Today’s guest has penned numerous books in a variety of genres. She is truly a master of the craft of writing. I’d like to welcome Jessica L Degarmo.
Tricia: Hi, Jessica. I’m so happy to meet with you and get to know a little more about your books. First, can you tell us how and when you began writing?
Jessica: I began writing in early 2010 after my husband suffered a long-term layoff. We tried everything we could think of to make some money to help take care of our children and household expenses, and since I had an idea I thought I could actually turn into a book, he encouraged me, and I began to write. Eleven months later, my first book was published by Taylor Street Books, formerly Night Publishing.
Tricia: You have several books available. Which book was your first?
Jessica: How to Meet a Guy at the Supermarket was my first, a light-hearted romantic comedy about a woman who tries to find Mr. Right in a bunch of really wrong ways!
Tricia: Tell us about your most recent release.
Jessica: Blood Lust is my latest release, and it’s completely different than any of my other books. It’s about Nexess, a vampire assassin/sex slave for an Italian gang leader in Chicago. I really had a blast letting my edgy side show!
Tricia:. Was it fun to escape reality with Blood Lust and take a step into the paranormal?
Jessica: You know, it was! I let all of my self-imposed limitations go and completely immersed myself in my character and her bad-ass attitude. She was a joy to write!
Tricia: I recently read and reviewed Six Weeks. (Click here to read my review) Can you tell us about that book and your motivation for writing it?
Jessica: Six Weeks is probably my favorite of my novels. It’s about Immy, a nineteen year old girl who discovers she’s pregnant out of wedlock. She only has six weeks to make a decision about the fetus and the rest of her life. I got the idea for the book after a conversation a co-worker and I had. I spent fifteen minutes feverishly writing the beginning and the end as I saw it playing in my head, and spent the next four days doing nothing but writing. It was definitely an intense time.
Tricia: Your other novels have elements of romance, but Six Weeks is definitely a departure. Was it difficult to make the switch from genre fiction to literary fiction?
Tricia: Six Weeks deals with some very controversial issues such as abortion and teenage pregnancy. People feel very strongly about these issues and I’m sure you do as well. Was it hard to keep your personal opinions from seeping into the novel?
Jessica: I did try very hard not to infuse any of my personal beliefs into the book. And really, my goal wasn’t to force an agenda on anyone. I really wanted to show that there is more than one way to look at the issue. Not every person’s problem has the same solution. There is no right answer sometimes, only the least wrong one.
Tricia: Have you received any negative comments or reviews for Six Weeks? If so, how have you handled that?
Jessica: Yes, absolutely. I’ve tried to handle myself the same way I always do, by not reacting. But I have to tell you, those who have called me a coward or amateur or a host of other things because I wrote the ending the way I did actually did hurt my feelings a bit. I don’t think I’m a coward because I had a vision of how I wanted my ending to be. I’m not refusing to commit to an ending. My book has an ending. It may just not be what some readers wanted or expected. I guess the bottom line is, if the book affected the reader that strongly that they get angry or upset, that’s ok. It was sort of my point, but I’d love it if the name-calling could be kept to a bare minimum. The golden rule definitely applies in my humble opinion.
Tricia: There were several passages in Six Weeks that were painful to read. Did you find the process of writing this story emotionally draining?
Jessica: Absolutely. I can’t read the last two chapters even today without feeling like I want to cry. My heart broke as I wrote the ending. At the end of the first draft, I really felt as if I’d just fought a war.
Tricia: The ending is ambiguous. Why did you decide to leave the ending open?
Jessica: I know how difficult this subject is, and I know everyone has his or her own beliefs. What I set out to do is to make people think. If I could cause one person to use this book as a way to question his or her own values and beliefs, I’d consider it a huge accomplishment. If I can portray life in a real way that doesn’t glamorize teen pregnancy and might cause a young teenager to think twice before having sex, I’d be thrilled. If I can show people that even though they might feel one way, it’s ok for someone else to feel another way, I’d be very satisfied. Six Weeks allows people a safe place to question themselves and really ask themselves what they’d do. They may be surprised how they feel after they read it. It may make them a bit more tolerant of other people. One reviewer said that Six Weeks isn’t about the ending. It’s about the journey, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Tricia: Of all your novels, which character is your favorite and why?
Jessica: I’d probably say Immy, honestly, because she’s real. She’s not perfect. She’s human, filled with uncertainty, flaws, true emotions. She’s the least like a character, and the most like a real person, in my opinion. I’d love to have coffee with her and see how’s she’s doing since she’s made her decision.
Tricia:. Of all your novels, which character is the most inspiring and why?
Jessica: Probably Sister Beatrice. She’s the least judgemental. I think everyone needs to have a Sister Beatrice in their lives, so they would have a loving, unbiased support system. Too many times people have absolutely nowhere to go, nobody to turn to. People like her are vitally important, and there’s just not enough of them to go around.
Tricia: What writing projects are you currently working on?
Jessica: Well, I’m crazy, so several! J I have the next book in my Lust Trilogy in the works, the sequel to Hooking Up, and the next in the Johns Creek Second Chances Series, plus a secret project or two. See, told you I was crazy!
Tricia: Where can my readers go to learn more about your work?
Jessica: I’d love readers to check out my website at www.jessicadegarmo.com.
I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/booksbyjessicadegarmo.
I’m at Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4504786.Jessica_L_Degarmo and you can follow me on twitter at @degarmo2911.
Thank you so much for having me here on your blog today! This has been a wonderful experience.
Tricia: Thanks for speaking with us, Jessica. I hope to have you back on this site when your next book launches. Good luck with all your projects.