Sunday, January 8, 2012

Interview with Jessie Harrell


1.When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

-I’m not sure it was ever really a conscious decision and I still don’t necessarily identify myself as a writer. My day job (the one that pays the bills) is as an attorney, and it’s only since Destined has gotten out into the world that I also consider myself an official author. I recently went to an out-of-town wedding where I hardly knew any of the other guests and I told myself that if anyone asked what I did, my answer was going to be that I was an author. It was time to embrace that role too. But nobody asked.

2.Which is your favorite place to write?

-My favorite place to write is in a Starbucks with my headphones plugged in, but that hasn’t happened in longer than I can remember. Generally, you’ll find me writing in my comfy desk chair in my living room. But if I know I’m going to have some down time, me & my laptop are good to go.

3. Are you thinking about writing another novel soon?

-Yes! In fact, I’ve already co-written a modern day paranormal/Greek mythology-based novel with Nikki Katz. It’d called Beneath the Surface and we are editing it now in hopes of getting it published soon. Basically, the book is about: A timeless love. An endless curse. Which one will survive the summer?

I’m also plotting a companion novel to Destined. It won’t involve the same characters, but it will be set in ancient Greece and have a similar writing style.

4. What inspired you to write your book “Destined”?

-I was a Classical Studies major in Undergrad, and I fell in the love with the myth the first time I read it. It has a similarity to Beauty & the Beast (my favorite fairy tale), although it predates it by centuries, and when I took a folk tales class, one of my papers was on the maiden-beast relationship that surfaces in folklore. I don’t know why, but that premise really just captures my attention.

When I was home on maternity leave some 10 years later, I read the Eros & Psyche story to my infant (ok, myself - but I read out loud anyway). So when the time came to sit down and learn how to be a writer, I knew I wanted to do it with this story. I just felt like if a tale can stick with you for a decade, then there’s a connection you can’t deny. And it was a good thing I picked something I loved so much, because the story and I spent years together!

5. If you had to pick a favorite character from your book, whom would you pick and why?

-I’ve got to say Psyche. As the heroine, I got to make her everything I wanted her to be. She’s feisty and strong, but also vulnerable and rash. While she and I are FAR from the same person, if I ever got stuck with a gesture or an emotional reaction for Psyche, I would look at myself. What would I do there? For that reason, a lot of her nervous quirks (picking at the skin around her nails, chewing on her cheek) are things that I do. Plus, I just love her because she’s not the ditzy beauty that she was made to be in the original myth. I gave her a brain and I love that about her.

6. How long did it take for your book to get published?

-You’d think that’d be an easy question to answer, but it’s not. I spent a really long time learning the craft of writing YA novels, going to conferences, getting critiques, having teens and adults beta read for me, and then began the querying process. After maybe 6 months of querying various agents, I set Destined aside to write Beneath the Surface. Nikki and I worked with that for several months, queried it for a bit, and then we both had other writing distractions. I’d entered Destined in some contests and gotten “close” with an agent and the comments were starting to be cohesive enough that I knew exactly how the book needed to be edited. I spent several more months making major edits, and then decided to try self-publishing rather than going through the long and painful querying process again. So from start to finish, I’d say 4 years or so, but I wasn’t also working on Destined or seeking publication during that entire time.

7. Do you have any tips you would like to share with young writers and independent authors?

-Everyone tells you not to query too soon and newbie authors do it anyway (like I did), because you just don’t know what “too soon” is. If you can afford the investment, I’d recommend hiring a professional editor before querying (if having an agent is something you’re serious about doing), because once I got a “no” from a given agent, I didn’t feel like I could go back to them with my book, even though I had changed it so much. If I’d had an editor tell me in the beginning about the changes it needed, who knows what would have happened.

8. If your house caught on fire and you could only save 3 books from your shelf which ones would you take?

-No question about it, I’d take my daughters’ baby scrapbooks (the oldest has 2 and my younger daughter has 1). Not only did I work so hard putting those albums together, but the imagines in there are precious and irreplaceable. Even though my girls only are coming up on 6 and 7, sometimes their baby years feels like forever ago. I never want to lose those images.

9.If Destined was made into a movie which actors would you pick to represent the main characters? (Psyche, Eros, Aphrodite…)

-Well, when I was writing the book, I had the image of a young Leonardo DiCaprio in my head for Eros. But since I can’t reverse the clock for him, I’d want someone like Alex Pettyfer(yeah, who wouldn’t?), Lucas Till or Aaron Johnson (minus the facial hair). For Psyche, I think someone like Imogen Poots, Shenae Grimes, or Keira Knightley would be good fits. When I was writing Aphrodite, I pictured her as Heidi Klum (who could still do a wonderful job), or maybe Nicole Kidman or Charlize Theron.

10.Which song you think represents better the relationship between Eros and Psyche?

-I’ve always said that “Crack the Shutters” by Snow Patrol is Eros & Psyche’s signature song. Going back to the movie idea, if the book were ever made into a movie, that song would be rolling during the end scene and into the credits. If you’ve read the epilogue to Destined, then the words of the chorus will make perfect sense to you.

Crack the shutters open wide

I want to bathe you in the light of day.

And just watch you as the rays

Tangle up around your face and body.

I could sit for hours

Finding new ways to be awed each minute.

‘Cause the daylight seems to want you

Just as much as I want you.



Hello guys, I hope you enjoyed this interview I was able to get, I wanted to know more about Jessie and I hope that so did you. Jessie Harrell is a very nice person and her book Destined is just amazing!! check it out here.  My review of the book will be up soon so stay tuned :) bye!!

To see Jessie’s website click here.



  1. Thanks so much for hosting this great interview!

  2. That's a great Q&A Dani! I love the blog page it's pretty. Thanks for sharing the link with me. I loved reading the book Destined. One of my favorite stories (among others).

  3. Brilliant interview Dani. Nice to find out more about Jessie. She's a fantastic author and a really nice person too. I look forward to your review of DESTINED :D

    Keren xo

  4. Great interview! I just recently bought Destined for my kindle and can't wait to dive in! The cover is so pretty too.

  5. I love author interviews! I love hearing everyone's journey into writing! Thanks for sharing!



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