We are pleased to have JP McLean as
the last guest of 2023.
She is no stranger to the Scribbler.
This will be her fourth guest visit and we hope it won’t be the last.
The most recent post featuring JP can
be found HERE.
She is sharing the SBTS for her
Read on my friends.
JP (Jo-Anne) McLean is a bestselling and award-winning author of urban
fantasy and supernatural thrillers. Reviewers call her books addictive, smart
and fun. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP now lives with her husband on Denman
Island, which is nestled between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver
Island. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking dishes that turn out
looking nothing like the recipe photos or arguing with weeds in the garden.
Dark Dreams Novel)
Scorch Mark is the third in the Dark Dreams novels and continues the
story of Jane Walker, a woman born with prominent blood-red birthmarks that
snake around her body. Jane also suffers debilitating nightmares wherein she
dreams of the past. In this new installment, Jane is enjoying a reprieve from
the dreams and on a road trip with her partner Ethan, when a group of
tailgaters she doesn’t know seem to recognize her. Their recognition can only
mean that they’ve seen her in a dream she has yet to experience. While she slips
away to await the dream and learn how she’s connected to the group of
strangers, her BFF’s boyfriend, who is a cop, starts digging into Jane’s
history. He stumbles across inexplicable deaths in her past and the cop in him
sends him searching for more. And when his current investigation into illegal
firearms crosses paths with Jane, she must convince him of the supernatural
forces at play before he gets himself killed and causes the deaths of his
entire law enforcement team.
The Story Behind the Story:
writing seven books in the Gift Legacy series, I was ready to dig into
something different. I wanted to stretch my writing skills and find a project
that would challenge me. Little did I know how challenging this new project
knew the characters had to be markedly different from those I’d written
previously. I also wanted to try a new style of writing. All my previous books
were written from one character’s first-person point of view. I decided to try
my hand at writing in third person from multiple characters’ perspectives.
inspiration for the Dark Dreams novels was an NBC show called Blind Spot,
which starred Jaimie Alexander. The opening scene of the first episode has a
bomb squad tech approaching an abandoned duffle bag in an eerily empty Times
Square. Emerging from the bag is a woman (Alexander) covered in tattoos from
the neck down. The woman doesn’t remember who she is or how she got the ink.
When I first saw that woman with the tattoos, it stirred my imagination. I
wondered what it might be like to have to live with markings that weren’t of
was the seed for Blood Mark. The events that unfolded in Blood Mark
were the catalyst for the second book, Ghost Mark, and the events from Ghost
Mark spurred my newest release, Scorch Mark.
was pleased to hear from readers that Jane Walker, the protagonist in the Dark
Dreams series, is nothing like Emelynn Taylor, the protagonist in the first
series, so I checked that box. But writing three characters’ stories and
weaving the narrative together to get the timing of events right from each of
their perspectives was a huge challenge. Writing the Dark Dreams books has
stretched my skills and helped me grow as a writer.
couple questions before you go, JP:
Scribbler: Can you tell us about the perfect setting you have, or
desire, for your writing? Music or quiet? Coffee or tequila? Neat or notes everywhere?
JP: I’m so very fortunate to write from a
cozy home that overlooks the ever-changing Pacific Ocean. In warm lazy weather,
I open the doors to hear lapping waves and birdsong. In the colder stormy
months, even with the doors closed, I hear crashing waves, howling wind, and
some days, a crackling fire. Though I prefer the sounds of nature, I can also
write with quiet music in the background as long as it’s instrumental. I find
lyrics distracting and have to work hard to tune them out.
I’m most creative in the morning, so coffee is my bevvy of choice. If I’m still writing in the afternoon, I’ll make myself a big mug of tea. Once in a while, I’ll write in the evenings, and on those occasions, I’ll usually have a glass of red wine.
As far as notes go, I’m a bit of a neat freak. I keep a notebook beside my writing chair and take it with me when I travel. But despite my best intentions, I inevitably end up with notes on napkins and scraps of paper, which I tuck into the notebook. But I find searching through written notes takes too much time, and sometimes I miss what I’m looking for. So eventually, everything gets transcribed into a searchable Word document.
But I do use written notes when I’m plotting. I’ll
write scenes on sticky notes, color-coded by character, and move them around the
timeline until the order of events makes sense.
Scribbler: How do you
decide on the titles for your novels? Do you have one when you start a new
story or later?
JP: I’m terrible at coming up with
titles. Case in point, my working title for Blood Mark was Witness. It would
have been difficult for the book to standout in the sea of books already titled
Witness. Happily, my critique partners are much better at brainstorming titles.
I’m so grateful they’ve had a hand in almost every title I’ve published.
Jane stands alone between a powerful
artifact and the wrong hands.
Jane Walker is in a race against time to recover a
powerful artifact that’s fallen into dangerous hands. But first, she must
convince a skeptical cop of the supernatural forces at play before a lethal
chain of events engulfs them all.
1 | Jane
Now that Jane Walker knew where
her mother had been laid to rest, she
felt drawn there. It wasn’t out of respect or duty—she’d never met her mother
in the flesh—it was simply the only thing she could do as the daughter she was
never allowed to be. The visceral loathing she felt for Rick Kristan, the man
who’d taken her mother away from her, grew deeper as the day of his trial
Heat rippled off the asphalt parking lot. It had already been a long,
hot ride, and they had two hours yet to go. Jane dismounted her Honda Rebel,
glad for the opportunity to stretch her legs. Ethan Bryce pulled in beside her
and killed the ignition of his Fat Boy. Across a swath of summer-scorched lawn,
Windermere Lake sparkled like a cool oasis. This was their last stop before the
final leg to the cemetery on the outskirts of Canmore, Alberta.
She removed her helmet, shook out her dark, cropped hair, and brushed
the road dust from her jeans. Ahead, just before the path to Kinsmen Beach, a
tailgate party had taken root, spilling onto the lawn behind a row of pickup
trucks. The tailgaters, mostly young men flaunting their abs and red Solo cups,
had confiscated a collection of the park’s picnic tables. Music pounded out of
speakers, and the scent of barbecue made Jane’s mouth water.
After the helmets were locked, Ethan pulled their towel rolls from one
of the saddlebags. He stretched his neck and raked his fingers through his
comically flattened hair. “Ready?”
Jane let a saucy smile cross her lips. She’d happily watch Ethan Bryce’s
backside all day long. “Lead the way.”
Ethan came to stand toe-to-toe with her, his light brown eyes sparkling
with mischief. He leaned down and kissed her. “I love it when your mind’s in
the bedroom.” He started across the parking lot and Jane held back a moment,
admiring his swagger and the broad shoulders under his leather jacket. She
quickly caught up and matched his stride, looking ahead to the lake,
anticipating the splash of relief from the cool water.
Her focus was on the lake, so she wasn’t paying attention to the
tailgaters as she and Ethan passed. But when Ethan took her hand—an unusual
gesture for him—she glanced at him, and then at the men who had stopped their
partying. One by one, they nudged each other and, in turn, stared at her.
Startled, Jane looked away.
“You know them?” Ethan asked.
“No.” Goosebumps skated across her arms. Jane surreptitiously checked
her boots and jacket, smoothed her hair, searching for something—anything—to
explain their attention. Anything other than the one thing the goosebumps
Ethan’s carefree smile hid the tension she felt in the firm grip of his
hand as he wove his way through the families who’d laid claim to patches of
sand with beach blankets and umbrellas. They followed the shore to the thinning
edge of the crowd, far from the tailgaters.
“That was weird, wasn’t it?” Jane said.
“Depends.” Ethan kicked off his boots. “Regular weird or your
She’d already considered how a handful of men she’d never met looked at
her like they knew her. Like they’d seen her before. Or met her ghost.
“They know our rides now,” she said.
“We can’t change that. Let’s cool off and get out of here.” Ethan kept
an eye on the distant parking lot as he stripped down to his boxers, but he
left his T-shirt on, unwilling to endure the stares his burn-scarred stomach
Jane removed everything but a tank top and bikini bottoms, an
unthinkable disrobing had she still borne the blood-red birthmarks that had
haunted her until the year before. The final birthmark had disappeared on her
She glanced back, relieved the tailgaters hadn’t followed. “Race you!”
she said and took off for the water at a run. Ethan laughed, a competitor
through and through. She rushed into the lake, high-stepping until the water
was above her knees, and then dove under. The water felt like an ice-cold beer
on a sweltering day, a delicious quenching for her overheated skin.
They kept to the shallows, sparing an occasional glance at their
belongings. Afterwards, they lay on their towels, drying off.
“Another dream’s coming. I feel it.” Jane hadn’t had a visiting dream
since the night she’d learned what had become of the man she’d once known as
Buddy. A man whose life she’d accidentally and irrevocably altered. He was now
Dylan O’Brien, an undercover cop. That was five months ago. But her reprieve
“Because of the tailgaters?”
“Why else would those men behave like they’d seen me before?”
Ethan scrubbed his face with his hands. Accepting Jane’s visiting dreams
was easier for him when the dreams were dormant. Once they started up, they
didn’t stop until whatever events Jane was destined to witness had finished
playing out. There was no avoiding it: Jane’s dreams identified her as una
testigo, a Witness in the Inca tradition.
Thank you for
being our guest this week, JP. It’s always a pleasure to have you visit the
Scribbler. Wishing you continued success with your writing and clever stories.
HUGE thank you to all our visitors and readers. Wishing you all the very best