Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jana and the Demon Trapper's Daughter

posted by Nancy
Today we have Jana Oliver's debut in the Lair as we chat about her new series from St. Martins. The Demon Trapper's Daughter is labeled YA paranormal romance, but it has classic urban fantasy elements and is designed to appeal to adults (it certainly grabbed me) as well as teens. It's already out in the UK as The Demon Trappers: Forsaken from MacMillan.

Welcome, Jana! We love call stories in the Lair. Would you like to share yours?

I was attending the Romance Times Convention in Orlando in 2009. I'd just been on a mystery panel and notice that my cell phone had a message. My heart sped up as the Demon Trappers Series was making the rounds at that point. I scurried to the parking lot and called my agent.

To set the scene: warm Florida sunshine, cars pulling in and out, lots of noise. And there’s me on my cell phone, pacing. The verdict? Yes! We had a deal for three books with St. Martin's Press and the size of the advance brought a smile to my face. I know whoever was in the parking lot that day must have thought I was crazy as I was dancing around like a mad thing. Who wouldn't? I shared the news with my spouse, then my writer buds and finally my roommate. We went out for an awesome celebratory dinner that night.

You had an unusual path to New York publication. Can you give us the highlights?

I self-published my first few books, then signed with a small Canadian press for the Time Rovers Series. That was a good move as I worked with an incredible editor and learned a lot over the course of the trilogy. Next I signed with a literary agent and then came the contract at St. Martin's. Lest this sounds like it all happened overnight, it didn’t. Between the first self-pubbed book and my NY debut, a decade has passed. It’s been a wild ride.

Riley, the title character, is in a tough spot when the book opens, and things go downhill from there. Tell us a bit about Riley and her world.

Riley's a typical teen except that she's chosen to follow in her father's footsteps. Unlike the Vatican's Demon Hunters, who slay the fiends outright, Riley and the other trappers have to use their wits to capture the Hellspawn. She’s entered a male-dominated organization and so has to fight for respect every step of the way. As if being a teen isn’t bad enough. And then there’s Simon, that cute guy she’s got her eye on. Riley definitely has her hands full.

The city I’ve crafted is an alternate 2018 Atlanta where demons abound. They range from the small Grade Ones who steal your jewelry or tear apart library books, to the Grade Fives (Geo-Fiends) who generate spot earthquakes and tornadoes. Necromancers raise the dead to sell as unpaid slaves as the economy continues to fail, forcing the closure of the schools. It’s “pre-dystopian” if that’s a term. Given a few more year the city will be beyond repair.

What's going on in Riley's love life?


Riley's love life is complicated by the fact that most regular guys don't want to date a girl who traps Hellspawn for a living. The one young man she is interested in--a fellow trapper apprentice named Simon--might just do the trick. Or not. Her social life is complicated by Beck (her dad's trapping partner) and his need to play chaperone. And then there's Ori, the hunky mysterious dude who is every girl's idea of a hot date. Just where does he fit in? It's enough to drive a demon-trapping teen to distraction.

What was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

There was a two-fold challenge: making sure Riley sounded like a teen and laying the groundwork for the rivalry between Heaven and Hell. The first required a lot of young adult reading and trusting my gut when it came to Riley’s character. The second issue needed academic research. I needed to backstop the story of Lucifer’s fall from heaven across Christianity, Judaism and Islam. I needed to come up with a plausible explanation of how the demons came to be. Then I had to work out the framework of the Grand Game (the eternal struggle between Heaven and Hell). Once I had those two main issues worked out, I was good to go.

For a peek at the first chapter, click here.

What are you working on now?

Book #3 in the series (yet untitled). It's due April 1 and I'm wrapping up different plot threads so this book is more of a challenge than the other two. First books in a series are always a breeze for me. They fly out my brain. Middle ones are harder. The ones that tie up the main story arc are the hardest. If St. Martin’s likes the series, there will (hopefully) be three more.

For more information on Jana and her work, visit her website or the book's website. There's also a UK website for the British version of the book.

What's your favorite story about a kid out on his or her own? Is there an urban fantasy or YA series you particularly like? Do you have a question for Jana?


One commenter or questioner will receive the cool package (stickers, book, and backpack with Guild patch) pictured at left, with the caveat that the book in the picture is an ARC but the winner will receive an actual book, signed and personalized.

Another commenter will receive an American Heart Association Go Red pin.

The comment link is below today's healthy heart tip and related opportunities.




Tip for the Day: If your children are having a Valentine’s Day party at their school or day care, instead of sending candies, consider mini-boxes of raisins, mini-bags of pretzels, pencils or stickers as tokens of their friendly affection.

And don't forget . . .

Go Red for Women on February 4


Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease in women and encourage you to join us in wearing red on February 4, National Wear Red Day®. Visit http://www.GoRedForWomen.org to learn how to fight heart disease.

And just in case you missed it....

Sign Up for the Go Red BetterU Program and Receive Two Free Romance Novel E-Books

From Feb. 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance novel e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's BetterU Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited-edition magazine (that features this offer) on newsstands and in a grocery store near you.

To sign up for the BetterU program, click here.
(Go Red For Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.)

89 comments:

flchen1 said...

This sounds like a great story, Jana! My kids aren't quite ready for YA yet, but I still enjoy reading it myself ;)

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, SOOOO close! Fedora, congrats! Hey, did you see I took you up on your suggestion and put excerpts up from the ghost and the regency Mammoth collections on the website? Great idea! Thank you!

Jana, congratulations on selling your series to St. Martins. It sounds fabulous and I love the cover! Nancy, thanks for bringing us such fabbo guests!

Jane said...

Hello Jana,
I don't read much YA, but I have heard so many great things about Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games. It sort of reminded me a little of a Japanese novel and movie called "Battle Royale," where the kids are forced to battle each other for survival.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Jana - Welcome to the lair!

How exciting to get the call while you were at RWA. Did you get to meet your editor there? Hopefully you got to go to the publisher's party. So very cool!

Can't say that I'm a big reader of YA but I'm impressed with how you had to balance heaven and hell to ground the series. This certainly isn't a childish theme. And thank you for having actual library books in 2018. I hope you punished those hellions appropriately.

Thanks for stopping by. How I have to round up my YA writer-friends and direct them to this blog.

Cath's Chatter said...

Oohhh, I LOVE LOVE LOVE YA novels and this one sounds like a keeper!!!!!!
Congrats on the release, I hope its EXTREMELY well received:)

BJ said...

Oh how fun...I'm so gonna have to tell my neice...I'm sure she will flip!!!! She loves to read all the paranormal romance books I pre-read and deem age appropriate, so this will be nice to recommend. (Even though we all know I'll still read it...LOL)
Although I have to say I've been to Atl...are you sure it's not really the real Atl????.....LOL

mariska said...

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ! :) I love the series.

Hi Jana,
i wanna know your favorite scene(s) on this book :D

looking forward to read your book !!

Helen said...

Well done Fedora have fun with him

Jana this books sounds really good I have not read a lot of YA stories but one that I did read and loved is Inara Scott's Delcroix Academy The Candidates I could not put that down and am really looking forward to the rest of that series. I will be keeping an eye out for yours as well because I want to read it.


When thinking about YA stories do you ask a lot of young adults their thoughts or just watch them a lot to see their reactions to things

Thanks Nancy for inviting Jana today

Have Fun
Helen

Gillian Layne said...

I'm so excited about reading this book! I love YA, and paranormals. I wanted to read this book before I started reading interviews, just because of the awesome cover and title. Congratulations on your release, and I really enjoyed reading about your journey.

Jana Oliver said...

Good morning, folks! Boy are you up early (yawn).

@Donna - My editor wasn't at Romantic Times and I've yet to meet her. I'm hoping to remedy that at BEA this year. As to the Heaven & Hell theme, I tried to straddle the line between YA and Adult urban fantasy. What I'm hearing from readers is that I was successful.

@Cath's Chatter - Don't know the US sales yet, but according to my UK editor their edition was the #1 YA debut and #5 for sales behind such folks as P.C. Cast, Maggie Stiefvater and Stephenie Meyer. So there's a ton of celebration here.

Jana Oliver said...

Forgetting my manners here - Thanks for inviting me, Nancy!!

@BJ - I'd say this series is 14+ because there are some curse words (from the adults) and some of the demon scenes are "realistic". People get hurt and die. Gritty is the best word that's been used to describe the book and that's kosher.

@markiska - I loved Hunger Games. Another gritty one. I know some folks didn't like the theme, but I thought it was totally engaging.

@Helen - I've been teen watching for a long time, which sounds sort of creepy actually. Mostly I went back and sorted through my hideous memories of high school, all my fears, inadequacies, hopes and dreams and then tried to do the same for Riley.

@Gillian - thanks. I never really expected to get "the call" in a parking lot. I'd always imagined something a bit more glamorous.

EilisFlynn said...

This sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to look it up! Thanks, Jana!

Gannon Carr said...

Jana, your series sounds great! I can't wait to read The Demon Trapper's Daughter.

I do read some YA. I recently finished Shiverby Maggie Stiefvater and am now reading Linger, which is the second in the series. I also enjoy Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle series. And since I've heard nothing but amazing things about the Hunger Games series, I've added that to my list, too.

Jana Oliver said...

@Gannon - I recently read Brenna Yanoff's THE REPLACEMENT which I can only describe as Tim Burton for teens. It had a male protagonist which was a refreshing change.

I think I enjoyed HUNGER GAMES so much because it was a nice balance between emo and action. That's probably why I read so much urban fantasy.

Julia Smith said...

Your cover is dreamy!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Fedora! You sneaked that wily bird right out from under Anna's nose. Hahahah! Good for you!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Mornin' Jana! WELCOME to the Lair! Grins.

This book sounds wonderfully complex and so does the world you've created. I'm looking forward to reading it.

As to a fav YA series...hmmm....Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series is usually considered YA. I've liked the "How To Train Your Dragon" series, though as usual, they're nothing like the movie. :> I'm sure I'll think of others as the day goes on...

Nancy said...

Fedora, congrats on the bird! And yes, it is a great story. Riley is a cool kid who has to juggle a lot--including two pretty terrific guys.

Nancy said...

Hi, Anna--I love your new website!

Nancy said...

Jane, the dh is reading The Hunger Games trilogy now. He's read the first book and is about to start the second. He teaches children's lit, so he's trying to keep an eye on the trends.

The Demon Trapper's Daughter is also dark, but it has an upbeat ending.

Nancy said...

Hi, Donna--You know I don't read a lot of YA either, but that seems to be where some ground-breaking things are going on. Steampunk, for example, seems to be biggest in YA, though it's turning up in SFF now.

Nancy said...

Hi, Cath--This one _is_ a keeper, definitely.

Nancy said...

Hi, BJ--I used to pre-read for the boy, either the book or the author, and I looked at the anime he was buying before he bought it. Sometimes the series is edited for US television but the manga is not.

Nancy said...

Mariska, thanks for stopping by!

Marley Delarose, Author said...

Hi, Jana. Well of course I loved your first series. I also enjoyed Cate Tiernan's Sweep and her Immortal Beloved. I am so excited about your book finally making it to the shelves. What a great package.

I'd like to know more about how you came up with the world and HOW can the first book be easier? Did you pants it or did you plot it all out?

Nancy said...

Helen, Inara's book was great, wasn't it? Glad you stopped by.

Nancy said...

Gillian, isn't that a fabulous cover? (And it's red, in keeping with this month's Lair theme. *g*)

Nancy said...

Jana, you're welcome. I'm glad you could make it. And yes, I think you straddled the line nicely.

Nancy said...

Eilis, thanks for stopping by!

Nancy said...

Gannon, I'll have to recommend those books to the dh.

Nancy said...

Julia, thanks for stopping by!

Nancy said...

Marley, I agree with you--it's a great package!

Jana Oliver said...

@Marley ::waves:: I spent considerable time trying to think out what Atlanta would be like if the economy didn't revive (which it will). Then I had to create the demonic "history" and that of the trappers. Lots of hours of playing "what if?" in my head. Fortunately So it's an alternate Atlanta, though I used elements that exist in the real Atlanta: the donation meters they have for the homeless, the holes in Five Points. That way it felt more "real."

I'm a Fog Walker (pantster). I see the first scene, the last and there's nothing in the middle. I just write the story. I do an Excel spreadsheet after the first draft to break out scenes, time/day etc., but I can't outline or I kill my creativity.

Jana Oliver said...

My mistake: the author of REPLACEMENT's last name is Yovanoff. My bad.

Louisa Cornell said...

Yay, Fedora! You caught your own little demon today. Make him behave!

Hi Jana!

I have been looking for a YA series for my niece and I to read together and this sounds like a perfect fit. We read the Harry Potter and Twilight books together and it was fun to read and discuss the books with her.

That IS a fabulous cover and I love the setting - Atlanta - as I am a Southern girl.

I am also intrigued with your research of the lore of the fall of Lucifer from heaven. I have always been fascinated by it.

I love Kim Harrison's Urban fantasy series with the titles riffed from Clint Eastwood movies, i.e. The Outlaw Demon Wails, etc. They're snarky, gritty and fun with GREAT characters.

Nancy said...

Louisa, I like the Kim Harrison books, too. I taught the first one, Dead Witch Walking, and it was a big hit with the students.

Marley Delarose, Author said...

Oh, did you manage to work your love of chocolate into this book, lol. It made its appearance early in Sojourn.

Jana Oliver said...

@Louisa - my maiden name was Cornell! I really enjoy Kim Harrison's adult series. The research into Lucifer was really fascinating, to be honest. One character from a number of different perspectives, depending on time period and religion. One of the best books on the subject is The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots by T.J. Wray and Gregory Mobley.

petite said...

I am fascinated by this wonderful book. I have read YA which I enjoy greatly. Rebecca Maizel wrote a memorable book.

traveler said...

I am captivated with this book. YA has so many special and unique books which are amazing. A walk through a window was an experience.

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Jana! Thanks for swinging by the lair today! Your book sounds wonderful, & I think your journey to publication is so inspirational. I love that you put in the years of effort, made the most of the learning opportunities provided at every step & triumphed in the end with a three book deal at a major publisher! Good on you!

I'll be looking forward to picking up your work.

Anna Sugden said...

Welcome to the Lair, Jana, and congrats on your debut with St Martins! I loved your call story *g*.
Always good to hear of someone else slogging the slog to make it!

I'm not a big YA reader, but your book sounds fascinating - I love the battle between heaven and hell.

Nancy's right - the fun boundary-stretching is definitely happening in YA!

Wilda said...

This is an AWESOME giveaway! I've already red DTD and I absolutely LOVE it. The Demon Trapper's is now one of my fav series and I can't wait for the next book! It would be so awesome if I could add this package with my ARC and start a collection of Demon Trapper's merchandise.

Cath's Chatter said...

I've just ordered it from The Book Depository!!!!!

I love YA books by Richelle Mead, PC and Kristin Cast, Claudia Gray, Kimberly Derting, Aprilynn Pike, Cassandra Clare, etc etc etc etc!!!!!!!
and I'm sure I'm going to be adding Jana Oliver to that list ♥

jo robertson said...

Great interview! Welcome to the Lair, Jana. Your teen trilogy sounds interesting. I love those epic sorts of conflicts between good and evil.

While I don't enjoy straight contemporary YA, I do love the paranormal slant. Loved the Buffy series.

Jana Oliver said...

@traveler - YA has some really good books right now, whether you enjoy paranormal romance, edgy dystopian or contemporary. I'm so happy to see such a wide breadth of choices.

@Marley - always gotta have the chocolate in a book ;) except this time it doesn't cure time lag.

@Wilda Hi there! Thanks for kind comments. Maybe we can give away a wee demon down the line for your collection. (Just kidding!)

I like to tell folks about my "slog" (great word, Anna) because it gives new writers hope their day might come. It just takes persistence and the willingness to keep writing. Eventually lightning strikes. And from then on (as any pubbed author can tell you) the game changes.

Minna said...

This sounds like a great book!

BJ said...

Thanks for the heads up....no worries...she's 15 so I'm covered there....and I'm pretty sure if I tell her the rest she'll be begging me or her mom to order it for her!!!!!!

Nancy said...

Hi, Petite--thanks for stopping by!

Nancy said...

Traveler, thanks for popping in today!

Nancy said...

Wilda, I loved the book, too.

Nancy said...

Jo, I've read a fair amount of YA science fiction and fantasy and liked it, so this was right up my alley. Contemporary YA doesn't grab me as easily though I enjoy adult contemporaries.

Nancy said...

Minna, thanks for stopping in!

Danielle Gorman said...

This book looks really great. I definitely want to pick this one up. There are quite a few YA UF series that I like: The Immortal Instruments, Twilight Saga, Vampire Diaries, Den of Shadows, and Blood and Chocolate.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Wow, Jana and welcome to the Lair!

Your book looks very intriguing. I've only read a few Urban Fantasies, so I can't actually answer the question inregards to that, but if I go old school on you, Anne Of Green Gables was sort of a girl out on her own. She came to live at the Green Gables farm as an orphan and had to use her brain and wit to make a place for herself in the smalltown community.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

P.S. LOVE the cover!!

catslady said...

For me YA books started with Harry Potter, then Twilight and lastly The Hunger Games. They have made quite an impact and all have stayed with me. I look forward to another YA series that will take me away and stay with me - yours sounds wonderful. My teens are all grown now but that doesn't stop me from reading that category of book lol.

Nancy said...

Danielle, I haven't read any of those, but they sound interesting.

Nancy said...

Hi, Suz--That's a great cover, isn't it? The dh sometimes teaches Anne of Green Gables. There's a whole series of those books, isn't there?

Nancy said...

Catslady, we loved Harry Potter, too. We read a lot of YA science fiction and fantasy when the boy was small. We've gotten away from it in recent years, but I'm drifting back toward it.

Jana Oliver said...

Fortunately we're starting to see more YA with male protagonists. For a long time there (with exception of Harry Potter) it was all girls. Nothing wrong with that, but I like reading about a guy making the grade too.

@ Suzanne - Never read Anne of Green Gables. I need to check it out.

I had great "cover chi" (as a friend calls it) for both the US and UK covers. I just saw a prelim of the second UK one. It's the same way. Must keep those cover fairies happy, you know?

Arwen said...

Hey Jana,

Popping into say hello and give you a shout out :)

The Demontrappers Daughter is a great story with fabulous worldbuilding and a heroine who kicks demon butt. I'm partial to the little demons, who go around collecting shiny objects.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Aerrrgh! Sacrilege?! You've not read Anne? Grins.

Yes, Nancy, there's about 12 of the Anne books ranging from Anne of the Windy Poplars which is where she's off to learn to be a teacher, and Anne of the Island, to Anne's House of Dreams. I think that's the last one, where she marries Gilbert and he goes off to war. :>

Jana Oliver said...

@Arwen - Thanks!!

@Jeanne - Sounds like Anne should be something I will read. I like series.

Barbara Monajem said...

Wow. I read the first chapter. Simply amazing. I'm still hyperventilating!!

Jana Oliver said...

@Barbara - thanks! I do put Riley through her paces in this novel. And I'm really hard on her clothes, too (grin).

Suzanne Ferrell said...

errrgh! Sacrilege?! You've not read Anne? Grins.

Yes, Nancy, there's about 12 of the Anne books ranging from Anne of the Windy Poplars which is where she's off to learn to be a teacher, and Anne of the Island, to Anne's House of Dreams. I think that's the last one, where she marries Gilbert and he goes off to war.


OMG..you haven't read Anne's books? Okay, they were about a girl at the turn of the 20th century in rural Prince Edward Island, but still...You know there is a great movie done in the 1990's that could catch y'all up! :)

Pissenlit said...

Hiya Jana! The series and Riley sound really intriguing!

Some of my favourite stories about a kid out on his/her own are L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, L.A. Meyer's Bloody Jack series, Patrica C. Wrede's Mairelon the Magician/The Magician's Ward duology and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.

I read a good amount of urban fantasy so instead of listing a bazillion "favourites", I'll only mention Mark Del Franco's Connor Grey series and his Laura Blackstone series which I'm currently loving.

Pat Cochran said...

Hi, Jana, Welcome to the Lair!

Great call story! I've not been
much of a YA reader, but your
Demon Trapper series sounds very
interesting! Got to get copies
into my hot little hands soon!

Pat Cochran

Sheree said...

When I was a teen, I didn't read YA books so I'm making up for it now. :)

Yes, "The Hunger Games" is just like "Battle Royale" with fewer delinquents. I've been putting off "Mockinjay" for when the weather gets better.

The problem I have with some YA series is that, not being a teen, I have a lower tolerance threshold for teen angst. I've dropped otherwise interesting series because there was just too much teen angst (House of Night, for example). I may go back to read the Vampire Academy series now that the series is done.

I've never read any Anne of Green Gables books, either. Or any Judy Blume ones.

Beth Andrews said...

Welcome to the lair, Jana. Congrats on the release of The Demon Trapper's Daughter! Sounds like a fantastic read and I love the cover :-)

Thanks so much for being with us today *g*

Jana Oliver said...

@Pissenlit - I'm a Percy Jackson fan as well. And since I'm name dropping, Ilona Andrews writes a kick butt UF series named after the heroine (Kate Daniels). It's set in a truly dystopian Atlanta of 2040's and was one of the reasons I decided to try out an UF. And then there's Jim Butcher, of course.

@Sheree - I hear you about the teen angst. A little goes a long way.

@Beth - Thanks. It's been fun talking with you folks!

Pissenlit said...

@Jana - Yep, Ilona Andrews and Jim Butcher are both on my list of bazillion favourites. :)

Nancy said...

Hey, Arwen--Thanks for popping in!

Nancy said...

Jeanne--Anne marries Gilbert and he goes off to WAR?!

What the heck kind of HEA is THAT?

Nancy said...

Hi, Barbara--Thanks for stopping in!

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, I have the Magician's Ward duology and liked it a lot.

I also love the Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series.

Nancy said...

Hi, Pat--Nice to see you!

Nancy said...

Hi, Sheree--I also have a limited interest in teen angst. I tend to gravitate toward books that balance it with other things.

Jana Oliver said...

@Nancy "What the heck kind of HEA is that?"

LOL. The kind that demands a sequel, I suspect.

Nancy said...

Jana, I agree, that HEA needs a sequel. Too bad there isn't one.

Jana Oliver said...

@Nancy - We could write one. Gilbert returns from the war a broken man, Anne nurses him back to health and then runs off with the local pastor. Wait, that's not any more of an HEA than Gilbert off to the trenches. Hummm....

Nancy said...

Jana, LOL! No, I don't think that qualifies, either. *g*

donnas said...

I have to say Stand by Me (The Body). And the fact that I just watched the movie might influence that a bit.

Nancy said...

Donnas, I tend to think of the books and movies I've most recently seen, too. :-)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Now c'mon, you don't think LM Montgomery left them hanging do you? Ohhhh no. Gilbert and Anne have their HEA and a whole passle of kids too. Grins.

Nancy said...

Jeanne, how can they have their HEA if the book ends with him going off to war?

Margay said...

Jana, I just want to say that I've been seeing your book all over the internet and I can't wait to read it. I also wondered what your take was on the current trend toward writers self-publishing even if they have contracts with NY publishers (a la JA Konrath.)

Margay

Jana Oliver said...

Margay -
Sorry for the delay in answering your question! Last weekend was my big book signing.

I have no problems with authors e-pubbing their own works. The fundamental issue they'll face is "traction". Konrath has a huge following, most new authors don't. Unless they have some sort of fan base it's hard to build one from scratch. So where I think it's great new authors are giving e-pub a try, they have to know that it's going to be an uphill climb to get those sales. At least the cost is nowhere near as egregious as putting out a print book.