Friday, February 14, 2014

Fire and Ice: J. L. Murray, Author of Jenny Undead (With INT Giveaway)

Hello, everyone!
It may seem just a bit strange to you that I've invited J. L Murray, an urban fantasy and horror author, to talk about romance, but after reading her latest novel, Jenny Undead, I understood (as I hope you will) that she writes the best kind of romance, already established, strong and unconditional.
I hope you'll enjoy this post and I sincerely hope you'll give Jenny Undead a chance.

But first, here are all the other Fire and Ice posts aroud the blogosphere today:
Tressa@Tressa's Wishful Endings: Sarah M. Eden
Ali@My Guilty Obsession:Faith Sullivan: Heartbeat Series
Candace@Candace's Book Blog: Rosamund Hodge: Cruel Beauty
Ginny@Gin's Book Notes:Tess Thompson

Jenny Undead (The Thirteen)Author: J.L. Murray
Series: The Thirteen, #1
Published: December 31st 2013
Publisher: Hellzapoppin Press
Format: ebook, 281 pages
Buy: Amazon

In a world ravaged by disease and chaos, Jenny has a secret. She and her brother were part of a gruesome experiment conducted ten years earlier in an attempt to stop the zombie apocalypse. If the rumors are true, her mother was the hated pathologist who released the disease in the first place, leading to the destruction of government, civilization, and life as we know it.
Despite the constant terror of the undead, Jenny is as happy as a post-apocalyptic girl can be. She has friends, she's good with a knife, and she has Declan Munro by her side. But when she hears her brother might still be alive and living with the Underground, a religious group hiding in the now-defunct subway, Jenny jumps at the chance to find him. She infiltrates the group to right the wrong she caused when she ran away, leaving him in that lab.
When she finds him, though, Casey is not at all what she expected. He's been turned. And the impossible happens when Jenny is bitten. She and Casey are dead, but they're not like any other rotters. Their minds are still intact. And there are others: Thirteen children survived the mysterious experiments, and it’s up to Jenny to find them and bring an end to the plague. But not everyone wants the chaos to end.

Between battling her hunger for living flesh and the all-encompassing rage that goes with it, and the realization that a killer is stalking both the living and the undead, Jenny has her hands full. Coming between a dead girl and the people she loves is a big mistake. Because if you can count on one thing, it's this:

You wouldn't like her angry.

When I was in college, I took a poetry-writing class. I've forgotten virtually everything I learned in the class, except this: When writing about love, you never say the word “love.” I'm not sure why, but I loved that idea.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I was writing my first full-length novel, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. I decided I was never going to be one of those writers. You know, the kind that write about love. Romance, to me, was a death sentence. If I wrote romance, I thought, I would never be taken seriously as a writer.

But as I wrote more books, it became glaringly obvious to me that something was missing from my writing. I was three books into my Niki Slobodian series and the thing that I heard most from fans was, “When is Niki going to find love? When is she going to be happy?”

My knee-jerk reaction to these questions was to be irritated. Love wasn't the point of the books, the characters were. But the more I thought about it, the more I understood that it was because of the character that love mattered to the readers. Love was part of life. It drives people in real life, it would only make sense that it would matter to fictional characters as well. That's when I realized that writing about love and romance wasn't selling out, it was adding another dimension to the story.

My most recent book is entitled Jenny Undead. It is the first book in The Thirteen series. I decided to try something very different with Jenny. Instead of grappling with finding love, not finding love, or fighting the inclination to love, the book starts out with Jenny already being madly in love. It's a zombie book, but it's really a love story. It's dark and gritty, but there is an intense undercurrent of passion throughout the book. It's one of the first books I've written where I didn't try to fight the already-established connection between two characters. Jenny and Deck love each other and everyone knows it, fictional and otherwise.

The thing is, readers have responded to Jenny Undead in a way I had not anticipated. I expected some complaints about the cursing (there's a lot), some squeamish reactions about the level of violence (it's excessive), maybe even some comments about how they feel uncomfortable with the fact that Declan could actually still be interested in Jenny after she becomes a “rotter.” I have heard none of those things. What I have heard is readers responding to the dark flavor of love in the book. People email me and contact me through my Facebook page to ask when they are going to see more of Jenny and Declan. What's going to happen to them? Why can't I just leave them alone and let them be happy for a minute?

I'm not a romance writer by trade. My books are actually pretty dark and intense. But shying away from love does a disservice to the characters and to the story. If a character is in love, then it needs to be written that way. Because, though the characters may be fictional, they need to feel real. Their hate needs to feel like your hate, their guilt your guilt, and their love needs to be felt deep inside the reader's guts.

But to return to my original analogy. When writing poetry about love, you should never write the word “love.” When writing books about love, it's fairly similar. You don't just say it's love, you have to earn that feeling in your readers. They need to decide it's love based on how you make them feel, how much you make them yearn for two people to be together. Jenny and Declan loved each other beyond death, and blurred the lines of who the real monster was. That's the thing about love, though. You see the person inside the monster, you find yourself loving the monster, and before you know it, you're doing monstrous things to protect them. It's love. No one ever said it wasn't messy.

About the author:

J.L. Murray grew up in Northwestern Montana in a rural logging and mill town. Like most writers, she started writing at a very young age. She overcame great odds before returning to college and rediscovering her love of writing.

J.L. lives in Hawaii where she now writes full-time, with help from her husband, the writer and editor John Q. Murray, and two sons. She writes the Niki Slobodian series, and is currently working on several standalone dark fantasy novels. She can be reached through her blog, or her Facebook fan page at

I'm giving away two digital copies of Jenny Undead, gifted from Amazon. Please enter the Rafflecopter below and keep your fingers crossed. Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great guest post and I totally agree. Romance is a part of life so you kinda have to go with what comes natural you know, but I really enjoyed Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and one thing I liked is that the romance did not take center stage! I hate when a great plot gets plowed on for romance. Bleh. I also think I would LOVE Jenny Undead! Dude zombie books and me are like this *picture me crossing 2 fingers >.<* The mention of a lot of cussing and violence makes me wanna read it even more. And like, if there were zombies cussing and violence would be pretty excessive so that's just realism IMO

  2. I definitely wouldn't have guessed from that cover that Jenny Undead features a romance, but it seems like exactly the type of love story I can get behind. I love this guest post, so thanks for sharing, Maja!(:

  3. Love makes the world go 'round. There's room for love in every genre, even for a rotting, flesh-hungry zombie! And I don't believe that anyone necessarily needs to be a "romance" writer. Everyone experiences romance in some way or another so we're all experts in our own way. Great post!

  4. Wonderful guest post and I love that Jenny already has love. While I do not need romance to be the main thread of a plot I do find I like it as a side dish. Can I just say that cover is awesome and I just added it to my wishlist!

  5. Zombies freak me out to an absurd degree so while I don't think this is the book for me, I absolutely loved her guest post. I only took one poetry class in college and I can't remember anything from it, so I don't think I got a solid tip like don't use the word love. Fail. I love that Jenny and Declan begin this series already in love, it's a nice break from all the insta-love stories that are out there, thanks so much for sharing ladies!

  6. Okay I need to try this author, like yesterday!

    Wonderful guest post, I love that over time our views about things change and grow.

    Happy Valentines Day Maja! Hope you are feeling better. <3

  7. *mouth open*
    *stares at the cover*

  8. MUST. HAVE. THIS. BOOK! Awesome guest post, too. It really helps to read these types of posts as I trudge through the process of writing the first draft of, what I hope to be, my debut novel. I entered the giveaway, but I'm not even waiting.. heading to Amazon to purchase it right now. So, if my name comes up, feel free to give it to someone else. :)

    Toni @ My Book Addiction

  9. I love that you go for the non traditional type romance books for Fire and Ice. I must check this out as I am always on the hunt for out of the box different books. Thanks for all your help with Fire and Ice!

  10. It doesn't seem odd at all. Romance happens where you least expect it and those are my fave kind to read. So you know, you've totally sold me on this book. :)

    Oh and that is a great tip you don't hear. Never use the word love. Forces you to think.

  11. Oh zombie! Love it! I didn't know this one so thank you for the post. The synopsis is intriguing and I know I really need to read more zombie books, I loved all the ones I read.

  12. This cover looks really scary. I haven't heard of this author or her books but while reading this guest post I realized I'm missing a lot. I love the first paragraph of this guest post and truly when writing about love it shouldn't be pointed with obvious word love, but instead build emotions. It seem that this author knows how to do that. Great post, Maja :)

  13. What a great post, and it must have been so good not to get the negative feedback and instead find that readers loved the world/characters she'd created

  14. ha interesting. I didn't realize romance is such a big deal for some authors. I love it in my books, wouldn't have it any other way. Adds a bit of a level for me.

    Zombies is different heh, that's very interesting. Zombie in love ? XD kind of amusing.

  15. Wow! Talk about a freaaaky cover! Though I love the synopsis and the author's guest post. Gritty love stories can be the best!

    Thanks for sharing! <33

  16. This book is new to me, but I want to give it a try now! One of my favourite things about reading is how easy it can be fall in love with characters' relationships, regardless of the genre. The romances are sometimes the things that leave the greatest impressions on me. :) This is a great guest post! Thanks so much for sharing.

  17. I avoid zombie novels because I find them to be very gory and therefore wouldn't have guessed that this one is also a love story. I may have to give this one a try then.


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