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J. R. Ward Interview & Bibliography

The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series (in reading order)

The Fallen Angels

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LoveVampires Interview With J. R. Ward

Interview by Lotte

J. R. Ward author photoLOVER UNLEASHED, your eagerly awaited 9th novel in the fantastic Black Dagger Brotherhood series, was released this spring. What are you most pleased about with this book?  

Eek!  That’s an unfortunate question as I’m never, ever satisfied with any book that I write.  There is always something that I wish I could do over and improve upon.  That being said, I love the way Manny and Payne come together- and the solution to the problem of his being a human and her being a vampire.  After all, vampires live centuries longer than we do, and it would be heartbreaking if they fell in love only to find that they had but a few decades before he passed.  Their destiny, however, is merciful and they do discover a way to stay together!

When LoveVampires last interviewed you, you told us about how different the writing experience is with each book.  For example, you said that getting V's story down in LOVER UNBOUND was the worst writing experience of your life! How was it for you with LOVER UNLEASHED?

The book wrote very well, I’m happy to report!  And this was in spite of the fact that V plays a huge roll in it.  In fact, going in to UNLEASHED, I was worried- and praying that Vishous was easier on me this time!

I previously read that you regretted not writing more from perspective of V and Jane to show that they were happy with the controversial ending of LOVER UNBOUND. Was it a planned decision to revisit/reveal more of their relationship in LOVER UNLEASHED, or did it just turn out that way?

Well, the books write themselves, really- so I don’t have a huge amount of control over what happens or who is in each of them.  But I do think V and Jane needed more air time, and they certainly got it here!

 You currently write two different series (the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and the Fallen Angels series), both set in Caldwell, but with very little overlap between them.  Do you have any plans for a grand novel bringing it all together?

Not at the moment, no- but going forward from this point, given that the Angels are now permanently in Caldwell, you’re going to see more crossovers and “walk-ons” so to speak!

Originally you had ten books planned for the BDB series. How many are you planning / contracted to write now?

Right now the series is open ended!  When I first conceived the books, I focused on the main ten Brothers, including Payne and Butch.  But now there are other people like Lassiter, Trez and iAm, Xcor and the Band of Bastards, Blay and Qhuinn, all of whom are clamouring for focus- and whom readers seem really interested in.  So I hope to just keep going!

Tohr and Wellsie. Will we ever get their full back story? And do you know what the future has in store for Tohr? (Will you ever tell us?)

Well, the next book in the series, LOVER REBORN, is about Tohr and his future shellan.  So you’ll be seeing a lot of him- and his new mate.  I’m just starting the book now- and it’s hard.  He was so devoted to Wellsie, but his destiny is not with her.  Still, it’s a beautiful love story, it truly is.

I know I'm not the first reader to say that I love the character of Lassiter. Do we get to see much more of him?

Absolutely!!!  Oh, Lassiter... what a thing he is.  He plays a prominent roll in Tohr’s book- and he also has a book of his own down the line.  The question for me is, is Lassiter part of the Brotherhood series or the Angels?  I’ve gone back and forth on this- at first I was like, oh of course he’s an Angel.  Except then I thought, no... he’s in the BDB world.  But with the two series linking up a little, he could go either way.  I do know for a fact that he gets his own story- as if he would have it any other way?  And he’ll let me know where he ends up when he’s good and ready...

Each one of your BDB books is a snapshot of a few days in the Brother’s world. As the series progresses the plotlines and stories have become much more complex but the continuity is always great. How do you keep track of all the minute details from book to book?

A great research assistant!  And a lot of double checking- although to be honest, there have been mistakes from time to time.  If you read the series, you’ll find one reference to Butch dematerializing- and of course he can’t.  Slip ups are unavoidable with a world this complex, that spans some nine books thus far.  But we do try to do our best!

 Your books are hugely addictive. Everyone I know has forgone sleep and other essential activities to finish them and I even recently converted a friend who claimed to 'hate reading', who is now totally hooked on the BDB.  What do you think is the secret ingredient that makes them so popular?

The one thing that I hear from people most often is that the world and the Brothers and their mates just feels real- and I think that gives the books an immediacy that sucks folks in.  For me, as the author, I am just as rocked by some of the twists and turns as readers are- so I get what they mean.  This is the thing for me: although I write these manuscripts, I don’t have any control over the stories so they surprise me as much as anyone else!

How much do you interact with your readers? Is there a typical BDB fan?

I’m always on Facebook and I love going to signings- the readers are so much fun!  And there is no typical reader- although the majority of them are women.  I think that’s the great thing about the books- the common interest in the Brothers and their world have brought so many of us together!

Some reviewers have speculated that the huge surge of interest over the past few years in the paranormal romance / vampire fiction genre can't last. What are your views on this?

You know, I’ve been writing about vampires since 2004- DARK LOVER came out in 2005- and I’ve been hearing every year that the bubble is going to burst and vampires/paranormals are going to become passé.  Instead, the popularity has only grown- in large part thanks to the Twilight Saga’s books and movies, and True Blood on television.  I do think the tide will change, however- it’s inevitable and appropriate- and the question will be what is next.  After that happens, though, I think that good stories told in the vampire world will still do well- after all, there are writers right now who are outside the paranormal realms doing excellent work that readers respond to.  At the end of the day, what folks want is a great reading experience- fads come and go, but the emotions and the conflict and the happy ending are what people really get excited by.  I just hope that I can continue to give my readers what they want!

Has the BDB series ever been optioned for a film or TV series? If not, why not?

Right now, my focus on the books- that’s the most important thing to me.  If the right deal came along, of course I’d do it, but again, the books are the basis of everything.  Unless they are the very best I can make them, then the whole house of cards comes down.

What next for the BDB series? Can you tell us any secrets about what to expect in the next instalment?

As I said, the next book, LOVER REBORN, comes out at the end of March 2012, and features Tohr and his future mate.  It’s going to be a tearjerker, that’s for sure!  But you’re also going to see a lot of Lassiter, so that means there are going to be funny parts, too!  John Matthew also comes to an important crossroads in his life, so his story continues in it as well.  In a lot of ways, I’m nervous about writing this book because it is going to be exhausting- but the ending is sooooooo good!

Thank you so much for having me! 

A big "thank-you" to J. R. Ward for taking part in the LoveVampires author interview. Visit J.R's website for more information about the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
1st August 2011

View Our June 2008 interview with J.R. Ward

Archived LoveVampires Interview With J. R. Ward – June 2008

J.R. Ward on the Black Dagger Brotherhood (tell us about the Brothers)

OMG where to start!  They are a group of warrior vampires who serve and protect their race against the Lessening Society (which is tasked with eliminating the vampire population.)  The Brothers are not perfect.  They are very alpha.  They are sexy as hell.  And the books focus on the Brothers's relationships with each other and their mates.

You were already an established romance author (writing under the name of Jessica Bird) before you moved into to paranormal romance.  What motivated the change and gave you the inspiration for the Black Dagger Brotherhood?

Well, it was time for a change… and Wrath showed up in my head!  True to form, he took over and BOOM! there were all the Brothers and their stories.  I outlined DARK LOVER, wrote the first three chapters, and did the overview of the whole series in two weeks.  The scenes were just that vivid and undeniable.  I worked around the clock for those 14 days- it was an incredible experience.  I just had to get what I saw out.  So I guess you could say Wrath is my inspiration.

What were the biggest writing challenges and obstacles you faced when making the change to paranormal romance?

Actually, it was liberating.  My voice is better suited to more raw and dark content and the pictures in my head drove the stories.  The challenges have remained the same- my job is to get what I see down on the page in such a way that readers find it vivid and engaging.  That is true no matter what sub-genre I'm in.  I will say, that my true love is paranormals.

Dark Lover CoverWhen you first started writing DARK LOVER did you ever expect that the BDB series would achieve the huge following that it has now?

NO!  God, I was afraid no one would get it.  I mean, the mating ceremony in the first book involves the hero getting the heroine's name carved in his back.  I was worried the stuff was just too out there- but I had made an agreement with myself when I started drafting Wrath's book: I would be faithful to what I saw and throw all the rules and regs out the door.  I never would have predicted that so many other people would find the Brothers as compelling as I do.  I am very grateful, however!

Your writing has an amazing ability to provoke strong emotions and reactions from your readers.  In particular, reactions to LOVER UNBOUND range from readers who raved about it to people who were extremely upset about the ending – how do you feel when fans express that you haven’t written the story they wanted to read?

Well, I can understand and respect where they're coming from.  I have things that I wish happened in the books also.  The thing is, the stories run themselves.  I have no control over them and the best I can do is just represent what I see.  There have been a couple of instances where I've tried to determine plotlines or outcomes or scenes, and the instant I try and muscle anything, the voices in my head dry up.  So I know how readers feel when they say they wished something had ended differently, but I have no input when it comes to stuff like that.

Lover Enshrined CoverIn your latest novel LOVER ENSHRINED you write about Phury whose feelings of inadequacy have lead to drug addiction and left him a vampire on the brink of self destruction.  Was it hard to turn this difficult subject matter into the background of a romance?

It's just what it was.  So I didn't have any choice.  I'd known all along where Phury was headed and the dark places his addiction was going to take him- I also knew that he was going to get out of it though.  His redemption, like his twin Zsadist's, is all the more compelling for the depths of his strife.

All of the Brothers have complex personalities and have had their own personal challenges to overcome.  Whose story has been the hardest for you to write?

They're all hard, in different ways.  Some, like Z's LOVER AWAKENED, have a lot of tragic things go down in them- and it effects me.  The Brothers and their shellans are real to me and seeing people you care about going through hell?  How can it not screw with your head and your heart.  Other books, like Butch's LOVER REVEALED, are very tricky because there are a lot of different plotlines to balance.  Finally, there's the V sitch- LOVER UNBOUND was the worst writing experience I've ever had.  He and I have never gotten along and getting his story on the page was like pulling teeth.  I stand by the book, and I'm proud of it, but it nearly killed me.

What can you tell us about LOVER AVENGED, the next book in the BDB series?

LOVER AVENGED is Rehv's story- it focuses on him, his shellan and the Brothers.  As he is half symphath, that whole subspecies also comes into play.

How many novels are you planning to write in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series?

It started out with ten books, but now, with so many other folk coming on board, it's open ended.  As long as I get more pictures and see more people, and I'm able to, I'm going to keep going with it.

Lover Revealed CoverYou have a BDB series companion (The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider's Guide) due out in October - what can fans expect it to contain?

The Insider's Guide is just that- it's got a ton of commentary by me on the books, new interviews with the Brothers, a long story featuring Z and Bella, and a section for writers which includes the actual proposal for the Brotherhood series that went to my publisher back in… jeez, must have been 2004.  I'm really excited about all the secrets and the insights and special extras- I think readers are going to enjoy them!

The BDB universe is huge - do you have plans to write any spin off novels and would they be in the romance genre? 

I'm busy with the Brothers and I have another paranormal series I'm starting to write in November- so right now my plate is full.  But I wouldn't rule out spin offs.

What are you currently working on?

Right now I'm all about Rehvenge.  I've just started his book, LOVER AVENGED, which is due out in May '09.  Going to be one bumpy ride, let me tell you- but I wouldn't expect anything else from him! 

Which authors and books have had the most influence on you as a writer?

Hmm.  Well, I can tell you who I like.  To be honest, no one influences me in terms of content- the pictures in my head rule that realm- and my voice is my voice so there's nothing to sway there.  I love Suzanne Brockmann, Lisa Gardner, my critique partner, Jessica Andersen.  I like them because in their work they all have mainstream voices, fast pacing and a ton of credible surprises.  I can't say enough good things about Christine Feehan- I don't read her work because I don't read other vampire authors for the most part- but she is an amazing person and friend and writer.  Love Stephen King.  Sue Grafton.  Elizabeth Lowell.  I don’t have a lot of time to read so I'm choosey- but those authors I like I'm very loyal to.

Lover Awakened CoverI feel mean asking you - it’s like asking a mother which is her favourite child - but do you have a favourite Brother?  Who is he and why?

Zsadist.  I love them all, but he's my favourite because he's just too compelling for words.  He's just… amazing.  When you think about the torture he endured, and then think of how far he came, it's just arresting.  Plus he's off the chain hot.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I'm a runner!  I love to run.  Other than that I like to write.  The thing is, I'm actually quite boring.  It's what's in my head that's interesting!

Who is your favourite fictional vampire and why?

Bram Stoker's Dracula- played by Frank Langella in that 1970's or '80's film version.  Langella brought that bad boy sexiness to the role- he was dangerous and irreverent and hot.  So that's my favourite!

1st June 2008

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