Hi Katja and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Junkyard Dog!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Charlotte is a Park Ranger in Joshua Tree National Park. She and her partner, Max, are working the overnight shift when they encounter a tourist sitting in the dark beside his car, shaken by an accident caused by a large dog tearing across the road. An animal lover at heart, Charlotte takes it upon herself to track down the beast and gain its trust.
Sent topside on a mission by Hades, Alex spends his time alternating between scouring Joshua Tree for his target and bartending at the local watering hole of the park rangers. When Charlotte catches his eye, his focus on the hunt begins to waver as he’s caught between the woman he’s falling for and the job he was sent to do.
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Alex glanced down at his speedometer as he hit the highway, his foot heavy on the gas pedal. “I’ve picked up stale scents at every tourist trap in the region, so the guy’s definitely not a local.”
“Perhaps narrowing your search to the temporary accommodations in the area would be a better use of time,” Ryan suggested, his voice cracking through the phone’s speaker as Alex drew closer to the north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. “The territory is too large to effectively patrol alone.”
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
Two years ago, I caught the last few bars of a song and knew I needed it. After coming up empty in my own research, I approached my band students, telling them I didn’t know the singer, the melody, or a single lyric, but I was certain the word “mountain” was in it, and I had to have it. For weeks, kids brought me songs, hunting me down at lunch, at recess, even interrupting classes to have me listen to pieces they’d dug out of playlists dating back to the fifties. I needed this song, this mountain song that was already spinning a new story in my head. It took a few weeks before I stumbled across the song again.
There was no mountain.
The word I was looking for was “cave”.
So Junkyard Dog was inspired by the incredible voice of Rag N’ Bone Man performing “Skin”.
Once I had the song, the book took seven weeks to write. The tag line took four. I finally thought it up while in the shower. Knowing I’d forget it if I didn’t write it down immediately, I jumped out and grabbed a towel, hair slick with conditioner, then raced to the bedroom to type it into my phone. My husband later reminded me I could have simply called for him instead of drenching the carpet.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Alex is the obedient servant of Hades and one of three brother who, when unified, form the mythical Cerberus. A guard dog by trade, he coasts between the Underworld and the topside world on the orders of his boss until he meets a woman who makes him wonder if he could have more than the dark banks of the River Styx. Charlotte is an animal-loving Park Ranger with a weakness for gorgeous men and enough caution to stay far, far away. Dedicated to her job and her friends, she splits her time between patrolling the trails of Joshua Tree National Park and hanging out with her best friend and colleague, Max.
The friendship between Charlotte and Max, and how that friendship played out as Alex entered the story, made me smile every time he arrived on scene.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
I love a good heroic battle to remain calm and cool in the face of a crush. The scene I would want enacted takes place in the bar where Alex works after Charlotte freezes him out in failed attempt to distance herself. I would love to see the actors capture Charlotte and Alex as they dance around each other, Charlotte trying to keep it cool and Alex desperate to keep his guard up around the woman he’s fallen hard for.
Charlotte stared at the lone SUV in the Tavern lot.
Drive away. Get another cat.
She smiled despite herself, Max’s ridiculous, and unsolicited, relationship advice ringing in her ears.
It’s okay to test-drive a Ferrari, Chuck. Even if you know you won’t be buying it, you can enjoy the ride until the salesman tackles you, rips the keys from your hand, and calls the cops.
Killing the engine, she exited her car and walked into the deserted lounge.
“Alex?” she called, her eyes struggling to adapt to the dark interior after a long afternoon in the bright sun guiding FBI agents through Sheep’s Pass.
He rose up from behind the bar, a pen between his teeth. “Ch…” He spat the pen into his hand. “Hey, Miss Charlotte.”
She pulled up a stool and folded her hands on the counter, rehearsing the first line from her apology speech in her head before she spoke. “So, I’m kind of new to this friends-with-limited-benefits thing.”
He eyed her warily, keeping his distance. “Same here.” He tossed the pen onto the counter and washed his hands out in the sink. “Was it the friends or the benefits that sent you running?”
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I hope readers will finish Junkyard Dog with that satisfied sigh that always accompanies the end of a rollercoaster of a story, and that they love Charlotte and Alex as much as I do.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m currently mulling over the plot of the final book in my vampire series while writing the first in a new paranormal romance series about temptation, allure, and harnessing the profitability of sin. Alongside those projects, I’m reading through the manuscript of the second Hellhounds novel, wondering how Alex’s twin can be so bad and so good at the same time.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Ebook of Junkyard Dog by Katja Desjarlais
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: If you met someone who drew you in like no other, but the relationship had an expiration date, would you still take the leap?
Excerpt from Junkyard Dog:
Alex Echidna glanced down at his speedometer as he hit the highway, his foot heavy on the gas pedal. “I’ve picked up stale scents at every tourist trap in the region, so the guy’s definitely not a local.”
“Perhaps narrowing your search to the temporary accommodations in the area would be a better use of time,” Ryan suggested, his voice crackling through the phone’s speaker as Alex drew closer to the north entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. “The territory is too large to effectively patrol alone.”
Rolling his eyes at his older brother’s recommendation, he slowed his approach to the park and scanned the darkness for signs of life. “If that’s your subtle way of saying Bo should join me out here, no. I have enough on my plate without adding his drunken ass into the mix.”
Ryan’s resigned sigh told Alex all he needed to know about his twin’s current condition. The eldest of the trio by a decade, Ryan usually took the reins whenever Bo’s impulsiveness took a dangerous turn, Ryan’s levelheadedness a good counterbalance to the wilder twin’s inclinations. “Call me if you manage to find the guy.”
The phone went black and he pulled over onto a gravel road, killing the engine before tucking his cell and wallet into the glove box and getting out, stretching his arms over his head and rolling out his neck.
The hunt for the cursed Pirithous bloodline was taking its toll on all of them, centuries of tracking down the descendants of Hades’s enemy culminating in what they hoped would be the final quest, the last task for Cerberus before they could return to the underworld and resume their place at the heels of their master and mistress.
At least, that was what drove Ryan, the oldest of the brothers and the one most bonded to their master.
Alex tugged his black shirt over his head and tossed it onto the front seat of his SUV, shaking his blond hair out of his eyes as he undid the fly of his shredded jeans.
Alex was decidedly less determined to return to the banks of the Styx to continue his centuries of subservience at the whim of a god and his overly indulged wife. He tracked the Pirithous because it was his job, a curse spat in a moment of anger by a vengeful god with impulse control issues.
Yeah, he was bitter.
Glancing around once more before kicking his boxers off, he nudged the door shut and dropped to his knees, the transformation of his body into that of a hellhound complete within seconds.
The wind whipped up, sending a flurry of sand and odors across his muzzle, his ears zeroing in on the gentle movements of a rabbit nearby. Filtering through the stench of gasoline and rotting animal carcasses, he lowered his nose to the ground and set off across the park, dodging the chollas with their prickly spines that were a bitch to remove.
Tracking his late-night snack, he darted along the sand, wholly engulfed in the hunt for the elusive rabbit that had gone still among the brush. The scent grew stronger while he crept eastward, the heart rate of the animal thumping in his ears as it grew brave enough to dart out of the safety of its hiding place, kicking up dust when it tore across the paved road to the rockier terrain on the other side.
The predator in him went into full gear and he took off after the rabbit, completely oblivious to everything but his meal until the glare of headlights blinded him, the screech of brakes ringing in his ears as the car barreled into him and knocked him off his feet.
Ignoring the burst of pain in his ribs, he scrambled up, rabbit long forgotten when the driver flung his door open and the stench of the bloodline assaulted his senses.
Staggering across the terrain, Alex doubled back to the north entrance to call it in.
Charlotte rose to her feet, brushing the fine sand from her pants. “And which way did you say this dog was heading?”
The shaken man leaned against his shredded tire and looked to the north. “That way,” he muttered, flexing his bruised hands. “I’ve never seen a dog that big. Or that fast.”
The crunch of stones alerted her to her coworker’s approach, the lights of the truck coming into view around the bend. “I’ll be right back with some water,” she assured the injured tourist, bending to pat his knee. “And we’ll get a tow truck out here as quick as we can.”
She jogged over to the white truck and yanked the passenger door open. Max, her partner on the graveyard shifts, leaned his head back against his seat. “High or drunk?” He sighed, his mirrored sunglasses hiding his dark eyes.
“Neither,” she hissed, climbing across the passenger seat to reach the water bottles in the back. “Another black dog sighting. Same as the last two.” She pulled a bottle from the floor triumphantly. “Straighten your hat and come sit with the poor guy while I check for prints. And take off those stupid sunglasses. It’s pitch black outside.”
Although he muttered incoherently for a moment, Max slammed the truck door and made his way to her side, his brimmed ranger hat neatly leveled. “So a big black dog, eh? You sure it wasn’t a cougar or a bear? We get the odd one around here.”
The man’s head shook slowly, his eyes fixed on the ground. “Definitely a dog.” He swiveled his head toward the beam of her flashlight. “You’re not going out there, are you?”
“Chuck’s just checking for prints,” Max answered, kicking gently at the crumpled front end of the man’s car. “You really did a number on this.”
“Yeah,” the man murmured, taking a long sip of water. “I clipped the dog before I bottomed out on the ridge.”
She turned her flashlight toward the front of the vehicle. “A hit?” she called out as she closed in on her target. “Max, I’m going to take a few pictures while you call in a tow truck.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Max replied, tapping the tip of his hat before he returned to his truck to call in the accident.
Focusing on the misshapen indent, she balanced her flashlight between her knees and began snapping pictures of the small tufts of black fur embedded in the cracks of the plastic grill. She reached out, pulling a few of the long hairs out and running them lightly between her fingers.
“Definitely not a bear,” she muttered, bringing the beam of the light closer to the vehicle to assess for blood. “How far back down the path were you when you hit it?”
“Right there,” the tourist replied, pointing a few feet away. “It didn’t even hesitate, just got up and kept running.” He looked back out into the darkness. “Hope it’s not too badly hurt.”
She glanced over the terrain and smiled at the man. “You probably just spooked it. How about we get you into Max’s truck to relax until the tow arrives?”
Max passed a sandwich over to Charlotte, the corners squished flat in his large hands. “Why do you always put them in my truck? Why can’t they wait it out in yours?”
“Because you need to work on your people skills, and a captive audience is better than nothing.” She grinned, biting into the offering and grimacing. “Ew. Mustard.”
“Gimme that,” he grumbled, snatching the sandwich from her hands and passing over another. “Ham and cheese, no mayo, no mustard, no butter, no taste. Just like you prefer, your highness.”
Reclining her seat a fraction, she peered into the blackened landscape of Joshua Tree. “You’d think if someone’s dog got loose, they’d have notified the station or something,” she mused. “Or someone would have seen it during daylight. If it’s covering this much ground, how has no one gotten a good look at it?”
“Because it’s a cougar,” he replied, his mouth full. “Like you.”
“I’m not a cougar,” she protested, whacking his arm with her hat. “I’m barely thirty. And it’s not a cougar. The fur on that grille was consistent with dog fur. Same coarseness.”
“Then it’s a dog.”
She crumpled the sandwich wrapping in her hand. “I’m coming back tomorrow to check out the area in daylight.”
Easing his sunglasses back on, he grinned over at her and started the truck. “Okay there, super ranger. I’m spending my first day off in bed, out of the sand, and out of the heat. But you do you and give me the CliffsNotes version on Wednesday.”
“I don’t even know why you wear those at night,” she grumbled, straightening her bun and setting her hat to rights. “You look silly.”
“I look badass. Like the Terminator.”
Alex muted the television and groaned as he rolled over to find his ringing phone, his broken ribs protesting every move. “Hey.”
“How bad is it on your end?”
He rolled his eyes at his brother’s barked question. “It’s all good,” he reassured Ryan, balancing his phone on his shoulder while he inched off his bed to recheck his injuries over in the small bathroom. “You getting much of an echo?”
Ryan muttered under his breath for a moment. “Bo’s too wasted to feel much of anything. I caught the initial impact, but not much outside of a dull ache now.”
Skimming his fingers over his skin, he angled his side toward the mirror. “Two broken, a bit of bruising, and a bonus grille imprint as a souvenir.”
“And a second sighting,” Ryan pointed out, the frustration in his voice coming through loud and clear.
“I’m on it,” he said, gingerly tapping at one rib that didn’t look properly aligned. “I’ll walk the trail tomorrow to clear anything questionable, then head back after work to pick up the scent. Brace yourself.”
Ryan let out a sigh of exasperation, speaking through gritted teeth in anticipation of the discomfort that was about to blast through the bodies of the Cerberus brothers. “We can be out there within the week if you need us.”
Pressing against the misplaced rib, he pushed it into place with a grunt, Ryan echoing him through the speaker. “Until I find his base, there’s no point.”
“And now we’re up against a second sighting,” Ryan reminded him.
“Whatever,” he muttered, rifling through his medicine cabinet for a bandage and coming up empty-handed. “Fucking sedans.” He eased his shirt back down. “If the guy stays local, I’ll track him, okay? You know that. Tell Bo to call me sometime this week.”
“Will do. Touch base tomorrow night.”
He fumbled the phone, cursing as it hit the floor of his trailer.
He had a few hours of darkness left. Enough time to return to the scene and establish the exit route the man had taken.
Few campers noticed him as he walked through the grounds to the gates and crossed the highway. He took his time climbing the small ridge at the perimeter of the park, listening in the stillness for intruders before he stripped down and stood naked in the faint wind until the transformation dropped him to all fours.
He arched his head up to scent the air.
Chuffing in disgust, he began his leisurely descent into the park to hunt. The cooler nighttime temperatures brought out the wildlife of the desert, the skittish rabbits and the lone coyotes being his favorites. He crossed the rough terrain slowly, his ribs protesting as his paws navigated the brush. The vastness of the barren land made hunting more difficult than in the forested regions of the northern states, but the challenge of stalking prey without natural cover appealed to him.
As did the distance from his brothers.
Picking up the scent of another rabbit, he made his way across the uneven ground, taking special care to avoid the chollas that were interspersed with the less problematic plant life. The path of his prey was fresh, the tracks in the sand clean and unblemished. The sedan temporarily forgotten in favor of a fresh meal, he sped up his pace, his predatory side taking hold as he closed in on the small animal.
“You promised me an hour. It’s only been twenty minutes.”
Alex flattened himself to the ground as a woman’s voice carried on the wind, mentally cursing the spines of a cholla digging into his belly.
“Fine, fine,” a surly male voice relented, pulling Alex’s attention to a truck parked in the distance, its lights and engine off. “You’ve got forty minutes until sunrise, and then you’re buying me breakfast. Anything I want. Now get those damn binoculars off me.”
Keeping his attention on the white truck, Alex inched across the landscape and listened in on the pair, squinting in the dim light of the quarter moon to read the decal plastered on the body of the vehicle.
US Park Ranger.
He cringed, flattening down a little further.
Of course the hit had drawn their attention.
His work was about to become much more difficult.
“It has to be out here,” the woman muttered. “The damage to that guy’s car was too great for an animal to escape unscathed. Whatever it was could be injured. Hurt.” Her voice rose as the man grumbled something unintelligible. “Yeah, well, if it does make it to one of the campsites and attacks someone, you’re doing the paperwork.”
Alex bowed his head, keeping the glint of his eyes hidden from the prying gaze of the binocular-wielding park ranger. The slope of the stretch of land he was on was wide open for observation from the truck’s vantage point, his movements easily visible if he was too quick or rose from the minimal camouflage of the brush.
A stalemate, with the sun’s appearance threatening on the horizon.
As the first illumination of the desert approached, the truck’s engine revved to life.
“What the hell, Max?” the woman hissed, her window rolling up.
“We have drive time and clocking out to account for,” the man explained, the red lights of the truck’s brakes lighting up the sand. “And you owe me a shit-ton of bacon and eggs, Chuck.”
The truck rocked as it pulled off the slope and onto the gravel route used by the more adventurous drivers. The voices disappeared with the rumble of the engine until neither the truck nor the lights were visible in the slow arrival of the morning sun.
Rising carefully, he backed up over the slope and eased his way toward the more inhospitable territory. He skirted the low ridge, ignoring the prickly stems embedded in his fur while he made his way to his backpack, the scrawny rabbit meal long forgotten while he put as much distance between the humans and himself as he could.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
He’s the original junkyard dog and she’s got him by the scruff.
Joshua Tree National Park Ranger Charlotte arrives on the scene of a car accident caused by a large dog tearing across the road. The third sighting of the animal in as many weeks, Charlotte’s interest is piqued. Armed with a bowl of dog food and a bucket of patience, she sets out to find the beast.
With the grille marks of a sedan imprinted on his broken ribs, Alex returns to the scene of the accident, scouring for prints he’d left behind when he encounters Charlotte on the trail. The attraction is undeniable, but Alex is on a mission from Hades and can’t afford the distraction.
While Charlotte continues to gain the trust of the wild dog roaming the park, Alex is caught between the woman he’s falling for and the job he was sent to do. With bodies and secrets piling at his feet, Alex is pushed to choose between the hellhound he is and the man he wants to be.
Meet the Author:
Katja Desjarlais is a music teacher by day and a paranormal romance writer by moonlight. She is an unapologetic music addict with an obsession for bad Bach puns despite her irrational aversion to Baroque. Her favorite words include ‘plethora’ and ‘dapper’, and she is physically repulsed by the word ‘moist’. Katja’s interest in the paranormal can be traced to her early childhood movie choices and to the collection of books she has stored on her phone for reading emergencies.
Desjarlais lives in northern Canada with her husband, three children, and polydactyl cat. Her summers are spent driving across North America with her family, while the long Canadian winters are made more bearable by attending heavy metal concerts.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |