Today, we are honoured to have an interview with author Jessica Scurlock, who has written Pretty Lies. In recent months, I have got to know Jessica via Instagram, and I was very happy when she agreed to an interview.
Where do you come from and has this place influenced your writings at all?
I’m from Northern California, but currently live in Nashville, Tennessee. Other than the United States as a whole, when writing in the dystopian genre, I wouldn’t say that where I come from (geographically) has influenced my writing all that much. I pull more inspiration and ideas from personal experiences, such as mental illness and growing up in a broken home.
On your website, it is written that you first started writing your novel, Pretty Lies, when you were fifteen. But then you abandoned it for six years and re-started writing it when you were twenty-one. Why did you stop? And what made you re-start writing it?
Yup! And fun fact: it was originally titled Blood of Angels. I stopped writing for a lot of reasons. I was going through a lot in my life, and it seemed like I was constantly being bombarded with one tragic event after another.
Also, I felt like I just wasn’t good enough and didn’t have any kind of support system. Any time I tried showing my stories to my parents or said I wanted to be an author, I was told I couldn’t do it and it was a waste of time. Sadly, it was the same thing with certain friends I had within those six years. It was like no one wanted to hear what I had to say, which hurt because a lot of things that happen in my stories are things I’ve personally experienced. Writing was my way of expressing myself and reaching out for help, in a way.
So, at 21, I heard this song called “Pretty Lies” by Written By Wolves, a New Zealand-based band. The song has a couple different meanings to me, but there’s a certain part (which can be found at the beginning of my novel) that reminded me of that manuscript I’d started as a teen.
After a few days of toying with the idea to re-start writing, I told my husband one night that I wanted to do it. He knew I loved to write before I met him, but I’d never allowed him to read what I had written. Still, he supported me. The next afternoon, he surprised me with a new laptop and encouraged me to follow my dream! Almost two years later, I published Pretty Lies!
This blogger: This is a very inspiring story, Jessica. Your husband sounds like a wonderful and supportive person, the kind that you were missing for much of your life. I am so happy for you.
What three books or films inspired you to write your novel, and in what ways did they inspire you?
Books: The Giver by Lois Lowry and Delirium by Lauren Oliver.
TV series: Colony
The Giver was the first dystopian novel I ever read, so that’s what ultimately got me interested in the genre. Delirium influenced me because of Lauren Oliver’s writing style. I love how much emphasis she puts on emotions in all of her works.
Colony inspired me in the way that the resistance groups worked throughout the show. I loved seeing how organized they were and all of the technicalities behind everything. This inspired me to give depth to the organizations within my novel and explore exactly how everything works. A lot of the time, we don’t really get to see those intricate inner workings, so I made it a point to do just that.
This blogger: That’s a clever thing to do. It’s the way you can make your novel unique, and make a niche for yourself within this subgenre.
What is the genre of your novel and who is the target audience?
Pretty Lies is a new adult dystopian novel and is aimed at people ages 18-30, but it can be an enjoyable read for later teens and older adults too.
Which of the characters in Pretty Lies is the most like you? And how?
Oh, man. I think there’s a little bit of me in all of them. But if I had to pick one, I’d say the main character, Ivy. Like her, I don’t trust very easily and I fear change.
Writing her was a lot of fun, though. She goes through a lot of growth; is dragged out of her comfort zone; and has to learn not to fear that change and growth, no matter how painful it is, because it’s inevitable.
This blogger: Ivy sounds like a great main character; plausible, above all else.
What is the moral message of your story?
I think, like all art forms, the message can be interpreted differently. Ultimately, it explores change and fate. Change is inevitable and sometimes painful, but it’s necessary and you come out stronger for it.
Also, your fate is your own to choose. No one has the right to decide your fate for you.
If you could go back in time and speak with a younger Jessica Scurlock, what advice would you give her about the writing process?
Stick with it, continue to learn and practice, and do not give up no matter how many people try to tell you that you should. Prove them wrong!
What is your writing kryptonite?
Self-doubt, definitely. There were so many times I was telling myself I couldn’t do this and wanted to give up because I was just scared. If it weren’t for my husband pushing me to keep going and having late-night talks with me about my manuscript, this book would have never existed.
This blogger: Your husband sounds ever more amazing, the more you talk about him. I am really pleased for you that he had these late-night discussions with you, so that you could fulfil your dream of being an author.
What do you find harder – writing your book or marketing it?
Marketing for sure. I’ve worked in sales and excelled at it, but when it comes to marketing my own product, I struggle. I hate the sleazy salesman persona with a passion, so I don’t want to come across like that at all. As a result, I think, I try a little too hard to steer away from selling.
Moreover, it’s a bit harder for me to market online vs in person. With the latter, I can have a conversation with a person and it feels natural.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you about writing a book?
No book will ever be completely perfect, so don’t strive for that. Instead, focus on conveying how passionate you are about your story through your writing and be open to learning and strengthening your craft.
This blogger: Yeah, that’s terrific advice! This person sounds like they know what they are talking about.
Are you writing another book at present? If so, could you tell us a bit about what it’s about?
Yes! I’m currently writing the sequel to Pretty Lies, titled Counter Ops. It picks up the same day book one leaves off and dives deeper into the issues that were presented in the first book.
The issues include human trafficking and re-education, the latter being the new government’s alternative to the prison system.
This blogger: This new government sounds so Orwellian! Its alternative to prison already gives me the chills lol.
Lastly, when you are not writing, what do you like to do?
When I’m not writing or critiquing manuscripts, I hula hoop, and practice my ASL (American Sign Language) through music.
Also, I go to as many heavy-metal concerts as possible with my husband, and I like to hike around waterfalls with my husband and our two toddlers. (*Smiles*.)
End of Interview
That brings out interview with author Jessica Scurlock to a close. I would like to thank Jessica for her time and for being so honest with us. I wish her only success with Pretty Lies and her future writings; and that she continues to enjoy herself, whether with her husband at heavy-metal concerts and/or hiking with her kids.
You can purchase Jessica’s book – Pretty Lies – on Amazon. If you like YA dystopian fiction/fantasy with a mix about how revolutionary organisations work, then check out Pretty Lies NOW!
Otherwise, follow Jessica on Instagram and visit her website. That way, you can keep up to date with her, so that you’ll be the first to know when her next book is coming out.
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