Friday, October 28, 2011

Author Spotlight: Jessie Harrell

Happy Friday! Welcome to another Author Spotlight. This week we have Jessie Harrell, who's both a writer and a lawyer. With me as a doc in the house, all we need now is a priest and we'd have the makings of a good joke, I'm sure. :) Take it away, Jessie!

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.


(photo source)


(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.


Available on Amazon


Find Jessie on Twitter and her blog!


42 comments:

L'Aussie said...

Hi Jessie! Hi Lydia! I came by to say congrats to you Lydia as I heard you had made your first sale. Great!

I thoroughly enjoyed Jessie's interview. So interesting that you went the self-pub route. But I agree, there's got to be a drop-dead gorgeous cover etc. Great advice. I wish you all the best. The cover is wonderful!

Denise

Little Ms. Fun said...

A camel ride through Egypt is a great thing to have on a bucket list :) This author is adventurous and I love it! People who sense adventure always have the best stories. Great interview!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview Jessie and Lydia. I love the idea of tacking pictures of your characters up. That would help me a lot.

Jessie, I'm a lawyer too. It's nice to meet another one who likes to write too. Good luck with your book.

salarsenッ said...

Couldn't be more excited for my Oasis Sister!! *waves* Hi, Jessie. Great interview, Lydia!

Laila Knight said...

Oh way cool. This sounds like so much fun. It always amazes me how characters put up a fight to decided whether to fall in love or not. Just do it I say, but I'm just a romantic. Great interview! :)

Miranda Hardy said...

Egypt is on my bucket list, too, although the camel isn't. Lol Good luck with Destined Jesse.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Writer and lawyer is a dangerous combination!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

This book is on my list. I love the cover. (Yes, I'm a sucker for awesome covers). :D

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Um, I was just reading the other comments. What interview???? I just see the blub from her book and the lawyer/physician joke comment.

Anne Gallagher said...

Jesse's book sounds great, but I'm with Stina, where's the interview, the cover, the thing about the camels? What did I miss????

Accidentalwriter said...

I'm a little in the same boat as Stina and Anne. Not sure that I have seen all the available material. I also must confess that I was ignorant of the Cupid & Psyche Myth - however, I can see the opportunities Jessie has to take this story to another dimension. I wish you all the very best Jessie.

Old Kitty said...

Thank you lovely Lydia for the intro to Jessie's book - sounds most romantic!! Yay! Take care
x

Slamdunk said...

Interesting idea. I'll check out Jessie's link

Julie Dao said...

I love this idea! Such a huge fan of Greek mythology, and I always love seeing what YA writers can do with it.

Nancy said...

I think it takes more courage and determination to self-publish. Congrats on taking that step. Thanks for sharing part of your journey.

Suze said...

The task of finding an image of a character is tough for me. I find that either I immediately know or I can never quite find it and the person remains in the nebulous field of my mind's eye.

Meredith said...

Oooh, I love the concept! I'll have to check it out.

Lydia Kang said...

Hey all,
Not sure what's going on with Blogger. I can see all the material fine and I checked a different computer. Maybe Blogger is being a Booger again. Sorry guys!

Jessie Harrell said...

Thanks so much for posting the interview! (I can see it all -- including the camel comment.) Sorry for those of you who tried and were unsuccessful.

Catherine Stine said...

Very interesting interview. I understand your feeling of not being sure a tiny indie pubber would do a better job than you could do yourself. I'm inching over to doing my own thing too. Some of them look awesome, but not all. I like twists on Greek myths. There is so much great material to work with.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Lydia and Jessie. Great interview. I just love the sound of this book. Good luck in your publishing journey, Jessie.

LTM said...

Yay for Jessie! Can't wait to read Destined. I've read some of her other short fiction on her blog, so I know it's very good. Thanks, Dr. K! Now to find that priest... :o)

Heather said...

I love that you print out pictures Jessie, that's a great idea! I use them as background on my computer but I don't really get to see them much that way. Best of luck with Destined, it's on my list of books to buy!

Angela Brown said...

This was such a wonderful interview Jessie and Lydia. Some great ideas here.

Also, I love the premise and the cover for DESTINED. Going to check it out at Amazon now.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Blogger is indeed being a bugger again with me. Victor Standish, resident wise mouth in my head (weird mental picture right?) said, "What a surprise. Not!"

I loved the synopsis to DESTINED. Going to Amazon now. And again, congratulations of the first sale, Roland

Carrie Butler said...

Great interview, ladies! Have a fantastic weekend! :)

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

It's never too early for Heidi! I enjoyed this interview, nicely done.

catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com said...

I've always wanted to go to Egypt so I'm sure to love your book. Best wishes!

Krispy said...

Awesome bucket list items! Enjoyed the interview as well, and I love the Cupid & Psyche myth!

jennifermhartsock said...

Great Author Spotlight! Destined sounds like an incredible read.

Sherrie Petersen said...

One of my favorite books ever is Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis and it's a retelling of the story of Cupid and Psyche. That book tore my heart out. I LOVE it. So I'm eager to read Destined to see what her take is on the story.

Vicki Rocho said...

Reading spotlights like this generally pique my interest, but THIS one has me salivating. Must. Read. Sending myself a reminder email so I can't possibly forget.


Have a great weekend!

Tasha Seegmiller said...

The premise of this book is absolutely intriguing. Great interview. I read through a few other posts - congrats on all your upcoming successes. Talk about a fun time to have found your blog!

Jessie Harrell said...

Thanks to everyone for the outpouring of support. I hope you love the novel!

Tracy Jo said...

Great interview! Awesome questions and really enjoyed your answers Jessie. Thank you!

The Red Angel said...

Wonderful author interview! It was great getting to know you, Jessie. I would love to go to Egypt myself someday...seems like an incredible area to visit.

Usually I like to keep my character's image up in the air and not use the constraints of the features of an actual person to define what my character looks like (if that makes sense). Every once in a while, however, I meet someone and immediately in my mind that person looks exactly like what I'd always imagined my MC to look like. It's a really cool discovery. :)

~TRA

The Red Angel Blog

sHoNa said...

Hi Lydia Kang,
great interview
Although it was pretty balmy on Sunday - made even better by ur post.
niceone.

You can find me and my sets here
http://shonadesai.blogspot.com
http://lolalyf.blogspot.com
http://mumbaiculturecurry.blogspot.com

lbdiamond said...

Ooo, this looks interesting!!!!!

Nas Dean said...

Congratulations Lydia! Heard you made your first sale! So happy for you!

It was great reading about Jessie.

All the best!

Kari Marie said...

I'm another mythology fan and this cover is gorgeous. Thank you Lydia for featuring Jessie and introducing me to another fasinating book choice.

Poetry of the Day said...

gREAT post :D I need to check this out.

Leslie Rose said...

Hey Lydia and Jessie - loved the interview. It's a treat hearing about different writer's journeys. DESTINED sounds cool!

 
ALL CONTENT © 2012 THE WORD IS MY OYSTER / BLOG DESIGN © 2012 SMITTEN BLOG DESIGNS