This week, my guest is Jessie Harrell, author of DESTINED. This excellent YA retelling of the myth of Psyche and Cupid kept me on the edge of my seat, and Harrell has recently released BEFORE, a companion story to DESTINED. She joins me today to talk about her writing process.
1. When did you start writing?
I started writing probably about 4 or 5 years ago when my husband jokingly commented that we should write picture books because “how hard can that be?” Thinking he may be onto something, I took an online writing class, realized writing good picture books is really hard, and decided young adult is what I was meant to write. The rest, as they say, is history.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I’m much more of a pantser. Destined was sort of unique in that the basic plot was already in place and my job was finding ways to make it fresh and new and weave in different stories. That came to me very organically. I’m trying hard to be a planner for my next novel though because I’m not recreating an existing myth and I feel like I need at least a road map in place.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
I’ve been “off the wagon” for a bit lately, working more on promoting my work, editing, or creating short stories lately. When I am in novel-writing mode, you’ll find me eeking out every spare minute to write. When the kids go to bed, I have a couple of hours. When they’re at sports practices, I take my laptop and work. I’ve even been known to put them in my gym’s babysitting and work in the lobby, just to have an uninterrupted hour. For someone who works part time already, that’s a very intense process. I had to cut out all TV except True Blood. I don’t even watch the news so don’t ask me about current events. I have no clue. Eek!
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
I’m not sure anyone likes this answer, but the truth is that Stephanie Meyer had the biggest influence on me when I was getting into this business. I loved Twilight and I wanted so badly to create the kind of connection she had developed between Bella and Edward. I knew Psyche and Eros had a whole different kind of relationship going on, but I was really inspired by her to create a love that readers would connect with.
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
I’m really hoping that a modern-day (but still mythology-based) novel called Beneath the Surface gets off the ground soon. I co-wrote it with Nikki Katz and it has a special place in my heart. I’m also one chapter (yes, be in awe of my work ethic on this one) into a companion novel for Destined, so if you liked the setting of ancient Greece and interaction with the gods, Oracular is my next project in that area.
6. Any tips for new writers?
Go to conferences – they are energizing and you learn a lot. Follow agents and editors on their blogs and twitter to stay up on the trends and get tips. Be involved in writing organizations like #yalitchat and SCBWI. Find some solid critique partners whose feedback you trust and value.
7. Any tips for old writers?
Networking means so much among writers. Find your writer friends and help each other. This doesn’t have to be a lonely business (especially if you’re an Indie author like me — there’s lots of support out there among other Indies).
Jessie Harrell “You cannot escape what is DESTINED.”
Jessie’s books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, and Book Depository.