A little bit about Jessica
Jessica Everingham is a 24 year-old Australian writer. She prefers the term ‘writer’ because it’s too hard to say ‘eLearning developer, former journalist and aspiring author’ all in one sentence.
She is busy editing her contemporary novel, Hating Jeremy Walters, and planning her next book.
When she’s not writing, she’s either at boxing training, a church event, visiting family or chilling with her housemates.
Let’s be honest, she’s probably actually watching New Girl.
Connect with Jessica
The Friday Five with Jessica
- What inspired your latest story?
The story began as a single concept: What would happen if a guy and a girl had to raise a baby together, but they weren’t a couple?
Early on in the plotting process, (while I walked up and down boarding school halls in my then day job,) I decided that this particular guy and girl had once been a couple—but now she hated his guts. But as fate would have it, he reappeared in her life as a Christian, and a single dad, and offered her a nannying job just as her bank account hit zero.
I don’t know what put this scenario in my head, it was just random. But the story has strong themes of betrayal and forgiveness through the main plot and subplots, and that came from a sense of disappointment in some people who were significant in my life as a teenager. One subplot, around the hero’s niece and her church pastor father’s affair, definitely drew its emotional energy from that (even though my experience had nothing to do with infidelity).
- My writing process… 🙂 . I guess I’m still figuring that out, even though I’ve been doing it seriously for more than 3 years! When I first started, I worked at a boarding school and worked 7-9am, and then 2.30-10.30pm. So I’d come home in the middle of the day and write, and I did my first two manuscripts.
Then I got a 9-5 job, and tried writing in the mornings. Burned out pretty fast. Took six months off. Unexpectedly made it to the finals of the Frasier writing contest and decided to go to the award ceremony at the American Christian Fiction Writers 2015 conference.
That meant that if I wanted a finished book to take to agents, I had to finish the whole thing (I only had 16,000 words of my second draft) in about 12 weeks. I cancelled everything in my life except work, sleep and writing, and I wrote 60,000 words in 10 weeks.
That was almost a year ago, and I’ve mostly been editing ever since. I currently work editing time in at lunch at work, and a few nights a week at home. Plus Saturday’s, if I’m home. But as a trainee elder at church, it can be tough balancing all my commitments!
- My favorite novels
My all-time favorite novel is ‘Dear Enemy’ by Jean Webster. I bought it for $1.50 from a thrift store when I was 12, and I think I’ve read it every year since. It’s a story-by-letters about a young socialite who unexpectedly takes charge of an orphanage. I think it’s set sometime between 1910-1920. (Does anyone know what you call that—and this—decade? That always drives me nuts. 🙂 )
There’s a doctor at the orphanage that she HATES, and of course they fall in love. It’s got all my favorite things, family, love-hate relationships, and a spunky heroine.
Katherine Reay just did a re-write of the prequel to ‘Dear Enemy’. The original was ‘Daddy-Long-Legs’, and Reay’s version is ‘Dear Mr Knightly’. I never hear people talking about Jean Webster, so I was excited to see someone else who likes her work too!
- Who would I cast as the hero and heroine of my book?
That is a really hard question. I would choose people who look normal, and aren’t famous.
I make a conscious decision in my books to make my hero and heroine normal-looking people. I don’t have anything against books that have ridiculously beautiful people—a bit of escapism is always fun, and we all know the real reason people watch Arrow—but I feel there needs to be a balance.
Jem (hero) is 6’3”, has red curls he keeps cut short, and freckles. The picture in my head is attractive but not in the Chris Hemsworth stratosphere.
Natalie (heroine) has long brown hair she prefers to wear in a ponytail, green eyes and she sometimes sighs over her small boobs. 🙂 But we know the truth—she is beautiful the way she is!
- What advice would I give my younger self?
Learn from others about how to write earlier. As a teenager I refused to take writing courses, even though I was always writing books, because I thought they’d corrupt my creativity. Ha! Could have saved time and improved my craft at a younger age.
Also, chill out. Don’t let writing quotas stress you out. Always keep your joy. Remember, God’s got this.