THE JAMES GANG
Each month I interview an author or publishing insider who has “James” in his/her name. My June James Gang interview is with Running Press author, Dina James.
1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?
This question has multiple answers, so I’ll pick the ones that most decided me. My given name is long and complicated. My first name is Greek and my middle name is French-Canadian, then I married a Polish guy whose last name added a bunch more vowels to my already-difficult name. I used to work in an office, and when I had to initial something, my convoluted initials looked like a capital “D”, or sometimes a “J”. New people would always ask whose initials they were, because no one in our office had a name that began with those letters. It was fun explaining!
I knew that, should I achieve my dream of becoming a published author, my name would be on the cover of a book and, as I said, my legal name is long and complicated. So, looking at my initials and remembering some of the comments people in my office had made, I chose the initials “D” and “J” to start, and went through names starting with those letters.
While thinking about what names I could use, “Dina” and “James” kept my attention. Both were/are characters of mine in fiction that I write solely for fun and gaming purposes (yes, I’m a gamer, and I make no apology for it!). I put the names together and that was it. Author “Dina James” was born. I think both the characters Dina and James would be amused that their creator is now their namesake.
2. What fiction genre(s) and/or sub-genre(s) do you write?
I write paranormal romance and urban fantasy for both adult and young adult readers.
3. Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release is a short story, entitled “Once a Demon”, in the Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance. It features the return of a beautiful and enigmatic character, Kyle, from my first short story, “Play Dead”. In “Once a Demon”, we get to know Kyle a little better, while keeping the majority of his mystique.
4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?
I tend to write about inner strength and getting to know yourself–finding out who you really are and working to be who you really want to be. Personal struggles are a subject of great interest to me, as are interpersonal relationships. I like exploring the dynamic between two (or three or four) people, and what causes them to behave that way.
Also, I love villains. I absolutely love them, and one of the other main themes in my story is “why are bad guys ‘bad’?” I love getting into them and seeing through their eyes and knowing how they think. There’s always a reason, and I like discovering that. Oftentimes the “bad guy” isn’t really all that bad–in his mind, anyway.
5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?
Yes. I’m not going to name him, because “he” is in more than a few of my works, current and upcoming. He’s my favorite because he always comes to my rescue. He’s warm, safe, caring, comforting and you always know where his loyalty lies. You never have to guess with him, though he can and WILL surprise you. I love working with him.
6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Doing what I love. I love to write and create worlds, and I love it when people tell me that they enjoyed their time there and want to return as soon as possible. I love that creative rush when a plot point solves itself or becomes crystal clear, or when a character comes in and takes you by the hand (or grabs you by the throat if they’re not one of the nicer types!) and says, “My name is _____. Here, write this down.”
7. Do you have any awards, reviews or kudos you’d like to tell us about?
I don’t have much out there yet to review, but linked below are a couple of things people have sent my way. I was quite literally stunned reading the review of “Play Dead” by Erato on the Books in Our Belltower site. It was my first published story, and it just floored me to have it so well-received. She rated it “5 Bells” – their highest rating. I thanked her for it, and I am still deeply touched by her enjoyment of it. Read the review here.
SciFi Guy wrote a “reviewette” of my latest release, “Once a Demon”, and called it “a very dark romantic story”. I’m glad he took the time to read it and offer his thoughts! Read the review here.
8. How do you promote your books and your author brand?
I’m kind of a technology-loving girl, though that isn’t to be mistaken with “technologically competent”. I have a website (that I’m learning to update all by myself!) and will soon have that revamped as I’ve had a custom template made that’s being coded, along with various pages on social networking and book-sharing sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Shelfari. I have a blog on LiveJournal that I update fairly regularly, and a YouTube account that I upload vlogs to once a month or so. I have a wonderful artist-friend who does awesome work, and she’s created the “DJ Logo” and “Official Dina James Icon” that I have on my business cards and various places.
I try not to fall into the “hard sell” category, but I will announce on those places when something new is coming out or if I have a little party or panel I’ll be at/want to promote.
9. What is your next project?
I’m currently working on the second novel set in a world created from a story that will appear in The Eternal Kiss, a vampire anthology for young adults that will be released at the end of July. Also upcoming is another short story in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance II, also known as Love Bites, available this fall.
10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you'd like to impart or a favorite quote?
One of my very favorite authors of all-time said at one of her signings, “Accuracy lends credibility.” It’s something I always remember when I’m writing, even though I’m writing about fantastic or mythical things. Yes, the world I’m writing in might be magical and have different rules than usual, but there are still rules, and they need to be adhered to, or it needs to be justified as to why they don’t apply in certain instances.
Thanks, Dina! Next month I’ll interview Samhain Publishing author, Lorelei James!
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