Interview with Jessica L. Elliott

Published 2015-08-22.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love art and if my pencils aren't writing, they're usually drawing. I also enjoying playing with my children and spending time out in my garden.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It's been so long! But the first stories I remember writing were dinosaur stories I wrote in first grade. My teacher was so impressed she sent me to the kindergarten classes to read them!
What is your writing process?
It varies depending on the story. I do a lot of free-writing where I just sit with a pen and paper and write whatever comes to mind. If I like something that comes out of a free-write I'll come up with a basic premise, do some research so I sound at least a little believable, and then let the characters take over. I'm often as surprised as my readers by events that take place in my books.
How do you approach cover design?
Because I am artistically inclined, I tend to think about the story and work from there. Most of my stories are fairy tale retellings and so I draw inspiration from the fairy tale which inspired the book. I'm also blessed to have a great photographer as a husband and he has been terrific at helping me create beautiful covers to pull readers in.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
It would be near impossible to pick only five, but here goes:
The Lord of the Rings -- I love that JRR Tolkien was able to create a world and the languages to go with it. Everything feels so real and I love that kind of book.
Number the Stars -- I really enjoy historical fiction and I like stories of overcoming obstacles. I remember reading this in elementary school and feeling so inspired by Annamarie and Ellen.
Les Miserable -- As challenging as it was to read, the story is so compelling and the descriptions amazing.
Charming Academy -- Yes, I just listed my own book. But I do love it. I love that I was able to take something from my mind and put it in words for others to read. It's one of my proudest achievements.
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler -- This was one of my favorites as a child. The idea of living in a museum was so intriguing and I loved the little mystery Claudia and her brother solve. For a girl with a lot of imagination, it really inspired me!
Describe your desk
Messy! :) My desk is cluttered with pictures from my kiddos, notebooks with half-written stories and lose papers from Heaven-knows-what. The top is half painted with scenes from my books, but I haven't finished it yet.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Kansas and it shows a lot in my writing. People are friendly, for the most part, and when I can I like to write about rural areas. Sunrise and sunset are my favorite parts of the day and at night there are so many stars! I often write about those times just because I love them so much.
When did you first start writing?
As soon as I could hold a pencil. Writing well I've had to work at.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm too impatient to wait for a publisher or agent to tell me my writing is good enough. So I work hard to polish my drafts and make them as perfect as possible and then I unleash them on an unsuspecting world. ;)
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love hearing from readers after I finish a book. I enjoy the interaction and impact my stories have on people I hope that as I continue writing, more people will be inspired to become the heroes of their stories just like my characters.
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