Jessica Brody Can't Sit Still
If we could describe Jessica Brody in one word, it would be “WOW!” Why? For starters, this powerhouse of an author released 3 books this year, has another 3 slated for 2018, plus a new sci-fi series due in early 2019. She was also one of 25 authors featured at this year’s Tweens Read Festival here in Houston, and has attended another handful of festivals to boot. In her own words, she “can’t sit still,” and it shows.
True to form, she responded within approximately 30 minutes with awesome answers when we reached out to her with questions earlier this month. Want to know what she’s reading? Why she loves writing multiple genres? How she produced those killer book trailers? Make like Jessica, and read on!
Jessica! We have to get this one out of the way first: How awesome was TweensRead this year?
ZOMG! Tweens Read was THE BEST! Honestly, it’s events like this that remind me why I do what I do. THANK YOU to everyone who came out. When I write “the end” of a book, I always remind myself that it’s not really finished. It’s only half finished. The book isn’t complete until someone reads it and adds their own experiences and interpretations to the text. Authors are the ones who start the books but it’s the readers who finish them and make them whole. So yeah, it’s pretty cool when you get to meet the people who are in charge of the other half of that process. It’s sort of like meeting a lifelong pen pal for the first time.
We’d love to hear about The Chaos of Standing Still, which comes out on November 28. Who’s Ryn, what’s her story, why did you want to tell it?
The Chaos of Standing Still is about Ryn Gilbert, who gets trapped in the Denver Airport for 24 hours during a massive, record-breaking blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death. It’s through the unexpected wisdom and kindness of the strangers that she meets during her all-night adventure (including a cute boy named Xander) that she’s finally able to start moving on and dealing with the grief that has followed her around like a shadow for the past year.
It’s funny. I never expected this to be a grief book. I’ve never written about death before. I started out writing a very fun rom com set in the Denver Airport during a blizzard. (I wanted to tackle the challnege of: can I make two people fall believably in love in only 24 hours?) But soon after I started writing this new character showed up. She just started TALKING and she wouldn’t shut up. She was bubbly and vivacious and bold and, as it turned out, very, very... dead. Her name was Lottie and as I continued to allow her to take over the story, I soon learned that she was the best friend of the main character, Ryn, who died one year ago to the day. Since then, Ryn has been unable to let her go. Literally. Lottie still speaks inside Ryn’s head, guiding her the same way she did in life.
So yeah, I sort of wrote a kind of grief-therapy book by accident. Clearly I had my own grief to deal with and it came out in this story. I cried like a baby when I was writing it (and every time I’ve read it back). This is definitely my HEART book!
We read that you produce, direct, and edit your own book trailers. That sounds fascinating! Tell us a little bit about that process. Do you cast your own characters?
Oh yes! I haven’t done one in a while but they were SO FUN to do. I would produce them to look and feel like movie trailers. I’d write the script, cast the characters, scout the locations, propduce and edit them. I worked with an amazing crew of costume designers, hair and make-up artists, a cinematographer, and grips. I have a short background in the film industry so it was fun to put these small productions together and return to my former life for a short while.
You’re something of a chameleon—you’ve tackled novels for tweens, teens, and adults, and you’ve traversed humor, drama, and sci-fi. What’s next for you?
Haha! Yeah, I can’t sit still! I have SO much in the works: Next year alone I’ll be releasing another middle grade called Better You Than Me (a magical body swap story between a famous tween TV star and her biggest fan), another young adult contemporary novel (title to be revealed SOON!), and I’m diving into a new genre: Non-Fiction! I’ll be releasing a how-to book for writers, all about how to plot novels. It’s called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. And in 2019 I’ll be returning to sci-fi! I’m currently co-writing a new sci-fi series with Joanne Rendell. It’s a sci-fi retelling of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables set on another planet. The first book (which comes out in early 2019) is called A Sky Without Stars.
I honestly think I’d get bored writing the same genre over and over. I love to mix it up, try new things, and stretch my creative musicles!
What are you reading right now?
I’m always in the middle of at least 5 books at once (see above about not being able to sit still). Right now I’m reading Far From the Tree by Robin Benway, Warcross by Marie Lu, The Nature Fix by Florence Williams, The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory, and Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda. They’re all amazing!
The Unremembered Trilogy
Author photo by Brian Braff.