How do you develop a mental picture of your characters?
I like to find pictures of actual people who I think look like the character's image I have in my mind's eye. For example, this shot of Heidi Klum encapsulated the image I had for Aphrodite.
(It may be too early in the morning for Heidi. I think I got a new wrinkle just looking at her.)
I printed all of my images, tacked them to a bulletin board behind my desk, and then referred to the faces whenever I was stuck. Having a real person to look at and think - what facial expression would he make? - was a great help.
If you decided to self-publish, what was the final push that allowed that decision?
Honestly, it was being so close to having a home for DESTINED, but not trusting a smaller publisher to give it the love I thought it deserved. I had several "near misses" with agents and smaller presses (and one offer from a smaller press), but after getting some good advice from industry experts, I decided to take on the challenge of self-publishing. Trust me, this was not a decision I made lightly. I've been researching the industry for over three years and I knew I had to have an amazing cover, a knock-story and avoid editing mistakes. So, I've hired professionals all along the way and forced myself not to rush the process.
Timing also played a role in my decision because I've been working on DESTINED since long before Greek mythology became "hot" in YA lit, but I also know trends don't last. I wanted DESTINED to come out this year with other titles like The Goddess Test and Starcrossed, which pretty much meant I needed to publish it myself.
How did you decide to get into writing?
My husband and I are both attorneys, and like any career, we've both had our moments of dissatisfaction. Not long after our daughters were born (2005 and 2006), we had a growing collection of picture books lying around and my husband said, "We should write picture books. How hard can that be?" And from there it snowballed.
While he bought books like Writing Children's Books for Dummies, I actually took an online course in writing that had us sample all the different genres (from board books to YA). Although I still have some picture book ideas floating around, my inability to say anything quickly or succinctly made me realize writing from tots would be a lot harder for me than writing for teens. A few SCBWI conferences, years of writing practice, and lots of help from CPs, beta readers and the folks at #yalitchat, and here I am!
What's on your bucket list?
I've always wanted to ride a camel near the pyramids of Egypt. (And I have to mention that I just crossed three things off my bucket list on my last vacation -- zip-lining through a rain forest, cave tubing, and jumping off a rock - granted it didn't qualify as a cliff, but that's as close as I ever plan to come.)
When Psyche receives a prophecy gone horribly wrong, she learns that even the most beautiful girl in Greece can have a hideous future. Her fate? Fall in love with the one creature even the gods fear.
As she feels herself slipping closer into the arms of the prophecy, Psyche must choose between the terrifyingly tender touch she feels almost powerless to resist and the one constant she's come to expect out of life: you cannot escape what is destined.
Destined is a fresh and heartachingly romantic retelling of the Cupid & Psyche myth from debut novelist, Jessie Harrell.