Clarissa Johal: Friday Author Interview

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Author Interview

This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz DeJesus, author of First Frost.

        So, Liz, please tell us about yourself and how you came to be a writer.

My name is Liz DeJesus, I’m a stay at home mom to two beautiful little boys and I’m also a full time writer (if you can call writing between naptime being a full time writer). I’m the author of Nina, The Jackets and First Frost. I started writing when I was 12 years old, and moved on to poetry at 13 (blame my first boyfriend. He was into poetry and I was trying to impress him). It turned out that I was pretty good at writing poems so I stuck with that for a while. Then when I was 18 I decided that I wanted to be a novelist. I’ve been in love with writing novels and short stories ever since.

You started out writing women's fiction such as Nina, The Jackets and Note to Self, which are quite different than First Frost. What made you embrace the genre of young adult fiction?

I’m actually a huge fan of young adult fiction, especially books in the fantasy genre. The main character, Bianca, is seventeen years old and after much soul searching I decided that First Frost would be a fantastic book for young adults. Her best friend Ming is the comedic relief (they have an amazing back and forth dialogue). And basically I’m just having fun writing these books, my hope is for it to be an ongoing series, but for now I have ideas for up to four books. But lucky for me Bianca is an incredible main character and there is an enormous amount of fairy tales that I can draw inspiration from.

Where did the idea of First Frost come from?

I was watching a commercial for a local children’s museum while feeding my son his bottle and I remember thinking ‘Why don’t they have themed museums? Like a pirate museum or a fairy tale museum. Hmm, how would that work? I guess they could get fake items and get kids to think they’re real.’ And then it sort of took off from there. It was almost like being struck by lightning once I got to thinking about it. I was still holding my son in my arms and my notebook was on the other end of the couch. LOL I was so desperate to get to it but I didn’t want to interrupt my son’s feeding. Anyway, I managed to grab my notebook and I jotted down a few ideas. It sort of wrote itself once I had the pen in my hand.

How long did First Frost take to write? How do you deal with a writer's block and/or do you get them?

The first draft took me about nine months (kinda like having a baby LOL). After a few months between revisions (second and third draft) and then I sent it to my editor friend Shon Bacon. She cleans it up and makes it all pretty for me before I started submitting it to different publishers. As for writer’s block? I can’t afford to have writer’s block especially with two little boys to take care of. Any free time I get I spend it writing (or promoting my book) even when I don’t feel like it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to write when I’m not inspired but I make it work. I just pick up the pen and doodle until things start looking like words. LOL.

Who would you want to be stranded in the Everafter with and why? 

Terrance. Because he’s cute, smart and knows how to hunt (so we’ll be able to survive in the forest).

You obviously have a love of fairy tales. If you could be a character in one, who would you be and why?

The princess from The Three Heads in the Well. She’s a go-getter, she doesn’t sit around and wait for a prince to rescue her from her crappy situation. And things work out for her in the end because of her kindness.
For more info on this fairy tale check out this wiki page 

One of my favorite lines in your novel is, "Magic will follow you no matter where you are. Magic has no boundaries." Has there ever been a point in your life/writing career where you've felt this was true?

I wouldn’t exactly call it magic, at least not the way I describe it in the book. But I do believe that love is a form of magic and THAT I truly believe in. I am surrounded by people that love me and support what I do. My parents, my brothers, my husband, my children, my friends, among others that take their time and come to my book signings or follow me on my blog tours, that sort of thing. So yeah, I do believe that love (or magic) follows me around and helps me through my day to day life.

Bianca and Ming have a really nice friendship. Did you base that on anyone in your life? Do you write characters based on people you know?

Not really. I have a combination of amazing friends that I used to create Ming (you guys know who you are *wink wink*). I don’t normally create my characters based on people I know, but I do use a few interesting quirks here and there as well as funny bits of conversation that I hear throughout the day. Most writers are excellent eavesdroppers (no one is safe with me…so be careful what you say around me…because chances are it will end up in one of my books).

What three things are always in your refrigerator?

Milk. Chocolate. Cheese. I love ice cold milk with my cereal. I love chocolate. And I love cheese (I make lots of sandwiches). 

What’s one thing about yourself that would surprise your readers to know?

I’m a jack of all trades. I’m an amateur photographer, I make collages (I’ve made three decks of tarot cards all in collage form) and I will sometimes stare off into space until someone snaps me out of it. Most of the time I get my best ideas while I’m either in the shower or just before I drift off to sleep. Don’t know why that is…

Do you have any advice for other writers out there that may be just beginning their career?

Read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read books about the craft of writing. Read books on how to write a proper query letter and synopsis. Follow the guidelines. Try to make friends with other writers in your neighborhood, you learn a lot from others critiquing your work (there is a difference between a critique and someone criticizing your work.) Never give up.

I'm looking forward to your next installment to this series, Liz. I've read Bianca gets to visit the fairy realm! (:

:D I can’t wait to finish the next book in the series. It’s titled Glass Frost and there are several fairy tales that I’ve incorporated into this book. Cinderella, the Frog Prince, Toads and Diamonds and I do delve more into Snow White’s story and what happened to the seven dwarves after she met the prince. It’s going to be a little longer than the first book but I explain a lot of things that I didn’t get a chance to talk about in the first book. And yes, Bianca visits the Fairy Realm and meets Queen Titania. *claps hands excitedly* It’s going to be so good! J

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.
She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Buy Links for First Frost by Liz DeJesus:


DT said...

Thanks for keeping me company on my coffee break (well, peppermint tea). I love the premise and always enjoy reading about how other authors got to be where they are. Every personal story is different and yet we all share the same drive to create and to communicate. Wishing you all the magic you can handle!

Cordelia Dinsmore said...

I had forgotten all about the story of the three heads in the well, so thanks for the link.

Sounds like you have a very full and fulfilling life, Liz. I hope your writing career is very successful.

Liz DeJesus said...

Hi Derek! Thanks for taking the time to read my interview. Peppermint tea sounds delicious. :) I just need a little bit of magic to get me through the final stages of editing the sequel to First Frost. I'm only 50 pages away from the end. Gah! So close! :D

And thanks to Clarissa for asking such great questions! *hugs*

Liz DeJesus said...

Hey Cordelia! Glad you checked out the Three Heads of the Well, it's a great fairy tale. Thanks for stopping by to read the interview! :D

Rhea Rhodan said...

I love what you said about love being magic. It's true in my current WIP (a romance with a heroine who's a witch). And yeah, I totally believe it's true in real life too.