I am so excited to present my interview with author JR Ward, creator of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The first book, Dark Lover has received huge buzz and word-of-mouth exposure throughout romance communities and blogs. Being incredibly nice and tolerant of my rather fangirlish squeeing, JR agreed to do this interview and answer some of the questions I’ve seen crop up on the net about Dark Lover and the Brotherhood.
1. Where did you get the inspiration for the Black Dagger Brotherhood series?
Okay, this may sound crazy, but I feel like the Brotherhood found me, not like I created them. The world, the rules, the history and religion, the words, it all just showed up in my head. I will say that I have always loved vampires and that I was frustrated that they usually were the bad guys. And I have a thing for wildly alpha males. But truly, I just feel like a channel most of the time.
2. Why are they called the Black Dagger Brotherhood?
The name comes from the kind of knives they use to disintegrate the lessers: the weapons have black blades.
3. How did you go about building the world your series is set in, because it seems involved, even if we’ve only gotten hints of it in the first book. You developed very specific rules for the relationships, had a very detailed wedding ceremony and have hinted at the mythology behind everything. Where did this come from and how long have you been developing it?
I wish I had a better response for this question, but honestly, I just do what I’m told. The world came to me fully formed and there are tons of aspects to the reality that I wish I had more space to bring in. I do think it’s good that a little more of the world is shown in each book. That way, I can keep the pacing strong and there’s something new and fresh in every story.
4. Your book has received huge word of mouth buzz, did you expect it to be received with such enthusiasm?
I had NO idea that so many people would get behind the book. No idea. I have heard people talk about ‘buzz’, but I didn’t really appreciate the power that readers have to impact a book. I am beyond grateful. Truly. I wish folks knew just how much I appreciate their support- which is why in LOVER ETERNAL, the first line on the acknowledgment page is a thank you to the Brotherhood’s readers.
5. From KristieJ: Do you search out reader reviews on the internet and blogs? And do you think word of mouth on the internet has had an impact on your book sales?
I have a couple of folks who seem to know everything that’s happening on the web and they’ve been kind enough to let me know what the reviews and comments about the book have been. I’m actually not hooked into the whole blog culture so I’?ve been grateful that they’ve kept me informed.
I think word of mouth has had a tremendous impact on book sales. Tremendous. I cannot quantify it, but I’m convinced that the reason the book hit the lists is because of the momentum created by what readers were saying on the web.
6. Many people who have had trouble initially enjoying the book say it’s because of the names(some people say the names in general, others specify the spelling)…Wrath, Tohrment, Rhage… can you give readers some insight into why you chose those names and if they have some significance? Are those their real names or have they adopted them?
The names have had a polarizing effect that I couldn’t possibly have predicted. Some people love them. Some people aren’t into them. Here’s the story behind the names: they are traditional warrior names in the Old Language (thus the slightly off spellings). Over time, and in the English language, the names became associated with adverse or aggressive emotions. This paradigm was one I spelled out in my proposal to sell the series. It’s the names that came to me with the rest of the brothers’s characteristics like their hair and eye colors, their bodies, their minds, their emotional make-ups, their histories.
7. I’ve also heard people discuss the somewhat colloquial language used in the books, such as “I’m outtie” and “shitkickers” Can you explain why the characters use such modern slang? Do you have any concerns about this “dating” the book for future readers?
I like colloquial language. I think it’s got an edge that adds texture to dialogue and internal monologue. I’m not too worried about dating the books. As for why the brothers use it, slang is out in the culture. It’s in music and TV and books and movies. So I’m assuming that’s where they picked it up because that’s how I learn about it.
8. Can you tell us in what order you’re writing their stories and when we can expect them?
My publisher has purchased six books so far and here’s the order: Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Vishous, Butch (yes, Butch gets his own book!) and Phury. There are four more thereafter in my head and then some subspecies in the world I would love to explore.
As for when they come out, the first three are every six months so that’s March ’06 for LOVER ETERNAL (Rhage) and September ’06 for LOVER AWAKENED. It’s my understanding that the next three will follow this schedule as well.
9. From CindyS: Why have the brothers been cursed? Rhage having a beast and Zsadist missing a good portion of his soul. Will this be explained as we go on? And what did the Virgin Scribe mean by saying that she was bonded to Wrath’s father?
In each of the books, you’ll learn why a brother was cursed or you’ll understand him because you’ll know his back story. And the Scribe Virgin and the Omega will continue to play their parts.
10. Any hints about upcoming books and what happens? Will we continue to see a lot of Wrath and Beth?
You will continue to see Wrath and Beth! Absolutely! Hints… hmmm, well, I can tell you that Phury has turned out to be far more interesting than I thought he would be. But then again, a four hundred year old virgin vampire who’s flippin’ gorgeous is pretty dang interesting! And Vishous’s book, which is outlined, has some really good surprises in it!
11. Which of the “Brothers” is your favorite?
Zsadist is my favorite. Absolutely. I love him best because he is the most extreme of the brothers, the one who is the most likely snap, the cruel, edgy one. He’s lightening in a bottle, always about to explode. And there are good reasons for him being as he is. Parts of his past as a blood slave are gruesome and disturbing, the kinds of things a person doesn’t get over. I like his darkness because when he finds his female, his redemption is all the more vivid. Plus, I think heÂ?s sexy… you know, the whole scarred, pierced thing.
12. Anything that you want readers to know about this series?
There are sub-species in the world which I can’t wait to write about!
13. About you, do you have books other than Dark Lover out?
I write contemporary romance under Jessica Bird. I have four single titles out and am now writing Silhouette Special Editions under that name. They are a great break from the brothers because the books are so very, very different.
14. Do you write full time? Do you have a writing schedule that you try to stick to?
I do write full time. And I write every day: weekends, holidays, sick days, birthdays, snow days. Every day. 🙂 I use the mornings for drafting and/or revising the Brotherhood books because thatÂ?s when IÂ?m at my best. Afternoons I do things like line-editing or galley proofing or writing proposals or outlines. At night, I like to write the Special Editions. I feel so lucky to be doing something I love that I just don’t want to miss a minute of it.
15. Tell us something unusual or unique about you, JR!
Ummm… I’m not all that interesting I’m afraid! I just asked my husband… he can’t really think of anything other than I always wear black and I love Scooby Doo!
16. And finally, can you share an excerpt of the next book and tell us when we can look forward to reading it?
I dont have an excerpt ready from LOVER ETERNAL yet- but I’ll get something up on the website soon, I promise! And LE comes out March 7, 2006. Check for updates at http://www.JRWard.com
Thank you JR for answering all of my questions! It was great to get some insight into both the series and how you work. I can’t wait to read Lover Eternal in March!