Interview: Author J.N. Duncan + Giveaway

Filed in Giveaways , Interview , J. N. Duncan , The Geeky Lover Posted on April 4, 2011 @ 6:00 am 33 comments
We are very happy to welcome debut author J. N. Duncan here at Book Lovers Inc today. His first novel, Deadworld will be released tomorrow and he’s here to tell us a bit about his book, his world and what makes worth reading. Please give him a warm welcome and be sure to stay tuned till the end for your chance to win the book. 

BLI: Jim can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Jim: Well, I’m a 40-something father of four, or eight if you include the pets in the house. I’m an aspiring middle school math teacher. I’m something of a fantasy gamer geek (yes, I play WoW), love astronomy, and generally I think you could call me something of a nerd. Hopefully in a good way. I’ve been writing since I was about 14, thanks to my grandmother, who was a published mystery writer, and I am also married to a writer (romance author, Tracy Madison). I work for a living (though who doesn’t desire to make a living as a writer), and hope to someday live in a castle in Ireland and write all day (hey, we can dream can’t we?)
BLI: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
BLI: Typical day? Not sure I have a lot of those with regard to writing. I’m a very up and down writer, going periods without writing at all, and then extended times where I will write every day for weeks. Even in my down times though, stories are not far away. I do a lot of plotting and characterization stuff when I’m not actually putting words on the page. I actually like to take several weeks to get a story idea fleshed out and solidly in my head before I begin the writing. So, you can definitely say I’m a planner. I know my story start to finish before word one gets on the page. When I’m writing though, I’d say I average about 1k words a day.
BLI: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
BLI: Hmmm, good question. I suppose a good analogy might be in music. You get the fan who likes a band’s music who downloads some of their songs, will sing along, and might even say they are one of the fave’s, but the real fan, has all of their cd’s, goes to their concerts, buys their t-shirts, posters, and so on. Hope that makes sense. So the real book lover, gets frustrated when they have to wait for the next book in a series to come out, they buy a book the moment it’s available to get, make special trips to go get a book, and so on. They read a lot, because books are their favorite form of entertainment. They prefer it to the movie. They get totally jazzed if they can get a signed copy from a fave author.
BLI: Why did you decide to write on the dark side of urban fantasy? What is the appeal for you besides the cookies?
Jim: Well, can’t complain about the cookies. Cookies are good. That said, I like dark and gritty. I like things to be hard and make you squirm. Not in a gross out sort of way, mind you, but just so that it pushes the comfort levels, as much for my characters as the reader. I like to make things difficult on them. Also, murder and mayhem are dark by nature, and I want to do whatever I can to elevate and enhance that feeling. Consequently, you’ll likely notice in my story that it’s quite often overcast, gray, windy, and raining. Colors are muted, and there’s a continual struggle to find “light” or “good” things going on. I’m making it sound like a continual downer of a story here, aren’t I? Lol. Not exactly my intention. There’s an undertone of humor in many of the interactions, which is needed when you write dark, I think. My story isn’t meant to be depressing, and I don’t think it is, but it’s meant to be kind of noir’ish in feel, and at the same time entertaining.
BLI: Your first novel is set in a dark and gritty urban fantasy world. What makes it stand out besides all the others in this genre?
Jim: Well, I hope that it actually stands up to some of the others in the genre that are particularly good. But what makes it different? I think the main character, Jackie, stands out. She exudes a lot of the toughness you’d expect from an urban fantasy heroine, but on the inside, she’s pretty fragile and broken emotionally. I’ve tried to push the limits in this regard, and I think it will play out over the course of the series in a way that many series in this genre don’t do. Not saying that’s better or worse, but I do hope it’s something of a fresh take on the urban fantasy heroine. Another thing I hope is different is the world I’ve created with regard to the paranormal, and my a-typical vampires, and just what lies beyond the grave so to speak. The series overall will really delve into these paranormal elements as it goes forward. I think it’s very interesting and intriguing, but I don’t want to say much about that at this point for fear of being spoilery.
BLI: Tell us a bit about the paranormal setting?`What kind of creatures will we meet? And which is your favorite?
Jim: In Deadworld, you get vampires and ghosts. The ghost element, I suspect, will look and feel pretty familiar to what is commonly thought of as a ghost. This will become more involved as the series progresses, and we begin to see what this Deadworld place is all about. My vampires, specifically the hero, Nick, I rather like. He’s not what you would typically think of when you consider vampires. There’s nothing very gothic in nature about them, and the mythos is very unlike what I’ve typically seen anyway. I wanted there to be a very different feel about my vampires, because let’s face it, readers have seen plenty of them, so hopefully I accomplished this goal. With Nick, we get a guy who was formerly an Old West Sheriff, which I think adds a nice contrast to what one thinks of about vampires. There is no inherent evil in being a vampire in my story. There’s no family or Queen or any of that kind of backstory. Being a vampire in my world is a pretty lonely enterprise, at least for Nick, who coming from law enforcement, doesn’t think much about having to drink blood to stay alive. In book two, The Vengeful Dead, we get to see, what I think is the most interesting of the paranormal entities, but I’ll leave that as a surprise for now.
BLI: What can we expect of Deadworld?
Jim: If it lives up to expectations, I’d say an intense, paranormal thrill ride, with as much emotional turmoil as there is physical, that I hope will leave readers feeling like they got their money’s worth and looking forward to more.
BLI: Jackie is a FBI agent and a so called tough with not so much cookie. She’s sarcastic and for some she might seem a bit heartless. How would you describe her?
Jim: Oh, she can certainly come across that way. She won’t tolerate shit from anyone, except her partner, Laurel. Some of it is certainly that female in a male world thing one might expect, but it goes much deeper than that. There’s a reason for that hard shell. Honestly, I worried at first that she might come across as a bit too harsh and unlikeable, but it doesn’t take long to see what’s going on underneath. Plus, as a writer, it’s too much fun to see how we can go about cracking those shells and expose what’s underneath. I think readers will be able to relate to her. How many of us know that person who puts up the tough front but is actually more insecure than we are behind it all? I majored in psychology in school, so these elements are really interesting to play around with. Because of who Jackie is underneath it all, it’s allowing me to take things in a direction, emotionally at least, that I think readers will find, as the series develops, is different than what you’d expect from the genre.
BLI: Are you listening to music while writing and if yes can you give us a glimpse into your Deadworld playlist?
Jim: I actually have a difficult time listening to music while I write. My brain tends to turn its focus to lyrics, so if and when I do have music on, it’s instrumental. Classical, ambient, jazz, they all work in that regard, but I find the darker, subtler music jibes with the writing of these stories. Music is a great mood maker.
BLI: Will there be more books in this series?
Jim: Book Two, The Vengeful Dead, will be out in October. Book Three, does not have a release date yet, but if I were to guess, I’d say somewhere in the Apr-Jun time frame.
BLI: Anything else we should keep our eyes open for?
Jim: My site/blog will be home to Nick’s journal, writings he kept over the course of his decades between being turned up to the present. For those who take an interest in Nick, I think it will be interesting to follow. As for the series overall, be ready for more turmoil and trouble for our heroine, as the world beyond the living begins to really get involved in her life.
BLI: Now to the mean questions. We apologize in advance. 
Can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?
Jim: Lol, I really hate answering these kinds of questions, but here goes:
1. an interesting take on the paranormal.
2. characters and relationships you want to follow
3. intense, fast-paced action, that will keep you turning pages.
BLI:Can you summarize Deadworld for us twitterstyle (140 characters or less)?

A struggling FBI agent gets caught up in a centuries old vendetta between two vampires.

BLI: What are the 4 characteristics a good heroine should have? Does Jackie fit that bill?
1. Conflictual. You should at times both want to hug her and smack simultaneously. Jackie is certainly a bundle of conflict, especially internally.
2. Tough, at least in the manner of standing up for something, having conviction. Jackie does, sometimes to her own detriment.
3. Relatable. While we can all fantasize about being the kick-butt hero, it’s so much better when reality interferes and bites you in the butt, much like the real world. Jackie gets this in spades.
4. Heart. Regardless of all the hard edges and questionable actions, their heart should be in the right place. Jackie is a true believer in justice and doing the right thing, even if her means to those ends isn’t always the best.
Great questions! It’s been wonderful talking about Deadworld here, and I want to thank you for having me here and letting me share. I hope your readers will be intrigued and if they decide to dive into my story, find it entertaining and money well spent. Happy reading/writing everyone!


Jim has generously offered one copy of Deadworld to be won by one lucky commenter!

All you have to do is ask Jim a question or leave a meaningful comment about the interview.
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave us a way to contact you.
(Email in blogger profile or twitter name – no way to contact you – no entry).

This giveaway is open to US/Can addys!

Giveaway ends on Saturday, April 16 and we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!

About Susi

Susi is a geeky vegetarian from Gemany. She just finished university and now works as a civil engineer in steel construction. Besides her reading addiction she also knits like a maniac while listening to audiobooks. Susi also blogs at the Secret HEA Society.

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Join the Discussion
  • RK Charron April 4, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Great interview with Jim!
    Please don't enter me in the giveaway as I have (had?) DEADWORLD on preorder. (Sets chair by mailbox).
    I loved the characteristics of a good heroine too.
    All the best,
    RK Charron

  • Sullivan McPig April 4, 2011 at 7:18 am

    How did this book slip under my radar?! How?!
    *runs off to write in on the ever growing wish list*

    (not entering, not from US or Canada)

  • LadyVampire2u April 4, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Congratulations on your new book!! I have to say, this sounds like a hit series to me. I know for sure that I am getting this book one way or another.
    My question to you is, What authors have inspired you or are some of your favorites? I am just wondering because your genre of books is so much my favorite type and I bet I've read some of them.

    LadyVampire2u AT gmail DOT com

  • JDuncan April 4, 2011 at 8:07 am

    To be honest, LadyVamp, I grew up on epic fantasies and thrillers. I only came to urban fantasy in the last couple of years when I realized that this was the market for Deadworld. I still call it a paranormal thriller, though overall, the series really is urban fantasy. So, my faves, don't really tend to UF, though I've read a few now that I've enjoyed, like Kat Richardson's Greywalker, and Stacia Kane's Unholy Ghosts. I just love the paranormal, and it's so easy to blend that element into other types of stories.

    Deadworld, I think, straddles a few lines, part urban fantasy, part noir'ish crime fiction, part thriller, part romance. My fave series of all time though? George R.R. Martin's Fire and Ice Saga, and Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Maybe not what one would expect from an urban fantasy author, but there you go.

  • Sharon S. April 4, 2011 at 8:26 am

    WOW, this is exactly the kind of UF I like. The darker the better.
    Do you think there is a difference between UF written by men vs women? I admit 99% of the UF I have read has been written my women. I look forward to checking this series out!

  • Ricki April 4, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I love when UF contains ghosts, so I think I would really like this.

  • JDuncan April 4, 2011 at 9:57 am

    It would be interesting to compare the UF of male vs. female authors, to see if there are differences in themes, characters, plots, and so on. I know percentage-wise, there are more female authors in UF, and some of that may be the strong link between uf and paranormal romance, but I will be curious to see, if when readers check out Deadworld, if they get a "oh yeah, this was written by a guy" vibe from it. I hope that's not the case, though I don't think it's necessarily bad one way or the other. Good question though, Sharon. Thanks.

  • Bethany C. April 4, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Sounds great! I like that he has a unique take on vampires- they need one. I'm all about creativity with the 'rules' of paranormal creatures. Bring on Nick!


  • LSUReader April 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    J.N., I have to ask: Since your wife is also an author, do you read/review each other's work, and if so, at what point in the writing process?

    Also, kudos to your grandmother, and can you tell us her name and what book(s) she published? Deadwood sounds captivating. Thanks for visiting.

  • Teril April 4, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    That was a fantastic interview. I have to say that first I have not read the series or any of the authors books (I think my local store is holding out on me) and that they look amazing. I would love to read DeadWorld. It sounds up my ally.

    terilhack at yahoo dot com

  • JDuncan April 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    LSU, the answer is no, we don't crit each other's work. I'm not familiar enough with romance genre to give her specific feedback in that regard, but we do bounce ideas off each other all the time and ask for feedback on snippets and such.

    As for my grandmother, her name was Olive Jackson, and her best selling book was called Dark Love Dark Magic. It's been out of print for years though.

  • Estella April 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Your book sounds great!
    Do you have more than three books planned for this series?

    kissinoak at frontier dot com

  • Sarah April 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Sounds like a good book! I'm intrigued by the Old West Sheriff turned vampire – sounds intriguing 🙂 Can't wait to read it!

    smaccall @

  • Barbara E. April 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I really enjoyed the interview and the chance to learn more about you and your book. I believe I had already added Deadworld to my wish list, but it's going up to the top now, after I've learned so much more about it. I love that the vampires are somewhat different, it's always fun to see a fresh take on that mythology.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  • Robin K April 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I have not heard of this one yet, but it wounds great! Love books with humor, even just an undertone *winks*.

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  • Diane April 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Is your book the beginning of a seires or a stand alone book? It sounds interesting.
    dsadler53 at yahoo dot ca

  • JDuncan April 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    For those asking/interested, Deadworld is the first of a series. Book two, The Vengeful Dead is out in October. I'm about to start writing book three, which is yet untitled, and I'd guess on a release day of April/May next year. As far as what is planned beyond that, time will tell. I'm not planning on it ending after three. There's a more epic storyline that gets hinted at in book two, and only really gets revealed in book three. So, I'm hoping it goes for another set of three at least. Guess it will all depend on how well these first three do.

  • Sniffly Kitty April 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Tough and relateable are definitely characteristics I'm looking for in an urban fantasy heroine ^.^

  • Melissa (Books and Things) April 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I've been wanting to read this for a bit now and had it officially on my wishlist on my blog! I need to read it! 🙂

    books (dot) things (at) yahoo (dot) com

  • Lisa R/alterlisa April 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Jim you said your vamps are a-typical and gave a few examples. Can they find love, have a family? What makes them vampires?


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  • JDuncan April 5, 2011 at 7:45 am

    They are vampires in the sense that consuming blood is required to stay alive. Actually, I'll refer you over to because I have a post up there now about my paranormal elements and another giveaway you can enter too 🙂

  • Sharon S. April 5, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I just read Skeleton Crew and assumed it was written my a woman (cause like you said, most are) and I kept thinking "this is such a guy book" Then when I went online to check out Cameron Haley, what do you know! I think men UF writers tend to have more action scenes and less romance. They are just written differently. I like them, because I like kick-ass action.

  • tetewa April 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    This is my favorite genre to read and vampires are my favorites!

  • Tore April 5, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I would love to read your book. Jim what made you want to be a writer.

  • JDuncan April 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Tore, the desire to write likely began with my grandmother, who was a mystery writer. This was back when I was 13 or 14. She was also a painter, so I got immersed in artistic endeavors when I visited every summer. Being the creative type that I am, I was enthralled and eventually hooked on writing.

  • Kaari April 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I can't wait to read this, it's my favorite genre (although I still call it paranormal too) *and* it's set in the town where I live.

    It'll be interesting to see the psychology, and how far you've pushed things with the dark and gritty. Can't wait to read it!


  • myboo63 April 8, 2011 at 11:30 am

    another series that my family and i would love. I am adding this to my must read list. I really like series and try to get the set so when i am done with one i can strt the next one and pass the first one on. Do you find yourself getting into a zone when writting sometimes or do you start and stop depending how busy your family life is?

  • donnas April 9, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Great interview. Congrats on the release! Really looking forward to picking up a copy. I love finding good new UF.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

  • Melissa/welachild April 9, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Deadworld sounds interesting. I was also intrigued by the vampires roots. Yet another book for my TBR pile!! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  • Melissa/welachild April 9, 2011 at 2:42 am

    Oops, forgot to add my addy.
    Itwasemotional (at) yahoo (dot) com

  • Jen B. April 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I love paranormal. I will have to check out Deadwood. You say you don't listen to music when you write but do you have songs the are possible theme songs for your characters? I love book playlists! Thanks for the contest.

  • heatwave16 April 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Jim!!! The book sounds great. Is it hard to write a female character being a guy?

    PLus, I have the come to the Dark side we have cookies t-shirt. I love it!!!


  • InnocentButler April 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    The book looks great and I'm always looking for more UF to read. I like gritty! @tjotjoc

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