Jen Colly: On the spot!
This is probably out of the norm for most authors, but I'm terrible when put on the spot to write anything. Even a short message in a birthday card. It's partly due to the amount of expectation heaped on 'the writer' to produce something fantastic, but mostly, outside of my own stories, I just don't write. You won't find me throwing out my opinion in a local magazine, pushing out a column for the local newspaper, writing blogs, or short stories in my spare time. I'm amazed by the many people who can do those things, but I'm not one of them. If I can't put my heart into it, then it's not for me. So I've asked my Facebook crew to come up with some questions for me, and did they ever rise to the challenge!
How did you get the idea for your books? (Sigrun O.)
I was part of an online book club when a thread called 'pick a picture and write a scene' popped up. A friend asked me to post with her. I caved to peer pressure and found a captivating picture of a man in black slacks, an unbuttoned white shirt, and long black hair that disappeared behind his back. My perfect pirate. After staring at him for over a week (such a hardship), I had nothing. Not a name, story title, plot, or even a heroine. Just him. Why could I picture him speaking, moving, and wielding a sword, but could never place him on a ship? Then it hit me. He was a vampire. Looking at him in this new light...er, moonlight, all the answers fell into place. My pirate turned vampire started it all. He is the hero of Beneath the Night (The Cities Below, book 3).
Do you worry people who read your books in decades to come won't understand your references to movies or shows? (from Amy K.)
Great question. I can only think of one I've used off the top of my head. When I wrote In the Dark (The Cities Below, book 1), I referenced Peaches & Cream Barbie. Those old enough to remember her will get an instant and distinct image of what I'm trying to describe. Yes, I just gave away my age, or at least the ballpark number. Generations to come will recognize Barbie, thopugh maybe not the specific reference. But at least in this instance, the color scheme and fluffiness of the gown were the important points.
What was your first romance novel? Did it change you as a reader? (from Jenn B.)
Wow, that's digging back years! I don’t remember the exact first romance I read, only that mom hid about six Zebra romances under the bed. The one I remember making an impact was The Pirate's Captive by Dana Ransom. A pirate with a secret identity plotting revenge on the fiance of the woman he loves? That's my kind of story. From that point on, I was always waiting for another book to live up to the complexity of this story. It made me a picky reader.
Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? (from Jenn B.)
For those who aren’t familiar with these terms, plotter is exactly what you'd expect. An author creates an outline and basically follows the directions. A 'pantser' is someone who writes by the seat of their pants, starting at the beginning and going straight on through to the end. Whatever happens, happens. I've found over the years that I'm neither. I'm more of a quilter. When I dig into a story with the intent to finish, I already have over a dozen awesome quilt squares, or scenes. I read through them, place them in sequential order, then sew them together and fill in the gaps. I rarely have the first or last chapter in mind when I kick things off. I don't necessarily recommend writing this way, but it works for me. Probably because I have children and can only get so much written before I’m interrupted.
Any tattooed, bad ass women? (from Amy K.)
Okay, I'm going to split up this question. Tattoos: In my series, when a vampire finds their fated mate and are in agreement to be together forever, they bite their mate's neck, leaving the bite to heal on its own.. When this happens, black mating marks stem from each puncture wound to create a unique design. Now, when the mate bites back? The mark matches. The marks are permanent.
Bad ass women:
Only a small handful. Surprisingly, I've caught a lot of flack for this, but you have to remember this is a secluded world, a culture steeped in ancient traditions. I can't just write what you want to see, because it wouldn't be true to the world they live within. In The Cities Below series, women do not take part in any sword swinging, gun toting, or law enforcement in general. At least, not initially. But...I do gradually introduce you to the ground-breakers, because what fun is female empowerment if you don't get the chance to watch these women change their world?
Jen Colly is the rare case of an author who rebelled against reading assignments throughout her school years. Now she prefers reading books in a series, which has led her to writing her first paranormal romance series: The Cities Below. She will write about anything that catches her fancy, though truth be told, her weaknesses are pirates and vampires.
She lives in Ohio with her supportive husband, two kids, one big fluffy dog, and four rescued cats.
Find Jen and her books
The Cities Below #2
Kensington Amazon BN
iTunes Google Play Kobo
The streets are a battleground for humans, vampires, and demons alike—where survival is a skill, love is a weapon, and the most dangerous act is to care for another . . .Excerpt:
Keir is an assassin devoted to Lady Arianne, the last of her royal bloodline. He is sworn to protect her, and that means eliminating any threat to her life. But while on a mission, he is set upon by a pack of demons, barely escaping with his life.
Cleopatra lives by a set of rules so rigid she no longer knows her true self. But her kind and loving nature resurfaces when she finds a man, bloodied and dying. Moved to help him, she risks her future and her life to save a stranger far below her aristocratic station.
Their attraction to each other is as powerful as it is forbidden. But even as their love grows, Keir keeps his true identity a secret—and this lie is not the only threat to their love . . . or their lives.
Cleopatra was utterly trapped. She longed to close her eyes and block him out, but fear of the unknown kept them wide open. The man had no weapon, couldn’t possibly mean to harm her. Except, would he really need a weapon? She couldn’t fight him, wouldn’t even know where to begin.
He studied her closely, and when his head tilted slightly, she noticed every bit of his focus fixated on her neck. Not a murderer. He wanted to mark her, to bite her neck, leave the wound to heal and forever bind her to him. This was why daughters of the aristocracy were kept under a tight watch. The mark, unbreakable and indisputable, would give this man access to her family’s wealth and prestige, and bind her to him until death.
He reached for her, head descending to her neck. Cleopatra quickly covered his target with both hands. Tears gathered in her eyes, sorrow distorted her voice. “I don’t want this. Please, don’t hurt me.”
The man rocked back as if she’d smacked him, and for the first time since he’d appeared, he looked at her face. His eyes met hers and didn’t look away as he brought his hand to her cheek and brushed away a tear. He saw her, truly saw her, and the adoration in his eyes sent a completely different shimmy down her spine.
In one step, he crowded her, pressing his cheek against hers. “Could never hurt you. My angel,” his captivating voice crooned, so close to her ear. He drew in a deep breath, his face buried in her hair. Then he whispered, “My Cleo.”
She gasped. The shortened version of her name on his lips sounded strangely intimate, as though he’d known her for years. The warmth rolling off his body kept her intensely aware of his close proximity, and she held her breath, waiting for his next move to prove his intent. He didn’t bite her, didn’t hurt her, and the sincere affection in his gentle touch left her so very confused. Any other man would have bitten her, taken advantage of the opportunity laid before him. But this man? His intent to bite her had been unmistakable, and he’d stopped because he…cared for her? She didn’t understand.
His hand slipped from her face, dropped to his side, and he staggered back, moving as if through a dream. He still watched her, but he swayed, that intense focus suddenly gone. The man crumpled to the floor with a heavy thud.
Dragging in a long, shaky breath, she blinked away tears she’d been staring through. A few more deep breaths, and she allowed herself to really look at him. He lay on his side, knees slightly curled, motionless. Something was wrong with him. People didn’t just fall over.
Gripping the railing, which had swiftly become her personal anchor, she pointed her foot and gingerly nudged his arm. When he didn’t move, she put more force behind the kick. Cleopatra jumped as his hand fell away from his ribs, thumping onto the floor. Blood coated his fingers.
He was bleeding? She’d missed the injury completely. The saturated, glistening spot had been hidden under his hand and camouflaged by his black button-up shirt. He’d been so close and she hadn’t… She glanced down at herself. Blood streaked across her pale blue gown, more evidence of his severe injury.
The elevator doors slid open. Oh God, if someone were to see them together in this state, what would they think? What would happen to her, or to him? Her heart hammered, panic flooding through her as she peeked out into the main corridor of Sterling.
The white, gold-trimmed corridor stretched on, empty. The elevator doors slid shut, and there it would stay, unless called. She might not have much time. Peering down at the unconscious man, she tried to fit the puzzle pieces together.
She’d mistaken his intent. He’d needed sustenance badly, and now he bled out, dying at her feet. Because of who she was, he refused to harm her, to take from her. How did he have the willpower to block his instincts from taking over, to stop from feeding?
Whoever he was, she had to save him. She dropped to her knees and pushed away any lingering fear under her newfound resolve. Tugging his shirt from his dark jeans, she searched for the injury. In the midst of his blood-slicked skin, the wound gaped open between his ribs. It looked like he’d been slashed, the nasty gash a result of being on the wrong end of a knife. Just a guess. She had no experience with this sort of villainy.
Her hand flew to her mouth. The murderer running loose in Galbraith used a knife. Could this man be yet another victim?
“Can you hear me? What happened to you? Who did this?” She awkwardly patted his whiskered cheek. His eyes fluttered open, then shut again.
“Balinese is safe.” His voice trembled, his words slurred without support from his shallow breath. “Paris. Demons.”
Cleopatra’s fingers fumbled as she pulled away his shirt collar. Several teeth-like gouges in his shredded skin oozed blood near his collarbone. Demons. They’d almost made a meal of him, and he was a bloody mess, but the real danger came from that knife wound. It looked deep, and if he’d been damaged internally and lost too much blood, he might not survive.He needed blood now. She bit her wrist and pressed it against his mouth. His lips didn’t part, and his body refused to respond. A rivulet of blood slid down his cheek. He’d die if she didn’t fight for him.