I am so happy today to welcome Jessica Brody to Book Jems for an interview, and give away her upcoming novel, UNFORGOTTEN, and its prequel UNREMEMBERED. Find more information on this blog tour, and the other blogs participating here!
Unforgotten (Unremembered #2)
by Jessica BrodyGoodreads:
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Some memories are better left forgotten...
After a daring escape from the scientists at Diotech who created her, Seraphina believes she is finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await Sera and her boyfriend, Zen, at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend her. A weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind. A secret that Diotech will kill to protect. And it won’t stay forgotten for long.
Packed with mystery, suspense, and romance, this riveting second installment of Jessica Brody’s Unremembered trilogy delivers more heart-pounding action as loyalties are tested, love becomes a weapon, and no one’s memories are safe.
The kind people at Macmillan are offering one (1) paperback of UNREMEMBERED, and one (1) hardcover of UNFORGOTTEN to one lucky winner. This giveaway is US/Canada only!
1. Describe UNFORGOTTEN in ten words or less.
More action, more memory manipulation, more sci-fi stuff, more kissing.
2. What kind of books do you read in your free time? Do you have any recent favorites?
I read mostly YA. I love young adult. The plotting is usually faster and the voice is usually really relatable. Plus I have so many author friends who write YA so I try to keep up on all their awesome releases!
Recently, I loved WINGER by Andrew Smith, PRODIGY by Marie Lu, and FRACTURE by Megan Miranda.
3. What are you currently working on?
Ooh! I’m so excited about all the things coming up. Some I can talk about, some I can’t.
I can say that I just finished writing book 3 in the UNREMEMBERED trilogy. It’s still currently UNtitled, but I think we’re getting closer to a title! (At least my editor can’t call it UNFINISHED anymore! She thought that was really funny when the book was 2 months late!)
I am contracted to write another contemporary standalone for Macmillan, my publisher, so I’ll be starting that really soon. I do already have an idea that my editor and I both love so I’m excited to get back to my contemporary roots and write something that doesn’t include scientifically-altered heroines and romps through time and space.
4. How do you write a novel; are you a plotter, or a by-the-pants writer?
I was recently on a panel with Neal Schusterman and he had the best answer to this question. He said, “I never start writing a novel, until I’ve tricked myself into thinking I know exactly what’s going to happen.”
The key word here is trick. Because all authors know that even if we plot our hearts out, there are always unexpected plot points hiding around the bend ready to jump out and surprise us. And the longer you work on a character, the more she starts to think for herself and make decisions for herself and want to have a say in the way the story unfolds. Those pesky characters!
And similarly, I never start writing a novel until I’ve tricked myself into thinking it’s going to be the easiest book I’ve ever written. It never is.
So as much as I am actually a plotter (I use a screenplay plotting method called SAVE THE CAT, based on the book by Blake Snyder), I have to be a panster too. I’ve learned that one of the best qualities of a writer is flexibility. You have to learn to let go of what you think is going to happen (or what you’ve tricked yourself into thinking is going to happen) and embrace what the book will become on its own.
5. Did you always know how the series would play out, or did it change as you wrote? How do you work through changes?
When I first sold the trilogy, I had a long synopsis for book 1 (about 7 pages) and two short synopses for books 2 and 3 (about a page each.) Although many things changed within those synopses, there were two constants that never changed: The beginning of each book and the end of each book.
I always knew book 1 would end the way it did, I always knew book 2 would end the way it did, and book 3...well, I actually never included the ending in the synopsis. But in my head, I always knew it had to end one way and no other way.
So yes, for those who have read book 2, UNFORGOTTEN, I did have that shocking ending planned from the very beginning. Sorry!
Like I said before, changes are inevitable when you’re writing a manuscript. And yet still, every time, I go through a stage of struggle, where I fight to keep the book exactly how I’d planned it to be. But those scenes never turn out well—they always feel forced and clumsy—and I usually end up cutting them and succumbing to the pull of change in the end.
6. Have you incorporated any of your own life experiences into UNFORGOTTEN, or the other novels in the UNREMEMBERED series?
You mean apart from my ability to run faster than a car, speak every language on earth, and travel through time? No, not much.
Haha. Just kidding.
I think it’s unavoidable that a piece of me will end up in every single book, but there was actually a very specific scene that I stole from my own life experience in book 2, UNFORGOTTEN.
When you’re reading the book, you’ll come to a kind of creepy, unnerving scene in a New York City subway station. That exact thing happened to me in real life. It was pretty scary. Of course, I didn’t have superhuman abilities to resolve the situation like what happens in the book. But I definitely wished I did!
That’s what’s kind of cool and cathartic about being a writer. You get to take your own bad experiences, add a little sci-fi fairy dust, and transform them into exactly what you want.
7. Which character do you think you are most like, or which character would you most like to be?
I definitely have Cody’s sarcasm and sense of humor and Seraphina’s overly analytical brain. But I wish I had Sera’s looks! I would LOVE to have purple eyes!
But in truth, I’m not sure I’d want to have any of my character’s lives. I put them through a lot of crap. I don’t need that! Writing about it is hard enough!
8. What challenges did you face while writing this story?
I laugh because the answer is “all of them.” All the challenges. If there was a challenge to be had, I faced it.
This book was SO difficult to write. I cried so many dang times, it’s embarrassing. I thought it was the most difficult of the series. And then I wrote book 3...
When you take memory manipulation, throw in some time travel, and futuristic technology, what you get is...challenge.
But honestly, I think the toughest part of writing this book is the fact that it was book 2 of a trilogy. The middle of any book is the toughest part for me. And this entire book was one big middle!
9. Did you have to do any research for this novel?
I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of research. I’d rather just make stuff up. But because a big chunk of this novel takes place in the 17th century, I had to get over my disdain for research and actually do some. I wanted to make sure that all of the scenes that take place in that time period felt authentic.
I actually took an entire online course about Early Modern England, so I could familiarize myself with the cultural and societal elements of that time. And I spoke on the phone with a renowned professor of Early Modern England who helped me sort out some of the more specific details that are included in the book.
And okay, I’ll admit it, it was kinda fun. Maybe I should research more often.
10. What are some tips you have for those looking to publish their stories?
Practice makes perfect. It’s not just a cliché, it’s the truth.
Write. Every. Day. Hone your craft. You can’t just pick up a cello and expect to play a Beethoven sonata, you have to practice. Writing is the same. It takes time and work and lots of practice and mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t judge yourself too critically. Just keep at it.
I have tons of other tips about writing and getting published on my website: http://www.jessicabrody.com/for-writers/advice/
*Want Unremembered Series Goodies? Participate in Jessica Brody’s Unforgettable Fan Challenge! Plus an Unforgotten Preorder Offer!
I am so thankful for Jessica for letting me pick her brain, and to Ksenia and the wonderful people at Macmillan for allowing me to participate in this blog tour! Look for my review of UNFORGOTTEN in the upcoming week!