Most authors have been writing since childhood—not romance author Jen Colly. “Writing never once crossed my mind. I didn't even like to read,” she said. Her resistance wasn’t because she didn’t like books, she just didn’t like being told what to read. Luckily for us, Colly eventually took up reading and writing. In this Q&A, she talked about “In the Dark,” a paranormal romance book, the first in her “The Cities Below” series.
Q: What is “In the Dark” about?
A: By vampire law, Soren cannot allow a human to run free in the world with knowledge of his species. He must either keep Faith or kill her. He kidnaps and takes her to Balinese, an underground vampire city outside of Paris. Faith attempts escape, but finds it impossible to flee an entire city of vampires. She slips into the easy cadence of the city and life with Soren. She soon comes to care for him. There's just one problem: Demons have returned, and their lives are threatened by a creature Faith never knew existed, and one Soren had thought extinct.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
A: Many authors dream of having their words in print since they were young. Not me. Writing never once crossed my mind. I didn't even like to read, and loathed the “BOOK IT!” program in elementary. My mother even attempted to pay me $5 a book, with no luck. After high school, I realized my resistance had more to do with being told what to read and when to finish the book. Once I began reading on my own terms in my early 20s, I was hooked.
A: My unique take on vampires living in underground cities scattered throughout France came about in a rather strange way. I intended to write about a pirate. You heard me right, a pirate. I had this hot picture of a man in black slacks, an unbuttoned white shirt, and long black hair that disappeared behind his back. After staring at his picture for over a week (such a hardship), I had nothing. Not a name, title, plot, or even a heroine. Just him. Why could I picture him speaking, moving, and wielding a sword, but could never place him on a ship?
Then it hit me. He wasn’t a pirate, he was a vampire. Looking at him in this new light…er, moonlight, all the answers suddenly fell into place. The thing is, I have a husband, and he’s nothing but trouble. After reading a few pages, he said, “I like this, but I want to know what happened before this story.” I didn’t know. I’d never considered what happened prior to that story, or that there might be another story revolving around this character. He got me thinking. Long story short: There are now four vampire cities in France, and over 10 books planned for “The Cities Below” series. My pirate turned vampire is the hero in book three, and you’ll explore a new city with entirely different dynamics in book two, “Bound.” The first book, “In the Dark,” brings a human into the vampire’s secluded underground city, introducing you to vampire culture and laws through her eyes.
Q: What's the biggest lesson you learned during the publication process?
A: I was such a newbie, and looking back now, I could totally kick myself for being so dumb. Through the editing process (which I adored), words were understandably deleted, and many others added. In my head I felt it balanced out, but never actually checked the word count. As a result, the final word count came out a little over 350 words shy of being eligible for print. “In the Dark” is strictly an ebook. Totally my fault, and lesson learned.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A: Don't aspire. Write. If you write, you're a writer. Finish what you start. What you do with your finished work, and how much you're willing to learn and grow through experience and critique, is all up to you.
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