Monday, January 9, 2012

The Scarlet Dagger by Krystal Jones - Interview & Excerpt

The strength of Sloane’s heart is about to be put to the ultimate test.

After the Eclipse – the night vampires began openly slaughtering human victims – everything changed. Out of fear, the government salvaged what remained of the human population and enclosed them in massive, security-laden cities called White Sectors, while marking the vampire infested territory as Red Sectors.

When seventeen-year-old Sloane McAllister’s twin brother disappears, she seems to be the only one who thinks he isn’t dead, and vows to stop at nothing to find him. Gathering her courage, she braves the Red Sector to search for clues to his whereabouts. By chance, she encounters Aden, a handsome, charismatic vampire with a hidden agenda. He turns Sloane against her will, and whisks her away to his underground city. Enemies quickly become friends as Sloane struggles against her attraction to Aden, and resists her growing loyalties to the creatures that ruined her life. But the vampires themselves are the least of her problems. The city is harboring a devastating secret, one that could change the tide of the war and threaten to destroy everything Sloane has come to believe in.

Heart-stopping action and scorching romance collide in this dystopian, urban fantasy thriller. (approx. 81,000 words or 256 pages)

Kindle  |  Nook

** A White So Red comes out February 1st, and will be a free download for a month.


Enter below for a chance to win a digital copy of both
Veiled Innocence AND The Scarlet Dagger
Follow Krystal on Twitter for a bonus entry.
Comment on this post for a 2nd bonus entry.
This giveaway will end January 28th 11:59PM Central Time.


The floorboards behind me creaked ever so slightly, and I drew my pistol, scanning the patches of darkness within the living room. A set of small windows casted squares of red moonlight on the dusty planks. There, so light it was nearly unnoticeable, was a footprint in the dust, much too large to be my own.

Fear, icy and tangible, tapped its claws along my spine and up the base of my neck. I froze for a long second before rushing to the front door, my head screaming, Get out! Get out now!

I was literally inside the door frame, one foot in the house, one foot out, when a hand reached out of the shadows and grabbed me by the throat, slamming me into the wall so hard I lost my breath.

Someone wrested the pistol from my grasp before I could collect enough of my senses to think to fire it. My fingers were so clammy I couldn’t get a hold on my attacker’s hand as I clawed at it, trying to free myself. A thumb pressed into my air tube, and I choked as a tall, lithe silhouette stepped in front of me. The figure’s gaze shifted, its eyes reflecting red like the lenses in a cat’s eyes as it glanced at my right wrist, where the tattoo was bathed in moonlight.

“What are you doing here, hunter?” came the low, musical voice of a man. Though his timbre was soft, there was a steely edge to it.

I coughed and sputtered, glimpsing the bottom corner of a black leather trench coat and ruling out that my mother’s guard had caught up to me. The Scarlet Guard got their name from their red uniforms… and their thirst for bloodshed. But if this man wasn’t with the Scarlet Guard, then who was he? What was he doing here – in my house, of all places – on the anniversary of the Eclipse?

The figure leaned in. Wispy platinum blond bangs came into view, though his face was still obscured by shadows. He studied me a moment longer before I heard a tiny gasp. “It can’t be…” he whispered in disbelief, and my brows furrowed.

Who is he? Do I know him? He’s not Orion...

My eyes dropped to his slightly agape mouth, and my blood ran cold. There, just visible beneath his upper lip, were the points of two fangs.

A vampire? But he can’t be. He looks so… human.

I thought of the creature I had faced only a few minutes ago, of its animal urge to kill me, and panic fluttered in my chest. In the few short years humans had known vampires existed, never had we seen one that looked exactly like a regular human being. The fact it could talk was stunning; I didn’t even know vampires could speak. Of the two I had faced, they both seemed hell-bent on ripping out my throat first.

Suddenly, the man – the vampire – in front of me seemed twice as dangerous as any monster I had encountered. And he had my pistol.

“What’s your name?” the man asked. His musical voice was cool and soft, and all the more frightening for it.

His thumb released just enough pressure that I could feel my voice box again, and I gulped for air. I had to get out of here, away from him however I could. A wild, irrational thought formed in my mind, and I tried to speak, my words strangled because I could barely breathe.

He leaned in. “What did you say?”

I looked up, a wicked smile on my face. “Trick-or-Treat,” I rasped.

Somehow, the man – or vampire, or whatever he was – had missed the dagger when he subdued me, most likely too focused on the pistol and thinking it to be my only weapon. I brought the dagger straight up, tip first with the serrated side facing out, with the aim of impaling him in the chin, but he hissed and stepped back before it could ever make contact. He released me, and I took a huge lungful of air.

Moonlight glinted off the pistol in the man’s hand. “I’ve heard of Scarlet Steel, but have yet to see the marvel for myself. Impressive.”

“Well, its beauty’s only half its charm,” I replied coolly.

My mind was spinning with a milieu of questions. Not only did I want to know who he was and what he was doing in my house, but I didn’t fully understand what exactly I was talking to. Was he truly a vampire? He was speaking to me as casually as if we were commenting on the weather.

He took a step closer. “But does it work?” he asked with genuine curiosity.

His cat-eyes reflected red again, and my gut told me I wasn’t dealing with a human. I would have to look for Orion later, if I made it out of this alive. “Why don’t you find out for yourself?”

I leveled the blade and charged.

Somehow, fighting him in my house – in my territory – didn’t feel so opposing as it had facing down the vampire by the bus. It was familiar, almost comforting, and I felt strangely empowered as I fought him head-on.

He sidestepped my thrust, knocking the blade aside with the barrel of the pistol, but I quickly recovered, swinging back with a powerful back kick to his face, which he also deftly blocked with his forearm muscle. I tried slashing at him again, this time toward his ribs, but he deflected that too with the pistol, his movements matching my own. Reaching beneath my blouse, I pulled out a regular switchblade and made a series of gouges toward his eyes, throat, and heart, which he also blocked. Frustrated, I flipped the knife so the blade was in my hand and flung it as hard as I could toward his head. He ducked – while laughing, I might add – and I fumed at him as the blade struck the wall.

“What’s so funny?” I demanded, furious. Was he mocking me? And why wasn’t he fighting back?

His laughter quickly died away. “Nothing about this is funny,” he said stonily. “Not a damn thing.”

Huh? Did he mean being a vampire? I tried to imagine being changed into one – which, from what we knew, required one to be completely drained and to drink the blood of a living vampire – and my blood ran cold. We knew it was possible, but improbable. The vampires we had studied usually killed their victims before changing them, they were so out-of-control.

            I couldn’t imagine a worse fate than being turned, and suddenly this talking, seemingly sensible man before me became incredibly tragic. He would never age, a beauty queen’s wet dream. I couldn’t imagine being a teenager forever. There were too many things I wanted out of life. Then I remembered he was a vampire, and any pity I felt vanished.


What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

 1) Get organized and stay organized. There is SO much that goes into the writing and marketing process, it's easy to lose track of everything, especially if you're juggling a day job and a family on the side. I have two separate planners, one for my daily writing goals and the other for "everything else." At the start of each week, I'll write in each day's goals, and review them each night before I go to bed so a plan is fresh in my mind the next morning.
2) Be patient. You can't move an entire mountain, rather go at it one shovelful at a time. One of my teachers told me that on a day I was feeling particularly gloomy because I didn't think I was making enough progress. It takes time to be successful. Somedays, it will feel like it's not really going anywhere, and you ask yourself, "Why am I doing this again?" Just be patient, work steadily and smartly, and realize that someday it will all come together and you'll marvel at just how much you've accomplished.
 3) Don't let the doubters get you down. This goes for your inner critic. It's true, we really can be our own worst enemies, especially when facing a lot of opposition to a dream. Just keep at it. A lot of times when someone tells you something can't be done or it's impractical, they're only saying so because they've never attempted what you're trying to do, rather they're going off of heresay. People don't take risks because they're scared. Be fearless and follow your dreams.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I was actually always a bit of a loner, a quality that stuck with me through college. I was also shy, though I've grown bolder over the years. I don't want to say I was an outcast, exactly, but I didn't really fit in with one particular group of people. My small cluster of friends shared that quality with me. I've never been afraid to be by myself. I've always had a very active imagination, preferring to spend time in story worlds rather than my own reality, and I think that offset some people from wanting to get to know me better.

What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read?

Honestly, probably Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner. Admittedly, I picked it up from the Adult Fantasy section solely for the gorgeous cover (and the fact it was cheap). The story is based on a 13th century ballad, and Kushner's voice reflects that time period. It's elegant, otherwordly, what my grandmother would call "old timey." The voicing took me a few chapters to adjust to, but the lyricism of her tale is absolutely gorgeous. You get this rich, fantasy world that I haven't been able to find in many other novels. I think sometimes authors get so worked up in trying to make the writing sound "pretty" that they forget to actually tell a story, or the story's so cut and dry, there's really no voicing. This book blends both together perfectly, making for an extraordinary reading experience. No wonder it won the World Fantasy Award!

Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

I would love to visit Scotland and see all the old castles and churches. My family has some Scottish ancestry, too, so it would be neat to see the remains of my old clan's castles. I'd also like to visit Venice and Milan, for their musical history. Athens is another place I'd love to visit, for its history (I love Greek mythology, so it'd be cool to visit its birthplace). For America, New York City is at the top of my list solely for the purpose of seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I like to write of a morning, when my mind is fresh and I'm not stressed out. The ideas seem to flow better. I try to write at least 1,000 words per day, which generally takes me little over an hour to accomplish, depending on if I have an outline or not.

What do you think makes a good story?

Everyone will have a different opinion on what a good book is. Some people I know loved books I hated. For me, a good book is having two main ingredients: 1) rich characters; and 2) a fully realized world for them to inhabit. When I read, I want to be completely transported, to forget about real life. I want to be so attached to the people in the books that I won't want to leave them behind. I've always been attracted to "milleau" stories, or books with a large, fascinating world for you to explore. I think that's why I enjoy Clare's Mortal Instruments, Kagawa's Iron Fey, and Rowling's Harry Potter books so much. It's not "here."



Krystle Jones was born and raised in the small, southern town of Tullahoma, Tennessee. Reading and writing have been lifelong passions of hers. In addition to being a novelist, she is also an award-winning flutist, and moonlights as a voice actress. Her voice can be heard in the popular online game, Alice is Dead 3.

Read more about Krystal Here.

Connect with Krystal:

website  |   blog  |  Goodreads  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  email


Stacey said...

Krystal, I've seen Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and you should definitely make that dream happen. It's fantastic! Good luck with your book sales.

Maghon said...

oooooh!!! how exciting!! :) I'ma spread the word.... if I ask nicely, if I win, can I get the second book, and give the first to another winner :) since I have the first one-- IT'S GOOD, GO READ IT!!! :) ok, now, I'm just being picky hahahaha thanks so much! and good luck to everyone!! said...

great give away

bookworm105 said...

thanks for the giveaway!

Blakely Chorpenning said...

Wow, the synopsis had me with the second sentence. This sounds great. If I don't win, I'll definitely be picking it up, anyway. :)

Veronica Morfi said...

Really great giveaway. I had Scarlet Dagger in my whishlist for a few days now! :)

Mei said...

Thx for the giveaway! This book sounds awesome^^

bn100 said...

Thanks for the giveaway. The book sounds very interesting.

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com said...

great give away

The Zoo said...

I'm hoping to enter "Kindle" format next time but I don't YET have one. swak50 at hotmail dot com

Fall Into Books said...

Thanks for the giveaway! Books sound terrific!

SarahSerenity said...

Thanks for the giveaway! That excerpt wasn't long enough i wanted to keep reading! It sounds so interesting!

Laurie said...

The lucky winner is Jessica Bronder. Congrats Jessica!!