Today I have the pleasure of posting an interview I conducted with the author, Jessica Park. Check out her answers, and I think you'll find that the love of her story and her character shines through.
But first, a bio! --
About Jessica Park:
Jessica Park is the author of the young adult novel RELATIVELY FAMOUS, five Gourmet Girl mysteries (written as Jessica Conant-Park) and the e-shorts FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD and WHAT THE KID SAYS (Parts 1 & 2). She grew up in the Boston area and then went to Macalester College in frigid St. Paul, Minnesota. During her freshman year, there was a blizzard on Halloween, and she decided that she was not cut out for such torture. So she moved back to the east coast where, she'd forgotten, it still snows. Oops. She now lives in New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dog named Fritzy, and two selfish cats. When not writing, she is probably on Facebook, pining over 80s rock stars, or engaging in "Glee" activities. Or some combination of the three. Probably with a coffee in hand.
If you had to describe Flat-Out Love in a tweet (140 characters or less), what would you say?
Gah! This is why I suck at Twitter. Okay, here it goes: College freshman moves in w/quirky family & is engulfed in complex family drama & whopping, confusing romance. A humorous & poignant novel.
Ohmygod I’m exhausted now. Twitter is like editing magnified to a horrific extreme.
Who was your favourite character to create in 'Flat-Out Love'?
I’ll go with… Celeste. When I was planning out the book, I knew that this thirteen-year-old was going to have a freakish attachment to the flat cardboard cutout of her older brother (who is away traveling). But that wasn’t enough to really tell me about who she was. What her personality was like. I needed her to have characteristics that would fit with someone who would do such an odd thing. But she still needed to be appealing to the reader and to the other characters. I’m not sure exactly how I came up with her unusual style, but it hit me very clearly, and Celeste became the eccentric girl that she is. She is extremely bright, overly articulate, socially stunted, and speaks with an exceedingly formal style of speech. But she is still warm and determined and desperate to engage and relate to the heroine, Julie. So she’s an interesting dichotomy of being terribly delayed/disconnected and yet so strongly attached to a selected few. From the moment I started writing her dialogue, I knew this character cold. I knew exactly how she would speak and how she would respond to events and people. Aw, I just love her.
How important is the setting of Boston to the story?
Sometimes I like writing about places that I know well, because I understand the tone and the feel of setting so well. I grew up in the Boston area, and I know what it’s like to be surrounded by that energy. Boston also has the advantage of offering a nice opportunity to give characters access to the benefits of a city, while also allowing them quieter, suburban areas.
Julie comes from a town in Ohio and is really the only of her friends and family to have a genuine interest in and gift for higher learning. Her being in Boston and staying with such a gifted family--where she is surrounded by prestigious universities and a climate of academia--contributes to her struggle to figure out who she is and how to balance her life.
Your blog features videos of songs that are important to the story. With music being such an inspiration, what would Julie’s theme song be?
“3” by Britney Spears. Kidding, kidding!
Make a mash-up of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” with Shawn Colvin’s version of “Every Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic,” and “Closer to You” by the Wallflowers, then toss in a bit of Pink’s “So What,” and you’ve got Julie. Dreamy, practical, tough, needy, strong… a mix of opposites that somehow work together. (Ha! How’s that for cheating?)
Which fictional character do you think Julie would have a crush on?
Julie is the sort of girl that has probably seen every movie and TV show possible. And she’s read every book ever written. Okay, a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift. Going old-school, she’d be all over John Cusack’s Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything. She’d love his constant, obscure-referencing, obsessive stream of babbling, not to mention the way he just throws his heart out there…
But there’s also a side of her that would go for the challenge. The hard-to-reach guy who, underneath all of his defenses, has a serious capacity for love. Like a Chuck Bass without the nasty, dirtbag side. Ah, maybe Logan from Veronica Mars?
Flat-Out Love Blog
Remember, you can buy 'Flat-Out Love' for Amazon Kindle here and add it to Goodreads here.
Thank you so much for answering my questions, Jessica!
Also a quick FYI for everyone: Jessica will also be popping by in the next little while for a guest post on self-publishing. Her thoughts on marketing/self-promotion are quite interesting, and she also writes a bit on being rejected by big publishers that I found quite shocking.