I was positively giddy when I saw Jessie Lewis had a new release coming out early in 2021. I discovered Jessie late last year when I read her book, Speechless. If you haven’t read it yet, I can’t recommend it enough. When the chance came to be able to read Fallen and interview Jessie, I squealed with delight!
Fallen is unique in that it follows cannon pretty closely for the first quarter-ish of the book… and then it’s hang on to your hats! It is a wild curricle ride of emotions. What makes this book set apart from others is its ability to make you second-guess the characters you have come to know and love.
I don’t want to give any major plot points away, but this book kept me guessing. Every time I thought I was SURE that a certain character would never act against their typical moral behavior, there was a tidbit dropped that would make me question what I thought was going to happen.
For me, the first quarter was a little slow going (not in a bad way) because it closely follows the original storyline. However, as I said before, once it gets going you are in for quite a ride! I highly recommend this one. Jessie Lewis is now an author I will immediately add to my TBR list.
Ok, now on to the real reason you are here… I’ll hand it over to Jessie to answer the interview questions.
1. What does your typical day look like when you are writing a new book?
Hi Melissa! I would love to say that it looks like Oscar Wilde, arriving downstairs in sartorially pristine elegance, swishing his smoking jacket aside as he settles himself into his chair and scribbles out twenty pages of cutting satire. Regrettably, it’s rarely that pretty. I invariably start the day rereading whatever snippets I managed to hash out the day before, always editing it a bit as I go, often ending up with fewer words than I started with. Then I make copious notes, most of them duplicates, as I try to get my thoughts in order. Around 11:30am I might challenge myself to write 100 words before lunch, just so I can feel like I’ve made progress. Around 11:55am I usually delete 28 of the 30 words I’ve managed because they’re rubbish. Then I have lunch. Then I reread what I wrote before lunch, and fret over the massive plot hole I haven’t yet worked out how to fill. Then I realise I’ve forgotten to pick up the children, and I run out of the door, forgetting to hit save. Starting a new book is always the very hardest part! I always seem to manage to squeeze the words out of my head and onto the page in the end though 😉
2. What emotion do you find to be the most difficult to write?
Contentment. Because, really, it’s a bit boring. I heard someone on the radio the other day say that writing happiness is like writing with white ink on a white page, and that struck me as a very good analogy. When there’s conflict or angst, it’s easy to imagine people flinging words at each other as they try to communicate their feelings—and I enjoy writing dialogue best of all. But when people are content, they rarely talk about it. Darcy and Elizabeth could be blissfully happy, sitting together before the fire on a cold winter’s evening, but that in itself would make for a fairly dismal story. Yet it’s what we all want to read: a blissfully happy Darcy and Elizabeth! I try to find ways of inserting humour or very light angst or mishap into those situations to make them more entertaining.
3. What book are you currently reading?
I’m reading The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, which is taking me a shamefully long time to finish. I tried using Whispersync for the first time with this one (flitting between reading the ebook and listening to the audiobook) and I’ve discovered it really doesn’t work for me—I’m totally lost. I think I’m going to have to start it again! I also snuck in Games of Love and Cruelty by Laura Moretti at the weekend, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
4. Do you plot out your stories methodically or do they come to your imagination fully-formed?
Well, I generally imagine the whole gist of a story first, but after that point, I’m definitely a plotter. I might know how I want a story to end, but I can’t begin to write it unless I know precisely how I’m going to get there. I always produce very detailed timelines, character and story arcs, chapter plans and research notes. It’s a bit obsessive probably, but I feel far more able to play around with scenes when I know where the constraints are, and how ‘that’ bit of the story will be affected if I mess with ‘this’ scene or ‘that’ line of dialogue. I take my hat off to authors who just write it as it comes to them. The thought of writing like that frightens me as much as it would if I just put on my shoes, packed some lunch in my backpack, and set off walking without any idea of where I was going or why or for how long…I’m breaking out in a sweat just thinking about it!
5. Favorite book on your shelves?
That is such a difficult question! I obviously adore Pride and Prejudice and have an unhealthy number of copies—of which my favourite is Barbara Heller’s new edition with all nineteen of the novel’s letters printed and hand folded. P&P is also the book I’ve reread the most. But I have many other books that have stayed with me ever since I read them, all for different reasons. Some of those include, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson, Germinal, by Émile Zola, and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. In terms of the physical book (as opposed to the story), I am particularly fond of my 1863 copy of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, with the handwritten name of one of my ancestors inside the cover. I studied Philosophy at university, so that one is very precious to me.
Thank you so much for hosting this part of my blog tour, Melissa!
Jessie Lewis, author of Mistaken, Speechless, and The Edification of Lady Susan, enjoys words far too much for her own good and was forced to take up writing them down in order to save her family and friends from having to listen to her saying so many of them. She dabbled in poetry during her teenage years, though it was her studies in Literature and Philosophy at university that firmly established her admiration for the potency of the English Language. She has always been particularly in awe of jane Austen’s literary cunning and has delighted in exploring Austen’s regency world in her own historical fiction writing. It is of no relevance whatsoever to her ability to string words together coherently that she lives in Hertfordshire with two tame cats, two feral children, and a pet husband. She is also quite tall, in case you were wondering.
You can check out her musings on the absurdities of language and life on her blog, LifeinWords.blog, or see what she’s reading over at Goodreads. Or you can drop her a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter, or on her Facebook page, JessieLewisAuthor.
Thank you to Quills & Quartos for the opportunity to be a part of the Fallen blog tour. I was gifted a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Happy reading! Melissa