Today we are interviewing Jennifer Turner, author of Eternal Hearts, a paranormal romance. Jennifer is giving away two copies of her book to a couple lucky commenters, so be sure you leave a comment with your email address. Enjoy the interview...
What inspired the storyline for Eternal Hearts?
I know this is probably where I’m supposed to wax poetic about how much I love my hubby and how our relationship inspired the book…but I’d so be lying! ;) Don’t get me wrong, I love and adore my husband in ways I can’t even begin to explain – but nothing about our story is anything close to Toni & Drake’s. 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. :)
Your protagonist, Toni, is a vampire. What makes her tick?
If there was one driving force behind Toni’s character, I’d have to say it’s passion. She doesn’t do anything without giving it everything she has. She also has a strong sense of loyalty, and wants nothing more than to be surrounded by the people she cares for most. She also wears her heart on her sleeve, and never ignores an opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to her. She’s tough but vulnerable…and is never afraid to learn from her mistakes.
Drake is an assassin hired to protect Toni. Is he a vampire as well?
Drake is a vampire…but he’s also something else. :)
How does the Vampiric Society work? Are there certain ranks?
The Darkness Within world of vampires is ruled by age. The oldest vampires are the most powerful, and while not every single younger vampire is the puppet of an Ancient or Elder…many are.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
If I had to pick a favorite character from Eternal Hearts, I’d have to go with a secondary character named Oktober. There’s just something so jaded and totally unapologetic about him that I can’t help but to love him. I’ve never written a character that blatantly refuses to change the way he does. He is who he is, and makes no excuses for the way he sees the world. I just love everything about him…even his frequent need to eat people…and not in a good way. :D
Why did you choose to write in the paranormal romance genre?
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 the hardest part of the writing process?
For me, the hardest part is writing sex scenes. :) I can write five chapters full of gut wrenching emotional scenes in the time it takes me to write three pages of sex. No matter how hard I try, when I reread the scene it always sounds cheesy to me. So now when I finish writing one, I let my hubby, my Mom, and a beta reader or two look it over, and if they say it’s good – I won’t read the scene again unless my agent wants a change. And even then…I might argue! ;)
FYI – My Mom has been an avid romance reader all her life, so if she doesn’t find a problem with one of my sex scenes, I know it can’t be too terrible. :)
How many other books have you written?
I’ve written a total of five books to date, but the only two available are Eternal Seduction and Eternal Hearts. The other three are books 3,4, and 5 in the series. :)
In which genre would you be least likely to write?
I would have to say…children’s books. They take a special brand of patience and creativity that I just don’t have.
Will Eternal Hearts have a sequel, or is it a stand-alone?
Eternal Hearts is actually the 2nd book in the Darkness Within series, with Eternal Seduction being the 1st. I think they each could stand alone, but I’d recommend reading them in order for the full effect. ;)
Are you currently working on any new projects?
I’m working on final revisions for Eternal Embrace, book three in the Darkness Within series, which will release in October of 2011. And I’m also finishing up the first novella in the Ascension trilogy, Ascension: The Revelation, which will release later this summer.
Where can readers purchase Eternal Hearts?
All Romance E-books: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-eternalhearts-544276-139.html
Eternal Hearts can also be purchased at local bookstores via the ISBN: 978-0982432112
Where can readers connect with you on the web?
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/DarknessWithinJen
Can you share an excerpt of your Eternal Hearts?
Toni went quiet for a moment as her dark eyes moved over him, lingering on his face before she traced down one arm, then the other. When she’d finished her poorly disguised appraisal, she made an even slower journey back to meet his eyes. “I like your tattoos.”
Drake looked down at the litany of tribal designs covering his scarred forearms, representing both sides of his cursed heritage. “Thanks. Some are starting to fade though. I need to get them touched up soon.”
“Do they still hurt?”
“Nah. They heal pretty fast. Believe it or not, I have more trouble getting the ink to stick than anything.”
Her gaze slipped from his eyes back to his arms. “I meant the scars.”
He set the empty bottle back on the counter then walked over to the end of the bed. “This one does, sometimes,” he admitted as he tapped the thick, jagged line that ran about six inches down the top of his right forearm. “A Mystic caught me with an enchanted blade she had hidden in her boot.” He pointed out the faded circular scar a little lower. “But this one’s left over from a bullet wound. I barely notice it unless I’m looking.”
She arched a brow. “I know what gunshot scars look like.”
“Yeah?” He couldn’t help but to bait her. “Seen a few on some of your Warrior boyfriends, have ya?”
Her caramel eyes sparked with challenge. “You think you’re a Badass? You wanna play Scar Wars with me?” She kicked her shoes off the side of the bed before she stood up on it. “I’ll play with you.” She walked across the mattress to stand in front of him then tipped her head back. “See this?” she asked as she ran her index finger over the barely there line that spanned her neck. “That’s what happens when you don’t have permission to be in Dallas, and all I was doing was pumping gas.”
He considered the line again, noting how it alternated slightly between thinner and thicker segments. “You got razor wired at the gas station? Did you run the Lord over on your way there or something?”
“No. I’d already talked to the Lord and he said I couldn’t stay. So I stopped to get gas on my way out. I wasn’t exactly ready when the Enforcement Team jumped me.”
Drake looked down at the bed and tried to remember the last contract he’d fulfilled in Texas. “I’m fairly certain the Lord of Dallas is a Tech. Do you have GPS in your car?”
She nodded. “I have a small handheld one I keep in the glove box.”
“That’s how they got you then. He used it to track you.”
Her mouth gaped open. “But all I was doing was filling up my car.”
“Doesn’t matter. Have you pissed off a Tech anywhere else?”
Her face sobered remarkably. “Um…yeah.”
“They’re all networked. So if I were you, I’d stay out of cities where a Tech’s in charge, unless you know for sure that you’re better than their Enforcement Team.” He grinned at her. “So is that it? Is that all ya got?”
She pulled the neck of her black t-shirt down a bit and to the left. An inch or so below her clavicle was a round scar surrounded by a larger ring of raised and discolored skin. “I got this one about a year ago in Miami. I found the Head of Enforcement, but as soon as I said my name she told me to get out. I guess I didn’t move fast enough.” She stretched the neck over to the right, revealing a matching scar just a little higher and closer to her shoulder. “She gave me this one, too.”
Drake sucked in a breath between his teeth. He knew the mottled burn patterns around her gunshot wounds all too well. After all, only one type of bullets could do lasting damage to a vampire, and his own guns were usually filled with them. “Phosphorus rounds, I’ve been there.” He lifted his t-shirt to show her the tight group of three similar scars on his right side, less than an inch below his ribcage. “I got these in London a few years ago.” He pulled back his left sleeve and rubbed the inside of his biceps. “Same with these two. I’ve got two more on my thigh, one on my calf, and one on the top of my foot. They hurt like a bitch while they’re healing, don’t they?”
“Are you kidding? Mine still hurt.” She reached out and brushed a cold finger over the mess of crisscrossed scars on his forearm. “But yours look like they heal a lot better than mine do.” Her eyes slowly trailed up his arm to his face. “I’m guessing you don’t have much trouble feeding though.” He stiffened as she pressed a chilly palm against his cheek. “Nice face, good body, strong heartbeat. How do you stay so warm anyway?”
Drake swallowed hard. Something told him she wouldn’t care for the explanation of how he maintained his body heat, so instead he offered a fitting option for her. “All you have to do is will your blood to warm, which you could actually do right now instead of using me as your personal heating pad.”
Her nose wrinkled right before she rested her free hand against his other cheek so she held his face in her hands, sending a wave of chills across his shoulders. “I can’t do that. And with how close you are to me right now, I think you know why.”
He’d known since the elevator, but he wondered if she’d actually tell the truth. “Why not?”
“Because using you as a personal heating pad is cheaper.” When he rolled his eyes, she flashed the most disarming smile he’d ever seen. “Because I can’t spare the blood, that’s why. I only eat when I have to. The less I feed, the smaller the chance I’ll make a mistake and earn myself another scar, especially since I don’t have any of those nifty Jedi mind tricks everyone else seems to have.”
Drake had to laugh at the same reference he’d heard Odin use countless times before. “No mental manipulation for you, huh?”
“Nope. I don’t think I’d be very good at it anyway.” She shook her head then slid her hands down to rest on either side of his neck. “Besides, playing with someone’s memories is just wrong, and from what I’ve heard, way too easy to mess up. The last thing I need to do is break the Veil.” She withdrew her hands as shadows flickered behind her eyes. “Then I’d be hunted… instead of just hated.” Her shoulders slumped a little more with each breath that followed, until the worn, apologetic qualities he’d first seen on the sidewalk had returned in full force.
And just like that – she was gone.
The playful woman from only moments before had disappeared, slipped away into some personal Hell where the torturer probably wore her face. A place where every mistake she’d ever made became another lash, and every regret she’d ever felt wove another line into a tangled web of scars that no one else could see.
And he knew where she’d gone, because he’d been there…and it wasn’t a punishment he’d wish on even his worst enemies.
Before instinct could stop him, Drake reached out and brushed his thumb across her icy cheek. He waited for her to move back, expected her to push him away, but when she didn’t, when she shivered at his touch and then leaned into his hand…he knew he was in trouble.
Don’t do it. He knew he shouldn’t, knew what he was about to offer broke every rule attached to a protection contract, but if he could help her regain even a small piece of the life immortality had stolen, for some strange reason that he didn’t understand – he wanted to.
He lowered his hand to rest on her shoulder. “There’s another way to bring back your body heat for a little while without using your blood, but you have to trust me…and I completely understand if you don’t.”
Tears shimmered in her eyes. “Will it hurt?”
“No, it shouldn’t hurt. But it’ll probably feel really weird at first, and it will wake up your beast. Not in anger, but you’ll definitely know the little bastard’s there.”
She chewed at her bottom lip for a few moments before she finally drew a deep breath and nodded. “I trust you. Whatever it is, I wanna try it.”
Drake took a few steps back and prepared himself for the screaming rage of a pissed off vampiress. “Close your eyes and take off your shirt.”
The shadows in her eyes went wild. “What did you just say?”
“I need more skin available.” He motioned from her neck to her toes. “You’re wearing a long sleeved shirt, jeans, and socks. All I’ve got to work with is your face, neck, and hands. I can do it with just those, but it’ll go a lot faster if I have more available.” He lost control of his mouth and broke into a wide grin. “Look at it this way, at least I didn’t tell you to close your eyes and take off your pants.”
She tapped her foot against the mattress. “I told you I’d trust you…please don’t give me something else to regret.” And with that said, she closed her eyes and pulled her shirt up over her head.
All Drake could do was stare at Toni’s body as her shirt fell to the floor. While she certainly couldn’t give him a run for his money in Scar Wars, as she’d called it, he knew plenty of supernaturals who’d lose in a competition against her.
Namely, almost every other female vampire he’d ever met.
Aside from the two she’d already shown him, six more gunshot wounds dotted her chest and abdomen, and that tally would only hold if no others were hidden under her black cotton bra. Multiple single lined scars marred her tanned skin, most ranging from one to two inches, some even smaller. But it was the long, discolored swath of pale skin that ran from just inside her right wrist, all the way up the inside of her arm and over her shoulder that really drew his attention.
Only one weapon left that kind of scar on a vampire…
He shook his head. The scar didn’t look like a punishment though. It looked as though she’d opened a door at Noon, which was an amazing feat to begin with considering most vampires her age couldn’t even wake up during the day, let alone stand up and open something.
But why would she test the sun?
Drake let go of the question he couldn’t begin to answer as his eyes moved over Toni’s body again. Standing on the mattress in front of him, not only did she almost match his height, but she defied nearly every truth he thought he’d established for a vampiress.
Not an ounce of make-up painted her face. Her dark hair fell free past her shoulders, not expertly styled or arranged. She didn’t smell of expensive perfumes or exotic fragrances, only mild soap and shampoo. And he was sure the worn low rise jeans and simple black cotton bra that hugged each curve of her athletic body could beat out the finest lingerie any day, hands down.
He swallowed the dry knot forming in his throat as he stared at her closed eyes. No matter what his instincts wanted him to believe, she wasn’t like every other vampire. She stood in front of him not as a perfect vampiress, but as a flawed woman, whose skin told the tale of a life she’d fought to live. A life that probably hadn’t worked out the way she thought it would, but one she’d accepted, and from what he could tell, tried to make the best of.
And making the most of what fate blindly threw at you was something Drake understood in ways most people never would.
He sucked in a deep breath and slowly blew it out. “Are you ready?”
We'd like to thank Jennifer for stopping by to talk with us about her book. Please be sure to listen to our Blog Talk Radio interview with her on Wednesday at 3:30pm PST. Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address to be entered into the eBook giveaway!