Jessica Martinez is my new hero.
I met her a few weeks ago in Orlando at a joint book event. I was talking about my first book Thin Space and still feeling a tad anxious about speaking in front of a crowd. She was launching her fourth book Kiss Kill Vanish and looking as relaxed as can be. Releasing a fourth book into the world apparently isn't a big deal--not when you're about to have a fourth child. Yes. You read that right. Jessica talked up her book and settled down her three young children all while handing out celebratory cupcakes. (Not homemade. Thank goodness. She's got to draw the line somewhere.)
Two words about Kiss Kill Vanish. It's good. I stayed up way past my bedtime reading and my tired mind is still spinning with the story today. It's a thriller with characters who aren't what they seem. The book has secrets. Danger. Adventure. But because this is Jessica Martinez, author of the acclaimed novel Virtuosity, there's much more to it. Music and art. Multi-layered characters. The very cool (and freezing cold) setting of Montreal. And thought provoking themes of identity and family loyalty. It's labeled a young adult novel but I definitely can see it crossing over to old adults too. (I just wrote that sentence and realized how dumb it sounds. This is a book, people. For anyone who likes good books!! Okay. Off my soap box.)
Jody: Here's a question every writer gets but I am going to ask you anyway, because I am dying to know: Where do you get your ideas?
Jessica: I wish I knew! I’m so inconsistent. Sometimes I can look back and trace where they came from, but it’s different every time. Music, news stories, movies, family and friends (sorry, family and friends)—pretty much everything is fair game.
Jody: Once you've got a spark of an idea, what's your next step? Do you outline? Or do you let the story go where it wants to and outline later?
Jessica: I make stuff up as I go. I have tried outlining. At best, I find it ineffective, because my characters end up taking the plot in a different direction than I planned. And at worst, it totally stifles my process. I don’t even try anymore.
Jody: Okay, this is me, being totally nosy, but-- how many books did you write before you got your first book deal? And how many rejections did you get along the way?
Jessica: Virtuosity is the first book I wrote and the first to be published. I got about ten rejections from agents before I signed with the agent I still have and adore, Mandy Hubbard. She sold it pretty quickly for me. Sorry, I do know that’s unfairly lucky.
Jody: Nah, that's really cool.
Jessica: If it makes anybody feel any better, I’ve written three half-books in the last year (and no whole books) and thrown all three out. Because they sucked. The possibility of rejection and failure is there with every book, not just the first.
Jody: Another nosy question. I know you have three young children, how do you manage working in time to write?
Jessica: I write during the baby’s nap time, and then again when all my kids are in bed at night. This means I have a thrilling social life. When my baby stops napping, I’m in deep, deep trouble. Also, I’m having another baby due in April (does that make my older baby not a baby anymore? Eeeep!) so I fully expect my schedule to be thrown in the blender.
Jody: I'm bowing down to you. I've got grown children and only a dog to care for, so I can't even imagine how you're doing this.
Jessica: I'm actually not too worried. Things have been crazy before, and I always find time to write. Showering, however…that gets put in the optional category.
Jody: Sometimes showering, caring for little ones, writing... now I'm wondering how you balance it all.
Jessica: Family and church come first. But that’s not easy for me, even though they’re decisions I’m absolutely sure about. It seems like I have to remind myself daily, because it’s always painful to put writing off when the ideas are screaming. Yeah, I can't sugar coat it—it’s tough, because writing is the thing I always want to be doing. I guess that’s why I have to force it down on the list of priorities, so my life isn’t horribly imbalanced.
Jody: We haven't even talked about book promotion yet. I had no idea what was expected when my first book came out--things I'd have to do from my end, especially on social media. How do you deal with social media on top of all of your other obligations?
Jessica: Um, poorly? Actually, as soon as I gave up on being effective with social media, I started having a good time with it. Twitter is pretty much all I do, and about 90% of my tweets are just me being an idiot. I don’t feel like it’s a waste of time though, because I’ve made a lot of friends in the industry, and I’d like to think that goes further than book promotion. Or maybe I’m just telling myself that because I’m uncomfortable with promoting my books—in person or online. I love writing. The business of marketing makes me cringe.
Jody: We met on social media. So, I guess it's working. Last question, I promise. Can you share something about your latest project?
Jessica: I’m working on my first adult novel! I’m moving at a snail’s pace (as usual) but eventually I’ll get there. Cross your fingers this one doesn’t end up in the trash!
Jody: I am sure it is going to be awesome. Thanks, so much, Jessica, for chatting with me today. And readers, if you want to find out more about Jessica Martinez and her books --or witness her act like an idiot on Twitter : ) see below.
My young adult novels are Virtuosity, The Space Between Us, The Vow, and Kiss Kill Vanish. I’m represented by Mandy Hubbard of D4EO Literary Agency."
website: Jessica Martinez