Ardent fans of The Black Dagger Brotherhood have been waiting impatiently for the story of Rehvenge, half-vampire and half-sympath, an outlaw among outlaws. And New York Times best-selling author J.R. Ward doesn’t disappoint in Lover Avenged, her first hardcover. Ward returns to her romance roots while pushing the envelope on the suspense side in this tale of good vs. evil. Not surprisingly, the drug dealing bar owner named Rehvenge, with a history of shady dealings and bad blood, becomes a certifiable Hero in the telling.
As always in this wildly popular paranormal series, there are secrets to be revealed and tantalizing glimpses of books to come. Rehvenge’s story is everything this reader had hoped for—and then some. Sit down, fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a non-stop roller-coaster ride of thrills and chills.
The world of The Black Dagger Brotherhood is firmly grounded and exceedingly well developed. Did you imagine the particulars of the vampire society in Caldwell, New Jersey, before you began writing the books, or did the details evolve as you wrote the individual stories?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to talk about the Brothers! As for the world… well, to be honest, the whole Brotherhood universe just presented itself as is. The way it works for me is that the stories and the places and the people in the books just flood into my brain and the writing for me is recording what I'm shown. Certainly, there has been evolution, however, as the repercussions of what happens resonate throughout the BDB world.
There is a clear sense of right and wrong in the Brotherhood books and a strong sense of honor exhibited by the Brothers and their mates. Did you purposely choose stories that allowed you to explore the concept of a Homeric battle of good vs evil, (i.e. The Brothers vs. the Omega?)
Again, I truly feel as though I make no choices and have no part in the stories. They come to me as movies do, already composed. For example, there are things that I wish or want to have happen, but the instant I try and muscle the stories around in any way, I get writer's block. So I've learned to sit back and watch it happen and record things as faithfully as I can. I will say that for me, the honor that is exhibited by the Brothers and their mates is one of the most satisfying parts of the books—because I get to write about people I respect.
Though each of the books in the series is a complete story on its own, there are plot threads that develop from book to book. Do you have a chart on a wall somewhere that plots this development or some other system that allows you to juggle the many details?
I don't—for the most part, it's all in my head! But I do have a fantastic research assistant who I use as a resource if I want to double check to make sure I'm recalling things correctly.
The world of the books is very urban. What drew you to this gritty urban setting? And to paranormal characters?
I've always been a huge Dracula fan and a big Stephen King reader. So horror and mystery and suspense is kind of in my hard wiring. As for the urban stuff, I love pop culture and fashion and cities so again that's all something I'm drawn to. But the stories and where they're set picked me, they really did!
This series achieved a landslide of early acclaim from readers. What do you think it is about the Brotherhood books specifically that caused the instant buzz and fierce reader loyalty? Were you surprised by the level of reader engagement?
I have been totally and completely blown away by the reader support (and very grateful.) The thing was, when I started out, I kind of made an agreement in my head that I would write these stories exactly as I saw them and that I would do it for me, as kind of a private thing. I had to set that stone so that I wouldn't try and force rules or conventions on the pictures in my head. As a result, I think the BDB books read raw and a little fierce in places and clearly people like that- although again, I'm just baffled and very very appreciative of everyone's support.
What’s a typical writing day like for you?
I'm very disciplined. I'm up and at the computer at eight a.m. and I work until one and then go for my run. Then it's back to work until dinner—although usually on business stuff. After dinner, it's more time at the computer writing. I write seven days a week, 365 days a year, no excuses, no whining, just planting my butt and getting it done. When I'm on deadlines, I'll increase the hours to up to 18 a day. The thing is, though, this is what I love to do. So not writing is harder than writing, if that makes any sense?
How does your family feel about your superstar status in the writing community?
Oh my gosh they don't care in the slightest! (And geez, you're making me blush!) My family knows me as the boxers and t-shirt wearing space cadet who puts aluminum foil in the refrigerator by mistake and talks to the dog. They love me for me and know that writing makes me happy and that's why they like what I do. It's never about bragging rights for them, although they are proud of me . . . (okay, I’m getting a little teary . . . next question!)
Rumor has it that you’re planning a new paranormal series. Can you tell us a bit about it?
I'm all about fallen angels and Harley Davidson motorcycles at the moment—not bad for a job, huh! The new series focuses on the seven deadly sins and a reluctant hero who has to influence people's lives so that they end up in a better a place than where they begin. It's paranormal romance and loads of fun—I'm just finishing up the first book as we speak!
What type of books/stories do you see yourself writing in 10 years?
Frankly, I'd like to still be doing the Brotherhood books- I can't see letting them go. There's just so much to explore in that world and I love the people. I also have another paranormal series in addition to the angels I'd like to get to write . . . and I would love to finish a contemporary romance series I've started. More than anything though, I hope to still be writing for a living. That's up to fate and the readers, however—all I can do is get up everyday and sit at my computer and be grateful that I'm living out my dream of being an author, you know?