Jessica Spotswood is the author of The Cahill Witch Chronicles (February 2012), the editor (and contributing author) of A Tyranny of Petticoats (March 2016), and the author of Wild Swans (May 2016). She is also an incredibly sweet, warm, generous, witty, and creative person; someone I am privileged to know. Today, I am delighted to feature an exclusive author interview with Jessica on the blog, as well a special book giveaway, just for ShelfishlyAddicted readers!
As I mentioned in my review for Born Wicked, the first book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, I first became acquainted with Jess on Twitter in January of 2012, shortly before her author debut in February. She was coming to Houston on the Breathless Reads tour, and we made plans to meet for coffee/tea. I was so excited. A published author was going to make time to meet little ol' me personally! Unfortunately, by the time Jess got here, the schedule was disrupted and we were unable to meet until the actual book signing - but she was so wonderful, I wasn't too disappointed! We've stayed in contact over the years, through occasional emails and through the wonders of social media. Jess has been attentive to the changes in my life, and has sent words of encouragement when I needed them the most. It is because of her genuine kindness, and the fact that she writes swoony romances and kick-ass female protagonists, that I will always be a Jessica Spotswood Fangirl.
Jess has come a long way from the debut author I first met in 2012. She finished The Cahill Witch Chronicles, and has since kept herself busy working on a couple of interesting and exciting projects - in between spending quality time with her Playwright husband and Monkey cat :-) I reached out to Jess and asked her if she would do me the honor of an interview to chat about her experience in finishing a series, hints about her upcoming projects, and some other fun things. She graciously accepted, and now, here we are!
Keep reading for my interview with Jessica Spotswood, and an exclusive giveaway for ShelfishlyAddicted readers!
Jess, Sisters' Fate is the last book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles. This was your debut series, so I imagine it must have been bittersweet to see this book on the shelves. What was your process for keeping the overall story arch and character development consistent as you wrote and published the three books in the trilogy?
It was so bittersweet! I actually created a series bible in Scrivener to make sure the tiny details were consistent. It had a section for characters, to keep track of their physical appearances and family members and costumes; a section for settings, to keep track of things like the color of Cate's bedroom curtains or carpet; and a timeline. In terms of character and emotional arcs, I thought a lot about what each character wanted most and feared most, and questioned how those things changed over the course of each book and then the trilogy as a whole. It wasn't so much about keeping those things consistent as it was about making sure there was growth and a satisfying beginning, middle, and end to each.
Now that The Cahill Witch Chronicles is complete, is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
I wouldn't change anything about the published books; I'm really happy with how they turned out. I would maybe have more faith in my own process. STAR CURSED was a really difficult book for me to write, in part because it was the first book I wrote under under deadline and I only had four months to write it. I'd never outlined a book before - I'm more of a "discovery" writer, and I love letting the characters surprise me as I go along - but my editor wanted one and so we hammered one out. But the first draft I turned in didn't work. It was a mess. I threw out 75% of it and started over. I think if I'd trusted myself and followed my characters instead of the outline, it would have been a lot less painful a process!
GoodReads shows that you have a new book, Wild Swans, part of a two-book deal, that will launch in May of 2016. How exciting! Can you tell us a little more about what readers can expect and what your inspiration was for this new venture?
My inspiration for WILD SWANS was the setting. I'd just read April Tucholke's BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, and loved it, and loved what a huge part the Citizen Kane (the house in the book) plays in the story. I wanted to write a book set in a small college town, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (where I went to college). The house in WILD SWANS is an old white farmhouse right on the Chesapeake Bay. It has a library full of poetry and old family portraits and paintings of hurricanes. Originally it was a ghost story, actually. But then I took out the ghost part to focus more on the family relationships. It's a contemporary YA but it has some elements in common with the Cahill Witch Chronicles: a potential family curse, ambitious girls in a society that doesn't always value them, a cute bookish boy, complicated relationships between sisters, and some fabulously loyal friends. I really love it. I'm so excited to share it with readers!
I have followed you on social media for several years now, and have noted that you have a fairly new organizational process. I am a huge fan of day-planners and other organization tools (and use a Passion Planner myself.) Can you please describe the process you use, and how it has changed the way you manage your daily and writing life?
Do you love the Passion Planner? I've heard such great things about it. I am really into bullet journaling. I create to-do lists by quarter, month, week, and day. I am historically what my husband calls a "chrono-optimist," which basically means I have absolutely no sense of how much time it actually takes to do things. I kept having to draw arrows and port things over to the next day/week/month. So bullet journaling has been great for helping me create more realistic expectations, and beat myself up a little less (which is something I totally struggle with). But juggling my new job as a children's library associate for DC Public Library, editing A TYRANNY OF PETTICOATS, writing WILD SWANS, and having a life has been a challenge. I'm still absolutely striving for a better balance!
Like many readers out there, I am a writer, too, though I don't write as much as I could/should and hesitate to say that I am, indeed, a "writer." What is your advice for those who struggle with anxiety or thoughts of inferiority when it comes to their writing, or lack thereof, during the rough times?
If you write, you're a writer! You don't have to write every day. You don't have to have an agent or be published. If you have stories in your heart and spinning in your brain, and you make time to write them down, even if it's not as often as you'd like (it's not as often as I'd like, either!) - you are a writer. I love revising and editing, but I find first drafting really difficult. I edit a lot as I go. When my unhelpful perfectionist brain isn't letting me make much progress, I'll often try to sprint with another writer - someone who writes at roughly my speed, not someone who can write 2000 words in 30 minutes or something because that just makes me want to cry. Or I'll use Write or Die on the Kamikaze mode, which will start deleting my words if I pause to edit. That's very motivational!
We’re over a month into the new year, but curious minds still want to know: What were the Top 5 Books you read in 2015?
ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers
FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe
GABI, A GIRL IN PIECES by Isabel Quintero
VENGEANCE ROAD by Erin Bowman
Plus - I'm cheating a little here - THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna-Marie McLemore, which I read early in 2014 but just came out in September!
If you could choose any author, dead or alive, with whom you could co-author a book, who would it be and why?
OMG. I would be a terrible co-author. I'm too type A. But two contemporary YA authors whose books I consistently love and admire are Courtney Summers and Sara Zarr. I can't wait to see what they write next!
Thank you for the fantastic, thoughtful questions!
Now, it's time for the giveaway! Jess has generously given, from her own personal author stash, Star Cursed and Sisters' Fate, the last two books in The Cahill Witch Chronicles. Not only has she signed them, but she has also included signed bookmarks for all of her past and current projects!
This giveaway will run from Friday, February 5, 2016 through Tuesday, February 9, 2016.
Entering the giveaway is easy, and you can even earn an extra entry! Please read all the rules:
Simply leave a comment below with your thoughts on Jessica's interview, her books, or any other questions you might have for her. This will earn you one entry. Please also leave your Twitter handle in your comment, so I can follow you!
If you would like to earn an extra entry, please find me on Twitter at @BlookGirl and RT the giveaway Tweet I have posted.
At the end of the giveaway, I will cross-check the comments and the Tweets, enter all names into an automatic generator, and announce the winner on Twitter on Wednesday, February 10, 2016! From there, you can email me with your address, and the package will be shipped off promptly!
Good luck, and thanks for visiting, dear reader! I hope to see you here again.