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J. R. Ward

J. R. Ward is the USA Today bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood paranormal series. Ms. Ward has just been nominated for a Romantic Times award for Best Vampire Romance for DARK LOVER and has also been nominated for two PEARLs.

Before you wrote about the Brotherhood, you were writing strict romance. You were even nominated for an RWA RITA Award in 2005 for Best Contemporary Single Title for AN IRRESISTIBLE BACHELOR. What made you decide to switch from writing contemporary to paranormal romance?

Actually, I had no intention of going paranormal! I had always been a horror fan, but as a writer, I'm hard-wired for romance (I've got to have the happily ever after.) The two had always seemed incompatible, but then I started to see an opening in the market. Shortly thereafter, WHAM! two thousand pounds of male vampire showed up in my head. So for me it wasn't a conscious choice: the Brotherhood appeared and were like, YOU'RE WRITING US NOW. After I got over the struck-stupids, my response was along the lines of OKAY since I'm completely outnumbered here, I guess I'm going to do what I'm told. I feel very lucky that the Brothers found me and my pledge to them is try and do them justice.

You were also an attorney and Chief Of Staff at a big medical center in Boston. What made you decide to give up this prestigious job practicing law to be a full-time writer? Also, why do you think lawyers make great authors?

Well, I was a writer before I was a lawyer in the sense that I've always written stories- ever since I could hold a pencil. I loved the law and I still do, but for me nothing comes close to the way I feel when I get to sit down at the computer in the morning to write. That to me is the penultimate. So I decided to go for it and do what I love full time. It doesn't mean that every day is smooth sailing or that it's an easy road. But I relish my job.

As for the attorney/word connection, I think if you're going to be a good lawyer you have to be very comfortable with words and you have to use them with precision. These things are both true for authors as well.

Who are what influenced you to become an author?

I hope this doesn't come across badly, but nothing and no one influenced me to become an author. I just was one always. I had stories in my head, the need to put them down on paper, the hunger for getting the words right. And I'm sorry, but I have to get on a soap box right now. I don't think publication makes someone an author. I do not draw the distinction between authors and people who write for themselves or haven't found the right match with a publisher yet. We're all the same, just in different places.

DARK LOVER, book one in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, features a blind, tortured vampire, Wrath and is very dark in tone. In LOVER ETERNAL the second book in the seies - Rhage is your fair-haired bad boy vampire, known as Hollywood for his way with the ladies but he too has a big problems including being cursed. This book is less dark but even more emotional than the first book. Do you plan for the series to go back and forth with darker and then more emotional plots?

I don't plan out the series' fluctuating tone with any deliberation whatsoever. In fact, I get into trouble when I try to force my will on the manuscripts. The Brothers tell me what is going to happen and the tones depend on who's up front. As I look at future books, Zsadist's is dark because of who he is. Butch's is less so because of what his journey is like. And you know, when I started Rhage's book, I was actually nervous because his feel was so different from Wrath's. It took me a while to get comfortable with the realization that each book was going to have its own tenor.

Besides the fantastic love stories in your paranormal series there is also a complex subplot of good vs. evil between the Black Dagger Brotherhood fighting to protect their race and the Lessening Society, slayers who want to eradicate the vampires. Also, kudos to you for giving readers a glossary of terms about your paranormal world so they won't ever be lost in this series. What influenced your imagination in creating this series and how long have you been working on this premise?

Truly, I don't experience the series as anything I created. Not at all. The world came to me fully formed, all of its conflicts and the good and the evil and the Brothers and their mates. The scenes that make up the books are revealed in the manner of dreams to me and my job is to choose the right words to represent what I see.

Your vampire hero's names, Wrath, Rhage, Zadist, Phury, Vishous and Tohrment are clever misspellings of very bad emotions or actions. Yet their personalities are the direct opposite of their names. Explain how you came up with this concept and why?

Again, this was no concept I came up with. The names are just... the names. Wrath was Wrath from day one when I was writing the proposal for the series. I will say that at first I was like, WHAT? How can this be the names? But again, I don't get a vote. I do what I'm told!

Anyway, the names are traditional warriors names in the Old Language which explains the off spellings. Over centuries, they were corrupted in the English language and became associated with aggressive or adverse emotions.

How many books are currently planned in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and what are the order of the books and their release dates?

There are a total of ten books in my head at this time, two of which involve folks you meet along the way. All of these stories focus on the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Wrath's book was first, of course, as he's king. Rhage's, LOVER ETERNAL, is out March 7. Zsadist's story, LOVER AWAKENED, is out in early September. Then it's Butch, Vishous and Phury. The order of the other four are not entirely clear- but they'll tell me!

How can your readers get in contact with you and do you plan any personal appearances/signings in 2006?

Come visit the Brothers at www.jrward.com or email me at jr@jrward.com.

This interview for NewAndUsedBooks.com was conducted by: Pat Rouse, an author publicist, who networks with over 100 romance readers groups and bookstores in the U.S., Australia and England.
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