I'd like to welcome guest author Jana Denardo. Let's fine out more about her and her latest work.
1- How long have you been writing?
The first time I ever sat down to really write a story, I was ten and I had just seen Star Wars on the big screen, so can we say it’s been a long, long time? Granted, while preadolescent fan fiction is a far cry from where I am now, it was a start. About five years later, I started writing for various fan APAs, the paper version of fan communities you see online now. It was also my first exposure to having readers who would either love me or absolutely rip me to shreds. It was a learning experience.
My first attempts at writing for possible publication came a decade later in college. I was encouraged by my creative writing professors and while I did try, I didn’t succeed until the mid-1990’s. Some of it was erotica, most was fantasy.
2-What is your favorite genre to write?
Urban fantasy with fantasy and SF a close second. I also love writing mystery but I’m quickly learning I have trouble with that in a short story format, so I haven’t published anything with that setting. I’ve long been a fan of all four genres. My bookshelves are stuffed with representatives of the genres. Urban fantasy allows me take our world and turn it on its ear. I can have magic. There is something about the supernatural, about the magic, that makes a story sing for me.
As for SF, I’ll point back to my first story. My parents were Trekkers. I watched every kind of SF TV as a kid as you can think of. I don’t write quite as much SF as I do fantasy, mostly because the space opera style books had fallen out of favor for a while and it’s all more hard core science, which interests me less (which is amusing seeing as I am a scientist in my day job).
Mystery was my first literature love and I would love to get something working in that realm.
3-What are you working on now?
Speaking of that mystery, I am working on an older story that I wrote for a specific novella open call. It wasn’t working as a mystery; not enough word count to set up red herrings in the way I wanted to. It’s called Riding with Strangers and is an urban fantasy/mystery set in Orlando, Florida, at one of the colleges I’ve attended. It’s m/m and m/f (and if I ever get to do a sequel, it will probably be m/m/f).
I’m also working on sometime tentatively titled Kept Tears and, not surprisingly, it’s an urban fantasy with the light and dark fey. The main character, Aaron, was a medic in Iraq and came back without an arm. It’s as much a story of him reclaiming his life as it is a battle between the fey.
Two other things I am working on (yes, I have trouble concentrating on just one thing) are a novel-length story for Temple, Caleb and Agni, the characters in Snowbound, A Brief Respite and the novella that’s just coming out, The Darkest Midnight in December, as well as a novel-length story for Luc and Arrigo, the vampires in my short story, Crisis in Faith. It’s the story of their meeting and it’s one I’ve been trying to write since the early 1990’s. A part of the story was picked up three times back then only to have the magazines go out of business before publication. I was beginning to think Luc and Arrigo were cursed until Dreamspinner Press picked them up.
4-When you start a new story do you begin with a character or plot?
It depends. My brain stores facts like a squirrel does nuts. If I see something on TV, especially any of the history or forensic shows, I store it away and my mind rolls it around, coming up with plots for it. Most of my trips or places I’ve lived have spawned stories as well, so sometimes I have a plot in want of characters.
Just as often, I get a character whispering in my ear. They tell me what they want to do. If I’m lucky, I can even see what they look like. If I’m luckier, I know which of the stored plots would fit them. If I get luckiest, they actually have a name and I don’t have to spend days trying on names until I find the one that fits.
5- Tell us about your latest/upcoming release. What inspired it?
Caleb, Temple, Agni and Li are demon hunters working for the Soldiers of the Sun. In this urban fantasy, the world knows about the demons but only a small handful of people can see them if they’re in human form. The ‘demon-eyes’ hunt them down and destroy them. These groups of hunters are spread throughout the world in various organizations, like the Knights Templar (which did not get dissolved in this UF), and the Soldiers of the Sun, which isn’t church-bound.
These four young men were culled from across the globe, eventually getting assigned to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area in the 1930’s. Just before Christmas, they are called out to a surrounding community that’s facing two attacks: couples are going missing and infants are being taken. They have to figure if this is a demon and if so, stop it and pray they’ll all make it back home for the holidays.
I’ve long since been a fan of demon hunters in books, TV shows and anime, and wanted to try my hand at it. It owes a lot to things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Dresden Files, D. Gray-man and The X-Files. Heck, we could probably go back even further to my childhood with shows like Kolchak: the Night Stalker or Scooby-Doo. There are so many current-day urban fantasies that I decided I wanted to do something different. Between my love of mysteries and steampunk, I was a little burned out on the Victorian age, so I looked for something different. I was going to set it in the Roaring Twenties, but Temple insisted he was a great fan of radio dramas and those really didn’t get rolling in any meaningful way until the 1930’s.
There were a lot of challenges to that. I didn’t know that much about the time period, so research was essential. Also having an ethnically and religious diverse group was a little more problematic but only touched on in the novella. Even though I was born and raised around Pittsburgh, I didn’t know that much about it in the 1930’s. I was surprised to find it wasn’t as easy to find stuff on this time period online or even in books when I hit the local bookstores. It was still fun and fascinating and I’m still researching as I’m hopefully not done with these characters. I do have at least one more story in the works for them.
"Midnight in December."
The year is 1930, and something is hunting infants and young couples in Economy Village, PA. When a local priest begins to suspect a demon may be the culprit, the sheriff calls in a team of Soldiers from the Sun.Caleb, Agni, Temple, and Li specialize in demon hunting, but they can’t rule out an old religious sect as the true culprit. Prejudice, distraught parents, and angry townspeople don’t make the team’s job any easier. And if something goes wrong, they’re on their own, because by the time their backup arrives, it will be too late.
“How many babies have gone missing?” Li asked.
Caleb tapped the briefcase holding a stack of files given to him by General Taglioferro before they left their headquarters in Pittsburgh. “Three and several couples. The local priests and police think it’s all the work of demons.”
“I was too busy packing.” Temple patted the box that held his Tommy gun and ammunition. “I didn’t get a chance to check out what the Order already knows about what’s going on here.”
“Once again, Li, your partner was napping.” Agni leveled a look at Temple who wrinkled his nose.
“We’ll bring him up to date once we get there.” Li pulled his coat tighter as the truck taking them from train station to hotel lurched down the road. “I just want to know why we have to ride in the bed with the luggage.”
“We all wouldn’t have fit.” Caleb shrugged. “And the driver they sent didn’t want any demon hunters in the cab with him, like we’ll infect him with our ability to see the demons or something.”
“Idiot. Who does he think is going to save this dumb town?” Temple grumbled.
“I also think he wasn’t too keen on our partners.” Caleb glanced over at Agni, the Hindu’s dark skin peeking out of the scarf wound around his hooded head.
Temple snorted. “Big surprise. One of Father’s biggest complaints about me joining the Soldiers of the Sun and not the Knights Templar was that we welcomed all faiths, all cultures. I thought he’d go apoplectic when he found out I have a Chinese partner,” he said. The wind nearly whipped away his whispered, “Too bad he didn’t just die from it.”
The four demon hunters hunkered down, trying to keep out of the wind as the truck wound its way through Ambridge, Pennsylvania. The store fronts winked by with promises of Christmas treasures on offer. The holiday was only a few days away. None of them, Temple in particular, had wanted to leave home before Christmas. There was no guarantee they wouldn’t be spending the holiday holed up in their hotel, nursing demon-inflicted wounds.
The brick hotel looked hospitable enough from its exterior. The truck driver was quick to help them off his truck and inside, away from him. It wasn’t an entirely new reaction. As Soldiers of the Sun, they had long since gotten used to people being wary of them. The hotel staff shunted them upstairs just as swiftly to adjoining rooms. Temple scowled at the twin metal bed frames in the room he shared with Li.
“These beds better be movable,” he grumbled.
“If you keep me awake, that adjoining door will be a pathway to your doom,” Agni warned grimly.
Bio - Jana Denardo's career choices and wanderlust take her all over the United States and beyond. Much of her travels make their way into her stories. Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Mystery have been her favorite genres since she started reading, and they often flavor her erotic works. In her secret identity, she works with the science of life and calls on her medical degree often in her stories. When she’s not chained to her computer writing, she functions as stray cat magnet. She’s also learning that the road to enlightenment is filled with boulders she keeps falling over and that the words gardening and Zen don’t go together no matter what anyone says.