My website, with teaching guides, book trailers, character quizzes, & more is www.jessredman.com. I’m on Instagram here: www.instagram.com/Jess__Red & Twitter here: www.twitter.com/Jess__Red and FaceBook here: www.facebook.com/jess.redman.writes.
1. When you were my age (11), did you like to read?
I loved reading more than anything! I was the kind of reader who walked into walls because I had my face in a book and who always had three “back up” books on hand. I would go to the library every week and load up, and my birthday & Christmas presents were mostly books.
2. What is a book that made an impact on you?
The books that I remember the best, to this day, are the ones I read between the ages of 9 and 12. There’s something special about that time. Some of my favorites were: A Wrinkle in Time, The Westing Game, Bridge to Terabithia, and Harriet the Spy. I can picture the covers of each (I still have my childhood copies of some!), I can quote from them, and I can remember how I felt reading each one. These were the books that made me want to be a writer and that made me feel like stories were important.
3. Is it hard to come up with book ideas?
For me, the ideas are usually the easiest and most fun part. My ideas usually start very small—a scene or a character. Then I have the wonderful task of growing that tiny idea into something bigger.
Quintessence began as an image of a girl standing on a roof watching a falling star. Then I asked myself questions—why is the star falling? Why is the girl on the roof? How does she feel, watching this star fall into her backyard? What will she do next? And after that?
I enjoy coming up with ideas so much that it’s often tempting to keep doing that instead of writing a book. But the idea is just the beginning.
4. Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?
So many! I know it’s easy to turn to “tried and true” authors who have been around a long time or who have won big awards, but I’m a big believer in supporting newer writers. Some newer authors I love: Gillian McDunn, Lisa Moore Ramee, Remy Lai, Mariama Lockington, Sarah Baughman, Sarah Allen, and Lindsay Lackey.
5. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?
First, keep reading. Read widely, but also read deeply. Think about the stories you love—what draws you to them? What did the author do that you might like to do in a story you write?
Then, very simply, write! I wrote a tremendous amount as a kid. And then, as an adult, I had to write a whole lot more before I had something good enough to be published. Just like any other skill, the more you write, the better you will get at it. Don’t wait to be perfect—that will never happen—just start writing and enjoy the journey of creating something imperfect.
And finally, give yourself time and space to imagine. We live in a very busy world. We have TVs and video games and phones and social media and a million other things to keep our brains occupied 24/7. BUT stories need time and space to grow. So spend some time being not busy. You might be surprised at what you come up with.
6. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?
I do, and I love it! It’s very special to me when readers take the time to contact me. Reading is such a personal experience, so I love hearing what each reader enjoyed, what stood out to them, which character they connected with, how they felt at a certain part. I think when you write a story, it’s for you. But when it’s published, it belongs to whoever reads it and loves it. I’m continually grateful that I get to create these worlds for other people to explore.
7. If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
Ooh this is an excellent question. I think I’ll go with A Wrinkle in Time. I’d love to tesser around the universe with Meg and Charles Wallace and the 3 Mrs.’s. I’d also jump at the chance to visit the Shire, Hogwarts, or Nevermoor.
Link to QUINTESSENCE on Macmillan: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374309763