Today I'm super excited to be one of three blogs revealing the cover for the third book in JL Bryan's deliciously dark and fascinating young adult series focusing on a young woman named Jenny and her unusual ability to spread disease at the barest touch. As you can see, this newest installment is titled ALEXANDER DEATH and will be releasing in October. JL is joining me on the blog to talk a little bit about how he came up with the title for the series itself, and be sure and check the bottom of the post for details on the giveaway and the other participating blogs!
A PARANORMAL PREDICAMENT
When I finished Jenny Pox, I realized there was much more room to explore Jenny's story and her background, but I wasn't sure whether I would actually get around to writing follow-up books or not.
The reviews for the book often said that they would like to see a sequel and learn more about Jenny, and I also heard from a number of readers by email and social media asking whether there would be a sequel. Since I was interested and the readers were interested, I decided to build onto the story. I didn't just want to do a sequel, or an episodic series, but a deeply integrated trilogy where everything was woven together in a satisfying way.
The clearest place to begin was the question of Ashleigh's opposite. If Seth and Jenny were opposites, with their powers to heal and to spread plague, then Ashleigh clearly had an opposite, whose touch had the opposite effect from making people feel love.
Some people have asked why Tommy's touch spreads fear instead of hate. My thinking is that hate is not necessarily the opposite of love. Our strongest hates are personal and often originate in love—we hate the friend or lover who betrays us, for example. That kind of hate is powered by the previous feelings of love that existed.
To me, fear seems like the most direct opposite of love. Love draws people together, while fear separates us from each other. This can be fear of people who are different from you, which can often be alleviated just by getting to know an individual from the feared group. There is also the way fear affects our personal relationships. Fear of getting hurt can stop a relationship from ever forming, or lead to jealousy and conflict within a relationship. So we have love pulling people together in an affectionate, positive and helping way, while fear pushes people apart, divides them, and even makes them willing to use violence.
So, there was Ashleigh's opposite. A couple of other paranormals, Alexander and his opposite Esmeralda, came into the story to shed some light on Jenny's past lives and to move events forward. In Alexander, we have a second person Jenny can touch, so this is the first time in her life she's had relationship options. She can be with Seth or with Alexander, and there are some pros and cons to each of them...
Finally, the series itself needed a name. Jenny and Seth aren't an established kind of paranormal being, like a vampire or werewolf, so this was a challenge. They are fragments of the original chaos that reigned before the universe was created (fellow ancient mythology geeks, you know what I'm talking about). Appropriate words might have included “djinn,” “demons,” “gods,” or the simple Lovecraftian “Old Ones.” These all had connotations that I didn't want to deal with, however. These characters repeatedly reincarnate among humans, but they are not human souls. They're sort of the creatures that snuck in under the cracks in the door to our world. They don't belong here.
In the end, I decided the best word was a general one: paranormals. This makes their supernatural nature clear, but it also points to one of the central conflicts faced by Jenny and Seth, which is their endless struggle to be like “normal” humans, when it is impossible for them to do that.
This is why the trilogy that begins with Jenny Pox is now known as The Paranormals, Book One through Three. Because when you've written more than a quarter-million words about a certain group of characters, it's nice to have an actual word to call them.
Thanks so much for stopping by JL! For more information on both JL and
The Paranormals series (highly recommended, though definitely for older YA audiences as there is some more explicit sex and violence in both published works) you can find him here:
As today is the one year book birthday of JENNY POX (Happy Birthday Jenny!), JL has generously offered up e-book copies of both JENNY POX (book 1) and TOMMY NIGHTMARE (book 2) to one lucky winner. To enter, please just leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. Since these are e-books, this giveaway is international and will run through midnight EST on Friday, July 29th after which time a winner will be chosen and announced on the blog.
Be sure and check out the other two participating blogs as they will have fun guest posts and birthday giveaway celebrations as well:
The Slowest Bookworm