Toni Tutoro just wants to go home. Banned from Chicago’s vampiric society after cutting a swath of violence through the city, she must now successfully complete an investigation for the Lord of Chicago to regain the right to live in her hometown again.
To ensure Toni’s safety during her probationary period, Drake Black, a feared assassin, is secretly contracted to protect her. Even with direct orders to keep his relationship professional, and his own personal vow to never get involved with a female vampire again, Drake finds himself drawn to Toni in ways he can’t explain. But unbeknownst to him, he’s tied to one of the people who drove Toni to her night of destruction.
Drake’s legendary heritage holds the key to Toni’s survival and success, but will she be able to forgive his connection to the brutal night that robbed her of those she loved most? Will Drake be able to forget the betrayals in his past and risk taking one more chance? But most of all, can they find a way to reach each other in the darkness?Please welcome author Jennifer Turner, who is with us for an interview today!
Welocme Jennifer. Lets get started. Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to write in this particular genre?
I'm 32 (almost 33), married to an awesome guy, and have a 12 year old daughter who I regularly refer to as "The Heathen". I like writing, reading, playing video games every now and then, cooking, and even drawing a bit when I'm not too busy writing. I'm a Cancer. I hate bees. I've never seen the ocean. I kill plants (not on purpose). My favorite color is charcoal gray. My favorite season is Fall. My favorite holiday is Halloween. I trip over invisible objects. Gravity is not my friend. I have 6 tattoos, but no piercings aside from my ears. My favorite book is A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle. My favorite drink is raspberry iced tea. If I could take a vacation anywhere in the world right this minute, I'd go to Scotland. I'd take driving in rain over snow any day. And given the chance, I'd rather be a vampire than a werewolf. ;)
What inspired me to write dark paranormal romance:
I’ve always loved vampires and otherworldly creatures. And the idea of being able to create my own world for not only vampires to play in, but other supernaturals as well, was just too tempting to pass up. ;) Plus, the paranormal romance genre allows for a good dose of horror before the characters find their happy ending, and I can’t imagine ever writing a novel that doesn’t have at least a few mild horror elements in it.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
When it comes to vampires, it’s definitely the immortality concept that fascinates me. I think the idea of someone living for hundreds of years, if not longer, is rather intriguing. I mean, when you think about all the events your parents and grandparents have witnessed over the course of their lives, all the choices they’ve made and how each one probably shaped their character somehow, it’s pretty remarkable. Now consider what living for 10,000+ years would most likely do to someone. The complexities of their personality, the ancient ideals and history they still ascribe to, clashing with the speed and beliefs of the modern world…for me it’s just fascinating to think about. Trying to bring that conflict out in my Ancient vampires, who all deal with it in a very different way, is easily what keeps me writing at the end of the day. ;)
What inspired you to write this book?
The inspiration for Eternal Hearts really came from the characters themselves. Drake and Toni both gave me such a strong sense of who they were throughout the story, and I knew neither of them would fall in love without giving it everything they had. And well, that’s exactly what they did. :D
Please tell us about your latest release.
At its core, I think Eternal Hearts is really just a story about two people who are afraid they don’t deserve to be loved. Toni (the heroine) and Drake (the hero) have both made mistakes in the past that they aren’t proud of, but each is constantly working to be better in their own way. Even though she’s a young vampire, Toni holds tight to the people she cares for and never lets an opportunity slip by to show someone how much they mean to her. Drake, on the other hand, has been supernatural since birth, and while his friends aren’t always the most humane beings on the face of the planet - he never asks them to be anything more than themselves. The problem is, a few years ago Toni lost something extremely important to her…and Drake has more to do with the situation than either one of them realize.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
Nope, no formula here. :) Whenever I need a unique or old sounding name, I just ask my husband. I swear – he’s like a walking, talking name dictionary. ;)
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
Believe it or not…when I create a character, the most important part of the creation process is my husband. :) I’ll usually work up a quick fact sheet with vital statistics like name, age, birthplace, likes, dislikes, etc, but then I sit down and talk about the character with my hubby. Sometimes it only takes 15-30 minutes for me to fully flesh out a character, other times it can take 5-6 hours. But my husband has a way of asking the kind of questions that can really define a character. For example, if I’m creating an 18/19 year old human female – the first question the hubby usually asks is, “Are her parents still together?” If I say yes, then we tend to move on to figuring out what she plans to do with her life. Is she a native of Chicago (where the majority of the series is set) or is she from somewhere else? If I say no to her parents still being together, then we generally move on to…how does she feel about that? What’s her relationship like with her parents? Did she live with her mom or her dad? And from there, it’s a lot like pushing a snowball down a hill. :)
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
I can’t share my favorite scene, because it’s packed with spoilers – but I can share a scene that ranks in my top 5:
Toni rested a hand on Drake’s forearm. “I’m sorry I bit you.”
He wrinkled his nose like a five year old and made a production of rubbing his booboo. “Me, too.”
“Oh, please.” She grabbed the offended hand and pressed a kiss to the wounded finger that had probably healed the second he’d removed it from her mouth. “There. All better.”
He jerked his arm back as though she’d touched him with an open flame. “Don’t do that.” The pain in his eyes deepened right before that invisible curtain slammed back into place. He flashed a smile that wasn’t true. “The last place my fingers need to be is anywhere near your mouth. You’ve already proven you’re a biter.”
Toni mirrored his false smile, even though what she wanted to do was ask why he kept trying to be someone else. But then, she knew all too well what it felt like not to be happy with who you were. She’d felt that way for the last three years, and to this day, she’d give anything to go back to who she was before. Back to a time when her life consisted of more than running to stay alive, back to before one night and a few bad decisions changed everything.
She stared down at his hand. “If I hurt you, Drake, I really am sorry.”
A long moment of silence stretched between them before he asked, “Can I ask you a question?”
She nodded, but couldn’t quite meet his eyes. “Sure.”
“Why do you apologize so much?”
“Because…” She bit at the inside of her bottom lip then cleared her throat. “Because I promised myself a long time ago that I’d never waste a chance to tell someone how I really feel. That I’d never walk away from someone I knew I’d hurt without telling them I was sorry…even if they couldn’t hear me.”
“Well,” he sighed, his voice seemingly filled with the same regret she felt. He rested a warm hand on her shoulder, sending a shiver down her spine. “Even though my finger will probably get all infected now and swell up like a bloated corpse, I want you to know that I’ll probably forgive you someday.” He slid his hand down her arm and squeezed her fingers tight. “But today’s not your day…and tomorrow ain’t lookin’ too good either.”
She ripped her hand away from him when he burst into a loud fit of laughter. “Oh my God!” She grabbed a fistful of his long hair then yanked his face down to her level. “What’s wrong with you? Why would you say something like that to me? What did I ever do to you?”
“Ow, ow, ow. You’re hurting me. Say you’re sorry! Say you’re sorry!”
She tugged hard on his hair again, but this time all she could do was laugh at the exaggerated way he bent at the waist and contorted sideways as his face scrunched up. “You’re just not right.”
He flashed the most beautiful, most genuine smile she’d ever seen. “Yeah, but now you’re laughing.”
She slowly released her hold on his hair, noticing for the first time how soft the dark strands felt as they slipped between her fingers. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had tried to make her laugh. Couldn’t recall, aside from 8-Ball and Brick, the last time she’d been touched by a vampire who wasn’t trying to kill her.
She looked up at Drake, watching the way his eyes seemed to lighten a little more every second he stared back at her, until not even a trace of the sadness remained. Where the darkness had gone or why, she didn’t know, but she’d been alone and unwanted for so long that she wasn’t sure whether to smile because he made her feel so good, or cry because she knew she didn’t deserve it.
You don’t deserve it. Toni swallowed the jagged knot tightening her throat and backed away from the man who had no idea what kind of monster he stood so close to. “We should probably head for Locke’s hotel.” She tucked her hair behind her ears as the frigid wind picked up around them. “When we get there, I’ll see if I can find someone who knows him. Maybe I can get his number and talk him into letting you go. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than be stuck with someone like me. Someone you don’t even know.”
“Oh. Hell. No.” He folded his arms over his chest while that adorable, lopsided grin from earlier reformed on his lips. “I’m not going to the hotel yet. I’m not moving an inch until you say it.”
She blinked at him. “Say what?”
“Say what?” His mouth gaped open like a suffocating fish. “I want you to say you’re sorry for pulling my hair. I want you to say you’re sorry for almost snapping my spine in two.” He scuffed one of his big black boots against the sidewalk. “There’s ice down there, ya know. I almost fell, and I don’t have health insurance yet.”
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. I want an apology.”
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
The Darkness Within world is exactly the same as the world we live in, only it has an extensive alternate history. For example: when Rome was destroyed so long ago, it wasn’t at the hands of invading forces…it was under the fangs of an enraged Ancient vampire. ;)
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of? Can these books be read as stand alones?
I think someone could read Eternal Hearts without reading Eternal Seduction first, but as much as it pains me to say this…I wouldn’t recommend it. I tried extremely hard to go light on some of the world building explanations in EH, partially because the hero and heroine are already supernatural when the story begins, but mostly because I’ve read a lot of reader complaints about how authors tend to rehash the same back story over and over in series books. Unfortunately, I may have made a mistake with my decision, because I think I went too light…to the point that someone coming into the series with Eternal Hearts might feel a little lost without having read Eternal Seduction first.
I have received some good feedback from readers who found Eternal Hearts first though, who said they were slightly confused in the beginning, but there was just enough info throughout the book to stop them from feeling lost…so that gives me hope!
I’ve learned a good lesson from this situation though, and am striving for a much better blend of world building explanations in book 3. I certainly don’t want a new reader to feel lost, but at the same time, I don’t want to drown my “regulars” with information they already know.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
If I had to pick one trait that I share with some of my characters, it would have to be sarcasm. I’m a pretty sarcastic person when given the opportunity, so that’s definitely a trait that’s very easy for me to write when called for. But on the flip side – it’s also rather hard to turn off when I’m writing a character that has a more dry sense of humor. Vouclade and Stefan don’t lend very well to sarcasm! ;)
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
I don’t suffer from writer’s block that often, mainly because I don’t force myself to write. I don’t set daily word count goals or anything like that, so I never feel as though I didn’t accomplish what I “needed” to. I just write when the mood strikes, and stay with it as long as I can. :)
When did you consider yourself a writer?
To be honest, I didn’t really consider myself a true writer until I started getting positive feedback from literary agents. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my readers, more than I can even begin to explain…but when I think about being a writer, I think of it in terms of a career choice. So it wasn’t until I received an offer of representation that I really thought, wow - this might actually go somewhere.
Now, with that being said, I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I don’t think self-published authors or writers who don’t have an agent aren’t “true” writers. That’s not how I feel at all, especially since I still consider and purport myself as self-published. I think a “true” writer is born the minute you finish your first story. However, I just couldn’t think that way about myself until I really saw a viable future in what *I* was doing. I tend to be rather hard on myself when it comes to personal accomplishments. It’s definitely one of my most worst and most irritating character flaws. :)
What was the last amazing book you read?
What can readers expect next from you?
Let’s see…I’m working to secure an October 2011 release date for the third book in the Darkness Within series, Eternal Embrace. I’m also finishing up the first novella in the Ascension trilogy (Vouclade & Kasey’s story), Ascension: The Revelation - which I hope to release this summer. I’m also working on the final revision of Eternal Desires, the fourth book in the Darkness Within series. And I just recently finished the first draft of Eternal Embers, the fifth book in the series…and probably the most awaited because it’s Odin’s story. :)
Where can readers find you on the web?
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
Toni jerked awake to the sound of the hotel phone screaming at her just as the last sliver of light faded from the sky. She sat up and cast a quick glance over the suite then frowned. A rather nice fixture of the room was missing…but the lights were on now, so maybe he hadn’t gone far.
She rubbed her eyes when the phone screeched again. Who would be calling her so early in the night? She rolled over to the nightstand and picked up the receiver. “Yeah?”
“Good Morning, Miss Tutoro,” a cheery, English voice greeted her from the other end.
She couldn’t help but smile. “Hi, Robert. How are you?”
“I’m fine Miss, and yourself?
She wrinkled her nose. “I’m good, but you can call me Toni, Robert. Miss Tutoro makes me feel all old and stiff.”
“Very well, Toni. I shall do my best to remember that.”
“So, what’s up?”
“I’m actually phoning to inform you that your meeting with Lord Locke has been postponed until tomorrow evening. Unfortunately, some business has come up which requires his immediate and undivided attention.”
She frowned. “Is everything okay?”
“I’m sorry Miss…Toni. I’m not at liberty to discuss city affairs with you at this time. I do hope you understand.”
“I understand,” she said as she twisted her index finger into the spirals of the phone cord. “I guess I’ll just show up at his office tomorrow night then. Should I be there at Midnight?”
“That would be perfect. In the interim, Christian says that if you’d like to venture outside the confines of your suite, you may do so, but only if you are accompanied by Drake. Since a final decision hasn’t been made with regard to the duration of your stay, he wishes there to be no trouble. Do you find his terms acceptable?”
A slow smile tugged at her mouth. “Yeah, that works for me.”
“Excellent. Do you require anything else for your room?”
She looked around again. “Unless you can tell me where Drake went, I’m all good up here.”
Robert’s warm laughter filled her ear. “Check the bathroom, my dear. He has more use for it than most.”
She eyed the closed bathroom door. More use for it than most? What did he mean by that? “Uh…okay. Was that all you needed to tell me?”
“Yes, Miss. I won’t keep you any longer.”
“Well, if you need me, you know where I am. Have a nice night, Rob.”
“Thank you, Toni. You have a good night, too.”
Toni sighed as she set the phone back on its base. Robert was smiling when he told her to have a good night; she could sense it through the phone, which felt wonderful since she couldn’t remember the last time she woke up and heard a happy voice.
Maybe coming home had been a good idea after all.
She sat up and threw her arms into the air, intending to stretch out her tight muscles, but paused when the bathroom door swung open and her missing fixture sauntered out.
Drake didn’t have a stitch of clothing on, save a small white towel wrapped around his waist. And if that wasn’t enough to get her undead heart pumping again, his hair and his spectacular body were still dripping wet.
He wasn’t defined…he was chiseled from the finest bronzed stone she’d ever seen. Lightly dappled with dark hair, his sculpted chest tapered into a set of rock hard abs that she could probably do her laundry on for the rest of her immortal life. And just below his belly button, sandwiched between the deep cuts of his hips, was a thin trail of hair that tauntingly disappeared under his towel, practically begging for her to come and see where it went.
She slowly lowered her arms and folded her hands in her lap. Jagged scars crisscrossed every single inch of his rough skin, but they didn’t detract one bit from the incredible man standing across the room. If anything, for her, each pale line added something new to explore, something new to learn about the man she now had at least one more night with.
A man who made her feel alive again…
The horny teenager trapped deep inside her somewhere wanted nothing more than to rocket off the bed and lick every last bead of water off his hard sexy body. But the woman she’d become over the last few years, the one who saw the world in a way the teenager never would, wanted nothing less than to kiss each scar and take away the sadness and pain still hidden in his eyes.
“Welcome back to the world sleepy head.”
Toni tore her gaze away from Drake’s body and met his smiling eyes. “Good morning. I almost thought you left.”
“I figured I’d hit the shower while you were sleeping. I didn’t want my stink to scare you away.” He ended his sentence with that lopsided smile she’d become rather fond of.
She mirrored the gesture. “Well, thanks for thinking of me.”
The grin on his lips widened for just a fraction of a second before it turned devious at the corners. “You’re welcome,” he drawled as he hooked his thumbs inside the top of his towel and inched it down a little farther, baring more tanned skin for her hungry eyes.
The teenager and the woman inside her both sat up and took notice, waiting to see how far that thin trail of hair went as the towel slid even lower down his hips. But just before they got the answer they’d been hoping for, he ripped the damn thing from his waist and clothes suddenly appeared on his body.
Toni shook her head then stared at him again, this time in disbelief. All that gorgeous skin was now covered by a tight black t-shirt, hard leather pants and a pair of boots. How the hell did he do that? But more importantly…why? She blew out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Well, if nothing else, at least he looked comfortable.
“What?” his gruff voice scolded. “You were expecting to see Drake Junior?” He clucked his tongue at her. “You haven’t even bought me dinner yet.” Then, much like a little kid, he stuck his nose up in the air and stomped back into the bathroom.
Dinner! She hadn’t bought him dinner? Was he serious?
She rolled up onto her knees and glared at the bathroom door. “I don’t recall you buying me dinner last night before you made me take my shirt off and shoved your tongue in my mouth!” She clamped her hands over her mouth as heat suffused her cheeks.
OH GOD! The words fell out before she even had a chance to stop them. She closed her eyes when the laughter in the bathroom started light but slowly grew until it echoed through the suite.
“That wasn’t dinner,” he called. “That was just the appetizer. And from what I could tell, you were more than ready for the next course!”
Toni threw herself back against the bed then pulled the comforter up over her head. She had to spend the entire night with a man who she’d just thoroughly embarrassed herself in front of, and now it wasn’t because she wanted to. And yes, flaming cheeks and all, she would willingly admit that she wanted to spend more time with him. But now…now it was because Christian said so.
She punched at the comforter. She hated playing Christian-Says. Not only because the mere thought caused her blood to rebel for some strange reason, but because no matter what she did, she never seemed to win.
Jennifer is offering a print copy and an ebook copy of Eternal Hearts today to 2 lucky winners
Jennifer is offering a print copy and an ebook copy of Eternal Hearts today to 2 lucky winners
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