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Jenna Black Bibliography & Interview

Guardians of The Night (in reading order)

Morgan Kingsley urban fantasy series (no vampires!) in reading order

  • The Devil Inside
  • The Devil You Know
  • The Devil’s Due
  • Speak of The Devil

LoveVampires Interview with Jenna Black

Jenna Black on Jenna Black

Jenna Black Author PhotoI write paranormal romance for Tor, and urban fantasy for Bantam Dell. My first novel, Watchers in the Night, came out in November 2006. I call it my “first” novel, but in reality it was the 18th novel I’d completed in my 16+ year quest for publication. (I’m very, very stubborn, and I refused to give up despite the urgings of what seemed at the time like common sense.) Since I sold that first novel, I sold five more in the following 18 months, so my stubbornness really paid off.

I’ve got to ask – your bio says you’ve travelled all seven continents including Antarctica – how and why Antarctica?

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who want to travel to Antarctica, and people who can’t imagine why on earth someone would want to go to Antarctica. I belong to the former.

My mother and I used to travel extensively together, and we always gravitated toward the slightly more adventurous destinations. Antarctica was the only continent we’d never visited, and we were determined to remedy that situation. We took a cruise from Chile to the Antarctic, but this wasn’t exactly an ordinary cruise. We were in a converted Estonian research vessel—much smaller than any cruise ship you’ve ever seen, but it seemed like the “right” way to see Antarctica.

It was a fabulous trip to see some of the most unspoiled territory on the earth. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Awe-inspiring, really. I could have done without the ordeal of crossing the Drake Passage to get there, however. That’s some of the roughest water in the world, and we went through about 30 hours of misery. I went up to the bridge a couple of times to watch the waves crashing over the bow, just like in the movies, but I spent most of that time lying down with my eyes closed to stave off sea-sickness. Even that in its own way added to the sense of adventure.

Jenna Black on The Guardians of The Night series

Watchers In The Night Cover PictureThe premise of the series is that there are two kinds of vampires: Killers, who feed on humans and are literally addicted to the kill; and Guardians, who feed on animal blood and try to police the Killers. But even a single kill can cause a fatal addiction, and the Killers are more powerful, both physically and psychically, than the Guardians, so the dark side is always a powerful lure.

The first two books in the series, Watchers in the Night and Secrets in the Shadows, feature Guardians as heroes; however, I’ve always loved darker heroes, so the next two books in the series feature Killer heroes. (Prompting the question below, no doubt!)

The Guardians of The Night series has some unconventional heroes, often they have moral ambiguity which is unusual for the romance genre.  Did you deliberately set out to write something different?

Yes, I pretty much always set out to be a little different (says the woman who traveled to Antarctica). This series has gotten progressively darker and riskier, and each book has been more of a challenge than the one before. I’m very lucky to have hooked up with Tor as a publisher, because they do tend to take on some more unconventional romances.

There’s nothing I like better than a good tale of redemption, and vampires make great protagonists for that kind of story. The darker they start out, the more moving their redemption. I love a flawed hero, and I love a villain with redeeming qualities. I guess I see the world more in shades of gray than black and white, and that’s reflected in my writing.

Gabriel (the protagonist in Shadows On The Soul) in particular is an unlikely romantic hero.  Did you worry that readers wouldn’t “get” his character or be able to empathise with him?

Shadows On The Soul Cover PictureI was (and still am) concerned about that. I’m sure there will be some readers who won’t be able to accept him as a romantic hero. But I knew almost from the moment I introduced him in Secrets in the Shadows that I wanted to redeem him, and my editor at the time totally fell in love with him, so I decided to face the challenge despite my doubts and concerns. Sometimes, just the knowledge that a task will be difficult gives me the added energy I need to get it done, and I was so motivated to tell Gabriel’s story that I wrote that book from start to finish in about two months!

I hope that most readers will see his redeeming qualities and will fall in love with him by the end of the book, no matter how dark and prickly he is at the beginning.

Is Shadows On The Soul the last book in the series or do you have plans to write more?

There will be at least one more book in the series. Hungers of the Heart, Drake’s book, will be a May 2008 release. After that, we’ll have to see. I’ve turned in a proposal for another book and am waiting to hear how my new editor likes the idea.

You also have an urban fantasy novel, The Devil Inside, due out in December 2007 - what can you tell us about that book?

The Devil Inside Cover PictureIt’s the story of Morgan Kingsley, an exorcist with some serious attitude—and some serious issues with all of demon-kind—who finds herself possessed by the king of the demons. The demon king, Lugh, is embroiled in a war of succession, and if his brother manages to usurp the throne, the human race will be in a whole lot of trouble, so Morgan has to team up with him not just to save her own life but maybe to save the human race as well. Let’s just say it’s not a partnership made in heaven.

Are there any vampires in it?

Sorry, no vampires. But my demons are pretty damn sexy, and I suspect those who like my vampire books will like the Morgan Kingsley books as well. Just be aware that they aren’t romances. There are plenty of romantic elements to the books, but Morgan’s issues are too problematic to allow an HEA at the end of each book.

The second book in that series, The Devil You Know, will be an August 2008 release.

Which authors or books do you think have had the most influence on your writing?

I’d have to credit Those Who Hunt the Night, by Barbara Hambly, as being the book that piqued my interest in vampires. The main vampire character in that book, Don Simon Ysidro, is absolutely fascinating to me. There’s no question he’s a bad guy—all her vampires are killers, and none of them seem to feel any remorse for their actions. However, Don Simon also has redeeming qualities, such as a sense of honor, that make him at least somewhat sympathetic to both the reader and the novel’s hero. (And from that description, you can no doubt see how much I was influenced by that particular book!)

For my urban fantasies, I’d have to credit the Anita Blake series, by Laurell K. Hamilton as having had the most influence. That was the first urban fantasy series I read, and I ended up absolutely hooked. After reading her books, I went on to “discover” such authors as Kelley Armstrong, Keri Arthur, Rachel Caine, and Patricia Briggs. It was because I loved all those books so much that I set out to write an urban fantasy myself.

Do you enjoy writing romance or urban fantasy most?

Secrets In The Shadows Cover PictureI’ll have to admit, right now I enjoy writing the urban fantasy the most. I just seem to slip into it more easily than I slip into the romances. I’m pretty sure the reason for that is that I’m writing from the same person’s point of view in all the urban fantasies. Morgan is the narrator for all of them, and she has a distinctive voice. That voice becomes a trigger in my subconscious so I can get easily lost and wrapped up in that world. With the paranormal romances, there’s a different central couple for each book, and while the characters might be recurring from previous books, I have to figure out all their past history, their quirks, and their vulnerabilities when they become central characters. That’s a little bit harder work. But I think working on both series at once helps keep me interested and helps my creativity, so even if the romances are harder, I still enjoy them.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a proposal for a third book in the Morgan Kingsley series. I’ve also recently completed a proposal for a fifth book in the Guardians of the Night series, so I’m trying to keep both series alive. Hopefully, I’ll succeed.

Who is your favourite vampire character (from TV, comics, film or books?)

As you might have guess by my answer to question #10, that would have to be Don Simon Ysidro, from Those Who Hunt the Night. A close second would be Jean-Claude, from the Anita Blake series. Talk about morally ambiguous characters! He’s painted in an amazing array of shades of gray, and I’m continually fascinated by him.

A big "thank-you" to Jenna Black for taking part in the author interview. More information on Jenna's books can be found at Jenna's website
22nd September 2007

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