Author J.J. Bonds dishes on why vamps are awesomesauce, her latest Crossroads Academy novel, and the possibility of a spin-off series.
Hi Jessica & Lisa!
Thank you so much for letting me stop by Simply Infatuated today! Although I now find myself craving a day at the shore, I love doing interviews and get really excited to chat about books (any book really!) with other book lovers.
We’re so excited to have you! We always love a good book chat!
Now, Red Dawn is the second book in the Crossroads Academy series. Can you tell us a little about it?
In Red Dawn, Katia returns to Crossroads Academy for her second year at the prestigious boarding school. And while she’s planning for an uneventful year hanging with her best friend Shaye and swooning over her sometimes tormentor crush Nikolai, it doesn’t take long for things to take a turn for the unexpected.
Katia’s not exactly great at fitting in or taking orders and while she’s learning to control her temper, she’s still a ‘punch first, ask questions later’ kind of vamp. I think readers will be pleased with the faster pace of Red Dawn, the non-stop action, and the developing relationships. Oh, did I say relationships? That’s right, Nik will play a much larger role in Red Dawn and yes, he’s as sexy and sarcastic as ever.
Kicking butt and potential kissing? Yes, please! Are vampires your favorite paranormal creature?
Vampires are without a doubt my favorite paranormal creature! I can’t think of a more prolific choice. Not only do they span time (Bram Stoker to LJ Smith) and age (YA to Twi-Moms), vampires seem to have an endless supply of mythology. Vamps can be ferocious or swoon worthy, born or made, dead or alive, spontaneously-combustible creatures of the night or day-walking high school students. Pick your poison. There’s something for everyone!
What was your favorite Red Dawn scene to write?
Do I have to pick just one?!? Okay. Let me think. I usually LOVE writing action scenes, but things at Crossroads are getting a little steamy this year, so I have to say that I really enjoyed the opportunity to write about a different kind of action, if you know what I mean. I got a lot of feedback from readers who were dying (not literally, at least I don’t think) to know what was going to happen with Nik and Katia and if they would be taking their love/hate relationship to the next level. So the scene I most enjoyed writing? Nik and Katia’s first sparring session in Chapter Four. After all, there’s nothing better for building some heat than a little roll on the mat.
Do you listen to music while you write? What are some of the songs that helped inspire Red Dawn?
Do I listen to music? It depends on the day, the weather, and if my daughter is napping! 😉 When I’m writing, I tend to go old school and listen to bands I enjoyed growing up (Green Day, Bush, Smashing Pumpkins). It helps me tap into my younger, more angsty self– you know, the inner teen version who acts first and apologizes later. The problem is that I get distracted and start singing along. That’s when I have to switch it up and stream classical music. No words = no distractions.
I also like classic rock, so if I had to choose a theme song for the Crossroads series, a song that really gets me in the mindset of the protag, Katia, it would definitely be Hell’s Bells!
Which character was the hardest to write?
This is going to sound a little crazy, but the most difficult character to write in Red Dawn was Katia, the protag. (I told you it would sound crazy, but hear me out.) In book one, Crossroads, Katia emerged as a strong willed, razor-sharp character that refused to let anyone get too close. You know the type: love’em or hate’em. And believe me, there were fans that went both ways at times.
But as Katia opens up, I wanted readers to see that she has a big heart (albeit well hidden at times) and that she is a fiercely loyal vamp whose hard as nails exterior is the product of her past. When writing Red Dawn, Katia had to grow as a young adult and a vamp, but I also wanted to make sure I stayed true to her character. It required a lot balance and objectivity, but in the end, I think readers will be pleased.
We are loving the beautiful cover! Who designed it?
It is a lovely cover, isn’t it? I had a complete fan girl moment the first time I saw it. (I think I can say that because I’m going to shamelessly plug my designer now!) All of my design work (book covers, swag, website… the whole shebang!) is done by Rachel Rivera of Parajunkee Design. She is an extremely talented woman and is so much fun to work with! Rachel can take one tiny little idea and turn it into something absolutely amazing! Really, I don’t know what I’d do without her!
Have you mapped out how many books the series will have?
Crossroads Academy is planned as a trilogy, but just between us? I’m toying with the idea of a spinoff. There’s a new creature in Red Dawn that I’d love to develop more fully and whom I think will pique readers’ imaginations as it did mine.
What about mapping out your novels? Do you prefer to plot out a story or wait and see where the characters lead you?
You might say I’m a plotter, but I like to think of myself as a daydreamer. I’m a really visual person so I spend a lot of time lost in my head imagining the setting, who the characters are, and how the story will play out. I really admire authors who fly by the seat of their pants, but I like to have everything outlined before I start writing. It helps me stay on track and ensures that the story has depth and focus. That said, there are times when the characters take on a life of their own and highjack the plot line. I suspect it’s inevitable and I’m sure it makes the story that much better!
What books are in your to-read pile?
At the top of my ‘Must acquire or die trying’ list:
Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout – Everything she writes is awesomesauce!
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – A debut that may just make a fantasy reader of me yet.
Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater – Zombies? Oh, yeah. It’s a must read for sure.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
If I could have a super power? We should probably get to know one another better, because my husband would tell you that my uncanny ability to talk for extended periods of time without stopping for breath qualifies. But really? I’d love to have psychokinetic powers. How awesome would it be to have the ability to move things with my mind, teleport, and create force fields? Need I say more?
Thanks again for the interview and the feature on Simply Infatuated! I hope your readers learned a little about the Crossroads Academy series, a little about me, and maybe found a new book for the TBR list (even if it’s not one of mine)!
About Red Dawn
Katia’s done running. She’s fought fiercely to protect her identity, her secrets, and those she loves most. And while it hasn’t been easy, she’s finally making peace with the past. Katia’s even looking forward to the start of a new school year at Crossroads Academy.
Too bad things at Crossroads are going to be a little different this fall. There are new rules, new students, and new relationships. Katia quickly discovers that navigating the halls of Crossroads is as complicated as ever.
When a friend’s life is at stake, Katia will be forced to choose between the safety of Crossroads and an enemy more dangerous than any she’s ever faced. Will Katia have the courage to risk it all -including her life- for a friend?
Find Red Dawn
Find the Crossroads Academy Series
About J.J. Bonds
J.J. Bonds is an independent author who writes Young Adult Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy. Her debut novel, Crossroads, was released in fall of 2011. It is the first in the Crossroads Academy series. J.J. lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania where her love of all things paranormal keeps life interesting. She lives with her husband, daughter, and two rambunctious dogs.