Interview with Super Author Jessa Russo! / by Ryan Hill

Uber author Jessa Russo stopped by to talk about her new novel, DIVIDE! What is DIVIDE, you ask?

From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.

After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.

As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson. 

Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish. 

Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her.

Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.
1. Tell us a little about DIVIDE. What was your inspiration? What made you want to do a retelling of Beauty and the Beast?
Not sure what made me want to do a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, specifically, I just decided one day that I wanted to do a retelling, and Beauty and the Beast was the one to pop into my head! Then I realized that mine would stand out from other retellings because my beauty was also the beast.
2. Does your version of Beauty and the Beast have singing candles and such? If not, WHY???
No. Unfortunately, they just didn’t fit with my version of the story, though there’s a nod to the rose from the Disney movie, if that counts. (I know it doesn’t, but hopefully my supporting cast is just as fun as Belle’s was. *crosses fingers*)
3. What kind of twists on the Beauty and the Beast tale are in store for readers in DIVIDE?
Well, I mashed Beauty and the Beast up with a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, so . . . .
4. Tell us a little about your writing routine. Not so much that we know every detail, but enough that we have a good idea.
Well, when I’m not drowning in edits—like I am currently—I write as often as possible. My favorite time to write is in the wee hours of the morning, hot coffee in hand, husband already at work, and kiddo still asleep. Those are my perfect writing hours.
I use a desktop computer, though I dream of the day when I can buy another laptop. Someone dropped—and shattered—my cute, little, red Netbook on the tile of the bathroom floor and hasn’t yet replaced it. *cough* husband *cough*
When I’m struggling with a scene, I sometimes pick up a pen and paper. And then I actually write. Like, with my hand. Lol! It’s amazing what writing the old-fashioned way can do for your creativity!
5. How did you set about writing DIVIDE? Did you dissect Beauty and the Beast then go from there, or did you use the idea of Beauty and the Beast, then make the tale completely your own?
Well, I definitely like to think I made the idea completely my own, but of course I based it on its predecessors. I had the idea, then sat down to work on my Ever Trilogy during NaNoWriMo 2012, and out came DIVIDE. During my writing process, though, I did stop to read the originals of both Beauty and the Beast, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, just so I could be sure to stay on top of the root of the book. The challenge is staying true to the original, while making the retelling unique enough that readers aren’t bored. I’m hoping I managed that.
6. What are some of your favorite retellings of classic tales? Yes, you can say DIVIDE.
Definitely DIVIDE, but not because of vanity.
Can I be honest? I haven’t read any other retellings. O_o (At least, none that come to mind right now.)
Crazy, right? I’ve been DYING to read A.G. Howard’s SPLINTERED series, and CINDER by Marissa Meyer, but I just haven’t had the chance. Oh! And my friend, Nicole Zoltack, wrote a zombie redux of The Little Mermaid—how awesome does that sound?
Oh! I did read EYRE HOUSE by Cait Greer, and loved it, but that’s not a fairytale redux, so never mind. (You should read it anyway.)
7. Writers are full of anxiety. Being a writer myself, I'm sadly very aware of this phenomenon. But, let's dive into the mind of Jessa. Do you get the jitters like other writers? If so, what about? 
I am anxious-ridden in my daily life anyway, and I dwell on things. A lot. And I spin on things. And sometimes, I dwell and spin so hard that I actually create scenarios that aren’t there, adding more angst and anxiety to my life. So, yeah. My life as a writer is full of anxiety, doubt, and negative self-talk.
I think that’s the name of the game, though, isn’t it? It’s the curse of a creative mind: we love creating, but we’re secretly sure we suck at it.
My biggest fear in writing, as in life, is that I’ll never be more than mediocre.
8. With DIVIDE already released, has the insanity of pre-release marketing lightened up? Is it any less crazy with DIVIDE out in the world? I ask mainly because my debut novel cough THEBOOKOFBARTMAY22 cough is on the way, and any time I think about the release, my hair bursts into flames.
It’s a huge relief once the book is finally out there, and though the chaos may slow down, it doesn’t stop completely—nor should it ever. If you’re not promoting your work, who is?
Wait. Do you have minions? If so, don’t be a holdout.
Anyway, I’m still finishing up blog tour content—slow and steady wins that race, I’m hoping—so when that’s finished up, I should be a ble to focus on other books again.
PS. I started reading THE BOOK OF BART last night, even though I have NO free reading time, and I should either be writing or editing for CQ . . . well, I just couldn’t help it. He was sitting there, all devilish and debonair on my Kindle screen and, since I was already in bed and unable to edit anyway, I took a peek inside. You, Mr. Hill, had me hooked on Page One. So no stressing about your release!
9. What are you working on next?
Oooh! Something awesome and shiny and epic with my critique partner! But I can’t tell you what it is!
Personally, though, I intend to release CHLORINE&CHAOS—my erotic romance, written as Parker Jameson—and then finish up the Ever Trilogy, so ENTWINED (book 3) can release in October.
10. Tell us, in haiku format, what you love about DIVIDE, and what you think the readers will love about it. This answer will only be accepted in haiku format.
Oh man, I’d love to do this, really I would, but it looks like *static* our connection is *static* *buzzing* *more static* cutting out *static* I’m losing *static you . . . .