Author of the Month
[October 2006]
Chosen by reviewer and columnist Suzie Housley, MyShelf.Com

    The name J.R. Ward is fast becoming a legend in the paranormal gene. With the debut of her highly popular series The Black Dagger Brotherhood she has quickly topped the charts to become a New York Times and USA Today Best Selling author of erotic paranormal romance. Her writing style has a dark gritty edge that sets her far above the normal paranormal offering. With each book that she publishes a new facet emerges with each mesmerizing character she creates, as we get invited into their lives each one of them manages to wedge a way into our hearts.

J.R. lives in the south with her incredibly supportive husband and her beloved golden retriever. After graduating from law school, she began working in healthcare in Boston and spent many years as Chief of Staff of one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation. Writing has always been her passion and she says the idea of heaven is a whole day of nothing but her computer, her dog and her coffee pot.

I chose J.R. Ward as an Author of the Month because I have never found an author whose work has so quickly touch my heart and soul. She has written a truly magnificent one of a kind paranormal series, The Black Dagger Brotherhood has literally taken me by storm. Each book is so expertly crafted you feel that you know the characters; their pain is that which you suffer. I have been fortunate to have discovered Ms. Ward with her first book, since then I have been given the opportunity to read and review each one of her published works.

I feel so privileged to be able to have Ms. Ward take time out of her busy schedule to complete this interview. Of all the interviews that I have conducted with, this one will long stay with me as a high experience in my writing career. I asked J.R. about her career as a writer. Here is what we talked about:


Suzie Housley : First of all, I would like to welcome you to  I am thrilled that you took a moment out of your busy schedule to stop by and discuss what is going on in your writing career.  Let us begin by asking how you started out writing.

J.R. Ward : Thank you so much for having me! As for how I got started, it's just been something I've always done since… well, pretty much as soon as I could hold a pencil, I was writing the things in my head down. My mom still has the first story I ever wrote- the letters are those big fat ones you make as a kid and it's on yellow lined paper. I still take it out and look at it from time to time! And once I started writing, I just kept at it. It's been with me all my life. And I'm grateful!

Suzie Housley :  Congratulations on having this highly popular paranormal series that is listed on the New York Times best seller list.  It is quite an accomplishment and I know you are thrilled to have this honor.  Did you ever anticipate this one series would skyrocket to such chart topping heights?  How does it feel to know a book that you have written has made it big?

J.R. Ward : No, I never anticipated this kind of thing! And I've been very grateful for the success because it means I can keep writing the books. It's funny, I decided when the series came to me that I would write these stories for myself- and I was convinced they wouldn't sell because they're a little… well, out there (hello? the mating ceremony!) But people really enjoy them.

And how do I feel about making the Times list? As I told my husband, it changes everything and nothing at all. It's wonderful! But tomorrow morning I have to do the exact same thing I did the day before I found out I made it: tomorrow I have to sit down at my computer and write as best I can. Nothing changes that, you know?

Suzie Housley: I just finished LOVER AWAKENED ; I must say I am so impressed with the talent you so effortlessly displayed.  I have been glued to this new series since it first started.  I sense there is a lot of emotion that goes into one of your books, which has been the most draining and fulfilling.

J.R. Ward : I would say, of the ones published, definitely Zsadist's LOVER AWAKENED was the most exhausting and the most satisfying. Z's book has some very dark parts to it… some scenes that were so hard for me to write that I didn't want to go back and edit them. By the same token, there were some things about the story that were so uplifting and wonderful that I just glowed.

But you know, I truly thought that Z would be the darkest book in the series. Except now that I'm on to Vishous's story, I realize that V's LOVER UNBOUND is also going to be wrenching. Right now I'm about one hundred pages in and there are already two scenes that I can't bear to write. I'm avoiding them because I just don't want to go there. Eventually I will, of course, but I have to kind of prepare myself.

Suzie Housley : What was your source of inspiration and what gave you the idea for this series?  How long did it take complete each book?

J.R. Ward : The source of my inspiration are the Brothers themselves! J About two years ago, two thousand pounds of vampire showed up in my head all at once: the rules of their world, the mythology, the language, the Brothers and their histories just came to me. The whole series was, and continues to be, incredibly vivid. At this time, I know who all of the Brothers end up with and I know the trajectory of the series out to about the twelfth book.

As for how long to write the books? Well, I outline extensively, recording what I see in my head in some detail. Once the outline is finished (and they tend to be large- about fifty to sixty pages long), I follow it closely when I write- I don't start drafting until I'm stock solid as to what I'm doing. So it takes me about a year to write them from start to finish (outline to galley proofing), but I'm also working on future books in the series at the same time. If I had to do it from start to finish without interruption, I would say nine months working every day.

Suzie Housley : Could you tell us which of the 'The Brothers' was the most intriguing to write about, and refused to leave your mind once his story was finished?

J.R. Ward : Well, the thing is, the books come to me like movies and they are streaming all the time. So I feel like none of them have left me. Their lives continue- even if the scenes I see about previous heroes don't get put into the books that end up on the shelves. So the Brothers are all still up in my head all the time. It's crowded, but we have a good time!

Suzie Housley :   The covers for your books are outstanding.  Do you have any input to how they are created?

J.R. Ward : Thank you- I think the covers are fantastic, too! When they sent me the one for DARK LOVER , I was blown away! As soon as I saw it, I knew they'd gotten it right and they've stuck with the same feel for each one of them. So my input on the covers? It's saying THANK YOU!!

Suzie Housley:  Having read all three of your books, I must ask is there one scene from each book that is the most memorable.  If so, which ones?

J.R. Ward : One of my favorite scenes from DARK LOVER is when Beth meets the Brotherhood for the first time. She comes into a dining room and they are all there. She feels as if she's intruding but then Wrath bursts up out of his chair and goes to her, wrapping her in an embrace. This floors the Brothers! They've never seen their king do this to a female or anyone ever. Wrath then leaves to go get her something to eat and the Brothers spring up, withdraw their black daggers and form a circle around her. Naturally, she's terrified! But then they all fall to their knees and bury their daggers into the floor- in supplication to the female who will be their queen.

Let's see, from LOVER ETERNAL ... I think the scene where Rhage feeds Mary from his hand. The satisfaction he takes in watching her eat is so primordial it gave me chills when I wrote about it.

Out of LOVER AWAKENED , one of my favorite scenes is when Zsadist refuses to let Bella sleep on the floor on his pallet with him. She wants to be against him, but he can't stand the idea of her not being on the bed. He ends up using the mattress in his room for the first time (he's only ever slept on the floor previously.) It was just so tender.

Suzie Housley :  There are so many elements that make your books so stand out special.  What draws me to this series is that you have created characters that have to overcome their own disabilities (Example: Wrath's blindness, Phury's amputation, etc.).  I have always felt a character that is made to overcome such an obstacle is that much more special.  Did you originally plan the books out like this, or is it just something that came together when you were writing?

J.R. Ward : Again the Brothers showed up fully formed, with all their strengths and weaknesses. So I don't feel like I planned any of it. I think the significant thing for those Brothers who have certain physical challenges is that they are not inhibited or compromised by them. They are whole males living whole lives even if they are missing something that most other folks have.

Suzie Housley : Is there any one author who has inspired you to become a writer?  If so, which one.

J.R. Ward : I can't say I was inspired to become a writer by anyone- because I feel like I was born one. J I've just always written. I will say I've been challenged to be a better writer by the fine examples set by others. Suz Brockmann is one who is just so good she makes me want to crawl in a hole and not come out again. Stephen King is another one. Sue Grafton. I like books that are really realistic and so it's usually those kinds of authors that I truly enjoy and learn from.

Suzie Housley :  I am also a part of your message board fan club.  I see that you spend a considerable amount of time answering your fans questions.  How much time do you devote each day to this wonderful group?

J.R. Ward : Well, it's variable depending on my deadline schedule. I enjoy the Board and think it's a great community!

Suzie Housley :  How much time a day do you devote to your writing career? Approximately how long does it take from start to finish completing a book like LOVER AWAKENED?

J.R. Ward : I pretty much work around the clock seven days a week. I draft in the mornings, take a break to hit the gym in the early afternoon, then come back and do promo and business stuff until dinner. At night, I edit or outline. Even if I do signings or travel, I make sure that I write every day. LOVER AWAKENED , like the others, took about a year or so to outline and write.

Suzie Housley:   Could you provide a time line of when we can expect the next in the series and what order "The Brothers" will be written.

J.R. Ward : With pleasure! J The next book, LOVER REVEALED , is out in March '07 and features Butch O'Neal. Then it's Vishous's turn in LOVER UNBOUND that fall, followed by Phury's book in the Spring of 2008. At this point, it's not clear to me who comes after Phury. It might be Rehvenge. As usual, the Brothers will tell me when they're good and ready. LOL!

Suzie Housley :  Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?

J.R. Ward : I'm just so grateful for the support folks have given these books!

Suzie Housley :   Thank you for the wonderful creations you are bringing to the paranormal gene.  I appreciate and grow more in love with your each of your characters as each book is published.

J.R. Ward : Thank you for your kindness! And for this terrific interview!


Lover Awakened
The Black Dagger Brotherhood
By J.R. Ward

September 5, 2006
Paranormal Romance
E-Graphic violence & sexual scenes

Reviewed: 2006
Buy it at Amazon
Read an Excerpt

Reviewed by Suzie Housley,

Two hearts that beat as one . . .

Twins, who were born together and shortly there after torn apart. Phury was the one who was left behind to grow in the loving home of his family. His life was one of royalty but in his heart a piece was always missing. Zsadist was snatched away one night by his nursemaid. It was her intent to raise the child as her own. Her plan fell apart when she met with an untimely death. The young child of two was sold into slavery. Hardship and sorrow was his constant companion. With each new master that he was sold to a new horror waited.

A brother’s love knows no boundaries . . .

When Phury grew into a man he made a vow to his family to find and bring home his missing brother. His search took him all across the countryside and years passed before he was able to gain information that led to a solid lead. He learned of a mistress who was keeping a blood slave. All indications made him believe at long last he was close to finding his lost brother. He used his charm and good looks to woo her into trusting him enough to show him her prize possession. When he had won her over and gained her trust she was eager to show him her "pet". Deep into the castle walls she led him towards his long sought after destiny. Finding his brother was a bittersweet revelation for he was chained helplessly on a bedded platform. It was evident he merely existed for his blackened eyes revealed a man whose body and soul was broken.

My patience to his fury, and am arm'd to suffer, with a quietness of spirit, the very tyranny and rage of his. . .

Rage engulfed Phury’s body but before he was able to act to free his brother the mistress’s hellren returned and realized how he had been betrayed. His anger was quickly transferred to the slave as he savagely ripped him from his prisoner. With all hell breaking lose Phury fought with every measure of strength and ability, once he overthrew his adversary his eyes went to the platform where he had last seen Zsadist. A blood trail led to the outside; quickly he followed it fearing for his twin’s safety. He managed to overthrow those who had attacked his brother. His twin was a bloody unconscious mess. He knew time was quickly running out for the sun was due to rise over the horizon at any given moment. With superhuman strength he threw his brother over his shoulder and fled to the cliff tops below into the icy ocean. That one quick made decision would forever change both of their lives.

Together reunited as one . . .

Due to their warrior lineage Phury and Zsadist were accepted as members of The Black Dagger Brotherhood. Together they fought to keep the Lessers from destroying their kind. Phury worried about his twin’s savage nature. It was as though he received too much enjoyment each time he killed. It was rumored that he took great pleasure in draining the blood of prostitutes and tossing their lifeless bodies aside. He wondered if anything would ever be able to penetrate through the thick dark wall that consumed his twin.

A bright light shines through a dark tunnel . . .

Bella arrived at The Black Dagger Brotherhood with a friend. She appeases her curiosity by exploring the compound while her friend is being interrogated. She stumbles upon a gym where one of the warriors is working out. She is mesmerized by how he is able to make the punching bag he is pounding stand at attention. Her movements are detected by the warrior and she is unprepared for when he suddenly backs her towards the wall. His scarred face and distorted lip breathe a death sentence as he holds a dagger to her throat. Miraculously, she is saved when another brother sees what is about to occur and steps in to separate the two.

Danger and poison mixed together form a deadly potion . . .

The encounter stays with Bella days after it occurred. Her restless soul cries out for an adreline ride and the scarred warrior could be just what her restless soul is seeking. Zsadist is a man like no other she has ever encountered. He refuses to allow her to grow close to him for he feels his tainted blood will mar her perfect image. To distance himself from her is the toughest battle he has ever fought for he knows he is not worthy of her love.

There is a quake that rips the soul asunder... it is the pain of remembering . . .

The unthinkable occurs when Bella is captured by the Lessers. When the news reaches Zsadist's ears he is a man out of control. With each breath he takes vengeance fills his soul until it becomes a growing part of his dark existence. His dreams are haunted by the memories of her lovely face. With each week that passes and yet she has not been found his hope of finding her alive fades farther away.

Hope is passion for what is possible. . .

Bella is being held captive by a Lesser at a far off secluded cabin. She spends her day dreaming of the day she will be rescued. Each one of these fantasies revolves around Zsadist for he alone can be her hope of salvation. She knows it is foolish to believe she alone can break through Zsadist’s walls of pain but she knows he is destined to be her mate. Will she be able to find a way to escape and turn her dreams into a reality? Or is she destined to live out her final days dreaming of a man that is filled with so much hate.

If there is one book that all paranormal fans should read in 2006 Lover Awakened is definitely my recommendation. This book is masterfully written with so much in-depth passion, intrigue, and emotional satisfaction. Zsadist is a character who you will find makes your heart bleed over all the inner turnoil he has endured. His story is one that will long be locked into my memory. I felt emotionally drained once I finished this book; days later I still wanted to relive the many memorable passages that occurred throughout the pages. I have never experienced such powerful writing that made me long to know more. I felt it was important to center this review on the past, present and a glimpse into the future. This book overflows with so much ground breaking character development it was difficult to write a review that didn’t contain a spoiler. This is a must read series, the highest form of recommendation this reviewer has ever given is paid to this memorable book. Very highly recommended.

For an added bonus listen to the following songs that would be the perfect theme music for this book:

"Far Away" by Nickelback
"Broken" featuring Seether and Amy Lee

Additional books in The Black Dagger Brotherhood that were reviewed by include Dark Lover and Lover Eternal


2006's Honorary List

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