Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jessa Russo's Blog Tour: Author Interview

Great news everyone! EVADE by Jessa Russo has finally been released. EVADE is the second book in the EVER Trilogy. I read EVER quite a while back and it's been so difficult waiting for the next in the series. I encourage you to grab your own copy; you won't regret it.

I am so happy to have Jessa here today for an interview. So, let's dive right in.

KH: Where is your favorite place to write?
Jessa: I don’t have a favorite place to write, or even a favorite place to read, if you can believe it. Although, I occasionally grab a pen and a stack of notebook paper and leave my house to write by hand. My mom made me do that the last time I had a bit of writer’s block going on, and somehow, the change of scenery actually worked. O_o
The words began to flow, my hand began to cramp, and I was a happy camper.

Photo by kahunapulej
KH: Finish this sentence: If I could live anywhere…
Jessa: I’d either live an hour or so outside of New Orleans, or in a tiny hut-like house on a remote island somewhere. I can’t tell you how badly I want to sell everything I own and move my family to the beach. I want to leave the chaos and struggle of the money-driven rat-race behind SO BADLY, focusing instead on teaching my daughter to live a calm and loving life, surrounded by nature—as I think God intended. I could homeschool her, and really, I can write anywhere . . . and hubs could run some sort of business fixing the cars for the locals or something, since he loves wrenching on engines. It sounds divine. (Too bad he doesn’t agree. Lol)  

KH: What inspired your latest WIP?
Jessa: ARK OF DREAMS is an edgy, new adult contemporary—a modern day spin on Noah’s Ark . . . and honestly, two things inspired it. I’d been wanting to do a redux, but wanted to stay away from fairytales as they’ve already been done—overdone, unfortunately—and I’d just finished DIVIDE (Beauty and the Beast redux), adding to that stack. I kept trying to think of new ways to spin biblical stories instead of retelling fairytales, but hadn’t come up with anything yet. So that “idea” was spinning around in my head for a while. When I woke up from a dream one night, with the vivid image of a girl riding a horse up and out of demolished rubble burned into my brain, the two concepts came together, and ARK was born. In my dream, it was like she rode up the side of a sink hole or something; I didn’t know exactly where she was, or even who she was, but the vision of that girl riding to freedom, escaping whatever crumbled walls had imprisoned her, the wind in her hair and the sky lit up behind her stuck with me—and I hope it forever will. Eventually, that girl became my Ana, the female lead in ARK OF DREAMS. I won’t give too much away, but there is a scene where Ana rides away from the wreckage of the ARK, and I hope readers find it as vivid and moving as I still picture it in my mind.

KH: Is there music or television on while you write?
Jessa: The only time I can listen to music while I write is if it’s Lindsey Sterling, but even those moments are few and far between. I really just need silence. Of course, in a house with a husband, two dogs, and a ten year old, silence isn’t really the background noise either, but you know what I mean.

KH: Outside of your own, what's your favorite book?
Jessa: Hmmm. I don’t think I have one. I have a lot of favorite series, and favorite authors, but I can’t think of any ONE favorite book. I LOVE anything by Jeaniene Frost or Richelle Mead, and you can consider me a lifelong, die hard fangirl.  I’m also a pretty huge fan of some of my friends’ books, like Krystal Wade’s Darkness Falls series, or Cait Greer’s EYRE HOUSE, or 18 THINGS by Jamie Ayres. OH! And earlier this year, I totally fangirled over WARM BODIES and EASY. Such fantastic books, IMO.

KH: As an author, are you a planner (outline) or a pantser (by the seat of)?
Jessa: Pantser. Painfully so. Every single time I try to plot, I write.

KH: Chocolate or vanilla?
Jessa: Chocolate.

KH: Phobias? Do your phobias ever work their way into your writing?
Jessa: I’m terrified of scorpions and June bugs. I also hate clowns but love the movie IT. *shrug* I don’t know if my phobias ever work their way into my writing, but my life definitely does.  Or has. My dad died when I was sixteen. It was sudden and completely unexpected at that point. He’d had a pacemaker put in (due to lifelong heart issues) and the doctor looked at my mom and dad and said, “I give you two at least 25 more years together.” He died two years later. When writing EVER, this life experience crept its way into the story. I’ve seen comments from reviewers who wondered why I wrote that scene, since it wasn’t really anything to do with driving the story forward or twisting the plot, and frankly, I have no answer. I guess that, like my own father’s death, shit just happens. Not everything is a plot twist.

KH: Which authors inspired you as a young adult?
Jessa: Christopher Pike. R.L. Stine. Sandra Brown. Dean Koontz. Stephen King.

KH: Best advice you’ve ever received about writing/publishing?
Jessa: Ignore reviews. <----Gah! So genius, right!?
Unfortunately, I ignore that advice, as sound as it is.   

KH: Looking back, what’s the one thing you wish you knew before starting your first novel?
Jessa: Ha! I wish I’d had SOME idea that you don’t finish a book and then get published. I honestly thought, “Sweet. I finished a book. Now I have to figure out how to send it to Random House.” GOOD GRIEF.

KH: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Jessa: I recently answered this question for Tawney at Twinning for Twins. I hope you don’t mind, but I will use the same response because I’m sticking with what I said.
Photo by rkempjr
Take your time. This isn’t a race. Don’t rush. Don’t make rushed decisions. 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. 
KH: Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not?
Jessa: Yes! My husband and I met at a bar, and frankly, from the moment I realized he couldn’t keep his eyes off me, I knew. We went on our first date that very night, and were inseparable from that day forward. Eleven+ years later, and still going strong. So, maybe it wasn’t technically “love” yet, but it was definitely something.

KH: What is one characteristic about yourself that you love?
Jessa: Wow. Um . . .
Um . . .
Um . . .
Is this question supposed to be so difficult? What does that say about me?   

KH: Well, Jessa, we've "known" each other for almost a year now (online) and I can tell you one characteristic I have noticed about you; you are super encouraging to others, which is an amazing gift, so keep it up!

KH: Why did you decide to write the genre(s) that you do?
Jessa: Honestly, I think I’m just YA at heart. My critique partner, Tamara Mataya, says I’m the most YA person she knows. I take it as a compliment. J (Hey! Be sure to check out Tam’s erotic romance: THE BEST LAID PLANS . . . coming 11/12/13 from Swoon Romance! <---shameless CP plug!) Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything more emotional than those feelings of first love and first kisses, first relationships, first time having sex (even if it’s with someone new, but not your first time), first heartbreak, etc. I mean, I’m married now, happily, with a mortgage, a kiddo, dogs, bills, debt . . . I’ll never experience that pure innocence again. There’s just something so exciting about the coming of age years. I love YA. I love NA. I love anything that takes me back to those butterfly-feelings, childhood freedom, and the awkwardness of my youth. Because, as bumpy as the road may have been, my teen years were amazing. I love transporting back to those years in the stories I read and write. 

KH: I love learning new things about fellow authors. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your world with us, Jessa. I wish you all the luck with your EVADE and the EVER Trilogy.

Jessa Russo
About Jessa:
An unashamed super fan of all things paranormal romance, Jessa Russo reads, writes and breathes paranormal YA, rarely straying from her comfort zone. When not writing or reading--or raising the coolest kid ever--Jessa enjoys making memories with her amazingly supportive family and friends, while secretly planning her next trip to New Orleans. She will always call Southern California home, where she lives with her husband and daughter, and a Great Dane who thinks he's the same size as his cranky sister, the Chihuahua.

EVADE's Links:

Buy EVADE here:

EVER's Links: 

Jessa's Links:


  1. I LOVED this interview . . . especially your advice :-) And wow, thanks for the shout out!! Evade is quickly becoming one of my favorites too!

  2. It IS a comment that you're the most YA person I know!!! It's so authentic, and I love you!


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