I know it’s long overdue, but my review of Jordanna East’s second book is finally here! I wanted my hands on this ever since I finished Blood in the Past, and it did not disappoint.
In the first book, we watched Lyla Kyle go from a semi-normal (albeit eerie) woman to a revenge-crazed psychopath. Now we have the joy of watching her commit one murder after the other — and we’re secretly dancing with glee every time she doesn’t get caught. As the body count rises to a number Sweeney Todd would commend, a sick feeling sets in. Oh yeah, we’ve been rooting for the bad guy. Someone needs to get in there and stop her.
How about Officer Brighthouse? He’s smart, plucky and looking to prove himself. His boyish charm brings in some much needed levity at just the right times to keep the drama and anxiety from feeling overbearing. And his problems with his wife keep him from feeling like just another paperback detective. He has more going on than just his pursuit of a beautiful murderess. And if we’ve learned anything from the last book, bad things are on the way if someone’s marriage is in a rocky place.
Perhaps the most impressive feature of this thriller is the tension between Jillian and Lyla. If you read the last book, you know their relationship could go up in flames at any second. For new readers, don’t worry. You’ll catch up right away.
This would not be a Jordanna East novel without some punches to the gut — and Ms. East does not pull her punches. It’s one delightfully maddening twist after another, and you won’t want to put it down.
Author Ava Easterby (pen name Jordanna East) is no stranger to my blog. Last time I interviewed her, she talked about her less-than-ideal job working at a bookstore. Now, she’s here to talk about Blood in the Paint, her new book coming out later this year. And as someone who has already read it, I highly recommend it! (And, if you’re a book reviewer, consider getting your own ARC!)
Amanda Surowitz: My first question for you is why is Blood in the Paint coming out in winter?! Why not sooner?
Jordanna East: I am the biggest perfectionist I know. Simply put. That’s why Blood in the Paint didn’t come out sooner. I actually wrote Paint before Blood in the Past. It was finished last summer, but I took some time off to work on a totally new series before getting back to work on Paint. I read through it dozens of times, tweaking and adding, before I gave it to the beta reader team. When I got it back, I was at it again, tweaking and adding, before it went to my editor. When she sent it back, I took so long–you guessed it, tweaking and adding–that she emailed me to ask if everything was alright! I have a few more steps to go through (my proofreader and formatter), but hopefully it will be the best possible work I could put out there. That’s my promise to my readers.
AS: How’s it feeling to have your second book coming out this year?
JE: Putting out a second book has been entirely terrifying. What? Was that not the response you expected? Haha. My first release, Blood in the Past, did better than I expected. It wasn’t a mainstream bestseller, but it reached the top ten within several Amazon categories more than once. I read somewhere that very few books sell more than 100 copies, whether traditionally or independently published. I’ve been fortunate enough to have surpassed that by quite a bit, without counting free downloads which number in the tens of thousands.
So why am I terrified? Because what if my next release doesn’t live up to the minor hype my first book created? What if my earlier success was just a fluke and in reality, I suck at writing? These are the types of questions I grapple with on a daily basis and they often impede my productivity. Now that I’m inching closer to Blood in the Paint’s release day however, I’m finally starting to feel less scared for my life and more excited for my future. I’m reveling in it for the moment, since I have to begin outlining the next book in the series soon.
AS: Do you have a working title for the next one? And how many books are you planning for this series?
JE: It’s funny you should ask about working titles. When I first started writing the series, the working title was simply “Lyla Kyle.” But when I decided to break it up into the prequel novella and the first novel, I renamed them Blood in the Past and Blood in the Paint, respectively, to differentiate them, expecting to change them later. After a while, the titles grew on me and I kept them permanently. The next novel in the series is tentatively entitled Blood in the Paper, in keeping with the theme of the previous books. Since that novel is only in the outline stages, I can’t say for sure if I’m going to keep that title, too, but you never know, it could turn out like the working titles before it!
As of right now, there will be three full-length books in the series following the prequel.
AS:Blood in the Paper sounds intriguing–and considering all the surprises in Blood in the Past, I don’t know what to expect. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to throw your readers a hint or two? Haha
JE: About Blood in the Paper? Hmm. It’s in its infant stages still, but I can tell readers that my characters will continue to be tested. Brighthouse’s ambition and credibility will be called into question, as will Lyla’s guilt. Why you ask? Because I introduce a new character whose obsessions are perhaps the most twisted to date.
AS: Oh gosh, I don’t know if I could handle that! Your twists are amazing and agonizing (in the best way haha).
JE: Haha, I try very hard to make them that way and I hope my readers enjoy all the dark paths I lead them down.
AS: I’m sure they will. Is there anything else you want to say about Blood in the Paint?
JE: I would just like to remind my readers that Blood in the Paint can be read as a stand alone novel, but I do recommend reading Blood in the Past as well to become familiar with the nuances of the characters’ backstories. Other than that, I hope everyone enjoys my new release and I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks!
Almost every writer I know (and many non-writers, too) want to work in a bookstore. Can’t you just imagine going in to work, surrounded by books, enjoying the peace and quiet, and occasionally helping a customer? Well, Ava Easterby (pen name Jordanna East) did work at a bookstore*. If you follow her blog–and I highly recommend you do–you’ve probably read some of her Jerks & Irks posts that talk about her job at the bookstore. That got me wondering if the dream job of working at a bookstore is really as wonderful as it sounds. Ms. Easterby agreed to answer some questions about her job so you can all get an idea of what it’s like.
Switzy Thoughts: I mentioned a lot of writers wanting work in or own a bookstore; did you share that feeling at all and did it contribute to your reasons for applying there?
Jordanna East: “It did! I was actually staying home to write, thanks to my generous and supportive Hubby-pants. But we needed an extra push for our upcoming vacation, plus I was nearing the end of my novel and would face the necessary costs of self-publishing: editing, cover art, marketing materials, formatting, etc. I decided a part-time job was in order and as soon as I opened up Craigslist, there it was. An opening at a local bookstore. At the time I thought it was fate. Haha.”
ST: Could you describe the kind of bookstore it is, including the book selection, the way it looks, and the feel of the place?
JE: “It’s a “rinky-dink” bookstore. A large one, but rinky-dink, nonetheless. It’s a tiny chain, several locations, called Bargain Book Warehouse. Basically, we receive overstock that other bookstore chains can’t sell. Older books, older editions, that kind of thing. Once in a while we get newer selections, usually because the book is doing well and the bookstore ordered way, way too many copies from the publisher. We sell the books far below retail price. If you’re a book lover, you adore it. Vast selection of everything. Children’s books, cook books, coffee table books, fiction, non-fiction. Everything except very recent best sellers, really. If you’re looking for something specific, however, you hate it. The books are organized by genre, but not alphabetically by author or title. Things are piled here and stacked on the floor there. It’s a shame people just don’t have more patience. Haha.”
ST: You’ve mentioned hiding behind books while you write on the job; does the bookstore affect your writing ethic at all? If so, how?
JE: “Not if I’m working a shift alone and there isn’t anything pressing to do. There were a couple of gigantic shipments (by our standards) in the months leading up to Christmas and there was always something to put away, something to make room for. Very frustrating. But when there’s nothing going on, I can get a lot of writing done. Outlines and rough drafts in my journals mostly. On especially long shifts though, I can even bring my laptop with me.”
ST: What are your favorite and least favorite parts of working there? (I imagine customers and coworkers are probably on the list of least favorites.)
JE: “I very much hate, loathe even, about 90% of the customers. That’s an accurate percentage. I mentioned wishing people had patience. They don’t. But when I mention that they can easily find what they’re looking for on Amazon or at the Barnes and Noble (which is literally five minutes down the road), they scoff at the possibility of paying full price. You want the bargain, put in the time. Convenience costs money. Geesh. But enough complaining. I like the opportunity to get writing done. I love learning what people read, what’s “in.” I learned of a few authors I wasn’t aware of while on the job. Such as Ted Dekker and Cassandra Clare. And of course, I get 30% off. I read all my fiction on my Kindle Fire, but the discount comes in handy for non-fiction (I prefer physical books for my writing research), cook books, coffee table books, and journals.”
ST: Do you think you’ll still be at that bookstore after your novel has debuted?
JE: “The original plan was not to remain at the bookstore after my novel was released this summer. But life seldom goes according to plan. Technically my husband can keep us afloat, but I happen to like nice things. Weekend getaways. Dinners at fancy restaurants. Anniversary vacations. Therefore I’ll probably stay. Or maybe I’ll beat someone for asking me for an additional discount on a $1 book and go to jail. Hey, I smell a memoir idea!! (I’m just kidding, please don’t call the police.)”
ST:Are you going to try selling your novel there?
JE: “I would like to sell my novel there. On the counter, or with the recent releases. Or even go to Staples and have a banner made for a Local Authors section. The owner is kind of a…word that rhymes with kick…so I don’t know if he’ll go for any of that. But since I use a pen name, I might just withhold the fact that it’s my book. Teehee.”
ST: And if you could move on to a different bookstore–possibly with a more organized system–would you?
JE: “I would adore moving to a different bookstore. Perhaps not a Barnes and Noble. But definitely a Mom & Pop bookstore. The place where I work now is kind of in between. The worst of both worlds, if you will. But I’m sure there are worse jobs.”
ST: Would you say the dream of working in a bookstore isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
JE: “It definitely isn’t. I expected everyone that walked through the door would share the same love of learning and reading that I do. I expected every register transaction to come with a side of witty banter about our latest reading materials. I expected to offer people suggestions and have them heeded. I expected to awe people with the fact that I’m writing a series of books myself. I only get these things about 10% of the time, which comes back to me hating 90% of the customers, I guess. I also didn’t envision being expected to do anything other than ring people up. Haha! How lazy of me, but when I applied I had this whimsical dream of sitting behind the counter writing away in the quiet of the store and occassionally having to ring someone up. Did you know, they actually expect me tidy up? The nerve!”
Jordanna East is currently working on a full-length novel entitled Blood in the Paint, a psychological thriller in which a seductive female serial killer and the ambitious young cop pursuing her are both seeing the same psychologist, who also has deadly ties to their pasts. The prequel novella, entitled Blood in the Past, follows the events that shaped the characters’ lives ten years prior. It is set for release on March 31, 2013, followed by the novel in the summer of 2013. Jordanna’s married and living happily in Southern New Jersey with her husband and their slightly obsessive love of sports. Visit Jordanna at her blog, her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @JordannaEast.
*I first contacted Jordanna East via email for this interview on December 31, 2012. She notified me at the end of January that she no longer works at the bookstore.