Today I’m very pleased to welcome Jessica Khoury for a Blog Ring of Power interview. Be sure to check out the rest of her interview at these BRoP sites:
- Part 1 — About You (Dean’s blog )
- Part 2 — The Writing Life (Terri‘s blog)
- Part 4 — About Your Current Work (Em‘s blog on Friday)
- Part 5 — Words of Wisdom (Sandra’s blog on Monday)
Jessica is 22 years old and was born and raised in Georgia. She attended public school followed by homeschooling, and earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. She lives in Toccoa, Georgia with her husband Benjamin, two terrible dogs, and an abundance of books, shoes, and sweet tea. When not writing, she’s usually directing stageplays or coaching soccer. ORIGIN is her first novel.
Part 3: THE CREATIVE PROCESS
BRoP: Where do you get your story ideas?
Jessica: Everywhere. I keep my eyes and ears open 24/7. You just never know where the next idea will come from, and the most fantastic stories are the ones lurking in everyday life. Also: science and nature documentaries. I pretty much have to have a notebook in my hand when I watch the Discovery or Science channels. There’s just so much in this world that rattles my imagination; I don’t have to look further than our own weird, wacky planet for my next idea.
BRoP: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Jessica: Read. Read. Read. More documentaries. Read. Sleep. Bubble bath. Read.
BRoP: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Jessica: Hmm, if by “formula” you mean whatever-my-gut-comes-up-with, then yes, I use formulas. But seriously: I’ll draft out the bare bones. For plotting, that’s usually one sentence about what each chapter needs to cover. For characters, I sketch out the essentials of their backstory, their wants vs. needs, and then let the rest develop organically.
BRoP: Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)?
Jessica: Again, I try to let the plot and characters develop as organically as possible. I’ll plan out just enough to give me a vague idea of what the book is about, but I by no means stick to it. Often the story writes itself, and I just follow it. It’s like walking a headstrong dog (of which I own two); you do your best to just keep them on the leash, but they choose the direction and pace. I don’t argue much which the route my story takes as I’m drafting. It’s in the rewrite that I’ll trim the fat and tidy the loose ends.
- Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?
- How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?
Research goes hand-in-hand with drafting, and I do most of it as I write. For example, in Origin, if I reached a spot where I needed to mention some kind of tree, I’d stop, pop open Google, and spend ten minutes or so reading about every kind of stinking tree they’ve got in the Amazon. Outside that kind of research, I got a lot of books—mostly those big, shiny, photography books—and watched a lot of movies and documentaries about the Amazon and eugenics and other relevant subjects. Since I’ve never been to the Amazon—or any rainforest except the faux ones they build in zoos—I had to immerse myself virtually in the jungle. Movies like The Emerald Forest and Planet Earth really helped with that. I also watch a lot of eugenics documentaries that were very creepy, but very real, and a lot of that went into ORIGIN. One life experience that I drew upon in writing ORIGIN was a visit I made to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany; there’s one particular scene in the book that I constructed based on that visit. It was one of the most sobering and heart-wrenching days of my life, walking through the gas chambers and over the mass graves; it was hard to revisit that in my mind, but I think its important that readers recognize the world and mindset of the scientists in ORIGIN is very real and has had devastating consequences in our world
BRoP: Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?
Jessica: Romance. More often than not, I bust out laughing in the middle of what’s supposed to be a steamy, serious, romantic scene. That’s when I realize I need to scrap the whole chapter and start again.
BRoP: What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
Jessica: It is available for pre-order for hardcover and Kindle at the moment.
BRoP: Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessica-Khoury/343602012334568
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5625945.Jessica_Khoury