It's my distinct pleasure to welcome one of my favorite authors to the blog today! Joey W. Hill was kind enough to answer a few questions and give us a glimpse of her latest novel, Bound by the Vampire Queen, scheduled to grace store shelves TOMORROW!
Jae Lynne: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Joey W. Hill: I’m an extremely boring person, because all I do is write. Write, take care of animals (we have nine), write, try to keep the dust bunnies in the house to a somewhat less-than-horrifying size, write, market, market, market, do promo, get ready for conferences, and make sure I kiss my husband at least ten times a day. On the flip side, I am gifted with a wonderfully interesting muse who gives me great characters to write, which has resulted in a readership of fascinating people who enliven my life a great deal--for which I thank you all.
I worked in office administration for twenty years, ten of which were spent pursuing animal rights issues, and the latter ten in pursuing a writing career. I went to full time writing in November 2007 and have been fortunate enough to do that ever since. I exercise 90 minutes a day, and during 60 of those minutes I indulge my favorite passion, which is watching movies or favorite TV dramas, because I like to immerse myself in a great story, whether it’s in a book or on the screen. Given that my internal editor NEVER shuts off any more, sometimes immersing myself in a great story is easier on screen.
Jae Lynne: In which genres do you write?
Joey W. Hill: I write erotic romance, both paranormal and contemporary. Some of the paranormal has an urban fantasy flare, but I’m still a little fuzzy on what the difference is between paranormal and urban fantasy, so I’m just regurgitating what I’ve been told when I say it has a touch of urban fantasy (grin). Oh, and on the back copy for the latest book, I’m noted as a “cult favorite”. I have no idea what that means either, but marketing people live on an entirely different planet from writers, so I just roll with it (wink).
Jae Lynne: What inspires you to write?
Joey W. Hill: That’s always a hard one to answer. I think the saying “we all have a book inside us” is true. Most of us have a natural desire to put pen to paper. In past centuries, it was considered very culturally appropriate to maintain journals, write poetry and stories, though gauche to try and actually get them published (wink). However, what inspires a person not only to start a story, but to finish it, polish it and seek to publish it, is more difficult to pin down (I vote for insanity as the answer to that – lol) . I started writing novels when I was in elementary school. I began reading at a very early age, and I was so captivated by a well-told story I had a need to try and craft my own. When I have a goal, I’m pretty driven to achieve it, and the desire for my stories to reach a broader audience was one of those goals. I was fortunate that a combination of perseverance, timing, networking and sheer luck resulted in success. It’s kind of a boring tale, but as noted above writers for the most part aren’t all that interesting – at least not this one. I pour the good stuff into the characters!
Jae Lynne: How do you choose names for your characters?
Joey W. Hill: I keep a list of names that are interesting in my MS Notes application. If one doesn’t quite fit, I’ll often visit the baby name sites and look for one I like based on its meaning. In Vampire Instinct, I brought that into play when Mal was thinking about the names Elisa gave the vampire children (because they couldn’t verbalize their given names), and he realized that she’d chosen names whose meanings fit their personalities, and that helped him understand a little bit more about her relationship with the children.
Sometimes the names pop right into my head, but I have to be careful about that. I’m the world’s worst about giving multiple characters the same name, or names that start with the same letter. I’ve had to change a few names when I was halfway through the book and realized 4 out of the 5 main characters had names starting with “M”. Of course, if the muse has already decided that’s the person’s name, it’s difficult to change it! Once again, when writing Vampire Instinct, I realized I already had a full servant in a previous book named Malachi, AND I’d named a Vampire Council member Lord Malachi. But when I decided to change the name (even running a contest to let my readers offer suggestions), the muse flat out refused. So he became Mal, and I addressed it in the story, to avoid the confusion of readers thinking he was one of those other two characters (Plus, since Mal of the far-too-short-lived series Firefly is one of my personal alltime favorite characters, having a “Mal” in my books wasn’t too bad.)
Jae Lynne: What is your favorite type of character to write? Do you have a personal favorite amongst your own characters?
Joey W. Hill: Incredibly strong hero or heroine with severe emotional damage. I know most of us have a person like this in our lives – someone who can handle anything you throw at them, but there’s a part of them closed down and deeply wounded, such that they can’t maintain a healthy relationship. I like to write a story where the damaged person fights their way out of that baggage to accept love and heal. The pen takes over the direction, and each scenario has a lot of potential for emotional and physical intensity. The Dominance/submission genre provides great foundation for that.
One of my personal favorites among my heroes was Gideon of Vampire Mistress/Vampire Trinity. A hardcore vampire hunter who has been steeped in blood for years, he comes to a crisis of faith when he has to become the full servant of a woman forcibly turned to a vampire. As a result, he becomes part of the vampire world he hates so deeply. Gideon was a true bad boy, angry, hostile, yet with the courage of an army and a heart of gold. He’s a lost warrior who needs love and healing, but to do it, he has to surrender, let down his shields. Anwyn is a Mistress of a BDSM club when she’s attacked, so she brings a unique set of resources to open Gideon up – both strong and fragile at once.
One of my favorite female heroines is Mina of A Witch’s Beauty. Part mermaid, part Dark One, straddling the line between good and evil is a daily personal battle for her. She’s a powerful sea witch and a loner, eschewed by the mermaid world, viewed with suspicion by the angel legion. Enter David, a young angel who sees the damaged woman behind the dangerous power, and wants to change her life for the better. If she doesn’t destroy the world first. Marguerite of Ice Queen/Mirror of My Soul is her contemporary counterpart. Marguerite survived a childhood most of us wouldn’t, and crafted herself a very careful, controlled environment to get through each day. She’s an incomparable Domme, but it takes another Dom, Tyler Winterman, to help her break out of her ice house and learn to truly love.
Jae Lynne: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Joey W. Hill: Four things: 1) Know your craft, 2) Know the business, 3) Never give up and 4) Network, network, network. That appears to be the successful formula for many of the authors who make it. It took me three years to get published (after writing off and on for 15 years, so I already had a good craft basis) and eight years to reach the point I was receiving a notable amount of income from it. And I still probably quit my day job about two years too early (laughter).
The above process was a combination of honing my skill, always striving to write a better story than the last one. That meant studying other writers’ styles and staying wide open to feedback, encouraging it from readers, authors, editors, whoever was willing to give me a general or detailed opinion. I still do that today, and I always will, because we’re never as good a writer as we can be. Never, never, never argue with feedback. The reader’s experience is their experience; arguing with them does not change that. Your job is to listen and determine if what you’re hearing can help you improve your work.
Knowing the business/networking is distasteful to a lot of us – let me just stay in my cave and write, for heaven’s sake! But knowing the business, getting out there and rubbing elbows with others in the industry is vital, not only for getting published, but promoting/marketing your work once you get published. 98% of marketing/promo is on the shoulders of the author these days, and knowing the business is important to spend your resources wisely.
Finally, the “never give up”? That’s not rhetoric. Writing books, getting published, staying published, being successful while published, continuing to produce quality stories…it’s hard work, and there are days you think “is this really worth it?” See the insanity clause noted earlier in the interview (grin). You do have to be a bit crazy and tremendously determined to make it in this business. But the golden egg, if handed out at all, is handed to the person who won’t give up striving for it.
Jae Lynne: Who is/are your favorite author(s)?
Joey W. Hill: I tend to choose favorite books vs favorite authors, because authors vary their offerings over their careers. That’s no slur on them – usually all their work is quality stuff; I just prefer some of their subject matter more than others. Nora Roberts’ work in the eighties and early nineties was a huge influence on my initial work/style (and probably still is). Her JD Robb series is my brain candy when I need a break. Audrey Niffenegger’s Time Traveler’s Wife, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Once in a Blue Moon by Penelope Williamson, Laura Kinsale’s Flowers in the Storm or For My Lady’s Heart…those are books I consider absolute masterpieces of craft, emotion, character, etc and they live on my keeper shelves. I am also a recent Black Dagger Brotherhood fan. I was caught by Zsadist’s story, which I thought was an incredibly well told story, and so I’ve been an avid reader of the series since.
Jae Lynne: How do/does your favorite authors(s) impact your writing?
Joey W. Hill: Nora Roberts, as noted above, really influenced my style, because she turned her back on the “misunderstanding” formula in romance. We all remember it – where the hero/heroine stay at odds with each other throughout the book, because of this or that ridiculous miscommunication, etc? She let her hero and heroine enjoy sensual scenes throughout the book. They might wrestle with underlying emotional conflicts that briefly drove them apart, but typically they were dealt with in toe-to-toe interactions with one another. She also wrote the alpha males that were really pretty much borderline sexual Doms, and that caught my attention. I liked her writing craft as well, and like most new writers, when I started, I emulated that style until started finding my own voice. As far as sensuality, that woman could ratchet up body temperature with one well-crafted sentence about fingers intertwining. It helped me pay close attention to the details of an erotic scene, instead of just the obvious stuff.
The other writers/books noted above have influenced me with how deeply they delve into the emotions of their characters. Character-driven stories hold my attention far more than plot-driven ones. I studied how these authors and others like them introduce the characters, their emotional conflicts, how they integrate it into the plotline, etc, and try to hone that skill in my own writing. To me, one thing a good author does is always bare his/her soul in the work. This doesn’t mean I know intimate details about that author; but it does mean that at key points, I will cry or laugh because the author cried or laughed when she wrote that section. She opened herself up to the characters, poured her magic into their magic and created a wonderful story. I don’t think you can write a truly great story unless you’re willing to step beyond knowledge of mechanics and offer your own blood to the book.
Jae Lynne: If you were stranded on an island with one character from any book of your choice, who would it be and why?
Joey W. Hill: That would be Anna of A Mermaid’s Kiss. Since she’s a mermaid, I wouldn’t be stranded at all. She could take me to all sorts of wonderful places in the ocean, and when I was too water logged, her mate, Jonah--who happens to be a gorgeous angel who wears only a short red half-tunic, sword and silver white wings, could take me flying through the clouds.
However, if I was truly stranded, such that I needed someone who would be excellent company, I’d go with Mina of A Witch’s Beauty. Yes, she’s also half-mermaid, but the reason I’d want her there is she’s very complex. She’s well read, an advanced magic user, has an irascible attitude and says exactly what she thinks. Sort of a seawitch/Maxine cartoon character combination. Plus she’s mated to David, who is also an angel and Marguerite’s brother from Ice Queen/Mirror of My Soul, so he’s an interesting combination of human and paranormal, which would make him a versatile island companion as well. Plus he’s quite easy on the eyes (lol).
Of course, you know my REAL answer to this would be ALL of my characters. I’d love to just sit in a tree , letting my bare feet dangle, and watch all of them interact and play on the island. It would be like an erotic version of Lost where instead of having to solve intrigues and face terrible dangers, they’d just indulge every fantasy they have with each other…and I’d get to watch (of course all the poor trees would be stripped, because I’d be scribbling down story ideas on every leaf scrap).
Jae Lynne: Hollywood called! They want to turn your novel into a movie or television series. If given the choice, who would you cast as your characters?
Joey W. Hill: I’m always hesitant to answer this question, because I don’t want to impact who the readers see in their minds when they read the books. I’m afraid when I tell them who I see it will ruin the story for them, but that may be giving my opinion more weight than it deserves (lol). There was a contest on the fan forum some time ago to cast Gideon, Daegan and Anwyn from Vampire Mistress/Vampire Trinity, and the readers came up with some awesome options, including Andy Whitfield for Gideon (God/dess bless him, taken from us too early). But let’s see, I’ll give it a stab. I’m assuming you want me to venture options for Lyssa and Jacob of Bound by the Vampire Queen, since that’s the latest release. If I cast all my books, we’ll be here much longer than appropriate (lol).
I could see Alex O’Loughlin (currently playing McGarrett on the new Hawaii Five-O) doing an excellent Jacob, and Melinda Clarke (Lady Heather from CSI, also played a madame in an episode of Firefly) as an incomparable Lyssa.
Jae Lynne: Tell us about your novel.
Joey W. Hill: You mean the bane of my existence? The Torment Sent Straight from the Bowels of Hell? Oh, okay, I’ve finished the manuscript now, so I guess I can think of some nicer names for it, lol. Bound by the Vampire Queen, which is the eighth book in the Vampire Queen series, is the third book featuring Jacob and Lyssa as the main protagonists. Their books are always a challenge, because first there are the intense push-pull interactions between them, the result of her being a vampire queen, and him being her protective alpha male servant, both of them in a world where human servants are supposed to be the property of their vampires. Second, they’re usually wrapped up in a lot of political wrangling and near-death experiences involving the Vampire Council and vampire society at large. As if that wasn’t bad enough, in this book they spend a great deal of time in the Fae World, and so the politics and near-death wranglings with that group also figures into the plot. Chuckle. Seriously, while it was a bear to write, I’m hopeful that readers will enjoy the results. The fun thing about writing a book about protagonists you’ve written about before is they can indulge in a lot of intimate/romantic scenarios only possible with a couple who are already comfortable/familiar with each other. Readers who’ve read the first two books about them (Vampire Queen’s Servant and Mark of the Vampire Queen) have that “inside information”, which enhances the reading experience (if I’ve done it right!).
Researching the Fae world for this book was also a perk. I won’t research something on my own; a documentary or non-fiction book will put me to sleep, but if it’s for a particular writing project, my interest comes alive and I devour everything I have time to read on the subject. I didn’t realize how broad and diverse the Fae world was; in fact, I probably got a little carried away with all the various participants in the Wild Hunt on Samhain night that’s featured in the book. It reads a little bit like a D&D Monstrous Compendium (who wants to admit they know/remember what that is?). There are four characters that come to life in the Fae world that might just get their own story down the line as well, so I may be branching out from the vampires into another species before long (grin). But never fear, I have plenty of fodder for more vampire books.
Jae Lynne: For those of us who’ve been following the series from the beginning, what can we expect from this installment?
Joey W. Hill: When we left them in Mark of the Vampire Queen, Jacob and Lyssa had experienced a significant power exchange that could potentially change their relationship dynamic. You’ll get to see how that’s going, plus what kind of parents they make with their new son, Kane (in fact, for long term fans of the series, I wrote a little vignette about the three of them Christmas shopping which will show up at the Literary Escapism site on December 13). In this book, we’ll also get to visit some familiar faces, because Mason and Jessica of Beloved Vampire will make an appearance, and Gideon, Jacob’s brother who was mentioned earlier, will have a vital role with Daegan and Anwyn, his vampire Master and Mistress.
Hope you all enjoy this latest book in the series!
While the Vampire Council threatens to take away Lyssa and Jacob’s newborn son, the Fae Queen has ordered Lyssa to appear before the Otherworld court to face inescapable charges. The Fae have nothing but contempt for vampires, but to serve her, protect her, nourish her, and pleasure her, Jacob will follow his lady into hell itself. No one—neither Fae nor vampire—will compel him to break the oath he made to serve a vampire queen forever.
Click HERE for a free excerpt!
Jae Lynne: Are there any other projects you’re working on that we can look forward to?
Joey W. Hill: I just turned in In the Company of Witches, the second in the Arcane Shot series. Raina, my heroine, is half-succubus and all powerful witch, and she runs a bordello where her staff are full incubi/succubi. Mikhael shows up on her doorstep running an incubus fugitive to ground. The incubus seeks sanctuary with her, and she and Mikhael come up against each other in a major way over that. Mikhael’s a Dark Guardian, which means he works for the Underworld, so he’s one of those dark, dangerous guys that I love to write. It took some surprising turns.
The book I’m working on now is the fifth in the Knights of the Board Room series. Hostile Takeover is Ben’s story, the last of the Kensington & Associates executives to get his story. The “Knights” are five high level business executives who all happen to be hardcore sexual Dominants. Each book focuses on one man finding the woman who’s meant to be his forever. In the four previous books, my strong heroines really needed a “Knight” to help them out of a difficult situation. In this last book, Ben is the one floundering a bit. He’s seen his four friends find their soulmates, but for the past few years, he’s been on his own. Then the younger sister of one of the previous heroines returns home, and she has her sites set squarely on him, no matter that he sees her as “Cass’s little sister”. It’s been a hugely fun book to write, because though she’s a submissive, she’s absolutely determined he’s her Master, and she is stubborn, fiery and precocious. He’s trying to be the gentleman, but he’s actually the most extreme Master of all four of them, so at a certain point, the reins just snap and it gets really interesting.
Jae Lynne: It sounds like you have a big year ahead of you with new releases and a few scheduled appearances. In fact, you’re the Mistress of Ceremonies at next year’s Authors After Dark convention in New Orleans. What do you hope to take away from your experience?
Joey W. Hill: I’m looking forward to spending time with old friends and discovering new ones. At the last AAD I attended everyone was so welcoming. It’s a great environment for readers, and those are the conferences I like best – where everything is focused on the reader having a great time, them getting access to authors, and us having access to them, so we can find out what they like, don’t like, and just enjoy the heck out of our mutual love of books. The “field trip” idea this year is an excellent one. Authors with New Orleans settings in their books will take readers to places that figure into those stories, which will give everyone a chance to see more of the city while attending the con.
I personally hope to take home about three pounds of beignets on my hips! In Hostile Takeover, which is set in NOLA, Marcie is licking powdered sugar off her fingertips until the hero grips her wrist and takes over that little task. Just thinking of that warm sweet bread melting in the mouth, it makes me wish I was there now! Okay, the finger licking thing wouldn’t be bad either…
Jae Lynne: Where can our readers find you?
Joey W. Hill: I have an email contact link on my website, www.storywitch.com. I’m also at Facebook under Joey Woody Hill, Twitter under Joey W Hill, and of course thanks to four wonderful ladies (of which Jae Lynne is one), you can find me cruising through the JWH Connection fan forum. There’s a “Got a Question for Joey” link there where you can leave direct inquiries any time. You’ll also find free download vignettes at the forum revisiting characters from my full length works, character interviews and graphics inspired by the books, so it’s a great place to visit. For access info, click HERE.
On my website, there’s a subscription link to my monthly newsletter, and it will keep you abreast of all my online and conference appearances, as well as when I’m having giveaways, offering new vignettes, etc. I love to hear from readers. Don’t ever be shy about contacting me!
Thanks so much for joining us today, Joey. Congrats on the release!
Want to win a copy of BOUND BY THE VAMPIRE QUEEN? Joey is giving away one eBook OR print copy of either BOUND BY THE VAMPIRE QUEEN or any of her other titles (reader's choice) to one lucky commenter! Be sure to include a valid email address in your comment so we can contact you regarding your prize! Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on Friday, December 9th!