressure, right?