Welcome to another installment of Words with Writers! You can check out the last interview here. Words with writers will run every other Saturday, right here on YA Stands. If you're interested in being featured and you write YA, please email jolene dot haley at gmail. dot com.
Today's interview is with author Jessa Russo. Jessa is the author of the Ever series, which include Ever (book one) and Evade (book two).
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing seriously since 2009, though I was heavily into writing poetry and short stories as a child/teen.
I have NO idea. I was working on another book and Ever kept nagging me to tell her story. I think I’ve always believed in ghosts, so that’s probably why my first book was ghost-themed, but aside from that, I really don’t have any “aha!” moment to share with you. I just wrote the story as it came to me.
How did you pick your names in the book?
Ever, like I said, had been in my head for a while. I’m not sure how or why, but I knew I wanted a girl with the initials E.V.V.R. so I could call her “Ever.” Unfortunately, I had no idea there was already a popular YA series out there with a heroine named Ever. But I guess my mom was right—there’s nothing new under the sun! Frankie is probably in honor of my dad, who was born in Franklin Pennsylvania. It’s funny to see the name pop up in other things I’ve written over the years, bits and pieces of shiny new WIP ideas I never pursued—he’d clearly been waiting for me to write his story. And Toby, the other main love interest in EVER and EVADE, well, he’s named after a guy I knew a long time ago, back in the late 90’s/Y2K or so. He died in a car accident a while back, long after I’d known him, but for some reason, he’s stuck with me all these years. He was a bit of a badass with a chopper and tattoos, and the perfect amount of arrogance, so, when I needed a character name for a hot guy with a bad streak, Toby fit perfectly.
If you could cast from Hollywood, a few people from your book series, who would you choose to play some of your main characters?
Alex Pettyfer (in his younger years) would play Toby. Amanda Seyfried or Candice Accola would play Ever’s best friend Jessie. Frankie is sooooo Matt Prokop (circa Geek Charming) or Steven R. McQueen from TVD (swoon!)—but with a rockabilly style, pompadour and all. Ever would be really well played by Aimee Teegarden (circa Friday Night Lights), but we’d have to color her hair, of course, as Ever’s hair is nearly black. Although, really, the models I’ve been lucky enough to work with for my covers are perfect for each character. Especially my Ever model, Tracy.
What makes up a fantastic, swoonworthy book boyfriend in your opinion? Who are some of your favorites?
Well, to be honest, I love confidence that borders on arrogance. *gasp* I’ve always gone for the guy that knew he could get any girl in the room. I also want a guy who will save me if I need saving, because regardless of what the world wants us to portray in our books, not every girl wants to be the hero of her own story—sometimes we just want to be the damsel in distress. Sometimes we just want to know we can fall and he’ll catch us. I also love a strong sense of humor, with a heavy dose of sarcasm. I have a dry sense of humor, so he’d have to keep up. I think Cait Greer did a great job building a book boyfriend in Axel (ParaWars: Uprising), and my CP Tamara Mataya’s character Draven in MOODREAMER (yet unpublished) is probably one of my favorite male leads ever—(her soon-to-be-released debut THE BEST LAID PLANS has a super-swoonworthy male lead in Malcolm, as well!). I also LOVE Bones from the Night Huntress Series by my favorite author Jeaniene Frost, Demetri Belekov from Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy (another favorite author), and oh my goodness, every single Scottish hottie in Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander books could come sweep me off my feet ANY TIME.
Do you have plans for other books in the works besides Ever and Evade? Related or unrelated?
I do! J Book three in The Ever Trilogy will hopefully be released early next year, and is currently untitled. That will be the end of the series, but I’ve been debating writing Toby’s story which will be a novella prequel. I also have DIVIDE, an upper young adult fairytale redux (fantasy), mashed up with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which is currently with my agent. My most recently completed WIP (currently in its final revision before going to my agent) is ARK OF DREAMS, a modern day spin on Noah’s Ark, which is an edgy new adult contemporary romance. I planned to do NaNoWriMo, and I began a new adult paranormal horror titled SUICIDE TREES (based on the Aokigahara Forest of Japan), but . . . well, its day three, and I haven’t written in two days, so.
What is your favorite genre to read? Write? Are they the same genre?
YA/NA paranormal/fantasy, and yes, I read and write both, rarely straying from the paranormal realm, or the YA/NA categories. However, ARK OF DREAMS has no paranormal/supernatural or fantasy aspects, but that’s only one out of four completed novels and a dozen or more unfinished shiny ideas.
What advice do you have for writers?
Take your time. Find a decent CP or two, or even three, but keep in mind that the phrase ‘too many cooks in the kitchen’ applies to critique as well. Also, do your research. Know what you are looking for in CP’s and in agents/editors, know your category and genre, and know that though your mom will always be your biggest fan, she may be a bit biased.
Oh man, what do I not love about New Orleans? I first visited NOLA in 2004 with my now husband, Jon. It wasn’t his first time, but he hadn’t been there as an adult, so I like to think the experience was brand new for both of us. From the second I stepped outside the airport, I felt it. The magic in the air. I know how gooey and cheesy that sounds, but I swear I was smitten instantly. I love the architecture, and the history most of all, I think. I’ve grown up in Southern California, and though we may have a few Missions down here, our history is nothing even close to what I’ve seen in the South. I’m also obsessed with the cemeteries. I’ve seen a few above-ground cemeteries (my favorite so far is Lafayette #1, which tends to be utilized most in movies—and now also TVD Originals!—because it’s just so beautiful), but my friend also took us to a smaller cemetery, where people can’t afford to bury their loved ones above-ground, and it was a beautiful, humbling experience. Headstones were made out of headboards and planks of wood nailed together . . . it was just . . . humbling, like I said. And omg, the food in New Orleans. If you have a chance, I highly suggest a meal at Commander’s Palace in the Garden District. The food, the service, the entire experience there is unreal. Also, we came across a little place on St. Charles called the Irish House that had phenomenal food and amazing Irish Coffee. But, as you can see, I should probably stop now or we’ll be talking about New Orleans all night long.
About Jessa Russo
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.