Today’s blog interview is with Jessa Russo, author the Ever Trilogy. Book 2 Evade just released October 1st, 2013 and this is one of many blog stops she is making. We are very glad to have her with us!
Tawney: 1. Evade has come out into the big book world! Are you excited?
Jessa: Yes! I honestly can’t believe I have two books out in the world. It’s crazy. Then I realize I’ve actually completed four books, and my mind is blown. I had no idea all these stories were inside of me. And so many more keep begging to be written. It’s crazy.
Tawney 2. I must say the cover is gorgeous! Did you get to help with the process of choosing your covers for both Evade and Ever?
Jessa: Yes! Even before I chose to break ties with my publishing house, I had full control over my covers. That’s one thing I can say about Indie pub houses–they give you so much more creative freedom than traditional pub houses. Or so I’ve heard. Anyway, my friend Tamara (of Face on by Tamara) took the photos, and found my beautiful Ever model, Tracy Stanbury–(you can catch her dancing with Mandala Danceworks in various California events!). Tracy brought her boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend . . . sad face) to the first shoot, who made a PERFECT Frankie. I had a really hard time finding my Toby, but a friend of mine introduced me to Sean Ciccione on Facebook, and when he showed up at the EVADE photo shoot, I just about died. He WAS Toby. He channeled him perfectly, and EVADE’s cover was born. And, damn, that cover is beautiful, if I do say so myself. Sean will actually be at my signing next weekend at Gallaghers Pub & Grill in Huntington Beach (shameless event plug), so I hope people will be excited to meet “Toby!’
Tawney: Wow, that’s amazing how that cover fell into place!!!! And to meet “TOBY” in person? HOT!!!!
Tawney: 3. What about the other books you have worked on, Divide and Ark of Dreams? Will we get to read them soon? I would love to read Divide because I love retelling of fairytales and Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorites!
Jessa: I am working with Nicole Resciniti on DIVIDE right now, so I’m hoping that with her brilliant eye, we will have DIVIDE in amazing shape soon and ready for the world to view. I really enjoyed writing DIVIDE, and love my characters, Holland and Mick, but ARK OF DREAMS . . . wow, that story really has my heart. I am waiting patiently for critique (ahem, Feaky Snucker), but I’m hoping to get ARK to my agent soon. I will definitely keep you posted–this is a story I can’t wait to publish. Like, REALLY can’t wait. Originally, ARK was in one POV, told from my main character Ana’s first person point of view. I was nearly done, but something wasn’t right. I finally woke up and realized that the love interest wasn’t just a love interest, but a very main character that needed to be heard. So, after nearly finishing the manuscript, I went back and began adding Marco’s POV. I fell in love with him and his arrogant, tough exterior–it hides a genuinely beautiful heart and soul, and I think getting inside his head really gave me, and hopefully the readers, another side of him. I just adore him. I hope you guys will, too.
Tawney: Oh I;m sure we will love it.
Tawney: 4. When you write do you have any traditions or habits? I always have my dolphin pillow pet when I write at home. It is soft and fluffy.
Jessa: Lol, um . . . no, I don’t really have any traditions or habits, and my kiddo is the pillow pet hoarder . . . though I do have one writing mug that I use if I’m determined to write ALL THE WORDS that day. I guess that’s a bit superstitious, huh? But, when sitting down to really write, I can’t have my coffee in just any mug. That would be silly. *shakes head*
Tawney: 5. You are setting you a writer/wine retreat next year in March. Tell us a little about that.
Jessa: I really need to get on that, but had to set it aside to get EVADE out into the world and finish ARK. But my friend works at a winery in Temecula, and I had this idea of a writing retreat. Something close to home, since I can never afford to go to these major events, and something involving wine because . . . well, WINE. Our wine country is beautiful, and let’s face it, living in Southern California means gorgeous weather nearly all the time. So my retreat plan was born. I imagine a very loose schedule, more like a writing vacation than a conference, though I would like to have some agent/editor lead meetings/events. But nothing too rigid. I just want us to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, while finding time to enjoy writing without the distractions of home. It sounds heavenly, in my opinion.
Tawney: It sounds really fun! Yeah, a lot of the retreats are far and expensive. I wanted to go to RT next year but it was too expensive. I will do California and wine country. It’s not far from Arizona!
Tawney: 6. How did you decide to sign with your agent Marisa Cleveland? Was it love at first sight?
Jesssa: I knew Marisa before she began agenting, having met her during a contest she put on as an intern for Nicole Resciniti. I ended up a finalist in that contest, but I was about to sign my first publishing contest with Curiosity Quills. So, instead of waiting to see what would happen, I politely withdrew from the contest and signed my pub contract. Marisa and I remained in touch, becoming friends, and developing our relationship over the months to follow. She mentioned more than once that she wanted DIVIDE, and that I was someone “who got away” (awww, cue blushing), so when it came time to query DIVIDE, I subbed to Marisa, she offered, and I said yes. I love her, and I’m so thankful for the friendship we’ve developed. She’s amazingly supportive of her friends. I also love the Seymour Agency, and the crazy support we receive from one another there.
Tawney: 7. You began your love of reading with Christopher Pike and RL Stine. I did too! And you love Dean Koontz and Jeaniene Frost. A lot of your favorite authors are horror. Are you going to write a future horror story?
Jessa: YES! Well, let me reign in some of that enthusiasm and say that I am working on a horror story, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in my horror-writing abilities. So it may not end up true horror, and may instead wind up a spooky paranormal (which seems to be more safely in my comfort zone). BUT, I do plan on at least trying to write the story from a horror standpoint. I mean, SUICIDE TREES is based on the Aokigahara Forest in Japan, also known as the Suicide Forest . . . how can it not be horror??? (Go Google that forest. I’ll wait.)
Tawney: OMG! That is so creepy. Your story is going to be awesome.
Tawney: 8. Is there certain music you like to listen to while writing? A certain singer or band that just inspires you to write? I have to say Imagine Dragons and Muse get my writing going when I listen to them.
Jessa: Honestly, I can’t listen to music while I write. The only time I do is if its Lindsey Sterling, because she’s purely instrumental. But I do have music that inspires my writing. Absolutely. The Black Keys are a huge inspiration to Toby’s character in the Ever Trilogy. He IS that music. Mainly, ‘These Days.’ That’s Toby’s song, in both books. Peter Hollens and Madeline Bailey did a version of Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Dark Side’ that is DIVIDE. Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ is so much a part of Ana and Marco in ARK.
Tawney: 9. What has been the hardest thing as a writer to release your books?
Jessa: Rejections. They don’t end with queries. Readers reject your books, too, though unlike agents/editors, they do it in long, gif-filled rants. I think I’d prefer a “this wasn’t for me, but reading is subjective.” LOL! I’m better with them now, but there was a while there that each negative review devastated me. But I’m this close to finally understanding that the reviews aren’t for me. Silly, rabbit! Trix are for kids!
Tawney: Awww why can’t readers be nicer? I hate the awful comments. If it’s not nice don’t say it at all.
Tawney: 10. Any pointers for writers out there wishing to find an agent and get published? Oh yeah. Take your time. This isn’t a race. Don’t rush. Don’t make rushed decisions.
Jessa: Follow your gut. Take advice from people who know what they’re talking about, but know when to disregard those same people, because every journey to publication is different. WE are different. I may have decided to leave my Indie pub, but they might be the perfect fit for you. I may have chosen to self-pub some books and seek traditional pub for others, but that is MY path. You can do your own thing, too! And I’m still going to support you. Do your research. Always, regardless of which path you take. Get a critique partner, or two or three, but remember that too many cooks in the kitchen applies to writing, as well. Know when to heed critique and when to ignore it. Find your voice, then work hard at polishing that voice. It’s yours, it’s beautiful, but it is constantly growing and changing, as you are. Be respectful. ALWAYS. Even if your path is different than mine, we can disagree–even passionately–but be respectful. We’re all doing this for ourselves, sure, but we’re in this together. Readers, writers, agents, editors . . . we’re here because of a love for reading. It’s our common tie that binds. But most importantly, my first statement is the one I most adamantly want to get across: TAKE YOUR TIME.
Tawney: Wonderful advice! It’s a hard writing world out there and we defiantly need to find our own voice.
Tawney: 11. Tell us something we would never know about you. I can’t stand the sound of frozen cardboard.
Jessa: You’re scratching your head right now, aren’t you? Let me try to explain. You know that sound when you peel open a frozen pizza box or something? OMG my teeth are clenching just THINKING about it. that sound makes me shudder. *shudderrrrrrrrsssssss*
Oh, and darnit, I guess I’ll give you this weird fact, too, since its share time. Might as well, right? So . . . I think that if you touch my collar bone too roughly it will break, so my husband grabs it all the time to mess with me. I curl up into a ball and laugh hysterically (like that panicked, terrified crazy laugh) as I wait for my collar bone to shatter like a little bird bone under his man fingers. He thinks its the funniest thing in the world.
I can’t believe I just told you that. I’m such a freak.
Tawney: Hey, I hate when people touch my neck. I don’t know why but I yelp and back away because it makes me uncomfortable.
Tawney: 12. What do you look forward most this winter? Anything exciting?
Jessa: Um, my birthday? I don’t know, I guess I just love the Holidays as a whole. We always have Thanksgiving at my house, and I love it–I’m a 1950’s housewife/hostess at heart. And I love my birthday–I am adamant about birthday celebrations. We also have a new tradition of going up on the Palm Springs tram Christmas Eve, so I look forward to that. As far as writing, I’m looking forward to getting EVER 3 out, and working on the first draft of SUICIDE TREES, but mostly . . . I want ARK to be done because I want that baby on submission!
Tawney: I love the holidays. I hate cooking thought so your house sounds like the place to be on Thanksgiving!
Tawney: 13. You are having a launch party in Huntington Beach, Ca. How exciting! I hope to be there. Do you want to tell us a little about the launch? Now if readers can’t make it they can go on your website to order signed copies of Evade and Ever. Will it be available to personalize when ordered?
Jessa: I always sign the copies ordered through my website. They come to me, I sign them, then I ship them to you. 🙂 I can’t wait for the launch party, though I’m secretly scared that no one will show up, not even my close friends. I had a dream I was the only one in Gallaghers and the staff just stared at me like “WTF?”
Tawney: Awwww I am sure they will show up to support you! I wish I could come to the signing but I am defiantly buying your books to be autographed. Thank you for joining us today! I look forward to book 3 to come out!!! Keep us posted on ARK!
In this thrilling sequel, Ever Van Ruysdael’s race to beat the odds—and the clock—begins with the introduction of an integral part of her past. As secrets are revealed, and truths uncovered, she learns her imminent death is the least of her problems: Ariadne did more than just put an expiration date on her life; she marked Ever’s soul by upping its value for greedy collectors looking to buy their freedom.
Condemned by the countdown on her life, and hunted by hired Seekers, Ever’s journey leads her to question everything she’s known and everyone she’s trusted, while growing closer to the one person from her past she was determined to avoid—and the one guy she never could—Toby James.
With her ex-boyfriend by her side, and the countdown clock rapidly ticking away, Ever tries thwarting fate’s plans. But as her nineteenth birthday approaches, and desperate Seekers follow her every move, she may be too late.
A marked soul is hard to come by … and even harder to escape.
About Jessa Russo:
I’m an unashamed super fan of all things paranormal romance. I read, write and breathe paranormal YA, rarely straying from my comfort zone. Seriously. I love the stuff.
When not writing or reading, I’m out and about making memories with some seriously awesome people – for an introvert, I’m pretty extroverted. 😉 You can bet that I’m also ALWAYS secretly planning my next trip to New Orleans. (If my eyes glaze over, I’m in one of my stories, or NOLA.)
I have a husband I love as much now as I did when we first fell in love over ten years ago, and a daughter we’re doing our best to raise with manners, values, and spunk.
Southern California will always be home, but I’m open to suggestions.
REGARDING REVIEWS: I’m a writer and a reader, but not much of a reviewer.
This is likely because if I love a book, all I’m going to do is gush / fangirl flail all over the book and author. If I dislike a book, I’m not going to say much because I’ve been on the receiving end of a negative review.
So. I will rate books if I find them to be 4 or 5 stars. If they are less than 4 star reads for me, I will not rate them. It’s as easy as that.