Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Immortal Assassin by Carolyn Jewel

Hi Carolyn! Welcome to my author-interviews blog. You are the first historical romance writer I have interviewed. Let's talk about your latest book: My Immortal Assassin, great title!
Please give us a brief synopsis.
Thanks, Jeane, for asking me! I should mention that I write historical romance for Berkeley Books and paranormal romance for Grand Central Publishing.
My current release is My Immortal Assassin, Book 3 of a paranormal romance series I write for Grand Central. My Dangerous Pleasure, Book 4, will be out this June. My next two historicals will be out in 2012.
My paranormal series is set in an everyday world where there are demons and magic using humans called the magekind. They don't quite get along, and both sides have legitimate complaints about the other.
Here's the back cover blurb for My Immortal Assassin:

Revenge. It's all Grayson Spencer wants. Christophe dit Menart, a human with dark magical powers, destroyed the life she loved. She wants the pleasure of killing him, no matter what the cost to her. If not for Durian, a dangerously sexy demon fiend charged with keeping Christophe alive, she would have succeeded, too. Now, she's certain all hope is gone. But he has a plan and an offer she can't resist...

Durian has spent his life as a trained and sanctioned assassin. His duty: to enforce the laws against demons harming humans. He's always prided himself on staying out of the fray, carrying out his orders and honoring his fealty to his warlord, but never getting attached. Never until Grayson, a spunky and determined woman clearly gifted with magic herself. He convinces her to swear fealty to him so he can protect her and teach her to use her magic to taste the revenge she so desperately wants.

They're soon bound together in a forbidden desire--a dangerous passion that calls into question Durian's oath of loyalty to his warlord. When he refuses to return her to Christophe, his disobedience threatens to inflame the tumultuous war between demons and the magekind. Can they--and their love—survive?
And here's a little bit about what people are saying:
Romantic Times, 4 1/2 stars
"The lines in the war between Magekind and Fiends continue to blur in the next installment of Jewel's exhilarating My Immortal series. The protagonists in this drama have both suffered terribly, giving them a common ground and enemy. Jewel provides her fans with a terrific tale that has action aplenty and drama to spare. Great stuff!"
Jill M. Smith
Alternative Worlds
"Fast-paced from the moment Gray and Durian meet on the streets of San Francisco."
Publisher's Weekly
"Jewel's third paranormal (after 2009's My Forbidden Desire) is an exciting return to a world of demons and mages."
BookPage - Romance of the Month - Top Pick!
"Dark, edgy and laced with thrilling desire, My Immortal Assassin will set readers' hearts racing."
Christie Ridgway
How did you come up with all these great ideas?

Typically, I start with an extremely vague idea, for example, gee, what if there really were demons? I spend some time deciding what that world would be like so I have a basic framework for a more specific idea. Then I think about what kind of people would live in that world and what situations would challenge them. Ideas and inspiration can come from anywhere. Overheard conversations, a movie, a picture, and, of course, what other writers are doing. I'm a very character driven writer, in that, for me, plot arises from writing about my characters. I literally do not know what will happen in a story until I sit down and write it.

How much research do you do?

For my historicals, quite a lot. They tend to be set in the English Regency period (1811 to 1820) though there is some fluidity with that date range. By now, I have a great reference library that I've acquired over the years regarding politics, furniture, fashion and the like. I don't usually have to research the basic events of the time period, but there's always some detail that needs targeted research and there's always new information and documents about the period, too. My historical novel, Indiscreet ended up being set primarily in the Ottoman Empire.
I needed to do a lot of research about Turkey and Syria, and I had to do it very quickly, because my deadline was approaching and the book had not been going well while I was trying to keep it set in England. As soon as I moved the first half of the book to Turkey, the story came together.
Thank goodness for Google Books, because I was able to get my hands on quite a number of primary resources about the Ottoman Empire during this time period.
I also found a couple of guidebooks at some antiquarian booksellers that weren't very expensive. And, of course, I researched what modern scholars have to say about the area and the period.
Right now I'm working on a historical where I have this idea involving a doorknob malfunction.
 I realized, though, that I did not know for sure if during the Regency era there were doorknobs as we know them today, and in fact, there weren't. There were doorknobs, but they did not turn. I started with a Google search, found some websites for doorknob collectors and ended up emailing one of the organizations. The gentleman replied with a reference to a newsletter they had done that contained virtually all the specific information I needed, with pictures, and links to additional resources. I also posed my doorknob question around the web and got back some other good information. Whether my malfunctioning door hardware will stay in the story, I can't say. It's so early on in the work on this book that it might not. But now I know all this interesting information about Regency era door hardware!

That is so interesting about all you went through over the subject of doorknobs!

My paranormals don't require as much research. I don't have to worry about anachronisms in language or confirm the actual date of an invention or historical event. And, I get to make up most of the details about my paranormal world. But, there's not no research.
I know nothing about guns, for example, and in book 4 (My Dangerous Pleasure) the heroine is an expert shot. For those details, I turned to Twitter. My question about weapons went out on Twitter, and within moments I was in contact with one of my fellow Twitterers who is an Iraq war vet with all the knowledge I did not have myself. He emailed me amazing details. Oh, my goodness!

Goes to show you how valuable internet is for writers!
How many books have you published so far?

I've published 12 books and novellas and a short story that appeared in an anthology that I need to add to the book page of my website.
That number includes the forthcoming June book. I'm under contract for two more historicals which will bring the total to 14.
I'm about to go back to contract on my paranormal series so I hope to soon add to that total. In addition, my books have been translated into French, Dutch, Thai, Norwegian, Turkish and German, among other languages.

That must have been a thrilling experience to have your books translated into so many languages!
 I know you have an interesting story about how you broke into publishing your first novel that our readers would love to hear. Carolyn was on the Library panel series that Redwood Writer's put on and told this story.

The full story is here: but the short version is I am one of those very rare people who sold the first book I wrote.
About two weeks after I sent out my two queries (I had determined that I would be too depressed if I got more than two rejections at once!) I got a phone call from an agent with an offer on my book. My story is instructive because it illustrates the importance of luck. A writer for St. Martin's Press had missed her deadline and they had a hole in their line that needed to be filled. My book came across this agent's desk at the exact time they were looking for a book to fill that slot.  Now, my book was also (presumably) good, because they called me, not any of the other writers who had surely also queried at the same time. So, long story short, I made some adjustments to fit their requirements and, presto, my book was published by St. Martin's Press nine months later.  Which also illustrates the importance of being open to revisions and easy to work with. Not to mention the bad things that can happen if you miss your deadlines. By the way, I had misaddressed my other query (I am somewhat dyslexic and had transposed two digits of the numerical address) and it came back in the mail about six months later.  So, yeah, first book and one query. It's really, really, really rare for that to happen. My experience with rejection came between my second and third books. And many times since. Rejection is part of the business.

What is the hardest part of writing, besides the fact you work at a day job full time?

For me, it's starting out, when I don't know my characters very well and have only the vaguest notion of what the story will be about. Once I've nailed my protagonists the writing becomes (somewhat) easier. Although it's never really easy. All of it's hard.

What is the most pleasurable part of writing?

Being done. Heh!
Other than that, it's those times when I hit the zone and get lost in my story and the words are coming to you.  Of course the next day I realize most of it is crap that needs to be fixed...

What is your background that has enabled you to become an author?

I was a voracious reader from the time I learned to read early in the first grade up to the present. I'm fortunate that my dyslexia is mild enough that I didn't struggle to learn to read or write.  I have siblings who were not so lucky. When I was young, every week I checked out the maximum number of books the library allowed (20) and read them all. I would have checked out more if they allowed it. On the due date, if not before, I went back for more. There were also many, many books at home and I read them, too.
All that reading taught me (without me knowing it was happening) about story and the rhythm and beauty of words on the page. I knew what kind of stories I enjoyed reading and which kind of characters spoke to me the most. I read, and still do, across all genres.
As an adult, I also had the habit of going to the bookstore and always buying at least one book on a subject or by an author I knew nothing about. Usually that book was used and quite old.
Later, and probably not surprisingly, when I went to graduate school to get my MA in English, I had already read about three quarters of the required reading list for the degree.

Do you have a blog?

Yes, I do! My writing blog is called, Writer’s Diary, you can read it here:  and this April I will have been blogging for 10 years.
 Every Wednesday, I blog over at the Risky Regencies  which is a group blog devoted to all things Regency and historical.
I also blog once a month at / The Girlfriend's Book Club which is a fairly large group blog made up of all sorts of writers.

What do you think of the covers the publisher picks for your novels?

I have been uniformly lucky with the covers both my publishers have done for my books. Grand Central has done a really fantastic job branding the look for my paranormal series, and my historical covers from Berkley have also been just gorgeous.

Do you choose your own titles?

Sometimes. I've had several titles that ended up being the final title. I always have a working title, of course, but just because I like a title doesn't mean my publisher will or that there won't be some unforeseen issue. The publisher typically has the last say, and I think that makes sense. The marketing department has a lot of input, too. One of my historicals had a title everyone was happy with until someone realized they had recently published a book with that same title. So, we tried a few others until we found another one that worked. It just depends. There was only one time when I wasn't happy with a title one of my publishers wanted to use. I spoke with my agent, told her how I felt and why, and she intervened. We ended up submitting over 270 alternate titles until someone came up with one that we all could be happy with.

Where can your latest book be purchased?

Pretty much anywhere books are sold. Most of them are also available in digital formats, too.
My website has more
Information about my current release and the series, including links to several vendors so you can choose your favorite bookseller if you want to buy the book (Please!!) as well as links to the full reviews. You can read chapter 1 here:

Readers, please post a comment to win a copy of Carolyn Jewel's latest novel, My Immortal Assassin.
At the bottom of this interview, press blue comments.
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type in your name and email address on ONE line NO url necessary.
Press POST COMMENT! Thank you!
Winners of Arlene Miller's The Best Little Grammar Book! are Charley and Jane, Congratulations!


  1. You use Twitter to do research? I never thought of that. I've done tons of research all over the internet and with books, but it never once occurred to me to use Twitter. Awesome tip.

    BTW I love your regencies! That's my favorite historical time period for romances. The historical detail you include in your books is incredible. Thank you for being such a great writer.

  2. Thanks for giving us such great information, Carolyn. Your stories are so wonderful, and now I know why I love your historicals so-the research!

    But I love your characters, the interesting settings and world building you do. Last Christmas I bought 2 of your books (this was 2009) for myself as a present, and it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

    Here's to years and years of great stories, and great success. You deserve it.

  3. I've always considered myself Mr. Anti-Romance-Novel, but after reading this interview, I'm intrigued. The whole demon world fantasy aspect of these stories sounds incredible, as does Jewel's story of her first book 'accidentally' being at the right time, right place and getting published on the basis of a SINGLE query. Wow! (I tracked 72 rejects during my first venture into the traditional publishing world.) I'm impressed by Jewel's prolific writing and her success. It's inspiring.

  4. Great information and story telling, Carolyn and Jeane. I love the example of the doorknob research and how we get lost in fascinating detail and processes, sometimes never using the material or only a fraction of it.

    Carolyn, your early and continued openness in reading, 1 query/1 contract and continuing commitment to putting words on paper are all the stuff of story. Vision and imagination are inherent.

    Here's to more success for you to come.

  5. I love the sound of this book! I love a Love story so much but throw in someone or something trying to keep them a part and it gets exciting. Although I'm not fond of it when they actually part for a while in the book though. But Thanks for the contest!!

    I'd love to win it!!

  6. While Paranormal Romance is probably my favorite genre, historical fiction is definitely a close second. Have you ever thought of combing the two. Gleason's "Gardella Vamps" were a particular favorite of mine as they were a combination of both. I'm so glad there are people like you that can sit down and say "what if?" and come up with stories that can entertain me for hours. We salute you!

  7. Thanks for the kind comments, everyone.

    I don't do research on Twitter, exactly, but it's a great way to find subject experts, for example, or get links to great resources. I think Twitter is a great tool.

    My first sale was really the poster child for why you need talent AND luck, but I've had PLENTY of rejections since then, believe me.

    I'm not sure I'd want to write a paranormal historical, but that's just me right now. I've heard great things about Gleason's series and I loved Meljean Brook's brilliant Iron Duke steampunk, which is set in an alternate Victorian era.

    Romance isn't for everyone. Tastes differ, but if you haven't ever read a romance or haven't in a while, please don't miss out! I think it's important for writers to read across genres and to be honest, Romance is quite often on the leading edge of experimentation. There are some very, very fine writers in the genre.

  8. You are one fearless writer! I read your paranormals and think "Wow, how did she come up with THAT?"

    I can see you doing steampunk ...

  9. Barbara barbara@barbarasmirror.comJanuary 17, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Interesting interview, Jeanne. I'd love to win a copy of Carolyn's book. I'm not much of a romance fan, but together with the historical genre it could work for me. Thanks.

  10. I really enjoyed your interview. Thank you for letting us get to know you. Can't wait to read My Immortal Assassin...and wow...Grayson, Durian and Christophe....just love those character names.

  11. I'm a fan of Carolyn Jewel,this is really very interested interview,but I'm wondering what kind of Cheap Jewelry did Jewel buy for his girl?

  12. I really like the genre of historical novels, as the book allows you to visit the past and see what happened before.