This is a repost of author N.D. Jones' interview with Kimberly Ranee Hicks of the Mello & June It's a Book Thang blog.
I was first introduced to your Death and Destiny books Of Fear and Faith and Of Beasts and Bonds. Recently, I read your latest title Bound Souls, tell the readers why Bound Souls is a bit of a change for you?
This is a really good question, for two reasons. One, the Forever Yours series, of whichBound Souls is the first book, is different in a couple of ways from the Death and Destiny trilogy. Two, because of the differences, I was uncertain as to the reception of the book by fans of my paranormal romance stories. For one, Bound Souls is a science fiction romance novel that takes place hundreds of years into the future and on a different planet. With this novel, there is a great deal that’s new to readers because of the foreign locale—culture, people, and spiritual beliefs. Bound Souls is also more somber and emotionally reflective in its tone than my paranormal romance novels. And, because of that, less sexually explicit. The love scenes in Bound Souls are about soul connections not simply the heady, physical bliss of being joined with another. This novel is also a woman’s journey to find and reclaim self after a deep, personal loss. It’s truly adult in its themes of love, loss, and life. It’s about the hereafter as much as it is about the past and present, about faith and purpose, as well as truth and forgiveness.
One thing that is tried and true for any author, the more you write, the more exposure you get, the better you become as a writer. How do you feel your writing has changed?
Well, I believe I have a better grasp of the mechanics of creative writing, which is different from the academic papers I’m used to writing. My writing is less stilted, the flow more organic and natural. My stories are also more deeply plotted and thoroughly explored than they were when I first began writing. While I love my novellas, I now see many places where I could’ve dug deeper and written more, filling in gaps instead of moving on to the next plot point. Such a perspective also speaks to a different level of confidence, one in which I know I’m now capable of crafting engaging full-length novels, not just novellas and short stories.
Your writing style falls under paranormal romance. What sets your novels apart from other paranormal authors?
In general, my novels focus on characters from the African diaspora, African American culture, and African mythology, particularly in the Death and Destiny trilogy. The characters in those books could not be swapped out with another racial group without disrupting the entire series. I think it’s important to present novels with African/African American characters and culture as the core—a positive, culture-affirming and character rich core.
I saw these images on Pinterest and they get to the heart of why I love writing about “Black love” in my novels.
How do you get in the mindset to write your novels?
If I have a decent idea for a chapter, even a section of a chapter, I can write. But I have to have a major idea before I can sit down with my laptop to churn something out. For example, I had a big idea of how I wanted to begin my next novel. But the big idea wasn’t enough for me to begin writing. So I spent several days researching my big idea, taking notes on mythical places, gods and their powers. Slowly, the big idea narrowed to small, manageable details from which I could work. Once I had a few concrete but major details, I was able to focus on writing the prologue, filling in other pieces of the puzzle as I went.
What authors do you enjoy reading when you’re not working on your own books?
I enjoy books by Cynthia Eden, Laurell K. Hamilton, Nalini Singh, and Jeaniene Frost. But I haven’t read them lately. Instead, I spend the rare free time I have to read with books by independent authors, such as Gisele Walko, Dariel Raye, Xyla Turner, and Janice Ross.
What other talents do you possess besides writing?
Right now, I feel as if my biggest talent is juggling. Do I even need to explain that one? I know I don’t because many of us know how it feels to have so many balls in the air that we feel like a performer in a three-ring circus.
But I also have a talent for public speaking and presenting, as well as teaching and working with adults and teenagers in an education setting.
Being a writer, you bare your soul to the world. How do you deal with those readers who just wasn’t “feeling” what you wrote?
I’ve read that authors need to have thick skin to deal with negative reviews. I believe that’s true. It doesn’t feel good to receive a less than stellar review. But the truth is that, no matter how wonderful I think my novels are, every reader will simply not agree. More, every novel is not for every reader and every book I’ve written isn’t flawless and without room for improvement. There’s always room for growth, for refining my craft, which I take seriously. Some reviews are quite constructive in their feedback, which I appreciate and take into consideration when working on a new project. Even five star reviews don’t mean there’s no room to improve with the next novel. And just because a reader wasn’t “feeling” my novel, that doesn’t mean the next reader won’t have a great reading experience. It’s difficult to keep that truth in perspective because it’s all too easy to obsess over what someone didn’t like.
I understand you have a publishing company. Can you tell us a little bit about it, and how do aspiring authors go about contacting it?
I began Kuumba Publishing when I decided to publish my own books. Kuumba is a Swahili word that means creativity. Kuumba is also the Sixth Principle of Kwanzaa, an African American cultural holiday created by Maulana Karenga in 1966. The principle of Kuumba encourages people “to do always as much as [they] can in the way that [they] can in order to leave [their] community more beautiful and beneficial than when [they] inherited it. (Karenga, 1988).” Thus, I created Kuumba Publishing as a forum for creativity in its various expressions, with a special commitment to promoting and encouraging creative works of authors and artists of African descent. An author interested in publishing through KP can fill out the contact form here. I’m currently brainstorming ideas for KP’s first multi-author anthology. But that’s a project for 2018.
I may have asked you this before, but one of the things I absolutely love about your books is that they feature African-Americans, and more so, the extravagant love scenes are just hypnotic. How do you prepare yourself for writing them?
Where would a romance novel be without love scenes? I enjoy reading them as much as I take pride in writing an emotionally-driven and sexy scene. To prepare to write a love scene, I think about the relationship between the hero and heroine, the stage they are in their relationship, their characteristics, and the plot. I like for my love scenes to reflect the characters and what is going on between them at that point in the novel or in their relationship. Love scenes are great opportunities to highlight character and relationship growth, which is how I often use such scenes. Normally, the first love scene in the novel is not the same as the last love scene between the hero and heroine. And I’m not talking position and place, although I make sure to mix those up throughout the novel. No, I’m referencing the emotional bond between the two. That’s what makes love scenes different when I plan them, the depth of the care and love between the heroine and hero of paramount importance.
When N.D. isn’t hard at work writing for her audience, what do you enjoy doing for fun?
Fun? Yeah, I need more time for fun. But I’m pretty simple. I like to spend time with my family, trying new restaurants, going to the movies, or taking in a concert. In fact, I just purchased tickets for I Want My Vagina Back. I plan to take my mother-in-law to the performance in May. I love the title. For a woman, that title could mean so many different things, depending on her experience and perspective. I also enjoy playing video games with my children. I will tell you, over the Christmas break, I bought Crimes Against Humanity. If you haven’t played the game before and don’t mind a bit of off-color humor, then you may want to give this game a try. It’s literally laugh out loud funny. I love this game so much I added a line about it in my upcoming novel—a wink and a nod to fellow lovers of the game.
What do you find most difficult in the literary world?
I can answer that question in two words–marketing and promotion. They are necessary evils, although I’ve gotten better at both. I’m participating in more cross-promotions, which allows me to work with other independent authors, learning from and collaborating with them in mutually beneficial events.
Your writing is very sincere and deep. I love the backstories you give regarding the planets your characters are from and what it is they are trying to accomplish. If you could be one of your characters, who would it be and why?
For “Bound Souls”, this is truly a difficult question because happiness and heartache are twin souls in the novel, unavoidable fates of life and death. But, if I had to choose, it would be Regent Lela. She experiences hardships and pain, but she perseveres, even when it’s difficult to move on and be brave. She is also deeply loved and respected by many. That, in and of itself, is a blessing beyond measure.
What’s next for N.D. Jones?
I’m working on the third and final book in my Death and Destiny paranormal romance trilogy. It promises magic, love, and answers to the prophecy of the cat and fire witch of legend. I’ve written only the first six chapters, but my goal is to publish the novel by year’s end.
Since I’ve read your books and have become a fan, I can’t possibly end our interview without a little football banter. For those of you who aren’t aware, N.D. is from Baltimore, Maryland, and I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So, we all know how the 2016 football season ended, with my Steelers getting close to the Superbowl, but not quite (aw shucks!). So N.D. here’s your chance! What are your thoughts as to the 2017 season? Whatcha think the Ravens gonna do? Ok, I’m bracing myself for your answer. (chuckle!!!)
And the interview was going so well. You really know how to ruin the mood. I can barely stomach to watch my team play. The level of angst and frustration I experience saps all of the fun out of watching their football games. They are not a pretty team to watch and enjoy. They are, in fact, quite ugly in their scoring, offensive play, and stamina. They are not a comeback team, but neither are they a team that can maintain a lead. I’m already frustrated and the season hasn’t even begun. So what are my thoughts about the upcoming football season? They began last season very well, then petered out halfway through before picking up a bit of steam again before blowing it at the end. So much potential, so many talents on both sides of the ball yet not a real division threat or Playoff contender, when it’s all said and done. But this is the thing, Baltimore and Maryland love the Ravens, and we support them, although with much grumbling and disappointment, when they lose. We wear purple and black with pride and appreciate the players and coaches. And each season is a new season, bringing dreams aplenty and hope eternal. So, in the words of Edgar Allen Poe, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” The Raven
So there you have it, folks! ND is truly a wonderful lady, gifted writer and has one hell of a sense of humor. She just had to end our interview with that zinger from The Raven. ahahahahaah, no matter, I truly love and respect this woman! It’s been an absolute pleasure to read her work and to get to know her on a personal level. I certainly hope you enjoyed Author ND Jones’ interview. There are links embedded in the post above, so make sure you click away and check her out. You’re in for a very special treat. Her writing is very climatic and takes your mind to galaxies beyond. The giveaway is listed below. Make sure you take full advantage of it. From everyone here at Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang! we like to thank ND for stopping by and for surprising us with this great exclusive. We had no idea she was doing that until our interview started. Thank you so much! Happy Reading, Intellectual Minds!
To enter the giveaway and read the entire interview (including an exclusive excerpt from N.D.'s next release), click here.