Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interview with Author Jessica Bell

I don't know if the rest of you feel this way, but I consider an author to be something a little different than a writer. An author is published. And author is a professional writer. I don't consider myself an author, yet, but Facebook made me put "author" in front of my name because they wouldn't accept "writer".


Jessica Bell doesn't have to worry about stuff like that anymore.

Her debut novel STRING BRIDGE, is going to be published by Lucky Press, next year. Crap, I can't remember if she knows the release date yet. Jess? Please put that in a comment if you have that info.

Jessica is also really awesome. There is a funny little story about our friendship too. When we "met" I was a complete blogging noob. I had maybe 10 followers and probably only 3 people who actually read my blog. One of them was Jessica. And she has the coolest screen name too, as I'm sure you know "The Alliterative Allomorph". She commented on my blog for like two weeks in a row. I loved her comments and thought she was awesome, but for some unknown reason, had never visited her blog. I tell myself it was because I just didn't get it yet, but really I think I was just an idiot at the time. So long story short, Jessica had the balls to email me and ask me WTF?

We've been good friends ever since.

So, this interview is long. Good, but long, so we might as well get to it. Here goes:


When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?


I played with the idea when I was about fifteen, when I started getting into literature at school. I was already writing a lot of lyrics and poetry then. When I started university I thought about it more seriously, but lacked the talent because I was too used to writing lyrics and having the emotion of those lyrics embellished with music. I just couldn’t make my words sing without the music. Then I moved overseas, was isolated on a small island for two years (story too long to go into), and began hammering away at my first novel. Which I eventually erased, never to be retrieved again. I hated it. Don’t regret deleting it at all. When I finally got off the island in 2005, I started another novel – the one that’s finally getting published. Yay!


How long have you been writing seriously?


I guess since 2005.


What is your favorite thing about writing?


Being alone. And not being judged for my weird thoughts, because for some reason society allows us to be weird in writing and art. Don’t you think?


I do!


What is the most difficult part?


Being true to myself. I doubt myself all the time. You know, I think, ‘yeah, sure, I feel this way, and I can probably find the words to express it, but will anyone understand?’


What kind of band were you in, and did you play lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, or something else?


It was like a rock band, except not the usual set-up. I played guitar, lead and rhythm, what ever was right for the song, as I was the only guitar. There were drums/congas (again depending on song), and violin and cello. The cello always played the bass lines. It was one of the best periods of my life having that band.


Did you ever release any albums?


We made a lot of demo CDs, but never released any. We did play a lot of gigs though, and also won a few band competitions.


If you had to meet one of your characters in a dark alley who would you last want to meet, and why?


Er, I dunno. I like all my characters. Even the majorly flawed ones can be easily persuaded to calm down if they decided to psychologically flip out. Wait … there is one character(s) that gets mentioned very briefly who we never meet, in String Bridge. The rock-venue mafia that slashed Melody’s husband’s chest. But that happened in the past and is not a part of the plot.


And which character would you want there with you for protection?


Melody’s mother. She’s got a mean slap and yelling voice.


Can you tell us a little more about STRING BRIDGE than what is revealed in your query (when you shared it on my blog as DEAD IN THE CORNER OF MY BEDROOM)? For example, a little about your characters, where the idea of them came from, what sparked your initial idea, and how you decided what genre it would be?


Woah! That’s a huge question. Ok. This means I have to let you in on some personal stuff …


My life sparked the idea, however, the situation eventually turned into something completely different from my life. Yes, it’s located in Athens and I’m a musician, but these are the differences: One: I may have a passion for music, but I don’t dream to be a rock star – I dream to be an author. Two: I’m not married with a four year old daughter. – I have a fiancé and a dog. Three: I’ve never had to choose between a corporate career and following a dream, because I’ve always been certain that following my dream will come first (after loved-ones of course).


I didn’t decide the genre until I’d written it and had to analyze what it was. I still can’t pigeon-hole it. The best description is literary women’s fiction.


Main characters of String Bridge:


Melody: A thirty year old wife and mother who lost sight of her dream to become a professional musician amidst a mountain of domesticity, motherhood and corporate ladder-climbing. A life she never asked for but somehow let herself fall into. She’s tries to find herself again, but becomes neglectful of her family. By the time she realizes they are more important to her than music, it might be too late.


Alex: Melody’s husband. A music events manager who convinced Melody to give up playing gigs after their daughter was born. Melody resents him for it – for obvious reasons. He resents Melody for putting up a wall. She used to tell him everything. Now she hides everything and their love is disintegrating. But instead of telling her how he feels, he goes and does something to make it worse. Which in turn causes a chain of events that could have been avoided had they communicated properly in the first place.


Tessa: The daughter. Four years old. The only person in Melody’s world she would do anything for. She likes to cut off her Barbies’ hair, and lick her dog’s face. Melody/Tessa encounters in the novel show a totally different side of Melody.


Betty: Melody’s mother. Suffers from bipolar disorder. Affects Melody’s existence in ways I can’t describe in a few sentences.


James: Melody’s father. Timid. Afraid to speak his thoughts. Does everything Betty tells him to. Kind-hearted. Gentle. But very passive, and easily walked all over.


Are you working on any other projects right now? If so, could you tell us a little about them? If not, have you got any ideas marinating?


Yes. A novel called BITTER LIKE ORANGE PEEL, about a woman in search for a father she has never met. Her search reveals secrets which threaten the solid family relationships she already has. You can read about it HERE.


I've read excepts of both these novels and just want to interject for a sec to say that Jessica's writing is ... incredible.


Tell us a little bit about what it’s like to work with a small independent publisher like Lucky Press, and what it’s like to work with an editor without an agent. I know you’ve written about this some on your blog, but is there anything new you can add here?


I’ve never had an agent so I can’t really compare. I’ve just this week signed the contract so I can’t add anything more than what I’ve written on my blog. Sorry!


No problem!


Is there anything else you’d like to add?


Just that I love to explore relationships. My stories are more about emotions, and dealing with the mundane of the every day than exciting plot lines. That might sound boring on the surface, but I’ve really tried to write ‘the everyday’ in a way that readers can experience it on a deeper, more psychoanalytical level. I hope I achieve this. I can’t wait to get feedback on what people think of my writing when my debut is published. This makes it hard to summarize my work, too. Summaries of my work are BORING. The events, plot points, really mean nothing. What is exciting is in ‘the how’. And this is impossible to explain in a couple of paragraphs. Which peeves me to no end because I can’t find a way to pull people into my work without going into a lot detail. Thankfully, Lucky Press asked for the detail!


Fun Random Questions for The End (I stole this interview idea from Jen at Unedited, though I made my own questions up). Which would you rather be?


Joan Jett or JK Rowling? Joan Jett!


Eating chocolate or drinking wine? Wine.


Sunning yourself on an island in the Mediterranean or sailing near the Great Barrier Reef? Well, I’ve done plenty of the sunning in the Med in my lifetime, so sailing near the Reef it is for sure!


Writing poetry or singing music? You have GOT to be kidding me!?! This is near impossible!!! Ack … writing poetry if the singing you’re talking about is live in front of an audience. I hate performing live. And singing music, if it’s my own (so I get to sing my own lyrics – ha!) alone in my bedroom.


A Wallaby or a Platypus? Wallaby.


Eating a vegemite sandwich or shrimp on the barbie?

LOL! My answer is in this link:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aix0cEp0N_0


Wow, hilarious!


Thanks so much Jess! I really appreciate you coming by and answering my questions. It's been so fun to know you these last several months and I'm so excited to see you getting your debut novel published!


Please say hi in the comments and let Jessica know if you all have any other questions.


P.S. My daughter Kylie is playing Bookanista Junior today over at Lisa and Laura's blog, and reviewing The Replacement from an actual YA perspective. Please stop by and say hi, and then visit all the Bookanista's!

54 comments:

Emily White said...

Great interview! The book sounds amazing, and I can't wait for it to come out! But vegemite? Blech! :P

Jessica Bell said...

Thanks so much, Matt! This was so much fun! :o) There's no release date yet, but it will be out approx Nov or Dec next year. Thanks again! xoxo

Lucky Press, LLC said...

Thanks, Matthew, for this great interview with Jessica. We are anticipating a November release date (this just in!) so that everyone can buy 2 copies of "String Bridge." One to keep and one to gift. Some ARCs will be given as well, so readers can check in with Lucky Press late next summer for that.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Good interview, Jessica. There's something to be said about small presses. I like writing about characters and relationship dynamics, too.

Catherine Denton said...

Matt and Jessica, Thank you for this fun interview. Jessica, I cringed when you said you deleted your first novel. But I'm glad you didn't mind and who cares? You sold your second! Your book sounds incredible.

Renae said...

Fabulous interview! I can't wait to read Jessica's book!

Gail said...

Stunning interview! I look forward to the book.

Candyland said...

Yeah Joat Jett! Jess is my fellow rock chick. Love the interview!!!

Christine Danek said...

Great interview. Jessica, the book sounds great and so nice to get to know you better. I will head over to LiLa's and check out that review, MAtthew. How fun.

Jessica Bell said...

PS: the photo Matt chose to use is TEN years old. I don't look so young anymore ...

Matthew Rush said...

PPS: The photo of Matt looking fly in the upper left corner is 14 years old, so take that (I do still look that awesome, in my dreams)!

Ted Cross said...

Heh! You still have her blog listed under Writers rather than Authors.

Christina Lee said...

YAY Jessica!!! You have such great titles BTW, and your book sounds AMAZING!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Awesome interview, Matt. Jessica is wildly talented and her voice sings in her writing as well as on her blog and here in this exchange. I can't wait to see her books in print!

Jen Daiker said...

I adore Jessica!!! She's the best! I love the fun and random questions you asked and I knew in a heart beat she'd choose Joan Jett(I've learned what she likes!)

Great interview!

A. Grey said...

Great interview Jessica! It's great to learn a little bit more about you and your books. I can't wait to get my hands on your book and I'm so excited for you! As far as that ten year old picture goes, you're just as beautiful now!

Ted Cross said...

Over 400 followers now, Matt. Shouldn't you be, I don't know, giving something away perhaps? Sorry, couldn't resist.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Jessica's a rock star! That's cool. We need to get together and jam sometime. I will definitely NOT be on lead guitar though.

Justine Dell said...

LoL. Jess does have some balls. That was a funny story!

It's so wonderful to hear about her journey and her stories! Soooo happy for you, Jess! Take over the world! ;-)

~JD

lbdiamond said...

Awesome interview! Thanks Jessica and Matthew! :D

Congrats on your book!

Anne said...

Jessica is an amazing person as well as an amazing writer! I'm incredibly happy for her.

Thanks for the great interview!

DEZMOND said...

ah, shame on you for not visiting her blog even though she had been visiting yours for two weeks!!!

Tracy said...

Jessica is one of my early circle of blogging buddies, and the first one to go on to becoming published. And she's the best damn Aussie living in Greece there is, I won't be convinced otherwise.

Jess, I completely agree about how frustrating it is to try to explain the "what" of a story when it's the "how" that really matters!!

Em-Musing said...

Great post., Matt. And Jessica,
so . . . you're the lovely lady who always leaves lovely comments on my blog. I think you are so right, staying true to yourself is so important. I wish you much success.

Jared Larson said...

You guys are awesome! Loved the interview. Congrats to Jessica! Vegemite? Seriously? Looks... yummy?

storyqueen said...

This is a great interview. I am very interested to read Jessica's book.

Well done!

Shelley

Slushpile Slut said...

Jessica just oozes coolness and talent! So glad I can call both Matt & Jessica my friends! Love you guys! Mwah!

Shain Brown said...

Awesome interview and thanks for introducing her. I look forward to reading her work, definitely one cool person.

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

Bitter Like Orange Peel is an AWESOME title for a novel. Awesome

Holly Ruggiero said...

That was great. I love the title of the new piece too.

Slamdunk said...

Nicely done Matthew and Jessica.

It is interesting to read about your many talents Jessica and I am sure NOV 2011 will be here before you know it.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Awesome interview! I loved learning more about Jess.

Lenny Lee* said...

i love this interview. i love miss jessica!

Carol Riggs said...

Thanks, Matthew, for the interview, and for Jessica for being the interviewee. Sounds like a great cast of characters for String Bridge!

Lisa_Gibson said...

Great interview! Vegemite does not sound as though it's for the faint of heart. Yuck! I'm off to LiLa's to comment on your daughter's review.
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Jessica Bell said...

Loving the reactions to the vegemite thing :o) I just have to add, that people who aren't familiar with the stuff spread it on their bread like peanut butter! LOL If I did that I'd blow my head off. You're only supposed to put on a very thin layer ... hehehe

KarenG said...

I heart Jessica! It is so fun following her journey to publication.

Talli Roland said...

Wonderful interview, you two. I love hearing how writers get started on the writing path, and hearing about their other passions too - Jessica is a very talented person! I can't wait for 'String Bridge'!

Vicki Rocho said...

Great interview! So exciting!

LTM said...

excellent interview! I love the sound of the story and the insights into characters. I totally get how that would be hard to sum up for a query. Can't wait to see it, and I love the title "bitter like orange peel."

I might enlist your title assistance~ :D <3 Thanks, guys!

February Grace said...

Great interview!

Melissa said...

This book sounds fascinating! I'm so excited! But I hate that I have to wait until next year. This is a fabulous interview! YAY Wallaby's!

I love that she emailed you and was like WTF. THat just made my day.

Nate Wilson said...

Dear Jessica from 10 years ago and Matt from 14 years ago, thank you so much for the wonderful interview!

As a violinist, I wholeheartedly applaud your non-traditional band set-up. I also applaud your choice of wallabies, though that has nothing to do with the violin and everything to do with my long-standing grudge against the platypus.

The Golden Eagle said...

This is a great interview! I love the questions/answers. I can't wait to read Jessica's book once it finally comes out!

Linda G. said...

LOL! Love the vegemite commercial. Great interview!

Joanna St. James said...

excellent Interview Matt and Jess I just cant wait till your book comes out, It sounds like an amazing story. Tessa sounds like a weird but adorable kid I'm thinking she could be a big hit and maybe a YA is in your future abt Tessa's character.

Jayne said...

Fab interview, Matthew! And Jessica, I really enjoyed reading your answerds. I especially liked that we can be as weird as we like in Art and Writing (see, have given them capital letters. How weird am I?!) But yes, that is probably one of the reasons I like both - there is a freedom that doesn't come with much else.

Old Kitty said...

Great interview Jessica Bell and thanks Matthew for hosting!!! Good luck with your novel Jessica - the characters and their heady and complex relationships sizzle off the page as I read!!

And the vegemite ad is great - but being a marmite lover I'm a teensy bit biased!! Take care
x

Elana Johnson said...

Fabulous interview! Congrats to Jessica and her book! I can't wait to read it. :)

JM Leotti said...

Terrific interview! Thank you Jessica and Matt! Jessica, I can't wait to read your novel. I look forward to its release date. I love books about relationship dynamics. Best of luck in your future projects! Matt, love your blog. I'm following now! :-)

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

Awesome interview. Not that I'm surprised. Props to both of you! (and loved your daughters guestanista post) :)

Samantha Vérant said...

Jessica is awesome. I'm so happy for her. But wait? Wallaby or Platypus? How'd you come up with that?

Stephen Tremp said...

I can see your band. Cello is pretty cool ... been considering taking lessons myself. I'm glad for your success! Looks like talent runs in your family.

p.kenney said...

If you are the same person who is going to write a story for my granddaughter, Courtney, I feel assured
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