Section #4: About Jessica's Current Work
BRoP: Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?
Jessica: Origin is a YA adventure-romance about a girl living in the Amazon rainforest, and who has been genetically engineered to be the first of an immortal race. It will be released in September, and it’s already available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s websites.
BRoP: Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?
Jessica: Origin is extremely unique. It’s not dystopian or paranormal or any of the major current trends—but it contains elements of all of these. There’s no book to which I could closely compare it, simply because it is genre-bending. Pia is immortal, but not because she’s a vampire or anything like that. She’s been genetically engineered by scientists, so there’s a twist on the common paranormal theme of immortality. Also, I get to introduce a culture which is almost entirely absent from YA—that of the South American Indians. The tribe Pia meets and comes to love is based on the real tribes in the Amazon jungle—some of which have never had contact with the modern world. The jungle is a fascinating setting to work with, almost like having a fantasy world—but it’s real and possible and you could fly there tomorrow if you wanted.
BRoP: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Jessica: Emotionally, I had trouble with some of the later scenes, when you see the darkest side of the world in which Pia lives. I delved into the past of eugenics, drawing on the mentality which manifested in the concentration camps of WWII. It’s hard to acknowledge how dismally cruel humanity can be, and even harder to try and get inside the minds of the ones who initiated terrible, inhumane experiments in the name of “science.”
BRoP: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Jessica: I really liked writing scenes with the Ai’oans (the tribe Pia finds in the jungle). Their world is so different from Pia’s and turns everything she thought she knew inside out, so it was a lot of fun getting to play with her head through them. And there are a few high-octane action scenes that were just pure fun to write. I felt like I was unleashing my inner movie director.
BRoP: Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Jessica: I learned so much about the world, especially the natural wonders so many people over look. Truly, this planet is absolutely captivating, from the mighty wonders of the world’s biggest river to the tiny details found in the smallest creatures hiding under the leaves. This is Pia’s world, and seeing it through her eyes made me fall in love with it all over again. I rediscovered some of that wide-eyed wonder we have as children, when we lived half in reality and half in our own imaginations, and when it seemed nothing could touch us or harm us. We were immortal, just like Pia, and the world was our playground.
BRoP: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Jessica: Yes, but I can’t tell it to you without giving away the biggest secret in Origin. So you’ll just have to read it yourself and see if you can find it. J
BRoP: Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?
The cover was designed by Greg Stadnyk, an art director at Penguin—and didn’t he do a fantastic job? I love everything about the cover. It’s mysterious, a little sci-fi, with the beauty of the jungle. The negative space is so eye-catching and unique, I think it will definitely stand out on shelves. This was the first cover art designed, and it was so perfect we didn’t need to look further.