1. What is the title of your book?
I just released the last book in my latest series, “The Destroyer Trilogy”. The first book is Inquest, the second book is Secret of Betrayal, and the final book is Darkening Chaos.
2. What is the genre and age rating?
I would classify this series as YA urban fantasy, but it has elements that sci-fi, paranormal, and romance readers will enjoy. The whole series works well as a crossover as well. I have a good mix of teen and adult readers who have enjoyed the series.
3. Give a brief synopsis, using your own words.
Libby Sparks was born to accomplish one thing … Destroy the world.
She has the power to do it, but what she doesn’t have is the desire. The whole world hates her for a destiny she has no intention of living up to. At least until her only friend, Milo, is attacked by the Guardians. Libby is forced to choose between revealing her true power and condemning herself to death, and saving Milo’s life.
4. Is it part of a series? Is the series completed? What made you decide to do a series rather than an epic?
Darkening Chaos was released March 2013, completing “The Destroyer Trilogy”. All three books are available in paperback and ebook.
When I first got the idea for a girl meant to destroy the world, I knew it would take more than one book to tell her story. First she had to choose between accepting her destiny or turning away from everything and everyone. After making her choice, she had to make a plan, figure out how to live up to her decision without getting everyone killed. And finally, she had to take control of her life and fight to put everything she believes in into practice. I don’t like going more than 3 books in a series because as a reader, I can’t stand not knowing when the series will end. I like to know that all my questions will be answered at some point, so that is how I write my series.
5. Visually describe your main character and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person.
Libby Sparks believes herself to be someone who can easily melt into the background, but she definitely stands out in many ways. Libby has long chestnut colored hair that is very straight. No curls for this girl, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why J. Libby also has a fair complexion and dark blue eyes. She is a little on the short side at 5’4”, but she compensates with an athletic build that warns others that she won’t be an easy takedown. Most unique about Libby are the jet black diktats, perfectly rectangular scars, circling her left wrist.
6. What are his or her biggest faults? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example?
Libby’s biggest fault is underestimating herself, and those around her. When it comes to herself, Libby has a hard time overcoming being named after a Roman goddess of death and having a destiny to cause pain and destruction. She sees herself as only capable of doing harm.
When it comes to others in her life, Libby struggles to see their true intentions. She wants to see the best in people, but even though she has experienced betrayal many times, it is never easy for her to suspect those she loves of double dealing.
‘I huddle against his chest and say, “You don’t know what it was like in his head. He’s done so many horrible things, and I had to watch them all. I just … I need to be reminded that no matter how bad things get for me, I’ll never turn into him.”
I’m crying again by the time I finish. He pulls me up and kisses me, but only lightly. “Libby, whatever you saw, you aren’t Drake. You never could be.”
“You don’t know that. Drake tried to make me do horrible things. What if I had done them? I couldn’t have lived with myself. I would have turned as black as he did. I still may. You don’t know. You don’t know.”
“Yes, I do,” he says forcefully, interrupting my mounting hysteria.
“How?” I ask.
He smoothes the hair back from my face. His body heat spreads through me as he presses me closer to him. There is no doubt in his expression when he says, “You seem to think that a cloud of pain and misery follow you wherever you go, but you’re wrong. You are so wrong. You see the bad things of this world and blame yourself for them. Look at all the good you’ve done.”
“What good have I done? So many people I’ve cared about are dead because of me.” I touch the pendant Lance gave me and stare at the two halves. I’m supposed to have both rebirth and destruction inside of me, but when is the good half going to show up?
“You’ve saved the lives of so many others and protected them from the Guardians,” he says. “You’ve done things no one else in history has ever done before, too. And if you need another reason, the one I think is the most important is you made me fall in love with you.”
He runs his hands through my hair slowly, his eyes never leaving mine. “Libby, I know bad things have happened, people have been hurt, but you’ve stopped even more pain. The bad doesn’t follow you, you follow it, because you care about other people and you want to stop it from happening if you can. That’s why I know you’ll never turn into Drake. Your heart is too filled with love and compassion to ever make room for selfishness and hate. Maybe the whole world doesn’t see that yet, but they will.”
7. What are his or her best qualities? Using a short excerpt from your book, can you show us an example?
Despite Libby’s destiny, she is a good person that wants to do good and help people. She often puts others before herself, sometimes even putting her life in danger in the process. Libby is a fierce friend, and she proves it many times throughout the series.
‘Terrified of watching him die, I race forward and fling myself at her. My body alone won’t stop her, but my spirit connects with her and rips her away from Lance. I hear the sound of squealing tires somewhere behind me. I can’t stop to look. The shock of me attacking her has worn off. The Sihir turns on me. Her dead eyes lock with mine. A shiver runs through my entire body as the recognition the Guardians were hoping for blossoms in her mind. Delirious glee spreads through her expression as she mistakenly thinks she has found her prize. She dives forward to claim my body for her own. Prophecy calls me the most powerful person in the world, but I freeze at her attack, sure I will never be able to stop her.
The icy plunge of her spirit hands into my chest finally pushes me to action. I fight with savage spiritual slashing against her efforts to tear my spirit out. I force her hands off and out of reach, but I know I can’t keep this up for long. The Sihir’s hands push closer to me and honest terror that I am about to die sinks into me. She won’t stop with me, either. Lance and Braden are screaming at me somewhere nearby. They won’t be spared if I fail.
I have to do something.
Desperate, I try to speak to her spirit. The frenzied nature of her state won’t let me, but it reminds me of something. It reminds me of rescuing Casey. Her hands are now inches away from my chest. Using every ounce of Strength I have, I wrench my body away from her. I have barely a second to dredge up my frazzled spirit and take hold. On the verge of abandoning my body, something I’m not even sure is possible outside of the spirit world, I pause and pray to whoever will listen that I’m not about to kill us both.’
8. Is there a romantic interest for your MC (main character)…or maybe more than one? Would you describe it as antagonistic, angsty, steamy, romantic, and or loaded with sexual tension?
There are several romantic interests in this series. In the very beginning, Libby and Lance are a couple, but that quickly changes when Lance tries to kill Libby after finding out her true destiny. After being abandoned by everyone, Libby is sure she will spend what is left of her life alone until grungy, loner Milo shows up. She has a few reservations about his motives, but it doesn’t stop her from developing feelings for him.
Lance plays a big part in all three books, but the real romantic conflict develops when Braden inserts himself into Libby’s life. A Guardian (the group intent on killing Libby), Braden should want nothing to do with Libby. The strange connection they share pushes them toward each other despite Libby’s best efforts to stay away. Staying true to Milo—knowing if she even should—becomes so consuming it threatens to ruin everything.
Because this is YA and I like to keep things clean, there is no sex, but there is still plenty of sexual tension.
9. Visually describe the romantic interest(s) and provide a picture if you were inspired by an actual person.
First, Milo. A former quarterback, Milo is tall, broad shouldered (when he isn’t slouching), and very fit. When he and Libby meet, his grungy appearance makes her mistake him for a slacker, but his slightly too long light brown hair serves its purpose … hiding his stormy grey eyes and the intelligence behind them. Milo looks like he would be more interested in vegging out in a dimly lit basement with a stack of video games than anything else, but beneath the disguise is a guy you would definitely want backing you up in a fight.
Now, Braden. The first word that comes to Libby’s mind when she thinks of Braden is grace. Braden is tall and fit, but has a build somewhere between Olympic swimmer and dancer. His caramel colored hair and green eyes are paired with a keen and curious mind. Braden may appear to be softer than Milo, but he can be fierce when he wants something, and when it comes to protecting those he loves.
10. Who is your favorite secondary character? Why?
I’d definitely have to go with Mr. Walters. Upon first meeting Libby, he offers to kill her—which certainly makes him memorable. First impressions may lead readers to believe Mr. Walters is a crackpot. The Einstein-style hair and quirky mannerisms are misleading, though. In reality, Mr. Walters is a very complex character with deep motivations and plenty of secrets.
11. Were any of your characters inspired by people you know or have known?
I think there are bits and pieces of people I know in all of my characters, but I don’t have anyone in particular that a character was modeled after. I always worry that if I transpose a real person into fiction they might realize that’s what I did, which wouldn’t be so bad if they were the heroine, but probably wouldn’t go over too well if they weren’t such a likable character.
12. Post a short excerpt (1-2 pages max) that you think that readers will love…
“I do hope you are patient with me, Libby,” Mr. Walters says, interrupting my thoughts, “because I only received this assignment to teach you about being the Destroyer late last night and had very little time to prepare. It’s not an easy task to consolidate a lifetime of research into a curriculum overnight. And we only have an hour at a time to work with. I do hope that by the end of the year you’ll have a better understanding of what you will be expected to do as the only member of the Destroyer class.”
You would think the majority of the world would be much happier if I had no idea what I was supposed to do as the Destroyer. I’m not even sure I want to know what I’m supposed to do. Every time I’ve tried to find out it never led anywhere good, so now I’d like to avoid finding out in the hopes that if I don’t know I’ll never actually do anything bad.
“Of course, dear. You have to know your purpose in life if you expect to ever accomplish it, don’t you?”
There is something wrong with this man. “But I don’t want to fulfill my purpose. I don’t want to hurt or destroy anything. You don’t want me to do that either. Nobody does!”
“Well, of course no one wants to see you harm anyone, but that’s hardly the point,” Mr. Walters says.
“How is that not the point?”
“Because the point of this class is to teach you to be the best Destroyer you can possibly be. What you do with that knowledge is completely up to you, but I refuse to have a student leave one of my classes not fully trained to do their duty.”
He’s serious. As if my killing people a few years from now has no bearing on his teaching me to do it, he opens his notebook and instructs me to do the same. What choice do I have but to follow him?
“Now,” he says, “I have been researching the Destroyer class most of my life. It has always fascinated me that there is only one member, one single person meant to destroy our entire society. When we have millions of Guardians to fight against the Destroyer, Visionaries who might see her coming, Concealers to find her, etc., I have always been curious about how this one person is actually meant to succeed.”
I cough and interrupt his rambling. “If the Destroyer, me, has all the talents of the ones meant to stop me, then all I have to do is use the talents I have against them, right? That’s hardly a mystery.”
“Precisely,” he says, “but the problem is that while a Guardian only needs to focus on honing Speed and Strength, you must master all seven talents if you have any hope of surviving past your eighteenth birthday. Mastering one or two talents takes years, decades even, but you only have two years. That, my dear, is the real question that has plagued me for so long. How can one person reach perfection before the whole world turns on her?”
“Oh. Yeah, I guess that would be something of a problem, if I was planning on actually surviving longer than two years,” I say.
Mr. Walters simply blinks at me. “You mean you don’t plan on surviving?”
“Uh, not really.”
“Because it’s impossible, for one, and surviving would mean hurting people, ruining lives. I don’t want to be a part of that. I’d rather let one of those psychotic Guardians slice me into little pieces than watch myself do the same thing to someone else.”
No matter what anyone says, I will not hurt anyone. Not again.
Walking over to my desk at a slow, thoughtful pace, Mr. Walters surprises me by touching his index finger to the spot of dried blood on my neck. “If you don’t want your gifts then why didn’t you let Lance or the Guardian kill you last night? Why don’t you kill yourself right now?”
He pushes back his blazer sleeve and snatches the Guardian blade out of its sheath so quickly I barely see more than a flash of light on steel before it is pressing against my throat. A Guardian. My heart is pounding against my chest, my mind screaming at me to run. I am alone in a room with a Guardian who is apparently obsessed with the Destroyer. With me. And he has a knife balanced exactly against my carotid artery. Black spots fleck my vision and I realize I’m hyperventilating. It requires all my quickly vanishing willpower to tap my Naturalism and slow my breathing enough to see clearly again.
“If you ask me to kill you, I will do that for you, Libby, though I would not take any pleasure in it,” Mr. Walters says. “Or if you prefer to end your life by your own hand, I will not stop you. Either way, if death is what you truly want, I will allow you to have it. Right here. Right now. This is the only time I will make this offer, Libby. It is your choice.”
The pressure of the blade on my skin increases slightly, and I cry out. “No! No don’t!”
Instantly the knife is withdrawn, back in its sheath like it never left. “Why?” he asks.
“Because I don’t want to die,” I say. Tears bleed down my cheeks and I wipe them away furiously, angrily.
“You will die eventually. There is no doubting that.”
“But I don’t want to die yet, not today. Not for as long as I can manage it.” Maybe it’s wrong to want to live. With everything I’ve done, and am, I probably deserve to die. But I don’t want to. Not yet.
Placing his hands on my desk, Mr. Walters leans forward. His wizened features grow eerily strong and firm as he peers down at me. “If you don’t want to die, then you have to embrace who and what you are, Libby. Becoming the Destroyer is the only thing that is going to keep you alive.”