Guest Author Jana Denardo
Today’s guest is Jana Denardo – who’s newest book – Kept Tears – is in a genre I don’t get to read much – Urban Fantasy. I was particularly interested in her answers so I could learn more about her, her book and the genre.
Guest Author – Jana Denardo:
Welcome why don’t you start by telling everyone a bit about yourself.
Hi all, thanks for stopping by to spend a little time with me. Since I was asked, I will say I’ve lived all over America and traveled even further. I love learning about new places, and a lot of those experiences works its way into my stories. I have a deeper connection to this novel than other stories I’ve told, as I was a VA doctor during my medical residency, and, like Aaron, I had my career plans shattered. After an accident left my hand nerve-damaged, I moved into teaching. I have a huge fondness for comic books, anime, SF/fantasy and all things geeky, which is also reflected in Kept Tears.
Your new book Kept Tears is an urban fantasy – talk about that genre for a moment. What drew you to magic in the modern world?
For my entire life, I’ve looked to the fantastical. I grew up on science fiction shows and reading classical SF and fantasy. By age thirteen, I was convinced my first born son would be name Aragon, much to my parents chagrin. I devoured comics and anima/manga from the 1970s on. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to the idea of magic. In grade school, I had a Dark Shadows board game, so this draw to the magical has been with me my whole life. I just love the added dimensions magic gives to life.
Did you find it hard to work in the ‘world building’ to establish Rhys yet keep ‘consistent’ with the modern world you were setting things in?
Not so much, really, but I think it had a lot to do with setting it where I grew up. I was born and raised in a small country town (the one I have Aaron’s mother in, more or less) within twenty-five miles of Pittsburgh, PA. I know Pittsburgh well. My brother went to Pitt, as did many friends, so I spent a lot of time on its campus. Almost every restaurant in the novel and everywhere their dates take place are real, and I’ve been to most of them. That really helped me keep it consistent. In fact, in Kept Tears, the ‘real world’ has no idea that the magic is out there.
It was a little more difficult with Rhys’s fae world. I didn’t get to do much with it this time, but most of it came from reading our folklore and myths and tweaking them. I didn’t have to do a lot of building for the Seelie and Unseelie courts. I just lifted them from the pages of fairy tales and went from there.
Aaron is wounded both physically and mentally – are there some personal elements to this story for you?
Absolutely. As I mentioned above, I was injured. I was a podiatrist specializing in wound care, which did mean I had to do a lot of surgeries. The nerve damage ended that career in a painful hurry left me picking up the pieces. I also wanted to have the military pay for my schooling, but it was much harder then than it is now, and I failed in that. Aaron did get the Army to pay for his schooling, planning on going to medical school. He lost his arm in the war and had to rebuild his entire life and his career plan.
We’ve both dealt with PTSD, mine from an attack when I was young, and his, naturally, more profound and from the war. I hope I’ve done a good job making this realistic in the story.
On a far more positive note, we’re both proud Italian Pittsburghers, and we’re both geeks. Aaron shares my love of Star Trek, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. We’re both fans of Renn faires and Steampunk. There is a lot of me in Aaron.
Tell us something(s) interesting that is not in the blurb?
The prosthetic arm I gave Aaron is based in part on the DEKA “Luke” arm and a few others that are now becoming available. I even saw one in a technology commercial last night. I find these beyond fascinating. Up until now, upper limb prostheses have been, for the most part, non-functional and heavy. The new limb prostheses are light and they move. It’s restoring a level of functionality we could only dream of just a few years ago.
Have you ever based characters on anyone you know?
I have never fully based a character on anyone I know. I have, however, based a lot of characteristics on many people I know. I try to never really use all their characteristics but blend them in with others. Some of the people who meet bad ends in my fiction are based a little on people who have gotten on my last nerve.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
That moment when I sit down and the dialogue begins to really flow, especially when they’re bickering back and forth, that’s my favorite. I don’t know why. I like to write snark. I also really enjoy coming with character sheets, listing out all those little details that make a character who he or she is. Also, I have to admit it, I love doing research for the stories.
What’s your least favorite?
Didn’t even really have to think about that one. As much as I know editing improves my work, I have never gotten a taste for it. Oh, I do it ruthlessly, but I don’t enjoy it.
Also, if I could hire someone to put titles on things for me, I’d be very happy.
Since there is always another story to tell, what are you working on now?
I’m not ruling out a sequel for Kept Tears. The boys certainly are pushing for it. However, I am currently editing the final draft of a demon hunter urban fantasy set in the 1930s, a sequel to my novella, The Darkest Midnight in December. I’m also working on a SF dystopia and a story with my vampires in Vegas. I’m in the editing phase with Dreamspinner Press for my steampunk- mystery novella, If Two of Them Are Dead.
What have you read lately that most people haven’t read but should?
Hmm, well, much of what I’ve read recently are by some well-known authors, Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series so I’m pretty sure they’re well read, as is C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series.
So how about The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell. I just finished this. I believe it’s self-published, and it was a whole lot of fun. It plays with superhero and super-villain tropes, and postulates that it’s a genetic trait. Superheroes give birth to more heroes and ditto the villains. The protagonist is a 16 year old boy, Damien, who finds out the hard way his super-villain mother consorted with the enemy and conceived him. This wanna-be villain learns he’s half-hero and his do-gooder dad now knows Damien exists and wants to show him life is better on the hero side. I had fun with it.
If you could meet any writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Agatha Christie. Not only did she write amazing mysteries, she did it at a time when women weren’t encouraged to do such things. Also, I think she’d be fascinating to talk to.
What’s a fun – non-writing – day for you?
If I’m not being lazy, I might be out in the garden or out hiking. If I’m feeling up for a drive, I’m probably off examining some historical site or museum or hooking up with the local ghost hunting group or find someone playing Dungeons and Dragons.
If I’m being lazy, I’m sitting in front of the TV with my stacks of anime and SF dvds or watching me some Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Besides reading and writing, what else do you enjoy?
I love to swim and garden, though both are getting harder since I’ve messed up my shoulders. As I mentioned above, I love gaming and history. I’ve played jazz sax and miss not having enough time for that. I make my own jewelry. And I’m a stray cat magnet, so I’m often playing with them or finding them homes.
Last question is all yours – feel free to talk about anything you want your readers to know about you, your book, anything at all.
I’m a talker. I love talking to people about books, movies, games, etc. (Though I’m pretty apolitical so I don’t really discuss those things). I’m very curious about all sorts of things and I’m hoping that translates into my work. I’m still pretty new to all of this so I guess time will tell. Thanks for having me over, Andrew. I appreciate it.
Thanks for being my guest, now it’s time to plug your work.
Having left most of his arm and his self-confidence behind in the Afghanistan desert, young veteran Aaron Santori has enough on his plate learning to use his prosthetic arm. Attending graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh makes life both interesting and challenging. Mentally, he’s ill prepared for meeting Rhys Edwards, a young-adult novelist from Wales and everything Aaron could want in a man. Between the scars from the explosion and his PTSD, he’s reluctant to date. Ready or not, though, Aaron finds himself jumping into the deep end of the relationship waters.
What Aaron couldn’t possibly know is that Rhys isn’t human at all. As a prince of the Tylwyth Teg, Rhys is fae, with a list of enemies he’s accumulated over the past few centuries—among them a former lover, Morcant, who is back to make Rhys’s life miserable. An unwitting pawn in their Machiavellian fae politics, Aaron only knows he’s falling in love, never suspecting love might be his death sentence.
Buy it here – Ebook – http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4658
Easing his topcoat over his prosthetic arm, decked out to look like it ran on steam and gears, Aaron glanced into his mirror and felt handsome again. Ever since the war had taken his arm, he felt ugly until he got into character. He went to his favorite club, where they had monthly steampunk events. In his steampunk garb, he was like a wildly colored creature emerging from its chrysalis.
Even the miasma of fog rolling off the river didn’t dampen Aaron’s spirits as he went into Steel Spirits, a club that hosted a steampunk evening once a week. It was a step back into a time that had never existed. Scanning the bar with its low light levels, Aaron spotted men in topcoats and Victorian adventuring gear. Women swept by in bustles and ruffles, hats decorated with flowers, birds and gears perched merrily on their curls.
Aaron checked his pocket watch and sighed when he realized he was early. It would be a while before his friends arrived. By some karmic synchronicity, Aaron spotted one of the hottest men he’d seen in, well, ever. Shoulder-length honey-gold hair framed his pale face. The graceful bow of his lips drew Aaron’s gaze. The man’s costume was simple: some sort of mad scientist. The stranger might not be gay. That didn’t mean they couldn’t be friends. For that matter, there hadn’t been any lovers since he returned to the States. He barely had any friends left in his life. Either they had moved since college, or they didn’t know how to handle everything he’d had to deal with since the war.
Lacuna Coil’s music gave way to Abney Park as Aaron crossed the club. He watched the man yawn and thought he saw a hint of fang. Wrong club for that, though pointy teeth could be his imagination. Aaron wanted to talk to the man, but he could barely remember how. It had been so easy before the war, when he’d been whole. Now he was nothing but scars, and just thinking about talking to a good-looking guy made him sweat.
He took his topcoat off. Aaron had designed his dress shirt to be short-sleeved on the side of his prosthesis so it could show off the gears and brass work he had sheathed the nonmoving parts in. Besides, coatless, he could show off the embroidered pattern of his vest. Slinging his coat over his good arm, Aaron decided to take a risk and be the man he was before Afghanistan. He walked over to the handsome stranger. “Hi, I’m Aaron Santori.”
Jana Denardo’s career choices and wanderlust take her all over the United States and beyond. Much of her travels make their way into her stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and mystery have been her favorite genres since she started reading, and they often flavor her works. In her secret identity, she works with the science of life and gives college students nightmares. When she’s not chained to her computer writing, she functions as stray cat magnet.
Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.
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