Interview with Jess A Guest
How did you become a writer?
My mom is an english major and a writer and somewhere along the line I co-opted her dream. Most of my memories of childhood revolve around books. I always had a love for reading and never more than in my middle school years. However, writing remained only a dream for me until the birth of my daughter. Holding her tiny body in my arms I realized that dreams could come true. I decided, then and there, that I wanted to follow mine.
What inspires you to write?
I always wanted to see characters like me in books. Messy, imperfect, plus-sized characters in starring roles. So now I write them into the stories I wanted to see myself in when I was younger, the ones with a little whimsy and a lot of heart.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I generally start with a brain dump. Just let my fingers type whatever is banging around in my brain. After that I try to create a little order out of the chaos. First I’ll map my characters on a simple character sheet. Mainly I want to know: What are their defining features? What do they want? What do they need? Why can’t they get those things? After that I’ll run through a pretty basic plot outline, just plotting out the beats with as much detail as I feel is necessary.
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?
Time is my biggest challenge. I work full-time and have a young daughter. I struggle to find balance between writing and doing all the other things I have to do to keep my world turning. Some days I think the balance is working and other days I feel like I’ll never figure it out.
Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
Hillary is determined, confident in her abilities, and unapologetically herself. She also struggles to take accountability for her actions and often disregards everyone’s feelings but her own. I find both her strengths and her weaknesses equally endearing.
How does your antagonist create conflict?
Wesley is Hillary’s bully and is one of those people who knows exactly how to push all her buttons and bring out all her insecurities.
What are your current/future projects?
I am currently working on a folklore-filled story about an underachieving 12-year-old witch named Lucy, who must brave the dark forest to save her witchy Papa from the clutches of the Wood Warlock, but she’ll have to learn to lean into her strengths and believe in herself if she wants to get both of them out alive.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
I wish I could. I tend to write in any and all spare pockets of time, but I try to write after my little one is in bed as much as I can.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I think I still need to learn to take this advice. Give yourself grace, you are human and you are doing the best you can. Remember to celebrate the joyful things and not to be too hard on yourself for your failures because both of those things will help you grow–especially the failures.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
One day you’re just going to have to put your pen to paper or your fingers on the keyboard and just let the words out. Let them suck. It’s okay if they aren’t perfect, it’s okay if your prose is halting and weird and if story structure doesn’t exactly make sense. Just do it. Then go out and find writing friends that give kind, constructive criticism. I promise you’ll need them more than you can imagine.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org