27 May, 2016

#Interview with J.F. Penn, #Author of Destroyer of Worlds

About the Author:

J.F.Penn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the ARKANE supernatural thrillers and London Psychic crime series. Her books weave together ancient artifacts, relics of power, international locations and adventure at the edges of faith. Joanna lives in Bath, England

Interview with the Author:

What inspires you to write?
I'm primarily inspired by my travels to new places and the culture, history, art and architecture that I experience there. I'm a research junkie! Most of my books are based on places I've been and things I've done. (Not the murders, of course!) My thrillers are usually 95% truth and real life, based on my research and then I twist it into fiction, which hopefully makes it more believable. For example, Gates of Hell is based on Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, and the story starts in Spain and then moves to Israel and then into Eastern Europe. So once I start researching a topic, I find that the story emerges from what I discover. 

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
I travelled to India a few years back and went from Delhi to Varanasi and back through the national park area to Agra. While I was traveling, I learned a lot about Hindu religion and culture and in Delhi Museum, I saw a statue of Shiva Nataraja whose cosmic dance destroys the world, readying it for re-creation. That was the first seed of the idea that became Destroyer of Worlds. 
Then synchronicity took over because it turns out that there is a huge statue of Shiva Nataraja at CERN, and conspiracy theorists believe that the Large Hadron Collider could destroy the world. Oppenheimer also said of the first atom bomb, "I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds," a quote from the Bhagavad Gita. 
So in the book, ARKANE agents Morgan Sierra and Jake Timber must travel to India to stop an ancient weapon being discharged at one of the world's biggest pilgrimages, the Kumbh Mela.

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Absolutely! Morgan Sierra is the main character for my ARKANE series and she's kind of my alter ego. I send her on the adventures that I will never have. Her thoughts are often mine and what she thinks about places is based on my experiences. Of course, she is an ex-Israeli military psychologist, which I never was! But she specializes in religion and I have a Masters in Theology from Oxford, so I bring that aspect of my life to the page. 

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I love reading and usually get through 3 books per week on my Kindle.  I read widely but in the supernatural thriller genre, I like James Rollins, Stephen King, John Connolly, Jonathan Maberry, Mo Hayder, Preston & Child, and Daniel Silva.
I have a list HERE of books and authors I particularly love.
I definitely write what I love to read so hopefully my books resonate with the readers of the books I love. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
The most important thing is getting that first draft done and it will always be terrible – and that's OK! Because a first draft is not a finished book. It is just the beginning of the editing process. So let that encourage you and just write freely and without judgement until you have something to work with. After all, you can't edit a first draft! 

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Morgan Sierra has always been Angelina Jolie for me, as she was in Mr & Mrs Smith, or SALT, or Tomb Raider. But I know she's not acting anymore, so I also like Krysten Ritter, recently in Jessica Jones on Netflix. 
Jake Timber has always been Hugh Jackman in my head :)
I'd love for Asha Kapoor to be played by Aishwarya Rai or maybe Priyanka Chopra. 

How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
When at home and while writing during the day, I read a lot and also go for long walks along the canal path near where I live in Bath, England. I'm currently training for a 100km walk called Race to the Stones, which finishes at the standing stones of Avebury, an ancient part of England. I travel a lot for my research so between books I'll head off to see another part of the world. I'm just back from Spain and I'll be heading back to Israel later this year to research End of Days, ARKANE thriller #9.

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
I went to junior school in Malawi, Africa and that early travel experience has shaped my life and passion for different countries. 
I'm a PADI Divemaster and love scuba diving, preferably in clear, warm sea, rather than the freezing, grey English waters! 
I'm a cat person, although my husband and I are currently between cats as we move around a lot. But I'm looking forward to getting a furry writing companion next year when we intend to stay still for a bit. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I'm starting to research ancient Babylon for End of Days, ARKANE #9 which is coming at the end of 2016. I'm also intending to do a couple of books set in Australia and the Pacific Islands, to follow up Risen Gods, a dark fantasy novel set in New Zealand. I love the mythology and the setting of the antipodean islands. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I update my online journal (not really a blog!) every few weeks, and I share books I'm reading and photos from my travels: http://jfpenn.com/now/
I also share interesting things at https://www.facebook.com/JFPennAuthor
If you're interested in trying my books, you can also get a free ebook, Day of the Vikings, here: http://jfpenn.com/free-thriller/

About the Book:
A bomb explodes in the center of London and a fragment of an ancient Hindu sculpture is stolen from the ARKANE Headquarters by a secret organization bent on mass murder. If the sculpture is put together again, it will reveal the key to the Brahmastra, a weapon with the power of a nuclear explosion.

As those they love are threatened, ARKANE agents Morgan Sierra and Jake Timber must search for the pieces of the relic before it can be activated at the Kumbh Mela, the greatest pilgrimage on earth.

In a fast-paced adventure from the slums of Mumbai to the temples of Kolkata, the Taj Mahal in Agra to the killing fields of Rwanda, Morgan and Jake must find the pieces of the sculpture before it’s too late.

>>> Destroyer of Worlds is Book 8 in the ARKANE action adventure thriller series, but can be read as a stand-alone story.