Welcome back to my Author Spotlight series, where I shine a bright light on the talented authors within the indie romance community. This series aims to celebrate authors who bring their unique voices to the romance genre, connecting them with readers who crave diverse and enthralling love stories.
Today, it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the brilliant mind behind numerous bestselling series, J.L. Drake. With a remarkable talent for weaving intricate tales that span multiple countries and genres, she has taken the indie romance scene by storm. She’s here to shed light on her latest release, “Alpha” – the third instalment of her Dark Water Series. You can get your copy of “Alpha” right now on Amazon and immerse yourself in the thrilling world she’s crafted.
Can you tell us more about your journey from being involved in acting to becoming a bestselling author? How did your experience in theater, TV, and movies influence your approach to storytelling?
I’ve always been creative, in runs in my family. My father was the ultimate storyteller. Often on a Sunday night we’d sit around the dinner table and listen to his stories of the mysteries of our area that he either said were true or he’d make up.
I think from there I fell into the acting world which helped me look at the world in a different way. Acting is pretending you’re someone else, seeing things that aren’t always there. It unlocked a gate for me. I can picture everything my characters can, smell, taste, feel, even hear. It’s intense sometimes but it makes for a deep experience for the reader.
Your books often involve military, law enforcement, and motorcycle clubs. How do you ensure accuracy and authenticity in your portrayals of these worlds? Can you share some insights into your research process and collaborations with experts in these fields?
They say, write what you know, and I say write what you don’t. I have a fascination with the law and the outlaw so if I’m going to write about something, I want to learn it all.
I have a great friend whose husband is in law enforcement, head of his SWAT division, honestly, the guy is just a modern-day Rambo. Thankfully, he loves books just as much as I do and lets me pick his brain whenever I want. No question is stepping over the line. Our brains are intrigued by the same things so when I go down a rabbit hole, he joins me for the ride. His expertise helps me make sure I have everything correct.
Now for the military information, I again have another friend who husband is always willing to give me the goods. He did a few tours in Afghanistan and worked a lot with the locals there which helped make my Dark Water Series as authentic as I could get!
With my motorcycle books I got to work with a president over in the UK whose club is affiliated with the Hells Angels. He was incredibly helpful and, bonus, he was also a prison guard, so I got lots of insight on that part of life too. I’ll be honest, for my research I “stepped” a toe into a club a few years ago and quickly realized some research opportunities aren’t worth the risk.
Your upcoming release, “Alpha,” is the third book in the Dark Water Series. Could you give us a glimpse into what readers can expect from this installment? Any exciting plot developments or character arcs you’d like to highlight?
As we dive further into Ivy’s side of the story things start to unfold and she soon realizes that it’s time to face her past whether she’s ready or not. Ty continues to hunt for clues that will take down his “brother’s” killer and make a difficult decision that affects Ivy in a negative way. The safe house gets a “code red” and takes a crazy turn. This is a heart-pounding story that when you reach the end, you’ll be left unhinged. (Especially if you’ve read my Broken and Blackstone books 😉 )
“Shadows,” the first book in the Dark Water Series, takes readers back to 1974, while the story also unfolds in the present day. How did you approach weaving together the different timelines and maintaining the connection between the characters and their experiences across generations?
If you know my writing, you know I’ve always made an effort to weave my books together in some way. Dark Water is a continuation of my Broken and Blackstone Series. So many readers asked for the history of Shadows, so I decided to start the first quarter of the book in present-day at Shadows to give a quick update on everyone and what’s happening with them. Then I let you know that something dark is brewing. Then I have a character ask how Shadows came to be and Daniel (the main character in Shadows) tells the story from his POV. You also get his father’s POV since Daniel reads from his father’s journal.
We shoot back in time, to where I drop you off in Vietnam and the aftermath of coming home from such a war. From fighting mental demons to finding a reason to live, to love, to have a family etc.… I move you forward in time giving you a little glimpse of Daniel’s life while bringing in the older generation that you know and love from the first stories. I leave many little easter eggs for my die-hard readers to find.
Then in the last quarter, we’re back in the present day again, the house is buzzing and you get a hint of what’s to come. I blow the minds of my readers in Whiskey, Alpha, and Tango.
Your books come with a trigger warning, as they tackle darker themes and include sensitive content. Can you talk about the importance of addressing these topics in your writing and how you balance the darkness with lighter moments and romantic elements?
It’s important to balance the harsh elements of life with some humor. I bring in characters like Mark and Rail to keep things from going too serious. My books take you into some dark places where most people would never see, that’s what keeps them interesting. The humor keeps you from sinking too far into the dark. Every person, no matter what type of life they lead has some good in them and they fall in love like anyone else. It’s important to know that love comes in many different ways.
As an indie author, you have published your books in multiple languages around the world. Can you share some of the challenges and rewards of reaching a global audience with your work? How do you engage with readers from different cultures and backgrounds?
It’s interesting how different countries perceive my writing. Some countries feel my female characters are too strong, others love it. I get a lot of love from people all around the world, but the odd time I’ll get a negative review on something in particular and I can guess which country they are from. I love how different cultures react and which books they like the most.
The Broken Trilogy is one of your bestselling series. How did you come up with the concept for this series, and what do you think resonates most with readers in these books?
*Swoon* Broken is my baby, my go-to when I “need to go home again.”
I kid you not, I woke straight up out of a dream, rushed to the computer, and let my fingers fly on that one. The opening to Broken is so strong in my memory to this day, the pure and utter strength it takes to live in a hell that might never end, still haunts me.
I think the readers connect with Savi and Cole because of the strength of their love and of their pain. The guys in Blackstone come to life and are all so different but loveable. The book is exciting and captures your imagination right from the start. But it’s the characters that make it such a good story.
Being dyslexic might have presented some challenges for you as a writer. How have you overcome those challenges and what advice would you give to aspiring authors who may also face similar obstacles?
Just that you should never say you can’t do something until you try. There’s always a “fix” you just need to figure it out. If you want it – go for it, don’t let anything stop you.
You mentioned that your love for the seasons in Canada finds its way into your books. How do you incorporate setting and atmosphere into your storytelling to create a vivid sense of place for your readers?
Because I can close my eyes and see it so clearly and smell everything as if I’m there I guess it just makes it real in my words.
Your website is regularly updated with information about your next book and signings. How do you utilize online platforms and social media to connect with your readers and build a vibrant community around your books?
It’s a balance of using social media and online platforms for work. But I love to connect with people not only through books but with everyday life situations. I let people in and see I’m human too, so they never feel alone or think my life is better than theirs. It’s not. We all have things good and bad to juggle. I’m here for my readers as they are here for me and to me that’s incredibly special.
A massive thank you to J.L. Drake for gracing us with her insights and sharing the thrilling world of “Alpha.” To get your own copy of this captivating book, head over to Amazon now and immerse yourself in the story.
To stay updated on J.L. Drake’s latest news and connect with this exceptional indie romance author, be sure to follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, GoodReads, and visit her author website for the latest updates. You can also join her reader’s group to get the inside scoop of what’s to come next!
Remember, Literary Inspired is always on the lookout for more incredible indie romance authors to feature in our Author Spotlight series. If you’re an indie romance author eager to connect with your readers and share your unique journey, head over to our submission page here and let your story shine.