Interview: Jessa Russo, YA Author

Jessa Russo is an unashamed super fan of all things paranormal romance. She reads, writes, and breathes paranormal YA, rarely straying from her comfort zone.

When not writing or reading, Jessa enjoys making memories with her awesome family and amazingly supportive friends, while secretly planning her next trip to New Orleans. She’ll always call Southern California home.

As an author, she’s currently working on EVER TWO––the second book in the EVER Trilogy. Jessa is also participating in NanoWrimo for the first time and working on a standalone fairytale-redux-gothic-horror-mash-up called DIVIDE. Don’t worry, by the time she has the rough draft finished, she’ll have the genre all figured out.

As an Acquisitions Editor at Curiosity Quills, her most recent acquisition was Katie Teller’s New Adult historical romance titled KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh. You can learn a bit more about Katie and her amazing novel here. Check out Jessa’s blog or follow her on Twitter.

Now let’s see how Jessa answers the Proust Questionnaire!

What is your idea of happiness?
You know, I don’t have a simple answer for this. I could say so many things – loving my husband, raising my daughter, publishing a book – all these things bring me happiness, but so many others do too.

What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I’m a huge music lover, so narrowing this down is going to be difficult. If I had to pick just one song that sticks out above the rest … I think I’d say … Stay by Shakespeare’s Sister. I don’t know when I first heard that one, but it was definitely way back in the early 90’s, and I can remember how powerful I thought it was.

Or, another all-time favorite is The Man in the Long Black Coat by Joan Osborne (originally by Bob Dylan). Again, early to mid 90’s. Joan Osborne is a huge part of the memories I have from that part of my life.

Or, He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones. This song is just amazing. I’d listened to Country music for a very long time, but wasn’t introduced to classic old country until I met my husband. Sure, I knew all about Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, I just didn’t truly know the greats until my husband schooled me on what he calls “real” country.

Yeah, I can’t pick just one. Maybe just one song per memory, or one song per mood, but not just one song total. That’s impossible.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Organization. Lol! Is that even a talent? Well, to someone like me, who is far from organized, I’d say yes. Absolutely. And unfortunately, it is a talent I don’t possess.

On what occasion do you lie?
I don’t. I think I was lied to one too many times when I was younger. I don’t tolerate lying, stealing, or cheating in any aspect of my life.

But, if we want to get super technical, I still allow my daughter to believe in Santa and make-believe things like that, so I guess I’m lying to her about that. And I will lie to protect her if I must.

Also to surprise her. Because sometimes she figures out the surprises before I’m ready so I say something like, “Oh, I don’t know about that. Guess you’ll have to wait and see.” Which isn’t a total lie, but you get the gist.

What is your present state of mind?
Stressed. I’m behind with submissions, and I want to give each submission as much time as possible. I don’t believe in form rejections––probably because I was on the receiving end of a quite a few of them––so I put a lot of time and thought into each manuscript I read. Whether I reject, ask for the author to resubmit down the road, or offer publication, I try to do so with a lot of explanation and critique. So, it ends up being very time consuming.

I’m also trying to write two novels and finish NanoWrimo, so stressed is just a nice way of saying I’m totally overwhelmed and bit off way more than I can chew! lol

What is your motto?
I don’t have one, but I do firmly believe in the Golden Rule: you must treat others the way you want to be treated. However, I’m also old enough to know that when you treat someone well, as you’d like to be treated, but they continue to dump on you, it’s okay to walk away.

What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Honesty. If you can’t be honest with me, I can’t trust you. It’s as elementary as that.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Dude. (Ugh, I wish I didn’t say this so much!)

Ya know? (I say this way too frequently, but I guess I want to always be sure people are following along. Lol.)
I also abbreviate a lot now, or use terms writers are familiar with, and it annoys my husband. I say “my crit partner” instead of calling her by her name; or, I’ll say “CQ” instead of Curiosity Quills. Oh! Just the other day, I said something about “MG” and had to explain to my annoyed husband that I was talking about middle grade novels.

Your favorite painting?
I don’t really have a favorite painting, but I do have a favorite piece of artwork that belonged to my dad. It’s a print he fell in love with at some event he and my mom had gone to. The picture is of a hawk sitting on a branch, but there’s trash on the branch as well, and for whatever reason, it really touched my dad––the human pollution tainting the beauty of nature, I guess.

He loved it so much, and my mom surprised him with it one Christmas. I can still remember the tears of joy coming from the man who very rarely showed ANY emotion at all.

What is your favorite journey?
I’ve been to some awesome places…China with my best friend when I was twenty years old would be one of the top places. We hiked the Great Wall, visited the Terracotta Warriors, and ate dumplings with the locals in a hole in the wall with a hole in the ground (if you catch my drift.)

I was married in New Orleans (which is my favorite place on earth) and I’ve been there a handful of times. I am always trying to get back there and––in a perfect world––I’d either live there, or we’d visit every year.

But, my favorite journey of all, would be a toss up between my journey becoming a mother, or my journey becoming a published author. BOTH are equally molding me into the woman I am, and BOTH allow me to continuously grow and change, bettering myself by making mistakes and getting past them every day.

What is your favorite time of day?
Morning. I am definitely a morning person. But I like my mornings quiet. Coffee, my writing, or a good book––husband already off to work and daughter still sleeping. That’s my “zen” time.

However, dusk has always been my favorite time of day aesthetically speaking. Everything just looks so pretty once the sun has left the sky but it’s not quite dark yet.

With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
I’m probably expected to say something witty here…like I want to have coffee with someone from a Dickens classic or a Shakespearean play. But, honestly? I don’t know if I’d want to have coffee with any characters I’ve read about, as much as I’d love to have coffee with the people who WROTE those characters. That’s who I want to hang out with: the authors. At the top of the list would be my editor Krystal Wade, and my critique partner Tamara Mataya. I hate having such strong friendships with people so, so far away. Sometimes it would just be nice to be able to go out for drinks with the girls!

What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
Sooooo much! I want to see my daughter grow up and become the woman I know she’ll be. I want to see her fall in love, get married and start her own family. I want to grow old with my husband because I can’t wait to see him when he’s old and crotchety, talking about the way things were, and “kids these days!”

I want to publish all the stories in my head.

I really, really want to make enough money from my writing that my husband can do what he loves.

Who or what is your first love?
My first love was an abusive narcissist. Beautiful on the outside and completely broken on the inside. I wanted to fix him. Instead, I learned I needed to fix me. I learned a lot from him, and I’m stronger because of him. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t rather have healthy first relationship memories to reflect upon. But such is life, huh? You get what you get and you take away from it what you can.

What’s the last dream you remember?
I have no idea. I have a lot of chaotic dreams, and then occasionally I have a good sexy dream about Ian Somerhalder or Charlie Hunnam.

What’s your madeleine?
My madeleine is the way my daughter smells with sunscreen on. It takes me right back to childhood summers at the beach and makes my heart feel full.

Without thinking, in one word: what is life?

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