Saturday, June 7, 2014

INTERVIEW: Jana Denardo

Please give a very warm welcome to Jana Denardo who returns to the Hat Party with a beautiful hat, lovely roses, and brand new swoons! :)

Hello Jana and welcome BACK to The Hat Party <3 Thank you so much for being crazy enough to return to the Party! Please don your best hat, and let's get started!

A drunken relative has just insulted M/M rom up one side and down the other. Plus they spilled their drink on you in the process. What is your most articulate response?

Boy, this one is tough because it would cause a fight. If I cause a fight at a family party Mom cries and Dad uses me for verbal target practice regardless of the reason for the fight. I even know what relative this is, too. Chances are I’ve been drinking, as well, and I’d have to be squelching my temper, which can be a fearsome thing. But most likely, I’d point out all the places where he doesn’t practice what he preaches (because this would definitely be my born-again cousin who loves to preach to others but NOT practice it) and point out the shrimp cocktail he’s cramming in his mouth is just as forbidden as homosexuality. Not articulate. Not really even answering the question, but I’m probably just as drunk as the relative and similar conversations (with a drunk friend of Mom and Dad’s) did not go well.

Be totally honest. How awesome would you be at leading a moon colony?

I would be SO awesome. They’d build statues to me and write songs that compare me to Genghis Khan, or preferably Khan Noonien Singh, if I had my way.  I am probably not a benign leader. I’m a Type A personality who gets sad because a 3-day weekend means I’m not working hard enough. I’m at a total loss this year because I took off the summer semester. And everyone should work as hard as me. We’d be efficient. We’d get stuff done. We’d be a force to reckon with. Sure, I’d work a few of them into an early grave, but they were weak.

You have (another!) 200 words—Make. Me. Swoon. (PLEASE!)

Abraham pressed Victor against the bedroom door. Abraham used his tongue to invade Victor’s mouth while running his fingers over Victor’s ticklish ribs. Ticklish or not, Victor loved every touch Abraham favored him with. Victor sucked on the probing muscle before maneuvering Abraham back toward the bed. It still felt somehow unreal to Victor that he had captured the affections of a man like Abraham. The dour part of him expected what happened on the airship never to be repeated. As they kissed, Victor knew this was more than just lust. It was becoming something deeper.

Abraham sat on the mattress and pulled his shirt off over his head. Victor pushed Abraham back on the bed and nuzzled his chin. Abraham squirmed a bit as Victor’s beard tickled him. Grinning, Victor did the same to the soft skin of Abraham’s neck, making his lover moan his name. Victor relished this bit of power he held over Abraham. He sat back, studying Abraham, disheveled and on his bed. A thrill raced through him, seeing the lust clouding Abraham’s dark eyes. Knowing how much Abraham wanted him gave Victor so much satisfaction he barely knew what to do with it.

Describe your style in 4 ½ words.

Conversational, quirky, character driven, fantasica- (because I wasn’t sure how to do half a word so I sort of cheated).

We’re often changed in big ways by people who don’t realize they’ve done anything for us at all—tell us a story of being changed!

The Holleran brothers. The older brother was my high school biology teacher, and in spite of my stunning grades (it was a rare semester I wasn’t a 4.0), my teachers didn’t think much of me. I don’t know why. One even told me I would never amount to anything. But Mr. Holleran not only encouraged my love of anatomy and physiology when I took it as a sophomore, he allowed me to teach it the new two years. (Who knew I’d end up doing it for life?).

His brother taught history at the undergraduate college I attended. He once called me a bucolic gem on a med school letter of recommendation (I’m still not entirely sure why the bucolic had to be tacked on). Still, he liked talking to me. He was an excellent teacher and very encouraging. He actually seemed to believe I was smart (after a lifetime of people looking at me as if I were somehow cheating).

And in the negative way, there was Mr. Nicollela, who taught science grades 4-6 who routinely pointed to Darwin’s ascent of man chart and would tap Homo sapiens and say ‘Man’ then tap Australopithecus and say ‘woman.’ He hated women, and he especially hated smart women. Every stride I take in science, I stop and think ‘Take that, Mr. Nicollela.’

Describe yourself using a literary quote.

Not all those who wander are lost – Tolkien

How come you’re so freaking cool?

It took years of work to get this geeky. Oh, wait? Did you say cool? Hey, didn’t Leonard Hofstadter say geeky is the new cool or something to that effect?

People—basically good? Or basically bad?

Honestly, even with how bad things sometimes seem, I think people are basically good. Yes, we’re all capable of both in abundance. I still think we’re good at the core, at least most of us. I’m not sure I could handle the reverse.

What is your favorite writing memory?

Outside of publishing my first novel earlier this year? That would have to be all the way back in the 80s. Somehow or other (I’ve always assumed that a writing prof entered me into it or a friend who was writing this sort of book), I got invited into a Star Trek writing seminar. It was aimed at people who wanted to do the professional fan novels. I was way out of my depth, and frankly, if you think Harlequin had a strict of dos and don’ts for their romance novels, they had nothing on the Star Trek novels. I have no idea who hosted this though to be honest, since I had never heard anything like if before or since (and I swear it wasn’t a hallucination). Still, someone thought I might be good at writing one of my all-time favorite things in the world. It still makes me smile.

What kinds of dachshunds are the SECOND best kinds of dachshunds?
Internet ones. They’re pretty adorable. Oh, and I’m sure my grandmother’s good friend thought hers was the best kind back when I was a kid. I’ll give him this, he was a fierce protector of his property, which is what she needed.

Ex-Air Corpsman, Victor Van Voorhis, is called to Hyde Park, NY to investigate the murder of Mrs.Permelia Westbrook. The detective is all too aware of several things: the gulf between his status and the wealthy Westbrooks, that someone brutally killed a young mother, and that Permelia’s brother-in-law, Abraham Westbrook, is one of the most intriguing men he has ever seen.

Abraham had lost his wife five years before, and is worried what affect another death will have on his children. He spends most of his life working on his inventions, but even they can’t help him escape the thought that he wished Victor was in his life for any reason other than a murder investigation where he might be a suspect. He has spent his life hiding his desires. With murder standing between them, and a killer potentially stalking the Westbrook family, Abraham and Victor’s chance at happiness could go up like so much steam.


“I’m Detective Victor Van Voorhis. I need to speak to the master of the house.”

“He’s expecting you. You can give your coat to Justin.” She waved her hand to indicate what looked like a tree stand with hands. She pressed the brass dogwood flower-shaped button in its center and the thing rumbled.

It wheezed and hissed little puffs of steam, and the arms extended as the contraption lurched forward on its wheeled base, startling Victor. He studied the machine, having never seen anything like it. He wondered how the mechanical butler worked, but it didn’t seem to work without someone there to turn it on. Was it more than a mechanized coat rack? Victor would have to ask.

“Do you like Justin?”

The male voice dragged Victor’s attention away. A tall, almost overly thin man stood in an interior doorway that led deeper into the home. He was surprisingly clean-shaven, though his walnut hair was mussed. Grief pinched his otherwise fine features.

“You named a machine?”

The man offered a wan smile. “It’s a quirk of mine, one of many. I name all my inventions. I’m Abraham Westbrook.”

To Victor’s surprise, this wealthy man stuck out his hand to shake. Victor felt nicks and calluses he hadn’t expected to find on a rich man’s hands. “I’m Detective Victor Van Voorhis. I’m sorry for your loss.”

Abraham nodded. “Thank you. Her children are upstairs with mine and their nannies. They weren’t here when it happened. Will you need to speak to them? They’re naturally very upset.”

“Later,” Victor said, handing his coat to Justin, who rolled away back to its corner. “Just briefly about the morning, before they left. You can be present, of course. However, I have questions for you, sir, about your sister-in-law. I understand your brother is in the city. Were you and your wife at home this morning and afternoon?” Victor had no real idea how the rich spent their days. Why wasn’t this man at work? Did he even work?

“I was here in my workshop.” Abraham gestured toward a hallway. “My wife passed over five years ago.”

“I’m sorry.” The generic words of sympathy tumbled out of him. Victor was used to saying them several times a day when working a case.

“It’s fine, Detective. Come with me. We can talk in my library. It will be more comfortable.”

“Of course.”

Victor followed him through a living room roughly the size of Victor’s house, then down a hall with carpeting that ate all the sounds of their passage and felt like walking on a cloud. The scent of old books, slightly musty and even dustier, hit Victor’s nose as they entered the library. A large marble fireplace dominated one wall, with comfortable-looking chairs and a table with a whiskey decanter and glasses set out in front of it. Rows of books lined every other surface, along with more knickknacks and other memorabilia than Victor could easily take in.

Available from Dreamspinner Press

What inspired you to write If Two of Them Are Dead?
It was originally aimed at Dreamspinner’s Steampunk anthology (How could I resist that cover?), but I was asked to flesh it out and submit it as a novella. I was pretty jazzed. I felt it showed confidence in me being able to do it. Frankly, it’s much better as a novella than it ever was as a short story. I find writing mystery short stories (this is a steampunk mystery) exceedingly difficult. Novellas and novels give you more room to really play with a mystery.

Is there anything special you’d like us to know about your book?
I used to live close to where the novella is set in the Hudson Valley and it makes for a beautiful backdrop. I had a blast researching this and I had plenty of help from my friends, especially those in the local air ship on FB (what can I say? I’m a geek, this is steampunk so of course there’s a local airship) and my beta, S.J. Smith. They helped me come up with scenes and ideas. I’m grateful to them.

What are your hopes for this title?
I hope that people enjoy the story and the characters first and foremost.  Heck, I hope they want more of them. I also hope it will make them curious to go look at my backlist. I’m already seeing that happen. The sales on my novel from earlier this year, Kept Tears is going up as people are taking advantage of the pre-order for If Two of Them Are Dead. I can’t ask for better than that.

About the Author:

Jana Denardo's career choices and wanderlust take her all over the United States and beyond. Much of her travels make their way into her stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and mystery have been her favorite genres since she started reading, and they often flavor her works. In her secret identity, she works with the science of life and gives college students nightmares. When she’s not chained to her computer writing, she functions as stray cat magnet.

Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.

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