What got you interested/started in writing?
I started writing when I was twelve years old when I spent the summer rewriting the tale of Robin Hood so that it included a female that could kick butt with the rest of the guys. I guess I'm a daydreamer by nature. My mind spends more than half of the day locked in worlds of my own creation. The only way I've found that I can get some of those daydreams out of my head is to actually write them down. As a result, I ended up with a lot of unfinished novels during the early years. Once I knew where the story was going and how it would end, I would stop writing it and move on to the next daydream.
However, once I discovered Mira, Danaus, and the rest of the Dark Days world, I knew I was hooked and that I would be happy to play in their world for many years to come. I may know how a book is going to end, but there's always an opening for the next story when it comes to Mira and Danaus.
Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Can I simply say that I'm a sponge? I have a degree in literature, which has led me to read many great classics all the way up to post-moderists. I read urban fantasy, paranormal fantasy, traditional fantasy, and just whatever meets my fancy at any given moment. All of that is playing around in the back of my mind, influencing my style.
Some of my favorites actually include the Batman comics. The dark look into the human psyche is one of the things that I will constantly return to in my own books. Walking the razor's edge between honor and revenge, justice and falling into the dark pit, is something that not only rings through the Batman comics, but also echoes through some of my characters as well. I like looking into the soul of a human and seeing what darkness I can find.
Another is Kim Harrison. She has been my friend and mentor for many years. She has helped to fine-tune my work and kept me grounded as a person. She was also one of the people there, cheering me on when I wondered if I would ever get published.
Who is your favorite character in this series and why?
Mira will always be one of my favorite characters. She is my Batman with far more questionable morals. She a wonderfully dynamic character, who seems to be eternally trapped between two worlds. She's a powerful nightwalker, and that demands that she adhere to the social mores (which are dark and violent) that go along with that status. Yet, standing in direct contradiction to that society is human society, which she just can't walk away from because of the ties she has with humans and semi-human creatures. I think at some point, she's going to have to chose a side if she's going to survive and I'm interested to see which side she finally falls on.
What are your current projects?
At this very moment, I am working on the revisions for Book 4 and I am finishing up the plot outline for Book 5, which is due to my editor this fall. I am currently contracted for six books in the Dark Days series. I have a number of other side projects that I am itching to play with, but for now, Mira and her world have to come first. There's plenty of time to play later.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That this process doesn't get any easy. I thought that after I created my first book, that the second one would be easier to writer, and the third one would be a piece of cake. Boy, was I wrong! Each book comes with its own set of problems no matter how well I try to outline it ahead of time. My first couple of books I had trouble with not enough subplots. Now my latest tweak is character development. No matter how many books you write, there will always be something new with the next one that will trip you up.
The other thing that I've learned is that if you've truly breathed life into your characters, they will never cease to surprise you. You may have plotted out the scene, but occasionally that character will open his/her mouth and completely shock you with a new view, idea, or approach to where you were working. I adore my characters and love how they constantly surprise me.
What in your opinion are the most important elements of good writing?
One of the most important things to me will always be having dynamic, amazing characters. I've read books with predictable or slow-moving plots, but I happily read it because I fell in love with the characters. Not only do the main characters need to be deep, dynamic, and unpredictable, but you need to have a stable of secondary characters that are equally dynamic. New writers need to take the time to develop back story and define motivations for their characters if people are going to follow and love them.
In urban fantasy, one of the key things is having an intricately developed world. The more detailed the world that a writer creates, the more solid and real it is for the reader. This means coming up with specific rules and sticking by them even if it means having to dig yourself out of a difficult plotting situation.
Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
That's a hard question. I have lots of stories planned out, but I never know when I will have a chance to work on them. I have hopes of greatly expanding the Dark Days series to include many more storytellers. I actually started writing entire novels in the traditional fantasy genre, and I have hopes of one day returning to that genre. It's a great place to play. I also have plans to write just fiction. So, in the end, it's all a matter of finding the time and seeing where the wind blows me next. However, I can say that Dark Days series will be a part of my writing life for many more years.
What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
How important are character names to you?
Character names are extremely important to me. It is always my starting point before I start to sketch out any new character. The name leaves that first and often lasting mental impression on a reader. The name gives not only a glimpse at the person's heritage, but the sound alone can create an impression of strength, weakness, sneakiness, and many other personal characteristic well before the character speaks his/her first words on the page.
For more information about Jocelynn Drake and the Dark Days Series check out her website here. Dawnbreaker is the 3rd book in the Dark Days Series and is scheduled to be released September 29, 2009.