J.R. Ward Interview
Publication Date: October 1, 2007
Ms. Ward is author of one of the most popular vampire romance book series: The Black Dagger Brotherhood.
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Upcoming Title or Latest Release
Give us an update on yourself. What's your latest news?
I'm thrilled that my newest Black Dagger Brotherhood book is out September 25th! LOVER UNBOUND is Vishous's story and it's all about the Brother with the ‘unconventional interests' and the glowing hand. I'm proud of his book, but I will say it was the hardest to write- which doesn't surprise me! V's a very reserved kind of male- he doesn't like people all up in his biz. So he wasn't into the writing process as much as some of the others have been.
After V comes Phury's LOVER ENSHRINED, which is the book I'm writing now. After Phury is Rehvenge – and I have a feeling that's going to be a real doozy of a story! Rehv is along the lines of V – trouble with fangs.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It takes me about nine months from outline to finished first draft and then there are revisions and copy edits and galley proofing. I outline extensively – I have to, because there are so many points of views in the Brotherhood books. It's paramount, when I sit down to write, that I know where I'm going and what's doing with everyone!
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I write every single day. No matter what, no excuses. Discipline is important to me so every morning I make my coffee and plant my butt in front of the computer and go until it's time for my midday run. Then I write more in the afternoons and evenings. I like to work, but I also have tight deadlines to meet and I'm never, ever satisfied with what I do – so I'm pretty much wrapped in the Brothers all the time!
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My books come to me like movies in my head and my job is to put the scenes in a coherent order then get them on the page to the best of my ability. I'm not sure where the ideas come from! I just know that so far there seems to be a lot of them and for that I am eternally grateful. I will say that I have no control over the stories – if I try to muscle them in any way when I'm writing, the visions dry up and I'm left with nothing. So… what's in my head is the boss of me!
What do you think makes a good story?
I think good conflict and credible surprises make for an excellent story: conflict makes people change and change is interesting to watch and measure in others. And surprises are the name of the game! Predictability is uninteresting and not all that realistic – how much of our real lives do we have control over? Not that much. So good fiction to me, mirrors that aspect of life, that sense that we're headed into the future on a wing and a prayer LOL!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Honestly? I find everything a challenge. It's all work for me. From the big picture planning to the word by word execution. Like a lot of writers I know, in order for things to come across as smooth, you have to put a lot of sweat equity in! But I'm not complaining – I love what I do and am grateful for every single day I have writing.
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I've written fourteen books for publication so far (I'm working on my fifteenth) and I don't have a favorite. I will say that I won't reread LOVER AWAKENED because it upsets me too much – some of those scenes from Zsadist's past are just too horrid. Actually… wait… yeah, I think maybe Z's book is my favorite. He is my favorite hero of all the books I've written so yes, LOVER AWAKENED is both at the top of my list but also the one I won't read again.
Who or what has influenced your writing?
The scenes in my head are what influence me LOL! The things I see… I find them so compelling I just have to get them out and onto the page. They are what drive me.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Oh, this is a hard one! But I would have to say Suzanne Brockmann. I have been reading her for YEARS and I love every single one of her books. She is a spectacular writer, her prose is clean and mainstream, her heroes are fabulous (she can really do the male POV right) and her heroines are the kind of women I'd be friendly with. It has been my profound good fortune to get to know her personally and she has been incredibly generous with her advice and support.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
My mentor is Sue Grafton who writes the Kinsey Millhone series of mysteries (A is for Alibi, etc.) I met her before I was published and she has guided me through ups and downs and been there for our weekly walks through rain and shine. She has taught me so much about both craft and the business side of things. She's very smart and direct and has been known to give me a good boot in the pants when I need one
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I'm fortunate and hear from the Brothers' readers a lot! Folks have been really supportive of the series and I particularly like to hear which Brother is someone's favorite and why. The breakaway favs seem to Zsadist and Vishous – the super bad boys of course LOL!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I'm just so very grateful for their support. Incredibly grateful. With each book, I try to continue to earn and be worthy of their trust and kindness.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write every day! That's the big one for me. Writing is like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it. The other thing would be to read as much as you can – to develop your own internal editor. By focusing on what works and doesn't work in books, you can teach yourself a lot about craft. Finally, I would suggest joining the Romance Writers of America because of the fabulous resources and networking opportunities that RWA brings to its members.
Oh! And one last one: follow your passion – write the kind of books YOU want to read. Your fascination will come through in your writing!