Writing: An interview with Jessa Russo, author of Divide

Jessa Russo, the author of DIVIDE– an upper YA fantasy fairytale redux of Beauty and the Beast has graciously agreed to answer a few questions about writing. But first, let’s take a peek at DIVIDE, which is available now at  Amazon | Kobo | Barnes&NobleGoodreads
From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.

After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.

As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson.

Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish.

Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her.

Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.

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Author Bio: Jessa Russo believes in fairytales, ghosts, and Jake Ryan. She insists mimosas were created for Sundays, and that’s not up for discussion. She’s obsessed with the great city of New Orleans—where she’s collected too many beads to count, eventually married her sweetheart, and visited graveyards they don’t include on maps.

She’s loud, painfully honest, and passionate about living life to the fullest, because she’s seen how abruptly it can be taken away.

What began as a desire for reading and writing young adult paranormal has bled into stories of all kinds. From fantasy to pre-dystopian to erotic contemporary, Jessa’s stories always include romance, though she’s given up on pigeonholing her work into a category or genre box.

Jessa was born and raised in Southern California, and remains there to this day with her husband (a classic car fanatic), their daughter (a Tim Burton superfan), and a Great Dane who thinks he’s the same size as his Chihuahua sister.

ENTWINED, the final installment of Russo’s Ever Trilogy, will be released late 2014, as well as an erotic romance written under a pseudonym. Stay tuned!

Interview with Jessa Russo

So are you a panster or a plotter? How do you approach a new idea?

I am the epitome of a pantser. When I have a concept, I just go with it and hope for the best. With DIVIDE, for instance, I was driving when the idea came to me: a Beauty and the Beast redux where the beauty was also the beast. When I sat down on November 1, 2012, the first day of my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, I’d intended to work on the next installment of my Ever Trilogy, and then all of the sudden, DIVIDE was pouring out into the keyboard. And I had no choice but to tell Holland’s story, because that was clearly the story I needed to tell right then.

Do you have the same critique partners for all your work or do you have different sets? And why?

I have one main critique partner, Tamara Mataya, and she was my first CP. I’ve since found that I am surrounded by an amazing group of betas who provide fantastic feedback, as well as an editor-turned-friend who edits much of my work, but Tam’s eyes always have the first look, regardless of genre or category. I don’t know why, exactly—we’re just good together. 😉

What is the most difficult aspect about being a writer?

Patience. Oh, and self-abuse. But, I think that’s an issue I have in my life anyway, so it may not be something that all writers deal with, though I think that constant battle with the inner voice is something most creative types struggle with. We’re constantly telling ourselves it’s not good enough, we’re not good enough. So, I think patience and self-abuse are at a tie for my most difficult battles as a writer.

What are your top three nuggets of wisdom you would like to share with unpublished writers?

Take your time and remember that with every pitfall, you learn more. With every critique, you grow.

Find a critique partner and be sure it’s someone you respect and trust. (Shared genres is a plus, but I can attest to the fact that it’s not a necessity.)

Remember that this industry is more subjective than possibly any other industry out there. And then remember that you’re going to hear and read the word subjective so many times that you’ll want to burn it with fire. That’s normal.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

My eyes just widened as I read this question because just the concept of writing and the idea that I’m actually pursuing this beautiful dream is the best part. Writing is magical. And I’m beyond blessed to be able to pursue this crazy career, with all its ups and downs, and even more blessed—and humbled—that people read, and sometimes even like, my work. But I feel like I strayed off topic. That never happens. (HA. HA.) I love the first draft. I love that moment when you’re just vomiting this messy, chaotic story onto the page and you’re on fire for these characters and their world, and it feels like you’ve struck gold. Every. Single. Time. Even when you haven’t.

Since you are also a freelance editor :), do you have any suggestions for self-editing?

Don’t do it. I strongly believe that it is nearly impossible to self-edit. But that’s just my opinion, and I’m just one person. (Though I will say that sending my manuscript to my Kindle to re-read there, taking a step away from the computer screen, tends to have a different effect and helps me see things I may have missed before. But never as much as someone else will see.

Do you have other stories in the works?

Yes! The next book out will be an erotic romance, under my pen name, called CHLORINE & CHAOS. I am obsessed with this story and these characters, so I can’t wait to share them with the world! After that, I will be polishing up my Noah’s Ark redux for my agent, which will likely be YA or NA, and then later this year, ENTWINED—Ever 3—will be released. I’m so excited for 2014!

If someone wrote a book about your life, who would star as you?

Oh wow. I have NO idea. Someone sassy and ridiculous, with an ability to deliver dry humor and not offend the room. I think I’m still mastering that part. Lol! 😉 And she’d have to be really pretty. Hahahaha! I kid, I kid. Ohhhhh, I know, maybe Rachel Bilson. Only because I adore her and love her style—not because I think I look like her. Let’s at least get that out in the open. Heehee 😉




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