Interview with J.R. Ward

Posted by Goodreads on July 20, 2015
J.R. Ward The children of the night may make the best music, but J.R. Ward knows the sons of the South make the best booze. The bestselling author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is putting aside her vampire warriors (for now) to focus on a fiery Kentucky clan. In The Bourbon Kings, the first in an all-new series, she introduces readers to the filthy-rich Bradford family and their bourbon-built empire. Against a backdrop of ruthless ambition and unspeakable secrets, sparks fly between old lovers: Tulane, the Bradfords' prodigal son, and Lizzie, the family's head gardener. It's Downton Abbey with a spicy, tantalizing twist—irresistible Southern romance as only Ward could deliver.

Read on as the author answers your questions on how to cook up a great love story (it involves a roasting chicken metaphor), which Black Dagger Brother she can't get enough of, and why she wanted to bring her brand of sizzling romance to the South.


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Dana: I'm super excited for The Bourbon Kings! What inspired you to set it in the South? Is it safe to expect a new crop of fine, sophisticated leading men to go along with Kentucky's reputation for fine, sophisticated bourbon?
Oh, absolutely! You will find there are many, many sophisticated HOT leading men in this series! As well as a lot of family loyalty and dysfunction. I think for me, as a fan of Dynasty and then Melrose Place, I've always loved big, juicy, messy dramas with lots of double-crossing, love stories, and dire consequences. The key is keeping the plots relevant, though. And as for the South, I married a Southern gentleman and now live down here. After a decade of being in this environment, I had to write about it. This is another world for a Yankee, and that's a good thing, most of the time!

Chrystal: Do you have any specific writing rituals—a glass of wine, a comfy blanket, a certain type of music playing in the background?
Actually, I'm afraid I do not! Geez, that sounds lame. The truth is, I don't drink, I don't listen to music, I'm focused on getting the job done. I'm stringent about my work environment in the sense that it is my business, so distractions are not permitted and deadlines are king. This is my livelihood and my passion, and I will not stand for anything getting in the way of it, including rituals that might slow me down or make me dependent upon them to perform at my work.

Wait! I need my dog. That's about it.

Dina: You are an absolute wicked genius. After all of the amazing books you've written, is there a character of yours you're dying to write a story (or another story) for?

I don't know about genius! Probably a little wicked, though, lol! Thank you for the kindness—and I think I would have to say Zsadist. After all these years, and all the people I've written about, he's still the number one for me. And the second book in Black Dagger Legacy will feature him. (Funny how it worked out that way, right???)

Chryssa: You've been known to include some MAJOR twists and deaths in your books. How do you decide to take such risks in your writing?
You give me far too much credit! I don't decide anything. I just record what I'm shown. My decisions, to the extent I have any, center on things like chronological order and POVs. But the stories make it absolutely clear—I am to shut up and describe what I'm seeing. If I'm not faithful to what I'm shown, the voices stop talking and the pictures go dead and I'm left with nothing.

Barbara: Do you ever dream about your characters, either before or after you bring them to life on the page?
They're with me all the time, in my head, every second of the day and night. It's like living with this extended family that follows you around everywhere. And talks and talks and talks. They're loudest when I run?

Debbie: You write the kind of books that make me want to keep reading. (Unfortunately, that means I read them too quickly and then have to wait for the next one.) Do you find it difficult to switch between your different series and characters, or does that just give you fresh inspiration?
So this is a good question. For me, writing different series is like changing train tracks in my head. It's a complete shift of everything, especially if I'm going from The Bourbon Kings to the Black Dagger Brotherhood books. And this immersion into something else is definitely a refresher. In a lot of ways, the BDB books are where I'm the most comfortable. Maybe it's because I've written them for a decade, but it could also be that I have a tremendous potty mouth and a latent aggressive streak???

Leona: How did writing your first book compare with writing The Bourbon Kings?
I was lost both times, lol! Each book is the same and different, and that is a lame statement, but also the truth. My mentor, Sue Grafton, always says that if you aren't scared, you aren't working hard enough. I was certainly terrified to write my first book, which was never published. And my second, also not published. And my third, which was Leaping Hearts. And I was batsh*t terrified to put The Bourbon Kings on the page. I suffer from a paralytic fear of failure, and I just want to do my best for each and every story, you know? As long as I feel I left it all on the field, so to speak, I'm at peace. Well, relatively at peace. Oh, who am I kidding, I'm never, ever satisfied.

Laurie: At what age did you know you wanted to pursue writing as a full-time career rather than as a hobby?
My mom told me to do it when I graduated from college. I told her she was nuts and went to law school so I could earn a living. My now-husband told me I should do it when I was working in health care, and I told him he was nuts, but I sent something to an agent and got signed. The truth is, I never wrote with an eye toward turning it into a career or an income stream. I did it because I had to, and I loved doing it. I wrote on and off for about ten years before I even got my agent, just snippets of things—partial manuscripts and bad cliché books. But I kept at it. Writing remains the highest and best use of my time.

Brittney: Your Black Dagger Brotherhood series dedicated a book to every brother. Do you have similar plans for the characters in The Bourbon Kings?
Hmmm. I know where we're headed with the second book, and there will always be a main focus. But as for the books being dedicated to one specific person in the story, I don't think I'm going to follow that one. The first is dedicated to my husband, without whom I would never have ended up in the South.

Terilynn: Your characters truly feel like real people to me! What's your process for "discovering" a new character, and how do you decide who will be a main character and who won't be?
The people in the books find me. They show up in my head, muscle their way in, and tell me when they're ready. For the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, I'm already three books ahead of where the readers are at this point. I know who the next three stories are about. I guess plotlines, especially those involving the love stories, are like roasting chickens with those pop-up things on their backs? You throw 'em in the oven, let 'em cook, until POP! It's time!

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Andrea (new)

Andrea what about the smurf robe?


message 2: by Lizabeth (new)

Lizabeth Is it weird that I got tingly all over knowing Zsadist is going to be in the next Black Dagger Legacy book!!! He is and always will be my favorite!!! Super excited for both new series!!!


message 3: by Arielle Rae (new)

Arielle Rae Aguilar Love all her books! Can't wait for this one and Blood Kiss


The Lusty Literate I am so excited for The Bourbon Kings! Sexy southern gentleman? Yes please!


message 5: by Diane (new)

Diane Ranney New romance! Whoo-whoo!!


message 6: by Cyndi (new)

Cyndi Lovette I love our BDB guys and being a southern girl I can't wait to see what you do with the good ole southern boys!!


message 7: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Nickels I have The king and the Shadows, and another one on my wish list, which I will get next month for my birthday. Most of all books I have are in storage. Need 200.00 dollars and a big truck to bring them to here. Maybe September.


message 8: by Meg (new)

Meg BDB is one of my favorite series can't wait for more. After saying that though, even though I'm not really into reading stories set in the south, I am such a great fan of JRW's writing that I'm definately going to give this new series a a look?


message 9: by Crix (new)

Crix Sandoval Trujillo OMG!!!!! The best author I've ever read!!! Definitely :)


message 10: by MommaBear (new)

MommaBear Genre still not clear to me. Ms. Ward mentions 80s nighttime soap operas, and romance is only vaguely referred to. Not for me, sorry. Sounds like a straight-up drama; I'm a paranormal fan.


message 11: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Nickels So am I but I love her work, I'm getting this one too.


message 12: by Veneta (new)

Veneta BDB is one of my favorite series with Vihous being the best Brother! Actually I love all of JR Wards books. Keep them coming Ms. Ward.


message 13: by Melanie (last edited Jul 22, 2015 07:19PM) (new)

Melanie wow and whoa!!
Just reading her interview put a new spark in my writing. I liked the part where she said "I am to shut up and describe what I'm seeing. If I'm not faithful to what I'm shown, the voices stop talking and the pictures go dead and I'm left with nothing.". That picked something in me in that moment. I totally got it. Totally got that i had to put my bum back in my seat, fingers ready and watch the film play in my head instead of making me another cup of tea. Thank you JR Ward. You are the mantis.


message 14: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Nickels I love them all, wish I could meet them. <3


message 15: by Vanessa Booksmymate (last edited Jul 22, 2015 11:27PM) (new)

Vanessa Booksmymate Lizabeth wrote: "Is it weird that I got tingly all over knowing Zsadist is going to be in the next Black Dagger Legacy book!!! He is and always will be my favorite!!! Super excited for both new series!!!"

--> Me, too!!!


Sarah ♥ dog crazy ♥ The one thing I can't wait for is more V and Butch together!


message 17: by Cindra (new)

Cindra Still haven't read The Shadows. But being a predominant paranormal & m/m reader, I still hang on the hope of seeing more of Vishous & Butch interacting....sigh.


message 18: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Nickels They out hang out a lot. They both have mates now, Dr Jane, and Marissa. Of course V does help when Butch takes on lesser. He inhales all their life force, It requires V to "heal" him of the effects of all that evil. Best friends do that.


message 19: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Hill Omg! I am a BDB fan for live. You rock JR, so I will give your Bourbon Kings a whirl. I know I won't be disappointed, because I've read enough of your books to know to don't write junk! Keep'em coming!


message 20: by pearl mack (new)

pearl mack I have all the BDB books and love each and every one. I am beyond thrilled about the new direction the spin off is taking. I miss my guys!!! Z of course is my favorite. But I miss all of the originals. I was over the moon when Blay finally got his happily ever after, and Quinn became whole. The King, R, V, Butch, T, P, P, B and Q and of course the Angel, and Rev. Thank you J R Ward.


message 21: by Cindra (new)

Cindra Tracy wrote: "They out hang out a lot. They both have mates now, Dr Jane, and Marissa. Of course V does help when Butch takes on lesser. He inhales all their life force, It requires V to "heal" him of the effect..."
Thanks, Tracy. Yeah, I have followed all the BDB books through The King. Waiting for the mmpb release of The Shadows. Understanding that I am in a minority here, I have never been a Jane fan, always feeling that there was more of a bond w/Butch & V. Haven't decided on the new series yet, as I am a PNR/UF m/m reader. Interested to see where the Legacy series will take us.


message 22: by Deb (new)

Deb I love all your books and have read them all, but im not a fan of books or stories where people are plotting and stabbing people in the back. I have the bourbans book on preorder though. We'll see what happens. I hope im blown away.


message 23: by Sarah ♥ dog crazy ♥ (last edited Jul 24, 2015 06:23AM) (new)

Sarah ♥ dog crazy ♥ Don't worry, Cindra. You're NOT in the minority. Jane has always been one of the most hated characters in the series. But people with that opinion are made to shut up. ;-)

As for V being mated. You should reread the books, slices of life and so on. There you see what a fake and forced "relationship" that is. The more it is tried to justify that "pairing", the worse it gets. Look at LUnl. There you could see that there is only one person who truly understands and loves V and would do anything for him. And that is Butch. The fact that Butch is V's one true love is even more obvious.

I don't think the author will go there one day and as much as I want them together, I can understand and believe Butch with Marissa. But V and Jane? No! This is just a forced storyline.


message 24: by Mary (new)

Mary I am guilty of rereading the BDB books over and over. It's just like watching your favorite movie again and again; only it lasts longer. I ordered "The Bourbon Kings" last year and "Blood Kiss" too. I have also read the Fallen Angel series.


message 25: by Patty (new)

Patty Agardi-lucas I am also guilty of rereading the BDB books over and over. I absolutely love them. I just wish that she would put a bit more of all the brothers in each book. Like little tidbit updates
I can never get enough of them


message 26: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey Sarah ♥ Vutch forever ♥ wrote: "Don't worry, Cindra. You're NOT in the minority. Jane has always been one of the most hated characters in the series. But people with that opinion are made to shut up. ;-)

As for V being mated. Yo..."


Amen to that!!!


message 27: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Calvert My favorite author! Such intriguing stories and characters!!! <3


message 28: by Robyn (new)

Robyn I love Zsadist he is my favourite brother and i'm so excited that we will be seeing more of him in the limelight soon. I'm also super excited to read the Bourbon Kings .. we are actually reading it in August with my book club!!!


message 29: by Mary (new)

Mary Only book club I have got going is with church. This book is never going to make the list.


message 30: by Mercedes (new)

Mercedes Luzardo Thanks, I read your books and loved them! I read The Shadows and is really a story!! I cried with the death ofSelena. I live in South America, sometimes is very difficult to find your books in english and more if you want it in spanish. Is no way that when you publish it in english at the same time publish it in spanish?


message 31: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Mary wrote: "Only book club I have got going is with church. This book is never going to make the list."

LOL! . . . nope. probably not.


message 32: by Betti (new)

Betti Anderson Sarah ♥ Vutch forever ♥ wrote: "The one thing I can't wait for is more V and Butch together!"

Oh yeah !! I know what you mean. It makes my heart crazy to simply think about them :3


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