"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Love by the Light of the Moon!
Dunne has always been a voracious reader, devouring romance, fantasy,
and science fiction books by the score. When she turned her hand to
writing books, those three elements mixed and mingled freely in her
works. Her first novel, Raven's Heart, won the EPPIE award for best
SF original ebook, and took second place in the Sapphire Awards for
best science fiction romance. She has written a vampire romance (Dark
Salvation), and contributed anthology stories about holidays on distant
worlds ("To Life" in Infinite Celebrations), do-gooding
demons ("Vacation" in Heaven & Hell), and magical
animal rights activists ("The Tower" in Shifters).
Her newest novel, Shadow Prince, is the first of a proposed series
of fantasy stories set in the Illornian Empire. When not writing or
reading, Jennifer works for IBM as a web site developer. Jennifer
is also active in a number of writing organizations, and has served
two terms as president of her local RWA chapter, two terms as president
of RWA's Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter,
and six years as the managing editor of the SF Romance newsletter,
in addition to teaching online writing classes.
An Interview with Jennifer Dunne
PNR: Jennifer you are very active in the paranormal romance community, I understand you are equally active in the science fiction community. Can you tell us about some events, activities, websites, etc. that would interest our readers?
One area that the sf community may surprise (and please!) paranormal
readers is the convention circuit. Any given weekend, some group of
sf fans somewhere is getting together for a huge party (at much more
reasonable rates than similar romance gatherings) to talk books and
movies and tv shows and games and ... well, anything even vaguely
related to their shared interests. If you like vampires, you can find
cons that specialize in vampires... even cons devoted to specific
vampires (or vampire-hunters). Locus magazine maintains a list of
upcoming cons: http://www.locusmag.com/2002/Future/Cons2002.html#maycons
people may enjoy visiting my website. I recently redesigned the whole
thing so that it resembles a tour guide agency, promoting "tours"
(ie - books) to the various worlds I have imagined. You can visit
sf worlds, fantasy worlds, or contemporary worlds. Each world has
a brief description and a photo, as well as
PNR: Speaking of websites, in addition to your own personal website, you are a member of a new multi-author website www.vampire-vixens.com. What is a Vampire Vixen? Tell us what we can find at the site.
Jennifer D.: A vampire vixen is what you get when you've been up for too many hours in a row at an RT convention with too little food and too much caffeine, talking about how all the vampire writers in "Vampire Row" at the bookfair sold out of their books. JC Wilder suggested that we band together and create a website that would help continue this cross-fertilization of readers. But what could it be called? Women who write really cool vampire books? Suddenly, it hit me! (And then Leslie and Rosemary hit me, since I'd stopped dead right in front of them) We were vampire vixens!
PNR: I can picture it all <g>. You are quite a versatile writer within the subgenre. RAVEN'S HEART is science fiction, DARK SALVATION which has recently been reissued in trade paperback is a quasi-vampire tale, and your newest release, SHADOW PRINCE, takes place in a fantasy world. Do you find that variety keeps you fresh? Keeps the readers interested?
Jennifer D.: What can I say? I get bored easily. :-) I didn't set out to write in different genres. (By the way, my June release from Ellora's Cave, Sex Magic, is a paranormal contemporary romantica, adding yet another genre.) But I read in all of them as my mood suits, so my writing leans toward one or another as the mood suits. None of my stories are "pure" genre books -- Raven's Heart is sf romance, Shadow Prince is romantic fantasy, and Sex Magic is a super sexy paranormal romantic suspense -- so classifying them in different genres makes them seem more different than they really are. They all blend f/sf and romance to varying degrees.
PNR: You have written for several of the smaller presses which specialize in unique storylines, do you find that small presses afford you more freedom with regard to the content of your stories? What is the advantage to having a book released in several formats? Do you find that e-book and print books sell equally well? Do you see that changing in the future?
Jennifer D.: I have a lovely rejection letter from a NY Publisher that says, in effect, "All the editors loved this book, but marketing says they can't sell it." That sums up the relationship of my writing with the larger publishers. If I could fit it into one genre or the other, they'd publish it, but since I can't, they won't. (Sex Magic was my attempt to write a mainstream romantic suspense ... somehow the hero ended up being a mystical guardian who performed powerful magical rituals while having sex with the heroine. Not at all mainstream.)
PNR: LOL! You've also written novellas for some interesting themed collections which are currently on the market, "Vacation" in HEAVEN & HELL and "The Tower" in the SHIFTERS anthology. Tell us about what kind of tales we can find in these collections and about your stories in particular.
& HELL contains mostly short stories (and one novella by Michelle
SHIFTERS contains four novellas of shape shifting. But only one is a werewolf. The others are an alien, a demon, and an enchanted forest guardian. My story, "The Tower," is set in the same world as my novel Shadow Prince, and was inspired by a song by Chris DeBurgh. General Bayard is given the conquered barony of Kittern, and will be able to retire if he can hold it through the winter. Shooting the guardian of Kittern's forest is not the best way to begin. Locking her in an enchanted tower until she'll agree to marry him only compounds his error ... or does it?
PNR: The theme for April is Vampires, so let's talk about DARK SALVATION. Desmond Lacroix is the reclusive director of the Prescott Institute, a research facility. He is not truly a vampire but suffers from all the same symptoms. He needs a diet of blood to survive, and is definitively light sensitive. This is part of a voodoo curse? What has Desmond done to deserve this fate.
Jennifer D.: Desmond didn't do anything. His father had an ill-advised affair with the daughter of a voodoo priestess. (Desmond's version has them as impetuous lovers, while his half-brother Philippe believes their father raped her). The voodoo priestess curses Desmond's father, and all of his line, to live forever and suffer the pain and agony of death with everyone that they love. He blew his brains out rather than suffer the curse, but it passed to his two unborn sons, Desmond and Philippe. They grow up in markedly different environments, but eventually find each other, after the curse destroys both their families, and begin to understand what has happened to them. Desmond believes science can triumph over magic, and dedicates himself to finding a cure. He marries one of the doctors working for him, only to lose her to the curse despite all their efforts. He is determined to save their infant daughter from the same fate, and redoubles his efforts. That's where the book begins.
PNR: The heroine, freelance reporter Rebecca Morgan, has turned her investigative skill on the institute. Morgan appears to have a very cynical personality. She's been granted a tour of the Institute and expects to discover illicit activity that she can use for an expose'. Are there reasons for Morgan's inherent lack of trust? What reasons does she have to suspect unlawful activity at the Institute?
Jennifer D.: She grew up believing her father died in the Vietnam war. As a young teen, she discovers her mother lied -- her parents had never married, and her mother had sent her father away when he returned from the war to find she'd had their child -- and sets out to find her father, arriving just after he dies. His wife reveals that he had always wished he could have known Rebecca, and in fact tried multiple times to see her, but had always been rebuffed by her mother. That's the underlying cause of her distrust. As for why she suspects the Institute, their funding is mysterious, there is no record of the CEO's birth / school / etc., and their scientists work in almost complete isolation with no publication of any results. But what initially makes her investigate the institute is an interview with a doctor who visited them. Her latent psychic skills pick up that something is wrong with his story, and her cynicism supplies the most likely reasons.
PNR: Though the research at the Institute is on the up and up, Desmond clearly has something to hide. Even his researchers are unaware of their true goal. Desmond is not alone in requiring a cure. The need for a solution has become urgent. The curse on his family is two-fold?
come to terms with his condition, and can easily wait another 50 or
As weve mentioned Rebecca's persistence has garnered her
a tour. One would expect that the tour would be a cursory one, that
she would learn little
Jennifer D.: One of the first stops on her tour demonstrates that the scientists are really conducting research. But when the scientist tests her blood, he finds that her blood contains the same antigens found in the blood of Desmond and his daughter, and which prevent standard leukemia treatments from working effectively, yet without the cell structures related to Desmond's curse. A bone marrow transplant from her might save Desmond's daughter, and Desmond isn't about to let Rebecca escape if there's a chance she holds his daughter's cure.
Several people are not happy to see Rebecca stay. The housekeeper/nanny
is natural concerned about her employment as it becomes apparent that
Desmond's interest in Rebecca is not merely scientific. Desmond's
half-brother Phillipe is more of a puzzle. What is his objection to
Rebecca's participation in
Jennifer D.: Philippe is even more cynical than Rebecca. He was raised by his grandmother, the voodoo priestess who cursed him. Knowing the terms of the curse would ensure anyone he loved died a violent and painful death, she took considerable pains to ensure he would never love her. And when his true nature revealed itself, his highly religious wife attempted to kill him, instead merely incapacitating him so that he was unable to save either her or their sons when their house burnt down. He has fatalistically decided that it is impossible to fight his grandmother's curse, and wants to spare Desmond from suffering the pain he went through. Of course, he's really not entirely sane, so his solution is not what most people would think appropriate.
PNR: I guess that answers any questions about a story for him <g>. Though your stories are not in anyway connected, it is clear that science plays a major role in your books. Some of your concepts are fascinating. Where do your ideas come from? Do any of them have a basis in practical application at this time? Does Desmond's medicine? have any basis in reality?
I was trained in mathematics and logic, so I've got a very logical, scientific mind. (Those who know me, stop snickering. I said my mind was logical, not that *I* was.) I need to figure out how and why things work the way they do. With Dark Salvation, I tried to write a traditional vampire story, since I've read them for decades, but found I couldn't write a vampire until I understood why vampirism worked the way it did. So I found a genetics researcher who also liked vampires, and together we worked out the theory of neukocytes, that work similarly to leukocytes in that they target invading cells that do not belong to the host body, but rather than automatically destroying them, they first try to transform them into cells that match the host body's DNA pattern. Sunlight, with its known damage to cell DNA, increases the number of cells that must be destroyed. Being pierced by wood causes the body to go into overdrive, trying to convert plant DNA into human DNA, not successfully. One difference from the common vampire mystique, however, is that my vampires eat normal food in addition to drinking blood. In fact, they're chow hounds, since their metabolism runs at a much higher rate than normal. About a year after I finished Dark Salvation, the NY Times science section had a spread on the work being done with artificial blood substitutes, and described research very similar to what I theorized Desmond's Institute conducted.
PNR: Leslie, the bio major, is looking over my shoulder going, "Oh cool!". As vampire novels go, DARK SALVATION is relatively bloodless and non-violent. It should appeal to readers who are leery of the horror aspects of paranormal romance. It will appeal to those who love a little science and suspense. Tell us a little about your latest title, SHADOW PRINCE, this is a fantasy romance?
Jennifer D.: Shadow Prince is a romantic fantasy. Ten years before the story opens, the heroine, a fantasy artist from Arizona, was pulled into another world, where she met and fell in love with the hero, Prince Reynart. She also inadvertantly helped destroy his kingdom, and returned to Earth immediately afterward, leaving him to assume she had betrayed him. In the intervening years, he has become a highly successful assassin, although he has never stopped hungering for the kingdom that was lost to him. When she is pulled back into his world, his first thought is revenge. But an emissary from the mages' council offers him a deal he can't refuse (even though he tries), and soon the mage, the hero, the heroine, and a minstrel who wants to become a bard are traveling cross country to save the world. Or at least, that's what each of them has led the others to believe. There are many layers of motivation driving all four, and the party's dynamics change with every new secret that is revealed. But the central secret they must resolve before they can succeed, is to uncover what really happened ten years earlier.
PNR: Whats next for Jennifer Dunne? Do you have any works in progress? Booksignings planned?
laughingly declared that this is the year of the novella. In addition
to HEAVEN & HELL and SHIFTERS which came out in January and April,
I've got three other stories due by the end of the year. Then, there
is the sequel to SHADOW PRINCE, and it's sequel. (I'm going to try
and hold the trilogy to an actual 3 books, although it's now 3 books
and two related novellas) I'm hoping to schedule a number of booksignings
for Shadow Prince when it comes out in print this fall, including
of course the Romantic Times bookfair. I'm alsodoing some workshop/chats
online. Check my webpage, http://www.jenniferdunne.com,
for details of my schedule. (Look under
Shell Word Factory
DARK SALVATION - She has the power to save him ... if his secret doesn't destroy her first.
Desmond Lacroix is on the front lines of a battle between science and magic, with the life of his young daughter at stake.
When investigative reporter Rebecca Morgan tries to expose him, she is drawn into the battle ... and into his bed. Can he trust the secret of his existence to a woman who makes a career out of revealing secrets.
SHADOW PRINCE - An exiled assassin-prince, grieving mage, mute minstrel, and transported fantasy artist must work together to save their world. They'd rather kill each other.
Ten years ago, an otherworldly woman destroyed the kingdom of Nord D'Rae, condemned the prince Reynart D'Altha to a shadowy existence as an assassin, and destabilized the network of magical gateways. Now, she's back, and she holds the key to either restoring Nord D'Rae or destroying the rest of the kingdoms. The mage's council has asked for Reynart's help. He just wants revenge.
tale of an enchanted forest guardian, set in the familiar fantasy
world found in
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