Paranormal / Fantasy Romance
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Dark Longing’s central characters are Inanna and Gabriel. She is a vampire warrior, one of Queen Jade Cicada’s Chosen guard, and has lived for several millennia. She is also one of the few remaining True Bloods in the world, vampires who are born, not made. He is a human, a widower and father who would sacrifice all for those he loves. Unbeknownst to Gabriel, he also possesses a Pure soul and has an ancient past, as well as a future destiny, that is inextricably entwined with Inanna.
Fate (and a helping hand from Gabriel’s dying wife) has thrown them together in this present age as joint guardians of Benjamin, the son of Gabriel’s heart if not his body. An avalanche of expenses and debts compel Gabriel to enter a deadly network of fight clubs to earn some quick cash, but pulling out of the club is not as easy, as he quickly becomes the spectator favorite.
Meanwhile, the Chosen has been working to eradicate the masterminds behind the fight clubs, which not only result in an increasing number of gory human deaths, but also threaten to expose the Dark Ones to the world at large. In a rare concerted effort, the vampires and their nemesis – the Pure Ones – come together to pursue a common enemy.
To protect Benji from harm, Gabriel risks his life once more in the fight clubs and is almost killed by an unknown vampire assassin. In order to save him, Inanna breaks the sacred laws of her Kind, including turning a human and taking him as her Blooded Mate. What’s worse, they discover after the fact that Gabriel has a Pure soul. A union between Dark and Pure Ones has been strictly forbidden since the dawn of time for reasons no one fully knew.
While the Chosen makes progress with slowing down the expansion of the fight clubs, they uncover new information that points to a traitor in their own midst. Gabriel has a rough adjustment to his new state of being as a vampire, at the same time struggling to make sense of his relationship with Inanna, with whom he’s felt an instant and irresistible connection from the first moment they met. Inanna, on the other hand, devotes her heart and soul totally to love her Mate, just as she had loved his previous incarnation in her youth many millennia ago. To save her from pain, Gabriel’s ancient self, Alad, had her memories erased of him until he could find her again in another life.
Through her newly-forged friendship with the Pure Ones, including their young queen Sophia, Inanna discovers that not only is she a True Blood, but that her mother was a Dark Princess and her father was a Pure warrior and the leader of the Rebellion that led to the destruction of the Dark empire. She is the offspring from this union, and she has a twin brother who all the records say had died. Inanna also finds clues that at least her father might still be alive, and perhaps her mother as well.
By now Gabriel has fully accepted his new lease on life and is determined to help in the war against vampire rogues and their human conspirators any way he can. He has also accepted Inanna fully into his heart, having fallen for her all over again in his present incarnation. But the vampire assassin who threatened them before reveals herself again to challenge Inanna for the right to claim Gabriel as her Blood Slave and takes him prisoner to use against Inanna in the final death match.
Inanna goes with eyes wide open to the site of the challenge and fights the vampire who used to be her comrade. To distract her, the vampire holds Gabriel captive and deals him mortal wounds for every wound Inanna deals her. The ploy works, and Inanna loses concentration, suffering a mortal wound herself.
Inanna and Gabriel’s deaths trigger their Awakening, a process by which those with Pure souls embrace their past lives with all their memories and gifts. When they regain consciousness, they rejoin the battle already waging between the vampire assassins and the Chosen and Pure allies. They win this battle, and together, Inanna and Gabriel execute the traitor who plotted to usurp the Dark Queen.
But the war is not won. The battle between the vampires, humans and Pure Ones was recorded and uploaded onto the Internet to spur the growth of new fight clubs and potentially hastening the widespread exposure of the immortal races to humans. Meanwhile, Inanna and Gabriel rediscover each other with full knowledge of their ancient past. They plan to search for Inanna’s father with the aid of the Pure Ones.
The future is not yet written. Inanna and Gabriel would face the unknown together. Forevermore.
What is the hardest part of writing your books?
Finding the time! With two boys under the age of 5, a full-time job in Corporate America that requires frequent travel across multiple projects, it’s hard to stay on top of everything.
The second hardest part is my writing approach. I love the writing process because it’s about 50% planned, 50% unplanned for me, and it organically evolves as I write. It’s extremely enjoyable in that sense because I—as the writer—am also breathless with anticipation over what happens next—the characters and plot sometimes take a life of their own. On the other hand, when there are many threads to weave together into a coherent, well-designed tapestry, wrangling all the pieces together can take some extra creativity at times.
What songs are most played on your Ipod?
I listen to a variety of songs from different cultures, usually all pop songs, many of which inspire my writing, character and “mood” development. I like US and British pop, some Chinese, a lot of Korean pop, Latin, etc.
When I think about my stories, it’s like watching a movie unfolding. As with any movie, there’s a soundtrack. And characters in my novels might be closely associated with certain songs. Here are some of the songs that go through my head when the movie reel of my stories play out in my imagination.
- Enigma – “Sadeness”: Classic and haunting. I think of this when I envision the “ancient ones” during the Akkadian empire, before the time of the Great War.
- Linkin Park – “In the End”: Almost any song by Linkin Park and Evanescence conjures fighting scenes for me. Gothic, dark, slick and kick-ass.
- Nine Inch Nails – "Closer”: This is, for me, Ere’s theme song J I’ll leave it at that.
- Hoobastank – “The Reason”: This song reminds me of Dalair. We get hints in Book 1, Pure Healing, that he might have done something regrettable or was in a difficult situation in the past, and it might be related to a woman he loved/s. This song might get at his POV a little.
- Jason Chen – "Time Machine" (the version that’s remixed at a lower octave): It’s less about the words and more about the voice (lower octave version) and the melody that reminds me of Ryu Takamura (Book 3). See the video of the actor from whom I modeled Ryu in a fan-made music video compilation from one of his dramas. See him walk (you’ll understand why I’m obsessed with his walk in Book 3). And hear his voice (also part of the obsession).
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
For the first book in the series I did have a fellow author critique partner, who was very helpful in her feedback. For example, one suggestion was to let the world building unfold through the eyes and voices of the characters, rather than launch into pages-long descriptions about background and context. In some sense, my series, the Pure/Dark Ones, is paranormal fantasy romance. There’s a lot of world building that epic fantasy readers are familiar with and appreciate, but it’s not every paranormal reader’s cup of tea. In striking the balance between the two, I might not be able to please both. But it’s a balance I continuously try to strike.
What book are you reading now?
I pre-order just about anything from Julie Anne Long, Tessa Dare and Mary Balogh. I love Regency/Victorian romances. I’m also a huge fan of J.R. Ward.
How did you start your writing career?
Writing as a lifetime passion and love probably started when I learned how to write. My father made me write a story in my journal every day from the age of six, which he would come home to grade at the end of each week. I’ve won every writing contest my teachers entered me in all through primary, secondary education and college, but my family is extremely “practical” and forbade me to pursue any type of creative or artistic career (art is my other passion). To feed the writing demon inside, I just wrote for the pleasure of it. My first novel was written by age thirteen; I finished 5 novels within the next 5 years. I can’t say now that they were any good, but one literary agent told me there was a lot of potential.
I didn’t get much sleep as a teenager. It would take many years after that to pick it up again, as I built a safety net of “practicality.”
Dark Longing is the second book in the Pure/Dark Ones series, told from the POV of the “vampires.” The first one in the series, Pure Healing sets up the world of the Pure Ones and you get their POV about the vampires. Both books can be read separately, though it might be more fun to read in order. In fact, I recently read backwards from Book 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 and liked that approach just as well.
Dark Longing is ultimately about star-crossed lovers who triumph over seemingly impossible odds, including a few millennia’s worth of time and distance! If you’re dying to believe in True Love, this book will definitely provide the inspiration.
There are new and ongoing side stories, all part of the larger world building, mysteries to be solved, a baddie you can’t help but root for, and lots of really HOT sex scenes. J
On a personal note, I started writing Dark Longing immediately after Pure Healing, but my mother passed away from cancer as I was about a fourth of the way in. Some of the events around her last days fed into the book itself, and after she passed, my inspiration dried up for about 5 years, which was why it took so long to come out with Book 2 when Book 1 was published in 2012.
When I picked it back up, the story completely changed in my head—for the better.
So I hope you all like it!
Here’s the book description:
“Every story has more than one side, like a crystal that captures and reflects different colors of light. Do not take for granted what you think you know, for until you hold the entire jewel in your palm, the temptation is to fall prey to illusion and deception.”
This is a story of the Dark Ones…
Inanna: the vampire warrior
Known as the Angel of Death among her kind, she has lived millennia alone, one of the remaining True Bloods in existence, unconsciously longing for the one male she could never have.
Gabriel: the forbidden human
His soul recognizes hers from the first encounter. With the first touch, he is awakened. Though he does not know it, he has been searching for her across the ages.
But even as they are finally reunited, their love faces seemingly impossible odds. Will history repeat itself or will they break all the rules and chart a new course together?
About the Author
Aja has been writing stories since the age of six, and novels since the age of thirteen. While she'd be the first to admit that those early efforts weren't particularly good, she sure loved putting them down on paper!
The best part of writing, according to Aja, is that it’s completely organic, the way the stories develop. When the inspiration hits, she writes just so she herself can learn where the characters are headed because oftentimes, they take her by surprise! It is her ultimate dream to share her stories with as many readers as she possibly can.
Her other loves include art, cooking, old movies (anything with Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Robert Redford, Vivien Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Clark Gable, and all the song and dance numbers because she can’t watch them and not be happy!)
She adores taking long walks with her husband and running after her two rambunctious kids. She has traveled extensively (all seven continents except Antarctica) and has a multi-cultural upbringing. She speaks two and a half languages and binge watch TV shows when the mood strikes.
Aja has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Comparative Literature and Economics and two Master’s degrees, one of which is in East Asian Studies.