Actually it’s kind of a funny story. I was sitting in my car, watching a meter maid write someone a parking ticket and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to be a meter maid? But only for like a week. Just to see what it was like.” Then I start to brainstorm all these other jobs I’d like to do for one week. And I decided, “Well, I’m too busy writing novels to actually do all these jobs, so I guess I’ll just have to write a book about someone else who does them.” And then I tried to think of the funniest character to put in that kind of situation and the answer was instant: a spoiled heiress who has never had to work a day in her life. And alas, Lexington Larrabee was born.
How long did it take you to write 52 Reasons To Hate My Father? What was the hardest part of the writing process?
It took me about 3 and a half months to write the first draft. Which is a pretty normal pace for me. I would say the hardest part was trying to incorporate as many jobs as possible. If you read the book, you’ll see that not all 52 jobs are in the book. But I wanted to fit in as many as I could. So I had to come up with strategic ways to get them in there. That’s when I came up with the idea of Lexi’s video messages to Luke. It allowed me to sum up a multiple jobs at a time.
What are you currently working on writing?
Last year, I sold a sci-fi/suspense trilogy to my publisher and the first installment releases in March, 2013! I’m currently writing the second book in the series. The first book is called UNREMEMBERED and it’s about a sixteen-year-old girl who wakes up among the wreckage of a devastating plane crash. She’s the only survivor but she has no memories and identity. The only clue to her past is a mysterious boy who claims they were in love and that she was part of a top secret science experiment. It’s kind of like a Bourne Identity for teens. I’m really excited about it because the genre is totally new to me and writing the first book was so much fun! Plus, it’s my first crack at writing a series so that presents a whole new set of fun challenges. The second book, that I’m writing now, is called UNFORGOTTEN and it will release in early 2014.
Have you done any of the jobs that Lexi had to do?
Yes! When I was growing up my parents owned a restaurant so I did MANY jobs in that restaurant. Pretty much everything from washing dishes to waiting tables to hosting.
But in researching the story, I did go under-cover at a fast food restaurant in order to see what it was like to train as an employee there. That was really fun! My favorite part was working the drive-thru. Those head-sets you have to wear are like something out of Star Trek!
Was this book harder or easier to write than your previous books?
Each book presents its own set of challenges. I think every book I write is harder than the last. And although that may just be my perception, I think it’s mostly true. I like to challenge myself with each new book. Otherwise, as a writer, I’d get bored. And I wouldn’t be growing. So I think with each book I tackle, the storytelling gets a little more complex and therefore the writing is harder.
Did you always know you wanted to become a writer? What/who made you want to become one?
The short answer is yes. I always wanted to be a writer. Although it took me a long time to figure that out. In second grade I turned in a four page book report (the assignment was to write one paragraph) and the teacher made such a huge deal about it. I really couldn’t understand why. Writing just came naturally to me. At that moment I remember wanting to be a writer. But somewhere along the way I convinced myself that I needed to get a “serious” job…you know, one that comes with dental insurance. So I majored in Economics in college (very serious!) and went on to be a financial analyst for MGM Studios. It wasn’t until later that I realized “serious” wasn’t for me. So I quit to pick up where I left off at age seven.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
I have LOTS of advice for authors. So much so, that I created an entire page on my website dedicated to it. You can find it here: http://www.jessicabrody.com/for-writers/advice/
But here’s something I tell writers all the time: Regardless if you’re a bestselling author with twenty books under your belt or you’re just starting out, writing is a craft that needs to be constantly honed. Try to write every day. Even if the stuff that’s coming out reads like a third grade book report. Sometimes you have to get the crap out in order to get to the good stuff. And sometimes, writing just to write is the only way to get a book done. Even if it means having to go back later and delete it all!
What are your favorite books and authors?
Here are my top ten favorite books (in no particular order):
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Room by Emma Donoghue
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
- The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
- The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams
- Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding
- Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella
* Also,Jessica Brody is having an amazing giveaway over at her website. The winner can win a complete Heiress makeover! It includes a personal wardrobe styling session with the costume designer who worked on the book trailer. The giveaway for that is at:http://www.jessicabrody.com/2012/07/win-a-complete-heiress-make-over-in-honor-of-52-reasons-to-hate-my-father/