Welcome to Jessica Strawser! Career Authors leaps to its feet in a standing ovation to welcome the brilliant novelist and editor Jessica Strawser to the masthead. Many of you already know her from her headlining sessions at writing conferences and seminars, from her work at the editorial helm of Writers Digest and from her spectacular novels of domestic suspense. She’s a legend–so many writers have benefitted from her generosity, skill, talent and amazing contributions to the writing world and the writing life. Here are two easy ways to find out more: her webpage–and her wonderful answers to the Career Authors 11.
1. What book changed your life?
I’d like to think every book that stays with us changes us in some way—which makes it impossible to name just one. A few that stand out to me: Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit, Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, Maggie O’Farrell’s I Am, I Am, I Am.
2. Was your first published book the first manuscript you ever wrote?
Goodness no. Was anyone’s? By the time I published my first novel, I was on my second literary agent and had already collected 18 months’ worth of what my first agent called “rave rejections” from all the houses on a previous project.
3. Stephen King says, “The hardest part is just before you start.” What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Thinking through a complete synopsis for a book that I’m proposing to write but haven’t yet written. It’s not natural to my process, but I’ve reached a career stage that demands it.
4. Do you know the story’s ending before you start?
I know something of the ending but usually not the entire thing. For instance, I might know where the characters will end up but not how. That said, I’ve found that I quite like writing toward a big twist—Not That I Could Tell was my first real taste of that, and I’ve done it again for my next book.
5. When you’re having a difficult writing day, what do you tell yourself to get through it?
I remind myself of what Patricia Cornwell told me in a cover interview for Writer’s Digest: That a little insecurity can actually be a good sign that you’re being vigilant about the right things.
6. Do you read your reviews?
I go in spurts where I can’t help but read them, usually prepublication, but generally try (prefer!) not to.
7. Besides being persistent and correcting your spelling errors, what’s your best advice for a new author?
Not to bend to the whim of an agent or editor if their feedback doesn’t feel right to you—which can be hard when you’re new and you feel like they’re the “experts.” But no one will ever know your vision for your story like you do.
8. What’s your definition of writer misery?
Being tagged in negative reviews.
9. What’s your definition of writer happiness?
From a career aspect: Genuine enthusiasm from your publishing team—the feeling that comes when they believe in you and your work wholeheartedly. From a creative aspect: A work-in-progress open on my laptop, a quiet balcony with a mountain view, and good coffee.
10. What’s your favorite book on writing?
Whichever book is going to help me solve the craft problem I’m struggling with at any given moment. Finding the answer is half the fun.
11. What book are you reading right now?
Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. She’s one of my all-time favorites.
Say hello to Jessica on Facebook and welcome her to the Career Authors community!