Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meet Jordan Dane

I first met Jordan Dane online. We live in the same town (which we didn't realize), but we visited first through the OWFI (Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc.)Yahoo group and one of the crime writing groups. I really thought the first opportunity I would have to meet her face to face would be at the OWFI writing conference in May. However, as I was setting up for the Edmond Authors Festival, I saw a poster with "Jordan Dane" in large letters. I hurried over and introduced myself. It's so nice to meet someone in person that I admire and with whom I shared messages.

After that meeting, we have seen each other at least two other times, once when she talked at Pen and Keyboard Writers, the writing group I'm with, and at a book festival in Comanche, Oklahoma.

I can't bring her here for readers to meet "face to face," but Jordan was kind enough to agree to an interview.

May I present best-selling author Jordan Dane.

Vivian: Since you’re a well-known author of mystery/suspense/thriller novels, readers are interested in knowing not only about the author, but also the person behind the author.

You’ve shared your story about your debut novel, which ended up being back to back releases for three novels. Would you share for readers how you became a client of Meredith Bernstein, who represents you?

Jordan: My first sale story is bundled with many smaller good fortunes. For all the choice tidbits, I would recommend you check out my FOR WRITERS page and my FIRST SALE story. How I got my agent is directly linked to how I sold in auction. NYT bestselling author Sharon Sala is a member of my local writers’ group. We have a Finish the Book Incentives program. When one of our unpublished members finishes a book, we can pick from a list of reward incentives. One of the items on the list was a light critique from Sharon for a mystery/suspense novel. Since I had never had anyone read a complete book of mine, I took Sharon up on her offer. And after she read it in one sitting, she called me breathless and said, “Honey, where do you have this?” She got me a special read with her editor and her agent, Meredith, and the rest is history. Meredith had me send my manuscript to her hotel at a conference and she read it on the plane trip back to NYC. She offered me representation the next morning. And in no time, she had generated interest in an auction—10 days of pure hell and fun wrapped up in the same package. I have more on this on my website.

Vivian: How does your history and home background influence your writing?

Jordan: I think everything that an author is—their life’s experiences and worldview—all contribute to the prose and internal workings of the characters and the world the author creates. I practice a thing that I call “free association” where I draw from my life’s experiences to write the introspection of my characters. And I explain this on my FOR WRITERS page in my article on START WITH A BANG. Free association allows you to color your pages with how you think your character would think and act. And all the locations I’ve moved with the energy industry have also filled the cup of my experiences. I wrote my debut book and placed it in San Antonio, my old hometown. And I recently released the first book in my Sweet Justice series, called Evil Without A Face, that started in Talkeetna Alaska. I had lived in Alaska for 10 years and had been to Talkeetna many times. If you allow your mind to roam freely while you write, you’d be surprised what will pop up—good and bad.

Vivian: Authors are often asked when they started writing or what triggered their interest in writing. I like to know that, also, but I would especially like to know what keeps you writing.

Jordan: What keeps me writing is the same thing that got me started. I love the challenge of creating something from nothing. Choosing the right words to place a reader in the scene using all their senses is a challenge that I love. I loved it as a reader and love it even more as an author. I was an avid reader as a kid and that addiction only got worse as I grew up. I think that the process of writing is similar to what filmmakers and musicians and artists go through to create their art. When I hear an interview with any of these people, I am drawn to their insight on many levels. And I understand what they are conveying in a deeper way than I would have before I wrote. And with each new book, I strive to do more. I want to challenge myself with the craft and I never take the easy way out. That’s part of the fun and the reason I still love it. When someone tells me “that’s impossible” or “you shouldn’t do that,” that’s when I go for it. I think it’s important for an author to push the envelope of the genre they write. Writing the trend doesn’t set a writer apart. Breaking barriers does.

Vivian: I enjoyed hearing how you create your books by writing the “movies running” in your head. That’s my method, too, but many people believe a writer must outline or storyboard, which does help some people. Why do you prefer your method of preparation?

Jordan: My impatience to write comes from my dad, so it’s in my genes. I was the procrastinator in school and I convinced myself that if I weren’t under a deadline, I wouldn’t be at my best. So outlining seems too much like homework to me. And I’d rather dive in and discover what’s going to happen next. I tend to spend more prep time with my characters in my head. They usually come to me first. Then I contemplate what I call the “big ticket” items—the major plot movements of the movie in my head. But as I’m writing, I like to be flexible and discover what makes my characters tick when their backs are up against a wall. I love a good challenge. The more complex the story, the better I like it—especially when I can make it read as a simple, fast-paced story.

Vivian: How do any writing groups benefit you and your writing? Also, we might tie some information about your presentations at conferences with this.

Jordan: Writing groups make an author feel normal. We are all crazed to some degree, but hanging together makes that more difficult to spot. I love to network with other writers, both in person and online. Networking and belonging to a local group helped me get published. So of course I’m a big believer in joining a group. But a writer in a group should have a strong sense of what they want their voice to be and not be too swayed by other opinions. This is not easy and it may take trial and error. Some folks might work well with you and others may not.

I offer a FOR WRITERS page on my website to reach out to authors of all experiences with what I’ve learned in my short career. This page has resources on craft, promotion, and just plain fun stuff. And when I do various speaking engagements, I post new articles and update this page from time to time. I believe in the concept of “paying it forward” and the resource page on my website is my way of doing that.

I believe it’s important to share knowledge because our biggest competition is not from each other. It comes from the people who don’t read and all the distractions that pull potential readers away from enjoying a good novel. The better we write our books, the more people will want to read them. The storytelling that comes from each of us will always be unique. That’s what we bring to the table.

Vivian: What advice do you have for a new author or one struggling to find an agent or publisher?

Jordan: I think you have to be professionally persistent and keep handling the business side of sending out proposals, pitching at conferences, entering contests, and networking. But while you are doing this, KEEP WRITING. Writing is the one thing we can control. And only by writing new material do we learn most. Writing also helps pass the time after a proposal has gone out. When I sold, I had inventory in the suspense genre for my publishing house to buy. And it kept me grounded so I didn’t wait anxiously for a quick reply. That’s wasted effort.

Vivian: Would you give the titles of your released books and a bit of information about each? What will be your next book, and when should we look for it to be released?

Jordan: My backlist is on my website at www.jordandane.com. And my site also has excerpts and other entertaining tidbits, Q&A interviews, and digital pics of the story locales for some of my books. But below is an overview of my new Sweet Justice thriller series. This series has been a blast to write.

The Sweet Justice Series - Overview
The Sweet Justice thrillers will focus on the lives and loves of three women—a bounty hunter operating outside the law, an ambitious vice cop, and a former international operative with a mysterious past. These women give Lady Justice a whole new reason to wear blinders. And their brand of justice is anything but sweet.

Sweet Justice Series - Book #1 (Jan 27, 2009)
In EVIL WITHOUT A FACE, an illusive web of impostors on the Internet lures a deluded teen from her Alaskan home and launches a chain reaction collision course with an unlikely tangle of heroes who uncover a terrifying global conspiracy. They’re battling a new kind of criminal. And soon their race for answers will become a dangerous struggle for survival.

Sweet Justice Series - Book #2 (Oct 27, 2009)
In THE WRONG SIDE OF DEAD, a mysterious computer genius is framed for a heinous murder and becomes a sacrificial lamb to a ruthless killer. And between his gaps in memory and reluctance to reveal his secrets, he forces bounty hunter Jessica Beckett into an uphill battle to help him—but his plight is not what it seems. And with one fatal mistake, more innocent lives could wind up on the wrong side of dead.

Sweet Justice Series - Book #3 (TBD 2010)
In THE ECHO OF VIOLENCE, terrorists attack a Haitian missionary school fundraiser to abduct partygoers for ransom. But when the hostages are brutally killed one by one—with videos of the senseless murders posted online—time is running out. Sentinels’ agent Alexa Marlowe is forced into an unlikely alliance with a relentless mercenary—but he’s no stranger. Guarding a dark secret, Jackson Kinkaid is linked to drug cartels and rumored to sell his services to the highest bidder. He’s not the man Alexa used to know. And when she launches her covert rescue mission into the mountains of Cuba, she finds out no one can be trusted.

Vivian: I read Evil With a Face, and it's my favorite of your books so far, Jordan. I am going to write that review soon.

Could you give us a brief idea of your writing schedule?

Jordan: Since I write full time, I work everyday. I find that it helps to keep my mind into the world I’ve created. While I’m in the middle of a project, I usually write for a few hours before my husband gets up. He makes me breakfast and we plot how to get away with murder over toast. We call it our quality time. After he leaves for work, I keep going and write until I take a break mid afternoon. I spend a little time each day working my online promo through my website, e-newsletters, blogging, social network connections, and keeping up with emails. Then I edit what I’ve written that day before I go to bed. I set a goal of 1500-2000 words per day. And although I’ve completed a book in as little as 6 weeks, it usually takes 4 months or so (from start to finish). Since I’ve become a full time author, my mind doesn’t quit working. Even if I’m watching TV, a movie, commercials, reading a newspaper or magazines—ANYTHING can trigger an idea.

Vivian: You’ll be one of the presenters at the OWFI Writing Conference the first weekend in May. What topic will you discuss?

Jordan: I’ll be talking about “Making a Thriller”. I’ve given this workshop once before and have been fine tuning it, gearing up for OWFI. After my debut series, I changed my writing style to encompass a thriller pace and I learned a lot from that process. That’s how Evil Without A Face was created. It’s a complex plot with 5 different major story arcs and 20+ secondary characters that I’ve written in a simple to read book. And when I got done writing that novel, I was ecstatic. I felt as if I had discovered a breakthrough in my writing and I’ve continued to challenge myself in different ways ever since. And this lecture will cover the things I’ve learned. I’m looking forward to speaking to other authors at the conference. It will also be my first time to attend.

Vivian: Any other comments, blog and web site URLs, and order information.

I was really pleased when Publishers Weekly named my debut book as Best Book of 2008 for Mass-Market. And my third book, NO ONE LIVES FOREVER was nominated as Romantic Times Magazine’s Best Intrigue Novel for 2008.

And for more information on my books, my website is the most comprehensive spot to learn more about my work. www.jordandane.com. Plus you can sign up on my mailing list for my quarterly e-newsletter. I offer exclusives to anyone belonging to my list. On this site, I have resources for other authors, my appearances, links to my MySpace blog, and a list of my novels with excerpts and other special features. HarperCollins also maintains a great website for me at http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/33056/Jordan_Dane/index.aspx. This site has fresh material that offers a Browse Inside feature to my books to allow readers to peek inside my books and buy them, of course. And my books are available at any independent or national chain bookstore, Walmart, Amazon, & Barnes & Noble, airports, pharmacies, & grocery stores.

Thanks for featuring me on your blog, Vivian. I really appreciate your support of a new author.

Vivian: Thank you, Jordan, for agreeing to allow me to interview you. I recommend everyone read your books.

As I said earlier, so far Evil without a Face is my favorite, but I plan on reading more of your books. No One Heard Her Scream was good, but it was a bit edgier than what I usually read. As I tell people, your writing is gritty but true and an reading experience not to be missed.



Joyce Anthony said...

Thrillers are right up my alley!! Thanks for the wonderful interview, ladies--both questions and answers were very insightful!

unwriter said...

Writing is nothing more than talking with your fingers. Outlining is fine for a school report, but like many, there are other ways. These books look interesting. I also like thrillers because they are a break from my normal writing genre. I'll check these out at Barnes and Noble when I next go there.

Deb Hockenberry said...

Thank you both for a very insightful & informative interview! I too like the occassional break & pick up a thriller. I'll have to check these out at B&N.
Deb :-)

Helen Ginger said...

Great interview. It made me want to read Jordan's books (I have one already) and go hear her at the conference.

I really enjoyed "listening" to you Jordan! Thanks, Vivian.


Judi Fennell said...

*waving maniacally to Jordan!

btw, Twitter works. That's where I saw mention made of your interview.

I read Jordan before she became published in several contests and KNEW she'd hit it big. Way to go, Woman!!

Donna M. McDine said...

Wow...Jordan's interview has blown me away. Love your quality time with hubby before he heads out to work...LOL. Your books have now made my must read list.

Best wishes,
Donna McDine

Jordan Dane said...

Hey there, you guys--Thanks for virtually visiting with Vivian and a fellow Okie.

With each book, I learn something new and I usually have a goal in mind of what that might be. And since I write a very cross genre story, I like to mix elements that I love--like mystery, suspense, humor, action, and when I can add it--police procedural & forensics.

With EVIL, I definitely wanted to write a fast-paced thriller with multiple story arcs. And after finishing book#6 - THE ECHO OF VIOLENCE - I'm now craving my mystery elements again, so who knows where that will take me. But I find that my voice as a writer still comes through, so I'm not afraid to try pushing the envelope on how I compose a storyline.

Hey Judi & Helen--Great to see familiar faces here too. You guys are terrific!

And Donna--I'm having my quality time with my husband this morning. I sense a global conspiracy might get us through our coffee and toast.

Katie Hines said...

Great interview. I've read "Evil Without a Face" too - within the last couple months, I believe. I've sent it, along with other bestseller's, to my mother who lives all the way across the country from me. She reads them, then gives them to her local library.

Talk about getting your name out there!

Vivian Zabel said...

Thank you again, Jordan, for letting me interview you. An interesting interview is always fun, and you're a fun person to interview.

I'm glad to see folks stopping by to say hello. Also glad to know twitting works.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Jordan! Such fun to read this interview.

"Creating something out of nothing" is just perfectly said. You start with a blank screen or page.. and the, gradually, the picture emerges. New people, new ideas, and new adventures. Love it.

And you, dear Jordan, do it so amazingly! Thanks, Vivian, for inviting us all to visit.

Jordan Dane said...

Hey Hankster--What a wonderful surprise to see you here!! You're an amazing writer and I can't wait to see you on the conference circuit sometime soon I hope. That last time was in NYC over a big table of debut thriller authors and a crazy guy with a ukulele.

And thanks for having me here, Viv!!

And Katie--I appreciate the word of mouth. A new author like me can really use it.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Wonderful story and interview, you two!

elysabeth said...

great interview - it makes me wish I had more time to squeeze in some reading and more of my own writing. Dang work - I can't wait for my books to be self-supporting so I can quit my day job but until then - I must persevere and trudge through it until the light at the end of the tunnel finally shines through. Will look for your books and try to get some reading time in - E :)