Julie Kenner and JK Beck visit the Lair today with the Shadow Keepers series of paranormal romances. Julie's novels have hit bestseller lists ranging from Waldenbooks and USA Today to Locus magazine. She is a two-time RITA nominee and has won a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice awards, a National Readers Choice award and various other honors. Today we'll chat about her alter ego, J. K. Beck.
Welcome Julie! Who is J. K. Beck, and how did you decide to create her?
J.K. is me, me, me!
Seriously, J.K. Beck is Julie Kenner’s alter ego. (“J.K.” for “Julie Kenner” and Beck because it’s my maiden name.) It’s the name I’m using for the Shadow Keeper series, a series of dark paranormal romances set in and around a paranormal judicial system.
We went with a pen name because lately “Julie Kenner” has been writing primarily urban fantasy, and the “Julie Kenner” romances tend to be lighter and quirkier. We wanted to distinguish the tone and genre of these books, and so a new name made perfect sense!
Tell us about the Shadow Keepers.
Dark and edgy, and full of mystery and intrigue and romance. The world is great fun to write, and each story centers around a paranormal judicial system that’s been in existence since before the dawn of civilized man, and governs the shadow creatures—vampires, daemons, werewolves, jinns. All creatures humans think live only in nightmares, but don’t. It’s a system that investigates, apprehends, adjudicates and punishes those shadow creatures who break the Covenant, and each book centers around a couple and an element of that system.
You have three releases out close together. Do the books feature the same characters?
The books are romances, so each book focuses on a different couple. But the world plays into all the books, and so a character that was the hero in one book may be a secondary character in another. Nicholas, for example, is a vampire and an advocate (attorney). He is in both WHEN BLOOD CALLS and WHEN PLEASURE RULES. But he’s not the hero until WHEN WICKED CRAVES.
Briefly, what is each of the books about?
IN WHEN BLOOD CALLS, prosecutor Sara Constantine is pulled into the paranormal world when she gets a promotion to “Division 6,” which turns out to be the cover for the Los Angeles division of the PEC (Preternatural Enforcement Coalition). Learning that such a world exists is shocking enough, but what really rocks Sara’s world is when she discovers that the man she’d had a recent wild night with—the man she can’t get out of her head—is the first defendant she’s assigned to prosecute. And not only is he wanted for murder...but he’s a vampire, too.
In WHEN PLEASURE RULES, we meet Lissa and Rand. Lissa is a succubus with a special gift—when she takes souls, she can also take information/read minds. She’s used that ability to help save other succubi who are being abused at the hands of their masters—blackmailing for their freedom and giving them employment in her club. It’s a good cause, but her method is highly illegal.
Rand is a werewolf who’s recently come to Los Angeles on a special mission from the head werewolf of the Alliance. When Division 6 thinks that the weren community is behind a series of brutal murders, they want to investigate—and they enroll Lissa as a confidential informant. Lissa will do anything to protect the girls she’s rescued, but she doesn’t expect to fall for the reclusive werewolf, a man with a tattered soul and a shattered past.
In WHEN WICKED CRAVES, Petra Lang is cursed never to touch—because her touch renders a monstrous transition. Now she’s about to be executed as a result of certain events that occurred in PLEASURE. But attorney Nicholas Montegue is certain that the cursed witch holds the secret to his friend Serge’s cure. After braving a daring prison escape, the two are on the run, and the chemistry between them is both unexpected and hot. But the lovers are doomed from the start—because the first time she touches him, Petra would turn Nicholas into a monster.
The books were released back to back, and that’s been a great experience. As a reader, I love being able to really dig into a world, and the feedback I’ve received has been great. Of course, on the writing end it’s a lot harder!!
Sara and Lucius are the hero and heroine of the first book. What’s their biggest problem?
Well, they have several! The biggest would seem to be that she’s the prosecutor and he’s a murder defendant. But even more to the heart of the issue is they way they look at the world. They each have strong beliefs about how justice should be rendered, and their opposing views are a wall between them that will have to be knocked down or climbed over before they can truly be together.
Is there an over-arching plot?
There is an overarching world and political machinations. But as for a specific plotline that runs through all the books, no. Because of that the books can be read in any order, though it does make the most sense (and is probably the most fun!) to start with Blood and move through the series.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on WHEN PASSION LIES right now! That’s the next book in the series, and that will be followed by two more for sure. An e-novella is in the works, too, and will be published before PASSION hits shelves!
Thanks so much for having me! Folks can find me on Twitter (JKBeck) or Facebook (authorjkbeck) or at my webpage (www.jkbeck.com).
Julie is giving away a $15 Amazon gift certificate to one commenter today. So tell us, what's your favorite lawyer story? Your favorite story that has someone ending the rules or stepping outside the law for a good cause? Your favorite Julie Kenner or J. K. Beck book?