As the newest staff member at RT BOOK REVIEWS magazine, this was my first time attending our convention — and boy was it a doozy! From meeting my favorite romance authors Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Loretta Chase to catching glimpses of fiction idols like Anne Rice and Sue Grafton, every minute of convention seemed to be packed with excitement. But my favorite moment, by far, was sitting in on the panel "No Holds Barred With J.R. Ward and Jessica Andersen." I'm not exaggerating when I say I've never encountered a more fanatic reader following than the people who were at this reader event. In fact, the crowd's obvious enthusiasm inspired me to pick up the Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and just a week after convention, I'm already on book four. I can't wait until I get to the point that I understand all of the spoilers Ward divulged at the chat. Want to find out what they were? In Ward and Andersen's own words, "Keep reading!"
With a panel name like “No Holds Barred,” it was clear that the author chat would be anything but tame, and sure enough, the wisecracking authors didn’t disappoint a packed room of rabid fans — including many that had started lining up for the panel more than two hours early.
In fact, the talk between the two headlining authors quickly turned downright dirty, with Ward whipping out a "swear jar" and setting aside a stockpile of dollar bills, which she quickly decimated, dropping a dollar in for every time she swore. (Now we know where the inspiration for her tough-talking vampires comes from!) At one point, she even asked her mom, sitting nearby, for more money.
While the authors weren’t afraid to let the profanity fly, and had everyone in the room nearly crying with laughter, the audience members still managed to make Ward spill a few pertinent details about her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. First, she confirmed that her next book will feature a M/M pairing. It will be Blay and Qhuinn's story — something many fans have been anticipating for years. “To me, it’s a love story,” Ward explained, admitting, “I was not expecting to be writing them as a full-blown book.” But after many conversations with her editor, Ward says, “I think we both got to this point where [we realized], ‘This is a story that needs to be told.’” Later in the chat, Ward confessed: “The best vision I’ve ever gotten is of Layla turning her newborn child over to Blay. Qhuinn is standing in the door because he doesn’t feel welcome and she reaches out to him.”
Spoiler alert! Fans should note that when the author was asked whether or not “there is a blood connection between two characters with ice-white eyes with dark blue rims,” Ward responded it “would not be incorrect to say that ice white eyes with dark blue rims are from a limited genetic pool.” Ward also hinted that there might be a connection between Muhrder and Michael (from Ward’s novella “The Story of Son” in Dead After Dark), urging fans to “keep reading.” (As if we need a reason!)
But it wasn’t all swear words and spoilers: Ward got emotional when discussing her most recent book, Lover Reborn, about Tohrment, the brother who lost his mate Wellsie earlier in the BDB series. She admitted she suffered from a serious case of writer’s block when penning the bittersweet tale and that she cried several times while writing. “I was really nervous to write this book,” she confessed. “The emotional connection some of the readers had with Wellsie was so deep.”
As for Andersen and her popular Nightkeepers books? Well, she’s keeping fans of her series on the edge of their seats. The author refused to divulge too many details at the chat — but she did confirm that the final book of the series is due out in November.
And as for that swear jar? By the end of the chat, the two authors had racked up almost $50, which was awarded to the lucky winner, author Angela Knight.
I'm now knee-deep in BDB drama and I wouldn't have it any other way! I've got my fingers crossed that J.R. Ward & Jessica Andersen will join us in Kansas City, MO for the 2013 RT Booklovers Convention so that I can glean even more insider details about their books. But if you want to learn more about some of the other moments from the 2012 RT Booklovers Convention, click here.