Jessica Brody is the author of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, My Life Undecided, The Karma Club, and the recently released, Unremembered, the first in a sci-fi/suspense/romance trilogy. Her books have been translated and published in over 15 countries and several have been optioned for film and TV. Sometimes she wishes her memories could be erased so she could reread all her favorite books for the first time. She splits her time between California and Colorado.
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?
Don’t be afraid to write badly. All writers have awful first drafts. That’s why they’re called first drafts. Sometimes you have to just get through the story before you can make it pretty. I think a lot of new authors quit halfway through the book because they’re afraid that it’s not good. The first draft won’t be good. Just finish it and fix it later. The hardest part about writing a book is getting to that last page.
What's your favorite book and why?
I absolutely love THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Particularly the first book. I lived that book for two whole days. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it, dreaming about it. It’s a perfect book in my eyes.
Where did you get the idea for Unremembered?
A few years ago, I read a newspaper article about a teen girl who was the sole survivor of a plane crash. I was instantly fascinated by the story. Namely because they had no idea why she survived when no else did. I started brainstorming reasons as to why she was so lucky. One particular reason (a rather intricate, science-fiction-inspired one) stuck in my mind and refused to leave. It continued to grow and blossom until I had an idea for an entire trilogy. A trilogy that starts with a mysterious plane crash and a single survivor.
Did you hit any snags while writing Unremembered? What were they and how did you fix them?
When I wrote the synopsis for Unremembered (that I used to sell the concept to my publisher), I had included several scenes in which Seraphina learns about her past and some of the memories she’s lost through Zen, the boy who claims that they were in love before the plane crash.
But when I got to that scene while actually writing the manuscript I ran into a common problem that writers face.
The dreaded, but highly-respected law of “Show Don’t Tell.” So there I was, essentially writing pages and pages of telling. Zen relaying his side of the story and his version of Sera’s past through dialogue. To put it bluntly, it was boring as crap.
I had to find a way for her to relive the memories. So she (and the reader) could experience them, instead of just hear about them. That’s when I came up with the technology of re-cognization. The process of implanting memories that have already been removed, back into the brain.
Using this technology, I was able to show not tell Seraphina about her past, using her very own memories. And once I created it, a whole world of opportunities and storytelling opened up to me in this book and the sequel.
Which one of the characters in Unremembered is your favorite and why?
I have to say Cody, Seraphina’s 13-year-old foster brother.
This genre was brand new for me. My first time venturing into the world of sci-fi. And as all my contemporaries were comedies, it was oftentimes a challenge for me to write something darker and more serious. Cody, however, is the comic relief of the novel. So writing him was like a little link back to my comfort zone. I always felt like I was “home” when I wrote him. And it gave me the opportunity to make fun of myself a little. While Sera’s storyline is rather dark and mysterious and all these harrowing things are happening around her, Cody can always be counted on to lighten the mood with a comedic crack on her situation.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?
It was a long one, that’s for sure! From the time I started “trying” to publish my novel, it took 5 years before I sold my first one. And actually my “first” book was never published. It’s still sitting on my shelf! I tried for three years to get an agent for that book and eventually started a new book that would become my first published novel. After five years, I finally landed my first agent and she sold my book in only 10 days! That’s the power of a good agent.
What are you working on now? Sequel? Something new?
I just finished writing book 2 of the Unremembered Trilogy, which is called UNFORGOTTEN. And I’m gearing up to start working on book 3, which is called UNTITLED. Haha! But seriously, I’m thinking of keeping that title. What do you think?
Since you've always wanted to be a member of the Spice Girls, I assume you've got a "spicey" name all picked out for yourself. What is it and why?
LOL! I do! If I were a Spice Girl (and I’m still not giving up on this dream, by the way!), I would be “Clumsy Spice.” There’d be like a million YouTube videos of me falling off stage, knocking over expensive recording equipment, dropping stuff. I can just picture the headlines now, “Clumsy Spice Breaks 100 million Pound British Heirloom at Buckingham Palace During State Dinner.”
At this point you've written adult and YA novels, contemporary fiction and your new novel - Unremembered - is science fiction. What genre do you find the funnest to write? And what age group? And if you love them all, what makes each one exciting?
I’m really loving the sci-fi genre although it does have its challenges. I like being able to make up my own rules about the world I’m in. You can’t really do that when you write contemporary. But when things get complicated in a sci-fi story, I miss the simplicity and comedic style of the contemporary world. The grass is always greener, as they say! So I guess I’ll go with “I like them all!”
Unremembered is about a mysterious girl with no memory and no known identity. Was it difficult getting into the head space of someone who has no memory?
Yes, this was extremely difficult! I wasn’t able to reference anything from her past or popular culture when creating her inner dialogue. She was literally a blank slate! In order to get into her mindset, I tried to imagine myself as an alien visiting earth for the first time. The whole time I worked on the novel, I would look around me (at the super market, at gas stations, at airports, everywhere!) and ask myself what part of our everyday life and society seems strange or nonsensical. Because this is exactly how Seraphina sees the world.
I'll be sending out a copy of UNREMEBERED to one lucky winner!
Unremembered: When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.
Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.
Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.
Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?
From popular young adult author Jessica Brody comes a compelling and suspenseful new sci-fi series, set in a world where science knows no boundaries, memories are manipulated, and true love can never be forgotten.
Read Goodreads reviews.
Buy on Amazon.
Buy on Barnes and Noble.
How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter. Hit the arrow buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the enter buttons when you're done. (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this). There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter). I will contact the winner via email. This contest is open to national entrants only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway