Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Story Behind The Story: Introducing Dark Heirloom

Before I was a writer, I was a reader. I’ve had my nose stuck in books for as long as I can remember; starting out with Dr. Seuss and the Berenstain Bears.

It didn’t take long for me to turn to paranormal. Even at eight years old I had a soft spot in my heart for all things dark and misunderstood, magical and a little dangerous. I loved the night, the stars, and the moon. I knew in my heart my Prince Charming was a prince of darkness that would ride on a black nightmare instead of a white stallion. I dabbled in witch craft just to get closer to these elements. Oh yes, I was an odd child that danced to the beat of her own drum. I kept Mom on her toes and gave her plenty of gray hairs.

Combine this with my love for mythology and folklore and I guess it was only a matter of time before I wrote my own. There were several occasions during my life when I thought I could write a book. But I never gave it any serious consideration until one day a certain novel whose title I won’t mention got me thinking.

This instance was about three years ago. By then I was a die-hard fan of paranormal. But I realized there was something I wanted to read about that I wasn’t getting from other authors at the time – and that was a story told from the point of view of the heroine after she became a vampire and joined the undead ranks.

More often than not, the stories are told from the human hero or heroine’s point of view. The paranormal characters are secondary and the plot often ends once the hero/heroine decides to join them.

This always left me frustrated. I wanted to know what happened after that. I wanted to experience life through the vampire/werewolf/witch’s point of view. What was their culture like? Surely it couldn’t be like ours when they often lived in secret and with such super-human abilities. The paranormal hardly ever follow human laws and customs, so they must have some of their own. They must have their own traditions and history and government. Otherwise what was stopping them from decorating their homes with human heads?

Those were things I wanted to read about and experience. But I wasn’t getting it from authors of the time. So I took matters into my own hands and set out to write my own vampire novel.

In Dark Heirloom the readers live vivaciously through Ema Marx, a young woman who is turned into a vampire by Chapter Two. I can only think of one other character in the story that is human and that person plays a very minor role. The rest of the cast and the story itself are entirely of the paranormal caravan.

I knew right from the beginning that I wanted my readers to get up close and personal with my vampire characters and experience the culture of an underground society first hand – as if they were an exchange student in a foreign land.

Because Ema is newly turned, she still clings to human habits, keeping the reader comfortable with relatable – and witty – main character.

In the following scene, Ema is helping a female vampire named Leena cast a spell to open the gates to the underworld. As you’ll notice, Leena ends up doing most of the work…

“Why are we in the dungeon?”

“It is easier to open the gate to the underworld when you are technically already underground.” She spoke matter-of-factly as she laid Jalmari’s paralyzed body on the floor in the center of the dungeon. She pulled out the tiny red candles from the knapsack and placed them in a perfect circle around Jalmari’s body.

“Don’t just stand there.” She tossed a lighter at me. “We only have a few hours before the nightshade wears off.”

I started lighting candles. “Won’t a few hours be long enough?”
“How should I know? I’ve never been to the underworld before, have you?”
I rolled my eyes and ignored her sarcasm.
She unpacked more things from the knapsack and set them down near Jalmari’s feet. “Here, put this on.” She tossed a bright cherry-colored shawl at me. I hadn’t seen a shawl since the last time I saw my grandmother. I frowned at the ugly thing. “What for?”
“You have to wear red to enter the underworld.” She produced a sporty red jacket for herself, looking much more hip than I did with my granny shawl.
Leena took the small pot of red and yellow face paint and smeared some across her cheeks and forehead. She held the pot out and motioned for me to do the same. “For the same reason as the shawl,” she explained.
After I smeared the paint across my face, she handed me a red apple. “Hold this. Guard it with your life. We will need it in the underworld, unless you want this entire effort to be a failure.”
I swallowed and hugged the apple to my chest.
She took out the skein of wool and tied one end securely around Jalmari’s ankle. She put the rest of the wool down and opened her spell book. I watched in silence, in doubt, in disbelief, in a million other pessimistic ways, as Leena chanted words in a language I never heard before.
She moved her arms through the air in a rhythmical way as she danced around Jalmari and the candles. Her hips swayed slowly arching her back as her torso rolled in fluid, drawn-out motions. She looked very graceful and sure of herself.
Then, her pace quickened. She chanted faster. The movements became wild and rigid. She slashed at the air. She jumped and whooped and made all sorts of screeching sounds. Coal-black hair puffed in frizzes about her triangular face and her eyes glowed like green fire. Her lips moved quickly as she chanted faster and faster until her ringing voice became a sharp buzz of consonants and vowels.
I clung to the apple. I clung to the apple good.

* * * *

Now Available…
By J.D. Brown

“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?

Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run, there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst. Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.

The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…

* * * *

Dark Heirloom has teamed up with for a month-long virtual tour! Please join us all April to celebrate the release of this highly-anticipated series ~ and don't forget to wish J.D. a happy birthday on the 23rd.  :-)
For a complete list of dates and tour stops, please go to

You can also follow J.D. Brown and all her events on Face book


Wendy said...

Congratulations on the releae of your book JD. How lucky you are as a writer to have had such a clear direction where to take your talent from such an early age. You Mum doesn't need to worry anymore now that you are a published author. I loved the excerpt.
Danielle I hope you get a chance to pop into your Book Launch party on my blog. I'll keep the garden gate open for you. Left a message on FB yesterday.

Good luck with your writing but by the look of it you won't need luck; you are off to such a good start.

J. D. Brown said...

Thanks so much Wendy. I'll head over to my FB page now and look for it. Thanks for the heads up. :) said...

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