Q&A with Jessa Russo, Author of Ever

I'm thrilled to welcome Jessa Russo as part of her Ever Blog Tour, which has been like the Dakar Rally or the Western States Endurance Run. I'm going to throw her some bottled water, energy gels, pretzels, and bananas.

Jessa's debut novel is the YA paranormal romance EVER (which has a beautiful cover). It was published in October 2012 by the innovative Curiosity Quills Press, who also happen to be the publisher of my first three novels.

You're a California girl, and you’re from south Orange County. How do you think living there has informed your writing?

That’s a tough question, but on a very superficial level … EVER takes place in Orange, which is an area I am very familiar with, so I think that helps when writing a story. You already know the layout of the area – the streets, the attractions, the food – so it makes setting the scene a lot easier. In my opinion.  

Which author's career do you most want to emulate in the long run and why?

I can’t think of anyone in particular. I want to get all of my book ideas on paper, and I want to grow and learn with each story. I want the world to love my books, so if I could emulate anyone, it would be someone who has a following of people devoted to their stories.

Which of your characters is the most similar to you, and which is most different?

Ever. Definitely Ever. I didn’t realize it when I was writing, but the more I get to know her, whether re-reading the book, or working on book two, and the more that I hear feedback from friends, I realize she’s pieces of me. Pieces of me now, and pieces of me as a teen. As far as most different from me, it’s a tie between Jessie and Ariadne. Though completely different from each other, they both have the confidence I’ve always thought I lacked. Jessie lights up a room when she walks in, and Ariadne makes all heads turn. I’ve never felt that I hold that kind of easy grace or confidence.

Are there any of your characters you wish you could be more like? Why?

Well, in truth, I think there are bits of all of them that are me, and bits of all of them that I wish were me. I wish I had Jessie’s easy-going nature, Ariadne’s confidence, Frankie’s ability to love unconditionally, Toby’s strength, and Ever’s ability to trust and love so openly.

What is your writing schedule like?

Ha! Currently, it is non-existent. But when I’m not devouring manuscript submissions for CQ, I devote all of my free time to writing. I’m blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, so while my daughter is at school, I write all day. But my favorite time to write, and the best time in my opinion, is first thing in the morning. After my husband goes to work, but before my daughter has to wake up for school … when it’s still dark outside, and the coffee is flowing … that is my favorite time to write.

Where do you want your career to be in ten years?

As far as writing goes, I want to have all three books of The Ever Trilogy released, along with the prequel (from Toby’s POV). I also want my other works in progress to see the light of day. I have an awesome story – a loose biblical retelling – that I can’t wait to share with the world, but I have had to put it on the backburner for now. But it is going to be good. Really good. (At least, in my humble opinion. Lol) As far as my job with CQ goes, I want to watch authors reach their publishing goals because of me. I want to have a part in starting the careers of some amazing undiscovered talents. And if all of this goes well, for both my job as a writer, and my job as an Acquisitions Editor for CQ, I really want my husband to be able to do what he loves. So hopefully everything works out, and our financial situation changes enough to make his dreams a reality too. God knows he’s worked hard so I could stay home with our daughter and chase my writing dreams. I’d like to be able to tell him some day that it’s his turn.

What's the best advice you received while working on Ever?

Hmmm … I’d say that my friend, Marisa, telling me to write my “morning pages” every day, started me off on my early-morning writing path, and in turn helped me find the time and drive to finish. It also helped me realize that in order to write my book and write it well, I had to write every day. Something I’ve forgotten as of late, but I hope to return to soon.

What type of book do you think would be the most challenging to write?

Oh geez. There are two types of books I can think of off the top of my head. First of all, anything based (loosely or otherwise) on history – any history. I recently read an amazing submission for CQ – a YA historical romance – and I was blown away by how much research the author had obviously put into the book. It baffles me. Secondly, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around completely made-up worlds. So anything that takes place somewhere other than modern day America, is mind-boggling to me. I just don’t feel like I have the ability or creativity to completely form another world entirely, and authors who do that are totally amazing to me.

What role does your husband play in your writing process? Is he involved with brainstorming or editing, or encouraging you during every writer's occasional spiral into despair?

Oh geez. You ask the tough questions, don’t you!? Honestly, my husband doesn’t read fiction. He doesn’t understand why anyone does. So you can imagine how un-enthused he is about my young adult paranormal romance about a seventeen-year-old girl in love with a ghost! Lol! He’s a very factual, scientific person. He wants to learn something from what he reads. He loves reading instruction manuals. Haha! Can you imagine!? I’d go crazy without a fictional boyfriend to love, or a mystery to solve! So he’s as supportive as he can be. More so now, for sure, since the book is a real thing and not just a hobby. I think for a long time he thought I’d just found something to occupy myself with, but now that he has seen it come to fruition, and holds the book in his hand, I think he finally gets it. And I know he’s finally proud of me.

What was your favorite book (or series) when you were your daughter's age?

I LOVED the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books. Those were probably what introduced me to my love of all things paranormal. From there I read everything by Christopher Pike. He was my favorite childhood author, though I’m not sure I was reading him when I was nine. I can’t remember though – a lot of my childhood memories are missing.

I'd like to thank Jessa for taking the time to answer my questions. Her debut novel is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also learn more about Jessa on her website, or follow her on Twitter.