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Guest Post & Giveaway with Author Dakota Banks

Sep 8, 2010

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today I have a special treat for you here on JoJosBookCorner. Author of Dark Time, and new Release Sacrifice in The Mortal Path Series, Please help me give a warm welcome to Dakota Banks *round of applause*

When I was writing suspense novels, I'd sometimes get my heroine stuck somewhere and I'd think, "If only she could... " read minds, fly, run up the side of a building, or run that evil guy through with a sword and not dial 911. And I'd tell myself that I couldn't do it because it didn't fit in the real world I was writing about. Oh look, in her latest police procedural, the villain trapped on the rooftop sprouts wings and off he goes! Although I did have some leeway in my books because they included virtual reality and artificial intelligence, it wasn't enough for me. Finally I decided to stretch my own wings and move into a genre where world-building was not only expected but mandatory. I was a science fiction and fantasy fan when I was young, and enjoyed reading urban fantasy, so it wasn't tough to know what I should try.

I needed a new name to keep my new work separate from my techno-thrillers, so I borrowed a name of a character in an unsold book: Dakota Banks. It seemed right that as I reinvented myself, I took a name from my own fiction. There was a practical aspect to it, too. Banks is near the beginning of the alphabet and would place my books close to the beginning in a bookstore section. It didn't take long before I had a character and story line I loved, but it took a lot of research and trying out different versions of the Mortal Path before I was ready to write about it.

One thing that I decided early in the process was that I was going to do something unusual in urban fantasy in two ways. First, the world is based on ancient Sumerian mythology, an area that is not heavily used. This takes the Mortal Path books out of the Judeo-Christian background present as the basis of most urban fantasy, and leaves out heavily-written elements such as vampires, werewolves, and witches. Instead, the concepts in the Mortal Path books might be familiar to a reader from the Sumerian culture 5,000 years ago--except that they're not written in cuneiform! The second thing is: once a thriller writer, always a thriller writer, so it seems. From the beginning I envisioned the books containing a thriller plot embedded in each one, full of action, adventure, and exotic locations.

The thing I like best about writing urban fantasy is world-building, something that has to be vivid and able to withstand the needs of a series. My idea is that I set out a world different from our reality, yet overlapping our reality in enough ways that my characters could easily pass you in the street and you wouldn't notice anything unusual. Readers accept the world and play along with it, if done right, but the underlying features of the world can't keep changing. So from the first book in a series, the world is defined and the author has to live within it, even if it would be convenient to keep throwing in new features to solve plot problems.

The second book in the Mortal Path series, Sacrifice, brings such strong challenges to Maliha Crayne that she considers returning to ways of her evil past, as the Black Ghost. Two hot immortals contest for her heart, and she returns to the deadly desert in Central Asia, the one she knew wasn't through with her. I'd like to offer a small passage from Sacrifice. To set the scene, Maliha has traveled into the Taklimakan Desert, crawled down a tunnel into a rock outcropping, and found a room she's visited once before.


The pool, wisps of steam rising intermittently from its smooth surface, filled the width of the chamber. There was no way across to the wall without going through the pool. In spite of its placid surface, the water was superheated. The layer of sand underneath the water sucked down anything resting on it for more than two seconds. The sand wasn't a natural, passive thing. She knew from experience that the feel of it against her fingers was like grasping tentacles, a very un-sand-like quality.

Sitting cross-legged at the edge of the pool, Maliha leaned over and plopped in a throwing spike from her belly bag, thinking that maybe the sand didn't behave the same way all the time. Two seconds later, the sand pulled the spike down so forcefully that it churned the water, sending bubbles up that fizzed and steamed when they reached the surface.

Okay. Consistency is a big thing here.

She took a piece of paper from the pocket of her loose trousers, a paper that had been folded and refolded so many times it was tearing at the creases. On it was a drawing of the inscription on the back of the tablet, the words that had sent her to this place. She studied them again: go to sand.

I went to sand. I crossed the desert. Now what?

A thought hit her like an unnatural blast of frigid air in the desert. Goose flesh rose on her arms and her frightened mind pushed away the terrible possibilities unfolding in her imagination.

No, oh no, surely not …

She saw what she had to do. If she wanted to follow the cryptic clue, to find out what awaited her in Anu's cave, she didn't have to go to the sand but into the sand.

This sand, in front of her.

Maliha had to step into the boiling water and let the sucking sand in the pool claim her. Her mind rebelled against it. All of her logic told her that it was a trap. She would die in the sand from mortal injury, or be trapped there until her body aged and died. Yet Anu was telling her to do exactly that, if those were Anu's words on the tablet.

There was no rational way to decide. It would have to be a leap of faith.

Find Dakota at:

Thank you so much Dakota for taking the time to share with us today!

But don't go away. 
Dakota is stopping by through out the day to chat, AND
One lucky commentor will win a signed copy of Sacrifice
Open Internationally
Ends Sept 15th
~Ask Dakota a Question and/or Leave a comment
~Fill out the form


53 Hottie Follwers Thoughts:

Linda Henderson September 8, 2010 at 7:50 AM  

I enjoyed the excerpt very much and I can't wait to read the book.

seriousreader at live dot com

May September 8, 2010 at 8:11 AM  

ooo loved that excerpt!

Count me in ;)

mayarend -at-

Kulsuma September 8, 2010 at 9:59 AM  

This looks awesome!

Count me in please:)

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 11:07 AM  

Linda - I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. It's one of the many challenges Maliha faces in Sacrifice, not all of which she can solve with her sword!

May - Thanks for stopping by. There's more fun reading where that excerpt came from. :)

Kulsuma - Good luck in the giveaway!

JoJo September 8, 2010 at 11:52 AM  

Thank you again Dakota for being here today!
I have a question.
The story that you took your name from, do you think you will ever publish it? If so would you continue with the character name, or use a different one?

Victoria September 8, 2010 at 12:14 PM  

This looks really good. Thanks for being here and the giveaway.

Jessica Subject September 8, 2010 at 12:22 PM  

When you are world-building, what sense do you tend to use the most in your descriptions?

Barbara E. September 8, 2010 at 2:16 PM  

Hi Dakota,
The Mortal Path series sounds fantastic and I've got both books on my wish list. I enjoyed the post and the chance to learn more about you and your books.

Bethany C. September 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM  

I just picked up Dark Time recently, and I'm getting to it soon, I swear! I should hire a baby-sitter just so I can read.

linaramz September 8, 2010 at 5:51 PM  

Hi Dakota! Loved the excerpt. How many books are set to be published? And how many books in the Mortal Path series do you hope to write?

I'm so looking forward to reading this series! I just got Dark Time and can't wait to start reading it!Thanks for the giveaway!

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 6:02 PM  


It's a pleasure to be here. :)

The story I took the name Dakota Banks from was a romantic adventure novel written for submission to the Harlequin Bombshell line. It bombed. Too much action, and not of the romantic kind. I have a trio of such books, titled Dakota Banks and the Treasure of the Nile, and so on. I hope to resurrect them as YA. I'd have to think of a different name for the title character.

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 6:12 PM  

Thanks for the compliment and good luck in the giveaway!

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 6:34 PM  


Your question: When you are world-building, what sense do you tend to use the most in your descriptions?

As many authors are, I'm sight oriented. That's why I make a special effort to include multiple senses in my descriptions to enrich the experience for readers. If I don't get enough sensory description in during the first draft, I add it in the second one. Take a paragraph like this from Dark Time:

The fog thinned but didn’t clear. Peering ahead, she saw a shape approaching. Wherever she tried to fasten her eyes on it, they slid away. A foul odor came her way, of must and decay, of graves and bones and winter sickness wrapped in the burnt hide of an animal. Malevolent streams of brown and green fog pushed aside the clean air. When the streams came near, they swirled around her as though a huge finger had stirred them. The smell of excrement filled her nostrils. She retched again, bent over and helpless in the throes of her nausea.

If you take the evocative sensory descriptions away, the paragraph becomes: Something came toward her that made her sick.

Big difference!

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 6:42 PM  

I hope you'll enjoy the Mortal Path books. I noticed your profile picture, with your eyes peeking over a book. I just had to know what book that was, so I enlarged and sharpened your photo. Aha! Destined for an Early Grave. When I see people reading in restaurants I try to get a glimpse of the book. I'm afraid I've done some less-than-subtle things, such as walk over and lean nearly into their plates.

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 6:46 PM  

If you said that (hire a babysitter just so I can read) anywhere else, people might look at you strangely. Here we completely understand - you're among book lovers. :)

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 6:58 PM  


There is an overall story to the Mortal Path that I think will take at least six books to wrap up, and could take longer. I'm eager to write more Maliha Crayne books!

chey September 8, 2010 at 7:05 PM  

I really want to read this book!

Nicole September 8, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

I can't wait for this! I absolutely love the cover. SO great! Is it the same artist that did Deadtown? It looks similiar...

Dakota Banks September 8, 2010 at 10:00 PM  

Glad to hear it. Let nothing stand between you and the book you desire.

The similarity to Deadtown has been pointed out before, but Deadtown is published by Ace and I'm published by HarperCollins Eos. I'm fairly sure the artist who does my covers works for Eos (and I'm so fortunate to have him!), so the similarity in the covers has to be coincidence.

Spav September 8, 2010 at 11:42 PM  

This book sounds great! Count me in, please.

jmspettoli September 9, 2010 at 1:30 AM  

The cover is kick-ass (that is one big gun LOL) and the Sumerian concept is very interesting. Why did you decide on that / how did you come up with it?

buddyt September 9, 2010 at 5:33 AM  

Sumerian mythology.

Thats a new one to me.

I would be interested to see what you do with it.


Carol T

Llehn September 9, 2010 at 8:02 AM  

I love the excerpt! I'm totally stoked now!!

Sharon S. September 9, 2010 at 8:45 AM  

I like how you came up with your pen name. That was clever . I also peak at what others are reading and I proudly display what I am reading!

I've read both Mortal Path books and loved the detailed spy/thriller parts as well as the character building. Of course I can't give any spoilers about a certain character, but "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" (in my whiniest voice)

Dakota Banks September 9, 2010 at 5:57 PM  


Thanks for coming by JoJo's and entering the giveaway!

Dakota Banks September 9, 2010 at 6:06 PM  

I think the large weapon on the front represents license taken by the artist. It's not a realistic rendition of any weapon in the book, but it sure grabs the eye.

I came up with the Sumerian concept based on the 2003 looting of the Iraqi National Museum that occurred when U.S. troops entered Baghdad. Ancient Sumeria is now modern Iraq, and when I saw pictures of the looted and smashed artifacts, it really stayed with me because I have a strong interest in archaeology. It got me started thinking, if those artifacts could be left over after 5,000+ years, what else could be hanging around from the Sumerian period? I found that Sumerian mythology is rich in ideas and virtually untapped in urban fantasy. It took a long time to research and build the world of the Mortal Path books, but it certainly was fun!

Dakota Banks September 9, 2010 at 6:12 PM  


Sumerian mythology is fresh in urban fantasy and I hope gives the Mortal Path books a fresh, exciting slant. Readers, of course, will be the judge of that!


Totally stoked is good. You've uncovered my little plot of providing excerpts in addition to having the author yakking away. :)

Dakota Banks September 9, 2010 at 6:18 PM  


I have to admit that once or twice I've used a stretchy book cover to protect gentle young eyes from, ahem, erotic covers. Okay, you may boo and hiss me now for being a coward. But there are a lot of underage kids in Chuck E. Cheese's.

You may whine all you want. The book is already printed and I'm not changing it for you. Although I sympathize.

Lady_Graeye September 9, 2010 at 11:18 PM  

Love your books. I can't wait to read this one. It looks exiting.

Dakota Banks September 10, 2010 at 1:13 AM  


Thanks for the compliment and I hope you'll enjoy Sacrifice!

Rex Robot Reviews September 10, 2010 at 7:06 AM  

Wow. Loved the excerpt! Totally going to read this one. Thank you for the giveaway too, count me in :)

Jessica September 10, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

How many books do you think you might have for this series?

Dakota Banks September 10, 2010 at 1:31 PM  

Rex Robot,

I'm going to email you to see if you have an interest in reviewing Sacrifice. Any other reviewers out there? Contact me through my blogger profile.

Dakota Banks September 10, 2010 at 1:32 PM  


There's a quest going on in the series that should take at least six books, although it could take more. Publisher willing, that is!

k_sunshine1977 September 10, 2010 at 11:09 PM  

i've been so excited about this series, and this just adds to it! can't wait! :)

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

Dakota Banks September 11, 2010 at 2:26 AM  


I'm excited about the Mortal Path too, and I hope that passion comes through in the books.

Ina September 11, 2010 at 2:18 PM  

Dakota, I can't wait to get my hands on your books :) I first saw the cover and I love it - do you have a say in choosing it?
greetings, Ina
inale87 at gmx dot at

Mysteriousrose September 11, 2010 at 5:14 PM  

What a great giveaway I would love to read (and review) this book:-)

Where is your favorite spot to read?

Lora1967 September 11, 2010 at 6:41 PM  

Have you ever had any crazy stalking fans?

Dakota Banks September 12, 2010 at 1:19 AM  


I'm proud of the Mortal Path covers, and yes, I did have some say in them. My editor asked me for input before the first cover was designed, and I suggested showing Maliha from the back facing into a scene associated with the book. For Dark Time, that turned out to be an ancient temple (in the spirit of the book if not literally in it) and for Sacrifice, a large urban environment that could be one of several she visits in the book. I didn't suggest her leather outfits and high heels; in fact I wanted her dressed as a ninja. Lost out on that one!

Dakota Banks September 12, 2010 at 1:29 AM  


My favorite place to read is anywhere I have a few minutes to spare. I'll use even five minutes to pick up and read one of several books I have planted around the house. So I'm juggling the story lines of about 4 books of "fun" reading, the book I'm writing, the next book in the series I'm planning, and a couple of other books I have on the back burner waiting for their turn to be written.

Seriously, though, my favorite place to read is in a bookstore coffee shop. I don't get to do it that often, but I love the smells of the coffee shop, the low conversation going on around me, and being surrounded by books.

Dakota Banks September 12, 2010 at 1:38 AM  


Stalking fans, no. I have, though, signed a man's underwear in an elevator at a conference. He was wearing it at the time.

I've also received fan letters from men in prison. They creep me out so I no longer bother to open them.

Anonymous,  September 12, 2010 at 2:22 PM  

How do you come up with a world that's so different from everyone elses worlds? How do you make yours stand out?

Lindsay September 12, 2010 at 4:23 PM  

Whats is it about Urban Fantasy that you love so much to read/write about?

hendy September 12, 2010 at 7:58 PM  

My question for dakota is what other names did you consider when choosing your new name for your new genre? (hendy)

Dakota Banks September 12, 2010 at 9:28 PM  


I make my world special by drawing on a mythology that isn't commonly used in urban fantasy, in fact I may be the only one using it. That is Sumerian mythology, from a culture located in the middle east starting about 7,000 years ago. The Sumerians had a whole set of gods, goddesses, and demons, and interesting stories to go with them. For the basis of my series, I assumed that these mythological figures were real and that some of them were alive on Earth in the current time. Wow! From that perspective, I was able to come up with a very different world, one that I hope readers will be as excited about as I am.

Dakota Banks September 12, 2010 at 9:33 PM  


Urban fantasy is great because the world the characters inhabit is so similar to ours, we could step in and inhabit it, and not know the difference--because we're not part of what makes the world unique.

I get a thrill out of imagining that the person walking in the mall or at the next table might have a different view of things than I do, because of some power or because they're not really human. It's a "they walk amongst us" thing that so motivates me. For who's to say they don't?

Dakota Banks September 12, 2010 at 9:44 PM  


I was stuck on Dakota Knight for a while. I have a whole list of potential pen names. Among them are Kate Anton, S.A. Erin, Mary Rose Sedge, and Robin Altman.

Pam S (pams00),  September 13, 2010 at 12:59 PM  

Hi Dakota, this sounds like a great/book series. Can I ask if you've gotten to enjoy any really good books this year? Also do you have a favorite spot to read/write?

Pam S
pams00 @

Dakota Banks September 13, 2010 at 8:16 PM  


I've recently read and enjoyed Small Favor, from the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. I loved Jocelynn Drake's new Dark Days series opener, Nightwalker. And Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid series, all with Succubus in the titles. Couldn't resist Succubus on Top!

I enjoy reading in a bookstore coffeeshop, when I can manage to get there. Otherwise, I read in several places around the house where I have different books stashed. As for writing, I'm fortunate to have an office at home with a door I can close if things get too noisy, because I need a quiet environment to write.

donnas September 14, 2010 at 8:54 PM  

Great excerpt. Really looking forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing and congrats on the release!

Dakota Banks September 15, 2010 at 2:00 PM  


I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. I'm thrilled about the release of Sacrifice!!

Dakota Banks September 17, 2010 at 5:07 PM  

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by the fabulous JoJo's Book Corner. It's been a pleasure talking to all of you, and thanks, JoJo, for inviting me.

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