From the raging fires, five men emerge with extraordinary new powers. They are humankind's last hope ... but they cannot survive this dark, ravaged world alone...
How's that for an introduction to a new paranormal series? Would that entice you into reading on? It certainly hooked me.
Thanks to recommendations made by Nalini Singh and the Book Binge blog site, I discovered a fantastic, new-to-me, paranormal author, Joss Ware.
*SPOILER ALERT* - I'll try not too give away to many specific details in relation to this series but for the comments and interview to make sense there will be references to characters and scenes within the series. There's also a giveaway at the end of the interview, so read on!
In Joss's own words, her Envy Chronicles series is "...an action-adventure romance series set in a devastated world that feels a bit like I AM LEGEND, with the essence of LOST and a paranormal component reminiscent of HEROES."
I'd also throw in a few elements scrounged from the post-apocalyptic classics of MAD MAX:BEYOND THUNDERDOME the movie, The Postman by David Brin, The Stand by Stephen King and the JERICHO tv series. (I'll let Joss tell you more about her series shortly!)
An exciting combination, eh? Tempted? Well, you should be! But if you need further convincing, then perhaps today's interview with Joss will intrigue you enough to read her books. I doubt you'll regret it because each of The Envy Chronicles have a powerful story to share, and all set in a complex, intriguing futuristic world that seems familiar but isn't.
Hi, Joss, it's great to have you here - thanks for agreeing to be interviewed!
It’s my pleasure, Kylie. And congrats on your GH final!! Best of luck in Orlando!
Thanks, Joss - I'm very exciting. I hope I get the chance to meet you in Orlando.
So, who is Joss Ware? Do you write outside the futuristic romance genre?
Joss Ware is also Colleen Gleason, and we both write totally different things. As Joss, I write the post-apocalyptic paranormal romance series called The Envy Chronicles, and as Colleen, I write historical vampire romances.
The Gardella Vampire Chronicles are about a female vampire hunter who lives during the time of Jane Austen, and they are like historical urban fantasy. The series is complete at five books. But next year, I have a new series of historical vampire romances coming out and they are more like J.R. Ward meets Jane Austen—sexy, brooding vampires who inundate the ton.
For the uninitiated, can you tell us a bit about The Envy Chronicles series?
The Envy Chronicles are a paranormal romance series set in post-apocalyptic Las Vegas. Fifty years after cataclysmic events destroyed the human race, our infrastructure, and most of our buildings, five men emerge from a cave to find that everything they knew was gone.
What had started out as a weekend caving trip in Sedona, AZ, turned out to be a travel through time or some other inexplicable event that froze them in time for fifty years.
Now these five men have to figure out how to live in this strange new world with villainous immortals, zombies, and their own paranormal powers.
When you first touched upon the idea for this series what came first – setting, characters, plot etc.? Which characters evolved first – the heroes, heroines, the Elite, the gangas, bounty hunters, the Waxnicki brothers?
The series started for me with: what happened to destroy the earth? And then immediately following that was, I don’t want to write a romance series set during the apocalyptic events, because that would be just too dark. And who would believe in true love and happily ever after if it happened then?
So I decided that I had to have the stories take place long after the catastrophe, and set it fifty years in the future. But then I also wanted to have the main characters be completely familiar with our world as it is today….so, I decided that a paranormal element was in order and that my guys would have been cryogenically frozen or somehow suspended in time for those fifty years.
Once I decided those elements, the details started to fall into place.
Your world building is riveting. You’ve woven in the mythology of Atlantis (with a twist), familiar technology, the creepy gangas, geographical/environmental world changes, weaponry, haunting snippets from journals, paranormal powers and slang language.
What sort of research did you do on these elements? Which did you find the most interesting? Is there knowledge about this world you’ve yet to reveal to readers in future books?
I spend a lot of time researching what and how the earth would be like, fifty years after the sort of events that happened during what’s called The Change. I read books like “The World Without Us” and watched TV shows about “Life After People”, etc.
I found it fascinating to learn just how tenacious Mother Nature is, and how the world would be…not brown and desiccated like we often thing of post-apocalyptic worlds (aka, Mad Max), but that it would be lush and green and that most man-made stuff simply doesn’t stand up to Mother Nature over time.
Where or how did you come up with the idea of the gangas?
The gangas are derived from zombies, and their presence is specifically tied to what happened during the Change. I liken the gangas to the Orcs in the Lord of the Rings—they are violent deterrents to our heroes and heroines, but they aren’t the main element or characters in the books.
One of the interesting/reassuring/surprising features of your world come from the people living in Las Vegas/Envy – their movie nights. I love the modern-day pop culture references you make throughout the series. What are some of your personal favourites in TV, movies, books that influenced you?
I’m a huge Buffy fan (which influenced my Gardella series) as well as loving Harry Potter (talk about brilliant world-building!) and Star Wars.
I’m glad you mentioned the pop culture references, because when I was working on this series, my first “readers” (who are my critique partners) had a lot of problems with those sorts of references. They often felt jarred out of the story, wondering why and how these people who lived fifty years after the Change knew about, say, Indiana Jones.
My argument and thoughts were always that their world wasn’t created in a vacuum, and that not only would stories and references be shared through those two generations since the Change, but also there would be many examples of DVDs and books that survived with those sorts of entertainment on them.
I didn’t feel that even if the world ended as we know it, that we would no longer look for ways to sort of gather around the campfire and share stories. It would still happen, just in a different way.
With a series, I usually end up with a favourite book or hero/heroine but this wasn’t the case when I read the first three books of your Awakening Heroes series. The emotional impact of every story, the vulnerabilities, flaws, and strengths of your heroes/heroines and secondary characters made each book special and unique.
Do you have a favourite book/hero/heroine among them? One whose story just bugged you until you wrote it?
I loved all of the heroes and heroines, especially as I got to know them. It’s hard to pick a favorite—I loved Elliott because he’s so normal and noble, and he has such a difficult decision to make about how to handle his new powers. I loved Simon because he was the quintessential brooding, damaged hero. And Quent…he was loosely modeled after Logan in Veronica Mars, and he has a great burden to bear.
And each of the heroines were unique and special to me. Zoë is the most fun to write, because she just says whatever the hell she wants. Sometimes even I’m surprised!
From time to time we see characters in books, on TV, in movies, who we’re not quite sure if they’re really a villain eg. Garak the Cardassian tailor from ST:DS9, Spike the vampire from Buffy.
Initially Ian Marck seems to be one of the bad guys. He’s certainly an intriguing character. You’re never quite sure whether you can trust him but you can sense something redeemable about him. Do you have plans for him? Will he have his own book?
You will definitely see more of Ian. Other than that….my lips are sealed. :-)
Will the aliens who helped Parris Fielding and the Elite make an appearance in the series?
Yes, I imagine they will. I’m thinking they might show up in book five, which I will shortly begin work on. But I’m a writer who doesn’t usually know much of what’s going to happen until it does!
You tackle some emotionally confronting issues with your characters and their pasts – rape and physical abuse in BEYOND THE NIGHT; mob-activity, alcohol-drug references, murder in EMBRACE THE NIGHT ETERNAL; physical and emotional abuse in ABANDON THE NIGHT.
It makes for great internal and external conflict and certainly lends a grittier, darker tone than some would be used to in a romance series. Could you share some of your thoughts on what motivated you to give such a dark edge to some of the characters/their pasts?
I think this series is rather dark overall—after all, we’re talking about the end of the world as we know it. And while it can sometimes get to be cliché if every character in a romance series has an abusive or dysfunctional past, I try to make whatever the issue is be relevant to this specific series/world.
In other words, yes, Quent had a rough childhood, but he would have moved on (as he did) and grown up to live without ever seeing his father again, and had a relatively normal life. Except that, the Change happened and his father reappeared. And so he had to deal with that relationship in a different way.
And Zoë is a woman on a revenge mission because her family was killed by zombies. But her entire character is built on a life lived in the post-Change world—which is so different from ours.
Can you tell us about the next book in the series – Theo’s story? What’s in store for him? Are there more books to come?
I just finished Theo’s book, NIGHT BETRAYED, which will be released in January 2011. I loved that book because I got to deal with some really interesting issues.
The story doesn’t take place in Envy, in fact, and having a new setting made it sort of fun to expand the world.
Selena is Theo’s heroine, and she is a cougar. ;-) What I mean is, she was born during The Change, so she’s fifty…and Theo…well, he’s a unique case himself isn’t he?
Also in this book we see more of Remington Truth, Ian, Wyatt, and Lou as well. And a little bit of Zoë, being…well, Zoë.
I’m able to explore the relationship between the Waxnicki brothers too, and the reader finds out a lot more about the zombies.
There will be at least two more books after Theo’s book, and then we’ll see what happens. There’s a lot that can be done with the series, or it can be wrapped up at six books. We’ll see!
And lastly, can we expect to see you at the RWA national conference in Orlando, Florida? If not, where can fans and readers catch up with you?
I’ll be in Orlando at RWA (now that it’s been moved from Nashville) and fans can check my website for appearances at any time!
Joss, thanks so much for visiting – it’s been great having you here and I’m now busting to read NIGHT BETRAYED. I can't wait for it to hit the bookshelves!
Thank you so much! And again, good luck with the Golden Heart, and I look forward to meeting you at RWAmerica!
Now for the fun part - I have the first 3 books in Joss's ENVY CHRONICLES to giveaway to one lucky commenter - all you have to do is answer this question...
Imagine you're transported into the future (like Elliott, Simon & Quent - Joss's characters).
What 3 things would you take with you to help you survive in this new world, and why?
You have until midnight, Saturday, 19th June to enter (Australian time).
Take a look at the blurbs from the Envy Chronicles series. If you go to Joss's website each have excerpts to tempt you!
BEYOND THE NIGHT
A man with no future...
When Dr. Elliott Drake wakes from a mysterious fifty-year sleep, the world as he knew it is gone. Cities are now desolate, and civilization is controlled by deadly immortals. Stranger still is Elliott's extraordinary new "gift" – he has the power to heal, but it comes with fatal consequences.
A woman with a past
Jade barely escaped the immortals and is now hell-bent on revenge. She trusts no one... until Elliott. His piercing gaze and tempting touch shatter her defenses, but the handsome doctor seems to have dangerous secrets of his own. Is it safe to trust him with her heart?
If they are to survive in this dark new world, Jade and Elliott must work together to fight the forces that takes them beyond danger.
Beyond the night.
Simon Japp will never forget his violent past. But when civilization is all but destroyed, he sees his chance for redemption. Blessed with a strange "gift," he's determined to help the resistance against the Strangers, the mysterious force that stalks them at every turn. He can't afford to get distracted, even by the stunning, soft-spoken woman fighting by his side...
Sage Corrigan has learned to be careful where she places her trust. But she sees something good in Simon, even if he can't see it in himself. Posing as lovers to infiltrate a group key to their fight, they find that their staged affection soon develops into a desire that will leave them fighting for their lives in the night eternal...
ABANDON THE NIGHT
Quentin Fielding had everything. Money. Power. Women. But now that civilization is all but annihilated, Quent only wants one thing: revenge. Harnessing a strange new "gift," he embarks on a deadly mission to find the the man responsible for the chaos and destruction, the man he should have killed years ago: his father. Only one thing stands in his way – a mysterious, arrow-wielding beauty...
Zoe Kapoor is on her own quest for vengeance, searching for the monstrous fiends who murdered her family. Soon she and Quent join together, journeying through the ruins of the world they once knew as a desperate desire builds between them. Drawing closer to an enemy they never imagined, Zoe and Quent must abandon all fear, abandon all regret, abandon the night ... if they want to stay alive.