Author Crush Friday with Jessica Taylor
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Jessica Taylor, the author of the binge-worthy novel, A Map for Wrecked Girls (August 15, 2017; Dial Books). Thank you for talking to us today, Jessica! We’re honored! And, PS, we love your writing ritual!
GLITTER: Tell us five random facts about yourself.
- You’ll rarely find me asleep before 3 am or awake before 10 am. The more I’ve embraced this, the more productive my life has become.
- Designing Women is my favorite TV show and has been since I was a kid. Not only can I quote every episode, I aspire to become Julia Sugarbaker.
- I firmly believe there are very few savory dishes that couldn’t be enhanced by adding olives.
- I have a law degree, but I’ve never practiced law.
- I’m an INTJ, so I only have two modes—indifference and obsession.
GLITTER: Tell us about your journey to become a writer. From first draft to getting an agent to the book you have now.
JESSICA: A Map for Wrecked Girls went through many, many drafts in its early stages. Something just wasn’t working, no matter how much I thought about it, but in the summer of 2015 everything clicked and I realized what it needed to be. I was between agents at the time and queried by the end of the summer. One of my friends was represented by Folio and had an incredible experience, so Folio was at the top of my list. Another of my friends was with my now-agent Melissa Sarver White and had nothing but amazing things to say about working with her. An agent at a different agency offered before my phone call with Melissa, but when I talked to Melissa, she pointed out something about the book I hadn’t considered that really spoke to me. Her suggestion was so on-point that I said yes and we spent the fall revising. When we went on submission after the holidays, I was expecting a long wait and starting working on my next book—which I highly recommend as a coping mechanism for anyone on sub. But I didn’t get very far because Melissa called with the first offer within nine days. I was absolutely giddy that someone wanted to publish my story, but the book was still out with other publishers and Melissa let me know she thought we’d have more offers. I always trust Melissa, but honestly . . . I didn’t believe her. I was wrong and a few days later, I had a phone call with my now-editor Jessica Garrison at Dial. A couple other editors set up phone calls with me, but when the offer came in from Dial, we accepted right away and cancelled the other calls. I’m so lucky to have an editor as positive and enthusiastic as Jess. Toward the end, when I felt like I didn’t have any else to give the book, Jess continued to say things that teased out of me the final touches I’m most proud to read now.
GLITTER: Is A Map for Wrecked Girls ultimately a sisterly-bond novel, or if not, how would you describe your novel?
JESSICA: It’s definitely a sisterly-bond novel, but probably not in the way you think. Emma and Henri have a deep connection at the beginning of the story that in some ways has helped Emma to escape reality. But something that toxic can’t last, and Emma destroys what they have. After an accident leaves them stranded on a deserted island, the sisters have to find their way back to each other but in a healthier way.
GLITTER: Do you have siblings, and if so, did you use your bond and some experiences with them to give the story an extra layer?
JESSICA: I get this question a lot—but surprise!— I’m an only child. Girls I’ve known—some of them sisters of friends—informed the development of both Henri and Emma.
GLITTER: Describe A Map for Wrecked Girls in 140 characters or less.
JESSICA: Two estranged sisters & a troubled boy with his own secrets fight to survive when they’re stranded on a gorgeous hell of a deserted island.
GLITTER: Did you always want to be an author? Did you ever feel like giving up? Did you receive rejection letters in the beginning? How did you get over them?
JESSICA: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know what I wanted to write. Every idea I had for the adult market felt overdone or like something nobody would want to read. When I started reading YA, I felt like I’d found my home.
I had a lot of ups and downs in the beginning, including putting a book on submission that didn’t sell, changing agents, and even selling a book to a publisher that closed before my book was published. I’d like to say that I never considered giving up, but truthfully, parts of the journey brought a lot of negativity in my life, and I don’t know if I could have sustained my passion for writing if things hadn’t turned around when they did.
On Map I had a few rejections, but they came after I already had a yes. It was a whirlwind week of yes, no, yes. The rejections didn’t sting too much because I knew that no matter what, my book was getting published. But I had a lot of rejections on earlier projects. The key for me was not obsessing about them too much. Rarely were they the kind that I could apply to a revision, so I usually archived them. Nobody needs to see an inbox full of that every morning!
GLITTER: Do you have any crazy writing rituals?
JESSICA: Yes, it’s kind of embarrassing. If I want to make any real progress, I have to write in the rattiest sweatpants I own, the kind I wouldn’t dare leave the house in. Missing string, unraveling cuffs, a hole or two—you get the picture.
GLITTER: What is one thing you can’t write without?
JESSICA: Other than the sweatpants, I’d have to say my dog at my side. My dog Lexi is twelve years old now and she’s been with me for every draft—including the books I hope never make it into the light of day.
GLITTER: What is one thing you are most passionate about in life?
JESSICA: I’m passionate about protecting the rights of marginalized individuals such as those who wear their faith on their bodies and those born into a skin that never felt like home.
GLITTER: What are you currently working on?
JESSICA: My next book is about two girls who make a selfish decision one night that costs another girl her life. It’s partly about how they turn on each other to hide their crime and about how they live with the people they’ve become.
GLITTER: Thanks, Jessica! Also, Glitter fans, if you’d like to pre-order Jessica’s book, which is a must read in our opinion, make sure to click here.
Jessica Taylor adores atmospheric settings, dangerous girls, and characters who sneak out late at night. She lives in Northern California, not far from San Francisco, with a law degree she isn’t using, one dog, and many teetering towers of books.