Read our previous post for more details, but to sum it up: For the Month of March, we won’t be publishing your submissions (keep sending them, though!) We’re focusing on updating ourselves and our site. In the mean time, we’re venturing into a new field: Interviews. We already have multiple lined up, and this week we’re starting with Jessica Therrien, author of Children of the Gods. Enjoy!
JESSICA THERRIEN is the author of the young adult paranormal fiction series Children of the Gods. Book one in the series, Oppression, became a Barnes & Noble best-seller shortly after its release in February of 2012.
Aside from her Children of the Gods series, Jessica’s work can also be found in a published collection of flash fiction stories called Campaigner Challenges 2011. Out of over 350 submissions her story, The Soulless, won first place for people’s choice and fourth place in the judging round of Rachael Harrie’s Writing Campaign Challenge. Her story, Saved, is also available as part of the anthology.
Jessica spent most of her life in the small town of Chilcoot, California, high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In this town of nearly 100 residents, with no street lights or grocery stores, there was little to do but find ways to be creative. Her mother, the local English teacher, inspired her to do all things artistic, and ultimately instilled in her a love for language.
In 2003, Jessica attended California State University Long Beach where her passion for language found her studying Chinese, and in 2005 she moved to Taiwan to study abroad. From 2005 to 2006 Jessica was fully immersed in the Chinese language as she attended National Taiwan University, and in 2008 she graduated from San Diego State University magna cum laude.
Jessica currently lives in Irvine with her husband and two sons. She is planning a re-release of her series through Acorn Publishing in September of 2015. The re-release will include the third and final book in her Children of the Gods series as well as a bonus chapter in the back of Oppression.
What sort of subjects/genres do you like to write about and why?
I like to write YA paranormal or fantasy, anything that takes the reader out of the mundane. It’s just more fun than writing about normal everyday life. I like writing YA because I like the fast-paced nature of the genre and the youthful experiences, like first love, first kiss etc.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book?
My latest release, REDEMPTION (Children of the Gods #3), is the 3rd and final book in my YA paranormal romance series. It’s my favorite of the three.
Here is the blurb from the first book:
Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She’s been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than average people, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she’s well over eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don’t make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she’s been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Some are waiting for her to put an end to centuries of traditions that have oppressed their people under the guise of safeguarding them. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning-and she’s not entirely willing to play by their rules.
What or who influenced you to start writing?
I was never very inspired by the books we’re required to read as young students. In fact, for a long time I thought I hated reading, until I was introduced to JK Rowling. She taught me that books can be fun and imaginative. After reading Harry Potter I began to fall in love with books.
Are you a morning person or a night person? Does that influence what time of day you write?
I’m a big time morning person. I wake up alert and ready to get stuff done. I’m a mommy, though. So mornings are pretty much dedicated to my kids (1 & 3 years old). I usually write after they are in bed, which is hard, because I want to be in bed, too!
How do you keep yourself on track and focused when you sit down to write?
I don’t force myself to write more than I want to. If it starts to feel tedious or no longer enjoyable, I allow myself to stop. But I do force myself to at least try to make progress every night.
If you could be any book character (other than your own), who would you be and why?
Hermione Granger so I could attend Hogwarts and dabble in all the fun. There are so many amazing characters, but I guess I really am a kid at heart.
Have you ever taken writing classes or gone to school to study writing? Do you think classes are necessary to become a professional writer?
No, but my mother is an English teacher, so I guess you could say I’ve had a specialized education in writing. She made sure to drill me on the basics. The thing I love about writing creatively is that you can break the rules. So, no, I don’t think you need classes to become a professional writer. You do need to do your research, though. So you know what you’re up against.
Did you ever encounter someone who told you that you wouldn’t succeed as a writer? How did you handle this discouragement and what advice would you give to aspiring writers in a similar situation?
I haven’t encountered anyone who has been mean about it, but I did talk to an x-agent about the statistics of landing a big 6 publisher. That was pretty discouraging, but I didn’t let it stop me. If you have a good book and get it out there, you’ll find an audience.
What is the best thing about being a published author? The worst thing?
Hearing from fans is the best. Every single time it makes me smile. I also love getting an idea and letting it take me over. It’s like living in a different world for a while.
There isn’t much to complain about. I’d say the worst thing is sometimes feeling torn between writing and spending time with family. When I’m doing one, I feel bad for not doing the other.
Did you learn anything from writing your book(s)? What surprised you?
Too many things to list. Mostly, I learned what works for me. I learned my process and allowed it to happen. What surprised me was how quickly and easily I ended up with a book when I chipped away at it, one sentence at a time.
Tell us a little about the protagonist in your latest book. Was there real-life inspiration behind her?
I think there is always real-life inspiration behind characters and their stories. The best ones are based on real people. My protagonist, Elyse, is based on me. OPPRESSION (Children of the Gods #1) was my first book and I went with what I knew.
How about your antagonist? Good villains are hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain to write this book? Was there real-life inspiration?
I read somewhere that good villains believe what they are doing is right, and if the tables were turned, and the story from their perspective, they would be the hero. I tried to remember that when creating my villains.
Did you do research for your book? What did that involve?
The great part about having a Greek mythology infused fiction is that I had a ton of information to pull from and the artistic license to twist it and make stuff up as I wrote. I did do a lot of research on Greek gods, but I used a lot of my own imagination as well. Wikipedia was a great resource for me and inspired a lot of creativity.
Is there a certain subject or situation that’s harder for you to write than others? (i.e. love, action, racy, etc.)
I put off writing a lot of the super climactic scenes until the end. I just felt a lot of pressure to make them great.
What was your favorite chapter, section, or book to write and why?
I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a part when William and Elyse rediscover one another after a major tragedy. I enjoyed the newness of that. I also LOVED writing the end of my series. It felt amazing, and I had been waiting a long time to write it.
How important are names? Do you choose names based on the way they sound or based on their meaning? Do you have any name-choosing resources you’d recommend?
For this series it was a mixture of how the name sounded and whether or not the name was popular when that character was born. Some went back 500 years so I did have to look that up. I think I Googled, but might have went to the Bible a few times.
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
When my 3-year-old wakes up with a nightmare and my 1-year-old wakes up at the same time, I have to work some major mommy magic to get them back to sleep. It usually ends with a lot of hushing and bouncing on a yoga ball with a 20lb. baby in my arms.
Are you a part-time or full-time writer? Do you have a day job? How is your writing affected?
I’m a full time writer and a full time mommy. It’s very hard to do both, but I do my best. I definitely can’t write as fast as I want to. It takes me over a year to write a book.
How hard is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?
You get what you put into it. It’s hard for me to give 100% because of my kids, but I’m happy with the balance I’ve settled into.
What do you wish you would have known when you were starting out as a writer?
Traditional publishing isn’t all it’s made out to be. It adds a lot of stress with deadlines and sales pressure. Enjoy writing in its raw and natural form.
Do you have any helpful resources for writers that you’d like to share?
What are three books you think everyone should read and why?
Hardest question ever.
1. Shantaram – it’s 1000 pages but it will stay with you always.
2. Harry Potter – because it’s magical.
3. Bird by Bird – Especially for writers, but even if you’re not.
How can readers get in touch or follow you on social media?
Anything else you’d like to add?
THANK YOU for the interview, and THANK YOU to all my readers.