Interview with Jessika Fleck, Author of Beware the Night

Jessika Fleck is a writer, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens.

Jessika has lived all over the U.S. from Hawaii to Vermont, but currently calls Illinois home. She resides there with her sociology professor husband and two daughters where she’s learning to appreciate the beauty in cornfields and terrifyingly large cicadas.

Jessika writes both young adult and middle grade fiction and her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. She is also a regular contributor to the fantastic kidlit blog, Kidliterati. Her YA fantasy, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled Teen) is currently available. BEWARE THE NIGHT (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) releases early 2019.

Hello, Jessika. Welcome to YA SH3LF! What can you tell us about your new book Beware the Night? Can you describe Veda and Nico in 3 words? 
Thank you so much for having me, Dane! I am beyond thrilled that Beware the Night is going to be out in the world in a mere 3ish months (fun fact: Melinda Grace, author of Meet Me in Outer Space, and I share a release day!).  Beware the Night is my second published YA novel and is quite different from my first, but I sincerely hope readers love it as much as I do. Oh! Fun fact #2: it’s going to be released as an audiobook (narrated by the talented Vanessa Moyen who’s done some amazing work)! I cannot begin to explain how exciting this is for me. It’s going to be a way to experience the story in an entirely different light. 
Veda: Stubborn, Fierce, Loving
Nico: Loyal, Quiet, Protective

What was the craziest thing you had to go through when writing Beware the Night?
REVISION. Beware the Night is a literal labor of love (read: blood, sweat, and tears). It was actually the third story I ever attempted writing and, suffice it to say, needed quite a bit of editing (*sends virtual chocolate to my saint of an editor*). This book, which was originally titled: THE OFFERING, went through six–SIX–major revisions. At one point, edit number 4, I think, my editor (did I mention she has a halo over her head?) sent me a self-care package as a sort of ‘you can do this!’ boost. That revision is the hardest writing I’ve ever had to do. BUT… I can unequivocally say the story is now where it deserved to be. I’m so very happy with the end result.

What do you think is the biggest thing you’ve learned in the process of writing this book?
I wrote this book in 2011, right after I sustained a concussion that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. When everything in my life seemed to be utter chaos and so far beyond any level of normal I knew to that point, being able to escape to Bellona with Veda, Nico, Poppy and Dorian was one of the loveliest forms of therapy I could ask for. Also, writing this story, especially throughout the editing process, showed me that perseverance is indeed worth it. 
Oh, and that love triangles never get old and are indeed freaking amazing. 😉

What is your writing process? Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas are super random and usually hit me at the most inopportune moments (while driving, sleeping, having a conversation…). Once I get an initial spark, I’ll write it down so I don’t forget and then let it percolate. Sometimes two unrelated ideas get combined. Mostly, I try not to force it. 
As for writing, I used to completely pants my stories–start out with a basic idea of plot/setting/characters and let the story take me wherever it happened to take me. While that’s a satisfying way for me to write, I’ve found it’s not the most productive (especially when things like deadlines become a reality). Now I spend a lot more time plotting and outlining. I use a sort of ever-evolving formula and outline the different beats of the story, do some character arc exploration, and definitely know where I’m beginning and where I plan to end. It’s much more efficient and I think I actually love writing this way even more–it’s much less clunky for me.

Do you have any other writing projects that are in the works?
I am currently finishing up an edit for my wonderful agent. It’s a middle grade fantasy (a sort of loose Robin Hood retelling) and I’m so excited about it! I’m also working on another YA project for Swoon Reads, but I’m not allowed to say exactly what at this time. *big grin*

What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading the ARC of  A Soldier and a Liar by fellow Swoon Reads author Caitlin Lochner. It’s soooooo good. 

Read more about Beware the Night

Beware the Night – Jessika Fleck


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