Welcome once again to Duck Chat!
Today Lisa Renee Jones is here to give us the scoop on her latest releases in her Knights of White series and just to have some fun with y’all! Lisa’s Silhouette Nocturne series started with The Beast Within back in 2007, followed by Beast of Desire and Beast of Darkness in 2008. May 1 saw the release of Captive of the Beast and Demon Seduction, which is a Nocturne Bite. And, of course, Lisa has a wonderful backlist of both print and ebooks published by Pocket, Berkley, Kensington, and Ellora’s Cave to choose for your reading pleasure. Lisa sold her staffing agency when she decided she wanted to follow her dream of becoming an author and she’s not looked back once. She currently lives in New York with her husband, who has had a big impact on her writing.
Be sure to ask Lisa a question or leave a meaningful comment – she’s going to be spending the day with us and she’s giving away five – FIVE! – copies of Captive of the Beast and one copy of Hard and Fast, a contemporary by Blaze.
Now without further adieu, let’s chat with Lisa!
DUCK CHAT: You have two releases in May, both part of your Knights of White series. Let’s talk about the series as a whole first. For our readers who aren’t familiar with the series, can you give us some background on it, where the idea came from and how it’s evolved since you started it?
LISA RENEE JONES: The entire Knights of White series is based upon the Texas Legend of Matamoros Monsters, aka Demons. You can find that legend at Knights of White website. I was taking a trip with my DH to Brownsville – he has a son in Mexico so we drove down to the border to pick him up. To get there we had to drive through King Ranch, which is miles and miles and miles long. This place is a small city. That ranch inspired the ranch that is the Knights’ home in the series. The legend, of course, is the Knights themselves. I’d already had a vague idea for the series but it was based on vampires. There were so many vampire stories out there, so when DH started telling me the story of the Matamoros Beasts/Monsters, I knew that was my series.
King Ranch is an amazing place with guided tours!
The main shift in this series since I began writing it has been in the growth of the heroes – they are gaining new powers and growing stronger. Which is a good thing because the main villain, Adrian, has decided rather than destroying humanity, he wants to take it over.
I won’t have any more Knight stories for quite some time because I’ve been writing the stories for my new Faith Winter pen name. But there will be more Knights!
DC: If you could retire any question and never, ever have it asked again, what would it be? Feel free to answer it.
LRJ: I don’t really have a question I want to retire. Of course, as a writer every time someone hears you are an author, they tell you they have always wanted to write book or they have tried. My DH and I just share a little smile at that. I hate the reaction to romance, though. Many times, men mostly, sneer at that. It’s very frustrating. I had a close male business associate from my corporate days that did this to me. Sometimes I wonder why sex and love are sneered at but murder and bloody brutality are thumbs up to these people.
DC: I’ve heard writers often say their stories take them in surprising directions, or dialogue flows from some unknown place. Is it the same with you? Do your characters surprise you sometimes?
LRJ: All the time. I just wrote a synopsis for my second Grand Central book and it was long and detailed. I believe the beginning will be exactly as planned. About halfway through. though, the characters led me places that impact plot and things shift. I find I go to bed at night and have no idea what is next and wake up knowing exactly where I am going.
DC: Captive of the Beast is the next Nocturne in the series, featuring Rhinehart and his heroine. Has it been difficult coming up with stories as you go along in the series? Tell us about Rhinehart’s story.
You know, amazingly with the Knights, it has not been difficult to come up with storylines. I think the reason for that is they are all ultimately about good vs evil. There is a message of faith in each story. The ideas themselves come easily because they feel like life to me. Life is all about an internal struggle with that concept. What is right and what is wrong? That is what each story ultimately comes down to. Will we be judged to have lived a good life? Forgiven our mistakes? Plotting to make the story interesting but tight enough to fit the Nocturne shorter word count has been a challenge. I absolutely loved writing my first Grand Central and having that extra 25k to work with.
The great thing about Captive is that Wolverine is out this month. I couldn’t believe the storyline when I went to the movie. It is SO like Captive! The similarities are amazing! An island. Mad military leader. Young kids with powers! WOW! Blew me away! Rinehart is my Wolverine in the book. Great movie too! Loved it! I can’t wait for Star Trek.
Yay! An excerpt from Captive of the Beast:
Dr. Laura Johnson had a secret. She was different, able to manipulate objects with her mind, able to read people’s emotions, and sense danger and tragedy before they became reality.
Her parents had always thought that hiding her abilities was for the best. They’d warned her that there were people who would be greedy and power hungry, people who would be enticed to misuse the power behind her secret. And now, fifteen years later, both her parents having passed on, she still remembered their words, understood them, lived the truth they held.
Hiding those abilities had become second nature. In fact, her research exposed her to others like herself, people with similar gifts, and still she remained silent. She knew it was the right choice. Pretending to be no different than everyone else around her was as much a part of each day as brushing her teeth and having morning coffee with her favorite vanilla creamer. Sometimes she even convinced herself it was true, that she was like everyone else.
Staring out the window of the government lab off the Texas coast where she’d been working the past two years, she watched the ocean crash against the rocks of the secluded island facility. It was eight in the morning, and she’d been up well before sunrise, unable to sleep. Every nerve ending in her body was raw, frazzled, and she didn’t know why. Her instincts screamed with warnings, with a promise of danger. With the promise of her secret exposed.
She struggled with why she was feeling such a thing. She had felt unease for a while now, ever since Captain Walch had taken over the island’s operations six months before. The man wasn’t a good person. Not even close. He’d use her patients for the wrong things with a snap of the fingers; in fact, several times now he’d hinted at the power that duplicating their skills could wield. But Walch wasn’t the cause of this uneasiness. Her instincts tingled with a warning like nothing she’d ever experienced before. The word malice leapt into her mind as if part of some warning system that her instincts had set off. And considering her instincts were uniquely accurate, she trusted them.
Behind her, the lab door opened and closed, and Laura turned to find her favorite patient, a firestarter named Kresley, walking toward her. With red hair several shades lighter than Laura’s dark auburn coloring, Kresley drew fast attention whenever she walked into a room. Her striking blue eyes and waiflike figure reminded Laura of a sea nymph from a fairy tale.
Kresley was the only patient Laura had brought with her to the island. Now a woman of twenty, the young girl had become close to Laura’s heart. After Kresley’s parents had turned away from her, treating her as if she were a freak, Laura had taken her into her home.
“What in the world are you doing up so early?” Laura asked, knowing how fitfully Kresley slept most nights.
Kresley smiled. “I had a bad dream last night.”
In her present state of unease, Laura wouldn’t have thought she could laugh, but she did. “Most people don’t smile over a bad dream, you know, but since the alarms in your room didn’t go off, I assume that can mean only one thing.”
“Yep,” Kresley said, nodding. “I had a nightmare and didn’t start a fire. I’m controlling my power even in my sleep.”
“Wonderful!” Laura said. She moved forward and hugged Kresley, pleased she’d called her firestarting ability a power rather than a curse, as she often did. Maybe it was hypocritical, considering how she felt about her own abilities, but Laura had grown up with something that had given her the confidence these kids didn’ t have— parents who loved her, parents who made sure she knew she mattered and, although she had to be secretive about her powers, she was special to them.
While working for the University of Texas, Laura had discovered the genetic marker that created certain people’s gifts, or powers. Once that discovery had been published, she’d been invited to the island to help a group of people with problems similar to Kresley’s— they couldn’t control their powers. And now, two years later, Laura had finally found the missing piece of the puzzle and created a retrovirus correction. Thankfully, it appeared to be working.
Laura had inherited four other patients when she’d come to the island, all kept locked away like animals. They were prisoners because they lacked control over their gifts. She suspected they would all love a little trip off the island.
She was starting to tell Kresley this wish when the door opened, and Captain Walch appeared in the entryway. Tall, with a muscular build and dark hair, Walch wore stiffly pressed, army-green dress pants and a white button-down shirt sturdy enough to display medals. His dark hair was cut short, his cheekbones were high and sharp, his nose long and pointed. As usual, his face was emotionless, even militant. Except for his eyes—they raked over Laura with a lusty inspection.
His gaze narrowed on Kresley and then refocused on Laura. “We need to talk,” he said.
Obviously he wasn’t keen on small talk on Kresley’s behalf. Not that he ever was. “Alone,” he added.
Laura turned to Kresley. “I’ll meet you in the coffee shop in a few minutes.”
Kresley hesitated, protectiveness flashing in her blue eyes. The two of them were close, and Kresley knew how much Laura hated being alone with Walch. “It’s okay,” Laura assured her. “I’ll only be a few minutes.” Kresley nodded and headed for the door, never glancing at Walch again.
Laura crossed her arms in front of her body, wishing for her lab coat—anything to cover her black dress. Not that the simple shell of a dress was anything but conservative, but Walch had a way of making her feel naked.
The door shut behind Kresley before either of them spoke. “You seem edgy, Laura,” Walch commented. “Something on your mind?”
Laura felt more than edgy—she felt defensive for no good reason. “Actually, yes,” she said, forcing herself to seize the opportunity. She knew Walch: he’d make whatever point he had come there to make and then dart away. She needed to be aggressive. “I think it’s time to test the patients’ control. A trip off the island would allow me to see how they respond to real-world stimulations.”
His response came fast—too fast, in fact. “You’re feeling good about your progress, then?”
Why did this feel like a trick question? “It’s moving along well,” she agreed cautiously, “but they still need regular injections to maintain the corrections I’ve made.”
“There won’t be a trip right now. Not anytime soon, for that matter. I have a team of researchers joining you later this week. They’ve shown me enough documentation to convince me they can clone your patients’ gifts in others. As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, the military finds this concept intriguing. More than intriguing—it’s an absolute necessity. This will happen. We expect it to happen.”
She drew in a surprised breath. Visitors? A research team? No wonder she was on edge. “I didn’t sign up for this. That’s not what I’m here for.”
He seemed unaffected by her response, in fact, was prepared for it. “If you want to continue receiving the funding and resources to complete your work, you’ll make this happen.”
“Is that a threat?” she demanded.
“Call it what you want, but we both know this is the next logical step in your work. We need to do this before someone else does. Our men must be the most deadly, the most well equipped.”
“By creating weapons of war,” she said. “I won’t do it. I came to help these people, not to fight wars. That’s your job, not mine.”
“You came here because you wanted our money and resources. You have all the resources you could dream of here and a chance to be a part of changing the world. Fix them while you help us. Think about what the next step in your research can mean to the future. It’s not about creating war—it’s about eliminating it.” His expression turned intense, emotion actually evident for once—emotion laced with hunger and greed. “When one opponent is the strongest, the others don’t fight. They don’t dare. You will be creating peace.”
She stared at him, swallowing hard. He was different from before. Darker. Evil seemed to cling to him, a second skin. She could feel it, primal, potent.
She had to get off this island. She would come back for her patients, but if she didn’t leave they might all be stuck here. Despite her fears, her voice was low but firm. “I’ve overstayed my welcome here. I want to go home.” He took a step toward her. Instinctively, she backed up. Already close to the window, her heels hit the baseboard. Her hands went to her sides, pressing against the ceiling-to-floor glass panels behind her.
“You have a job to do, and I suggest you accept that,” he said. He stood so close to her that the toes of his shoes were almost touching her sandals. “You will welcome your new research team with open arms, and you will eagerly aid their efforts.” He paused, his eyes lowering to her lips, lingering there before lifting. “And you will do so because it’s in the best interests of both you and your patients.”
“What does that mean?” she asked, fear fluttering in her stomach. It was fear for her patients, and fear because there was more going on here than she understood and she wished she knew what.
“It means that you are being monitored, Laura. You always have been. Anything you do that might interfere with our goals will be penalized. If you value the safety of your patients, then I’d stay on task.” He leaned in, his body far too near, his mouth brushing her earlobe. “And remember…I’ll be close.” He eased back and looked into her eyes. “And I’ll be watching.”
For the first time since she was a teen, Laura fought the rise of her powers, fought the desire to use them against this man. No… Beast. The word came to her clearly. He was a power-hungry Beast. Her adrenaline raged, her nerve endings stood on end. With effort she reined in the rush of energy, drew in a discreet, calming breath.
“Fine,” she said. “I’ll do it. I’ll help clone the marker.”
He smiled, evil. “That’s my girl.” His finger ran down her cheek, and she shivered with repulsion. A second later, he stepped away from her, and Laura felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. “Your new research team will be here Friday morning,” he said. “I trust you’ll be ready for them.”
She glared at him, not agreeing, not daring to disagree. She couldn’t say or do anything until she knew what her next step would be. But as he exited the room, giving her one more lust-filled look over his shoulder, she knew one thing for certain. She had no intention of doing what he demanded. Somehow, some way, she was going to get off this island, and she was taking her patients with her. Their own powers were resources they themselves could put to use for escape if it came down to it. But she’d need to stockpile their medication first and plan carefully.
Then, they were out of here. One way or another, they were getting off this island.
Rinehart stepped onto the sandy beach of his island destination, after a long night on a boat spent, in part, blindfolded. Behind him several military police officers followed, one of them informing him their ride would be there shortly.
Only these soldiers weren’t men. Not anymore. They were Beasts in human disguises. Beasts that reeked of evil. The hardest part of the trip had been not killing them. No. That wasn’t true. The hardest part was thinking about his past, about the time he’d spent in the military and then the FBI. About the night he’d led his men on a mission deep into Mexico, his mind distracted by personal matters, by a woman, to be exact—a matter that should have been left at home. His team had fallen that night, ambushed by Beasts. He’d failed his men and his country. Why Salvador had saved him, converted him to a Knight of White, he didn’t know. Still didn’t. But when he’d finally pulled himself out of the self-hatred that day had created, he’d vowed to both himself and Salvador he would never fail the Knights.
Max, Rock, Des and their newest Knight, Lucan, joined him on the beachfront, reminding him of that vow. He had a damn good team who had worked miracles to get them here today. “My skin is crawling from being so near those bastards,” Des murmured under his breath, touching the arrowhead necklace he wore around his neck as a reminder of his Native American mother. Something he did often in troubled times.
“I hear ya, man,” Rinehart said. “We can’t get this job done fast enough to suit me.”
Rock came up on the other side of Rinehart. Like the rest of them, he wore khakis and a collar shirt. Gone was his standard attire of jeans, T-shirt and cowboy hat. But the more conservative clothing did nothing to contain his impetuous youth. “Remind me why I can’t take their heads right now,” he said.
Rinehart shook his head; that statement spoke worlds about why Rinehart kept Rock attached to his hip. If anyone were going to beat Rock’s ass, it would be him. “You gotta learn some patience, kid,” Max said, joining them, egging on Rock with the kid reference. They all knew he hated it.
DC: Do you ever argue with your characters while you’re writing? Who usually wins?
LRJ: No, but sometimes they seem to know more than me. I’ll hit a spot where they just won’t talk to me and I can’t make word count. I always know I am going the wrong direction and that is the hold up. It’s frustrating, but, once the words come again, I always understand why I was stalled.
DC: What is sure to distract you from sitting down and working/writing?
LRJ: A new DVD of Brothers and Sisters. I am currently obsessed with that show. I love Rob Lowe. I try to stick to only watching while on my exercise bike, but it’s better to think about my story than watch the DVD.
DC: You also have a Nocturne Bite, Demon Seduction, that released the same day as Captive of the Beast. This is also a Knights of White book. Please tell us about Marcus and his story.
LRJ: Marcus is a long lost, dark Knight who was born with magic. Without his mate he is fast turning into a demon. But his magic is needed to destroy a dangerous Sorcerer joining forces with the demon world. Black magic will tempt him, though. One woman will save him.
Blurb for Demon Seduction:
As a human, he was bitten by a demon, his soul stripped. As a demon, he was saved by an Angel, his soul returned to join the elite demon fighters, The Knights of White. Born into the gift of magic, Marcus Alexander is a rare breed of Knight of White, centuries old, the stain of that demon bite like acid eating away the good in his soul, leaving nothing but evil—his only salvation the elusive perfect soul mate. He is deadly to the demon world, able to kill them with far more than a sword, his magic immense, his ability growing stronger—and darker. Fearful of the day he will turn on his fellow Knights, he long ago sought solitude, vowing to destroy as many demons as he could before seeking death to save his soul. Now he is ‘The Destroyer’—alone—evil hunting evil.
Cathy Baker is a member of the Knights of White, a rare human, who like Marcus, is gifted with magic, and enlisted in the fight against the underworld. Bravely, she will face a powerful sorcerer intent on merging his magic with that of the master of the demons. But she is no match for the black magic she is facing and soon finds herself near death, in the care of the legendary ‘Destroyer’. Cathy soon learns that Marcus has a rare grasp and control over black magic, but he is so near the darkness, is susceptible to the black magic the enemy is using against him. Now, Cathy must pull him back into the light, save his soul and her own in the process—before the enemy destroys humanity.
DC: How do you feel your male or female characters have evolved over your career? Do you think you write them differently now than you did when you started?
LRJ: I started out writing straight contemporary with a light voice. I have a Blaze coming out in December – a fun, light story that is back to my roots. I LOVED writing that story and hope to do more like it VERY soon. The story is Santa Baby and my heroine gets into a lot of mishaps despite being a well pulled together career woman. She is funny and down to earth. Her hero is a rich Clooney kind of guy who is swept off his feet quite unexpectedly. No demon lurking beneath his surface. Just a real man who learns to love. I enjoyed the departure from the dark side. I love the chance to switch between genres. It keeps things fresh for me.
DC: Is there a genre you haven’t tackled but would like to try?
LRJ: I write across genres so no, not really. I do have an Urban Fantasy proposal (which is new to me) I am working on with a male lead that will be under a new pen name. I love this idea and can’t wait to get it ready to present. It’s been a time issue more than anything holding me back.
LRJ: This was such a fun story/book to write. It’s very Brothers and Sisters in tone. Yes, I’m obsessed with that show! The stories are linked by the family connection as everyone comes home for Christmas and craziness erupts, but there is a sexy romance for each novella as well. VERY SEXY. We also have a family story that starts with novella one, which is mine, and progresses with each novella. This family story impacts each character/story and ties each novella together. I think it’s very unique that way. I love my hero and his brothers in this story and my heroine is a lawyer turned best selling author with writer’s block.
DC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
LRJ: To follow my dreams. I let years go by where I lived 80-hour weeks and high stress was the norm. Success convinced me my dreams were about success not substance.
DC: If you had never become an author, what do you think you would be doing right now?
LRJ: I was a corporate executive. I owned a large staffing agency in three states. I am so much happier now.
DC: What’s your favorite book?
LRJ: Too many to list! I have so many I adore for so many different reasons and I read across genres. Loving the Moning Urban Fantasy series right now.
DC: What else is on the horizon for Lisa Renee Jones?
LRJ: I have a new pen name as Faith Winter for Grand Central – The series is the ‘RENEGADE’ series and the first two books are Sinful Pleasures and Sinful Desires. This is about a group of Super Soldiers created from Area 51 experiments and split between good and evil. The first book is May 2010. I will have a website up soon at faith-winter.com
– dark or milk chocolate? — Anything chocolate does me quite perfectly!
– smooth or chunky peanut butter? –Chunky on a bagel
– heels or flats? — I spent so many years in heels running through airports, so give me my flats!
– coffee or tea? — white mocha Starbucks – I’m addicted – I need intervention
– summer or winter? — Having left Texas for New York, that is a debate I am still trying to work through. I love the beautiful snow but the cold is an adjustment. Still, I hated getting in my car in Texas and needing a towel to touch the steering wheel!
– mountains or beach? — Both! I love them both. And now I live by the beach. I laugh when I go to a store and there are seagulls in the parking lot. It reminds me I am minutes from the beach and need to get out of the house!
– mustard or mayonnaise? — Mustard – mayo is WAY too fattening. I save my calories for chocolate and white mochas. You know, stuff with substance.
– flowers or candy? — I can look out my window and see amazing flowers in Long Island—it’s beautiful. So I’ll take the chocolate.
– pockets or purse? — Purse for sure! I’m very girly. I like purse and pink. I think I like pink because of my conservative work days where black was a staple.
– Pepsi or Coke? — Green tea but I’d take Coke over Pepsi. I just don’t drink soda.
– ebook or print? — Print or audio. Loving audio! So great for housework, jogging, driving!
Because we just like these questions:
1. What is your favorite word? — Love
2. What is your least favorite word? — Hate
3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? — My family
4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? — The internet distraction
5. What sound or noise do you love? — Ocean waves
6. What sound or noise do you hate? — The law people who always show up while I am in deep concentration like NOW!
7. What is your favorite curse word? — You can’t live in New York without the word FOCK becoming familiar in a laughable way!
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? — Been there, done that. Stick with where I am now.
9. What profession would you not like to do? — What I already did – corporate executive
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? — “Relax PLEASE!”
DC: Thank you, Lisa, for spending the day with us. It was a pleasure!