From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.
After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.
As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson.
Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish.
Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her.
Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.
1. When you started writing, did you intend to write YA or did your stories just lead you there?
I can’t say I intended to do much of anything, honestly, I just started writing. I think that my favorite categories and genres to read have definitely molded me into the author I am today, and would also explain why I began with YA. At the time, I couldn’t get enough of young adult fiction (mainly paranormal and fantasy), and it was all I would read. Now, since my reading tastes have expanded a bit, and I’ve discovered a growing love of not just different genres within the YA category, but also NA and Adult erotic romance, I’ve branched out in those directions as a writer as well.
2. Was there any music that inspired you on Divide or helped you in the writing process?
Absolutely. And the list isn’t long. Dark Side by Peter Hollens and Madilyn Bailey (their amazing redux of Kelly Clarkson’s song) was the main soundtrack behind DIVIDE. But I also felt incredibly connected to Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth featuring Emeli Sandé. This is a truly incredible song with such powerful lyrics—so fitting to Holland and Mick.
3. Between Toby & Frankie (from the Ever Trilogy) and Mick, who is your favorite?
Oh wow. Um . . . honestly, I love them all so much! But I’d have to say Toby has my heart. Also, Brandon “Tig” Tiggs from CHLORINE&CHAOS (written under my pseudonym) is probably my favorite male lead thus far. He’s swoony, IMHO.
*And you forgot to ask about Donovan, but since he’s not a leading character in DIVIDE, I’ll pretend he’s not also one of my favorites. Lol 😉
4. What was your favorite scene to write in Divide?
I think that my favorite scene to write in DIVIDE was when Holland accidentally happened across Donovan in the middle of the night. I had a hard time not bringing those two together, calling it an adult erotic romance, and ending the book with them running off into the sunset together! Lol! Not sure why, but I just loved Donovan’s character.
5. What was your favorite scene to write in the Ever Trilogy?
Ohhhhh, so far, I think I love the ending of EVADE the most. I can’t go into too much detail, though, because spoilers.
6. Did your characters in Divide do anything to surprise you?
Hmm. That’s a good question. I think it surprised me when Cam and Rosemarie started hooking up, as that hadn’t been part of the plan. *pretends to have a plan for anything ever*
But it worked out perfectly for them and the story, and I just adore the two of them separately, so together they’re even better!
7. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
This could be as simple as ‘take your time’, and as in-depth as pages and pages of lessons I’ve learned in my journey to publication and beyond. So, I think that the main thing I’d advise is to stay true to the story. Not to yourself (though obviously within reason), and not to the readers and reviewers, not even to what you think a publisher or agent wants to read. Take these people and their opinions into consideration, definitely—they are huge factors in your career—but stay true to your characters. It is their story you’re trying to tell. You’re their voice, right? Never forget that. When you tell the story the characters want you to tell, the words will come and the final product will be beautiful. If you worry too much about what other people think, you’ll change the very heart of your story without even realizing it. You’ll also lose a bit of the reckless abandon and pure joy that comes in just writing freely the story that your heart wants to tell.
Plus, you can always revise later anyway, right?
9. Which did you did you enjoy more, writing the trilogy or the stand-alone?
The standalone. But not because I don’t love trilogies. I adore a good series. The truth is, I published EVER before I’d even begun to write EVADE, and I won’t make that mistake twice. Negative reviews and lackluster sales snuck their way into my head, and, referring back to my answer to the last question you asked, I lost my love for that series and those characters. That reckless abandon? That joy? Gone. It was like innocence being ripped away. You just can’t get that back. Now, when I read those books, it’s hard to ignore the voice in my head that mimics the negative side of publishing. That isn’t fair to my characters, or me, or my readers, but with EVER being my first step into publishing, I hadn’t had the ability or knowledge to properly prepare for what would come once Ever’s story was released.
10. What is the hardest part of the writing process?
Accepting that the story is done and ready for publishing. I’m one of those artists who has to make it a point to stop myself while painting, otherwise I risk over-painting and ruining the artwork. This applies to my writing as well. I will forever see something that needs changing or find errors to fix in every story I write—whether because I’m crazy or because I continue to grow in my trade and this is, hopefully, normal—so finding a happy stopping point and actually accepting that the story is beautiful and ready for the world is probably my biggest stumbling block.
11. When you release a novel, which is the predominate feeling about reviews: excited over the possibility of positive reviews or terrified over the possibility of negative ones?
So, this is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I pretty much just expect the worst. When positive reviews start trickling in, I wait. Because at any moment, the other shoe will drop. And then it does. And I realize, remarkably, that I’m okay. Because not everyone is going to love everything I write, and I’m starting to get that now. But I still go into each new book positive that the whole world will hate my book, hate me, and that I suck as a human. Not sure why, or how to shake it, but that’s the general feeling I have during those first few days before and after a release.
12. What’s one question you always hope you’ll get asked in an interview and the answer to said question?
I have no idea! Sorry. What a lame response, huh?
13. Who are your favorite authors/novels?
Since there are far too many to name, both friends and strangers alike, I’ll tell you the authors who really stick out in my mind, the ones who I’d fangirl all over if given the chance to meet them in person: Jeaniene Frost, Richelle Mead, and Karen Marie Moning. Those are the ladies who really stick out, the ones with talent I wish I had even a smidgen of.
14. I was going to ask if you had to cast Divide using only characters from animated movies (not just Disney because then we miss the awesomeness that is Anastasia), who would you pick, BUT since it’s a Beauty & The Beast retelling, I think we all know what the answer would be….so can you cast the Ever Trilogy solely with animated film characters?
Wow. You’ve totally stumped me! Are we talking looks alone, or looks and personality? I think we’ll make it just looks. *goes easy on self*
Okay, hmm . . . Ever could definitely be a combination of Lonette from Cool World, mixed with Meg from Hercules, and a touch of Jasmine from Aladdin—though very light skin with her dark hair and curves. Let’s make Jessie a combination of Holly Would, also from Cool World, Susan from Monsters vs Aliens, and Jem from . . .Jem!. (Yes, I’m fully aware that I’m dating myself with all of these answers—but just wait, it gets better.) Toby is going to be Dimitri from, you guessed it, Anastasia (I have to ask, is that where you would have cast him, Tabitha?) and Flynn Rider from Tangled. Frankie is easily Eric from The Little Mermaid, but with glasses and a pompadour, obviously, and maybe a touch Trent from Daria. Because why not, right? Last but not least, Bianca Dupree, from Beverly Hills Teens (does anyone remember this awesome gem!?) would be perfectly cast as Ariadne, our beloved antagonist. And, just for fun, let’s cast Archer as Ted Stone. 😉
I actually think Dimitri is perfect….except that we are casting on of my very favorite animated characters as my not favorite Ever male (Team Frankie to the end!). And I so wish I had even the most minor photoshop skills so I could me a picture of hunky prince Eric with geeky glasses and a pompadour. Why, oh why, am I artistically challenged? And DUDE, you’re a Daria fan? ::dies::
Thank you Jessa for allowing me to interview you!
Jessa Russo believes in fairytales, ghosts, and Jake Ryan. She insists mimosas were created for Sundays, and that’s not up for discussion. She’s obsessed with the great city of New Orleans—where she’s collected too many beads to count, eventually married her sweetheart, and visited graveyards they don’t include on maps.
She’s loud, painfully honest, and passionate about living life to the fullest, because she’s seen how abruptly it can be taken away.
What began as a desire for reading and writing young adult paranormal has bled into stories of all kinds. From fantasy to pre-dystopian to erotic contemporary, Jessa’s stories always include romance, though she’s given up on pigeonholing her work into a category or genre box.
Jessa was born and raised in Southern California, and remains there to this day with her husband (a classic car fanatic), their daughter (a Tim Burton superfan), and a Great Dane who thinks he’s the same size as his Chihuahua sister.
ENTWINED, the final installment of Russo’s Ever Trilogy, will be released late 2014, as well as an erotic romance written under a pseudonym. Stay tuned!