The second book in the series, Ghost Crown, will be released in March 2012.
Reviews for Dark Territory
"Wow, I loved this book. I loved this book. I swear, it has everything; martial arts (action, action, action), romance, school plays, gangs, train tracks . . . Just wow."
"This is a busy book, including class-crossed lovers, an all-knowing sensei, time travel, and dark hints about monsters in the basement. There are teens with a variety of family issues, mild gang activity, and even . . . a wise black woman who speaks with angels."
Book Reviews from the American Library Association 08-09-11
"The overall effect is that of a summer action flick, with all the expected over-the-top situations, sequences and dialogue."
"Dark Territory is an action-packed novel that will set you on edge, and keep you hanging on until the very end."
"What a great team of writers, J. Gabriel Gates and Charlene Keel are. They work fabulously together and this book is proof of it..."
...an action packed adventurous read, the characters are believable and well developed, the world building will keep you on the edge of your seat. I hated to see it end, I am, oh so, ready for Book 2 Ghost Crown."
"Raphael and Aimee's dramatic love story is as compelling as the novel's supernatural suspense."
"I loved how when we got to the supernatural element of the story it blended in so well with the natural part it was believable . . . the authors did a great job of portraying Raph and Aimee's feelings for each other . . . the writing is brilliant."
"This story had me on the edge of my seat . . . the action was incredible, the humor was just as great and a refreshing read for the supernatural aspects. You really feel like you're with the gang in their various situations. Definitely a great series—can't wait to read the next one, Ghost Crown."
"A great read, full of twists and turns and good character development. I highly recommend this book if you liked the Twilight Series. Though the premise is different, you will see some other similarities. A strong book for all, not just young adult readers!"
"This is one of the best books I have ever read. There are varied aspects of the book that make it amazing: romance, magic, adventure, and mystery. The plot is beautiful with many different twists that come together nicely at the end, and there is just enough detail to help you understand the story. The setting is very mysterious and has a slight magical feel to it. The authors have written powerful characters with strong bonds between them."
Visit J. Gabriel Gates' web site
Visit Charlene Keel's web site
An excerpt from Dark Territory
About J. Gabriel Gates
J. Gabriel Gates is a native of Marshall, Michigan. The son of an English teacher, his passion for the written word began at a young age. During college, another passion -- for perfoorming -- led him to get his B.A. degree in theater from Florida State University. During his years in Los Angeles, he appeared in a dozen national TV commercials and penned several screenplays while laying the groundwork for his career as a novelist. His first two novels are Dark Territory: The Tracks (Book 1) and stand-alone novel, The Sleepwalkers.
About Charlene Keel
I published my first short story in Teen Magazine and went on to write over a dozen novels and how-to books as well as episodes of leading TV shows including Days of Our Lives and Fantasy Island. I've also written screen adaptations of novels, including Patricia Hagan's Love and War, Rebecca Brandewyne's The Jacaranda Tree and Peggy Webb's Where Dolphins Go. Now I'm co-authoring The Tracks, a new teen supernatural series, for HCI Books/HCI Teens. The first installment, Dark Territory, was released in July 2011. Ghost Crown, the second book in the series will hit the stands in March 2012. My TV credits include multiple episodes of Fantasy Island and Days Of Our Lives, and my book, Rituals, was the basis for the first made-for-syndication soap opera. I've also worked as editor and managing editor for a few international magazines, and I ghostwrite books for celebrities, doctors and corporate moguls.
Also by Charlene Keel...
The Sky's The Limit
Come Slowly, Eden
Also by J. Gabriel Gates...
An Interview with Charlene Keel
By Holly Hewson for The Romance Studio
HH: Charlene, thank you for talking with us at TRS! Your featured book is Dark Territory. Where did you get the idea for this magical, suspense-filled story?
CK: About seven years ago, I met my co-author, J. Gabriel Gates (Jacob) on Craig's List. I had reached that certain age (over fifty) where, in Hollywood, women suddenly become invisible. I knew it happened for actors but I didn't think it would apply to writers -- especially since our life experience and hard-earned wisdom make our work even richer.
I'd heard that many "senior" writers were taking sons, daughters, nephews or nieces into meetings with them and introducing them as their co-writers, to better relate to development executives who are mostly in their twenties and thirties. Thinking that pretty creative, I was about to place an ad on craigslist.com for a "young, ambitious writing partner looking for a foot in the door," when I saw Jacob's ad.
He was seeking an established author to advise him on how to get his books published. I responded and we met for lunch and tossed around some ideas. One of them was The Tracks. He was an actor with several television commercials under his belt, and he had started taking kung fu. He wanted to write a TV series about disenfranchised youth in a small town who use martial arts to settle their differences.
I fell in love with the idea and was delighted to find Jacob such a talented writer. When I told my best friend, confidante and spiritual brother, Christian Osborne, about The Tracks, he said just three words. "Make it magic."
"What?" I replied.
"Add magic. Make something about it supernatural."
Jacob loved that tweak, we wrote a detailed, episode-by-episode treatment for a TV show and then both promptly left town before we had a chance to pitch it. I moved to Florida to deal with some family matters and he followed his heart (and his then girlfriend) to Canada. Five years later, through another friend, I met Peter Vegso, the head of HCI Books, and pitched him The Tracks as a YA paranormal action-adventure-romance series. I pitched it over the phone and Peter said, "I want it. Come in and meet with me."
HH: What can you tell us about Aimee and why will readers identify with her?
CK: It took me a while to connect with Aimee. I have this thing with characters. When I'm in the planning stages of a book, I start to visualize them and build on their personalities and traits (both the ones I instill in them and those they reveal to me). By the time I'm deep in a book, I'm completely immersed in them and their world. I even dream about them.
Aimee was tough -- partly because neither Jacob nor I had written YA fiction before (except for two short stories I had in Teen magazine about a trillion years ago) and we started out writing Aimee and resident bitch Maggie as kind of two-dimensional. We were writing Aimee like a Twinkie and Maggie like a rich, sophisticated tramp. And then we looked closer and realized what depth these girls have, even at the tender age of fifteen. When Dark Territory opens, Aimee has just returned home to Middleburg after a year in a posh psychiatric hospital thinly disguised as a boarding school, and a couple of chapters later we reveal that Maggie has been taking care of her agoraphobic, mentally unbalanced mother since early childhood.
Ah -- it was an epiphany! We started peeling away the layers of mystery and intrigue that surround both girls, and writing to the depth within each of them that we discovered. Suddenly they became fully fleshed-out empathetic, complicated and fascinating characters.
Aimee has witnessed absolute horror in the death of her boyfriend, and was even considered a suspect, which is why she went away to the loony bin. Now that she's back, no one at school will talk to her -- except Raphael, the tough, handsome loner from the wrong side of the tracks. They fall in love but Aimee's wealthy, ambitious father forbids their relationship and her football jock brother swears to do whatever it takes to keep them apart.
HH: What do you like about Ignacio and why will readers love him?
CK: Ignacio is Raphael's best friend and he's an absolute delight, with a wicked sense of humor and a way with words. His parents have moved him from a gang-infested neighborhood in South Central L.A. to a small town smack in the middle of the contiguous U.S. (and the center of nowhere --population 6066) and the first thing he does is get into a fight in the Middleburg High cafeteria. But he meets his new best friend, Raphael, and joins Raph's gang, the Flatliners, in their ongoing conflict against the rich Toppers, led by Rick, Aimee's brother. But these gangs are different than those in L.A. These gangs use the noble martial arts to settle their differences.
HH: What sort of research did you do for this story?
CK: We read lots of YA paranormal fiction. Fortunately, Jacob was already well versed in the martial arts. We also researched angel lore, especially fallen angels and nephilim. We introduce a fallen angel at the end of Dark Territory and bring in his son by a human woman in Ghost Crown, the second book in the series.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
CK: We've just finished Ghost Crown, which will be out in March, 2012, and we've completed the proposal for the third installment, Shadow Train. In Ghost Crown, Orias, a charismatic stranger, comes to Middleburg intending to take Aimee away from Raphael. As the son of a fallen angel and a human, he is damned for all eternity through no fault of his own. No matter what he does, there is no salvation for him. He is sexy, romantic, gorgeous and doomed, which makes him the ultimate bad boy. We think romance readers (and I am one) will find that irresistible—especially when he falls in love with Aimee while trying to use her for his own devious purposes.
HH: What was it like working on this book as part of a team?
CK: For the most part, wonderful. Since the original idea came from Jacob, we agreed that he'd write the first draft and send it to me for my tweaks, additions and edits, and then we emailed it back and forth until we got it the way we wanted it. We had a loosely structured outline for the first book and we did have a couple of major creative differences, which our professionalism, willingness to listen and desire to do something truly wonderful helped us overcome. Book two was a much smoother process, partly because we had a much more detailed outline; and we were more accustomed to working together.
HH: What goals have you set for yourself in your career?
CK: I've been so fortunate and blessed. It amazes me that I've accomplished all the goals I set for myself early on. I've published short stories, novels and how-to books and I've worked as editor or managing editor for some national and international magazines. I saw one of my books, Rituals, turned into a TV series that ran five nights a week for a year, and I got to write for such terrific shows as Days of Our Lives and Fantasy Island and interview major stars for various magazines. Now what I really want is a big house in a small country town where I can write, garden and play with my critters. I've found the town -- now I just need to find the house.
HH: What are you reading at the moment?
CK: The Book of Enoch, an apocryphal text that early Church fathers excluded from the Bible. It has loads of information about angels and nephilim, which I find fascinating.
HH: Where is your favorite place to shop for books?
CK: Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. I also like to pick through the shelves at thrift stores. I've found some pretty cool old books that way.
HH: Any special plans for the holidays this year?
CK: It looks like I'll be completely submerged, along with Jacob, in the third book of The Tracks series. Of course, I'll do the traditional turkey dinners and Christmas tree but family members know I'll be a little vague, might walk into walls and will be listening to the voices inside my head (where my characters live) instead of what they're saying. But they're used to it and pretty patient and understanding.
HH: Thank you!